New York vs. Chicago: Which City is Right for You?

If you are looking for a new city to call home, you may wonder which one is right for you. Do you want to live in a bustling metropolis with endless opportunities? Or do you prefer a more relaxed and suburban environment? In this blog post, we will compare two of the most popular cities in the United States – New York vs. Chicago.

Chicago is the third most populous city but is only a third the size of New York City Population. However, it still has many advantages. We will review and compare many things that make these two cities great and see which one is right for you.

Cost of Living

First on our list to compare is the cost of living in Chicago vs. New York. New York City is notoriously expensive. In many neighborhoods of New York, the cost of living is so high that people cannot pay for housing by themselves.

For those looking to save a buck, the windy city is the more affordable city when compared to New York City. Living expenses in NYC are 85% higher than they are in Chicago.

The average cost of groceries and transportation is also more expensive in New York than in Chicago. But the biggest difference is housing. Chicago, compared to New York is much more affordable. The median sale price of a single-family unit in New York is $755k, while in Chicago, the average cost is $328K.  Take a look at Naperville, the best suburb in Chicago, and compare the current home listings vs. NYC.

It is important to keep in mind that the median household income in New York is also higher at $92K, while in Chicago is only $62K. If the cost of living is an important factor to you, then Chicago might be the better choice. In the cost of living category, Chicago is a clear winner.


While the weather in neither city is perfect, New York City's climate tends to be slightly favorable overall. Both cities have distinct seasons, with cold winters and hot summers. However, Chicago generally has harsher winter conditions, while the summer temperatures are equal between cities.

New York experiences a "modified maritime" climate, which is when the air is warm and moist because of the Atlantic Ocean. Chicago sits on Lake Michigan, so it's not as effective in warming the air; downtown Chicago sees more extreme temperatures during winter due to its continental climate. Also, New York only averages about 25 inches of snowfall per year, whereas Chicago averages 35.

The difference in weather is mostly based on location. Chicago received Northern winds from Canada, while New York gets some warmth from the Atlantic ocean not offered by Lake Michigan.

Both Cities give you four beautiful seasons, but if you prefer slightly warmer climates all year round, New York might be the better option. I would give New York a slight edge in the weather category.

Job Opportunities

In terms of employment opportunities, both cities offer a wide variety of choices.

New York City is home to some of the largest companies in the world and offers plenty of prestige for those looking for it. On the other hand, Chicago is a smaller city with plenty of up-and-coming startups and vibrant business communities.

There is no clear winner when it comes to job opportunities. But, New York City may be better for those looking for higher positions with larger companies, while Chicago could be better for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.

If you are looking to make your mark in the world, then New York is probably the better option for you. If you prefer more diverse job opportunities with better work-life balance, then Chicago might be your place.

Cuisine and Lifestyle

The food in both cities is exquisite, with countless five-star restaurants and cafes. The food scene is great in both city center.

New Yorkers and Chicagoans often debate which city has the better food. Still, two dishes, in particular, tend to start a fight: New York-style pizza vs. Chicago deep-dish pizza and the original New York hot dog vs. the Chicago style hot dogs.

New York City has more options because of its size; however, Chicago's cuisine might be fresher. The midwest distributes many of its products through the Chicago transportation network, eventually ending in New York.

If you think fresh food and produce is a major factors when purchasing what to eat. You are more likely to find fresher produce at a relatively lower cost in Chicago than someone living in New York.

As far as lifestyle, New York City offers more options in the way of nightlife and entertainment and food options. There are plenty of diverse areas to explore, while Chicago can feel a bit quieter after dark.

Chicago offers living near miles of trails, beaches, and picturesque buildings, and several public parks. In contrast, New York City provides residents with access to Central Park and the opportunity to live in the country's busiest metropolis.

Ultimately, both cities offer unique lifestyle choices that appeal to different people. Whether you prefer the fast-paced life of New York or the relatable charm of the Windy City, there is something for everyone in both cities.

This, in my opinion, is a tie depending on what you prefer in the pace of life and food choices.


Downtown Chicago and New York both suffer from the same urban problems. Pollution, littering, and homelessness are issues that both cities deal with. Both of these cities have their fair share of problems, but they're still two of the best places in the world.

Coming in after New York, Los Angeles, and Riverside-San Bernardino, Chicago was titled the fourth dirtiest city in America.

However, being in both cities, I can tell you from experience that New York City tends to be slightly dirtier due to the sheer volume of people living and working near one another. Chicago, on the other hand, is cleaner, with the city focusing on recycling efforts and keeping its streets clean.

Smelling and seeing both cities firsthand, although close, Chicago is the clear winner in this category.

Crime Rates

Chicago vs. New York, which one would you guess to be safer? It's probably easy to guess that Chicago has a higher crime rate than New York City. However, some areas in both cities have safer or more dangerous neighborhoods. In this section, we will cover the homicide crime rate.

Chicago has a homicide rate of 29.3 per 100,000 people, while New York's is only 5.7 per 100,000. New York has the lowest homicide rates of any major city, including Los Angeles. Chicago scored worst than Los Angles, but cities with higher homicide rates than Chicago include Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit.

Obviously, city-wide averages don't tell the entire story-- it's important to research each city's neighborhoods individually and make an informed decision on where you feel safest.

Based purely on statistics, New York is a much safer city than Chicago. Although crime has increased since the pandemic began, New York is still lower than most other major cities. Chicago, on the other hand, reported 800 homicides in 2021 alone and continues to struggle with violent crime.

New York is a clear winner in this category.

City Culture

The biggest difference in city culture is that New York is more densely populated than Chicago. This means that more people are in less space, leading to a fast-paced life that many find invigorating.

Chicago, on the other hand, has a slower pace of life and more spread-out neighborhoods and suburbs. People enjoy walking from one end of the city to the other on a sunny day and exploring the many neighborhoods that make up the city.

When it comes to diversity, both cities are equally welcoming to all walks of life. However, New York is a bigger city and provides a richer array of cultural experiences than Chicago. Both cities are melting pots with diverse food scenes.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference when it comes to culture. If you prefer busy city life, then New York is probably the better option. If you are looking for more relaxed vibes, then Chicago might be your place.

This Category is a tie, but you can give a winner based on your own preference.

Commute Times

Something that has become evident since the pandemic started is how much time Americans waste commuting. Both New York and Chicago have great public transportation systems, but which one is better?

The average commute in Chicago is 35 minutes, while New Yorkers spend approximately 41 minutes commuting. New York is incredibly congested, although offering one of the best transportation networks in the country. Trains, buses, and cabs are abundant, which can make for many commuting options.

Almost half of all Chicago residents commute by car, whereas 78% of New Yorkers use public transportation. Although Chicago's suburbs are more directly accessible to the city, New York workers typically live near neighboring cities.

Chicago is less congested than New York but has a smaller public transport network. New York transportation is accessible 24/7, while Chicago offers only limited options.

Overall, New York is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, while Chicago has more relaxed vibes and shorter commute times. Neither will be a great fit if you are looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life.

This category is pretty close but Chicago has a slight edge if you are looking for an easier commute.

Quality of Life

Numbeo's Quality of Life Index shows that Chicago has a higher quality of life than New York. This index was generated using data on crime rates, employment, climate, healthcare quality, housing prices, and traffic and pollution levels.

Compared to other cities, Chicago scored high, with a score of 149. New York, on the other hand, only received a moderate score of 136. The primary reason for the difference in scores is due to the large discrepancy between the cost of living and average income in New York City vs. Chicago.

In the quality of life index Chicago is a clear winner.


Both skylines are unique and beautiful in their own way. New York is known for its iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Chicago is known as the birthplace of the skyscraper and is also home to incredible buildings, including the Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) and John Hancock Center.

NYC skyline is one of the most popular skylines in the world, with its iconic buildings and lights. The big apple is a crawling metropolis and has more than just big buildings. The Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn bridge park, midtown Manhattan, lower Manhattan, and many others I am leaving out. New York consists of five boroughs, all offering impressive scenery.

Chicago's skyline is more subdued but still offers a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the city's stunning architecture. The big City also offers Lincoln park, millennium park, the field museum, and Navy Pier.

At night, both cities light up with a stunning display. In New York, you can see the lights of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

This category is tough to judge, but I prefer the Chicago skyline over New York. The Chicago skyline may be small, but it is a beautiful example of urban planning. A mix of old and new architecture, historic buildings, and large modern structures make it a sight to see.

No matter which skyline you prefer, New York and Chicago have something to offer. Whether it’s to take pictures or admire the views,

This is a tough one to judge, but I have been to many major US cities, and in my opinion, Chicago has the best skyline in the United States.

Chicago Vs. New York Pros and Cons

Pros Of Living in Chicago

- Low cost of living

- Great food and cultural options

- Easy access to beaches, forests, and other natural attractions

- Vibrant art scene

- Excellent schools

- Affordable housing

Cons of Living In Chicago

- Cold and snowy winters

- Traffic congestion

- Slow public transit system

- Limited job opportunities

- Low-quality housing in certain areas.

Pros Of Living In New York

- Diverse cultures and people

- Excellent food options

- Plenty of entertainment options

- Access to top universities

- 24/7 transportation options

- Variety of job opportunities

Cons of Living In New York City

- High cost of living

- Limited space and high housing prices

- Overcrowded streets and public transit system

- Fast-paced lifestyle


Chicago vs. New York, At the end of the day, it is important to consider all of the factors that are important to you when making a decision about which great city to live in. 

If you are looking for a diverse and metropolitan city, then New York would be a great choice. If you prefer a slower-paced life with easy access to suburbs, then Chicago would be better suited for you.

Whichever city you choose, make sure to research the neighborhoods carefully before making your final decision.

If you are looking to relocate to the Chicago area and are looking for a safe place to call home. You can call, text, or set up a call to discuss your options with a local real estate agent like me. We will be able to help you find the right area that fits your needs and budget.

No matter where you decide to live, each city has a lot to offer and can give you an amazing experience. In my opinion, I think Chicago is the best city, but it might be a bit big. So make sure to do some research before making your final decision. Good luck!

Have Questions?

Ask The Velasco Reynolds Team!

Give us a call to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale

Posted by Rafael Velasco on
Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.