Moving to Chicago
Moving to Chicago, USA?
Let us help you plan your relocation and discover everything Chicago has to offer. Crown are an international relocations company, specialising in international removals, storage, overseas moving, movers insurance, relocation services and lots more. We will even relocate your vehicle and pets!
Popular culture frequently links Chicago with the gangster culture of the 1920s, a period which saw the likes of Al Capone and Bugs Moran battle the police on the streets of Chicago during the Prohibition era. The city experienced rapid growth in the mid-19th and 21st centuries due to its role as an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation – O’Hare International Airport is regarded as the busiest airport in the world. In 2012 Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalisation and World Cities Research Network and ranks seventh in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index.
Chicago is known for its vibrant arts scene, numerous cultural attractions, excellent shopping and interesting architecture. The city enjoys a worldwide reputation as a focal point of 20th century architecture and art. Chicago also has much to offer in the sporting world with the Chicago Bears (American football), the Chicago White Sox and Cubs (baseball) and the Chicago Bulls (basketball). There are many attractions in in the city from the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs), Museum of Science and Industry (the largest such museum in the Western hemisphere) and the Field Museum of Natural History to name but a few. For more details of the city and its attractions, a good place to start is the official tourist website at www.choosechicago.com
With a population of almost three million, Chicago is the third largest metropolitan area in the USA and is found in the north-east of the US on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes. Chicago is frequently referred to by its nickname ‘The Windy City’ but scientific study has indicated that it is actually not one of the most windy cities in America. Chicago is situated on the Chicago Portage, a water gap connecting the navigable waterways of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The city became an important transport centre between the eastern and western United States, aided by the coming of the railways in 1848 and the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River.
After the Great Fire of 1871, the city’s reconstruction was led by a wave of new office structures that became known as skyscrapers, well before New York became better known for its majestic city skyline.
Chicago, with its dozens of major banks, remains second only to New York City as a national financial hub, and is a major world convention destination. The city’s main convention centre, McCormick Place is the largest convention centre in the US and third largest in the world. Chicago ranks third in the US in the number of conventions hosted each year behind Las Vegas and Orlando.
Visa / Permits
New Zealanders moving to Chicago need an Immigrant Visa to be able to live in the USA, and details of how to obtain one, can be found at the United States Diplomatic Mission to New Zealand’s website.
The official currency of the United States of America is the US Dollar, and shops and service providers will only accept the US Dollar. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent, and notes in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills.
Many migrants who have relocated to Chicago have found it helpful to set up a US bank account before moving to the country. This makes it easy for converted money to be transferred straight in to your account, as well as minimising the need to carry cash while travelling. There are many banks in Chicago who offer an on-line sign-up service.
The best way to convert large sums of money is through online transfer companies, who provide a much cheaper rate. Crown has entered into a partnership with OFX to provide an easy, reliable and cost effective solution for clients who are moving their funds internationally. The deals offered by OFX are at super competitive exchange rates and in most cases there’s no fee. The cost structure is so good that the saving you make may even pay for the entire cost of your relocation. To register and for more information visit OFX
Chicago has an excellent public transport system incorporating buses and trains, details of all these options can found at Chicago Transit Authority’s website at www.transitchicago.com
If you do choose to drive in Chicago, the first point to bear in mind is that in the US, they drive on the opposite side of the road to that in New Zealand.
For those planning to live in Chicago, then a car will be useful, but when it comes to commuting, the public transport system is again highly recommended, as whilst there is resident’s parking available in most suburbs, it is limited and traffic congestions
You can drive in the US on a NZ drivers licence, but only for a short period, and the US Embassy in New Zealand recommends that you apply for an International Driver Permit, and if staying in the US, you should apply for a US driving licence.
Chicago’s has two international airports, O’Hare International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, and Midway International Airport. Both have flights not just to cities across the US, but across the world.
There are over thirty colleges and universities in the city, and over 500 elementary and 90 secondary schools in the city, serving more than 400,000 students. Most expatriates choose to enrol their children in private or independent schools, this is because state schools are generally based on ‘catchment areas’.
The school year begins in September and ends in June, typical school-days run Monday-Friday from 8.30am to 3pm, although this can depend upon the age of the children.
Students generally travel to school by car with their parents, or in some cases, take the school bus (the bright yellow ones you see in the movies), others will cycle or walk.
Crown Relocations can arrange an appointment with a Specialist Education consultant who can provide an in-depth explanation of local education systems, the curricula available and arranging interviews, as well as assist with enrolment requirements. Please contact us for information and rates.
America has a public health-care system, called Medicare, but most people take out private insurance as well. If the insurance company you were with in New Zealand is a member of the International Federation of Health Funds, you may be able to transfer your policy to the USA without penalty – at a similar level of cover. Check with your insurance provider for details, or visit www.ifhp.com.
When choosing where to live in Chicago, the deciding factor for expats is normally how close you need to be to your work or your children’s school. The cost of accommodation and commuting to work are also significant considerations.
Rather than purchasing a home, most expatriates choose to rent, at least at first. This is because house (and apartment) prices in Chicago are expensive. Looking for a home in Chicago can quite often be a daunting task, and Crown can advise on rental accommodation or purchasing properties, and can also arrange for temporary accommodation.
Chicago’s position as an internationally-recognised centre of commerce means that you are bound to meet people from all walks of life. Expatriates commonly assimilate into the community through the sports and hobbies they are interested in. The business environment that Chicago is famous for provides numerous opportunities to meet new people. Social media is also a fantastic way to get to know like-minded people.
Crown Relocations has 50 years of international moving experience relocating individuals and families to Chicago and throughout the USA. To arrange a quotation call our office for an obligation FREE quote on: 0508 227 696 or you can use our online quote forms: Instant Quote, Quick Quote, Home Visit Request
For more information read our blog: Why you should choose Crown for your move to the United States.
To convert your money to US dollars the cheapest and most reliable way, check out our guide for Moving Your Money.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.