There are lots of quality apartments for rent in the city and beyond. I’m sharing my guide and checklist to give you get the best tips on finding an apartment in Chicago and live in one of the best neighborhoods.
A Methodical Approach to Finding an Apartment
If you are considering an extended vacation stay, or you are a Chicago expat, finding an apartment that suits your needs is key.
You probably feel overwhelmed with the thought of finding an affordable place to live. I started searching too after putting our home on the market and thought “…geez, why are Chicago apartments so expensive?”.
Then I remembered the time when I searched for an apartment after college. After seeing three or four prospects, I couldn’t remember one from the other. I felt so disorganized. So, I created a worksheet to help me with finding a cheap apartment in Chicago. And it worked!
I figured out what criteria was important, what information to capture after each apartment visit. I filled out the worksheet while viewing so that the data would be accurate, and I wouldn’t have to rely on memorizing the details.
Is Chicago an Affordable City
Absolutely! The cost of living in Chicago is affordable when you consider similar metropolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.
According to the New York Times, these cities have the highest one-bedroom rentals in 2022. It is a bit comforting to know that Chicago is not in the top 15 list of cities.
This data confirms that apartments for rent in Chicago are not as expensive in comparison to other metropolitan cities.
How Much Can You Afford for an Apartment in Chicago
As a rule of thumb, the monthly expense of an apartment rental should be about 30% of your total monthly net income (after taxes are paid).
When I used this calculator and worksheet, I found it helpful to stay within my price range. That doesn’t mean you have to use the full 30% so be conservative with the percentage that you choose.
Here’s why. Rental expenses will start to increase after a year or two. You should always store extra cash, when possible, for unexpected costs, like a broken microwave or car repairs.
For that reason, I recommend 25% of your monthly net income.
Use this calculator to determine how much your monthly rental expense should be and tell me if it works for you.
This amount does not include other expenses like homeowner’s insurance, groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. This amount will only cover the cost of the dwelling, plus basic utilities (e.g., electricity, gas, water, and heat).
If water is already included in the monthly rent, that’s great. Keep the wiggle room and stick to the monthly percentage that you are most comfortable with.