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New York City vs Chicago: Choosing the Best State to Live In

Are you trying to decide between New York City vs Chicago? These two beautiful cities share many characteristics. Both are large urban centers with world-class museums, restaurants, and nightlife.

They’re also extremely different places, yet each has much to offer regarding heritage and job prospects for their residents. Let’s dive into a detailed comparison of 2 megapolises right now!

New York City vs Chicago

Quick Answer 

Would you prefer to relocate to Chicago or NY? Let me simplify the process of investigating these two places a little. Here is a review of both cities.

  • Chicago is a compact city on the shores of Lake Michigan, with lower housing costs and more nightlife options.
  • NY is a sprawling metropolis that rivals the size of several countries.
  • Both of them are fantastic destinations for families with young children. There are many options for fun outings that the whole family may enjoy.
  • These leading cities’ culture, cuisine, attractions, and entertainment are of the highest caliber. 
  • Both have convenient public transportation options, are easily accessible on foot, and are home to world-famous pizza parlors. There are, of course, many distinctions between them.

There is still more information to consider before making your final decision. I will look at those factors in depth, but let me start with the comparison table for now.

Comparative Analysis of Living in Chicago vs New York

As I mentioned earlier, these two metropolises have similarities and differences. Below is a table that shows how the two places differ.




Natural disasters




600 km²

783.8 km²


Daily high temperatures increase by 7°F, from 72°F to 79°F, rarely falling below 60°F or exceeding 91°F

Minimum temperatures of 68°F (20°C) and a maximum of 86°F (30°C).




Unemployment rate



Budgeted money for schools

$9.4 billion

$25 billion

Water bodies

Lakes and rivers

Freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs

This still might not be enough information to help you decide whether to move to Chicago or New York. So shall we examine the pros and cons of living in Chicago or New York? 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in New York

Living in NY is a dream come true for many people as there are many attractions and fun things to do. However,  it comes with its pros and cons. Let’s first see the pros. 

Benefits of Living in New York

Here are some advantages you will enjoy while living in this great city.

Benefits of Living in New York
  • Culture: It’s the perfect city for culture, arts, and nightlife. NY is home to 83 museums.
  • Job: There are a lot of job opportunities. NY is known for its telecommunications, fashion, finance, retail, and healthcare industries.
  • Transportation: It has an excellent public transportation system, number six in the country, and is relatively inexpensive.
  • Education: The metropolitan has a thriving educational system. Some of the best colleges and universities in the world call this city home.
  • Parks: You will take your kids to the beautiful parks in the city, such as Brooklyn bridge park, Riverside Park and Central Park.
  • Celebrity: The city is a celebrity hotspot. If you are lucky, you can spot Taylor Swift and Scarlett Johansson, who live in the city.
  • Cuisine: Residents enjoy incredible food, including New York City pizza, the legendary Manhattan clam chowder, and Mexican cuisine.

Let us now look at the downside of living in this metropolitan.

Drawbacks of Living in New York

In as much as there are a lot of pros of living here, there are also several drawbacks you will experience. They include:

Drawbacks of Living in New York

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  • High-cost living: It is an expensive city with a high cost of living, especially regarding accommodation. Living in New York means you will spend more.
  • Weather: Humid summers and Cold winters.
  • Traffic: Bad traffic due to over 8 million residents.
  • Population: Overpopulation and crowded streets. 
  • Noise: This city won’t let you enjoy the peaceful sound atmosphere.

Those are the pros and cons of living in this metropolitan. Let us shift our focus to Chicago and see what the metropolis offers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Chicago

Like any other metropolitan area, living there has advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at the pros that Chicago offers its residents.

Benefits of Living in Chicago

Living here has several advantages. They include:

Benefits of Living in Chicago
  • Entertainment: You can access entertainment options, exciting sports, and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art, dedicated to contemporary works of art worldwide.
  • Cuisine: Chicago residents enjoy delicious cuisine like the famous Chicago-style hot dog.
  • Summertime: Summers are incredible. 
  • Parks: You can take your family to beautiful gardens such as Burnham Park, Lincoln Park, and Millennium Park.
  • Living cost: The cost of living is relatively lower than that of NYC. 
  • Sport: Living in Chicago has its rewards, and one of them is access to world-class sporting events all year long at iconic sites like Wrigley Field, the longtime home of the Chicago Cubs.

Drawbacks of Living in Downtown Chicago

Despite its many advantages, living in Chicago has its downsides which include:

Drawbacks of Living in Downtown Chicago

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  • Harsh winters: The cold temperatures can drop below freezing from December to February, accompanied by ice, snow, and strong winds.
  • Air pollution: Unfortunately, the air here is quite polluted. 
  • Taxes: High sale taxes. 

Those are the advantages and disadvantages of the two cities. They might not be sufficient to decide on the two great cities you want to settle in. So let us look at other key comparisons.  

Chicago vs New York: Size and Population

These two cities are quite big in size and population. Here is what you should know:

Chicago vs New York: Size and Population

New York Population and Size

The most populated city in the US is NYC. 

  • The New York City population as of 2023 is 8.4 million.
  • The overall size of this metropolis is 472.43 square miles. 
  • The total land area is approximately 300.46 square miles. This area provides NY with a population density of 29,729 people per square mile. 

With its exceptionally high population density, the NY Metropolis is the most populous area in the country.

Chicago Population and Size

Chicago, compared to NYC, is less populated. With a population of around 2.7 million, Chicago is the third most populous area in the United States. 

  • It has 234.53 square miles and a population density of 12,124 people per square mile. 
  • Compared to the other major cities in the United States in terms of population, Chicago ranks seventh after NY, San Francisco, Jersey, Boston, Miami, and Santa Ana.

So, New York’s population density is over 2.5 times that of Chicago. The density has both positive and negative effects. NYC is the place to be if you’re looking for excitement and activity, whereas Chicago is a better choice if you’d prefer a slower pace of life.

Chicago vs New York: Housing Cost

The cost of living sets Chicago apart from NY. 

Chicago vs New York: Housing Cost

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  • Chicago’s rent is roughly 81% lower than New York’s. 
  • Chicago’s average rent is $1,862, compared to $3,374 in NY. 
  • The cost of buying a home or piece of land in NY is around 197% higher than the national average.

In summary, New York’s median home price is $680,500, compared to $229,100 in Chicago. In comparison, the national average in the United States is $231,200. Buying or renting a house with more living space in Chicago is cheaper than in NYC. 

Windy City vs Big Apple: Cost of Living

Both metropolises offer exciting town life, but residents of the Windy City can enjoy it at a much lower cost of living. Food, groceries, healthcare, transportation, and utilities all affect the average cost of living. 

  • NYC has 19% higher costs for food and utilities than Chicago. 
  • New York City’s cost of healthcare is increased by 39%, transportation by 43%, and utilities by 58%.
Cost of Living in Chicago VS NYC

Compared to other urban centers, Chicago has the lowest overall cost of living and the highest quality of life. This implies that you will receive more excellent value for your money in Chicago. Chicago is 36.3% less expensive overall than New York.

Chicago vs New York: Employment Opportunities

New York’s sheer size means it has more concentrations of top companies offering job possibilities than Chicago does. Therefore, it is the clear winner when comparing the two regarding available employment. 

  • NY is a global leader in the financial, informational, technological, legal, and medical sectors.
  • Chicago’s economy highly ranks financial services, publishing, insurance, food processing, and manufacturing.
  • The number of private sector jobs in New York State increased by 31,100, or 0.4%, to 8,249,400 in May 2023. During this same period, the private sector in Chicago added roughly 28,400. 
  • The average salary in NY is $50,501, while in Chicago is $73,873.
Chicago vs New York: Employment Opportunities
  • While New Yorkers receive an 11.6% wage premium over their Chicago counterparts, this premium is insufficient to meet the city’s comparatively higher cost of living.

The employment rate in Chicago is 2.2% higher than New York’s. Its annual job growth, though, is higher. New York City’s job market has climbed by 4.7% over the past decade, whereas Chicago’s has increased by 3.1%. Even while NY generally pays more, the city’s high cost of living often evens things out.

Chicago vs New York: Taxes

New York has a total tax burden of 12.75%, while Chicago has a burden of 9.72%.

  • The sales tax in Chicago is 10.25%, which is relatively high. That is primarily due to Chicago’s lack of a local income tax. 
  • New York’s rates are 3.078 percent at the low and 3.876 percent at the high end. 
  • All income earned by a New York resident (and by a resident of New York or Yonkers) is subject to state taxation. 
Note: The only income subject to taxation by a nonresident is that which originates in New York State, such as wages earned for work done in the state or rental income from New York real estate.

Chicago vs NYC: Schools

Education is important, and before choosing a suitable place to settle. I’m sure you want the best for your child or yourself, so here is a highlight of what to expect.

Schools in Chicago

The four-year high school graduation rate in Chicago public schools has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, setting a new high in 2022 (82.9%). Numerous graduates’ lives have been changed by the advancements made in such a brief period, and they are proof of what can be done when students are the focus of everything.

The best high schools in Chicago include:

The best high schools in Chicago

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There are also many good colleges and universities in the area, which include:

Now you know where to start if you decide to settle in Chicago. Shall we look at New York’s schools?

Schools in New York

There are 363 public schools in New York, NY, with a total enrollment of 164,982 students for the 2023 school year (and 206 private schools with 56,364 students). While 86% of New York State’s K-12 children attend public schools, 75% of New York City’s do.

Some of the best public schools in the area include:

 The best public schools in NYC

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There are also reputable universities here which include:

As you can see, both cities have good education. No matter where you decide to settle, plenty of educational institutions exist.

Chicago vs NYC: Preschools 

It’s important to consider where your toddler will go to school before moving to either metropolis. You should consider the location of your home or work, the evaluation methods used to assess the child’s progress, and the cost of tuition.

New York’s Preschools

The average private preschool tuition in NY is $15,902 per year. Eligible families can apply for free or low-cost pre-K programs with an extended day and year, including Head Start. Eligibility is based on income and needs. The best preschools in the region include:

New York's Preschools

What about Chicago? Does it have better Preschools?

Chicago’s Preschools

Illinois’s average private preschool tuition is $7,039 annually (2023). The private preschool with the lowest tuition is Creative Montessori Learning Center, with a tuition of $1,150. St. Examples of preschools in the area are:

Chicago's Preschools

Chicago vs NYC: Where Would You Feel Most Secure?

 In the United States, cities’ crime rates are ranked on a scale from 1 (the safest) to 100 representing the most dangerous. 

  • The United States has an average violent crime rate of 22.7 and a property rate of 35.4.
  • The security in New York is top-notch, and the area itself is fantastic. Compared to Chicago, New York has a far lower crime rate.
  • New York has a property crime rating of 24.9 and a violent crime rating of 28.2. 
  • Chicago ranks 46.3 on the property crime scale and 49.99 on the violent crime scale. 
Chicago vs NYC: Safety

New York’s comparatively low crime rate can be credited to the NYPD, the best-funded police force in the country. Compared to NY, which experienced 74 killings in 2022, Chicago has seen over 104 murders in 2022 and 800 homicides in 2021.

Windy City vs New York: Which City Has the Better Climate?

There is no clear winner between the two cities regarding the weather department. 

  • Higher values indicate more ease of living, and the comfortability index for Chicago is 7, while that for NY is 7.3. 
  • NY experiences more precipitation and sunshine during the summer and has a higher average temperature. 

Chicago is near Lake Michigan. Thus, the lake is believed to impact the city’s temperature. So, does it have an effect?

Does Chicago’s Proximity to Lake Michigan Affect Its Weather?

Despite its proximity to Lake Michigan, the lake has little noticeable effect on the weather in Chicago.

Does Chicago's Proximity to Lake Michigan Affect Its Weather?
  • The frequent, hot windstorms that hit Chicago gave the city its nickname.
  • Compared to New York, whose annual snowfall averages approximately 25 inches, Chicago receives an average of 35 inches. NY, though, has an advantage in this regard: the city may take on a mystical quality in the winter. Many out-of-towners choose to spend Christmas in New York City for the city’s legendary festive atmosphere.

So, records show that New York City has a little more favorable climate than Chicago. Temperatures are often warmer than in Chicago, even in the winter.

Chicago vs NYC: Public Transportation and Time Taken to Commute

Both cities have some of the best public transit in the country, but the MTA in New York City is unrivaled. 

  • The New York City subway system operates nonstop, and its extensive bus network makes it easy to travel throughout the five boroughs at any hour. 
  • Additionally, there are many more fast trains, and the city is laid out in a grid, making it simple to navigate. 
  • The L System in Chicago is likewise among the best in the country, despite being a little more dispersed and having fewer lines that operate 24/7.
  • Commute times in Chicago are often shorter than those in NY. 
  • New Yorkers, on average, spend 41 minutes every day on their commute, while Chicago residents pay only 35 minutes. 
Chicago vs NYC: Public Transportation

So, New York City’s public transportation is better than the one for Chicago. However, Chicago’s commute time is shorter than that of NY.

Culture in NYC vs Chicago

The most noticeable difference between NY to Chicago is how quickly things move. Chicago is much quieter than New York City, which may appeal to certain people. 

  • NY is a city full of life and activity, with a vibrant local culture and a never-ending list of things to do. 
  • On the other hand, Chicago is a more relaxed metropolis that stands out for its performing and visual arts innovations. 

The two places are excellent in their different ways, so choosing between them is a matter of taste. However, New York City has more life and variety than any other city.

Cuisine and Restaurants in NYC vs Chicago

Food is an important aspect of life, and we cannot function without it. Before moving to a new place, ask yourself if you can adapt to their eating habits. Here is what each metropolis has to offer.

New York’s Food and Restaurants

When it comes to famous, once-in-a-lifetime cuisine, no other city in North America compares to New York City. The food scene in NYC is influenced by the history of New York being a melting pot of many cultures.

  • Some of New York City’s finest Chinese cuisine may be found in the area known as Chinatown. 
 Chinatown, New York City
  • Popular New York City cuisine includes Italian restaurants, cheesecake, New York-style pizza, and bagels.
  • In addition, the city is sprinkled with fast-food restaurants and cafes.
  • Restaurants include Birria-Landia, Teranga, and La Morada.

Chicago’s Food and Restaurants

Chicago has something for everyone. Here are examples of what you can find.

  • The Chicago sandwich, deep-dish pizza, and Chicago-style hot dogs are just a few of the fast foods available in Chicago. 
Chicago's Food
  • The city also features a variety of international cuisines, such as the Italian beef sandwich, the Puerto Rican-influenced jibarito, the chicken Vesuvio, and the saganaki.
  • You can eat those cuisines at several restaurants, including Pizzeria Uno, Flub A Dub Chub’s, and Harold’s Chicken Shack.

The cuisine of the two urban areas provides a striking portrait of the way of life in those places. 

Sports: NY vs Chicago

Quite the sports fanatic, huh? When comparing NYC to Chicago, you’ll quickly realize that the city has much more going for it.

Sports in Chicago

Chicago’s sports franchises and eighteen titles cement the city’s status as one of the greatest in the United States regarding sports.

You will become a massive fan of

  • The Chicago Bears;
  • The Blackhawks (with their six Stanley Cups);
  • The Bulls (nine NBA titles);
  • The Fire (soccer). 

Two of the best baseball teams in the Major Leagues are 

Chicago's sports
  • The Chicago White Sox;
  • The Chicago Cubs.

Let us see the sports activities available in NY if you decide to settle there instead.

Sports in NY

Chicago may have a more robust sports culture, but New York City still has much to offer. NY has ten professional sports teams, including the famous: 

Sports in NYC
  • NY Yankees;
  • NY Jets;
  • NY Knicks;
  • NY Giants.

So, Chicago wins in this sports sector. 

Chicago vs New York: Quality of Life Index

Numbeo’s quality of life index gives Chicago a tiny edge over NY. The city’s crime rate, job market, weather, healthcare quality, home prices, pollution, and less traffic were all used to create this index. 

Chicago received a high score of 155.32 based on these criteria. On the other hand, NY had an average score of 136.47. 

The large disparity between the scores was mainly caused by New York’s expensive living costs and low average income. To summarize all these, here is a comparison table:



Cost of living


Job Opportunity

New York

Crime rates

New York

Quality of Life Index


City Culture

New York

Lifestyle and Cuisine

New York


New York

Commute Times


Public transportation

New York

Frequently Asked Questions

Is New York City or Chicago Better?

New York has a more frantic and work-focused culture, while Chicago is more laid-back and provides an improved balance between work and life. Both locations are home to renowned museums and have made significant artistic contributions.

Which City Is More Expensive Chicago or New York?

The overall cost of living is lower in Chicago by 42.9% compared to NY. The expense of housing is the most significant single contributor to the cost of living gap, but other factors are also at play. 

Is NYC Similar to Chicago?

No, NYC is not similar to Chicago. They appeal to various people because of the vastly different atmospheres they provide. Chicago has a distinctive culture that is more relaxed and cheaper, but New York City’s excitement is unmatched.

Is It Colder in Chicago or NYC?

Chicago is colder than NYC. New York’s winters are moderate, typically 10 degrees milder than Chicago’s. NY offers milder weather than Chicago in the summer and winter and throughout the year.

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The contrast between Chicago vs New York City is valid because the two urban areas are comparable in many ways. Both cities offer a lot and are stunning locations to call home. Numerous skyscrapers and other architectural marvels, like the Empire State Building, where you can tour the building more than 80 floors to the observation deck, can be seen in and around New York’s City center. 

Even downtown Chicago has impressive bridges, high-rises, and skyscrapers like Willis Tower (Sears Tower) to offer. While the two largest cities are bustling with activity, New York’s pace is much faster and provides more energy than Chicago’s. While Chicago has a higher crime rate, it has lower living, transportation, and food costs. 

With its sheer size and numerous commercial districts, New York City is the superior choice for those seeking job opportunities. The people there have a great work ethic and an excellent head for business. Chicago is an ideal option for families because of its relaxed pace and plenty of family-friendly attractions, such as Central Park, which is densely populated.

New York VS Chicago