Ever since the dot com era, practically everyone interested in a technology career is set to frolic over to Silicon Valley at some point in their lives. More often than not, areas such as San Francisco are seen as the only land of opportunity for Computer Science graduates and alike. Although this was could have been justified decades ago, times have definitely changed, and Chicago has an abundance of resources and opportunities for tech startups and programmers.
1. The Cost of Living
Perhaps the most ludicrous thing that scares people away from cities in places like New York and California is the cost of living. Whether it’s buying groceries or paying rent, almost everything in these megacity hubs cost ridiculous amounts– except for Chicago. You wouldn’t be wrong if you said Chicago is an expensive city to live in, but compared to other cities, Chicago is substantially more affordable to live in. From our visit to Techweek, Mayor Rahm Emanuel explained how for the price of an apartment in Chicago, you would only be able to afford a closet in San Francisco.
Additionally, most Chicagoland suburbs are under a 45 minute drive, sometimes 20-30 minutes if it wasn’t for rush hour, from the heart of the city. Living in these suburbs drastically reduce any concerns over the cost of living compared to most other cities– especially since all of Chicago is very centrally located whereas in California, cities are heavily separated from one another (travelling from Los Angeles to San Francisco would require a flight or a 6 hour drive).
2. Tech-hubs and Communities
If you were to begin a tech start-up or try to make it as a programmer pretty much anywhere and end up failing, you’re basically out of luck. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily true for those in Chicago. There are tons and tons of quickly growing and nationally recognized innovation spaces in Chicago– WeWork, General Assembly, Coco, and countless others. Not to forget, Chicago is also home to 1871, the number one incubator in North America and number four in the world. All of these spaces can help you learn new skills, thrive as a programmer, and take your business ideas from a dream to a reality.
3. A dense, unique melting pot
Although Chicago is smaller in terms of physical size compared to most other popular cities, it is still massive. Within every square mile, there are countless activities to do, restaurants to eat at, and iconic landmarks and places to visit. There are over 200 neighborhoods in Chicago– River North, West Loop, Old Town, Wrigleyville, the list goes on and on– with every neighborhood having its own culture, unique food, must see’s, and history behind it. Each of these neighborhoods are a short drive from one another, or if you’re taking the CTA, a few train stops away. Anyone can easily spend an entire day or two exploring just a single one of these neighborhoods, guaranteeing that you’ll never be bored in Chicago.
4. Widespread Innovation
Chicago follow immediately after Boston, when it comes to the city with the most colleges and universities, with over 670,000 students pursuing higher education degrees. It’s quite obvious that Chicago is a mega-center of innovation. With a university around every corner, an atmosphere of learning surrounds Chicago, which brings about the drive for people to constantly learn and innovate. Besides the tons of tech companies, both big and small, there is an abundance of industries in Chicago that create massive innovations. Additionally, there are countless incubators and workspaces, like the ones mentioned above, which spark massive innovation both in the Chicagoland area and across the globe.
5. It’s Beauty
There is no doubt that Chicago is a beautiful city. Visitors are immediately drawn to Chicago’s stunning architecture, the breath-taking buildings and views, iconic locations like the Riverwalk, the marvelous bridges that connect both sides of the city across the Chicago River, and of course the countless beaches along the coast of Lake Michigan. The Windy City is not just a concrete jungle plastered with ads like NYC or an expensive “lifestyle” like the West Coast. The city of Chicago is a museum of its own and every square inch of it is astonishing.