Student City Guide: Chicago 2023
5 Min

Student City Guide: Chicago 2023

5 Min
Uploaded on
Mar 30, 2022
Last updated on
Dec 2, 2022
Uploaded on
Mar 30, 2022
Last updated on
Dec 2, 2022
Student guide to Chicago
Catch the best recommendations on off-campus living in Chicago, transportation, and more.

Welcome to our student guide for Chicago

Chicago, Illinois is a top destination for studying abroad in the US. The welcoming environment, studious vibes and lots of fun activities attract large flocks of students to this magnificent city. According to recent statistics, the US welcomes over 1 million international students every year. Many overseas populations travel to some significant cities covering Chicago, New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and many more.

Whilst all the perks, moving abroad to Chicago for studying can be a little daunting for young minds. Top universities, transport, safer student housing housing in Chicago, and now even sanitized and many others strike international students before moving. To accommodate all your queries in the most exciting manner, here is our ultimate guide to moving to Chicago as a student in 2021-2022.

Which are the top universities in Chicago?

It would be challenging to enlist all of Chicago's prestigious universities because there are so many. To name the top choices in 2021, the best higher education institutions raise every student's eyebrows who dream of studying abroad.

1. University of Chicago

Founded in 1890, the University of Chicago is one of the US's oldest public research universities. The university is renowned for its honorary and academic degrees and latest curriculum and holds immense pride to inhibit more than 15,949 students every year. Having a great history of servitude for more than 131 years, the University of Chicago enjoys being a powerhouse of talents and boasts an excellent opportunity for future-shaping skills.

2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best private universities in Chicago. Associated with the Art Institute of Chicago, the SAIC culminates in a plethora of artistic courses for over 3,000 prestigious slots for students every year. Founded in 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has produced globally recognized talents including Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Don Balke, and John Churchill Chase.

3. DePaul University

DePaul University is a private catholic research education university in the city which was built under the city council's supervision. The aim of the institute is to provide local people and international populace a source of learning. The university was founded in 1898 and is now the largest Catholic university in the United States, by enrollment.

4. University of Illinois

Situated on the border of Evanston, University of Illinois is a well-appointed public research university for learning advanced medical science, business and engineering courses. Registered as a framework of the institution in 1982, the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) is classified as “R1: Doctoral universities”, tagging it to be one of the most nurturing environments for more than 33,000 students in Chicago.

5. Illinois Institute of Technology

Another entrant on our list and a highly competitive institution to UIC, Originated in 1890, the Illinois Institute of Technology is the most critical learning centre in the US, boasting various locations. The Illinois Institute of Technology offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in architecture, business, engineering, computer science, law,and technology to over 7,266 students, ranking the Illinois Institute of Technology at 74th position in the US by Washington Monthly.

Many of the universities in Chicago bring superior education at affordable prices. But as things move along, you should aim towards earning annual scholarships and early enrollments to ensure a sweet experience while studying abroad. In addition, the US government has also recently announced about the latest terms for student loan forgiveness.

How much can it cost you to live in Chicago?

The Chicago Council has focused on providing an affordable living to its citizens in the last few years. In fact, according to a poll, Chicago is roughly 67% less expensive as compared to New York. Furthermore, while both the cities exhibit similar food and clothing prices, you will enjoy slashed housing and transportation costs in Chicago.

To explain Chicago's average daily spending, here is a quick breakdown of the average monthly costs linked with students in Chicago.

  • Rent for accommodation - $1000-1500
  • Food and other eatery shopping - $500-700
  • Local Transport - $150-250
  • Books and stationery - $175-225
  • Internet and mobile phone - $100-150
  • Social and leisure activities - $450-600

Note: Each price is mentioned every month. They can vary depending on seasonal demand.

What are the main costs of living as a student in Chicago?

The best perk of living in Chicago is the city's connectivity. You can always hop on a tram or a bus or book the famous Yellow cabs. Moreover, this also provides an excellent benefit for students to live in various new types of accommodation as per their requirements. That's why, being a tremendous, supportive hand to all the students, our Student Guide Chicago also includes some of the best student accommodation types in Chicago.

However, you should note that all these housing options will differ in prices or sizes as you move away from the City Centre. That's why students are advised to choose the best suitable student accommodation that leaves a big-budget aside for daily activities.  

Which are the different types of accommodation in Chicago?

University Managed Rooms

University-managed rooms, a.k.a uni dorms, are the most important choices for sophomore students. These rooms are dorm-like 1-bedroom housing structures with suitable living conditions for students. The best thing about university-managed accommodation options is that they are present in the vicinity of every major university that consumes less travel time to and from the college.


Studio apartments are another popular rental accommodation in Chicago that you can avail of near every significant university. The studio apartments come with either 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom options for tenants. Studios also have a slightly high-grade room quality than university-managed rooms, making them a popular choice for living.


The En-suite student apartments in Chicago are private rooms and offer a better privacy feature for students. This student housing boasts private bathrooms and even kitchen spaces for those who like to enhance their productivity by living independently.

Sharing accommodation

Sharing accommodation is such accommodation that offers group sharing for students living in the city. Students enjoy a significant benefit of rent and utility bill reduction in such properties while studying abroad. And they always manage to make unforgettable memories for students that remain in mind for years.


PBSA, commonly known as the Purpose Built Student Accommodation, are those properties in Chicago that are rapidly becoming one of Illinois' highly searched student housing. PBSA are present in every major university at affordable prices and often comes with student-oriented facilities.

Now that we have seen what the housing options are in your next destination, let’s explore what Chicago’s street view looks like and how you can explore it by some simple hacks.

Which are the best places to eat in Chicago?

Blue Door Farm Stand

Blue Door Farm Stand is the go-to place for Midwestern-styled cuisine in Chicago. The popular restaurant is present near DePaul University in Lincoln Park. Blue Door Farm Stand brings together a mix-recipe dish covering its famous Cheese Curds, fried chicken sliders and seasonal vegetable dishes. Don’t worry about the hanging watering cans and lots of plants fouling your smell for cuisines because they won’t and only add an aesthetic touch to your dining experience.

The unmissable Pasta Palazzo

No, we aren’t talking about hefty 3-star hotels for a simple pasta, but we are exaggerating about some solidly tasty pasta at the most popular restaurants. The Pasta Palazzo at 1966 N Halsted Street brings together a variety of pasta dishes (penne bolognese, ravioli, or gnocchi) ranging from $8-11. The Pasta Palazzo is a one-stop place for your hunger with a mouth-watering taste and presence right next to Lincoln Park.

One visit to Morry’s Deli will be all to be a regular

With over 50 years of existence, the Morry’s Deli is a prominent location in S Cornell Avenue near Hyde Park. The place is relatively calm and brings together a quieter and swift eating experience for outsiders. Their pastrami and the three-layered sandwiches are the best items on the menu. A well-furnished location in Chicago with lots of fans, the deli offers fresh dishes and some classic dishes. So, maybe only visit Morry’s Deli if you have a plan for a nap afterwards.

Low on cash? Visit Edzo’s Burger Shop

If you’ve ever felt the need to eat a lot while saving more, then Edzo’s Burger Shop is for you! The place is famous for its fantastic grilled diner-influenced patties, fries and hot dogs. The joint is located on Sherman Avenue in Evanston and offers a mix of fast food intakes ranging from buffalo with bleu cheese fries, chilli fries, and even an Oreo Shake (yes, you read it right!).

The extravagant Edgewater’s Mango Pickle

Mango Pickle is a sizable neighborhood restaurant and an excellent Indian food restaurant. The Mango Pickle restaurant lies over the beautiful shore of Edgewater and covers all the Indian and central Western dishes for students. Covering the best chana masalas and the most-delicious seared scallops with cardamom beets, the Mango Pickle is a delightful treat for you and your friends and a must-visit evening diner in Chicago.

How to make the most of local attractions on a budget?

How come there’s all work and no play? To accommodate your inner spirit animal, here are the top local attractions you must visit in Chicago and make the best unforgettable memories of your studying abroad experience.

Selfies by the Bean

The unmissable Bean is one of the most widely recognized places in Chicago. Erected in 2006, Bean, a.k.a Cloud Gate, has been a significant tourist attraction and used for various film backgrounds, including the popular hit “Source Code.” The 66-foot interest can be found at Millenium Park in the Loop.

Submerge in Chicago’s beautiful skyline at Willis Tower

Formerly known as Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is a great attraction for you to gaze at the beautiful skyline of Chicago. The Willis Tower is the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Mixing buildings with the clouds from over 108-story skyscrapers takes a lot for one trip.

Defeat your fears at Navy Pier

If you like amusement parks (and why wouldn’t anyone, suitable!) and aim to stay near the city center, the Navy Pier is the spot. The famous amusement park brings some of the best rides, including the famous Navy Pier. This 3,300-foot-long-pier stretches from the Streeterville neighborhood to Lake Michigan, giving a whole lot more fun than anticipated.

Make a wish come true at Buckingham Fountain

Even if you haven’t found a wish to make it accurate, the Clarence Buckingham fountain is a must-visit location. The place brings its exclusive water-light shows and well-known 20-minute long water fountain displays that submerge every trespasser into the beauty of it. The Clarence Buckingham fountain is one of the world’s largest fountains and brings the center attraction of collection between 9 AM to 11 PM once every hour.

Spend this Christmas at the Christmas Market

The city is known for its Christmas celebrations. To mark its way into the New Year, the town holds Christkindlmarket, where both local and international travelers join the road and enjoy the lovely decorations of the road, buildings, and Christmas trees. This 25-year old tradition is one of the come-and-go moments, so better watch out if you’re around in Chicago this December.

Are there any bills or mandatory expenses for students that you should know?

Chicago is a well-managed city and delivers a low-cost living environment for residents. But since most of your expenses will be under the Cost of Attendance (COA), it is essential to know about your mandatory fees that can be a hectic tension if not dealt with correctly.  

Here are some of the mandatory bills and expenses that every student should consider before settling for a place in Chicago.

Electric/gas/water bill

All utility bills are not included in students' rent expenditures. To make sure these are either added or removed, you can consult about the breakdown of your rental agreement from your landlord. Furthermore, rental studios or a private hall of residence in Chicago are also advised to check all the regulatory measures of such billings to avoid any fraud or misconduct.


Stationary is an inseparable part of students' lives. They are regular expenses and require no extra money to be kept aside. But keeping a large chunk of money beforehand for your stationery and buying in bulk allows you to leverage numerous discounts and sometimes even buy them at bargain prices.

Mobile phones & Internet

During the Covid-19 pandemic, mobile phones and the Internet have helped many students keep in touch with their family and friends. Being an essential amenity for students, mobile phones and internet connections in Chicago could be bought at low prices with a local vendor. Check out eSIM USA for cost-effective internet and sim plans for students.

TV license

TV does hold a special place in many young hearts. But as the generation has moved from TVs to digital media, every student is biased to choose their entertainment option. You can also select various streaming platform services that allow you to binge-watch several new TV series and movies online. You can also purchase different plans with your roommates and share annual/monthly charges to enjoy full-fledged entertainment.

Which are the common ways to travel in Chicago?

Our student guide Chicago would have been incomplete if we hadn't discussed the transportation city of Chicago. Chicago is a central hub for transportation in the United States.

And the best part, the city hasn't been out of its bound to provide a cheap and affordable transportation system. Here are the common ways to travel in Chicago.


Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) brings together a vast network of railway tracks that connects the city to numerous metropolitan towns. Amtrak, Metra, and L-Train are the three most popular rail transit systems covering various towns, including  Allendale, Normal, Urbana, Richardson, and Buffalo, making Chicago Union Railway Station a popular travel destination of the US.


Chicago's bus services are run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace, which provide two of the most bus services for residents. Chicago's bus system covers over 200 suburbs and city extensions that offer an excellent opportunity for students to travel around the city.

Bicycle and sharing scooters

The city council in 2013 introduced Divvy, a bicycle-sharing system that allows residents to travel via bicycles and Electric shared scooters. The city contains well over 750 bikes and 250 electric scooters. Such perks will enable you to explore the city's aesthetic beauty via road and visit the most famous squares and corners.


The Chicago council has also provided their citizens with a local taxi system that quickly books taxis via mobile apps. The best perk about Chicago's taxi system is that the city's average fare charges are far lower than in the adjacent parts of the US.

Which are the most preferred places to stay in Chicago as a student?

Being an affordable place in Southwest England, Chicago brings many student housing options near every significant university, bus and train station, and famous market. This means that if you slide your finger on any one of these mentioned places, you won't regret your conscience. Here are the top well-maintained and budget-friendly student accommodation options in Chicago to help you out during research.

1.  Lakeside Edgewater Neighborhood Apartments

Lakeside Edgewater Neighborhood Apartments is the most popular student accommodation option in Chicago. The student housing service offers possible room services such as laundry facility, air conditioning, refrigerator, and starting at $640/week. Lakeside Edgewater Neighborhood Apartments is present within a 1-minute walking distance from Loyola University College and 15-minutes from the School of the Art of Chicago, making it a tough competition to grab a vacant room here.

2. Prairie Shores

Prairie Shores is another excellent student accommodation in Chicago. Located within a 7-minute walk from the University of Illinois Chicago and a 14-minute walk from DePaul University, Prairie Shores offers a perfect reasonable location and comes with a variety of features such as a keyless entry, city and lake views, air conditioning, 24-hour maintenance, and fitness centre starting at $739/week.

3. The Buckingham

As far as privacy and pocket-friendly options go top on priorities, look no further than The Buckingham. This student housing in Chicago offers the most well-furbished student accommodation services including Coffee machine, sky lounge, movie theatre, and 24/7 package pickup. Priced at $1199/week, The Buckingham is present nearby every local market and boasts one of the most exclusive views of the city. Moreover, a majority of the students reside here due to the closeness to major universities making this place a great bargain for you in Chicago.

4. Algonquin Apartments

Fourth comes the Algonquin Apartments in Chicago. The place is situated on the East 50 Plane and brings more peace and a beautiful top view for its residents. The site is near significant universities covering the University of Chicago and Chicago City Centre. The place offers top-notch student accommodation amenities, including bike storage, a fitness centre, and a lot more at a starting price of $1275/week.

5. Regents Park

Regents Park will cover our top recommendations of student accommodation in Chicago because it offers ample basic amenities and good service facilities. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is at an 11-minute distance. The University of Illinois is also near the property. Regents Park student housing place costs an average of $1430/week and brings a bargain deal for students visiting Chicago.

You can always check all the top and available student accommodation places in Chicago here.

How to enjoy the prevalent lifestyle of Chicago?

Enjoy the sandy beaches

The city of Chicago isn't known for its strands of stands. But credit to Lake Michigan, the city boasts 26 official strands of sans covering some notable locations like North Avenue Beach, 57th Street Beach, and many others. Our personal favorites are Ohio Street Beach and 63rd Street Beach, which are always a delight to visit.


No, we aren't talking about the effect, but the aftereffects of the famous Lollapalooza music festival are the individual's responsibility. This 4-day long music festival is one of many city festivals that fills the city with joy and love. Seeing A-list artists, including Miley Cyrus and Foo Fighters, is a mesmerizing memory for students in Chicago.

Behold the natural beauty at Lincoln Park Zoo

The city also brings you the famous Lincoln Park Zoo, where you will be seeing a plethora of animals and wild creatures. There are also ZooLight tours, concerts, and adult-only nights that make this place a go-to for the perfect weekend destination with your friends.

Movies at Chicago Park District

Ever experienced what it feels like to watch a movie while enjoying the incredible natural breeze. If not, you are bound to visit the Chicago Park District movie event. Every year, the Chicago Park District arranges the best outdoor movie experience for its residents. Open-air cinema, lots of new friends to make and a whole lot of fun, sounds precisely like another movie story.

Check out the nightlife of Chicago

The days are good, but as students step over a little in the evening, it is a must to go through the city's nightlife. Chicago brings a safe nightlife for you to visit the famous nightclubs, bars, and public attractions. The Underground, Berlin, Five Iron Gulf, and Kirkwood are some of the best pubs where you can drink various soft drinks, margaritas, and mocktails.

How can you earn some bucks by side hustles while living in Chicago?

It is easy to deduce that Chicago is not as costly as living in neighbouring cities like Urbana or Big Rapids. But studying abroad can also come hefty if your expenses aren't managed well. That's why here we now present to you the best side hustles that you can do while studying at university in Chicago and manage your expenses well.

Part-time tutoring

Part-time tutoring, or teaching in general, allows you to grab essential insights on particular subjects while delivering their outcomes to young students. Be it elementary mathematics or soft skills, most students would be in more prominent sweet spots while doing something bilateral that leaves both the parties in profit. And the best part, you needn't require a high-profiled additional degree or course to enter into part-time student tutoring.

Become a web writer

In 2021, many students have shared how they managed to grab basic content writing skills via internships and part-time jobs. Becoming a content writer is one of the most critical and affluent jobs in the marketing world. SEO, copywriting, ad-writing, and many other aspects allow you to get a taste of the digital marketing industry and make a name for yourself. Give it a whirl if you can!

University application mentor

University Application Mentors are unique entities hired by universities every year. Their role revolves around sophomore students' help and caters to their queries regarding the basic application processes. Additionally, the university application mentor can also engage in other college activities such as General Championships and Sports Events, giving them a tremendous upper hand to a wide range of networks and acquaintances.  

Student Ambassador

Student Ambassador is another excellent part of student life that resembles a student union leader.

-Resolving conflicts between students.

-Catering to their daily needs in and out of university.

-Controlling the student panel during functions or events.

How to make your life a bit easier living in Chicago?

Our student guide Chicago 2021 mainly revolves around the city's latest ground reports, And it also will include some of the least-known but these vital points with our readers.

What to do in case of emergency(rental frauds/immigration issues etc.)?

In cases of rental fraud or tenet misbehaviour, you should contact the legal authorities soon after an ill moment takes place. You can also take aid from university administration or directly consult with their seniors. Such individual officers or students can quickly brief the city's council and concerned city agencies.

Manage Finances

Visiting a home away from home comes with a lot of uncertain expenses. That's why you should be well prepared for any avoidable spending while living as an international student in Chicago. The tip here is to be cautious and save anywhere possible. You can look up garage sales and discount shops in Chicago via local Facebook Groups.

Such corner deals allow you to explore a wide variety of unused items ranging from room decorations, laptops, and even drum sets for your leisure activities. At last, make sure you follow a monthly budget and go through your spending once in a while to ascertain any missed loophole for quick saving.  

Useful websites and apps

Students visiting Chicago are advised to download popular local apps such as Citymapper, Evernote, Roadify, Dolly, and Open Table. It suffices to be a mobile trend-user in a modern world, isn't it right?

Frequently Asked Questions

Unlock your free flight ticket

Your ideal student home & a flight ticket awaits

Claim now