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 in Chicago, and now even sanitized and many others strike international students before moving. To accommodate all your queries most excitingly, here is our ultimate housing guide to moving to Chicago as a student.
Top areas for student accommodation in Chicago
Located in the Southwest with affordable transport links, Pilsen is the crown of student accommodation. It was founded by Czech immigrants. This locality is well-known for its vintage clothing stores, inexpensive eateries and drinks and Thalia hall music venue.
- Hyde Park
Hyde Park is well known for its green area that soothes the souls. From beautiful parks to vintage museums, this location gives a suburb vibe for student accommodation. Located on the southern side, commuting downtown can be done in no time. Renting a bike or taking the lakefront trail are the most common commute options in this location.
- Lincoln Park
With DePaul’s University campus in its vicinity, Lincoln Park is an ideal location for student accommodation. With sprawling parks, lakeside picnic spots, and attractive green areas, Lincoln Park has more to offer than anyone can imagine. There is a lot to do at this location, from a shopping hub to a world-class heritage of music.
Types of student accommodations
For freshers, it is vital to know a wide range of student accommodations in Chicago. Likewise, every one of the housing choices may accompany loads of experts and undetectable cons too as well! Let us add one more subject to our student rents in Chicago to comprehend the various sorts of student halls in Chicago.
On-campus Student Accommodation
On-campus student accommodations include University residences, hostels or dormitories that are managed by the University. These options provide suitable access to the amenities rendered by the college on its campus.
University Residence Halls: Hostels or Dormitories that are managed by the University. These options provide expedient access to the amenities rendered by the college on its campus.
Off-campus Student Accommodation
Off-campus student accommodations include PBSAs, HMOs and other room types. They are cost-effective as compared to on-campus accommodation. Students can live on their terms except for a few property rules.
PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation)
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.
HMOs (houses of multiple occupancies)
HMOs are highly-efficient student housing in Chicago where more than 3 students can rent out the same accommodation at the same time and share the facilities.
- University Managed Rooms
University-managed rooms, aka university 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 which 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 my mind for years.
Best student accommodation options in Chicago
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 your 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/month. Lakeside Edgewater Neighborhood Apartments is present within a 1-minute walking distance from Loyola University, Chicago 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 perfectly 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/month.
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 a Coffee machine, sky lounge, movie theatre, and 24/7 package pickup. Priced at $1199/month, 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/month.
5. Regents Park
Regents Park will cover our top recommendations for 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/month and brings a bargain deal for students visiting Chicago.
You can always check all the top and available student accommodation places in Chicago here.
Cost of living in Chicago
The Chicago Council has focused on providing 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 to students in Chicago.
Note: Each price is mentioned every month. They can vary depending on seasonal demand.
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 housing 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.
Mandatory bills and expenses for students
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 which 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.
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.
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.
Common ways to travel in Chicago
Our student housing 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 in 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 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.
Guidelines to Choose a Roommate
Ask yourself these questions while deciding on your roommate:
- Do they have a reliable source of income to pay rent and utility bills?
- Do they have pets?
- Can you trust them to be around your personal belongings?
- Are they willing to sign a lease and abide by the terms and conditions?
- How do you plan to split up home responsibilities?
- Who will they have over as guests?
Usually, room sharing is closed over WhatsApp groups or social media.
- Bed Bugs: These are common. To prevent bed bugs you can avoid using used/old mattresses.
- Roaches: Safety against roaches can be assured by making sure that the pest control is carried out before you moved in.
- Commuting: Prices for CTA Rails and Buses are subsidised for students.
- Unsafe area: Walk Score is one website to check the safety score of localities. You can visit it here.
- Language or cross-cultural barriers: Certain accommodations provide single community housing.
This is a security fee that is paid to the landlord in terms of a fixed amount of money. The deposit is refundable at the end of your stay tenure. The average amount for deposits is $50 to $300 (or in some cases one month’s rent).
A fixed amount ranging from $25 per person to $75 per person. This is a non-refundable amount even if you have paid it already and then cancelled the booking.
This fee is contributed by everyone who is renting the apartment. The refund policy is similar to the application fee.
Due to renter-friendly laws in Chicago, it is very common for the tenant to abuse this privilege. Specific to the city, 90% of the accommodation landlords charge a high Admin fee of $200 to $500 which is a consequence of manhandling and defilement of the properties.
Varies from apartment to apartment. Can range from $3 to $10 per month per pet.
Wait for List Charge
An amount that needs to be given to the apartment to lock your request. For some popular apartments, there are wait-list charges (token money) that you have to deposit. It is a non-refundable amount, but for certain apartments.
The total cost that you end up paying at the time of booking stacks up as follows: Deposit + Application Fee (per person) + Admin Fee + Pet Charges (per pet). In certain cases, the apartment may also ask for the first month’s rent.
Social Security Number (SSN)
If you are a US resident you need to have a Social Security number to get an apartment to rent. SSN is linked to your credit history report which is
It is a number that depicts a person’s creditworthiness based on past financial history. If you have an impressive credit score the amount for deposit significantly decreases. Some apartments may have a minimum threshold credit score to make you an eligible renter.
Number of Tenants
The max number of people who can stay in an apartment is mostly mentioned in the apartment guidelines. Generally, 2 students are allowed per room (1b — max. 2 students, 2b — max. 4 students) in the apartment. Often, to save rental costs, students accommodate guests permanently without informing the apartment management. This is not advised and may lead to the cancellation of your lease agreement. However, you can accommodate guests temporarily without any issues.
In formal leasing agreements, rental periods typically break down accordingly:
- One-year lease
- Six-month lease
- Three-month lease
- Month-to-month lease
Usually, a longer leasing period will significantly drop your monthly rent amount. Abandoning a lease can mean serious financial and legal consequences.
In certain cases, the landlord/housing management may require a lease guarantor which acts as a third party to help provide security in terms of the rental. You can get concessions in deposits if you have a guarantor.
A minimum fixed amount of time before which if the rental agreement is broken, then the tenant won’t get refunds on the deposit. The lock-in period varies and is mentioned clearly in the lease agreement.
Following are the documents required to process the rental agreement:
- i20 (mandatory)
- Passport (mandatory)
- Visa (mandatory)
- Bank Statement (in certain cases)
- Credit Score (in certain cases)
The agreement needs to be attested (digitally signed or hand-signed soft copy) along with the verification documents for each of the boarders mentioned on the lease agreement.
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.
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?
Q1. What is Chicago famous for?
Answer: Chicago is famous for its:
- Green spots.
- Jazz music.
- Maxwell Street.
- Free Zoo.
- International Trade.
Q2. Which type of climate does Chicago have?
Answer: With a typically continental climate, Chicago has warm summers and cool winters.
Being the 3rd largest city in the United States, Chicago is home to millions of students. It is well-known for its dedicated sports fans, international trade and commerce. With abundant transportation options, the commute is effortless in Chicago. It is a perfect choice for student accommodation with affordable services. Find your student accommodation today at amber.