So you’ve made the decision to move to the big city—how exciting!
I was in your shoes post-college, and while it can seem overwhelming at first, there are a few resources you should know about to make the process easier. Between researching apartments, trying your first Chicago deep dish pizza, and finding the perfect neighborhood, check out these five tools that I have come to love as I’ve settled in to this great city:
- Craigslist: Need to find an apartment? Craigslist is the king of apartment listings; but be prepared to put in work to find your perfect pad. The beauty of Craigslist comes from the fact that it’s free to post a listing for anything that you want to sell. The downfall? Spam, lots of spam. There are a few ways landlords and realty companies push their apartments over others, notably by posting the same apartment over and over, even multiple times a day. With a bit of filtering and research, you can find a GREAT place via Craigslist, just be careful to avoid scams. Other services for apartment hunting I recommend are: Domu, Hotpad, and @Properties. One final tip is to simply walk around the neighborhood you want to live in and look for the classic ‘For Rent’ signs. Many landlords aren’t tech savvy enough for an online listing, and you can find some real gems with this old school approach.
- Uber: You have probably heard of Uber as the service has had its fair share of issues due to the disruptive nature of the business model. But the service itself has revolutionized the way people get around the city. I was first introduced to Uber with a ‘First Ride Free!’ coupon an Uber rep was distributing. My first ride with Uber was back when their main ride model revolved around working with taxi companies for easy pickup, GPS tracking, and payment. Uber really shook up the industry when they empowered anyone with a car to use their service. UberX prices are much lower than hailing a cab off the street, and most of the cars are cleaner and the drivers friendlier than a normal cab. Adding to the ease of use is the fact that once you reach your destination, you simply thank the driver for the ride and walk out, your credit card links up with the app and all fees are already included. Want to give it a shot? Get $20 off your first ride with coupon code: UberCouponCode
- Yelp: Want to discover the best of the best in your neighborhood? Whether you’re looking for something as specific as: “Sports Bar, Has Parking, Good For Kids” or just looking to find a place to enjoy a beer and burger on a patio, Yelp is full of great business listings and insightful reviews. I’m an avid “Yelper” and you’ll find out very quickly that people are NOT afraid to express their brutally honest opinions on this platform. My favorite feature is the ability to drill all the way down to ‘sort by distance’ to find walkable places to sit down and grab a bite to eat.
- Instacart: Need something delivered? Try Instacart. When I say ‘delivered’ I’m not just talking dinner or lunch. Food ordering apps are everywhere these days, but did you know you can get a giant bag of dog food delivered right to your door? Instacart will deliver practically anything you need from a grocery store, and they’ll do it quickly. Taking a note from Uber’s business model, Instacart drivers are just normal people looking to make a few extra bucks by driving and delivering groceries and goods. Instacart is gaining popularity very quickly in Chicago and aims to make life a little easier, one delivery at a time.
- Divvy: Full disclosure here, I have not used Divvy yet, but I plan to soon. Divvy is a bike sharing service that lets you either grab a 24-hour pass or signup for $75 a year. You simply register for a bike, find a Divvy station located in the city, bike to your destination, and then drop off the bike at Divvy station nearby. My new position, here at Zerocater, has me commuting downtown and then walking about a half mile to the office. While a half mile isn’t a long walk, part of me REALLY wants to be lazy enough to hop on a bike and feel the wind on my face as I ride over the beautiful Chicago river to and from work. Divvy is opening many more Chicago stations in 2015, so the service should only get more useful over time.
I hope you found this guide helpful, if you have any additional services you think would benefit a Chicago newcomer, let me know in the comments!