Author Topic: Considering a move to Chicago to eliminate the car, no real financial benefit  (Read 5131 times)

apoclater

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I recently punched myself in the face after I realized how much I spend on my car.  I live in Tampa, where driving is everything.  I've explored some options to get rid of the car.

Firstly cutting the 45 minute commute (1.5 hr round trip) is not an option for me-- I am required to be in the office 4/5 days a week. I considered moving closer to work, unfortunately there really are no good areas to move that have bike lanes or even decent sidewalks (Tampa is also considered one of the most dangerous cities to bike in). Not to mention the areas closest to work are old folks and families.  Not exactly conducive to a healthy social life for a 20-something.  That being said, I do have a bike, and I use it quite a bit where I live.  It's just the daily commute and occasional trip to the beach that I really use my car for.

I've always wanted to move back to Chicago, and 6 months from now seems like a good time.  My apartment lease is up in July and I could sell my car here.  I'll be at a good place to leave my job then as well.

I'm spending $4100 on the car, annually:

  • 2400 on gas
  • 700 on insurance
  • 1000 on repairs and maintenance


I've always wanted to move back to Chicago.  My friends and family are there and I enjoy the city significantly more than Tampa.  The problem is, I'm not sure there is really a net financial benefit to me selling the car and moving there--in fact, there might be a loss.  Considering state income tax at 3-5% (there's none in FL), higher cost of living, moving fees, and potential that a new job may pay equal or less to my current one, I may actually lose on selling the car and moving.

That being said, my friends, family, and heart is in Chicago.  I miss my friends and I miss being in a real city.  I have nothing keeping me in Tampa whatsoever besides my job.  I really have not made any real roots here and would not mind leaving at all.

I guess my question is, what does everyone think?  I sort of need a "push" or someone to relate to being in this situation.  I know it's less than a financial decision and more based on happiness, but I find you all are pretty balanced when it comes to Moustachian principles vs. tough decisions about happiness.  Thanks for any and all opinions.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 10:19:59 PM by apoclater »

caligulala

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I would move back to Chicago. Finances aren't everything. We just moved away a couple of months ago after living there for over a decade and we miss it a lot. There are lots of ways to be frugal in Chicago. We were a family of 4 living on 1 post-doc salary and doing just fine in a fun neighborhood. Plus, in your 20s you want to be where the action is socially, especially if you're interested in finding a partner. Might as well do it in a place you'd like to wind up instead of falling in love with someone and getting stuck someplace you don't.

Good luck!

MissStache

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Do it!  But make sure you get a job first :)

jfer_rose

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That being said, my friends, family, and heart is in Chicago. 

The above quote says it all. Get a job in Chicago and move there.

mlipps

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Chicago's not an expensive city, IMO. Sure you can spend $1600-$1800/month in Lincoln park on rent. But up here on the north side, I pay $960 for my 2 bedroom w/washer dryer & heat included. There are studio for $600-700. Or get some roommates and share a 3 bedroom for $500/each or so.

Between all the ethnic food markets, you can get most food pretty inexpensively if you don't mind going to a few different places. There's Aldi all over the place now too, which helps a lot.

The state income tax is 5% flat. Yeah, it's not ideal, but there are some small loopholes that help a little. Retirement income isn't taxed here, which means if you contribute to a traditional IRA or 401k and then convert to Roth, you don't pay state taxes on the conversion, even if you're not of retirement age yet when you do the conversion.

If you get a job before you move, keep all your receipts for moving expenses; it's all tax deductible (federal and state) even if you don't itemize.

Come home to Chicago, it wants you back! :)

Everything in Moderation

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Chicago is great.  I love living here. 

However, the cost of living is crazy high compared to other cities.  Not having a car will save you money, you will spend way more on rent, food, etc.  It is very possible to live without a car here, but you have to be pretty tough to handle the winters.  You can find many ways to cut costs, but if you ever want to buy a house, you will spend a lot!

My heart is in this city as well, although I do consider moving to a lower cost city on a regular basis. 

apoclater

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Thanks everyone. 

I'm originally from the midwest so cold winters are no problem for me.  I guess my only follow up question is where to live.  Lincoln Park or Wicker park are the two obvious options for a 20-something.  Just curious if you guys are aware of alternatives that are a little cheaper.

mlipps

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Thanks everyone. 

I'm originally from the midwest so cold winters are no problem for me.  I guess my only follow up question is where to live.  Lincoln Park or Wicker park are the two obvious options for a 20-something.  Just curious if you guys are aware of alternatives that are a little cheaper.

I'm a bit of a homebody, but I think Rogers Park is a great place for cheap living. It's only 20 minutes to Wrigleyville and 30 or so to Lincoln Park. Personally, I think Lincoln Park is overpriced, overcrowded, and full of smug women with double strollers. Wicker Park is just so far away to me, but some people seem to like it. North Center & Wrigley/Lakeview are more affordable than LP/WP and just as happening.

But hey, we have a tapas restaurant in RoPa now. What more can you want?

gotaholen1

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We live about 2 hours south of the city, but a lot of my friends initially moved to Wrigleyville/Ashland/Boys Town Areas.  A lot of them have been moving to the Humboldt Park area.  It seems to be pretty reasonable and an up and coming area.  I have stayed there a few times and thought it was pretty decent for a location vs. value area.

ms.b214

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Don't know if this has already been solved, but I like to tell people my way of getting by in Chicago that I learned the hard way.  There is this weird chicago thing where answering ads for apartments or going to a service will cost you the crazy rents that everyone associates with city living.

However, the secret here is to never do that.  Every apartment I've gotten has been by walking around the neighborhood, and simply calling the number on those handy, apparently-mandated signs that tell you the building managers name.  I've gotten great deals this way.  We never paid more than 900 for a 2 bedroom in the Lincoln Square area this way (NOOO not Lincoln Park. Farther northwest)

Currently, I have a 400 sq foot apartment that has to be listed as a studio, because the room that I have my bed in does not have a closet (again, weird Chicago real estate rules)  I moved in 2008 for 450 a month, and I've slowly been moved to 580 a month.  Heat, cooking gas included and for some reason, my electric bill is almost always 33 a month.  (I've no idea...)

Most people I know that have been here a while have had deals like this.  For whatever reason, larger building landlords often hold the rent pretty low for longtime tenants.  My neighbor has been here for almost 20 years and hasn't hit 500 yet.

I don't know anyone from here who really pays the kind of rents most people quote.  It's almost like an organized tax on tourists and newbies. 

Having lived in medium sized, small and now a large city, overall Chicago has been the cheapest/highest quality of life combo I've found.  I realize that those who are buying or dealing with kids may have different issues, but having come from a dull as dirt part of the midwest, I appreciate not spending every weekend trying to get away, or paying 40 bucks for a craptastic franchise meal.


As for the car, another thing I like is that you can have a car or not here.  I have one, but it parks for free and the mileage barely racks up.  I rarely if ever drive on the weekends, and only drive during the week because of working in a dangerous area after dark.  without that, I'd never need it with all the ZIP cars around. Among my friends, only one has a car.  I think.. since I've never seen it:-)
Just the two cents worth (which a real MMM would badassedly bargain down to 1) from a 40 something now-singleton, living here on under 40 grand a year and saving over 30 percent of it. It can be done, and you can still go out for drinks a few times a week. Well, that's bad for many reasons, but still fun and possible to do inexpensively... lol




higgins2013

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First of all, spend some time reading the "secondcitycop" blog-site to acclimate yourself to Chicago's current crime problems.  Secondly, remember that Chicago is a quite segregated city - both racially and socio-economically - more than most other American cities, and "college-educated salary-earning white-collar folks" seem to congregate on expensive North Side of Chicago, in neighborhoods extending from Lake Michigan to maybe a mile or two west of Chicago River.  Residential real estate prices bear this out.  Chicago is rapidly losing its "middle-class paradise" halo.  It can be quite expensive to live here, particularly if you've school-age kids (public schools are big issue here too, aside from some great selective enrollment schools), want a "nice" neighborhood, and/or want "nice" neighborhood amenities like attractive restaurants, stores, and streetwalks.

Chicago is also quite car-orientated, even for folks living downtown or in immediately outlying neighborhoods.  Bike-commuting is big, but bike-car accidents are frequent too.  (Our 100-person firm's seen five employees in bike-car accident hospitalizations in 18 months.)  You might want to keep that car, at least until you decide whether public transportation fits for you.  (CTA subway trains, for instance, are quite scuzzy, not like NYC's.)  It's also not fun to take public transportation or ride your bike in 0 degree weather; trains and buses are often negatively affected too.

Rents in nearby to downtown, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, or Bucktown can easily be $2000/month for a one-bedroom apartment.  Cheap Lincoln Park apartments are often handed down by DePaul University students, and are often quite worn-out.  You might like Edgewater or Andersonville as well, nice lakefront communities north of Lincoln Park and Lakeview, and slightly more affordable, but you're facing a 30-minute subway ride plus commute to-fro.  If you go further north to Rogers Park, you're facing a 45-minute subway ride to downtown.  Chicago's working-class neighborhoods aren't nearly as nice, or safe, and are likely further from subway, or on west-side or south-side, which is another whole issue.  (Go read secondcitycop site.)

Anyways, do some serious homework before deciding, and don't make the move thinking you'll save money because you're eliminating the car.  Best wishes.   
 
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 02:38:06 PM by higgins2013 »

norabird

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YMMV, but even if you don't end up saving money from losing the car due to higher COL in Chicago, the extra happiness of being near friends and family would absolutely be worth it. And choose the right neighborhood transit-wise and I imagine being car-less there would be just fine.

CarDude

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That being said, my friends, family, and heart is in Chicago. 

The above quote says it all. Get a job in Chicago and move there.

My thoughts. Start with making sure you get that job, though, as well as a safe place to live.

Thegoblinchief

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I consider MKE a decently bike friendly city, but I'm told Chicago is much better.

I'm not familiar with it beyond touristy areas, but I'd look for jobs and housing simultaneously. That way you don't find out that your new job requires a hella commute, which doesn't solve your main complaint about Tampa.

mlipps

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Hey guys, this thread is 4 months old...

Abe

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Ha! and its still winter here. OP: let's trade places!

apoclater

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I had no idea people were still posting!

I ended up moving into a great situation in the Gold Coast neighborhood.  2 roommates from college and I in a 3 BR, rent is ~$1100 and I get my own bathroom.  Not the absolute cheapest rent, but it's better than the $1350 I was prepared to pay for a place in Lakeview (not to mention I get to split internet three ways here!).  Fitness Center and laundry are all taken care of as well. 

All in all I'm coming out fairly even.  I'm dropping:
-Apartment insurance ($25/month)
-Car Insurance ($75/month)
-Gas ($200-250/month)
-Car Repairs ($100/month)
-Gym ($60/month)
-One extra person to split internet/cable ($30/month)
-Cabs to airport ($10-20/month)
-Total = ~$400 (at lowest)/month

I'm adding:
-$250 higher rent/month
-$70 est public CTA (public transit) costs
-5% Sales Tax

So it really does end up to be a wash.  I'm happy!  Will be a Chicago resident in July.

Abe

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Welcome to Chicago! That area is very nice, good work on finding that place to rent. My wife and I are looking to move to that neighborhood to be walking distance to her work.