I feel I am a good candidate for offering an unbiased opinion of two fine cities- New York City and Chicago as I have lived in both and I am not originally from either. Everyone seems to always want to compare and while I have always been diplomatic by saying they are similar but oh so different, I will attempt to provide you my assessment here. Truly, both cities are amazing in their own way and I am genuine in saying you really cannot compare as they are so very different.
Having lived in both, I am often asked what it is like by New Yorkers and which one is better by Chicagoans. Here are the big ones:
• Commuting- both are great, you really do not need to own a car in either, provided you are in the urban parts of both cities. The suburban outlying areas in both you really do need a vehicle to get you around. The train systems are pretty reliable, with the occasional hiccup, but let’s face it, when you are late to work and the train is delayed your idea of reliable goes out the window. However, when you are enjoying a night of enjoying sprits with friends or colleagues, that train comes in pretty handy because you don’t have to worry about a low cost means of transportation to get home (or wherever else you may be going).
• Food experiences- both have incredible food just in a different way. I am not touching pizza here, controversial and surely no comparison, they are two entirely different offerings. Chicago wins Mexican food hands down but NYC offers the world of cuisine and at every level from walk up to fine dining (sometimes in the same block).
• Outdoor experiences- both cities cannot wait for summer and no one spends time inside, no difference! Both offer parks, rivers, beaches, and outdoor dining. I do have to say Chicago’s lakefront is like no other but NYC is the best for people watching, nothing like it.
• Competition- purely speaking of personal experience, they could not be more different in this area. Chicago offers you competition in family and home life- who has more. Families should live in the suburbs and how has the better car or house. New York City on the other hand is all about competing at work- who is better and who gets farther. You can live in a shoe box but if you are a CEO you are better and that is what you are measured on.
• Space- within the city limits there is truly no comparison. In Chicago you just get more for your money- better location and more space. Sorry NYC- no more to say on this, we don’t even have space when walking down the sidewalk.
Both cities offer great quality of life and it is what you make of it, how you choose to engage. You can enjoy outdoor festivals, running or cycling events, anything if you want to and seek it out. While international travel is vast from NYC I have to say travel is easier from Chicago as it is really a hub, middle of the country, everything is easily accessible. I really see NYC as an arts and cultural experience Chicago is a huge sports town.
Without offending my Chicago friends, I really feel like Chicagoans try to compare more, maybe it is because it has a nickname of “second city” and there is this competition for Chicago to beat NYC in some way. This was even evident in the being named the tallest building in the U.S a few years ago. I really do love them both and see benefits from both. Unfortunately Chicago has a stigma with violence, yes NYC used to have this as well, but one must understand it is not all of the city, its beauty and wonderful experiences remain. New York City just brings out the best in people and sometimes the best does manifest itself in a way you would deem positive. New Yorkers are not rude, they just don’t have time and need everything to move smoothly and quickly, if you disrupt that you are in the way and are called out on it.
I could speak about the two for pages and pages, put you to sleep reading but I must say- they are the two wonderful cities and really, at the end of the day, your experience is what you make it. Stop competing and just enjoy the diversity, if you have never been to either take a trip!