OPINION: What they don’t tell you about living in a big city

Dirty subways, thousands of crazy people, unfathomable prices — all things people warn you about before moving to a big city.

I’m here to tell you what they don’t.

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to pack my bags, hop in my 2000 Dodge Neon and drive west toward the other side of Lake Michigan. I found my new home in Chicago for a summer internship, and while there, experienced everything that is city life. From late nights riding the subway next to homeless people to following the blue dot on my Google Maps for hours on hours, living in the city is more than people try to describe to you before moving.

1. The subway stairs are the hardest ones to go up

For some reason, going up the stairs to the “L” or to get out of the underground subway, are the hardest steps you will make in the city. I don’t know if it’s because they’re steep or just annoying, but they will make you regret every pizza you’ve ever ate.

2. People are actually nice

“Ooooh, city people are so rude!”

They will warn you about this until your ears bleed, but everyone I met was just as nice as I wasn’t predicting. In Chicago, I want to say it’s a Midwest mentality. They will help direct you to the nearest taco shop when you’re lost and crying and all you really want (need?) is a burrito.

3. It’s not as expensive as you think … well, kind of

Nothing is THAT much more expensive compared to suburban life besides gas. In which case, just don’t drive. Rent is also expensive; that will getcha. With all that said- hide your wallet on yourself and don’t look for it for a couple weeks. The shopping in Chicago is insane and you will be dropping money like it’s hot without even realizing it. But overall, grocery prices, convenience store prices and even bar tabs aren’t as bad as people try to tell you.

4.  Moving apartments feels impossible 

Going in and out of security doors is tough while moving large furniture and millions of boxes. And I haven’t even mentioned the leg and arm work with the stairs. It’s even tougher when you forget to grab your keys and get locked out while holding a coffee pot you’re putting in the moving truck.

But moving to the city, initially, is one of the biggest moves you will never regret.

5. Finding your way can be rough

Always give yourself an extra hour to get anywhere even if your plan is to go to the coffee shop down the street. Google Maps will magically take you to the middle of a cold, dark basement … or you might just blame it on Google Maps.

6. Get a significant other

There are a lot of couples; couples holding hands, couples shopping, couples being couples. If you don’t have a significant other, get a dog. Everyone has those, too.

7. Don’t drive

If you are dumb enough to have a car, it will take you 2 hours to drive two miles because of the stop lights and traffic.

8. Riding the subway is a dangerous sport

Don’t look people in the eye on the subway. It either makes you a target or creates immense sexual tension for the next five stops.

9. Sidewalks are not a joke

Running while drunk or cold with your hands in your pockets is probably the worst idea. Sidewalks in the city are never smooth or even.

10. It’s not as scary as you think

Sure, it’s a giant place with millions of strangers, but that’s the fun part. You can be anyone you want and trust me, you want to be a kook in your own right if you want to stand out.


Whether you learn to love the city or learn that you’re much happier elsewhere, putting yourself in a big city will without a doubt make you grow as a person.

And, make you learn to love 2 a.m. deep dish pizza.


Photo | Jessica Fecteau, Editor in Chief 

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