We're moving! And What I Learned from the Competitive Rental Market in Chicago

We're moving! To Chicago!

It didn't feel real until I had a start date and the job offer in my email inbox. And then it still didn't feel real until I had an apartment to call home. And then it still didn't feel real until we started changing our bills to our new address and a veterinarian for Mort.

I've accepted a job in the special events department of the natural history museum in Chicago. I'll be getting to work on incredible events that I've admired for years from afar. I'm excited to work in a bigger city and with a bigger events industry. S will be transferring to his company's office in Chicago, so that will be an easy transition for him.

Finding apartment is just like dating. It's exciting at first, you stalk the photos online, you Google street view it, you imagine yourself with it, and then you find out that someone else already has an application in on it. Someone else looked better on paper, had a better credit score than you, or simply got there first.

After weeks of searching last minute for an apartment available August 1st (so that we can move in to the apartment mid-August) we finally found something. It's a 2 bedroom plus office/den, with a separate dining room for my burled black walnut table, PLUS a fireplace! In Wicker Park! I never thought that we would be able to afford Wicker Park, let alone an apartment there large enough for our big dining room table. For the price, it even includes heat and cable - both things we'll need a lot of when we're holed up in the harsh winters.

Wicker Park is home to many artists and restaurants and bars and shops. There's even a dog-friendly pub on the corner of our block! In winter, we won't have to walk far in the cold with Mort to grab a quick beer when we're feeling stir crazy. The streets are tree-lined and residential and the boulevards are dotted with art galleries, boutiques, music venues, local's favorite restaurants, book stores, and more. On my Chicago board on Pinterest, you can see I've already started planning places to go with S and from there we'll find our favorites to share with friends that visit!

It took a a few weeks of apartment hunting to finally feel this calm. The rental market up there is incredibly competitive, and it was little harder for us with a dog. So I thought I would share some of the things that these horribly stressful few weeks have taught me.

What I've Learned From the Insanely Competitive Chicago Rental Market:
  • If you aren't ready to put in an application for a place, you should not be looking. All of the places I was looking at to get an idea of what we could afford with our budget, I'd fall a little in love and start imaging what it would be like to live there, to decorate, and then the apartment would of course be unavailable within a day. I quickly learned that even if a place says it's still available, or even if you have an application in on it, does not mean you will get the apartment. Over all, we put in six applications between the two of us, paid over $700 in application fees and holds, and finally found something through a For Rent sign that a friend took a photo of. 
  • If the property has been listed for one day, someone already has an application in on it. Apartments would get picked up by others within hours, making it nearly impossible for us to have time to make arrangements for a friend to see the apartment on our behalf before we put in an application, sight unseen. We ended up having to rely on photos, room dimensions, square footage, our general understanding of the neighborhood, and Google street view. 
  • Money talks. Any given apartment would have multiple applicants in on it and it was up to the owner to chose the most favorable tenant. On paper, we are strong applicants, but then again, when you're reduced to being seen as just your credit score, you had to do something to stand out. Our realtor suggested that we offer to payer a higher rent per month in order to stand apart from the other applicants. We thought that we would be an automatic choice once we did that, but it still took days to hear that we were accepted, and in the meantime, we found other places that we would have rather lived in. 
  • Check your own credit report, or request a copy of your credit report when someone else is pulling it. I've checked my own credit score before, but this was the first time I ever pulled a detailed report on myself. I have a good score, but when I looked at a detailed report, there was a credit card attached to my name that I've never opened. It was closed by the bank because of over $10,000 that was never paid on it. For years, this has been pulling my credit score down and I have never had a credit card with this specific bank. Knowing I could have had a great score instead of just a good score really makes me disappointed. I'm disputing the credit card charges now and I believe it will be taken off my credit report soon, but please check yours if you haven't. You can check your credit report for free, once a year, through a federal website. This isn't a sponsored post, I just hope that others can catch fraudulent activity on their report sooner rather than later!
I've been stalking our new neighborhood on Google maps, seeing how long it will take to get to work, to the grocery store, to the dog park, etc. I've been searching the best things that our area has to offer, and I'm getting really excited to explore a new city! There are a few more "adult" things to do like changing our bank and then changing all of our automatically drafted bills. But in this short limbo of finally finding a home and not yet moving, I'm enjoying every moment of calm and excitement. 


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  1. Congratulations on the new job (and on the move!). :)

  2. Wow! Congratulations on the move! I hope it is seamless and you fall in love with Chicago. We have several friends who live there and love it.

    1. Thank you Emily! So far, I'm loving it here :)

  3. heyy!! you're moving into my city!! I'm excited for you!!

    1. Thank you! Now that I'm here, we must get coffee!

  4. How exciting!! And what a sweet coincidence, you're moving from Winter Park to Wicker Park :) I applaud anyone who orchestrates a cross-country move from afar. The logistics would stress me out too much, but it really paid off for you guys! Can't wait to see your new place and follow all your new adventures! xo

    1. I love the play on words too! Although it was stressful and emotional, it was so worth it once we got here. The most stressful times were the few days right before the move where there were boxes surrounding us. The two day drive was less stressful. I would listen to podcasts in the car the whole way with Mort asleep in the backseat. It was a little calm after the storm.

  5. congratulations!! moving is so exciting but such a pain in the butt. sending all my positive energy, deep breaths, cotton loungewear, and cold-glasses-of-water-vibes your way ;)

    1. Agreed - it was a pain at times! And thank you for all those vibes <3 love the specifics! xo!


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