Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living

Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living

What’s it like to live in Chicago or Los Angeles? How do the two cities compare with each other? Maybe you are considering moving, and you’d like to weigh both cities before making that decision.

Well, this article will look at Chicago vs Los Angeles, analyzing the cost of living in two of America’s biggest cities.

Chicago — The Windy City

Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living
The Beam (Cloud Gate) is located in Millenium Park, Chicago.

Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and is home to an estimated 2.7M people. Known as The Windy City, Chicago is commonly known as the railroad capital of the United States, with more major railroads serving the city than any other city.

Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living

Chicago has 28 miles of lakefront and 24 beaches. It has 8 major league sports teams, the Lincoln Park Zoo; one of the oldest zoos in the US, and also one of the few remaining free zoos in the U.S.

Barack Obama, the 44th and the first African-American President, Actress Jennifer Hudson, the late Walt Disney, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey are some of the famous people to have come out of Chicago.

Chicago also has a  history of organized crime and is famous for being the base of mob boss Al Capone. If you are in Chicago, you could go on mob tours if you would like to learn more about the history of organized crime.

Chicago is also famous for its Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, different from regular Pizza as it has a deep crust that creates a very thick pizza that resembles a pie more than a flatbread.

Chicago vs Los Angeles: What Is the Cost of Living in Chicago?

According to available data, the cost of living in Chicago is 23% higher than the national average. Chicago is ranked as the 11th most expensive city in the states, putting it on par with cities like Boston, Seattle, and San Diego.

Cost of Housing in Chicago

The average cost of owning a home in Chicago is $273,949. Compared to the national average of $295,300. This means that homes in Chicago are relatively more affordable, of course. 

The average cost of renting a 3-bedroom apartment in Chicago is $2,242 per month. For a 1-bedroom apartment, the average price is around $1970 per month.

The rent in Chicago is more expensive than the national average, which is $1,588 for a one-bedroom apartment. 

Although, compared to Cities like San Francisco and New York, Chicago is a good deal.

Some neighborhoods in Chicago can be particularly pricey. If you live in River North, a one-bedroom apartment can cost $2,600, and Streeterville could cost you around $2,566 monthly.

Austin and The Island neighborhoods will only set you back around $562 per month.

It is worth noting that Chicago has one of the highest property taxes in the United States at 2.27%, which is only second to New Jersey’s 2.42%.

So on a $210,000 home, you’ll be paying $4,767 compared to a state like Hawaii, where you could only pay about $600 for the same property.

Cost of Utilities in Chicago

The cost of utilities in Chicago isn’t too steep. For a 920-square-foot apartment, you should pay about $150 per month on average for basic electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage.

The cost of utilities in Chicago is around 7% lower than the national average.

Internet should cost you about $64 monthly, a tad higher than the national average; why? Chicago puts a 9% tax on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Phone bills are expensive as plans are taxed at 43%, one of the highest rates in the States.

Cost of Food in Chicago

Chicago has a fantastic food scene, so if you plan to move to Chicago, you’ll want to set aside a few bucks to explore the great eateries around the city.

A meal at a regular restaurant will cost you around $15, while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant should cost around $72, depending on what’s on the menu.

It is also worth noting that Chicago has a restaurant tax of 0.5% due to the city’s high sales tax of 10.25%.  

In a month, you should spend about $300 on groceries. 

Cost of Transportation in Chicago

Public transit is a convenient option for a lot of Chicagoans. Around 30% of Chicagoans opt for public transit over owning a car.

A monthly pass for buses and trains costs around $105. A one-way ticket on the public transit system will cost you $2.50.

Average Income of People Living in Chicago

The average income of Chicago residents is $58,247. To live comfortably in Chicago in a one-bedroom apartment, you would need about $43,200 a year.

Los Angeles — The City of Angels

Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living

Los Angeles, or LA as the city is mostly called, is the world’s entertainment capital. LA is a cultural mecca boasting over 100 museums and idyllic weather.

LA is unique for having a lot of tourist attractions like the Walk of Fame’s collection of stars to career opportunities like those in the continuously booming tech industry.

LA is the only city in North America to have hosted the Summer Olympics twice – and by 2028, the third time. With over 4 million people who call LA home, it is the second-most populated city in the US behind New York. Approximately 50 million people visit LA each year. You cannot think of Hollywood without thinking of LA.

Chicago vs Los Angeles: What Is the Cost of Living in Los Angeles?

Chicago vs Los Angeles: Cost of Living

Los Angeles is considered an expensive place to live. The average cost of owning a home in LA is $576,100 — a huge increase from the average cost of a home in New York City, which has an average cost of $403,900. While Los Angeles is considered more affordable than San Francisco and San Diego, LA is still one of the most expensive places to own a home in the States.

The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Los Angeles is around $2565 per month. This is a tad lower than other cities like San Diego and New York, but it is still one of the highest rental prices in the country. 

LA is unique because there are more renters than owners in the city, with only 36% of LA residents being homeowners. This trend is only common in a few cities across the country. 

Cost of Utilities in Los Angeles

LA has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. When you live in the city, not only do you enjoy the wonderful weather, but you get to save money on cooling and heating expenses when compared with other parts of the country.

It is not uncommon to see older apartments in LA without central heating or air conditioning, and in westside LA, most apartments don’t need AC, thanks to the cool beach breezes.

As such, people living in LA can expect to pay about $30 less for utilities every month, lower than the national average. The city’s utilities cost $129 per month, which covers electricity, gas, water, and garbage.

Homeowners can install solar panels and save money by generating energy.

Cost of Food in Los Angeles

As LA is a cultural Mecca, it is also home to tasty and cheap food options. A meal in one of the city’s fancier restaurants can cost around $40.

That is about 28% less than the same meal in New York. LA sales tax adds about 9.5% to the total bill.

Groceries in the city are not taxed, and prices for groceries like eggs, milk, and bread are similar to what you’ll find in other parts of the country. You can expect to spend about 375-400 $ on food and groceries per month.

Cost of Transportation in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a city full of drivers, and as you’ll have seen in movies, there is a lot of traffic gridlock.

LA Metro, the city’s public transit system, is convenient for people who live close to transit lines, but LA’s huge size means that many neighborhoods and nearby cities are not connected by transit.

About 84% of LA residents drive to work, while only 6% use the transit system. 

It is worth noting that gas prices in LA are expensive compared to other cities in the country. 

Also, drivers spend a lot of time on the highway in LA and a lot of money insuring their wheels. Insurance in LA costs around $1,964/month on average. This is $537 more than the national average.

Average Income of People Living in Los Angeles

The high cost of living in LA necessitates high salaries, reflected in the city’s high minimum wage of about $15 an hour. That is a tad higher than California’s minimum wage of $10 and about twice the nationwide minimum wage of $7.25.

The average salary in LA is about $60,000 per year.

LA’s recent emergence as a tech hub has boosted demand for software engineers, an average job that pays around $106,000. 


There you go! I hope this article has perfectly highlighted the differences and similarities regarding the cost of living in Chicago and Los Angeles – both wonderful cities in their own right.

Did you find this piece helpful? Please share and drop a comment; we’d love to hear from you.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.