In the heart of America, Chicago is an incredible city filled with things to do. Being the third largest city in the United States with a population of 2.7+ million people, there are over 200 neighborhoods (in 77 community areas) to explore. From Lake Michigan to the Chicago Riverwalk, incredible bars and restaurants, and world-class museums...there's no end to the amount of things there are to do and see in Chicago. Which is why it's the perfect city for any traveling healthcare professional itching for a taste of the Midwest.
If you’ve come across this post, chances are you’re either on your way to Chicago for your next travel healthcare assignment, you’ve just arrived, or you’ve completed your traveler profile and you’re browsing Fusion Marketplace for jobs in the city. Our goal at Fusion Marketplace is to ensure an easy transition to your next assignment giving you all the tools and resources that you need to be successful. We know that your success is our success and with that we aim to bring you a complete guide of Chicago so that you can do what you’ve been hired to do: Take care of patients and most importantly, have fun on your days off.
When should you take an assignment in Chicago?
The winters in Chicago are long and the summers are short and sweet. The colder months typically last from November to April, and the warmer months from June to August. Although summers are incredible, it doesn't mean that there aren't ample things to do in Chicago when the weather turns cold. Depending on what you're looking for, anytime of the year is a good time to live in Chicago!
Where should you live in Chicago?
As mentioned above, there are over 200 recognized neighborhoods in Chicago, meaning you have endless options when it comes to housing. To decide on the best living choice for you, you first need to answer a few questions:
- Are you bringing a car to Chicago?
- If not, is the goal to walk to work or take public/private transportation?
- Is the hospital that you're working at in the city or outside of the city?
- Do you want to live in the city or would you rather commute in?
Once you've answered these questions, you're ready to pick an area to live in!
The most popular city neighborhoods to choose from
Below you'll find a list of the most popular neighborhoods in Chicago and a general idea of what the neighborhood is well-known for. Remember, when you search for housing, consider if there is parking available or nearby, how far you'll have to walk/drive to the hospital, and generally what you want to live around.
Located in Northern Chicago, Bucktown is close to downtown Chicago and is also close to one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Chicago—Lincoln Park. Bucktown offers more affordable living arrangements and has attracted many artists and musicians, giving it a trendy and eclectic feel. When Chicago was first growing, Bucktown was mainly made up of Polish immigrants, so there is still a Polish feel to the neighborhood, as well.
Gold Coast is considered central Chicago, and is characterized by high rise buildings, tourist attractions, Michigan Ave, and tons of bars and restaurants. It's a more expensive place to rent, but everything is within walking distance and there are tons of train stops located throughout the Gold Coast if you don't plan to bring a car to Chicago.
The greatest thing about Lincoln Park is the proximity to the beaches on Lake Michigan. Plus, Lincoln Park has a homey feel to it, perfect for walking around and even enjoying the farmers market (one of the best in Chicago). While the area is expensive, it's quite worth it as there's tons to do in Lincoln Park.
If you're looking for a neighborhood that feels "younger" with fun dive bars lining the streets, then Old Town is for you. Old Town is just north of the Gold Coast so you're near the feel of the city (think big skyscrapers and busy streets), while still being able to maintain a sense of peace and quiet.
To the south of the Gold Coast, River North is also a fun neighborhood to live in. Like Old Town, you're away from the "city feel," while still being close by, allowing you a sense of peace and quiet. One of the best things about River North is that the neighborhood backs up to the river that cuts through Chicago.
Streeterville is one of the best options to choose if you're going to be working at Northwestern, Prentice, or Lurie Children's Hospital. All of these hospitals are located in Streeterville, so it's an easy walk to get to work. Streeterville still has that city feeling with big skyscrapers and busy streets, so there's tons to see and do in the area. Plus, the neighborhood is easily walkable and you don't need a car to get to most things.
West Loop is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Chicago, but also one of the best. It's located just west of the city and has the most incredible bars and restaurants in all of Chicago. West Loop attracts an "older" crowd (30+), so it's the place to be if you're interested in expensive restaurants, upscale bars, and a bit of an older crowd.
Home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigleyville is a fun neighborhood that attracts Cubs fans and a young crowd on the weekends. Wrigleyville is north of the city and is a good choice if you're younger, looking to go out and party.
Where to find housing
Fusion Marketplace has teamed up with Furnished Finder to bring you the best options when choosing housing. Now, when you search for a job on Fusion Marketplace, you can easily search for housing options for the city you're traveling to. Getting set up for your assignment has never been easier!
Should you bring a car to Chicago?
Although Chicago is big and sprawling, one of the greatest things about the city is that you don't need a car to get around. Depending on what neighborhood you're in, you can walk to restaurants, bars, the grocery store, and even work if you're nearby. There are also electric bikes from Divvy that you can rent when the weather is warm enough to get around on bike. Plus, there's great public transportation—both buses and trains—in the city.
The train in Chicago is called the "L," going to over 140 stations throughout the city and suburbs. A one-way train ticket in Chicago is $2.50, and a bus ticket is $2.25. If you're in the city for an assignment, you might want to consider purchasing a Ventra card which you can pre-load with money and easily swipe at the station without needing to purchase a new ticket each time you ride. You can get a card online or at most grocery stores in the city.
If you do bring a car, you'll need to consider your parking situation. Make sure to find housing where you can easily park your car, and if you plan to drive to work don't forget to factor in the price of parking at the hospital.
Uber, Lyft, and Curb are all available in Chicago, consider downloading the apps ahead of time so that you can easily snag a ride.
Lastly, it isn't recommended to bring an RV to the city unless you're okay with commuting in it. There aren't any RV campgrounds near the city (drive time is about 1+ hours), and it's illegal to park an RV on the streets of Chicago.
Cost of living in Chicago
According to Payscale, the cost of living in Chicago is 23 percent higher than the national average. Chicago's housing expenses are 56 percent higher than the national average, with the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment being $1,700 a month.
But don't let that deter you! While renting is expensive in Chicago and the cost of living is relatively high, travel healthcare contracts do pay well in the city and with the option to compare pay packages on Fusion Marketplace you can ensure that you're getting a fair deal. But, if cost of living is something that you're worried about there are options to bring housing prices down. You could live outside of the city and commute in or consider living with roommates.
What to do in Chicago
The greatest part about being a traveling healthcare professional is getting to explore different cities across the United States. And Chicago has no shortage of things to do. Here you'll find a comprehensive list of things to see and do in the city on your days off of work.
Activities and sights
- Catch a sporting event. Chicago has all the pro-teams, baseball (Cubs and White Sox), football, hockey, and basketball! You can attend a sporting event no matter what time of the year you're in the city for an assignment. Just download the app Gametime for all the information on sporting events in the city.
- Christkindlmarkt. If you're visiting Chicago during the holiday season, you can't miss the chance to visit Christkindlmarkt, a Christmas market modeled after European Christmas markets. The time of opening varies, but the market is generally open from Thanksgiving until New Years. Check out this post for more information on Christkindlmarkt.
- Cloud Gate. More famously known as the Chicago Bean, Cloud Gate is in Millennium Park in the heart of Chicago and a must-see for anyone visiting the city.
- Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is on the east side of Chicago and is such a nice treat during the warm months. You can rent a boat, hang out on the beach, or walk the path that goes along the lake.
- Observation Deck Chicago. In the John Hancock building, you can head up to the 94th floor to observe views of the city from above!
- Take an architecture cruise. This 90-minute cruise along the river will teach you all about the history of the buildings in Chicago and the history of the city. It's the perfect activity to get to know and understand the city on a deeper level.
- The Art Institute of Chicago. One of the best museums in the city, head to the Art Institute of Chicago on a rainy day!
- Walk the Chicago Riverwalk. The Chicago Riverwalk is 1.25 miles and extends from Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan to Lake Street and is the perfect activity on a nice day. There are bars and restaurants along the way if you get tired and need to rest.
- All Together Now—Wine bar
- City Winery—Outdoor wine bar on the Chicago Riverwalk
- Kingston Mines—Live blues bar
- Lazy Bird—Speakeasy in the basement of the Hoxton Hotel
- Sparrow—Cozy cocktail bar
- The Darling—Posh lounge
- 3 Dots and a Dash—Tiki bar
- Alla Vita—Italian
- Avec—Mediterranean; perfect for 1/2 price bottles of wine on Tuesdays
- Bavette's Bar & Boeuf—Steak house
- Blue Door Kitchen & Garden—American; perfect for brunch
- Duck Duck Goat—Chinese
- Gilt Bar—Upscale American
- Happy Camper Pizzeria—American; perfect for a fun weekend lunch
- Little Goat Diner—Comfort food; perfect for brunch
- Maple & Ash—Steak house; $10 martinis and $30 seafood towers every day of the week from 5 pm-6 pm
- Parlor Pizza Bar—Pizza
- Sunda - Southeast Asian
- Topo Gigio Ristorante—Italian
- Trivoli Tavern—American
Our goal at Fusion Marketplace is to ensure an easy transition into the traveling healthcare world. We hope that if you're thinking about taking an assignment in Chicago, you feel prepared. As always, a recruiter is only one call away to help answer any questions you may have and get you ready to submit to your next assignment.