Apartments in Chicago

The average rent for a Chicago apartment was $1,965 in the last quarter of 2019. But average rents vary from one neighborhood to the next. On Domu, the cheapest neighborhood for a 1 bedroom apartment in 2019 was Belmont Cragin on the northwest side. The most expensive neighborhood to rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Chicago was River North. The majority of apartments for rent in Chicago will fall between $1,000 - $2,000. Not sure how much you can afford to pay in rent? Try this handy rent calculator.

New apartments have popped up in droves around the core downtown neighborhoods in the post-recession recovery period. These are places like Streeterville, River North, the Chicago Loop, South Loop, River West and West Loop neighborhoods. Many new Chicago apartments feature a host of enticing amenities for renters who can expect a high standard of service and fine finishes in these apartments -- but expect a higher rent to accompany all those attractive features. Popular amenities for new apartment buildings include things like fitness centers with private workout studios, swimming pools, pet grooming stations, secure package delivery, on-site dry cleaning, valet service, electric vehicle charging stations, doorman or concierge service, 24/7 maintenance and security, and other perks for renters.

Many vintage pre-WWII buildings in Chicago have returned to their original purpose as rental apartment buildings during the last decade. A spate of condo conversions swept through Chicago during the 1970s and 1980s and the apartments in these older buildings were renovated as owner-occupied residences. With the housing crash in 2008, the demand for condos in Chicago declined and renters became the driving force in Chicago’s housing market. Thus, neighborhoods with a large number of vintage apartment buildings have come back into vogue among renters. These are neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Chicago Gold Coast, the Chicago Loop and River North.

Renting in Chicago

Renting an apartment in Chicago is an experience shared among a wide variety of renters in the United States’ third-largest city. There are close to 800,000 rental homes in the Cook County area, which includes downtown Chicago plus its surrounding neighborhoods and inner ring of suburbs

Close to 200,000 people call the downtown Chicago area home according to US Census Bureau data. Nearly half of all households in the Chicago market are rentals and that number has been steadily climbing in the days since the Great Recession and subsequent recovery period. This is a time when Chicagoans are more inclined to rent their homes instead of owning them. The available inventory of apartments and homes for rent in Chicago has helped absorb the growing preference for renting.

From 2010 until the end of 2019, Chicago added an average of 5,200 new apartments to the market each year. Demand for multifamily housing was strong in the post-recession years. Will it remain strong in Chicago? With more tech jobs arriving on the scene and companies looking to recruit talent for downtown Chicago HQs it’s a safe bet that the rental market will continue to expand in the early 2020s. 

Renters Rights

The majority of Chicago apartments are governed by the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO). Domu would encourage all renters to get familiar with this ordinance and know their rights and responsibilities under the law.

This city ordinance outlines all the legal obligations belonging to both landlords and renters in Chicago. It covers a variety of topics such as smoke detectors, lease renewal notices, damage to the apartment or rental home, lockouts, and much more.  

Getting Around Chicago

Chicago has an extensive transportation network comprised of the city’s rail service, buses, commuter trains and expressways. Most commuters in Chicago choose to drive even though there’s an ample public transportation network. Local officials are making it more costly for drivers to park in the city, however. If one were to casually survey a group of Chicagoans about the cost of street parking or garage parking, their answers would paint a picture of rising costs associated with personal vehicles in the city. From city permit stickers to a recent tax on rideshare services near downtown, the fees associated with driving in Chicago are steadily climbing.

Many apartment renters rely on the city’s rail and bus network operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to get around. The CTA, also known as the ‘L’ among locals, has seven rail lines that extend from northern suburbs to south side neighborhoods closer to the Indiana border. The ‘L’ also runs service from Chicago’s two main airports directly into downtown Chicago, a major perk for tourists and apartment renters who need affordable transportation to either O’Hare International Airport or Midway Airport.

Commuter rail service like the Metra trains are operated by another entity but they have terminals in downtown Chicago. These commuter rail networks stretch out much farther than the local CTA trains; apartment renters can ride these trains to Wisconsin or Indiana.  

Living Near the ‘L’ in Chicago

The ideal scenario for many Chicago renters is living within sight of the ‘L’ but not so close that they have to hear the train passing during rush hour. Being able to walk to the CTA station in 10 minutes or less is a highly sought-after location. For that reason, transit-oriented developments have garnered a lot of steam among both community leaders and builders in Chicago.

The winding elevated tracks of Chicago’s train system are idiosyncratic and practical at the same time. To spare residents the inconvenience of street-level train crossings, the tracks were hoisted up about two stories above grade and primarily run above commercial streets. The end result was neighborhoods that weren’t bisected by train crossings (although there are a couple exceptions where the train crosses at street level). The residential feel of side streets was preserved and the transportation was simplified from an old patchwork of streetcars, buses and trains. 

If renters look up in neighborhoods where the ‘L’ operates they will see the unmistakably Chicago scene of the train zooming overhead. But the uniquely Chicago sight of aluminum train cars snaking their way past an apartment or office building’s second floor also comes with a cautionary note: renters may not be thrilled to live right next to the tracks. Living near a stop is grand, but having only a brick wall separating the apartment from the train tracks isn’t a ton of fun.