Considering a move to the Windy City? Chicago, with its mix of urban excitement and Midwestern charm, offers a diverse rental market for everyone from students to professionals. But before you start packing your bags, it's essential to understand the various costs associated with renting an apartment here.

So let’s break down the costs to rent in Chicago so you can confidently plan your move.

 

Average Monthly Rent in Chicago

Real estate is all about location, so naturally the monthly rent will vary depending on the neighborhood. Here’s a snapshot:

  • Downtown Chicago: If you’re dreaming of a luxury high-rise with skyline views, prepare to spend around $3,130 per month for a 750 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.
  • Surrounding Neighborhoods: Outside the downtown area the average monthly rents drop to about $1,800 for a one-bedroom pad.
  • City Average: On average, a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago will contain about 660 square feet of floor area and cost about $,1850 per month.

While these prices are more affordable than NYC or San Francisco, keep in mind that the apartment rents in Chicago are steadily increasing due to high interest rates that are restricting new construction activity and limiting inventory, as well as escalating property taxes and insurance premiums.

 

Apartment Application Fees

Right off the bat you’ll likely need to pay an application fee, which will typically range from $50 to $100, to cover the cost of background and credit checks. Landlords are allowed to charge such a "reasonable" fee for this process, so be prepared to shell out some hard-earned cash every time you apply for a lease.

 

Security Deposits

Some Chicago landlords require a security deposit equivalent to one month's rent. This deposit protects the landlord against potential damage to the unit. Assuming you caused no damage to the apartment (beyond ordinary wear and tear) or defaulted in the payment of any rent, you should expect to have this money refunded to you at the end of the lease. Landlords are required to return security deposits within 45 days from the date the tenant vacates the apartment, along with any accrued and unpaid interest (don't expect to earn very much), and to provide a written list of any deductions accompanied by receipts for repair work performed by third parties.

 

Move-in and Move-out Fees

Most landlords charge move-in fees in lieu of accepting security deposits. This allows them to be free from lawsuits based on the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (the CRLTO), which allows tenants to collect heavy damages for even technical violations of the statute. Move-in fees are non-refundable, typically range from $350 to $700, and must bear some reasonable relation to the costs (and potential damages) associated with allowing the tenant to move-in. Additionally, some buildings also charge move-out fees to cover the cost of cleaning and minor repairs after the tenant vacates the unit. Make certain to inquire about all fees, over and above monthly rent, associated with moving into, and then out of, the property.

 

Apartment Utilities

Utilities can be costly, particularly during coldest stretches of winter and the hottest periods of the summer, and in most instances tenants are required to establish utility accounts in their own name. Here’s a breakdown of the typical monthly utility costs for a 900 square-foot apartment in Chicago. Keep in mind that these are merely estimates and that actual costs can vary based on usage, service providers, and specific apartment policies:

  • Electricity: Expect to pay approximately $70 to $100 monthly, and higher during the summer months if you run air conditioning.
  • Water: In most instances, and certainly in apartment buildings, water and sewer charges are billed directly to the landlord.
  • Trash: As with water and sewer charges, the costs of trash hauling are usually billed directly to the landlord, especially for apartment buildings rather than single-family homes. If not, then the tenant should expect to incur $10 to $20 per month for this service.
  • Gas: Tenants typically pay their own gas bills, which range from about $40 to $60 per month. The bills are higher in the winter due to increased heating demands if the apartment runs on gas for heat. However, many older buildings offer free heat to steam radiators.
  • Internet: A basic to moderate Internet plan costs about $50 to $70 per month.
  • Cable: Basic packages start at about $50, with comprehensive packages costing $100 or more monthly. Many landlords charge tenants a monthly fee for cable and Internet as part of a "utility bundle package," and the tenants have no choice but to purchase the package.

 

Parking

Parking costs can be pretty hefty in Chicago. While there’s a variety of parking options for residents, increasing numbers of locals have ditched their cars and embraced walking, biking, public transportation, and rideshare services.

  • Apartment Building Garages and Lots: Some buildings include parking in the rent, but many charge extra. In luxury buildings, parking garage rates can range from $200 to $400 per month, with outdoor spots typically costing less, around $100 to $200.
  • Street Parking Permits: Street parking permits are another option, but can only park freely within a specific zone. The annual fee for a residential parking permit is $25, and it's valid from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.
  • Metered Parking: Rates vary by location, with high-demand areas like the Loop costing up to $7 per hour and other neighborhoods ranging from $2 to $4 per hour. Time can purchased at pay boxes with credit cards or debit cards or through mobile payment apps like ParkChicago.
  • City-Owned Garages: Chicago operates several public parking garages. Rates vary by location, typically from $20 to $40 per day for daily parking. Monthly rates are also available, ranging from $200 to $400, depending on the garage. Popular city-owned garages include Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the Chicago Riverwalk Garage.
  • Winter Parking Considerations: Aside from the snow, parking during the winter can present several challenges. Be mindful of the winter overnight parking ban (December 1 to April 1) and the snow route parking bans which are activated during snow accumulation of two inches or more. Pay careful attention to signs to ensure that you don’t wake up to a missing car or find your windshield plastered with tickets.

 

Parking Apps

Parking apps like SpotHero, ParkWhiz, and ParkChicago can help you find and reserve parking spaces in garages and lots throughout the city, often at discounted rates, and allow you to pay for metered parking remotely.

 

Renter’s Insurance

Many landlords, particularly in the luxury high-rise realm, require tenants to bind a policy of renter's insurance. The cost of renters insurance in Chicago typically ranges from $15 to $30 per month, depending on factors such as:

  • Coverage Amount: Higher coverage limits will result in higher premiums.
  • Deductible: A higher deductible can lower your monthly premium.
  • Location: Certain areas with higher crime rates or at greater risk of natural disaster may entail higher premiums.
  • Discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts for bundling policies (e.g., renters and auto insurance), having security systems, or being claim-free.

On average, expect to pay around $180 to $360 annually for a standard renters insurance policy in Chicago.

 

Apartment Pet Fees

In Chicago, landlords may prohibit pets or, alternatively, permit them subject to the tenant's payment of monthly pet fees, ostensibly to cover potential damage or additional cleaning costs. Landlords may not, however, prohibit or charge pet fees for service animals protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Do not expect bearded dragons, ferrets, and other exotic animals to qualify for legal exemptions.

 

Average Costs of Pet Fees

The pet fees in Chicago may vary depending on the type and size of the pet, and the landlord retains absolute discretion in setting the price. Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs you might encounter:

  • Pet Deposit: This is a one-time refundable deposit that covers potential damage caused by the pet. The average pet deposit in Chicago ranges from $200 to $500. The deposit is refundable at the end of the lease term, provided the pet was well-behaved and caused no damage beyond normal wear and tear. 
  • Pet Fee: Unlike a deposit, a pet fee is a one-time, non-refundable charge for allowing the pet to live in the apartment. The fee typically ranges from $200 to $400.
  • Pet Rent: Besides deposits and fees, some landlords also charge monthly pet rent ranging from $25 to $50 per month, per pet. Fortunately, landlords do not typically require pets to submit to a credit check.

 

Average Pet Fees by Type 

  • Dogs: Generally, dogs incur higher fees due to their potential for creating more extensive damage. Expect a pet deposit or fee ranging from $200 to $500, with monthly pet rent of $25 to $50.
  • Cats: Cats typically entail slightly lower fees. Pet deposits or fees for cats usually range from $200 to $400, with monthly pet rent of $20 to $40.
  • Small Animals: Smaller pets like birds, rabbits, or hamsters often have lower or no fees.

 

Amenities Fees

Luxury buildings with high-end amenities like fitness centers, pools, and rooftop decks may charge additional amenity fees. These fees can range from $50 to $200 per month, so factor this into your budget if you’re eyeing a building with these perks.

 

Types of Amenities and Associated Fees

  • Fitness Centers and Gyms: Many apartment buildings in Chicago offer on-site fitness centers equipped with a variety of exercise machines, free weights, and sometimes even classes that are free and included in the rent. In some buildings where the gym is more like a fitness club, access to these facilities can range from $50 to $100 per month.
  • Parking Garages: Secure, on-site parking garages are a common amenity, especially in high-rise buildings. Monthly parking fees typically range from $100 to $300, depending on the location and type of parking (indoor vs. outdoor).
  • Business Centers and Co-Working Spaces: Most apartment buildings offer free use of the business centers or co-working spaces equipped with Internet, printers, and meeting rooms. However, when these facilities are more robust and offer even more services, access to these spaces may cost $30 to $100 per month.

 

Public Transportation

Luckily, Chicago’s public transportation system is extensive and affordable. A monthly CTA pass costs $105 and provides unlimited access to buses and trains. For those who live in suburbia, Metra passes vary based on distance, but make commuting easy.

  • CTA Buses and Trains: Single rides on CTA buses cost $2.25, while train rides cost $2.50. Transfers between buses and trains are $0.25 for up to two additional rides within two hours. These rates can be paid through a Ventra Card, which itself costs $5 (refundable as a transit credit if registered). For those who prefer unlimited rides, a one-day pass is $5, a three-day pass is $15, a seven-day pass is $20, and a 30-day pass is $75. Seniors, people with disabilities, Medicare recipients, and students can benefit from reduced fares of $1.10 for buses and $1.25 for trains, with $0.15 transfers.
  • Metra Commuter Rail: Metra serves the greater Chicago metropolitan area with fares varying by zone. For instance, a one-way ticket from Zone A (downtown) to Zone B runs about $4.25. Monthly passes range from $70 to $250, depending on the distance traveled, and include free CTA bus and train rides on weekdays. Metra also offers a $10 weekend pass for unlimited rides. Seniors, persons with disabilities, students, and children can purchase tickets at about 50% off the regular fare.
  • Pace Suburban Bus Service: Single rides on Pace buses cost $2.00, with free transfers within two hours when using a Ventra Card. The Pace/CTA seven-day pass is $25, and the Pace 30-day pass is $60. Reduced fares are available for eligible groups at $1.00 per ride.

Chicago’s public transit system offers cost-effective and flexible options for residents, which makes navigating the city and surrounding areas easy and affordable.

 

Now That You Know The Costs

Renting in Chicago offers a unique blend of affordability and urban perks. With a clear understanding of the various costs involved, you can confidently navigate the rental market and find the perfect place to call home. Whether you’re drawn to a cozy vintage apartment in Lincoln Park or a sleek modern high-rise in the Loop, Chicago has something for everyone.

Check out our Neighborhood Guides and Apartment Listings pages for more detailed information on Chicago neighborhoods and rental listings. Happy apartment hunting!