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Before You Go to Chicago

Before You Get on the Plane

Leaving for Chicago

Chicago (affectionately referred to as the Windy City – you will learn why soon enough!) is a major metropolitan center. You will want to be well prepared before relocating to Chicago to minimize any potential problems.

First on your list is to ensure that you have all the needed documentation. This includes: visas, passports, marriage certificates, driver's license, picture ID, work permits, and any documentation for prescribed drugs you may take. At this point, it would be a good idea to make a checklist. For international travelers, visa requirements, if any, vary depending on your point of origin.

If you’re moving to Chicago, your requirements are different than someone visiting Chicago. Please see our Relocation Tips for more info.

You will want to begin making your travel plans well in advance of your expected departure in order to avoid any delays. Check out for helpful information about visa requirements for international travelers.

Also, take a moment to inventory your personal needs, such as medical issues. Have a check-up with your doctor and dentist before you go. Also stock up on prescriptions to take with you – you'll most likely be able to get them while staying in Chicago but it's just another thing to worry about while you're there.

Accommodation in Chicago

Finding the right place to live in Chicago can be a challenge. It's a city made up of lots of little neighborhoods, so it's best to try & understand the different areas well before committing to one location.

Searching on FlatClub for short or medium-term rentals is a good idea - it gives you a base of operations to explore the city & find out which location will suit you best.

Just Landed!


Chicago has two primary airports: Both airports are well situated and provide easy access into the city. Click on the appropriate link for detailed information.

O'Hare International Airport: O'Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is a major hub for both domestic and international travel, and serviced by most major airlines (United Airlines, American Airlines, etc).

Chicago Midway International Airport: Midway is located on the southwest side of Chicago and about 8 miles from the city's major highway (the Loop). The majority of carriers that service Midway are of the low cost variety (such as Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, etc) and caters primarily to domestic traffic/destinations. Your advance planning will begin bearing fruit at this stage, as you will probably have a good idea of where you need to go once you are ready to depart from the airport. Both airports offer taxi, bus, and rental car services to assist you in reaching your next destination.

For more information on how to travel within Chicago, please proceed to Tips from Locals.


As with any metropolitan area, safety is a vital concern. With a few mindful tips, your Chicago relocation should be safe and enjoyable.

  • Keep a cell phone with you at all times. For emergencies – dial 911.
  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Do not carry large sums of cash on your person. Carry only one debit or credit card.
  • Do not wear excessive jewelry
  • Familiarize yourself with your residential areas and others that you frequent, as well as the locations of the nearest police and fire stations.

  • Visit or for additional safety tips in the Chicago area.