Chicago has the highest sales tax in the United States: 9.75% Illinois income tax is 5%, and is now one of the highest in the country, too.
The Reader or Craigslist. You can also try the “free” apartment services. An agent will take you out in his/her car to look for a place. These companies will charge you a finder’s fee of $200-$300 if you take one of the apartments they show you.
Cheap rents and rental advice?
I checked the Reader, where I’ve always found the best deals. Live-able apartments in decent neighborhoods can be found at these rates, heat included:
1 BRM: $800
2 BRM: $1,250
3 BRM: $1,500
It’s a renter’s market right now, so please negotiate! Many management companies are taking action, reducing $15-$20/mo from the advertised price to further entice a potential tenant. Management companies are also changing their policies regarding security deposits. Some ask for $250-$350 in non-refundable “move-in” fees, instead, which, as it turns out, are ALSO negotiable.
Cheapest safe neighborhoods?
Most common to folks just starting out are Andersonville and Wicker Park. Also try Lincoln Square, Wrigleyville, and Albany Park. Be near a grocery store: Jewel, Dominick’s, Aldi’s.
You’re a performer, student, etc.? Forget your car. We have plenty of trains and buses. Live off the Red or Blue lines and you’ll be fine. The Brown line is safe, but may be inconvenient if you frequently travel after Midnight.
How much money should I save before I move?
I recommend 4 months of your projected
What about jobs?
The unemployment rate in Chicago was 8% for September. No industry has been spared job losses. If you're an artist, try the temp agencies first, then the papers -- Tribune, Sun Times, Reader. I also suggest you walk around your neighborhood and look for businesses that are hiring.
If you're working under a temp agency, you can leave with very little notice should you land something better or more permanent, and that's the advantage. The Larko Group is often advertised in PerformInk. I was a Kelly girl myself for a number of years.
How do I break into the entertainment industry?
That's a post of a different color, but I can tell you that print ads, commercials, and television series are non-existent right now, and feature film shoots are sporadic, even though we renewed our tax incentive. Also, Oprah and Bonnie Hunt left, which means the Chicago job market is swimming in highly qualified television workers.
Get yourself the Not for Tourists Guide to Chicago. And read my other posts:
For the uninitiated, Consumer Reports is a magazine that tests products, all kinds of products, and rates them for quality and value. They also give advice on how to get the most from consumer goods. Their coverage includes cars, appliances, electronics, home & garden, babies & kids, money, food, and health. I consult CR many times a year, and sometimes, my friends ask me to find CR's recommendations for them, too.
An online subscription is $30/yr. So cheap!
We've been paying $38/mo for AT&T Uverse High Speed Pro Internet. After several outages and MANY service calls this month, I was really frustrated. A little research showed we could get more speed for about $20/mo, but did I want the hassle of switching companies?
Still uncertain, I called to cancel. The representative listened to my sob story, and asked if it would help if she gave us a discount on our service. I considered carefully, and decided to accept the offer.
Our new terms are: one year of service for $23/mo! Yay!
So, try to renegotiate your cable, phone and internet bills. It might really pay off!
A good interest rate is the easiest, legal way to get money for nothing. For years, I had standard checking and savings accounts through Chase. In 2008, I made $2 in interest for the year on those accounts. Then, after some research on BankRate, a website I LOOOVE, I switched to online checking and savings accounts with much better rates. I managed the whole switcheroo from my computer.
In 2009, I made $274 in interest!