Why I Don't Want To Live In Chicago Anymore
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Why I Don't Want To Live In Chicago Anymore

After living in and near Chicago for the past 21 years, I think it is time for a change.

Why I Don't Want To Live In Chicago Anymore
Natalie Lezama

Don’t get me wrong, I love my city and will always be a “Chi-town girl” at heart, but enough is enough. I was born and raised in the residential area of Chicago. For those who aren’t familiar with Chicagoan terminology, it basically means not in downtown but not in the suburbs either. I have been through it all with Chicago, from Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawk Championships to Bears and Cubs playoff appearance, to the Sears Tower being renamed to Willis Tower and the whole Blagojevich ordeal. I don’t eat my hot dogs with ketchup and will choose deep dish pizza over thin crust and measure how far someplace is by how long it takes to get there. I call Lake Michigan the Lake, know why it’s really called the Windy City and can navigate myself around easily on the CTA. I have a thick Chicago accent that I refuse to believe is real, and basically I am your typical Chicago girl who is ready to go far away from here and this is why:

First, probably the most obvious, is the weather.

As exciting as never knowing what the weather will be like, it’s not. It’s quite annoying actually. After a cold winter, the constant tease of spring weather only frustrates me more. Who doesn’t love sunshine and feeling the warm rays touch your skin? Being able to walk to class with only one layer of clothing on is pretty nice too. Chicago winters are never fun, even though this past winter has been manageable, there have been days when class was cancelled because it was too cold. The wind has hurt my face, my fingers have been numb plenty of times and my car has died because of the cold one too many times. Chicago is also the only place you can honestly experience all four seasons within a few minutes time frame. Great, right? I can leave class with a parka, start sweating gallons two minutes later, feel a cool breeze shortly after and get drenched by a 30 second down pour all within a seven-minute walk to my car. All I want is consistent weather Chicago, is that too much to ask?

Next, is the traffic.

Everyone I have ever driven with has some kind of road rage, and I honestly don’t blame them. Driving in Chicago is every Chicagoan’s least favorite activity. It will take you 10 minutes to get to someplace that is down the street (OK, maybe like five, but seriously, it’s down the street, it should take seconds). Accidents or construction is the main cause of backup, and there is always that one jerk that drives like their destination is more important than anyone else’s. Seriously dude, you don’t need to speed to get to the next red light. *Insert eye rolling emoji* People drive insane in Chicago and by insane I mean when the light turns yellow people will immediately slam on the gas especially when you’re on the parallel lane about to turn left. Why not ride your bike? It’s safer, saves more money and healthier, right? Absolutely, if there was space on the congested biker lanes and since riding your bike on the sidewalk is frowned upon (completely serious), I would rather just sit my aggravated butt in traffic. Plus, the majority of Chicago drivers hate anyone who takes up space on their already jammed packed street.

Another reason: overpopulation.

Sure, everyone think Chicago is a “big” city, but really there is just way too many people here. As I mentioned before, the streets are constantly jammed pack, and the sidewalk is just as bad. Shopping at malls makes me claustrophobic, and I cringe at the thought of park garages during the holidays. No matter where I go, I could bet you $5 that I’ll run into someone I know and ten minutes after making that bet, I’ll run into someone I probably went to high school with. Small world, right? Nope. Just too many people in a crammed city.

On a more serious note: the safety.

You were probably wondering when I was going to mention all the violence going on in Chicago, so here you go. Violence in Chicago has never been anything out of the norm, unfortunately what else do you expect living in an overcrowded city? Yet lately, it has been getting out of hand and there hasn’t been anything done to try and stop that either. As a young woman, I already worry about traveling to places alone and getting cat-called at by groups of men, but why should I worry about being home alone in the place I grew up or even in my apartment in the suburbs? I don’t even feel safe walking to my parked car down the street in my own neighborhood. That is a huge problem that I do not believe will be getting fixed anytime soon. Schools and homes are starting not to feel safe anymore and the sound of sirens is way more familiar than hearing Chelsea Dagger and personally, I do not want to stick around to see how much worse it’ll get.

Unfortunately another reason: the education system.

Luckily, I have been more than fortunate enough to have gone to private school my whole life, but when I asked my parents why they chose for me to go there, their answer always stuck with me. They told me I would get a better education at a private school than my neighborhood public school. At first, I never questioned it, but as I got older and met various people I realized my “better” education, was actually barely average. Other schools not in the Chicagoland area where far more advanced than I was. Stuff I was learning my senior year of high school, they already learned their freshman year. Here I was thinking that I was receiving a more advanced education than CPS (Chicago Public School) students, when in fact I wasn’t. I started to look more into the education CPS students were receiving and for the most part, it was upsetting. Not ALL CPS schools were drastically behind or dwindling in resources and funds, some CPS schools were far more advanced than my private school, but the fact of the matter is that there are schools that suffer. There are students who are being cheated out of an education because of their neighborhood. In fact, even I have been cheated out of getting the education I deserve that my parents worked extremely hard to pay for. It is not the fault of my school but the city. Why should I have to take three buses one way to get to a school that I pay for to keep me at the baseline when there’s a school down the street? Why should the school down the street have police cars in front of it every day? Why should private schools be considered “better” schools? Why should parents feel the need to move to the suburbs to get a better education over even have to pay to feel comfortable in their child’s education? Our education should be equal all over the city, but why isn’t it?

Lastly: the $$$

Chicago is most certainly not a cheap city. Shopping tax ranges from 7.25 percent to 10 percent, and some places even higher. Rent is worth an arm, a leg and maybe even a kidney if you’re willing to share a room or live in a shady neighborhood with awful parking because let’s face it, parking the the parking garage is worth you beer money for the month. Since gas is so expensive anyways, might as well stay home to drink! There is hardly anything “cheap” in Chicago and things or events that may be “free” usually come with a price. No matter how badly your team is doing this year, it’ll still cost $100 for nose-bleed seats and even if you somehow manage to go to a game, better hope you’re wallet is ready for it because beer costs at least $8 a cup and a helmet of ice cream costs at least $15. Don’t forget about the $20 parking too! Staying in watching a game sounds a lot cheaper right? Just order a $50 family-sized pizza, with a $5 delivery fee, $3 tax and for it to arrive at halftime...when you ordered it before the game even started. You still want the city life though, right?

I could keep going about my reasons to leave; the endless cornfields when you leave the city, traveling hours to see some kind of “nature,” the rudeness of the majority of people and don’t even get me started about parking. I have loved my time here spent in Chicago and wouldn’t trade the experiences and opportunities I have had here for anything, but it’s time for me to leave. I have more reasons to go than reasons to stay. I will miss the beautiful summer days of wandering around downtown, driving down LSD, visiting museums and the famous Navy Pier. I’ll miss the convenience of the CTA, the Bears and Packers rivalry, Crosstown Classic and constant bragging about the Blackhawks. I’ll miss Portillo’s, deep dish pizza and finding great overlooked places to eat. Chicago will forever hold a special place in my heart, it will always be the city that shaped me to be who I am, but a girl can only visit the bean so many times, right?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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