What Makes Chicago A Great City – Or Not

Last week Charles Schwab released the results of a survey conducted by Koski Research: The View From Chicago, in which 1000 Chicago area residents shared their views on life in the area, the local economy, and personal finances. The results paint a pretty interesting picture of what the people who live here believe makes this a great city – and in many cases what keeps it from being a great city.
As with most things in life how you see something depends a lot on who you are, which is why topics of this nature tend to get a ton of debate on Cribchatter. Here are some of the highlights from the survey:
People rank Chicago as “one of the best” for dining and the arts but “one of the worst” for taxes and crime. We didn’t get very high marks for government effectiveness either.
You can start to see how your personal situation impacts your satisfaction with the city in the next set of measures. 67% and 65% of the people gave the city an A or B grade on welcoming diversity and being good for young professionals, respectively. However, only 18% gave it an A or B grade for being a good place for retirement and only 33% gave it an A or B as a place where a child could receive a good education. And in general younger people were more inclined to have a favorable opinion of the city.
The survey also provided some insights on the real estate market, with 63% owning their own home and 26% renting. But 41% of renters plan on buying in the next 5 years. Meanwhile, Chicagoans spend about 30% of their income on housing, which is typically viewed as a responsible number. We also see generational differences in location preferences. If money were no object younger people would prefer the city, while older people would move away. In fact, 29% of people plan on moving away when they retire, with a strong preference for the South – yours truly included. Think it has anything to do with last winter?
The overall view on the economy is not that positive. 61% believe the local economy is staying the same or getting worse and 33% believe the local economy is worse than the national economy. And a fairly large segment – 42% – believe that living here hurts their ability to achieve their financial goals because the cost of living is too high. I would certainly agree with that, though I know that a lot of the Cribchatter crowd is stuck on the fact that Chicago is much cheaper than other large cities in the US. That may be true but those cities are really crazy.
The important issues for people in the survey are crime, taxes, the infrastructure (probably starting with the potholes), the November gubernatorial election.
I also thought it was interesting that they surveyed people on how much money you needed to be comfortable or wealthy. The answers averaged out to $700,000 and $2.7 MM, respectively but I am more interested in how much money people believe you need to MAKE to be comfortable or wealthy here. I think it’s a lot with the cost of living.
If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think I’m the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email:

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