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When it comes to relocating to start a business, entrepreneurs should consider three key factors – an affordable cost of living, a supportive business community, and high quality of life. One city which excels in all three criteria is Chicago, Illinois! In this article by Olive & Ash Design, we’ll explore everything the Second City has to offer for newcomers, both as residents and business owners.
- Affordable Housing
According to research by Narcity, Chicago has the most affordable housing in all of North America. The city has more than a million housing units with a fair division between apartments and houses. On average, purchasing a home in the city will cost just $200,000, which is significantly less than the seven-figure valuations of properties in other major cities. Newcomers can also opt to rent for the short-term, as it’ll provide them the time and opportunity to explore the housing market and find a property that best suits their needs.
The benefit of significant savings from housing and directly be channeled into the business, whether it be for product research, promotional activities, or opening a physical location.
- High Quality of Life
Along with housing, Chicago stands out in other quality of life areas as well, such as:
- Well-connected Public Transportation: As reported by Chicago Transit Authority, a one-day pass costs $5, which can be used on buses and subways alike. Additionally, the trains in Chicago run over the ground, allowing passengers to take in the sights as they make their way across the city.
- Good Walkability Score: Chicago has been ranked the 7th most walkable city in the United States, mainly because of its pedestrian-friendly architecture and abundance of natural beauty.
- Plenty of Outdoor Spaces: The Chicago Park District has more than 600 parks under its belt, which amounts to upwards of 8,800 acres of natural space. Additionally, the city has around 50 outdoor pools, a lakefront that extends almost 30 miles, and 23 beaches where one can go for a refreshing swim.
Here’s a list of must-visit attractions for those new to Chicago:
- Lincoln Park
- Grant Park
- Fiesta del Sol celebrations
- Navy Pier
- Supportive Business Community
Chicago being home to 12 Fortune 500 companies is a testament to its commitment to maintaining a supportive community for businesses. Recently the city passed various reforms aimed at reducing the red tape businesses need to face, making it easier to expand operations without having to pay hefty fees. Additionally, Chicago removed the requirement of employee head tax, further reducing business costs.
The city is home to numerous incubators and accelerators that entrepreneurs can use to connect with industry leaders and receive funding. Some prominent names include:
- Kiwi Tech
- Evergreen Climate Innovations
- Higher Ground Labs
- Well Educated Workforce
Chicago is home to numerous reputed public and private universities that attract students from across the United States and beyond. Here are a few names that top the rankings chart:
- Chicago State University
- Northeastern Illinois University
- University of Illinois Chicago
- DePaul University
- Northwestern University
Additionally, affordable cost of living and good public transportation connectivity incentivizes students to remain in the city post-graduation and work in local businesses. Whether you require professionals from the field of law, marketing, public relations, programming, data science, or more, you’re bound to have a pool of talented candidates to choose from.
- Ease of Starting Business
Recent policy changes have streamlined the process of starting a business in Chicago. Here are a few important steps entrepreneurs need to take to launch a company:
- Register for Local & State Taxes: All new businesses need to obtain a state tax number from the Illinois Department of Revenue.
- Obtain Required Licenses: Depending on the industry your business is in, you may have to apply for required licenses and permits.
- Establishing an LLC: A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is straightforward to set up and has simple filing requirements. Additionally, an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets from business-related debts as the company is registered as a separate legal entity.
From affordable housing, a talented workforce to a supportive business community, Chicago is a vibrant city having everything an entrepreneur needs to be successful and lead a good life.