“…we have changed significantly over the years we’re not in the business we were in just a generation ago.” Steve Baird, president and CEO of Baird & Warner.
Steve Baird was recently interviewed by Bill Moller on WGN Radio’s Entrepreneur of the Week. Steve and Bill talked about how Baird has been able to keep Baird & Warner private for 5 generations, the high caliber of Chicagoians, Baird & Warner’s involvement with the “Wild West Days” and so much more. It’s a very interesting and informative listen that I would highly suggest. Towards the end Steve touches on what he calls the “vibrant” state of our current market – which if you’re in touch with Chicago right now, vibrant is definitely the prefect word for our fast paced low inventory market.
What’s your next move? If you’re considering a career change, family change or you just need a change of pace and a fresh start, Chicago is a great city with a lot to offer. Ranked in Businessweek last year among the Top 50 cities in the U.S., Chicago is known for having world-renowned universities and fabulous entertainment. It’s home to over 800 bars, more than 6,000 restaurants, 76 museums and eight professional sports teams. If nothing else, you will never be lacking for things to do. But, getting down to the nitty-gritty, what is it about Chicago that makes it a great option to begin or enhance your career and your life?
1. As mentioned, Chicago is home to numerous educational institutions including The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, Valparaiso University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago and many graduate, professional and specialty schools.
2. In Chicago, housing is much less expensive than it is in other large U.S. Cities. According to Business Insider, the statistical median gross rent in New York is $1,086, whereas it’s $886 in Chicago. However, in Chicago, your money will go much farther. That rent in New York might get you an uncomfortably tiny studio, but Chicago rentals include options from houses to condos to apartment buildings with amenities like pools and tennis courts
3. Aside from the cost of owning or renting, alone, Chicago cost of living is just… lower. Groceries, utilities and health care, among other things, are between 20 percent and 50 percent less expensive than in comparable cities.
4. Space. Yes, space. Because of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the city was redesigned and rebuilt with the benefit of having seen how other cities had already developed in that era. As a result, the city was built with the intent to have a park within walking distance of each inhabitant. Chicago houses multiple parks in the heart of the city and wide roads that provide more sunlight than average city streets. City buildings are less crowded than most, and the city was built around a cultural center in the middle of Lincoln Park.
5. The beach! There are 25 miles of public parkland beach in the city. No leaving the hot city to spend hours in a car in traffic to hit the water in the summer. Grab your sunscreen and go! Chicago beaches have open-water swimming, boat launches, dog-friendly areas, restaurants and other amenities.
6. The Chicago entertainment scene is phenomenal. Of course, if you’re there, you don’t want to miss checking out the famed Second City – an improvisational theater that launched the careers of comedians including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. If comedy’s not your thing, though, there are plenty of other options for vibrant and exciting performing arts. The Steppenwolf Theater Company has won numerous awards and its alumni include founder Gary Sinise and actors John Mahoney and Martha Plimpton. Chicago is also home to opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other venues.
7. You won’t be bored – that’s a promise. One of the best things about Chicago is that from spring to fall (and everything in between), it hosts street festivals practically every weekend. These open-air attractions include cultural, food, wine, beach, arts and musical events. There’s everything from the Chicago Craft Beer Festival to the Ukrainian Days Fest to the Windy City Smokeout.
8. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the spectacular Chicago dining. Chicago is home to people of every ethnicity in the world, and plenty of them own restaurants. From hipster gastropubs to barbecue joints to fine dining, you can find it. All of it.
9. Jobs, jobs, jobs. The Chicago Tribune reported in January that employers are optimistic. The most recent job forecast showed that temporary and contract hiring is rising, and that sales and information technology are the fastest-growing positions in the Chicago area. As well, customer service, engineering and production jobs are coming online. Of course, networking helps if you’re trying to find a job, but because of the number of universities in the city, there’s an ever-changing flow of talent that helps the job market to continue to thrive.
10. People. It goes without saying that you’ll find people of all kinds in any large city. But, Chicago’s vibe is that it is a city of neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are home to people whose families have lived in an ethnic and cultural hub for generations, and also to students, professionals and transplants who’ve embraced a particular neighborhood’s identity. There are over 200 Chicago neighborhoods and 77 community areas. The key is to find the one that works best for you.
Regardless, Chicago’s got something for everyone. Whether your interests are food, sports, school, arts or something entirely different, you can find it here. Good luck – the best is yet to come!
Hello graduate. Welcome to the proverbial “real world.” Now that you’re out most likely you’re in search of a job. So where to set your sights for the best chance of a hire and affordable living? Super Scholar has done that research for you – state by state. Super Scholar is a site that understands time is valuable so they have the best advice and information for you on how to get the most out of your education before during and after your days in the classroom. Oh, the places you should go…
West Loop. Near West Side. Randolph Market District. Greektown. Ah yes. Chicago the city filled with neighborhoods within neighborhoods. Maybe “districts” is a better word for our little geographical riddles….
Anyway, if you take a stroll over the old cross town highway you’re officially standing in the greater West Loop. According to some, just stepping west of Wacker Drive will land you in this expanding neighborhood – but that’s just some people’s opinion. Unarguably this diverse area can be mapped north of I-290, south of Fulton and heading about as far west as Racine before you lose the “feel.”
Back in the 19th century this area was home to immigrants and, most famously, the warehouse district filled with many restaurant suppliers… think MEAT. Many warehouses are still there but a large number have become lofts, condos, or gone “upscale eatery” in the last 20 years or so. Eateries such as The Girl and The Goat, (you have to try the ham fat ham fried ham salted fries, although they have no goat in them), The Tasting Room (great deals on Mondays and Tuesday), Vivo Restaurant (request table 70, it’s in a converted elevator shaft - more romantic than it sounds), N9NE Steakhouse and… well I could keep going. There’s many many more.
Heading over to DesPlaines and Randolph you can visit the site of the historic Haymarket Riots (depending on your politics the “Haymarket Affair” or “Haymarket Killings”). In short this event started when protesters were honoring those recently killed at the McCormick Reaper Plant while petitioning for an 8 hour workday. (I don’t subscribe to those. Do you?) Details get hazy, but police opened fire and/or/before/when an anarchist threw a bomb. When the smoke settled over a dozen were dead, many indicted, and four hanged. And the “political” holiday of May Day was established. Yes, here in Chicago, tovarich, not Russia.
In true Chicago style a pub stands there now.
Cross over to Halsted and let out an “opaa” as you’re magically transported to a little bit of Hellenic Heaven. Boisterous Greektown runs the length of Halsted in the West Loop. Of course, the north end of Greektown hosts Dugan’s the decidedly Irish watering hole. But really, who doesn’t love a frothy Guinness after some heavy cuisine?
Speaking of heavy (delicious) cuisine, wander down Halsted where the rows of restaurants host similar menus. All are very good but each has its own specialty. Find out by trying Pegasus, Santorin, Parthenon, The Islands… you get it. Of course in the 80s no place said Greektown like Dianna’s Opaa. Who didn’t come of age drinking roditis and being kissed (male or female) by Petros, the gregarious owner? Sorry kids, this establishment is long gone. For some non-food related culture check out the Hellenic Museum - my kids love it!
Fitting that it rhymes with Opaa – Oprah’s old haunt, Harpo’s, is just down the street. You can walk by it since I don’t think they’ll let you in now-a-days… I also don’t think Oprah hangs there much anymore.
As far as the ever popular housing in the West Loop – think lofts, lofts, loft, midrise, midrise, midrise, loft. Not much in the way of courtyard, SFHs, etc. Hey, wanna do a search? You can just click right here to see for yourself.
What’s on your theater bucket list? My bucket list is deep since Chicago is the center of Improv and home to all kinds of exciting, expansive and exhilarating theater productions.
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photographic images courtesy of the Chicago History Museum and the Evanston History Center. Images may have been altered in cropping, tinting or detailing.