The Ultimate Clash of the Coasts: Chicago vs New York

Newyork vs chicago

The Chicago vs New York debate can alternatively be called the Clash of the Titans, and it wouldn’t be far from the truth! These are two massive metropolises that are so similar, yet attract an entirely different set of people. 

Both cities are cultural hubs that boast iconic architecture and world-renowned cuisine (did I mention pizza?) But which city is better? In this article, we will take a closer look at the two cities and see how they stack up against each other in various categories. 

Chicago vs New York Population

New York is the most populous city in the US, and it shows! In order to pick a favorite, you need to ask yourself if you’d rather be amidst round-the-clock hustle and bustle, or be a part of the crowd whenever you feel like it. 

New York has a massive population of 8.7 million and a population density of 27,476 people. In other words, expect to see a throng of people as soon as you step out the main door!

On the other hand, Chicago is a well-populated city too with 2.7 million inhabitants. However, a population density of 11,776 people per square mile of the city, depicts that the streets will not always be abuzz with crowd chatter. 

Quite honestly, population numbers can be a bit misguiding. The real feel of New York’s urban areas is five times that of Chicago. Bumper-to-bumper cars, tightly packed streets, and a towering skyline, all add to the enormity of the crowd. 

Chicago vs New York Size

Both New York and Chicago are members of the big city gang. However, New York is the bigger of the two with a land area of 300.4 square miles. Chicago isn’t too far behind, covering 227.4 square miles of land area. 

Chicago vs New York Crime

When deciding where you want to settle down permanently, safety is an important aspect to consider. Both New York and Chicago are big cities, and it is expected that major cities usually have a higher crime rate. However, in spite of being the larger city, New York is a lot safer than Chicago.

Chicago has a violent crime score of 49.9, whereas New York stands at 28.2. Both of these are well above the national average of 22.7. Chicago has often been ranked among the most dangerous cities in the US. According to reports, Chicago had the highest number of homicides in the country in 2022 and has retained the top position for the last eleven years. 

As far as property crime is concerned, New York stands well below the national average with a score of 24.9. On the other hand, Chicago’s property crime score of 46.3 is exceptionally high. Therefore, when you’re residing in Chicago be on the lookout for burglary and motorcycle thefts.

Living in Chicago vs New York

The New York lifestyle is energy-packed and you will find something new to do every day. The residents also portray fierce ambition when it comes to the workplace and if you want to rise up the corporate ladder, the Big Apple is the place to be. 

Contrarily, residents of Chicago have a more laid-back approach toward work, and peace of mind reigns supreme. Chicago is a great place to find the perfect balance between work and personal life. If you are looking to spend quality time with family or friends, you’ll usually have time to spare after work hours. 


Both cities are known for their vibrant cultural scenes. However, New York definitely takes the lead with more than 2000 arts and cultural organizations and over 500 galleries. The city is home to some of the world’s most famous museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of National History. 

Chicago closely follows by housing some world-class museums of its own like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. 


With over 70 Michelin-star restaurants, the food scene in New York is a taste apart. It is a city where people from every corner of the world come together and the food served here is solid proof of the cultural diversity here.

When comparing food from both cities, you can’t refrain from bringing up Chicago vs New York pizza. Both are extremely popular foods and quite different from each other. New York’s pizza is thin and crispy, while Chicago’s deep-pan pizza is a complete meal. This pizza type has a thick-filled crust and you shouldn’t attempt eating it if you don’t have enough room in your stomach!

Another popular food debate is the Chicago vs New York hot dog. New Yorker hot dogs were invented for people on the go and they suit the purpose perfectly. On the other hand, Chicago has improvised traditional hot dogs by adding a plethora of ingredients and sauces. 

Among other popular food items in New York are trattorias, bagels, and cheesecake. The city is packed with coffee and steakhouses. Additionally, fast food is a popular food choice among the locals which is a perfect match for their fast-paced lifestyle. 

Chicago food tends to include fresher ingredients because of the abundant farms found nearby. Some popular food items in the city are Puerto Rican-influenced jibarito, chicken Vesuvio, Italian beef sandwiches, and saganaki.

Chicago vs New York Weather

Both cities lie close to each other on the map, so as expected, the weather is not drastically different. However, New York’s weather is just a tad more comfortable than Chicago’s. If you’d rather be sitting in the sun than experiencing snowfall, then New York is the place to be. On average, NYC has 224 sunny days per year while Chicago has 189. 

Chicago, also known as “the windy city” experiences frequent wind and snowstorms. Winters can get quite brutal here with the city coming to a standstill quite often. Chicago receives 35 inches of snow annually, whereas New York gets 25 inches. On the other hand, NY winters have something magical about them and attract many tourists in this season.

Chicago vs New York Cost of Living

The cost of living varies greatly in New York and Chicago. New York is 57% more expensive than Chicago and this can be the single most important point when choosing where to live. 

Cost of Housing

In New York rent and real estate prices are all sky-high. Furthermore, for the huge sum that you will be paying, you will be renting a tiny, crammed-up space. The average rent in Chicago is close to the national average and stands at $1850. On the other hand, New Yorkers pay an average rent of $3210.

Buying your own house in Chicago is an even better deal. You would have to spend lesser than most Americans when purchasing a house here since the median home cost in Chicago of $284,100 is way less than the national average. Conversely, you would be paying a whopping $677,200 when purchasing a house in New York.

Cost of Food

Your eating experience will be cheaper in Chicago if you intend to eat out at a restaurant or even if you’re doing your groceries for a home-cooked meal. Restaurants in Chicago are 18.8% cheaper than those in New York. 

Similarly, a trip to the local grocery store in Chicago will be easier on the pocket as compared to a similar one in New York. This is what staple food items will cost you in either city:

  • A loaf of bread will cost you $3.86 in NY and $3.01 in Chicago
  • A gallon of milk will cost $4.72 in NY and $3.39 in Chicago
  • A dozen eggs will cost $4.74 in NY and $4.11 in Chicago


Taxes play a significant role in defining how much you would be spending in a city. The tax scene in Chicago and New York provides a mixed picture. The income tax in Chicago is half of that in New York City, 5% and 10.1 % respectively. 

The sales tax Chicago vs New York brings in the element of surprise. While both cities have a sales tax higher than the national average, Chicago reigns in with the element of surprise here. The sales tax in the Windy City is at a staggering 10.3% compared to 8.9% in New York. 

Chicago vs New York Time Zone

Are you up for some time travel? If you make a trip from New York to Chicago, you’ll be doing just that! Chicago is located in the Eastern Time Zone (EST), whereas New York is located in the Central Time Zone (UTC), making Chicago an hour behind New York.

Chicago vs New York Skyline

Chicago and New York are popular for their share of high-rise buildings and towering skyscrapers. However, New York takes the lead as well as the title of possessing the biggest skyline in the country. 

The Big Apple has a total of 287 skyscrapers to its name. Chicago ranks second in the country with its 126 skyscrapers.

Rats in Chicago vs New York

Are you petrified of these scurrying pests? If so, then you need to reconsider your permanent abode, because one of these cities happens to be the rat capital of the country!

According to the pest control company, Orkin, Chicago is the “rattiest” city in the country and is the defending champion of the title for eight straight years! But hold on, this doesn’t mean that New York is a rat-free zone. The Big Apple beat LA to the number two position and sits right behind Chicago in this category.


Which is better New York City or Chicago?

Chicago is better than New York City in a large number of indices such as crime rate, healthcare, employment opportunities, cost of housing and real estate, weather, and traffic data. 

Is Chicago cleaner than New York?

Chicago has a cleaner outlook than New York. This is because Chicago is planned in a manner such that it has a lot of alleys. Trash is gathered in these alleys, so it is out of sight for passersby. 

Is Chicago or NYC more expensive?

NYC is more expensive than Chicago. Statistics show that you would need $9085 per month in New York and $6300 in Chicago to maintain the same standard of living. 

What city is most like New York?

In the US, San Francisco and Chicago are most like New York. Other cities of the world that are similar to New York are London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Dubai.


Choosing between Chicago and New York City is a tough decision as both cities have a lot to offer in terms of cultural activities, food, entertainment, and nightlife. 

If you are the type of person who doesn’t want to spend too much on basic utilities and living and enjoys a more laid-back lifestyle, then Chicago might be the city of choice for you. However, living in Chicago also means that you would have to battle the fierce weather and rodents!

Alternatively, if you are the sort of person who enjoys living in the center of energy and opportunities and doesn’t mind paying a higher price for this kind of lifestyle, then hurry up and book a moving truck to New York City. 

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