Chicago, IL Neighborhood guides

Chicago’s Best Neighborhoods for Renters

Chicago needs no introduction. Whether you’re already living in the city or are planning on moving here, you certainly know what to expect from one of the nation’s most bustling metropolises. From the historical jewels and vibrant streets of The Loop to the artsy atmosphere of the famed Wicker Park, there’s a little something for every type of renter in this sprawling business and culture hub. 

If you’re thinking about moving here or want to get to know the city a little better, here’s a list of Chicago’s most sought after neighborhoods, whether you’re looking for urban hotspots with high-rise apartments or residential havens with lakefront views. 

West Loop

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 57
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 9,782
  • Average rent: $2,284
  • Average apartment size: 779 square feet
  • Median age: 32.2
  • Share of renters: 58%

It should come as no surprise that West Loop, Chicago’s proudest redevelopment project, takes the top spot in the ranking. This continuously evolving gem is what a reconversion success story truly looks like. The neighborhood turned a gritty meatpacking district marked by abandoned warehouses and factories into a trendy, lively area perfect for young professionals and families alike. West Loop is also the home of Restaurant Row, the cuisine heart of the city, and features the only year-round, closed market in Chicago. 

This central neighborhood comes with airy apartments, big-name tech employers, fine dining, vibrant bars and art galleries — the whole package. But these perks also come at a price, since the average rent in West Loop circles around $2,284, above the national and city average. 

South Loop

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 87
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 15,212
  • Average rent: $2,068
  • Average apartment size: 818 square feet
  • Median age: 33.4
  • Share of renters: 54%

South Loop is a sight to see and live in. This historic downtown neighborhood is where you’ll find the famous Museum Campus, a beautifully designed culture hotspot that houses three of Chicago’s most impressive museums. But this isn’t where the culture trip ends, as South Loop is also filled with live music clubs, theatres, restaurants, and historic landmarks like the former car manufacturing hub, Motor Row. South Loop mixes all the markers of a young, lively neighborhood with the intimate feel of a residential area, including one of the city’s most famous green areas: Grant Park, also known as Chicago’s Front Yard. 

South Loop’s eclectic atmosphere attracts professionals and families alike, and its proximity to college campuses attracts an ever-changing crowd of young residents who make the neighborhood that much livelier. While apartment rents here are above the national average, they’re only a hair above the city average, fluctuating around $2,068.

Lincoln Park

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 67
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 5,584
  • Average rent: $1,845
  • Average apartment size: 654 square feet
  • Median age: 36.6
  • Share of renters: 43%

As you might expect, this neighborhood named after a park should be at the top of your list if you live for the great outdoors. Lincoln Park is the biggest and most beautiful park in all of Chicago, with endless trails, luscious gardens and waterfront views. It’s also where one of the oldest free zoos in the country resides, along with a conservatory, a nature museum and a history museum, so you can spend days exploring its natural landscapes. But don’t fret if you’re an urbanite to your core since Lincoln Park also features one of the best shopping areas in the city.

When it comes to living here, the sophisticated residential areas should be appealing to families and professionals alike, since Lincoln Park mixes a community feel and some of the best schools in the city with some of the most vibrant nightlife hotspots. Plus, apartment rates here circle around $1,845, below the city average. 

River North

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 25
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 7,290
  • Average rent: $2,580
  • Average apartment size: 814 square feet
  • Median age: 34.5
  • Share of renters: 34%

River North is the ultimate urban neighborhood. This sleek, upscale area is renowned for its dramatic skyline views, bustling arts and design scene, and the most lively nightlife in the city. The urban playground directly borders the downtown Loop area, so it’s the perfect spot for professionals of all ages looking for a walk-to-work (and then to the hottest new club or bar) lifestyle. River North is truly the best neighborhood if you enjoy living in a bustling “never sleeps”-type of place, since everything you might need to entertain yourself is a stone’s throw away and probably open late into the night. However, it’s not your best bet if you have children since it’s an ultra-busy urban area that can definitely get a bit chaotic. 

The many benefits of living in one of Chicago’s most upscale areas come at a cost, though, since River North has the highest rents among all of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods, with a $2,580 average apartment rate. 

If you want to learn more about Chicago’s affluent Near North Side, which includes both River North and the Gold Coast, check out this dedicated neighborhood guide.

Lakeview

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 174
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 16,521
  • Average rent: $1,718
  • Average apartment size: 680 square feet
  • Median age: 34.5
  • Share of renters: 48%

The first thing you need to know about Lakeview is that it’s home to the world-famous Blue Man Group and the famous Wrigleyfield — you can definitely make some assumptions from there. This arts and entertainment hub is actually made up of a few smaller neighborhoods (East Lakeview, Central Lakeview, Boystown and Wrigleyville), all connected by a casual atmosphere and an eclectic entertainment scene. Whether we’re talking sports or theatre hotspots, vintage boutiques, or quirky local eateries, Lakeview has it all. And the fun doesn’t end there — as the name suggests, Lakeview comes with a 1,200-acre park with endless views of Lake Michigan, so you’ll be happy here if you’re an outdoorsy person as well. 

This vibrant, bohemian neighborhood also has some of the most accessible rents in the ranking, with apartments here going for $1,718 on average. 

If you want to learn more about this vibrant area, check out our dedicated neighborhood guide to Lakeview.

Wicker Park

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 15
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 1,189
  • Average rent: $2,149
  • Average apartment size: 756 square feet
  • Median age: 31.7
  • Share of renters: 60%

Every city has that one young neighborhood where hipster culture seems to converge into an all-out explosion of great food and drinks, independent music venues and plenty of art and entertainment events to keep you busy 24/7. When it comes to Chicago, that neighborhood is Wicker Park. To put it quite simply, this Chicago staple is the place where you’re most likely to meet a famous artist on your way to getting your artisanal morning coffee, or in one of its many tightly-curated vintage shops. It’s also where you’ll always find something cool and Instagrammable to do, be it a packed indie rock concert or a thought-provoking art performance. 

Of course, the perks of living in a world-famous artist hotspot come at a price. Rents in Wicker Park are some of the priciest in the city, with apartments here renting for $2,149 on average. 

Thinking of moving to Chicago’s hipster haven? Check out our dedicated neighborhood guide to Wicker Park.

Hyde Park

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 101
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 7,552
  • Average rent: $1,464
  • Average apartment size: 739 square feet
  • Median age: 32.3
  • Share of renters: 71%

Hyde Park is yet another Chicago cultural hotspot, but this one also comes with plenty of history and the most diverse makeup of residents in the area. Former President Barack Obama lived here, while the neighborhood is home to the University of Chicago, along with two of the four original historic sites in the city: the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House. Of course, if you’re a history buff, there are plenty more landmarks to visit. Hyde Park is also one of those well-rounded neighborhoods with a little something for every type of renter. Whether we’re talking parks, shopping districts, or entertainment options, if you move to Hyde Park, you’re set. 

Since this neighborhood is still up and coming, rentals are much cheaper than in other communities in the ranking. Apartments in Hyde Park rent for around $1,464, well below the city average. 

If you want to learn more about Chicago’s Hyde Park area, check out our dedicated neighborhood guides to Hyde Park and East Hyde Park.

Park West

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 67
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 5,584
  • Average rent: $1,845
  • Average apartment size: 654 square feet
  • Median age: 30.2
  • Share of renters: 51%

Park West isn’t as big or as well-known as other neighborhoods on the list, but it made it to the ranking for a reason — this delightful area comes with everything you might need from the perfect neighborhood. International bars and restaurants? Check. A big park and a lake? Check. Access to the beach? Check. Close to the Loop? Check. Essentially, moving to Park West means moving to a lively neighborhood big enough to accommodate all your needs, but small enough to still have a community feel to it. 

Living in Park West also isn’t as pricey as in other areas, despite its prime location between The Loop and Wrigleyville. Rents for apartments here circle around $1,845, below the city average. 

Logan Square

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 10
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 765
  • Average rent: $1,952
  • Average apartment size: 736 square feet
  • Median age: 31.6
  • Share of renters: 60%

Logan Square is your one-stop-shop for anything related to arts. This beautiful historic neighborhood comes with infinitely walkable streets, plenty of historic sites, trendy bars and shops, and even Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s also known throughout the city as one of the prime hubs for independent artists and musicians, so if you’re the type of person who enjoys art or theatre shows and indie music, this neighborhood should be at the top of your list. Living in Logan Square will make you feel like you’re part of its bohemian community, while the urban atmosphere will ensure you never get bored. 

As you might expect, apartments here can be on the pricier side, with rentals going for $1,955 on average. Still, it’s definitely cheaper than the more exclusive places in town.

If you want to learn more about Logan Square, check out our dedicated guide to Ravenswood, one of the neighborhood’s best places to live in. 

Gold Coast

 

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  • Number of large apartment buildings: 73
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 18,486
  • Average rent: $2,377
  • Average apartment size: 736 square feet
  • Median age: 36.9
  • Share of renters: 57%

Finally, if you’re the type of person who enjoys the finer things in life, Gold Coast is the picture-perfect luxury haven you’ve been looking for. This trendy neighborhood is the definition of high-end: exclusive boutiques, upscale restaurants, historic architectural jewels, and luxury buildings with breathtaking views. To put it quite simply, Gold Coast is the place where you’re most likely to meet a celebrity going about their daily business and feel like they actually belong in the same neighborhood as you. 

Of course, living in the lap of luxury comes at a cost. Apartments in Gold Coast err on the pricey side, with their rents circling around $2,377, well above the city average. 

If you want to learn more about Chicago’s affluent Near North Side, which includes both River North and the Gold Coast, check out this dedicated neighborhood guide.

Still haven’t found the perfect place for your new home? Check out the rest of our Chicago neighborhood guides: 

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About the author

Irina Lupa

Irina Lupa is a creative writer for RENTCafé, where she covers market trends and topics relevant to today’s renters. Before developing a passion for real estate, she focused on fields ranging from automotive electronics to digital business development, digging into tech news from a critical perspective. Irina holds a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication. You can connect with Irina via email.

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