Chicago is really expensive. Apartments are difficult to find for only 3 month spans. However, as if to make up for this, you can find all sorts of job opportunities everywhere. Newspapers are good to go to if you want an internship. You can look around the internet a bit and see what you can find. Being IN Chicago makes it easier to find a job, but I assume you’d want to apply earlier than when you get here.
Only visited San Diego once, so I know nothing about places to stay or work. However, I lived in a suburb of Chicago for over a year, so I can tell you what I know. As strange as it may sound, the best job I’ve ever had was working at the Domino’s in Waukegan. Easy job, great bosses, and awesome tips. On a bad night, I would bring home $50 a night. On average, between $100 and $200 a night! Those Chicago people love their pizza delivery people, that’s for sure! LOL. I think the suburbs have cheaper housing. We paid about $400/mo for a 2 bedroom townhouse. It was a nice place, too. Of course that was 11 years ago, so things might be more expensive now. Chicago is a very interesting place to live! Traffic sucks during rush hour, though. But then I’m sure the same is true for San Diego! San Diego was a very neat place to visit, but I know nothing about the cost of living there. LOTS to see, that’s for sure. We spent 7 days there, and I was exhausted by the time we left, because there was just so much to see! Good luck trying to decide!
Wanderluster is right about the climate – summers in Chicago can be humid and hot. However, Chicago does have an Irish history, so that may interest you. As far as jobs, there are lots of retail places to work. An office job might be harder to find. San Diego and Chicago are just about equal when it comes to apartment rent, though of course it depends on location. Both cities are very polite and relatively clean.
San Diego is more attractive geographically, and the weather less humid in the summer. Chicago, however, is super friendly, and you can walk into a pub and odds are excellent that in most neighborhoods a stranger might buy you a drink or two. And it’s certainly not unattractive. The lakefront is so great in the summertime.
I’m guessing that Chicago has better public transportation, but since I haven’t lived in San Diego, I can’t be sure. I’m also fairly certain that rents are higher in San Diego, as the cost of homes is generally higher.
Overall, if you love beaches and want to be near the desert and Mexico, San Diego is the place. If you want to make friends easily and you love a good party, Chicago is where to go. Oh yes, Chicago has a million summer street fairs and has an amazing music scene.
I’ll admit I’m biased. I’m from Chicago and just moved back after two years in New York. I’ve visited San Diego and found it lovely, but I’ve heard from residents that it can be a hard place to make friends.
I don’t think you can go wrong either way. Good for you for embarking on this adventure!
My vote is for Chicago. San Diego might have the better climate, but it also has more than its share of immigrants, competing for those jobs, that space on the beach, etc.
Chicago summers are made tolerable by the cool lake breezes. Stay close to the lakeshore. There’s a youth hostel close to the lake in Edgewater. This is also close to Loyola University, Devon Av., and Rogers Park Elevated (train) stop.
From this youth hostel, you can plan your trip to Waukegan. Either get the ticket from Union Station, or from the train station in Evanston.
Jobs may be more plentiful in the far north. You may consider travelling from Chicago to Milwaukee, from there to Minnesota. Personally, I would eschew both San Diego and Chicago, and go as far north as I could, as far north as Churchill. The train runs north to Churchill (Canada). The money is much better, there is fresh air and plenty of game, and many more jobs.
If it’s ladies you like, go to Nova Scotia, Halifax. But you’d have to go east from Chicago.
I’ve never been to San Diego, but I’ve heard that it’s expensive and that the public transportation system sucks. It’s also supposed to be beautiful and friendly.
I lived in Chicago for 20 years, exclusively on the north side of the city. I worked in the Loop, in Lincoln Park and in the near north suburbs and I never owned a car, so I can vouch for the great 24 hour public transport (www.transitchicago.com). Sure it can be hotter than hell in the summer, but it’s also a fun city in the summer with lots of free and/or inexpensive things to do, including music festivals and museums of almost every description. There are great neighborhoods featuring almost any culture you can name to explore year round.
There are a few youth hostels, including a fairly new one which very conveniently located downtown (www.hichicago.org), but those spaces fill up really quickly. If you go for that option, book it as early as possible. You may also be able sublet an apartment from students who are traveling or going home for the summer or from colleges that have rooms to rent. I think Columbia College sometimes has student apartments to rent and I know that fraternity houses at my alma mater Northwestern University used to rent out rooms during the summer and it was always an inexpensive way to go.
There are a lot of Irish and Irish-Americans in Chicago, which can be good and bad. A friend of mine from Dublin hated it because he “left Ireland to escape from the Irish for awhile not to meet them everywhere.” Being from Ireland, might help you find a job or even a place to live since there’s definitely an Irish community. There are a lot of Irish pubs/restaurants (ranging from fairly authentic to completely bastardized) where an accent may get you a foot in the door. A weekly free paper called the Chicago Reader is a very good resource to use to check prices, job listings, etc. It’s available online at www.chicagoreader.com. I would also recommend posting to Craig’s list for work or accommodation or even checking out the ThornTree on Let’s Go to see if you might be able to arrange a space swap (if that’s an option available to you).
That’s all I can think of right now. I hope it helps. If you’s like, feel free to ask me more specific questions. I still have friends in Chicago so I might be able to get more up-to-date info.
Where will you and friends be studying? If you will not have access to a car, you should consider Chicago. Public transportation is much better in and Chicago. While Chicago can be a little expensive, it’s nothing compared to San Diego. You’ll live in a rat hole for the same money that will buy you a two-bedroom apartment in Chicago.
Here’s a bonus too, if you plan on visiting any other cities in the US, Chicago is centrally located and airfare is competitive, allowing you to get just about anywhere for $200 to $400.
Sure the weather is beautiful in San Diego, but I would move to Chicago long before going to California.
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