Once upon a time, I relocated to Chicago. I like to consider myself a windy city girl at heart, but I actually grew up on the east coast. It feels like a lifetime ago and I love the life that I’ve built in Chicago so much that honestly, I kinda consider myself a native now.
If a relocation to Chicago is in your future, you’ve hit the jackpot. For real – fist bumps all around. Do a happy dance! You’re about to land in the best city of ‘em all.
By now, you’ve begun to do your due diligence; researching neighborhoods and trying to make sense of which one is the best fit for you. With upwards of 200 neighborhoods to choose from, deciding which to call home can feel like throwing darts at a map.
Our best advice is to work with a leasing agent (we’re humbly proud of our 1,000+ 5-star reviews), but in the meantime, let’s take a closer look at Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.
Welcome to West Loop
First things first – where exactly is West Loop? This urban neighborhood sits just west of the heart of downtown Chicago, generally west of the Chicago River where it makes the “Y”.
Clearly a fabulous location, but what makes West Loop a favorite for Chicago newcomers? Let’s dive in…
1. Close to Corporate Headquarters
Got a new gig? Chicago’s downtown is packed with corporate headquarters, many of them right in the neighborhood:
- Google: located in the Fulton Market district in the north central part of the neighborhood. Fulton Market is so close to West Loop, some of us actually just consider it all-in-one.
- Dyson: the beautiful office space in Fulton Market definitely does not suck (sorry, I just couldn’t help it).
- McDonalds: McDonalds moved its headquarters from the ‘burbs to West Loop in 2018. The McDonald’s Global Kitchen is located on ground level and open to the public but I’m dying to get into the test kitchen.
- Vivid Seats: On the west edge of West Loop, the online ticket provider has been a West Loop resident since 2014.
- Peapod: Another transplant from the suburbs, the grocery delivery service has been headquartered in West Loop since 2014. You’ll find them on the west side of the neighborhood right along the Chicago River.
- Mondelez: The brand behind the best cookie in the world (I could literally live on Tate’s Bake Shop Butter Crunch cookies) is relocating from Deerfield to West Loop’s Fulton Market in 2020.
- Boeing: Located right on the edge of the West Loop and Loop neighborhood borders, Boeing’s corporate headquarters reaches 36 floors tall along the river.
If your new gig has you working in Chicago’s Loop or River North neighborhoods, strap on your sneakers because you’re just a short walk away. Better yet, invest in two wheels – Willis Tower is just a 10-minute bike ride from the center of West Loop.
If you’re working in River North’s The Merchandise Mart, you’ll have less than a 20-minute commute on public transit (bus or subway). Even New Eastside’s Prudential Plaza is a straight shot east on the CTA Pink Line.
2. A Livable, Urban Vibe
West Loop has seen so much growth and change over the past 10 years, 5 years and heck, even the past 12 months, that it’s hard to keep up.
This neighborhood’s roots are in meatpacking and it was once considered Chicago’s Skid Row. Those dirty days are far behind the West Loop, but an air of urban grit remains in the best possible way.
What You’ll See
Historic manufacturing warehouses line the streets and nearly all have been converted into lofts, restaurants, niche gyms and office space. Think brick, concrete, glass and stone.
There are also parks scattered throughout the neighborhood, making your green-fix easy to get.
Don’t worry – life’s must-haves nearby too. Walgreens, Whole Foods and Mariano’s (out-of-towners, you will looooove Mariano’s huge 2-story grocery market) are all within walking distance.
How It Feels
This neighborhood is just so…”new” Chicago. There’s a palatable energy in West Loop; it’s a little hipster but has an approachable atmosphere. The median age of its residents is 30.8, and it’s almost equally split by singles and married couples.
The neighborhood is lively, but living in West Loop offers a more laid back vibe than living right in downtown’s Loop. It’s quieter and less chaotic, which is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle.
3. Fantastic Apartments
Finding apartments (for you, yes you!) is what we do and I’m telling ya – the options in West Loop just keep getting better.
- Union West opened in early 2020. If your dog is relocating with you, they’ll flip over the pet-friendly amenities.
- The Mason gives you upscale living in a converted warehouse. The rooftop decks and skyline views are gonna win you over quicker than you can say “meet me at the pool.”
- Milieu on the Park has a south-east location that makes a commute to downtown’s Loop just 15 minutes.
- 727 W Madison is a luxury high-rise with wow-worthy views and detailed finishes that are so beautiful, you just might shed a tear.
And…the number of projects under construction is mind-blowing. Can you imagine yourself living near Fulton Market in a sausage factory turned luxury apartment building? Is it too early to start packing like, now? 🙂
4. Neighboring Neighborhoods
Chicago’s downtown is dense, so it’s not just your own neighborhood that’s important, but also what lies on the other side of that invisible border. There are two great neighborhoods that are easily accessible from West Loop:
Just across the Chicago River, the Loop is considered downtown-downtown. You’ll find all the quintessential Chicago icons here – Willis (ahem, Sears) Tower, The Art Institute, Shopping on Michigan Avenue and State Street, Millenium Park…the list goes on and on.
Situated north of the Loop, River North has a slightly more mainstream vibe than West Loop. Just a half hour walk from West Loop, it’s worth exploring the great dining and shopping.
One of your first to-dos as a new resident of Chicago is to take an architectural boat tour down the Chicago River – you’ll learn so much about the city’s history. I still do it every summer and absolutely love it.
5. Restaurant Heaven
I have three words for you: food, food and fooooood.
West Loop is proudly home to Chicago’s restaurant row, which is packed with the best food joints in the city.
Chicago’s own Top Chef, Stephanie Izard, has three restaurants in the neighborhood with two residing on the row. Having Girl & The Goat, Little Goat Diner and Duck Duck Goat in your backyard is reason enough to move to West Loop.
Don’t think West Loop’s best restaurants are only on the row…
- The Press Room: my favorite spot in the entire city to sip a glass of wine with girlfriends.
- Soho House: serves eggs benedict that are other worldly.
- Sawada Coffee: a coffee shop that feels like a secret club and also serves…BBQ? Huh? Trust me, just go.
- Dirty Root: my salad-loving dreams realized.
That’s it guys – my top five reasons you’ll love calling West Loop home. Remember – we know moving to a new city is overwhelming, and it’s our job to help. Give us a buzz and we’ll help you find the neighborhood and luxury apartment that’s the right fit for you.