Chicago is divided into four main areas: North, South, West, and the center (commonly referred to as "The Loop"). To the east is Lake Michigan. With 29 miles of lakefront, there's a great chance that you can snag a lake view apartment. (If that floats your boat, check out for listings.)

You might think that you have to live in The Loop because it's where most people work. Wrongo. Chicago also has a great mass transit system called the "El." It's how the doctors on ER and Chicago Hope all get to work (though in real life, most of them drive BMWs).

  • The Loop itself has three sub-sectors: the South Loop, the West Loop, and Streeterville. These areas of town are right along the Magnificent Mile (a strip of land covered with shops, restaurants, and the occasional movie set). The ever-popular Navy Pier is also part of The Loop. Rents range from $800 for a studio to more than $5,000 for a really nice three-bedroom apartment.

  • If regular violence and gang crossfire don't bother you, we recommend The South Side of Chicago (which is divided up into smaller towns). These apartments are almost guaranteed to be cheap, if you don't mind trading safety for cost. If you are a relatively normal person, however, skip that area of town. Rents are not nearly as high as the medical bills. If you need a hint, how about this: this is where Bad Bad Leroy Brown lived.

  • The North Side begins to wander slightly further away from the actual downtown area, but it's a bit quieter than the rest of the sectors (albeit more expensive). The Near North includes the Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park/De Paul, and Lakeview/Wrigleyville. These are definitely some of the poshest areas of the city, which is great for yuppie sightings. Rents range from $600 for a studio to $1600 for a nice two-bedroom apartment. The Mid North Side is home to Buena Park, Ravenswood, Roscoe Village, and St. Bens. Rents range from $500 for a studio to just over $1000 for a two-bedroom apartment. The Far North includes such towns as Andersonville, Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Evanston. Again, yuppyish. Rents range from $400 for a studio to $800 for a two-bedroom apartment.

  • The West Side of Chicago is where suburbia begins to meld into the city system. If you don't care about taking the train into the city, you should consider looking at apartments on the Far West Side. Rents are often cheaper than those directly in the heart of Chicago, and they aren't too far from all the action, either. The Near West Side has a lot to offer, with neighborhoods like famous Wicker Park, Bucktown, River West, and Ukrainian Village. Rents range from $500 for a studio to $1000 for a very elegant two-bedroom apartment.

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