Moving to Chicago? Tips for Staying Warm in the Winters

Chicago is a great city to live in; with a downtown that hugs Lake Michigan, world-class museums, restaurants and cultural attractions, top universities, a thriving sports scene, and plenty of opportunities for work. But it's hard to ignore Chicago's winters, which bring cold and snow. The weather shouldn't scare you from moving to the Windy City, though. As long as you prepare correctly, you can conquer Chicago winters. 

Staying warm when you head out

Chicago is the city that works, and the reason it continues to work during cold temperatures is because residents know how to dress for the weather. Here's how to dress for the weather:


1. Layers are your friend. The great paradox of being outside during cold weather is that if you are moving around, you will inevitably get too warm. This is where breathable layers come in, so you can quickly take off, or put back on clothes as your body temperature changes.

2. Pay close attention to your extremities. Mittens are better than gloves because your own body warmth is used to keep your hands warm. Warm boots paired with wool socks, which are more breathable than other fabrics, will keep your toes not dry and toasty. 

3. Remember length when buying a coat. A well-insulated coat is a good place to start, and make sure it reaches to at least just above your knees. When you sit down, or a wind comes off of the lake, you will be grateful to have your whole body covered up. 

4. Don't lose your head. Even in milder temperatures, you will want your ears covered up. When it gets colder, a warm hat that covers your ears is necessary. As the temperatures and wind chill continue to drop, consider the best way to keep your entire face warm. A scarf, neck warmer or balaclava will come in handy. Your coat should have a hood, too, to either add a layer of warmth or serve as a head covering if the weather changes unexpectedly. 

5. Keep a blanket in the car. Especially if your vehicle has leather seats, you’ll be glad to have a layer between your legs and the cold seats in the morning.

Keeping your house warm

When you are home, the cold weather can still have an effect on the temperature inside your house. Here's how to save energy and stay warm.

Check for drafts. Start with shutting storm windows as soon as leaves are falling off trees outside. If your windows are drafty, use a short term solution like covering windows in plastic or using draft stoppers -- long fabric tubes that are filled with rice or dry beans. In the long term, think about replacing windows with more efficient models. 

Make good use of a ceiling fan. It seems counterintuitive, but a fan can help you stay warm. Switch the direction to clockwise and run at a low speed to keep heat from rising in the winter. 

Pull out your favorite all-day recipe on the weekends. When not in use for cooking, ovens should not be used to warm your home. However, a long-simmering stew, or a big pot of Bolognese sauce, can not only keep your kitchen warm, but also give you a great dinner. 

Finding great indoors spots

Cabin fever is a very real thing, but there are ways to combat it during Chicago's winters. 

Conservatories give you that outdoors feeling without being outside, and the perfect place to visit when cabin fever sparks. Garfield Park Conservatory is Chicago's largest and most famous, but with conservatories of different sizes dotted around the city and suburbs, you can find a place to be among plants, even in the dead of winter. 

Your kids can run around in indoor spots, too. The Peggy Notebaert Museum along the city's lakefront is a great place for your family to learn about nature while also enjoying an indoor playground. In fact, several of Chicago's museums have kid-friendly areas for children to play and learn. Indoor trampoline areas and gyms also offer places for your family to have fun while avoiding the weather outside.