What Is a Good Salary in Chicago?

Chicago is a big city brimming with opportunities! With a population of over 2.7 million people, it’s the third-largest city in the United States. It’s home to some of the top companies in the world, like McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Boeing. There are also plenty of small businesses and startups in Chicago. So, what is a good salary in Chicago?

What Is a Good Salary in Chicago?

A good salary in Chicago is between $50,000 to $100,000 per year. The average salary is $73,271, with the majority of salaries in Chicago falling between $56,814 to $88,548 per year.

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This wage would allow you to live comfortably in Chicago without struggling to cover the cost of rent, food, and other essentials. The cost of livelihood in Chicago can be high, particularly for housing, which can consume almost half of your wage.

Additionally, salaries will vary depending on factors such as type of job, job title, and experience level. For example, a highly skilled software engineer or a finance person may earn significantly more than the average salary in Chicago city.

Factors That Will Determine Your Salary in Chicago

When looking for a good salary in Chicago city, there are many factors to consider. Some of the factors that will determine your average wage include:

  • Location
  • Cost of living
  • Lifestyle and entertainment
  • Professional experience


The City of Chicago is a large and influential metropolitan area, So unsurprisingly, where you choose to live within it can significantly impact your wage. Generally speaking, the closer you live to the Loop, the higher your salary will be.

This is because the Loop is the central business district of Chicago, and many of the city’s highest-paying jobs are concentrated there. There are exceptions to this – some neighborhoods outside the Loop are also home to high-paying jobs.

A recent study has revealed that the average household income for families residing in downtown Chicago is $150,742. This is notably higher compared to the average household income in the suburbs, which stands at $94,733.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Choose to live in a more expensive neighborhood or area. Your average cost of livelihood will be higher, and you may need a higher average salary in Chicago to afford those expenses. Similarly, if you have a more extravagant lifestyle, with higher costs such as dining out regularly or planning to buy a luxury car, you may need a higher salary to afford that lifestyle.

In a tourist spot in Chicago which is called The Bean a polished metal piece casts a wide-angle reflection of the downtown skyline

Chicago city offers a wide range of entertainment options for your family, from museums, and theaters, to sports teams and music venues, which are affordable. These options can increase your job satisfaction and overall quality of life, which can affect your willingness to accept a lower than the average salary in Chicago city.

The cost of a movie ticket in Chicago city is around $13 on average, which is in line with the national average. However, the cost can vary depending on the theater’s location and the time of day. Movie tickets are generally more expensive on weekends and in the evening.

Professional Experience

In Chicago, professional experience is one of the critical factors that can affect an individual’s average salary. Generally, the more experience you have in a particular field or industry, the more valuable you will be to an employer and the higher salary you can negotiate.

According to data from Zip Recruiter, the average salary per year for workers in Chicago is  $64,160. However, this varies greatly depending on the specific occupation. For example, the average salary per year for a project manager is $96,345, while the average salary per annum for a retail salesperson is $32,580.

Many Chicagoans in management, business, and financial operations tend to have some of the highest median salaries, with some specific positions, such as software engineer or Medical and Health Services Managers earning between $108,613 and $129,458.

Cost of Living

The cost of livelihood in Chicago can vary depending on the neighborhood and type of housing you choose. According to data from Numbeo, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around $1,826, while renting a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs around $1,075.

The cost of groceries, transportation, healthcare, and utilities is slightly higher in Chicago than in other cities. According to Numbeo, an essential utility package for a 915 sq ft apartment costs around $150 per month.

In determining your average wage, your standard of living will likely play a role in determining your take-home pay. Employers may consider the city’s cost of living when determining average salary levels and adjust wage offers accordingly. However, your average wage also depends on your profession, experience, skill level, and qualifications.


Taxes play a significant role in determining your average salary in Chicago. Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 4.95%, which is relatively high compared to New York. In addition to state income tax, you will also be subject to federal income tax, which is calculated based on your income and filing status.

You might encounter other types of taxes while residing in Chicago, like sales tax, property tax, and taxes on certain goods and services. Chicago has a sales tax rate of 10.25%. This includes a 6.25% state sales tax, a 1.25% county sales tax, and a 3% city sales tax.

Property taxes will cost you more and are calculated based on your property’s assessed value and the city’s tax rate. Additionally, there might be taxes on certain goods and services, such as parking, alcohol, and tobacco taxes for Chicago residents.

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Demand for Your Skills

The supply and demand of specific skills can also play a role in determining your average salary in Chicago. If a particular skill or profession is in high demand, average salaries are higher for those with that skill or in that profession.

For example, if there is a shortage of software engineer skills in Chicago, organizations and employers may be willing to pay close to $131 per hour to attract and retain those with the necessary skills. Conversely, if there is an abundance of job seekers with a certain skill, average salaries may be lower as there is more competition for jobs.

In Chicago, some in-demand labor skills include healthcare such as nursing and medical assistants, transportation, and skilled trades. Other in-demand roles that will earn higher per hour include project manager, software engineer, and customer service.

Related Questions

Is $50K a Suitable Salary in Chicago?

Whether or not $50,000 per year is considered a good salary in Chicago depends on several factors, such as the cost of living, your lifestyle, daily costs, and your career goals.

What Is Considered a High Wage in Chicago?

In Chicago, High wage is generally above $150,000 per year. However, what constitutes a high wage can vary greatly depending on factors such as your profession, education level, and experience. Additionally, the cost of living in Chicago can be high, especially in specific neighborhoods, so what might be considered a high wage in one area may not be considered such in another.


A suitable average salary in Chicago will depend on several factors, including the number of dependants, experience, education, skillset, and the cost of living. A suitable average salary in Chicago will allow you to live comfortably while also being able to save close to half of your earnings for the future.

Jared Bauman is the owner and editor of PFGeeks.com. He has started and sold several companies, along with owning several investment properties. His interest in personal finance started as a young kid, developed through his entrepreneurial ventures and real estate investments, and continue through his conversations with friends and colleagues.

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