Why is NYC better than Chicago?

Every year we go on a month-long cross-country road trip. Except for Alaska and Hawaii, we have visited all states and all major cities. 

If we claim that Chicago is better than NYC or NYC is better than Chicago, but facts do not line up to support our claim, our arguments fall apart. 

We lived both in NYC and Chicago. Though we finally settled in upstate New York because New York City was too expensive for us, still, we say that NYC is far better than Chicago. 

So, why is NYC better than Chicago? New York City is better than Chicago because NYC has less crime, more job opportunities, less segregation, less tax, more diversified food options, more tourist attractions, better weather, and better infrastructure.  

We frequently see that whenever people talk about New York City, they only talk about Manhattan, mid to downtown Manhattan specifically. However, Manhattan is not NYC. It’s one of five boroughs that NYC has — Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Chicago has way more crime than NYC:

According to FBI UCR data, Chicago has more crime than NYC. Here is a table for the number of reported crimes by the FBI per 100,000 population in NYC and Chicago:

Crime TypesNew York CityChicago
Aggravated assault171.4267.5
Motor vehicle theft28.9177.3

Chicago has 527% more homicide, 233% more robbery, 335% more burglary, and 613% more motor vehicle theft than NYC. 


Unlike Chicago, every neighborhood is safe in NYC. If you want to raise a family, NYC is a far better city than Chicago. 

Only those who never visited any boroughs except Manhattan claim Bronx, Queens, etc., are not safe. We lived in the Bronx for nine years. It’s as safe as downtown Manhattan. 

Tourist attractions:

NYC has more tourist attractions than Chicago. 

Top tourist attractions in NYC:

  • Statue of Liberty
  • The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Central Park
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Arts
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Top of the Rock
  • New York Public Library
  • Broadway
  • Times Square
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Staten Island Ferry
  • Bryant Park
  • Empire State Building
  • The High Line
  • One World Observatory
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Museum of Modern Arts
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Met Cloisters
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Madison Square Garden
  • The Roosevelt Island Tramway
  • Coney Island
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Ellis Island
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Hudson Riverwalk

Top tourist attractions in Chicago:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Cloud Gate
  • The Magnificent Mile
  • Navy Pier
  • Chicago Riverwalk
  • Lake Michigan
  • Holy Name Cathedral
  • Field Museum
  • 360 Chicago Observation Deck
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • Crown Fountain
  • Shedd Aquarium

Even if you have not visited Chicago or NYC, we are sure you already know many NYC places by name. However, we highly doubt you know the names of Chicago tourist attractions if you never visited before.


Winter in Chicago is harsher than in NYC. On average, Chicago is 8°F colder than New York City. December, January, and February is the coldest month in NYC; however, Chicago is unlivable in those three months.


Chicago is more segregated, and there is more racial tension in Chicago than in New York City. Things have improved in both cities, but there is still significant inequality, distrust, and racial tension in Chicago.

Employment Opportunities:

New York City has immense employment opportunities. 

There are only two places tech startups can start their business. Silicon Valley and NYC. NYC has a more talented pool of engineers than Chicago. That’s why Google, Facebook, Amazon, Airbnb, Uber all have offices in NYC.

If you are a creative person in any creative field, there is no comparing job market to NYC. Except for Los Angeles, NYC is where you should be.

Furthermore, NYC is the hub for culture, media, finance, and fashion industries. 

NYC has lower property taxes:

We know property prices in Chicago are less than in NYC. However, the property tax is more in Chicago than in NYC. For example, a $700,000 house in the Bronx has a $6000/year property tax; however, a $300,000 home in Chicago has more than $8000/year property tax. In fact, Illinois is one of the worst states for property taxes.


NYC has parks every other block. For example, Central Park, which is enormous. It would take 3 hours to walk from one end to another end. Every neighborhood in every borough of NYC has safe parks and playgrounds for everyone.

NYC has more Food diversity:

NYC is an international city. It has authentic food from every culture and country.

Food choices in NYC are more than in Chicago. From Little Italy in the Bronx to Chinatown in Queens. You can find every type of authentic food such as Chinese, Irish, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern, Italian, Greek, Russian, to name a few. Though Chicago also has excellent food choices, it’s not as diverse as New York City’s. Moreover, on almost every other block, there is a food cart in NYC, which is not available in Chicago.


Public transport — MTA — in NYC is far better than Chicago’s CTA. 


Chicago has Lake Michigan, NYC has the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean. Though Chicago has a beach, NYC has real beaches such as Coney island beach, Fire Island beach, Jones beach, Orchard beach, etc.


New York is indisputably larger, denser, more active, more diverse, genuinely world-class. On the other hand, Chicago has fewer people, fewer opportunities, and costs less to live.

If you visited NYC and Chicago as a tourist without your car, you have not seen everything. If you have a vehicle, visit every borough in NYC. 

Not only every borough, but also visit surrounding counties such as Nassau, Yonkers, Westchester, and Hudson. You would not find a dilapidated town or city within 100 miles of NYC.

The nearest city with a low economy compared to NYC is the city of Newburgh in Orange County. 

Now, go to Chicago downtown. Your first impression would be how beautiful and clean this city is. 

Now, go to “Chicago Heights.” If you have time, visit Gary, Indiana — only 29 miles away from downtown Chicago. We consider Gary to be the worst city in the US. Chicago Heights is almost there. Except for a few, every neighborhood is falling apart in Chicago. 

If you live in Chicago or NYC, will you ever compare your city with Mumbai or Dhaka? Of course not. You know NYC and Chicago are better than Mumbai. 

However, we saw Chicagoans measure their city against New York City, but no New Yorkers compare their city against Chicago. It inherently speaks for itself.

Closing Thoughts:

Though we believe that NYC is better than Chicago, everything in NYC is not rosy. NYC is fun if you have money. If you are broke, NYC is hell. 

New York City is the hotbed for foreign investment. Therefore, the real estate prices are higher than in Chicago. If you get two job offers, one from NYC and one from Chicago, choose Chicago. You can save more as everything is cheaper.

However, If someone says that a one-bedroom apartment in NYC (they mean Manhattan) costs $3,500/month, they do not tell the full story. Manhattan is not NYC. You can find a decent one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, Queens, or Brooklyn only for $1400.

Even if your office is in downtown Manhattan, it does not mean you have to live there. There are good neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Live wherever you find opportunities.