Chicago does not deserve title of 6th most miserable city

By Editorial Board

Midwesterners often ask me why I decided to move from the paradise of sunny Southern California to Illinois’ frozen tundra. Why leave a state with virtually everything—beaches, mountains, deserts, good Mexican food—for Chicago, one of the coldest, most crime-ridden cities in America? To be frank, it’s an irritating question, and the less people bring it up to me, the better.

But much to my chagrin, Forbes magazine recently named Chicago the 6th most miserable city in the U.S., beating out Gary, Ind. and Stockton, Calif. Am I taking crazy pills? In my book, Chicago is a wonderful place to live for various reasons. Deep dish pizza didn’t exist in my reality until I moved here, and neither did cultural diversity. Sure, I could do without the smell of stale pee on the train or the hobo on Clark Street who affectionately calls me “Sexy Lady.”

Regardless, Chicago does not deserve such negative press, even based on economic circumstances and weather. The city has so much to offer if residents are willing to focus on what really counts: the culture, people and history.

Understandably, economic circumstances such as property taxes, foreclosures and unemployment rates are important to many residents, and Chicago isn’t pretty in any of these aspects. Forbes looked at the 200 largest metropolitan areas and ranked them on 10 factors, said Forbes staff writer Kurt Badenhausen on the magazine’s website. The 10 factors included average unemployment rate, violent crimes per capita, median commute times to work and how professional sports teams have fared during the last few years.

Chicago’s numbers are dismal; there is no point challenging that. The average commute to work is 31 minutes, which is the 8th worst in the nation, according to 2010 U.S. Census data. The FBI Uniform Crime Report said more than 2 million violent crimes were committed in 2010 alone. Lastly, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, corruption of public officials proved to be horrible in the northern Illinois district, with a whopping 364 convictions.

These statistics are surprising but should not deter people from visiting or living in Chicago. Big cities experience accelerated crime rates, commute times and taxes. That is simply reality. If none of these sounds appealing, then don’t move to a city. Too many times I hear about high school friends who went off to attend college in New York and came running back a year or two later, complaining about the weather, the traffic or the sales taxes.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I believe in a method called “research.” It’s one of man’s greatest innovations and, I highly suggest everyone utilize it to determine where he or she wants to live. Yes, Chicago has its downsides. But much like New York, Los Angeles or Miami—which was ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list—Chicago is a cultural hub enriched with dramatic history. Forbes only ranked cities with populations of at least 256,000. Small towns shouldn’t be bashed, but let’s face it: They’re boring, there’s not much to do and diversity is usually a foreign concept.

Chicago has won many accolades for technology and innovation, among others. The city’s website states that Chicago was named “U.S. City of the Future” for 2005–2006 by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine, as well as the most Internet-accessible city in the country, according to an Ohio State University study.

As sappy as it sounds, happiness does come from within. In the end, we all must take the good with the bad. I’m willing to pay the few extra bucks to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world.