Why Is Chicago Real Estate So Cheap? (Top 8 Reasons)

This article seeks to answer the question, “Why is Chicago real estate so cheap?” and hopefully help potential homebuyers understand why this city can be such a great place to live. To start with, Chicago is an amazing city with a vibrant culture and great opportunities, and one of the best benefits of living in Chicago is the affordability of its real estate.

Besides the many wonderful aspects that make Chicago attractive to homebuyers, there are also multiple reasons why real estate prices are so low in this city. Keep reading to know more!

Why Is Chicago Real Estate So Cheap?

1. Abundant housing

One of the key reasons why Chicago real estate prices are so low is due to an oversupply of housing. With many new residential developments popping up in the city, there simply isn’t enough demand to meet these large supply levels. This has created a situation where competition between property owners forces them to lower their prices in order to attract buyers.

Also, Chicago has experienced a population decline in recent years, with many people leaving the city for various reasons, such as job opportunities or better quality of life elsewhere.

This has resulted in a surplus of housing inventory, which can lead to lower prices as sellers compete to attract buyers. For example, according to a report by the US Census Bureau, Chicago’s population decreased by over 8% between 2010 and 2020.

2. Economic conditions

Chicago has long been known for its low real estate prices, and economic conditions in the city are a major contributing factor. The economic downturn of 2008 had a particularly devastating effect on the city, leading to an increased unemployment rate and a decrease in median income levels. This has meant that people have less money to spend on housing, so demand for real estate is lower than it was before the recession hit.

At the same time, property taxes in Chicago remain high and housing regulations are strict. These factors combined with decreased demand have driven down property values significantly since 2008. While there is more stability today than during the height of the recession, much of Chicago’s real estate market remains depressed.

3. Aging infrastructure

Chicago, Illinois is home to some of the most iconic architecture and landmarks in the nation. However, its aging infrastructure has become one of the main reasons why real estate in this city is so cheap. Many of Chicago’s roads and bridges were built decades ago and have not been updated with new construction or repairs for years. As a result, these structures are decaying rapidly, leading to hazardous conditions for drivers and pedestrians alike.

The crumbling infrastructure also affects the city’s economy as business owners must pay higher taxes to maintain it. This additional cost makes it difficult for businesses to stay in operation within the city limits, driving up vacancy rates and keeping property values low.

On top of this, Chicago’s budget deficit forces local governments to prioritize other areas of spending such as education or public safety over repairing crumbling roads and bridges.

4. Competition from neighboring cities

Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the United States, but it has also become a hotspot for cheap real estate. The reason why Chicago real estate is so affordable is due to competition from its neighboring cities. With such high competition comes a lower price, giving potential buyers an opportunity to get a great deal on their dream home.

The surrounding areas of Chicago are filled with many attractive options that are often more appealing than those within the city itself. Cities like Milwaukee and Indianapolis offer similar amenities at more competitive prices and this makes it difficult for Chicago to keep up with demand in the real estate market. As these neighboring cities continue to grow and develop, they become even more desirable places to live compared to what’s available in Chicago.

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5. Seasonal changes

Another prominent reason is that Chicago experiences some of the most dramatic seasonal changes in the country. During winter, temperatures can drop to dangerously low levels and Lake Michigan can freeze over, making Chicago one of the coldest cities in America. Snowstorms and icy winds drive people indoors for long periods, leading to a decrease in home values during these times.

Also, Chicago is known for its cold winters and hot summers, which can be a deterrent for some people. The harsh weather conditions can also result in higher energy bills, maintenance costs, and other expenses associated with maintaining a property.

6. Crime and safety concerns

For many, Chicago is seen as an exciting city full of culture and history. However, when it comes to real estate prices, this city lags behind its peers. One of the main reasons for this is crime and safety concerns in Chicago. Chicago has long been plagued by high crime rates that have scared away potential home buyers from settling down here.

Despite recent efforts from the City of Chicago to reduce violent crimes such as shootings and homicides, fear still lingers among those looking for a new place to call home. The neighborhood environment also plays a major role in deterring prospective residents from investing in the area due to fear of insecurity or lack of amenities like grocery stores or parks that can contribute to a sense of comfort within a community.

7. High foreclosure rates

Chicago has a high foreclosure rate, which can result in a surplus of distressed properties on the market and lower prices. For example, according to a report by ATTOM Data Solutions, Chicago had the 13th highest foreclosure rate among US metropolitan areas in 2021.

8. High property taxes

High property taxes in Chicago are a major factor contributing to the affordability of real estate in the city. Property taxes are high due to an expansive list of state and local taxes, making them one of the highest in the nation.

According to a WalletHub report, Illinois has an effective property tax rate that is more than double the national average. This means that homeowners must pay considerably more on their properties when compared with other cities across America.


In conclusion, Chicago real estate can be an excellent option for those looking to purchase property on a budget. However, please note that the reasons presented here may not necessarily reflect the current state of the Chicago real estate market, as market conditions can change over time.

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