7 Tips for Surviving Winter in Chicago

i, being in downtown chicago, got my first real snowfall of the year on sunday.  it's been cold, and it's definitely had freezing rain and light flurries, but it's the first time this season that the snow has actually stuck.  and i love it!  i'm a winter baby.  i love all things cold and snow.  perhaps because i'm just used to it by now, but as long as you get prepared, it really isn't that bad.  even if my friend did spend our entire grocery trip singing a 'welcome to the jungle' parody called 'welcome to the tundra' (and by grocery shopping i mean drinking, whole foods has a huge bar.)  but it's just another winter, and it's all in how you prepare for it - you can survive!  here's my top things you need to know about surviving winter in chicago:

1. marking your shoveled spots with plastic lawn chairs is absolutely legit.  you did all that work to shovel it, you're going to get it back when you come home!  if someone moves them, and parks in the spot, your neighbors will key their car.  100%.  the city tries every year to discourage this move, but they'll never win.



2. the law in chicago states that when weather is like, well, weather in chicago, it is not the responsibility of those downtown skyscrapers if ice falls off the roof and hits you.  it is assumed that people are put on notice by the weather (we give people too much credit.)  be aware of your surroundings, because you're not getting anything if you fall or get hit by ice chunks.

3. this is not hollywood.  and i love 'what not to wear' as much as the next girl, but the fact is, no one here judges what you're wearing.  so if your coat and boots and flannel long underwear are the ugliest things you could possibly buy, but keep you warm, buy them and wear them at all times.  this is not a fashion show, this is -2 windchill on a good day.  no one is noticing, no one is even looking because if you don't keep your head down, your eyeballs will freeze.  priorities.

4. and the fact is, it's cold here more often than it is anything else, so you'll get way more use out of your winter wardrobe than your bikinis and sun dresses.  spend accordingly.

5. if you're going to venture out for things other than work, make it count.  i recommend bye bye liver.  it's an interactive comedy drinking game/show.  you'll love it.  and you'll be happily buzzed when you leave.  alcohol coat - it's a real thing.

6. public transportation actually isn't any less reliable in the winter than it is the rest of the year.  yes, it sucks the rest of the year, so there's no need to change your schedule.  it's reliably crappy all the time - if your usual bus is 10 minutes late in the summer, it's still 10 minutes late in the winter.  this surprises me too.

and finally, my favorite tip -

7. there's apps to help you.  download them!  first, track where the snowplows are here, and then, download all the available apps - where the plows have already been, where to find fast street parking, where the 'no parking if snow is 2 inches' streets are, and most importantly - where your car is if you think it got towed (i'm looking at you taylor.)  if someone else is going to do the work for you, embrace it!


anyone out there a winter lover like me?  or are you all residing in warmer climates?

29 comments

  1. #4 is the most important tip. Seriously. I don't understand Midwest girls who spend the majority of their money on summer clothing. Really? You will be in some form of sweater a good 8-9 months of the year. So unless that tank top will go well under a cardigan and scarf later....put it down.

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  2. Snow storms.. ridiculous. Id freeze to death, no joke. I dont think I own anything winter related. I have no idea what I'm going to do in January when i go to NYC.

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  3. We had ice but no snow. I think we are suppose to get snow tonight. Pretty much our weather people just guess so who knows if we will get anything.

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  4. The picture of the lawn chairs made me laugh out loud! Here in Canada it's pretty much winter from November-April, but I hate every minute of it. Except for wearing my Uggs, because like you said you can judge all you want and they might be ugly but they're warm and when it's freezing cold and there is 30 cm of snow down nobody cares what you look like.

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  5. I'm glad to know no one is judging me with my winter attire. I wore rain boots with dress pants tucked into them today. But- I had dry hems when I made it to work!

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  6. I live in Arizona so we don't havege snow, but I'm spending this winter in Montana with my boyfriend! I love winter and I love snow but I'm sure I'm going to be miserable there- its been -20 degrees there this week and I'm cold in Arizona and its only 50!

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  7. So, if I told you that it is a balmy 85 degrees in central FL.... I'm dying to wear a sweater or something. It is really too hot here!

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  8. I don't mind Winter in particular... it's the snow and ice I can't stand!!!!! I'm dying over the lawn chairs... people actually DO that?! I can't believe they actually state that they aren't responsible if ice falls on you! hahah

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  9. Me! I'm a winter baby too! I was born in the wrong California cradle though :P

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    1. Haha! I definitely can't picture you in a Chicago winter!!

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  10. I love the idea of winter...snow just fallen, Christmas but the ice and frigid temperatures I do not like. And a bar in Whole Foods?!

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  11. Haha I love this! I hate winter...I really should be used to it. Every year I complain I don't have enough summer clothes but I refuse to spend more since summer is all of about 10 minutes long. I was not aware Whole Foods had a bar...its over for me now!

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    1. Yes! The one they opened by North and Clybourn. There's MORE THAN 1 BAR! They have one right in the front when you walk in, plus another by the cheese with wine flights, it's amazing.

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  12. toronto has the most brutal winters but i agree with this whole-heartedly. i wear the ugliest clothes when i'm outside and i don't give a shit what i look like because i'm warm and that's all that matters. and i do judge those nitwits who wear slutty clothes and no coat just to show off their outfit. IT'S FUCKING WINTER WHOREFACE, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  13. I hate winter and I especially hated it when I was living in Chicagoland! :) My freshman year of college (so winter 2008-2009) it was -30 degrees windchill and I thought I was going to DIE!

    It's funny, though. The summer before college I was shopping with my mom and she was trying to get me to buy something heavier than a pea coat, like hats, scarves, gloves, etc. and I refused! Here in Jersey we pretty much get by with the bare minimum! I remember walking around in November/December thinking people looked RIDICULOUS in all of their winter garb, but by the time January rolled around, I was fully converted to the Midwest style! :)

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  14. We got hit Sunday and it's snowing now. I will need all of my winter gear this year.

    The saving parking spots thing totally happens on my street.

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  15. wooof chicago gets wild cold. the longer I am out of the midwest the more of a wuss i become!

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  16. It's hard to live in Texas and travel cold places. We don't have proper attire for your winters! I don't even think they sell long down jackets in stores here. I love the winter we are having here but I still feel like my clothes aren't warm enough!

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  17. This is all reading like a foreign language to me. Snow plows? Shoveling? -2 what? I thought 35 was fucking cold today... feel free to laugh at how much of a wuss I am during the winter.

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  18. I totally thought New England was cold! Holy hell! I totally got out in my long johns and sweat pants and rain boots to shovel. I don't care it is f*ing cold!! Though if it is a dusting or just one inch of snow I let the 40 degree weather melt that ugliness! :)

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  19. Ice chunks falling on your head? Chicago, I am TERRIFIED!

    PS - It was 42 this morning and I thought I was dying. You win.

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  20. The plastic lawn chairs to save your parking space is awesome! I've never ever seen such a thing and I can't believe it really happens.

    I love all the apps you have for snow/traffic tracking, I don't know what we did before apps.

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  21. I want to see Chicago when it's snowing. It must be so beautiful!

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  22. Okay, I'm probably going to rile you up here, but that saving parking thing? total BS! if everyone shoveled out their spot it wouldn't be an issue; it's the douchbags w/ their honking trucks who want to flatten out 6 inches of snow instead of shoveling and then cruise into your shoveled out spot that ruin it for everyone. I get wanting to save your spot b/c you worked for it, but it's so ridic to cruise down your street and see trash cans and weight benches and all that hideousness.

    "this is not a fashion show, this is -2 windchill on a good day." preach!!

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  23. Ditto to all of these for Boston! And why oh why do girls insist on bare legs and heels in the dead of winter?!

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  24. I am all about the drinking during a snowstorm! And that is hilarious about the lawn chairs!

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  25. Thinking of moving to Chicago from Louisiana but def scared of the cold.

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    1. It will definitely be a huge adjustment from Southern weather. Just make sure you're well bundled!!

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