Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
Whether you will need a car to conduct everyday activities will depend on where you live. If you work and live in the city, you may find that you don't require a car. Restaurants and shopping will probably be in walking distance from your home. Many Chicagoans take advantage of public transportation, which is inexpensive and convenient. Taxis are also readily available. If you decide to own a car, bear in mind that parking can be very difficult in some areas. It is necessary to own a car if you live in the suburbs. Here, it is not common to walk. Shopping, dining and entertainment are much more spread out than in the city.
You can legally drive in Illinois for up to 90 days with a valid driver's license from your home state or country. However, please note that Illinois does not recognize the international driver's license.
If you become a legal Illinois resident, you can obtain an Illinois driver's license. To receive an Illinois driver's license, you must provide acceptable identification to prove name, date of birth, Illinois residency, Social Security number and your signature for comparison. Please check the Secretary of State Web site for a current listing of acceptable forms of identification.
In order to obtain your driver's license you will also need to visit a Department of Motor Vehicles Facility (DMV), pass the vision screening, written examination, possibly a driving examination and pay the appropriate fee. You will need to renew your license after four years. To legally drive, your vehicle must be covered by liability insurance.
People drive on the right side of the road.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system. It runs buses and elevated/subway trains ("L") in the city and nearby suburbs. It is inexpensive and efficient. Most buses run every day during day and evening hours, with some routes running all night. The "L" has various lines and each line has its own color (i.e. Blue Line). All lines run every day, however only the Blue Line and Red Line run 24 hours. There are maps in every station and in every subway car for reference.
Although the "L" and buses are safe, it is advisable to keep jewellery, handbags and money secure. It is also important to appear confident and alert. When riding alone at night, choose a seat in the first subway car near the conductor.
Taxis have regulated fares and start at $2.25. Each additional mile is $1.80. Each additional passenger is $0.50. Taxis must use their meters. Tips of $1 to $2 are expected. Please check with your driver, as fees can change.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
The Metra commuter rail system makes travelling between Chicago downtown and the suburbs easy and convenient. Trains run frequently during rush hour and hourly during non-peak times. Schedules and fares are listed on the Metra Web site and at each station.
The Illinois seat belt law stipulates that all front seat passengers must use a safety belt, regardless of age. The Child Passenger Protection Act requires children under the age of 8 to be secured in a safety seat. If you have children, please check the Secretary of State website for current safety seat requirements.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs is a serious crime. The most common DUI offense is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. A DUI offense is costly, embarrassing and never erased from your driving record. If you plan on drinking, make arrangements with a taxi or designated driver to get home. Hand-held cellular devices are prohibited while driving in Chicago. You must use an ear piece or speaker option.
CTA Transit Cards can be purchased at any "L" station through a transit card vending machine, on-line through the CTA website, at currency exchanges, Jewel and Dominick's. The Transit Card is a plastic card that deducts your fare when the card is swiped through the subway turnstile or inserted in the bus farebox. You can also add money to your card through the transit card vending machine. You can pay your fare with coins; however you will need to pay with exact change.
The CTA has recently introduced the Chicago Card Plus. The Chicago Card Plus allows you to add value to your card on-line with your credit card, offers a $1 bonus for every $10 added and can be registered to protect against loss or theft. You can order this card and check current rates on-line through the CTA website listed below.
Metra train tickets can be purchased on-line via the Metra website listed below; through the mail; from a sales clerk at the station; or on the train. If your station has a sales clerk on duty, be sure to purchase your ticket prior to boarding as you will be charged an additional fee for purchasing the ticket on the train.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.