6 Tips for Enjoying Life in Chicago Safely

Enjoy Chicago safely with these tips from an author who lives in the city.

There are plenty of things going on in Chicago for Chicagoans to talk about. The Notebook musical has begun performances, the Bulls preseason has begun, and people are getting ready for the Halloween parade in Northalsted. A lot of good and hopeful things to look forward to.

However, there’s the regular, daily occurrence of crime. There’s a lot of heartache in the city of Chicago when thinking about the amount of people robbed, shot, rushed to a hospital, or killed.

If you’re new to Chicago, the amount of violence and crime being reported throughout the city may be shocking to you. For those of us who are from here or have lived here for an extended period of time, the stories and numbers lately have been shocking to us too. There are a lot more conversations I’m in with people expressing concern about safety. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of people have reservations about going out at certain times, or to certain places, or using certain modes of transportation. The Red Line seems to be getting a particularly bad rep at the moment.

While crime and safety is a concern and an issue that we need to care about, as Chicagoans (whether you’ve been here for a minute or for a lifetime), we also need to continue to lean into the city, its many offerings, and one another.

That being said, there are ways I go about life here safely: 

  1. Make your way to the front of the train or bus. Especially at night, it’s best to sit towards the front as that’s where most people ride, and you’re closer to the train conductor or bus driver. Given this, there is much less likely to be an issue, and if there is, there’s someone to turn to.
  1. Keep your valuables close, and only bring what you need. If I’m out for a night on the town, I bring my ID, a credit card, and my train pass. If there were to be an issue, I’m not running the risk of losing all my valuables. Keep your wallet in your pocket and/or your purse across your body. If someone does confront you, be sure to give them up and cut your losses.
  1. Have your keys or train pass ready to go. When walking somewhere, be sure to have close at hand whatever you may need. If you’re heading to your car or your apartment, have your keys out so you’re not fussing for them on the street. If you’re taking the train, have your train pass easily on hand. It’s hard to be aware of your surroundings if you’re digging through your pockets, purse, or wallet!
  1. Check-in with who you were with. If you’re going separate ways from your friends, let each other know when you get home so as to ensure everyone made it home safely. Also, If you’re heading back from somewhere at night, see if you can get a group together to take public transit. If it’s late, and you’re alone, consider taking a rideshare service or cab instead.
  1. Put the headphones and phone away. When you’re walking around late at night or on public transportation, it’s important to have your senses about you. Don’t be distracted, and be sure you can hear and see your surroundings.
  1. Go where the people are. The more people there are somewhere, the less likely there are to be issues. Choose busy streets to walk home on and be conscientious of whether where you are going is busy or quiet at night. This can give you an inkling as to how to consider getting home.

While there are probably more suggestions and tips people can give you, these offer a place to start! As someone who has been in the city for a while, these are my go-to practices to staying safe and aware. It may seem like a lot to think about, and some probably ask, “Is this worth it?” But as someone who loves this city and calls it home, I’ll do what’s needed to enjoy it and all it has to offer.

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