Grad Visa Hotspots: Chicago

When it comes to choosing a city for your One Year Graduate Visa, you are truly spoiled for choice. Perhaps you want to experience the fast-paced New York lifestyle or maybe a more chilled beach vibe is your thing. Chicago is a city that combines the best of both worlds so there’s no surprise more and more Grad’s are choosing to live there.


The Chicago lifestyle is unique to the city itself. Many parts of the city have the expected corporate feel with towering skyscrapers and busy commuters. What makes Chicago unique, however, is that you can literally turn a corner and suddenly be on the beach. If work has you stressed, you’re always a stone’s throw away from the sand.

Cities like New York can be a little bit overwhelming for recent grads and Chicago is often described as a cleaner, calmer New York. If this is your first move away from home, Chicago may offer the perfect work/life balance.

Summer is also a blast in Chicago, with constant street festivals, beach parties, food festivals, party boats, tiki bars! There always something going and there is truly never a dull moment.


When it comes to finding accommodation, Northside tends to be best for recent graduates. It has a very modern vibe and you will likely be living with other people who are early in their career and making their way up the corporate ladder. Check out areas like Wicker Park, Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are more affordable areas such as the Ukranian village and Bridgeport. Just bear in mind that these areas may result in a longer commute to work.


No matter what degree you received in college, you won’t struggle to find opportunity in Chicago. There are many booming industries in the city, with plenty of internship, trainee and graduate positions.

The city is particularly known for finance jobs and, in general, this industry pays quite well. If you happen to have a Tech/IT background, you are in luck as companies in this industry often have the highest intern salaries and are constantly on the look for new talent.

When searching for a position, make sure you use job sites like,, and of course, LinkedIn. Just be sure to update your profile to say you are living in Chicago. If you apply for Chicago jobs and your LinkedIn says “Ireland”, it may confuse employers.


There is something for everyone when it comes to Chicago nightlife. Nothing beats a night on the town followed by a large slice of Chicago style pizza.

If there is one venue you should check out, however, it’s  El Hefe a well known Mexican restaurant that turns into a nightclub at night. Have some tacos before the sun sets and then get ready to dance the night away.

if you feel a little homesick on your Grad Visa, have no fear, there are an infinite number of Irish bars in Chicago. The Guinness may not be as good as it is here but you will find Irish sports playing in the bar and you’re guaranteed to have the craic with both Irish and Americans alike.


When it comes to getting to and from the city, the L – Train/Tram is the most popular. It’s mostly used for those commuting to work who don’t live in the city itself.

The Bus Service (CTA) in Chicago is also quite reliable and a great, inexpensive way to get around.

Public transport aside, it’s become very affordable to get around Chicago with Uber, specifically, their Uber Pool service and they are only a fraction of the cost of a traditional taxi.


During your grad Visa year in Chicago, there are certain events that simply cannot be missed.

First up is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. If you think us Irish know how to celebrate March 17th, just wait until you see how Chicagoans do it. You can expect endless block parties, a spectacular parade and they even dye their river green to celebrate their love of the Irish. Trust us, you’ll fit right in.

Of course, while you’re in Chicago, you need to get a ticket for Lollapalooza. This music festival is often cited in the Top 5 music festivals on the planet and it’s not difficult to see why. You can expect an all-star line up and an unforgettable experience that will give your friends back home severe FOMO.

Thinking about making the big move to the Windy City? You can find more information on the One Year USA Grad Visa here.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn MoreOK