Tips For Surviving Chicago Winter

Remember the summer? A time filled with outdoor street festivals, days spent enjoying the Chicago playpen, and sunshine well past 4:30 pm. Those days will soon feel like years ago now that Chicago winter is on the horizon. The first Chicago winter, for most people, can be a painful learning experience. As much as we’d love to say it is something you get used to, the shock of the extreme cold can trip up even lifelong Chicagoans.

In an effort to help the entire city weather this storm, we put together a list of tips to help you survive a Chicago winter.

Utilize The Pedway System

If you’re commuting through the Loop this winter, there is no reason to do it outside. The Pedway system is a subterranean system of routes that runs underneath the Chicago Loop. It can get you from CTA station to CTA station and building to building. While it may be confusing at first, and you are bound to get lost at least once, the Pedway system is a great way to stay warm and dry this winter; just remember to use the map.

Insulate Your Windows

Huge, south-facing windows may have been on your “must-have” list when searching for your Chicago home, and while ideal in the summertime, these windows will suck all the warmth right out in the wintertime. Prepare for this issue by heading to your local hardware store for foam strips to fill the cracks or window insulation kits. 

Invest In A Good Coat

Spend.The.Money. A good coat will almost definitely come with a hefty price tag, but this is an item where you can’t afford to skim on quality. Your coat will be something you have to wear every day in the winter, and it will also be the main shield between you and below-freezing temperatures. Quality coats will last you years, you’ll get a ton of use out of them, and they will keep you significantly warmer than the cheap, trendy options that need replacing year after year. All of these are reasons alone to buy that expensive winter coat.

Find Walkable + Warm Boots

We know the desire to be stylish and trendy in what you wear, but if there’s any reasonable time to focus on quality over design, it’s in your winter boots. When living in Chicago, some of your day is likely spent outside on foot, and being outside in the winter comes with cold, snow, slush, and ice. It is essential that your feet are well protected against the elements so they can get you comfortably where you need to go.


Winter is generally a time of year when people’s skin, lips, etc., tend to dry out from the cold, but mix that with outdoor commuting in high winds & radiator heat; Chicago winter will have you cracking. Stay moisturized during Chicago winters by keeping lotion, chapstick, and humidifiers on deck all winter long. 

Call Your Alderman To Plow

While the city is pretty good at staying on top of plowing major streets after a snowfall, some neighborhood blocks may get overlooked. It is good to know how to contact your alderman to make sure your roads stay cleared all winter. 

Keep Your Home Light + Bright

Inevitably, the sun setting at 4:30 pm may get your mood down. Combat the seasonal depression by keeping your home light & bright. This can be achieved in a multitude of ways, like taking the screens off your windows, getting bright lightbulbs, filling your space with plants, and layering with a lot of white & neutral textiles.



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