Sunday, January 8, 2017

Must Haves for City Living

We moved into our Streeterville condo three months ago and although we split our time between Chicago and Sioux City, I'm settled in enough to report on the essentials for navigating downtown living. I am loving getting out and exploring the city so much. Every day is different and invigorating -especially now that I've made these adjustments.

Comfortable Shoes
I had this vision of myself moving into the city and becoming incredibly chic. While I'm not giving up on that entirely, you cannot survive in the city without practical walking shoes.  For any destination within a mile and a half, it is more convenient, cost-effective and pleasurable to walk rather than drive or use public transportation. However, walking a mile in pinched, unsupportive, or slippery shoes is pure hell. So now I have a small range of shoes and boots that I can walk in and look, well not too frumpy (Stan Smith Adidas, a pair of the new-styled Uggs, and a pair of Clarks.) What I lose in fashion I make up in mobility. And if it's a snazzy destination, I simply carry my heels in a tote bag and slip into them when I arrive. Speaking of totes....

Collapsible Tote Bag
Since I spend so much time as pedestrian, it's natural that I run most of my city errands on foot. It's essential to have a collapsible bag on hand so you can carry your purchases easily. Chicago has a city law where stores charge you extra for bags and often the ones they give you are hideous heavy duty plastic things with garish logos (I'm looking at you Target.) Now I carry my own lightweight tote in my purse or pocket. And speaking of purses.....

Hands free Purse
When I'm in the city, a shoulder bag off limits. In the suburbs it's easier to swing your purse off/on your shoulder when you get in/out of car, but pedestrian living means you need your hands free. I realized this as I was carrying a couple heavy grocery bags home from Whole Foods and my shoulder bag kept slipping down to my wrist and bumping around. Checking out other women on the street, I realized everyone carried a cross body bag or backpack, so now I follow suit. But the best option is to carry no purse at all and put your keys, phone and credit cards in your pocket. And speaking of pockets...
from Pinterest

Loose Change and Singles
Sadly, there are a lot of homeless people on the streets of Chicago. I try to make sure I carry a couple bucks in my pocket so I can easily put it in a needy person's cup when I pass by. I can't give to everyone, but this makes me feel like I'm acknowledging my less fortunate neighbors in a personal way. I also donate to the Chicago Food Pantry. Winter is an especially hard time to be on the street. And speaking of winter....

Warm (really warm) Winter Wear
My condo building has indoor parking and a well equipped gym and pool. As a cold-hating freelancer I could make that an excuse for never going outside. But the point of city living is not to huddle in a high-rise, it's to experience Chicago. So out I go, even with the temps hitting the single digits. The key to surviving the winter is a super warm coat (must cover the butt), warm boots, lots of layers and a few stylish accessories. I'm a fan the trendy fur-pom beanies. As my friend Jim says, "There's no bad weather, just poor clothing choices."  So now that we're dressed appropriately......

Lunch Reservations and Happy Hour Hot-Spots
Chicago's night life is legendary, but I've hit on a couple unexpected pleasures for earlier in the day - fancy lunches and happy hour hot-spots. Why? Because dining and drinking out in the evening can get get expensive and over-indulgent. Meeting a friend or my hubby at a great restaurant for lunch or for a 5pm glass of bubbly feels like both a splurge and a bargain. We couldn't get into Cindy's Rooftop restaurant for dinner but our lunch there with our kids was delicious, scenic and reasonably priced. And the Eno wine bar at the Intercontinental Hotel serves half price flights of wine from 5-6pm weekdays. The perfect place for a quick catch up over a drink and appetizer. And speaking of apps....

Open Table, Grub Hub, Spot Hero, Uber, Lyft and a Ventra Card
These are the apps I rely on for reservations, food delivery, discounted parking and getting around town. My Art Institute membership card is an app too!

I'm sure my must-haves will evolve with the seasons and as I settle in. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for the new city dweller, please share them here!

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