10 Things No One Told Me About Living In A City

Thursday, August 28, 2014

For the past week or so Chicago has been getting pounded with rain. And I love a good afternoon thunderstorm, at least that's what I was thinking to myself the other day when one had passed and I was heading out the door and taking a short cut through the alley when I happened to pass a giant dead rat floating in one of the puddles... I shrugged it off and continued on my way.

Rats disgust me, don't get me wrong, but there such a common occurrence here I hardly even notice them anymore. And that might disgust me even more.

Chicago is second only to New York when it comes to rat population in the U.S. ( I know because I looked it up.) At night they are are lurking behind every dumpster and scattering down every alley. And I suppose it doesn't help that we live right next to numerous bars and restaurants... The worst is when I come home late from a comedy show and have to brave the alley alone. I am far more scared of rats than I am of murders.

I'd always heard that cities have rats, but I didn't realize the extent of it until I moved to Chicago. Which brings me to today's post:

(It's mostly common sense... yet it's stuff I never really considered before moving to Chicago.)

1. Rats are more common than squirrels.
Never walk down a dark alley alone at night, not because it's dangerous, because it's disgusting. I once took out our trash after dark and opened our trash bin and... you guessed it, a rat jumped out. I will never make that mistake again.

2. Pools don't exist.
This one was especially hard for me my first summer. I grew up in Nebraska, public and private pools were everywhere. Now I've just accepted the fact I get to be in a pool twice a year and that's it.

3. Everyone flocks to the parks.
Because of the lack of backyards (and pools I imagine) the parks are always full in the summer. At first when I saw gals just lying their bikinis on the public grass areas on a Tuesday afternoon I was a little skeptical. Nobody does that in Nebraska. But soon enough I followed course (in jean shorts and a tank top, never a bikini. I just can't.)

4. In-unit washer and dryers don't exist.
Well they do, I just can't afford the places that have them. Right now we have a communal unit in our basement that we share with six other people and I kind of hate it. Not only is the basement the type of place you would take kidnapped children, but the people we share it with think it's fun to leave their wet clothes in the washer for five days.

5. Getting groceries is very very difficult.
Whether I bike to get them, or walk, or even get in my car, it's always far more difficult than it should be. Because if I'm getting a big load so I opt to take my car, the chances of finding a parking spot close to my house when I return is slim to none. That almost always results in grocery arm- which is the feeling of intense pain in one's arm after trying to carry 14 grocery bags for three blocks. The pain is real and it usually lasts at least five days after.

6. Speaking of parking, losing your car is a real thing.
Sometimes I have to park my car five streets away. And then often times I'll leave my car in that spot for weeks at a time without driving it. So it's always a guessing game where my little car might be hiding...

7. People hate the suburbs, mostly the people living in them.
I understand that living in the city is considered more fun than the burbs, but I also completely understand why people move to the burbs. Space! Yet whenever you meet someone who lives out there, they're the first to tell you and they always say it with a certain eye roll and chip on their shoulder. Get over the stigma people, I grew up in Nebraska.

8. It doesn't matter what time of day, or which day it is, people are always drinking.
You'll never find an empty bar. I'm a fan of this one, a big fan in fact. The bar atmosphere in Chicago is just wonderful.

9. Summers are... smelly.
For the most part, I think Chicago is a very clean city (besides the rats.) Yet there's a certain funk smell to summers in the city. I can't quite pinpoint what the smell is, but it's there. And on a hut and humid day, it's really there. I've become OCD about washing my hands all day every day since moving here. I was bored the other day and even took a quiz about how high my hygiene is just to be sure I'm not letting that funk smell attach to me. You can find that quiz below if you're interested.

10. Brunch is EVERYTHING.
Again, another favorite of mine. Give me brunch over any other meal.

Speaking of, I'm ready for a Bloody Mary.
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  1. I am definitely very, very happy that our squirrel population greatly outnumbers our rat population. In fact, my whole life the only time I have seen a rat is in a pet store. Granted, I have seen my fair share of mice though. But mice are smaller and can be considered kind of cute when they don't have rabies or scare the hell out of you. At least you are never bored in the city though!

  2. I've only seen rats strolling down the streets of NY a handful of times, one of those times just so happened to be last night on Christopher Street walking home form the subway. It was kind of cute and disturbing at the same time. They're so gutsy. That's a seriously busy street. I have seen approximately two squirrels total. And I can't get on board with the park sunbathing. I still think it's way too weird. But I'm also one of those people that will walk half a mile down the beach to sit by myself. And I'm jealous that you don't need to move your car every other day. Alternate side parking is a bitch.

  3. And I was grossed out by tiny little mice in my apartment that Lumen (the cat) decided would be fun to "play with". I can not even imagine a rat coming out to say hi. Ugh.

  4. Seriously, summer stinks. So gross. I saw a mouse the other day, near Wells and Grand, ish. Just trotting across the street. It was definitely a tiny mouse, not a rat. I was more surprised by that than seeing a rat. I feel like a little mouse doesn't stand a chance...

  5. Yes! I grew up in the burbs, and now, at almost 29, my hubby and I lost our minds and bought a house in Baltimore city. All of the above is true here too.

  6. This post makes me glad I don't live in a city.

    Rats are my worst nightmare. Seriously. I would die.

  7. It's so funny been going to all sorts of parts of Chicago at every type of hour for years and have only ever seen a rat once. Luckily it was across the street and not jumping out of the trash can at me! I think I would pass out haha.

  8. I'm really left hanging here... such an amazing cliffhanger. The other what?!?!?! "And I love a good afternoon thunderstorm, at least that's what I was thinking to myself the other when it had passed...." I can't handle it!

    1. my lack of editing skills has been out of control lately..

  9. A good brunch is definitely a must for city-living, especially one with a rooftop view! I'm on the hunt for some cute spots. What's the cheapest way to get into the city from the airport? I'll be there next week. Thanks!

  10. I live in the outskirts of Philly - we have a little more space out there. I work in Center City, and I never ever imagined the stench of the city in the summer. I gag just thinking about it and thank everything that is holy that this summer has been mild temp wise, making the garbage/urine/BO stenches much more mild as well.

  11. The groceries thing is the hardest lesson. You should add a 5.1 though (that took me a year in Chicago to learn) that those little Polish grandma shopping carts actually aren’t weird and embarrassing but life saving. Seriously, I mean I’ve never felt what it’s like to be “saved” by Jesus, but I imagine it feels something like the first time I one of those.

  12. I lived in Montreal for a few months. City living is SO different from growing up in the 'burbs!

  13. Yes to everything! And yet strangely, I'm missing NYC and its subway rats (who are most likely on steroids judging by their size) already.

  14. Agreed! I totally understand "grocery arm" and the shared washer/dryer in the basement when the other people leave their clothes there for what seems like weeks!


  15. LA has it's fair share of rats, and I find them incredible terrifying. I am like seriously not a fan of those red beady eyes and that long ass tail. For the most part though, they leave me alone. One amazing things I've noticed they do in parts of LA though is that you can take the grocery cart home and on Sundays a guy with a flatbed pick up will come pick up the carts from your street and take them back to the appropriate place. It's awesome. Also, in-unit washer and dryers do happen here, but they are as rare as all utilities included.

  16. hahaha i love everything about this. i made it chicago once (solo for a work trip) and drank by myself and made friends because the place was packed. didn't run into any rats though. thank god.

  17. I love all of these reasons for living in the city. I don't even mind the rats. Rodents and spiders have never bothered me.

  18. I seriously wanted to visit NYC so bad up until I read an article about how bad the rats were. Like seriously, I'm terrified of a little old mouse...I can't imagine seeing a big rat!!!

  19. I hate the smell of Chicago on a hot day! Especially passing a storm drain while fighting off a hangover

  20. I am from Seattle, but I lived in Chicago for a year and a half and I can relate to almost all of these! Parking was the WORST. If I didn't go home immediately after getting off work, it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot. I remember driving around for literally HOURS before finding something. Street cleaning was the other annoying part. Grocery shopping was the worst, and I remember the basement laundry room well. :) Even with all of that, I still miss Chicago! I never saw any rats though....thankfully!

  21. I [luckily.] haven't encountered any rats yet while visiting my girlfriend up in NY. Even if I did though, I'm sure they wouldn't bother me. Just don't bite me Rattie and we'll be good gravy. The summer rot though? Definitely. Thought I was going to DIE going through Chinatown. The delicious ramen bowl awaiting me after the journey though that funk was definitely worth it though.


  22. nailed it! everytime i went to brunch in NYC (or a diner) i'd say - i feel so NY-ey right now. and 6 years and about 500 brunches later, imagine that everyone ewas tired of hearing me say that.

  23. I don't live in a city, but some of these are definitely true for my little college town! People are always drinking since it's a college town (like, always. I've worked in a couple different bars around here, and we had regulars - both old and young - who showed up every single day, without fail). And finding a house with both closet space and an in-house washer and dryer is seriously next to impossible! Some houses don't have any closets at all! And parking here is absolutely ridiculous! I have a friend who will only come visit me on weekends because during the week, she's guaranteed to get a parking ticket no matter where she tries to park.

  24. This is an amazing post for car lovers.

  25. Hi! I don't live in US and I rarely see live rats but I see dead rats on the street sometimes. Their organs were everywhere because they've been crushed by cars and it's so disgusting :/

    The Strawberry Tales

  26. Lovely post! Wow I had no idea about the rats that really surprises me! Abi :) myw0rldmyview.blogspot.co.uk

  27. Rats ... I saw one the size of a cat the other day running in a drain in the city and I about passed out. I cant!

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  29. I was just in Chicago this past weekend & brunched everyday & saw 2 disgustingly huge rats. Amen sista!

    xo, Maddy