Must-have Apps for Living in Chicago

Must-have Apps for Living in Chicago

Moving to Chicago? Life in Chicago primarily revolves around 3 things: the weather, transportation, and events. Here are some of my favorite (and most useful!) mobile apps that will help you live your best life in Chicago so that you’re never caught in the snow, miss a bus or sit inside on a beautiful summer day!

312Go (iPhone only, free)

I love a good architecture story or finding out juicy tidbits about buildings and areas I walk by every day. 312Go combines the knowledge of hundreds of Chicago tour guides, architects, historians, and local experts into one mobile app. The app is a map with specific spots around Chicago marked. When the app is activated, and you’re near one of the marked locations, 312Go’s guide will share stories and facts about the things you pass and the sights you see. It’s a great way to explore the neighborhoods of Chicago and learn more about the city’s history. Even if you have lived in an area for a while, you might be surprised by what you find out!

Chivvy (iPhone only, free)

With this app, you can easily check bike and dock availability at Divvy stations and obtain safe biking directions to your destination. You can also save your favorite stations to quickly check their availability. Chivvy was built by an active Divvy rider in Chicago. She was tired of switching between a maps app and a Divvy map on her phone to figure out how to get around Chicago so she made Chivvy.

Chicago Works (Android or iPhone, free) 

Need to report a pothole or a clogged sewer grate? Call 311 or use the Chicago Works app to make service requests to 311 and track issues as they are addressed.

Dark Sky (Android or iPhone, $3.99)

Ever make a quick dash outside in a downpour and just as you get to your door the rain stops? Since the weather in Chicago broadly defines our life here, it's good to have a tool to help with the fluctuations. Better to be prepared with the Dark Sky app.

My Chi Parks (Android or iPhone, free)

The Chicago Park District has a vibrant and diverse lineup of events and they are at the heart of Chicago neighborhood life. Find information about more than 1,000+ Night Out in the Parks place in all 77 community areas, throughout the year.

Park Chicago (Android or iPhone, free)

Pay for Chicago parking with your phone instead of using the boxes and extend your time remotely from your phone. That means you never have to run out of a bar, restaurant, or event to feed the meter again! Plus, if you must contest a wrongful ticket, the app is very easy with historical records of your meter usage.

SpotHero (Android or iPhone, free)

SpotHero is a parking app that allows you to reserve a guaranteed parking spot at a discounted price near a specific destination. Just search for parking on the app before you arrive, choose the space that works best for you, and book it.

Transit Tracker Chicago (CTA) (Android or iPhone, free)

Commuting in Chicago is part of life. This application covers the entire Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus, train (‘L’), and Metra rail. It tracks upcoming departure times for all nearby transit lines, shows the closest bike-share stations, and lets you request a car-sharing ride in the app.

Transit Stop: CTA Tracker (Android or iPhone, free)

A simple, super useful app, this gives you quick access to bus and train (‘L’) arrival time estimates for your favorite Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) stop. It includes arrival time estimates in minutes (e.g. 4 minutes) and time (e.g. 12:14 pm) along with the route name, bus ID or train run number, and more. You can also save stops so that you quickly and easily access your most frequently used stops while you're on the go.

WAZE (Android or iPhone, free)

I do a lot of driving for showing listings and doing buyer tours, and I don’t know what I would do without WAZE! Well, I do. I would be late more. The app is based on crowd-sourced traffic data that is fed in real-time from active app users. Other users can indicate potholes, construction closures, and police (hidden or visible), and report gas prices to help fill up at a cheaper gas station on your route. If you can’t use public transit, you can discover some pretty nifty ways using WAZE.

OverDrive (Android or iPhone, free)

I don’t know about you, but I love physical books, but the e-reader is quite addicting and so easy to carry with all the travel and commuting I do. I still went to my local Chicago Public Library for Audiobooks, Movies, and various events, but less frequently for physical books. But now with the OverDrive app, you can borrow eBooks, and audiobooks, and stream video from the Chicago Public Library (provided you have a library card) to your smart device or e-reader. As a bonus, titles are automatically returned when they’re due eliminating the worry of late fees!
These apps are great for new Chicago transplants or for existing residents who are looking for a few city hacks. Am I missing one? Be sure to leave your favorite app in the comments.

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