An Iraqi in Chicago, How Is Living?

Ahmad Al Jabbouri
7 min readFeb 28, 2021
The Chicago Theatre, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago; A Multicultural and Architectural City at the Heart of United States

America is an attractive country, first of all, economically. This country is as it is known is the land of opportunities. An issue that contributes to America’s economic opportunities is the huge financial transactions that make it possible to use and benefit from new and money-making projects, and again, the scientific growth of the United States. Not only is there immigration from third world countries to the United States, but also it expands to European developed countries.

Chicago is a city that hosts so many immigrants each year. Today, Chicago is known as a multicultural city that has shown the harmony and differences of its neighbors. The culture of 77 separate Chicago neighborhoods reflects a combination of united sentiment of the US, hard work, and cooperation.

Chicago is known all over the United States as a thrilling sports city. The city is a pioneer in reforming public schools, improving social security and privacy, providing affordable housing and living conditions, and social, economic, and environmental stability.

Immigration history in Illinois is more complex than in many other states. The first immigrants to Illinois were Native Americans and people from other parts of the United States. In the nineteenth century, Illinois welcomed large numbers of European immigrants who migrated to rural and urban areas of the state. In the twentieth century, a new wave of immigrants from Latin America and Africa also entered Illinois.

Despite being immigrants to Illinois, there was not much Iraqi society in Chicago until the late twentieth century. Iraqi immigrants live in Chicago with different ethnicities such as Azeris, Kurds, as well as believers in religions such as Jews. But the majority of Iraqi immigrants living in Chicago are Arabic-speaking Shiite Muslims.

After Christianity, Islam is the toppest religion in the state of Illinois, according to research by the American Statistical Society. Approximately 459 thousand Muslims live in the state and make up about 2.8 percent of the Illinois population.

NEMA Skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Rafael VIñoly Architects

Chicago is also commonly referred to as the “Windy City”. The city is known for its vibrant art scene, countless cultural attractions, prominent shopping malls, and interesting architecture. Chicago is also world-renowned for its art and architecture. It is the center of 21st-century architecture and art has nurtured architects such as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as great artists such as Picasso, Mir, Dubbitt, and Chagall. Chicago’s beautiful beaches also attract many tourists every year. Chicago’s main attractions include; the Chicago instate of the Arts, the Millennium Park, and the Museum of Science and Technology.

Immigrants must apply for one of the various permanent visas before applying for a job in Chicago. Usually, those who work in the United States are considered American citizens.
Immigrants usually do not have much trouble finding work in Chicago, like other metropolises around the world, Chicago has many jobs in various business sectors. Having a lot of work to do in this city can solve the biggest concern of living in Chicago.

Conditions of Having Children Here in Chicago
since every child born in the United States is a citizen of this country, many pregnant women travel thousands of miles each year to have their child in the United States. According to statistics, the “birth of tourism” is on the rise in Chicago and across the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly states that anyone born in the United States will be a citizen of the United States. In May 2019, the federal government announced that the average age of women giving childbirth was 32 years. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, today tens of thousands of people write their address abroad on their child’s birth certificate. The group estimates that there are between 35,000 and hundreds of thousands of tourist births in the United States each year.

Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Sean Pavone on Alamy

Costs of Living in Chicago
In US cities, the cost of living is higher than in other countries, but the average cost in Chicago is much lower. Let’s look at some of these costs together.

Chicago may be an architecturally rival to New York, but renting a house in Chicago is cheaper than in New York, which Lowers the overall cost of living in Chicago.

The average rent for a studio in Chicago is $ 927, $ 1,077 for a one-bedroom, $ 1,265 for a two-bedroom according to October 2019 listings of leased apartments.

The Cost of Buying a House in Chicago
The cost of buying a home in Chicago is not too much expensive compared to other US cities, due to the sharp drop in property prices in 2008. After that year, prices rose again due to the growth of domestic standards. The average home price in Chicago for a family is about $ 403,900 and in Los Angeles $ 567,100. As a result, although Chicago is one of the largest and most influential cities in the United States its housing market has not yet seen much price growth.

Costs of Living in Chicago
Excluding the cost of renting or buying a home, the cost of utilizes, including electricity, heating, water, and waste is estimated at $ 130.97, according to annual reports. If we add the cost of the Internet, the monthly bill is about $ 191. This price is also cheaper than the average cost in the US, which is about $214.52.

One of the disadvantages of living in Chicago is that you have to pay for online services such as Netflix. This increases the cost by about 9% of the monthly bill.

Transportation Costs in This City
People who do not have a personal car are forced to use public transportation such as buses and subways. The one-month unlimited use of public transportation is $ 105. It costs $ 5 more than Los Angles and $ 17 cheaper than New York.

Food Prices
According to statistics, the cost of three meals a day for two people in a Chicago restaurant is about % 65. Eating out in a cheap restaurant costs about $ 15. Each meal in Chicago restaurants is taxed at 1.25percent and each meal in out-of-town restaurants is taxed at 0.25 percent.

Tax Expense for living in Chicago
In addition to the meal tax, more than 2.25 percent of the sales tax is levied on food. In total, 6.25 percent tax is levied by Illinois. In addition to the government income tax, about 10.25 percent tax is levied in Chicago. The real estate tax rate in Chicago is 2.32 percent. This is almost twice the national average.

Mosque Maryam, Mother temple of the Nation of Islam in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Eric Allix Rogers on Flickr

How is Living for a Muslim-Iraqi in Chicago?
Narratives differ from one another about the situation of Muslims in the United States, with some American Muslims talking about shortcomings they hope to resolve in the future, and others talking about religious freedom and being satisfied with their living environment.

Exact statistics on the number of American Muslims are not available because the US government does not classify its residents according to their religious affiliation, but estimates indicate that the figure fluctuates between at least 2 million and 7 million according to various American surveys and polls. These figures show the high growth of Muslim immigration and the high birth rate, as well as the acceptance of Islam in the United States. Even after the expiration of Trump’s ruling banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States, a large wave of Muslims entered this country.
In the United States, as in other Western and European countries, there is no restriction on anyone performing religious rites. There is no problem here to destroy a church and turn it into a mosque. An Islamic center had religious programs as Muharram and Safar decade in a building that previously was a church.

People here do not ask each other about religion age and income. It is both culture and law. The law means that if someone behaves differently and wants to insult someone or attack someone’s religious freedom, they can complain to the police in terms of belief and even body, the police will immediately show up and investigate the matter. There is also culture, that over the centuries this culture has accumulated to the point that a Westerner behaves in a way that does not offend anyone. The interesting thing I have to say is that during the years in America I lived, I did not see any peeping Tom behavior in the society, a look that a young boy ogles at a young girl. This kind of look is illegal in the first place, that if a boy stares at a girl, that girl can complain to the police and this is also the culture. This means that people do not do it, not just because of the laws but mainly because of the way they think.