After a few years in Alabama, my studies are taking me back to my cold original home in the Midwest. This time, the destination is Chicago. I move in a couple months, and I'd like to get an idea of what to expect before getting there. I've spent a few brief stints in Hamburg and NYC in the past, but haven't lived within a large city permanently before. In preparation for moving and downsizing my living space to a small apartment, I'm selling off my car, my vinyl rig, and other large unnecessary items locally.
I'll be living on the near south side, but I plan to spend most of my free time in the Loop. I would live in the Loop if it were entirely up to me, but money dictates where I'm able to comfortably afford housing with enough space for my belongings. I'm interested in finding audio shops and record stores in and around downtown, with a focus on headphone audio and CDs since I'm forgoing speakers and vinyl in my new living situation. If anyone wants to recommend a shop within the Loop or in other easy-to-get-to neighborhoods, I'm open to any suggestion. I also prefer record stores with a significant selection of used albums, and perhaps a focus on independent labels. I'm always trying to discover new artists to enjoy.
I don't have an interest in bar culture, but I would enjoy some recommendations of cafes at which I can sit down, have a sip of coffee or tea, and work on my laptop in relative peace. Locations in the Loop or the near south side are preferred, but it's possible that I could get attached to a specific location somewhere completely different.
In the first few weeks after moving, I plan on traveling north to Kenosha to see a friend of mine. So far the rough plan is for me to take the L as far north as it goes and have her pick me up in her car there, but if the northernmost stop is still deep within an urban area or a bad neighborhood, I may need to get further north into the suburbs. I don't want her to have to drive too far into the city to pick me up and bring me to Kenosha, if possible.
Finally, any general tips about life in Chicago are greatly appreciated.
Thanks! I look forward to seeing some of you at meets over the coming years.