How to survive winter in Chicago

Your mileage may vary.

Don’t plan to get anywhere on time. Normally, I can leave my office at 5pm, hop on the bus, and get to CrossTown Fitness with 10-15 minutes to spare before the 5:30pm class. Not the case when it starts snowing at 2:30pm. I should have just walked the few extra blocks and taken the L today, but no, I took the bus out of habit. Got to class 10 minutes late, so I waited for the 6:30 class. (Had a great workout by the way.) So, lesson learned: Give yourself 3x as much time to get anywhere, or take the train whenever possible. Otherwise, it will take you 40 minutes to go a mile. A MILE. Yes, you could walk faster, but not when the brutally cold wind is blowing snow in your face.

Work up a sweat. Upside, 50 minutes of high-intensity interval training made me nice and warm for my 3/4 mile walk to the bus that would take me home. Granted, I was wearing all of my layers (3 pairs of pants), but the walk was kind of pleasant! Rush hour was over, it was still snowing, and kind of pretty.

Canoodle. If working out isn’t your thing, uh, find a friend … or two. (This is from a calendar I got hubby kins for Christmas … we’ve been together for a decade, OK? Sometimes you run out of ideas and have to crowdsource.)

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Trade in your car for something like this: 


Last year, our wimpy little sedan got stuck in the alley, and we didn’t park in our garage until March. I’m not even kidding. We paid $100/month for a spot in a garage that we didn’t use for 3 months thanks to the Polar Vortex. If I could sue weather, I would for $300. Luckily in our new place, we don’t have to deal with alleys, although our parking is more expensive. (Stupid proximity to the Loop and a garage we don’t have to go outside for.)

Just stop driving altogether. Let the CTA (Uber if you’re fancy) do the work for you.


Or, ride your bike! Granted, this guy was walking his bike, but I have seen people riding bikes when it’s below zero, or snowing and slushy. Sounds pretty awful, but whatev. Probably faster than the bus. The Chainlink has tips for staying warm. I might attempt winter riding once the roads are clear and the temps are warmer, like, mid-20s.


Give up on looking good. At least outdoors. This is really the only way to survive.

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If I wear my glasses when my scarf is over my mouth and nose, they fog up. So I can either have foggy glasses, or leave them off. Either way, it’s a blur. Also, track pants make a good outer layer. And your snow boots need to be waterproof. UGGs, why aren’t you waterproof? That was a rude lesson last winter. (Pictured are Sorels that I bought off of eBay, FYI … which are totally rubbing my Achilles raw, but who cares, they’re waterproof! Toes are dry. Pick one, apparently.)

Live in a giant cement box. Our ceiling isn’t “pretty” (it’s urban!) but our heat rarely kicks on. I think something like 99% of warehouses in Chicago are now condos, so go find one. Especially if your unit is south-facing. (Let’s ignore how much the a/c runs in the summer.)


DRAAAAANK. I mean, it’s good advice year-round, but winter weather calls for a winter beer, AMIRITE?


Or just don’t leave until it’s over. Works really well for some. And/or have a fur coat on your body.


How do you survive winter??

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5 Comments on “How to survive winter in Chicago”

  1. I’m dressed like you for my trek into work as well. Apparently my kitty was sleeping on the vent in the bathroom (so I’m told). I’ve never seen her do that before. lol

    1. Olive used to do that when we were living with my parents and had vents in the floor. Now all of our vents are overhead. But she will burrow into blankets. Or snuggle right up next to me for my bodyheat, although I like to pretend she just wants to cuddle.

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