Small business in Chicago

Yesterday I have returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Chicago. Aside from matrimonial errands (my friends were getting married) I had a chance to communicate to a lot of different people from various social groups. Aside from regular chit-chat I was inquiring on the cost of living. Obviously you can get data from various web sites, from Monster.com to specialized ones, including Craigslist. What you don’t get is a “feeling”, the whole picture of quality of life. What can you afford if you are making $XX,000 per year? What can you afford if you make $YY,000 more? Gas, insurance, food – you can get the numbers, but it is usually hard to get an idea.As in many smaller communities, much more business done on a personal referral basis. This is good, because you only need to be good at what you are already doing and think less about marketing to various groups. It is also bad, since “word of mouth” is the slowest communication tool. Also it won’t forget your mistakes as easy as larger, unconnected market. Last, but not least – it’s complicated, because there will be a lot of people with whom you will naturally trade, for example – I create a web site for a car dealer to get a big discount on a car I like. No actual money involved, but I still get something for something.Good thing about coming into such a community – you immediately get a lot of referrals and potential clients. Bad thing is – they all expect you to perform nearly for free, because they were personally referred to you. If you set initial price too high – they’ll just flock away without even bargaining. If you set a reasonable price – they will try to negotiate it down to ridiculous levels, spreading bad news if you don’t let them.Probably that’s why, even though so many people encouraged me to move, I still don’t. New York is still much bigger market.