Broadway and Argyle in Chicago - the Little Vietnam of Chicago. Lots of good, cheap BYOB restaurants and a few blocks from the lake. The Argyle Street L Platform pagoda is in the background. This was my L Stop between 2002-2005.
I had an apartment a couple blocks to the west. It was a large, top-floor, one-bedroom apartment with a separate dining area and balcony. I even had access to the rooftop which had a great view of the skyline (until the landlord closed off the roof hatch). It was next to a cemetery on a dead-end street so it was usually quiet except for the barking dogs in the building. Interestingly, the house next door was where Charlie Chaplin lived when he worked at Essanay Studios around the corner before taking his career to California.
This was the only apartment in the city where I lived on my own. I dedicated the dining area as my studio and it's where my art really took on a new direction. I was unemployed/self-employed doing freelance web design and marketing. I had an art show almost every month, sometimes two. It was where I was living when I started dating my wife.
Days spent at coffeeshops, the gym, or riding my bike throughout the city -- it was a very free time in my life. While it was difficult to live only on unemployment benefits or freelance work, it was creating art that got me through a lot of the tough times. The experience definitely built a lot of character and makes me really appreciate what I have. And now, I can tell you how to live in Chicago on $5 bucks a day!