Ohio tends to get more than its fair share of slack for just about everything – from the elements to its people, and everything in between. If it’s not “too many killers in Ohio” it’s “the people are too close-minded” in reference to matters religion, politics, art, philosophy, [insert social aspect here]. Some say the weather is crappy, with ice-age winters that stretch for months on end. Others acknowledge its beautiful nature, but are quick to add, “too bland”.
There is no good city around, and everyone claims to live in the three big C’s (Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati). Lack of diversity: “Too many white people”. And, of course, the sports – especially the sports!
The fans in the Buckeye State have been labelled the most fanatical, with annoying superfans who seem to take everything way too seriously. The Midwest state is not all gloom though, despite what you may hear. It has some pretty decent things going for it.
Like being one of the cheapest places to live in the United States, coming in at a remarkable 9th in the 2016 CNBC annual ranking. Everything is affordable here, whether it’s housing, healthcare or groceries. In fact, Cleveland was recently named by AARP as one of the 10 best places to live under $40,000 a year.
The U.S. News & World Report named Cincinnati the 53rd best city to live in America, based on among other factors, cost of living, average salary, unemployment, education, healthcare, commute time and crime. It scored highest in – you guessed it – value, determined by median household income and overall cost of living.
The same report also included the other two big cities, Columbus (ranked 57th) and Cleveland (84), with Toledo (71), Dayton (75) and Youngstown (87), also staking a claim. The Heart Of It All, as the state is also known, is the seventh-largest state economy by GDP, with 23 of the Fortune 500 companies based here. But enough shoptalk for now. Let’s have a look at the best places to live in Ohio:
Central Ohio has always been known as one of the best places to live in the Buckeye State, and a 2017 survey by Niche, a website that analyses school and neighbourhood data, proves it.
Perched at sixth place on the Niche list of best places to live in the United States was Dublin, Ohio, a suburb in Columbus with a little over 43,000 residents.
The place is famous for the Dublin Irish Festival and home to the “Field of Corn”, but it was catapulted to such soaring heights by more than that.
A fabulous school district with an impressive score of 8.67 on GreatSchools. A strong economy whose benefits trickle down to the residents who take home on average $114,183 per household. Close proximity to downtown Columbus, with a commute time of just 22 minutes.
Dublin is also big on golf, and the Muirfield Village Golf Club and Hayden Falls are especially popular.
Bexley is another great place to live in Ohio and the striking suburb of only 13,500 people goes on to show why Columbus, the state’s capital, is becoming the new best place to live in the battleground state.
As with Dublin, residents enjoy one of the shortest commute times, even shorter at 17 minutes. Homebuyers have a slew of choices ranging from charming craftsman-style homes, classic Colonials or regular modern townhomes, with homes in Bexley averaging $284,600.
The Alum Creek at Jeffrey Park will appeal to nature lovers, as well as those in search of a nice picnic spot and place to stroll.
Avid readers will appreciate the serenity and wide selection offered at the Bexley Public Library, while the Bexley Pool, for its part, is a great place for active residents to cool off.
3. West Chester
The 2017 Money Magazine list of 100 Best Places to Live in America ranked West Chester the 56th best place to live in the United States.
This is the sixth time in 12 years the suburb located in Butler County, Cincinnati, has been accorded the honour.
West Chester has been a consistent feature largely thanks to a beautiful mix of just about everything.
A strong local economy that has witnessed a shift from farming to a vibrant business community.
An excellent education system with a solid high school graduation rate of 91.9%.
A high median household income of $81,767, with projected job growth of 6.2 per cent.
Fabulous entertainment options, including the EnterTRAINment Junction and plenty to do at Voice of America Park.
Time Magazine has often singled out the unique gathering spot for residents that is The Square, which offers everything from farmers markets, to concerts, and even hosts an annual food truck rally.
The population in West Chester stands at 62,000, and median home value is $203,200.
4. Upper Arlington
The suburb of Upper Arlington in Columbus is widely regarded as one of the best places to live in Ohio.
Crime rate is low, and so is the unemployment rate. Median household income is high at $98,618, which is almost double the national average, and its fabulous school system scores an impressive 10/10 on GreatSchools.
Despite boasting a population of 34,500 people, Upper Arlington is a tightly-knit community and this stems from the fact that the community has deliberately chosen to remain small despite multiple opportunities to grow over the years.
It is not surprising to find multiple generations of families living close together, and that in itself is quite revealing. This is where golfing legend Jack Nicklaus hails from; as does singer-actress Beverly D’Angelo and Woody Hayes, a former Ohio State football coach.
Upper Arlington is not short of recreation spots, thanks to a rich network of parks and green spaces.
Hudson is a suburb in Summit County, Cleveland with a population of 22,400 that places particular emphasis on education.
Its school system has a perfect score of 10 on GreatSchools, and more than two-thirds of residents older than 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.
More than that, the residents of Hudson enjoy almost non-existent crime.
Downtown Hudson has plenty of local shops and restaurants. It has to have if it is to sufficiently cater to the loaded households that bring in more than double the national average ($124,529 a year).
Considering houses in this area go for $295,000 on average, it is not difficult to see why Ohio, as a whole, is known to offer some of the most powerful bang for buck.
Next up on our list of best places to live in Ohio is Mason, a suburb of 31,700 residents in Warren County, Cincinnati.
Mason’s livability is a well-known secret that has not escaped many Best Places to Live lists, and partly what’s to love about the place is the attractive tax rates.
The city has a sales tax of 6.5 per cent, while income tax attracts a rate of – ahem – 1.12 per cent. That, for families who bring in a combined $86,994 on average, is sure to leave most residents smiling all the way to the bank.
Mason’s school system scores a perfect 10 on GreatSchools, and the small town boasts as strong and diversified economy as you will find.
And did we mention this is one of the nine stops for the ATP World Tour Masters? Yup, now we have.
Another suburb that solidifies Columbus as one of the best places to live in Ohio, you will find the small town of Powell nestled peacefully in Delaware County. 12,300 people call this place home.
The cost of living in Powell is noticeably higher compared to other ideal areas in the Buckeye State. Rent averages $1,929 and median home value stands at $335,700.
The thing is, though, the folk here barely feel the impact because they enjoy some of the highest salaries around, averaging $133,929 annually. That is a huge disparity juxtaposed with a national average of $53,889.
Besides, living in Powell means you are guaranteed the best in everything. Homes. Schools. Local library. Parks. A farmers market. Picturesque, squeaky-clean surrounds, you name it.
If you find yourself in search of a place to stay in the vicinity of the capital, you can never go wrong with Westerville.
And that’s especially if you are a history lover or outdoors buff.
The state of Ohio never really embraced slavery back in the day, so much so that you will still find many historic homes that served as shelter for runaway slaves who travelled the Underground Railroad here.
Several of these dwellings are located in Westerville.
The town of 37,540 people has morphed from a small Dutch farming community to become one of the largest suburbs of Ohio, with plenty much to like.
As with most areas on this list, the school system in Westerville is one of the best in the country. Violent crime is a rarity and the cost of living is affordable.
Homes go for $207,300, with rent averaging $954, just slightly above the national average of $928.
Residents on the daily grind don’t spend too much time on the road, enjoying a commute time of 20 minutes on average. This is definitely time well spent considering each household nets $82,121 a year.
Outdoor enthusiasts have 40 parks and open spaces to themselves, with a total of over 3,000 amenities available for leisure.
Still sticking to the capital city, Gahanna is a beautiful place to call home, especially for families looking for the best schools and lowest crime in the state.
As in most parts of Ohio, nice or not, homes in Gahanna are affordable.
A three-bedroomed single-family property here goes for $190,200 on average, with the families who live amongst 34,000 people enjoying substantial earnings of $72,863 on average.
There are plenty of restaurants in the town often described as having some of the best neighbourhoods in Columbus, and it is also a constant feature in the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America.
It’s just the type of place you want to be raising your family in.
Hilliard is a town in Franklin County, just 18 miles outside of the state’s largest city.
It reinforces the belief that if you really want the best place to live in Ohio, you have to stick to the capital and its environs. For the most part.
It is historic, and even has this very quaint, walkable old town centre (Old Hilliard) whose small businesses perfectly showcase its economic success.
The 31,800 residents are keen to make Hilliard a thriving business centre that also offers much in the way of entertainment.
The Hilliard Arts Council, for instance, hosts a popular concert series every summer, with the Old Hilliardfest certainly the town’s annual premier event.
But just because Hilliard is historic doesn’t mean it falls short in the education category.
It has numerous top performing schools, and parents enjoy a fat paycheck that averages $88,003 per household per year.
11. Ottawa Hills
Toledo was ranked No.71 on the 2017 version of the best places to live in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report.
The city in Lucas County isn’t, on a whole, the most glamorous area in the 17th state. But it has more than its share of breathtaking, affluent neighbourhoods that saw it land on the dependable list.
Perrysburg, Deveaux, Westgate, Old West End, Beverly, Franklin Park and other suburbs in Toledo might easily fill up this list of 15 best places to live in Ohio by their own. But that would be pretty limiting, especially considering these are not areas for the ordinary Joe.
So, we picked one from the glitzy bunch and this is what we came out with: Ottawa Hills.
Nestled between the University of Toledo and Wildwood Preserve Metropark, the suburb of 5,000 is considered the wealthiest community in the Toledo area.
It has some of the highest incomes in the state, averaging $110,114 per household, and the highest home values whose median stands at $252,600.
Ottawa Hills is a stunning area, naturally-speaking, but it is the friendly nature of its residents who take care of their own that makes it truly special.
And oh, it has some pretty decent schools too; among some of the best in the state.
Just behind Toledo on the U.S. News & World Report rankings was Dayton, coming in at No.75 on the 100 Best Places to Live in America.
As with its counterpart, there are plenty of suburbs worthy of a place in this list – Kettering, for instance. And Riverside. But settling for one, we had to go with Beavercreek.
The suburb of Beavercreek in Dayton, Greene County, has a population of 46,000 people, and it is dumbfounding to think the median home value in this area still stands at a paltry $174,000 – that’s below the national average!
That doesn’t look like it will remain so for long, especially this being one of Dayton’s fastest growing areas. Plus, you will rarely find better environs to call home, especially for families.
There are numerous top-rated schools in Beavercreek that remain a magnet for families, and residents enjoy high incomes to the tune of $81,379 per household per annum.
There are roughly 100 restaurants and bars to make a pick from, offering everything from the classic surf and turf, to French cuisine.
Ditching the affluent theme for a minute, anyone looking for one of the most affordable, best places to live (not an easy mix to get by any chance) cannot do better than Findlay.
Findlay is a town in Hancock County that is home to 41,000 people. The cost of living here is really low, with rent averaging $676 and three- to four-bedroom properties going for $122,900 on average.
But that is not all.
Sales tax stands at an attractive 6 per cent, and the residents have an average commute time of 18 minutes.
The weather is one of the best in a state accused of being too cold for the larger part of the year, and households take home on average $45,134 a year.
The only blot on Findlay is its crime rate which keeps it from scoring higher.
It isn’t all that bad, though, because the area scores a clean “A” on Niche.com’s desirability for families category.
14. Blue Ash
Blue Ash is a suburb in Cincinnati that is located in Hamilton County.
It is home to some 12,000 residents and its claim to fame is associated with its weather and amenities.
As well, the small population reaps the benefits of an excellent school system which ranks among the highest in Ohio, and median household income stands at $70,321.
There is great diversity in Blue Ash, both ethnically and economically speaking, something you don’t get to hear often in Ohio – at least when it comes to that first part.
The unemployment rate in Blue Ash, which stands at 7.7 per cent, could be better though.
Rounding off our list of best places to live in Ohio is Mentor, a city-suburb of Cleveland located in Lake County.
Known as the City of Choice, 47,000 people have already made a choice to call it home, and it is a decision you too would not regret.
The schools in this area are excellent, and it so happens to be nestled conveniently to the only notable lake in the state, Lake Erie. At approximately 25 miles, it is also within proximity of Cleveland.
The retail sector in Mentor is one of the strongest in the state, and manufacturing is also a prominent industry. Families take home on average $69,902, certainly not bad in an area where the average cost of homes is $167,200 and rent goes for $886, both below national.
And the residents can always unwind through the wide array of activities available to them. Swimming – the Headlands Beach State Park is especially a popular spot for swimmers – boating, biking and much more.