When you first think of Ohio, football or basketball may come to mind, but this midwestern state has much, much more to offer.
Ohio consistently ranks as one of the best states for business, while residents enjoy a low cost of living, excellent schools, and a variety of recreational activities.
From major cities like Cincinnati to smaller suburbs, there are plenty of places to build a new home in The Buckeye State. Looking at factors such as housing-to-income ratio, crime rates, and cost of living, here are the top 10 best places to live in Ohio.
Housing cost to income ratio: 1.97%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.63%
Violent crime index: 16.7
Nonviolent crime index: 83.9
Cost of living index: 70.5
Located along the Ohio River and about 30 miles from Pittsburgh is Steubenville, an intimate town of approximately 18,000. Residents are very hands-on in their communities, and the most popular suburbs are Steubenville West, Fernwood, and Pottery Addition. First Fridays take place monthly. On these fulfilled days, the city closes the main street so it can come alive with live music, food trucks, and street vendors. In the summer, temperatures average 83°F, so take advantage of the warm weather and check out Historic Fort Steuben, Beatty Park, or Fernwood State Forest. The public schools in Steubenville are also highly rated, and the political climate is somewhat conservative.
Housing cost to income ratio: 1.99%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.40%
Violent crime index: 35.5
Nonviolent crime index: 61.9
Cost of living index: 69.5
Filled with rich history and a diverse, large population, Akron still manages to retain a warm family-like feel. You can experience all four seasons in Akron with 38 inches of rain, 42 inches of snow, and 164 sunny days per year. The most popular suburbs (Montrose Ghent East, Fairlawn Heights, and Merriman Hills) have top-notch schools – a great option for those looking to start or raise a family. Akron has plenty of dog-friendly parks, lovely local farmer’s markets, and established musicians. And you will want to sample and savor a cup or two of locally roasted coffee. Other events (or even date night options) include Akron Civic Theatre, Soap Box Derby, or Akron Zoo. The low cost of living paired with the perks of a mid-sized city certainly makes Akron an enticing place to settle down.
Housing cost to income ratio: 1.99%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.18%
Violent crime index: 36.9
Nonviolent crime index: 62.5
Cost of living index: 65.8
Youngstown and Warren are located in northeastern Ohio, with Youngstown just 10 miles west of the Pennsylvania state line. Youngstown is a family-oriented, affordable town with an excellent school system. Some popular suburbs are Boardman, Poland, and Canfield. The median home value is $57,300, a figure well below the national median, and the lowest on this list. The most notable university is Youngstown State University which offers over 150 undergraduate degree programs and is a member of NCAA Division I (Go Penguins!). Notable places to check out are Lanterman’s Mill and Fellows Riverside Gardens.
Warren is a smaller town filled with spirit and pride, along with exquisite architecture and history. Football unites the approximately 39,000 residents. The National Packard Museum offers an illustrious glimpse of the Packard family and their contributions to the automobile industry. Both Youngstown and Warren lean conservative and have a combined 11 pet-friendly hotels.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.23%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.14%
Violent crime index: 20.5
Nonviolent crime index: 62.5
Cost of living index: 70.8
A clean, quiet, and friendly city, Mansfield has plenty of activities for you to enjoy. It is conveniently located between Cleveland and Columbus. You will find many historical adventures to explore downtown, such as Carrousel District and the restored Renaissance Theater. The city has 28 hospitals and 13 pet-friendly hotels – (you can even bring your pup to Springmill Drive-in Theatre!). Mansfield also offers unique attractions like the Ohio State Reformatory – the setting for the filming of Shawshank Redemption – and Mansfield Art Center. The city receives about 36 inches of snow per year so in the winter you can drive to Snow Trails to ski, snowboard, and tube. Mansfield’s low cost of living, family-friendly suburbs, abundant college opportunities, and proximity to Columbus are just a few reasons why people are eyeing this city as a place to call home.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.70%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.98%
Violent crime index: 51.7
Nonviolent crime index: 74.5
Cost of living index: 74.3
Canton and Massillon lie within Stark County with Canton being the larger of the two. Between both cities there are around 70,000 residents and 7 medical centers. The cities are somewhat conservative, and the most popular suburbs are North Canton, Uniontown, and Greentown. Canton showcases its cultural diversity by hosting a monthly celebration of art, music, local businesses, and restaurants in the Canton Arts District on the first Friday of the month. In addition, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and McKinley Presidential Library & Museum are popular attractions. In Canton, you can get the feel of a small town with the amenities of a larger town.
Eight miles west of Canton is Massillon, a tight-knit community centered on high school sports teams (especially football!). The school system is one of the best in the state and the local community has plenty of opportunities for graduates. Nature is also right in Massillon’s backyard with Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve. The 58-acre protected wetland area is popular with hikers and locals.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.76%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.17%
Violent crime index: 14.9
Nonviolent crime index: 55.7
Cost of living index: 68.8
Sandusky is a quaint lakeside town of approximately 25,000 packed with many exciting attractions. You can visit the Midwest’s largest indoor waterpark, take a day trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park, or visit the charming historical downtown area. During the summer, swimming, sailing, and fishing are popular with locals. The most popular suburbs are Fremont, Ballville, and Clyde. The school districts also offer excellent academic programs, which prepare students for college or the trades. Despite the smaller size of Sandusky, there are 41 hospitals in the city.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.77%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.48%
Violent crime index: 45.9
Nonviolent crime index: 70.6
Cost of living index: 71.4
Dayton, the sixth-largest city in Ohio, is 25 miles southwest of Springfield. It’s a unique and diverse city, and with its low cost of living, Dayton is a highly desirable place to buy a home and start raising a family. The median home value is well below the national median, at $90,237. Aviation exhibits are popular and you can find a range of options to choose from, such as theNational Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park, or America’s Packard Museum.
Springfield has a population of just under 60,000, offering a warm small-town feeling. You can zip in and out of grocery store checkout lines, and traffic congestion is rarely an issue. Both cities combined have 41 hospitals and 40 pet-friendly hotels. On the political side of the spectrum, Dayton-Springfield is considered somewhat liberal.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.96%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.26%
Violent crime index: 45.2
Nonviolent crime index: 74.2
Cost of living index: 67.9
Lima is a moderately conservative community filled with fun events and amazing local restaurants such as the Met, the Hollander, and Kewpee Hamburgers. A quaint town of approximately 37,000, Lima is a great place to start a family, as it offers affordable housing and a variety of school options for youngsters. Popular suburbs are Bluffton, Fort Shawnee, and Delphos. If you are in the mood for an educational afternoon, visit Allen County Historical Society and Museum, ArtSpace/Lima, or the Lauer Historical Farm. Pets are welcome at most restaurants, and you can even explore Lima Rotary Riverwalk, a multi-use trail. It may be small, but Lima is a growing city, with new business and opportunities springing up in recent years.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.11%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.77%
Violent crime index: 26.5
Nonviolent crime index: 73.1
Cost of living index: 85.8
Hamilton and Middletown, located in Butler County, are separated by a span of approximately 12 miles – or a 25 minute drive. Each city’s population is under 65,000 and offers a small-town suburban feel and Midwest charm. Hamilton-Middletown is considered somewhat liberal, and the most popular suburbs are Madeira, Montgomery, and Blue Ash.
Home prices are below the national median at $146,562 and if you want to take a quick trip to neighboring big cities you will find it a breeze. Experience some of the fun things to do in Hamilton at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, Vinoklet Winery & Restaurant, and Hanover Winery.
Downtown Middletown is an exciting place, where you can spend time with family and friends at local restaurants, wine bars, breweries and pubs, event venues, and shops. It also offers live music and arts for your viewing pleasure. There are also many beautiful pet-friendly parks scattered across town.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.79%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.02%
Violent crime index: 29.0
Nonviolent crime index: 57.1
Cost of living index: 86.4
The capital of Ohio and home to one of the most renowned colleges in the state, Columbus is a celebrated melting pot of culture. The arts scene is bustling with multiple music halls like Newport Music Hall, Schottenstein Center, and Lincoln Theatre. For families, there are several growing suburban areas like Oakwood and Centerville that have great schools and shops of their own to explore. Popular attractions include Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Scioto Mile, and Ohio Stadium. This moderately liberal city is extremely pet-friendly, offering many activities, hotels, and services for your furry companion.
Rakini Bergundy was born in a little surf town called Houhai in China and loves writing. She’s passionate about dogs, home renovations, and politics.