Ohio. Such a misunderstood state.
On one hand you have the urban toughness that comes from the blue collar communities which are trying to find their 21st century claim to fame. And on the other, you’ve got your massive farmland stretching for hundreds of miles.
And in between? A midwestern state with a hint of east coast. A generally friendly, welcoming bunch of sports fanatics who think it’s a good idea to put chili on their spaghetti.
We’re just kidding. Ohio is great. America wouldn’t be America without you guys.
So, where are the best places in this awesome place? Where would most people want to call home, if they looked at all of the factors that we all agree are important? That’s the purpose of this post.
After analyzing all 287 cities with a population over 5,000, we came up with this list as the 10 best places in Ohio:
- Upper Arlington (Photos)
- Bexley (Photos)
- Wyoming (Photos)
- Powell (Photos)
- Gahanna (Photos)
- Madeira (Photos)
- Grandview Heights (Photos)
- Shaker Heights (Photos)
- Hilliard (Photos)
Say what? You haven’t even heard of some of these places? Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. Additionally, there’s an abridged chart at the bottom with all of the rankings.
While Upper Arlington came in as the best city, you might not be surprised to hear that Youngstown is the worst city in Ohio, according science. More on that later.
How do you decide if a place is awesome or not?
In order to rank the best places to live in Ohio, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The higher the better)
- Lowest Unemployment Rates
- Highest Home Values
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Education (High expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
- Low Crime
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities, from best to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart. If you’re wondering where the larger cities ranked, science tells us Columbus is the best of the three C’s, with Cleveland bringing up the rear.
Hey, the data never lies, does it?
1. Upper Arlington
Crime: Way below average
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Household income: $95,588
Average home value: $320,100
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Upper Arlington is by far, the best place in the state of Ohio.
We’re not saying that places where people are broke and homes lay vacant is a bad thing, inherently. But it’s certainly not desirable, right? Upper Arlington is the opposite of broke.
The residents here earn way above the state average in household income, and the homes are almost the most expensive in the state. Plus, the unemployment rate is as close to zero as you can get.
This Columbus suburb has it made.
Education: Top 5% in Ohio for student support
Household income: $94,145
Unemployment rate: 4.3%
On the other side of Columbus is a smaller, less wealthy version of Upper Arlington. Here in Bexley, residents also enjoy a high standard of living with a crime rate well below the state average, and public schools that spend more per student than most other Ohio cities.
There’s a reason both the governor of Ohio and the President of the Ohio State University make Bexley their home.
Crime: Lowest 3% in Ohio
Education: Best 4% in the state
Unemployment rate: 4.8%
This tiny Cincinnati suburb has it made. Who can argue against a really low crime rate and great schools? If you love the Cincinnati lifestyle, but want to live in the burbs, you certainly can’t get much better than Wyoming.
That is if you can afford it. Home prices have gone up here 7% and the cost of living is 17% higher than the national average.
Unemployment rate: 3.6%
Household income: $133,133
Crime: 9th lowest in Ohio
CNN once said Powell was one of the best places to live in the United States, and you can see why. Not only do the residents all make great livings, there’s essentially no crime in the entire city. And the residents are very involved in the community in Powell; once they put up a memorably successful fight to keep Walmart from opening up within their borders.
No wonder the population has grown 64% in the last 15 years. They can’t build homes fast enough here.
Crime: 28th highest in Ohio
Education: Top 5% in Ohio
Student-teacher ratio: 7th lowest in the state
Congratulations is in order to Gahanna, which has spent a lot of energy in not only revitalizing its downtown core, but cleaning up its rougher edges, too. This Columbus suburb has a low crime rate and some of the best-funded schools in the state.
Safety and a well educated public are a great combination.
Crime: 20th lowest in Ohio
Average house value: $87,232
Median house income: $214,500
Looks like little Madeira might be a hidden gem down there in the Cincinnati area. The population is shrinking a bit, despite the fact that home values are still rising and crime is really low. Perhaps the cat’s now out of the bag.
7. Grandview Heights
Unemployment rank: 4.3%
Crime: Lowest 5% in Ohio
Average home value: $266,200
Grandview Heights is a small little city within the greater Columbus area. Despite being so small, it has its own police and fire departments and its own school district. There’s low crime in Grandview Heights, and the residents here are gainfully employed.
8. Shaker Heights
Education: 10th best in Ohio
Unemployment rate: 5.1%
Household income: $77,198
The first and only Cleveland suburb to make the top of this list, Shaker Heights is a medium sized city with a lot going for it, especially the quality of the public school system. Residents here have great jobs (many in Cleveland), and there seems to be plenty of room for more. The population isn’t growing here, despite the fact that home values are going up.
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Median income: $83,246
House values: $194,400
Just about every single person who wants a job in this Columbus suburb gets one, and a pretty well-paying job, too. The population is growing fast here, and for good reason, as the cost of living here is somehow lower than it should be. Meaning, there are some really good deals on homes for sale in the Hilliard area, based on our scientific analysis.
Crime: Lowest 5% in the state
Average home price: $280,100
Median income: $109,779
If you live in Montgomery, perhaps you’ve bumped into Chris Sabo, the former Reds first baseman who has roots here. No wonder; Montgomery has a stable economy where residents earn a large salary. And the crime is really, really low.
There You Have It
While there are some really awesome places to live in Ohio, the purpose of this post was to use science to identify the places that are the most desirable. If you’re analyzing places in Ohio with the best economic situations, where there’s low crime and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
We also did an analysis on the 10 worst places in Ohio. Click here to read that story. If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Ohio, according to science.
Complete List of Best Cities in Ohio Data
Note: Townships were given less weight since they aren’t actual cities