Thinking about living in Ohio? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in the Buckeye State for the past 10 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Ohio.
Home to a population of nearly 12 million residents, Ohio is the 7th most populated state in the US. The birthplace of 7 Presidents, this state is best known for enthusiastic sports fans, great beer scene and friendly locals. There’s so much to love (and not love) about calling Ohio home.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so let’s cover everything you need to know about moving to Ohio based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’d love to help.
Largest Cities in Ohio
- Population: 906,000
- Average salary: $69,400
- Median home price: $253,000
- Population: 368,000
- Average salary: $62,000
- Median home price: $112,000
- Population: 309,000
- Average salary: $74,000
- Median home price: $230,000
Pros & Cons of Living in Ohio
Pros of Moving to Ohio
#1. Affordable housing market
If I had to wager a bet, I’d bet that most newcomers end up moving to Ohio for the sole purpose of (finally) buying a home. If so, they’re smart to do so! Ohio consistently ranks as one of the most affordable states to buy a home (in 2022 it was ranked the 7th cheapest state to purchase a home).
Take Cincinnati for example. The average salary is an impressive $74,000 yet the median home price is only $230,000. This income-to-house-price ratio is unheard of in America these days. There’s no denying that housing is exceptionally affordable, which makes living in Ohio an easy choice for those that dream of home ownership.
#2. The overall low cost of living in Ohio
Going hand-in-hand with low housing prices, the overall cost of living in Ohio is some of the lowest in the country. You can live comfortably on less because most everyday expenses are well below the national average. Everything from groceries, haircuts, eating out and transportation will be cheaper than most other US cities.
Speaking from personal experience, I was surprised by the affordability of living in Ohio when I first moved here. This is especially true for my “eating and playing” budget. I realized that I could easily eat out 4-5 times a week without feeling a pinch (compared to 2 times per week max in my last city).
Having more money to spend on little things has greatly improved my overall quality of life since moving to Ohio. Most of my weekends are spent doing something enjoyable (visiting breweries with friends, catching a performance or movie, eating out or some type of outdoor recreation).
The best part? I finally have the means to enjoy the little things. Before moving to Ohio I was plugging away at an office 60+ hours a week and dreading Sunday evenings knowing the cycle was about to begin again.
#3. Outdoor recreation
One of the biggest perks of living in Ohio is having daily access to outdoor recreation. From hiking and mountain biking to swimming and fishing — Ohio can scratch almost any itch. It’s pretty easy to live an active lifestyle after moving to Ohio, but you need to know where to look.
If helpful, some of my favorite natural areas are: Mohican State Park, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park and Hocking Hills State Park.
Worth noting: As much as I love being able to play outside, I don’t want to fool you. Our natural wonders are great, but they’d never be mistaken as the best in the country. My friends like to joke that we have a little of everything, but not necessarily the best of anything.
I’m grateful to have so much nature to play in, but I miss real mountains and breathtaking shorelines that lead out to the vastness of the sea (I’ll cover this in more detail shortly).
#4. There’s three large cities to explore
Something you’ll hear quite often after moving to Ohio is a reference to the “Big C’s” so I’ll clue you in. The Big C’s refer to the three largest cities in Ohio which all start with the letter “c” — Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
And indeed, having access to these three cities is a perk of living in Ohio. Each has a unique culture and a plethora of great things to do. Having access to three large metro areas while living in a state is rather unusual when you think about it.
For example, Washington has Seattle, New York has NYC and Georgia has Atlanta. Off the top of my head, the only other states where there’s more than one large metro area are California (but the state is massive!), Texas (also massive) and Arizona.
But look at me getting sidetracked. My point is this: You’ll have easy access to outstanding food, great night life, interesting architecture, world-class performances and concerts.
You’ll always have something to do while living in Ohio! And if you have an insatiable appetite for large world-class cities you can set up a weekend trip to Washington D.C., New York City or Boston.
#5. Top-notch sports culture
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the enthusiastic sports culture while living in Ohio! Where you consider this a pro or con of moving to Ohio is completely up to you, but you should know that it exists!
Is our enthusiasm obnoxious as times? You bet. But it’s the one thing that binds the state together. You’ll have plenty of teams to cheer on, but if you need a quick refresh, here’s a roundup of our beloved teams.
Professional Sports Teams of Ohio
- Baseball: Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Guardians
- Football: Cincinnati Bengals & Cleveland Browns
- Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers
- Hockey: Columbus Blue Jackets
- Rugby: Cleveland Rugby League
- GO BUCKEYES!!!
#6. Great craft brew scene
Let’s talk beer, because as a millennial, the great craft brew scene is one of my favorite things about living in Ohio. Ohio is home to an impressive 366 breweries, which means you can visit a new brewery every day of the year.
It’s all about supporting our local brewers and we have some top-notch names to be proud of. But don’t just take my word for it, we’re ranked the 15th best state for craft beer.
Though I’m hesitant to share my favorites (the long lines!) I think they deserve a shout-out. My go-to spots for great beer are: Jackie O’s, Urban Artifact (for sours) and Columbus Brewing Company.
#7. Midwest friendliness
Yet another advantage of moving to Ohio is the friendliness of the locals. I’m not saying you’ll make friends quickly (friendships seem to get harder with age), but folks aren’t closed off, which is nice.
Ohioans have a reputation for being welcoming and warm, and I’ve found that to be true. I get invited to parties and events with relative ease and find it easy to strike up a conversation.
In fact, after living in Ohio for a such a long time, I’ve learned not to get startled when someone approaches me with a question at a grocery store (if you’ve lived in NYC, you probably know what I mean).
#8. We’re America’s “test market”
I heard a fascinating interview on NPR where the topic of Columbus, Ohio was being discussed. Turns out our city is considered the test city for marketing new products.
It’s an exciting perk of living in Ohio because you get access to tons of new items that may (or may not) go mainstream in the next few years. The products being tested span the gamut — from food and toys and appliances and electronics.
The reason for this is simple: Companies believe that Columbus is an adequate representation of the US population. So if you end up living in Columbus, you’ll be able to try new things before the rest of the country. Which is pretty cool.
Cons of Living in (STATE)
#1. The state’s reputation is a hurdle
Well, here’s an honest con of living in Ohio — we (arguably) have the most boring reputation of any US state. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a joke about living in Ohio.
Well, since moving to Ohio, I can tell you that there’s plenty of locals that take pride in the state, but there’s a heck of a lot of newcomers that need to warm up to the same level of enthusiasm. It’s almost like you need to get over the hurdle of “living in Ohio” so that you can make that statement unapologetically.
It just seems like folks don’t go out of their way to visit our state, which furthers the “mediocre” reputation we have.
This is a strange thing to say, I get that, and it’s even harder to explain to anyone that hasn’t lived in Ohio before. The best way I know to describe moving to Ohio is prepare to be the Black Sheep of the Midwest. But it’s been my experience so I wanted to share.
#2. People seem to get stuck in Ohio
Something most folks don’t realize before moving to Ohio is that a lot of the people living in Ohio were born in the state. In fact, 71% of the population was born and raised in Ohio, which is an abnormally high rate.
What does this mean for daily life? Your conversations will revolve around Ohio and politics. It’s estimated that less than 37% of residents have passports, so international travel isn’t a topic you’ll come across often.
I say this because the lack of excitement (for adventure, different cultures, etc.) is apparent in daily life in Ohio. I consider this a huge disadvantage because things seem to stay the same from generation to generation.
#3. Moving to Ohio? Learn about the rust belt
You’ll hear the Rust Belt mentioned from time to time, so take a moment to learn about the meaning before moving to Ohio. The rust belt is a reference to US states in a state of decline. Think towns ripe with depression, high crime rates and poverty.
These states used to teem with life during the country’s manufacturing era, but failed to keep up with the times and found themselves poverty-striking as factories started closing town. Large swaths of people lost their jobs and homes, which resulted in the slow decay of the cities and towns.
Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the states within the Rust Belt. Anyone that takes a drive to the less populous parts of the state will see this for themselves. Hell, you don’t even have to go that far.
Even our metro areas have grown stagnant (unable to attract tourism, etc.) and the population continues to drop as large employers seek headquarters elsewhere. The exception to the rule is Columbus, largely because it focused on an economy reliant on tech, finance and education.
On that note, let’s delve into the job market because it’s crucial to know about it before living in Ohio.
#4. Have a job lined up before moving to Ohio
Here’s a hard truth: Ohio doesn’t have a strong job market. In fact, we currently rank 41st for job prospects. Ouch. So you’ll definitely need to have a job lined up before moving to Ohio, otherwise you may be in for a rude awakening.
Adding insult to injury, at 4.2%, our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country and well above the national average of 3.7%.
#5. Racism is glaringly obvious
This one goes hand-in-hand with folks getting stuck in Ohio and things seldom changing. But, as someone that moved to Ohio from a large city, I was struck by candid deliveries of racist jokes (mostly from much older residents).
Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks so. Not only is Ohio one of the top 10 least diverse states in the country, a 2015 Google study found that it ranks as one of the most racists spots in the country.
I was oblivious to the fact that this old way of thinking was still so prevalent before moving to Ohio. I’m sharing this so that you can be informed and more prepared than I was (no one is talking about this!).
Granted, the narrative (and conversations) have greatly changed for the better in my 10 years of living in Ohio, but we still have a ways to go.
#6. Lack of scenery
One of my coworkers mentioned how much he loves the variety of scenery that living in Ohio provides. I almost did a double-take, variety?
As someone that hails from the Pacific Northwest, a lively discussion naturally ensued. One of the hardest things about moving to Ohio (for me) was adjusting to the lack of natural beauty. Fighting words, I know, but I’m telling you — Ohio doesn’t shine in this department and I’d be doing you a disservice if I said it did.
Off the top of my head, the coolest natural scenery we have is Lake Erie, the 11th largest fresh-water lake in the world. And yeah, we have access to that beauty, but we don’t have stunning expanses of coastal beaches. Epic mountains? Well, we have hills (and hell, those leave much to be desired).
I understand that not all locals will agree with this con of living in Ohio, but after 10 years in the Buckeye State, I stand by my statement.
Know before moving to Ohio: The air pollution is a concern
Ohio’s poor air quality and high pollution rates are concerning. In fact, a 2022 study found that we have some of the worst air pollution in the country (ranking 7th).
#7. Humid summers + winter snowstorms
Alright, I’ll wrap this list of the pros and cons of living in Ohio with an obvious statement — our summers are unbearable and our winters suck.
Every since moving to Ohio, it feels like I’ve had 3 months (if that) of good weather per year. The other 9 months are spent bracing for winter storms or humid summers that have you convinced you moved to a sauna. I’m just being real here, our weather is typically a toss up between frigid, humid, gray skies, rainy days and smothering heat.
Also worth mention, we have some of the most dangerous winter driving conditions in the US. Imagine!
Retiring in Ohio FAQs
Is Ohio a good place to live?
Overall, Ohio is a good place to live for those looking to settle down and buy a home. Between the affordable housing market and low cost of living in Ohio, you’ll find yourself content. However, the job market in Ohio leaves much to be desired, so you’ll need to evaluate your move carefully.
Is Ohio a good place to retire?
The affordable housing market makes Ohio a desirable place to retire, but the harsh winters and humid summers keep many folks at bay. In terms of taxes while retiring in Ohio, Social Security income is fully exempt, while other retirement income (pensions, 401K) are subject to state income tax.
Learn more about retiring in Ohio and the tax implications.
Is weed legal in Ohio?
The state has decriminalized small possession of marijuana but recreational marijuana use is illegal in Ohio.
Pros & Cons of Living in Ohio (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in (STATE).
- Affordable housing market
- The overall low cost of living in Ohio
- Outdoor recreation
- There’s three large cities
- Top-notch sports culture
- Great craft brew scene
- Midwest friendliness
- We’re America’s Test Market
- The state’s reputation is one of boredom
- People seem to get stuck in Ohio
- Lack of scenery + outdoor recreation
- Moving to Ohio? Learn about the rust belt
- Racism is glaringly obvious
- The air pollution is a concern
- Have a job lined up before moving to Ohio
- Humid summers + winter snowstorms
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