Study: Best Cities for Families in Ohio

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A low cost of living and strong school systems are the hallmarks of the best cities in Ohio to raise a family. Everyone knows that Cleveland rocks, but the rest of the Buckeye State is pretty great too, especially if you're looking for a family-oriented atmosphere. Read on to find the 10 best cities to raise a family in Ohio.

What are you waiting for? Pack up your kiddies and head to this Midwestern state to give them a promising future and bring back some affordability to your life. While the CreditDonkey team has already ranked Ohio's best cities overall, this time around, we're zeroing in on those places that are the most suitable for raising a family.

10 Best Cities to Raise a Family in Ohio

Study Methodology

To determine our rankings, we began by narrowing our study to Ohio cities with a population of 20,000 residents or higher. Then we focused on these key factors based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  1. Education
  2. Commute Time
  3. Household Type
  4. Residency
  5. Housing Costs

Ohio's school system is among the best in the country but some cities perform better than others when it comes to educating students. For our study, we looked at the percentage of people in each city who earned a high school diploma or higher.

Packing up and heading to the suburbs or just switching a bigger city for a smaller one sometimes means adding a few extra miles to your daily commute. To find those cities with the shortest drive time, we calculated how long it takes to get to work on average.

One of the hardest parts about moving for children is leaving old friends behind and making new ones. Choosing a kid-friendly area can go a long way towards making the transition easier. We focused on those Ohio cities that had the highest percentage of family households with children under age 18.

A good way to measure a city's livability is to look at how often people move in and out of the area. We ranked each city in part based on the percentage of people still living in the same house they were in one year ago.

Ohio's housing market continues to rebound and in many cities, home prices are once again on the rise. To help you find a place that fits your budget, we looked at the percentage of income residents spend on housing.

10. Avon Lake

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 96.1%
  • Commute Time: 25.9 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 34.5%
  • Residing in Same Home: 91.9%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 20.2%

Avon Lake is a picturesque little community located less than 25 miles west of Cleveland. Parents like the area because of the school system, which has been recognized for excellence by the Ohio Department of Education nearly every year for the last decade. Avon Lake High School graduates more than 95% of its students and low housing costs make the city that much more attractive. There are 14 parks to explore but if you're looking for some waterfront fun, the Lake Erie is shore is minutes away.

Did You Know: One of Avon Lake's most notable attractions is the Thomas Folger House, an historic home built by a descendant of Benjamin Franklin.

9. Hilliard

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 94.2%
  • Commute Time: 22.4 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 42.8%
  • Residing in Same Home: 88.3%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 20.8%

Hilliard was once a small farming town but the advent of the railroad and the expansion of nearby Columbus have contributed to its growth over the years. Today, more than 30,000 people call it home, including a significant number of families with children. Compared to the capital city, home prices are higher but workers spend a lower percentage on housing and the median incomes are nearly doubled. You have convenient access to all of Columbus' family-friendly attractions.

Did You Know: Hilliard is home to the only Early Television Museum in the U.S.

8. Avon

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 95.7%
  • Commute Time: 26 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 39.4%
  • Residing in Same Home: 93.8%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 20.7%

Once part of the township that included Avon Lake, the city of Avon was officially incorporated in 1961. Both cities share some similarities in terms of education and the amount of income residents spend on housing, but Avon has a higher concentration of families with kids under 18. There are six public schools and two parochial schools to choose from, all of which come highly rated academically. You're close to both Cleveland and Lake Erie so there's no chance of running out of things to do.

Did You Know: The headquarters of Duck Brand duct tape is located in Avon and the city's motto is "We Make Duct Tape!"

7. Hudson

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 98.3%
  • Commute Time: 27.9 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 42.1%
  • Residing in Same Home: 91.5%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 19.6%

Hudson is the most well-to-do city on our list, with residents earning a median annual income in excess of $116,000. The local schools boast an excellent graduation rate and more than 40% of family households include at least one child under the age of 18. There are 10 distinct neighborhoods to choose from and while homes are more expensive, residents still spend less than 20% of their pay on housing. There are several outdoor recreation areas in and around the city, including the 73-acre Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park.

Did You Know: The century-old Hudson Clock Tower is the city's most cherished landmark.

6. Westerville

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 96.4%
  • Commute Time: 20.2 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 31.4%
  • Residing in Same Home: 85.5%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 18.9%

We've highlighted some of the reasons why Westerville is such a great place to live before but we don't mind singing its praises again. This city of 37,000 people beats out the other locations on our list when it comes to housing costs, and it also ranks well for its 20-minute average commute. Westerville's scenic natural beauty is one of its best features but the fact that residents pull down a median income of over $84,000 doesn't hurt either.

Did You Know: Westerville took a strong anti-saloon stance in the late 1800s, earning it the temporary nickname of "Dry Capital of the World."

5. Beavercreek

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 95.9%
  • Commute Time: 18.2 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 28.4%
  • Residing in Same Home: 87.9%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 19.6%

Beavercreek is a suburb of Dayton, but we prefer this city of more than 45,000 residents because of its great short commute and low cost of living. While homes here are more expensive, residents earn significantly more than their Dayton neighbors and fork over less of their income for housing. There are nine schools in the area and the Beavercreek school district was one of only a handful in the state to score top marks on the 2012-13 annual assessment.

Did You Know: The nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base is one of Beavercreek's largest employers.

4. Perrysburg

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 96.3%
  • Commute Time: 20.1 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 31%
  • Residing in Same Home: 90 %
  • Income Spent on Housing: 20.5%

Perrysburg was actually founded before Toledo, but today it serves as a suburb of the larger metro area. We chose the city for our number four spot because of its overall affordability and the fact that it has some of the best schools in the state. The local economy is flourishing and you'll find plenty of shops, restaurants and small businesses to frequent. Woodlands Park is a great place to unwind, with Fort Imagination available for younger children and an 18-hole disc golf course for the big kids.

Did You Know: Perrysburg features the largest reconstructed wooden fortification in the country.

3. Solon

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 96.6%
  • Commute Time: 25.6 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 40.3%
  • Residing in Same Home: 93.1%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 19.8%

Solon is another Cleveland suburb, located just south of the Shaker Heights area. The city has been growing steadily since the '60s and over the last few decades, it's earned a reputation as one of the metro area's more affluent localities. There are plenty of families here and the local schools are consistently recognized for high levels of student achievement. Houses are more expensive compared to Cleveland but residents here dedicate a much lower percentage of their income to keeping a roof over their heads.

Did You Know: Before he was elected President, James A. Garfield was once a part-time preacher at the Solon Disciple Church.

2. Dublin

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 98.7%
  • Commute Time: 22.1 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 43.8%
  • Residing in Same Home: 89.1%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 19.5%

If you believe in the luck of the Irish and have a penchant for all things green, you'll feel right at home in Dublin. This Columbus suburb outshines every other spot on our list for education and the percentage of family households with children. Residents pocket a median household income of $114,000, which isn't too shabby, and there are more than 20 schools to choose from. At less than 15 miles from the capital, you're close to notable attractions like the Center of Science and Industry, voted the #1 science center in the country by Parents magazine.

Did You Know: Dublin, named for Ireland's capital, hosts one of the largest Irish festivals in the nation.

Tip: If you're going to college, make sure you read what not to buy for college.

1. Upper Arlington

  • High School Graduate or Higher: 98.5%
  • Commute Time: 18.7 minutes
  • Households With Children Under 18: 31.8%
  • Residing in Same Home: 91.3%
  • Income Spent on Housing: 20%

Less than 10 miles from Columbus, the city of Upper Arlington features a healthy population of more than 34,000 people. We chose this prosperous suburb to fill our top spot because of its all-around high marks for each of our study metrics. There are lots of kids in the area and several of the local schools have received national accolades based on student performance. The city's motto is "Founded on Tradition," and that commitment to traditional values and ideals continues to be honored by residents.

Did You Know: Golf legend Jack Nicklaus was born in Upper Arlington.

If you're wondering why larger cities like Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati didn't make our top 10, it's not because they aren't great places to live. In terms of things to do and the sheer number of employment offerings, they're in a class by themselves. However, when we crunched the numbers we found that the cities on our list stood head and shoulders above the rest based on the quality of life they offer families.

The Top 25 Cities for Families in Ohio

RankCity% High School Graduate or HigherAverage Commute TimeHousehold with ChildrenResiding in Same House Last YearIncome Spent on Housing
1Upper Arlington98.5%18.731.8%91.3%20%
10Avon Lake96.1%25.934.5%91.9%20.2%
12Rocky River95.1%22.726.1%92.5%19.8%
13Shaker Heights96.1%22.933.1%88.8%21.2%
20North Royalton93.9%26.426.5%92.2%17.9%
21Grove City93.9%21.733.3%85.9%21.6%
24Cuyahoga Falls93.7%22.125.%91.7%20.8%

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at

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