Study: Happiest Cities in Ohio

Read more about Can Money Buy Happiness

Not to get corny on you, but Ohio, this Midwestern state, can bring a smile to most anyone's face — if they live in the right city. It's got great scenery, a diverse mix of environments, and, of course, lots of corn.

We know that the Buckeye State is a great place to live, especially if you're raising a family, but we wanted to take a closer look to find out why its residents seem to be so cheerful, at least in certain parts. If you're a native Ohioan or you're planning a move here for the first time, we've put together a list of which cities are the happiest overall.

Study Methodology

We limited our focus to those Ohio cities with a population of 20,000 or higher. We ranked the remaining cities based on how they scored across seven specific categories using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and FBI Uniform Crime Reports. The 10 cities that made our final list are the ones that got the best ratings overall in terms of these criteria:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Crime rate
  3. Commute
  4. Departure time
  5. Income
  6. Divorce rate
  7. Housing

Sharing a delicious meal with family members or friends is a great way to boost your mood, so we looked at the number of restaurants per capita for each city to narrow down those cities with the widest variety of choices.

Living in an area where crime rates are low can significantly enhance your peace of mind. To give you an idea of which cities are the safest, we ranked them based in part on the odds of being the victim of a violent crime.

Nobody likes dealing with heavy traffic, especially when you're trying to get to work on time or make it home after a long day. Our rankings took into account the average commute, so you can see where workers have the shortest trip.

Some people are night owls while others like to be up by the crack of dawn. Studies have linked an early start to higher levels of productivity and satisfaction. Going with that theory, we looked at the percentage of residents in each city who leave for work before 5 a.m.

Achieving financial security is always an important goal. When fears about money are pushed to the backburner, the result is usually a more upbeat attitude. We attempted to gauge the happiness level for each city based in part on the median household income.

When you get married, you’re of course hoping to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that's not always the reality. To see where couples tend to have the most staying power, we compared the percentage of men and women in each city who are divorced.

If you're blowing a big part of your budget on a home, it can be a serious mood killer. The last piece of data we considered was the percentage of income residents in each city spend on housing.

10 Happiest Cities in Ohio

10. Wooster

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 394 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 622.3
  • Average commute time: 16.5 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 4.5%
  • Median household income: $40,341
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 9.8% of males, 13.9% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 20.8%

With just over 26,000 residents, Wooster is on the small side compared to nearby cities like Canton and Mansfield, but it still packs a big punch in terms of how happy a place it is. Workers here appreciate the 16.5-minute commute, which is the shortest of any city in our study and the median payday isn't too shabby. You won't be hard pressed to find affordable housing or a place to enjoy a casual dinner with friends.

Did You Know: The Olde Jaol Steakhouse and Tavern is located inside what was once the Wayne County Jail.

9. Strongsville

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 409 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 3,415.2
  • Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.6%
  • Median household income: $76,396
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 5.2% of males, 8.0% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 19.6%

Close to 45,000 people call the city of Strongsville home, and it's a quieter alternative to its larger neighbors, Cleveland and Akron. Some of the things that set it apart include an extraordinarily low violent crime rate and a median household income that surpasses $76,000 annually. If you're married, you'll be delighted to know that Strongsville also has the lowest combined percentage of divorced couples in our study, at 13.2%.

Did You Know: Philanthropist and oil magnate John D. Rockefeller lived in Strongsville as a child.

8. Grove City

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 368 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 974.3
  • Average commute time: 21.7 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.7%
  • Median household income: $65,429
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 7.9% of males, 14.8% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 21.6%

Grove City began as a small farming community, but it's blossomed into one of Columbus's most sought after suburbs. Nearly 37,000 people reside here and can feel good about the safe neighborhoods and their healthy median incomes. Getting to work each day isn't a trial, and almost 4% of residents like to get an early start. If you're looking for a cool hangout with an eclectic menu, Garden Cafe on Broadway is a local favorite.

Did You Know: Gantz Park features a public herb garden that draws roughly 10,000 visitors a year.

7. Troy

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 416 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1,795.8
  • Average commute time: 18.1 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 5.1%
  • Median household income: $50,403
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 13.4% of males, 17.9% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 19.3%

Troy is about 20 miles north of Dayton. It's easy to see why the 25,000 people who call it home find it so livable. Just over 5% of residents are off to work before 5 a.m., the highest percentage on our list, and their efforts are rewarded by a $50,000 median income. You won't have to look far to find a great deal on housing, and you can rest easy at night knowing that Troy's streets are some of the safest in the state.

Did You Know: Troy's Eldean Covered Bridge is one of the longest in Ohio.

6. Oregon

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 337 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 594.3
  • Average commute time: 19.1 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 3.5%
  • Median household income: $52,260
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 11.5% of males, 11.3% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 19.2%

Oregon sits just outside Toledo, bordering the Maumee Bay section of Lake Erie. With slightly over 20,000 residents, it's notable for being the smallest city on our list, but plenty of newcomers arrive each year. Compared to its neighbor, homes actually sell for quite a bit more but the median income is almost $20,000 higher, making it easier to manage the cost. You'll find an array of restaurants too choose from, including the Big Apple Deli, a perfect spot for a quick lunch.

Did You Know: The land that Oregon rests on was once part of the Great Black Swamp.

5. Perrysburg

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 311 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1,298.2
  • Average commute time: 20.1 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 2.6%
  • Median household income: $69,341
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 9.6% of males, 11.1% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 20.5%

Perrysburg is situated to the southwest of Toledo, along the eastern bank of the Maumee River. Just like in many of the cities in our rankings, violent crime is a rare occurrence and home prices aren't too steep. On average, residents shell out just over 20% of their pay to keep a roof over their heads, but when you consider that the median income nears $70,000, it's fairly reasonable.

Did You Know: Perrysburg is named after Commodore Oliver Perry, who successfully defeated British forces at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

4. Dublin

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 429 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 2,822.9
  • Average commute time: 22.1 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.5%
  • Median household income: $114,183
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 5.7% of males, 7.6% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 19.5%

Dublin is an affluent northwestern suburb of Columbus that's home to right around 43,000 people. It takes top honors for income, with residents earning a median salary of over $114,000. It also scores points in terms of its low violent crime rate. Dublin boasts the second-lowest combined divorce rate, which is a good sign for newlyweds who are looking for someplace new to settle down.

Did You Know: The annual Dublin Irish Festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors, who come to try their hand at the hammer toss and sample handcrafted Irish beer.

3. Upper Arlington

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 580 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 3,802.3
  • Average commute time: 18.7 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1%
  • Median household income: $95,588
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 5.8% of males, 9% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 20%

Just down the road from Dublin is Upper Arlington, another one of Columbus's preferred suburban communities. If safety is your top priority, you won't find another spot on our list with a better violent crime rating. It does pretty well in a few other categories as well. Married couples seem to be enjoying their wedded bliss, based on the low combined divorce rate. The working crowd also has it pretty good, with an average commute of under 19 minutes and a median income that approaches the six-figure range.

Did You Know: Upper Arlington is just minutes from the main campus of Ohio State University.

2. Westerville

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 407 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 2,820.2
  • Average commute time: 20.2 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.1%
  • Median household income: $84,095
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 6.3% of males, 10.5% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 18.9%

Westerville residents are all smiles and it's easy to see why. Violent crime is virtually nonexistent, and workers take home a decent chunk of change when you consider the median income is over $84,000. Residents spend the lowest percentage of their pay on housing compared to the rest of our cities, and the commute isn't a killer. Throw in restaurants like the Q2 Bistro and Cardone's, and you've got a recipe for some rather happy folks.

Did You Know: During the "Westerville Whiskey Wars" of the late 1870s, citizens who supported the town's ban on alcohol used gunpowder to blow up the same saloon on two separate occasions.

1. Beavercreek

  • Restaurants per capita: 1 per 467 inhabitants
  • Odds of being the victim of a violent crime: 1 in 1,822.5
  • Average commute time: 18.2 minutes
  • Percentage of residents leaving for work before 5 a.m.: 1.6%
  • Median household income: $74,533
  • Percentage of divorced residents: 6.4% of males, 8.9% of females
  • Percentage of income spent on housing: 19.6%

Beavercreek is Dayton's second largest suburb, with over 45,000 residents, and they seem pleased as punch to call the city home. Based on how it ranks across each of our seven categories, they may be on to something. You won't have to part with too much of your hard-earned wages to pay for housing, and the drive to work is among the shortest in our study. Residents collect a substantial paycheck and finding a safe neighborhood to put down roots shouldn't be a problem.

Did You Know: The nearby National Museum of the United States Air Force houses several historical aircraft, including the Boeing VC-137C that served as Air Force One on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Wondering why your city didn't make the list? It doesn't meant that your friends and neighbors aren't satisfied with their choice of hometown. When we ran the numbers, these 10 cities were the ones that rose to the top. If you're curious, here are the places that just missed the cut:

The Top 20 Happiest Cities in Ohio

RankCityPeople per Restaurants and BarsViolent Crime OddsAverage Commute Time% Leaving Before 5amMedian Household Income% Male Divorce1% Female Divorce1Income Spent on Housing
1Beavercreek467.11 in 1,822.518.21.6%$74,5336.4%8.9%19.6%
2Westerville407.41 in 2,820.220.21.1%$84,0956.3%10.5%18.9%
3Upper Arlington579.71 in 3,802.318.71.0%$95,5885.8%9.0%20%
4Dublin429.11 in 2,822.922.11.5%$114,1835.7%7.6%19.5%
5Perrysburg311.21 in 1,298.220.12.6%$69,3419.6%11.1%20.5%
6Oregon337.01 in 594.319.13.5%$52,26011.5%11.3%19.2%
7Troy416.01 in 1,795.818.15.1%$50,40313.4%17.9%19.3%
8Grove City368.31 in 974.321.73.7%$65,4297.9%14.8%21.6%
9Strongsville409.41 in 3,415.226.71.6%$76,3965.2%8.0%19.6%
10Wooster393.71 in 622.316.54.5%$40,3419.8%13.9%20.8%
11Hilliard566.01 in 1,440.722.42.3%$83,2467.5%11.4%20.8%
12Mentor293.91 in 889.123.52.4%$65,4468.9%12.1%20.6%
13Gahanna375.91 in 1,531.520.82.1%$72,6228.1%14.5%22.1%
14Hudson519.11 in 11,090.527.91.5%$116,1884.9%7.7%19.6%
15Parma424.21 in 1,445.8244.2%$50,1989.6%13.7%19.7%
16Solon454.11 in 3,309.325.60.6%$98,7507.3%9.1%19.8%
17Centerville489.31 in 1,268.821.31.2%$57,3858.8%13.0%20.2%
18Wadsworth472.41 in 1,971.122.13.1%$57,15011.8%15.6%20.2%
19Lebanon485.41 in 1,065.324.14.2%$61,8129.8%16.8%20.1%
20Willoughby279.41 in 1,112.621.63.1%$52,70113.2%15.0%20.9%

1Treated as one combined metric for ranking purposes (at a 50:50 male to female ratio).

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

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Comments about Study: Happiest Cities in Ohio

  • Jim from Ohio
    on September 20, 2014 2:50 AM said:

    I like living in Wooster, OH, I grew up here, moved away, moved back, the town kinda grew up too, more and better restaurants and bars, a chamber music society. I just wish they would pick up the dumpsters after dawn. They bang those things around at 4 AM and wake me up. City counsel won't do anything about it, all they care about is what's good for business.

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