Study: Best Cities to Live in Ohio

When you think of the Midwest, you probably think of small towns, cornfields, and amber waves of grain, but America's Heartland has so much more to offer. Ohio's blend of sprawling urban areas and smaller rural communities makes it particularly attractive for newcomers as well as current residents seeking a change of scenery.

Ohioans enjoy a cost of living that's below the national average and a diverse economy that's fueled by the banking, manufacturing, agricultural, mining, aerospace, and tech industries. The schools consistently score top marks and housing is affordable, with median home values estimated at just over $112,000. Summers are warm but not stifling and residents see their fair share of snow in winter.

Whether you're looking for the faster pace of cities like Columbus and Dayton or a quieter suburban lifestyle, the Buckeye State has something for everyone. Deciding where to settle down can be difficult, but the CreditDonkey experts have ranked the best places to live in Ohio to make your final choice easier.

10 Best Cities to Live in Ohio

Study Methodology

We rated each city based on the following:

  1. Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime
  2. Commute Time
  3. Income
  4. Residents Who Attended Some College
  5. Restaurants Per Capita

Moving to a larger town doesn't mean you have to compromise your safety. We calculated the odds of becoming the victim of a violent crime and found that the cities on our list are among the safest in the state.

Larger cities also tend to experience heavier traffic, which can be frustrating if your commute is eating up a lot of time. We've included only those cities with an average commute time of less than 25 minutes.

Ohio's thriving economy makes it a great place to look for a job, but you want to find one that pays well. For our study, we considered the median income for each city as well as the level of educational attainment for residents. Specifically, we looked at what percentage of the population attended some college.

Midwestern cuisine is all about regional favorites like Cincinnati-style chili and Polish Boy sandwiches, but if you're a newcomer, it may take time to develop a taste for the local flavors. We looked at the number of restaurants per capita to find the cities that offered the most diverse array of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

10. Dublin

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 2,823
  • Commute Time: 22.1 minutes
  • Income: $114,183
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 14.5%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 73.2%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 429 inhabitants

The most affluent city on our list, Dublin is a smaller suburb located just a 20-minute drive north of Columbus. Its convenience to the metro area makes it attractive for professionals, particularly married couples with young children. Violent crime is exceptionally rare and the average commute takes just over 22 minutes. With twelve courses to choose from, golf is a major pastime and the city is the home of the PGA Memorial Tournament.

Did You Know: In honor of its namesake, Dublin hosts one of the largest Irish festivals in the country each year.

9. Upper Arlington

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 3,802
  • Commute Time: 18.7 minutes
  • Income: $95,588
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 12.5%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 71.5%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 580 inhabitants

Another suburb of Columbus, Upper Arlington lies just five miles outside the metro area. Despite being so close to the city center, Upper Arlington earns the distinction of being the safest city on our list, with the odds of becoming the victim of a violent crime approximately 1 in 3,800. Incomes here are also among the highest of any city in our study, with residents earning an average of just over $95,000 annually. There are more than 50 restaurants to choose from, but if you're looking for the best barbecue in town, head to City Barbecue for some "True 'Que."

Did You Know: Famous graduates of Upper Arlington High School include renowned golfer Jack Nicklaus and actress Beverly D'Angelo.

8. Riverside

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 563
  • Commute Time: 17.9 minutes
  • Income: $40,018
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 26.3%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 493 inhabitants

Riverside is the smallest city in our rankings based on population, but it's not lacking in huge appeal. Part of the Dayton metro area, Riverside was incorporated in 1995 as a result of the merger of Mad River Township and the Village of Riverside. The city's economy is largely driven by the tech and aerospace industries, and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is one of the most prominent employers. Residents tend to earn less on average compared to some of the other cities on our list, but crime here is low and the commute takes less than 18 minutes.

Did You Know: Maurice Krug, the inventor of space food, was born in nearby Dayton.

7. Troy

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,796
  • Commute Time: 18.1 minutes
  • Income: $50,403
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 18.2%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 22.3%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 416 inhabitants

Situated 20 miles north of Dayton, Troy is the perfect example of small-town comfort paired with modern convenience. One of the most happening places to be is the downtown area, which features more than 80 restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. Like all of the towns on our list, crime is low and the average commute is a little over 18 minutes. There are plenty of young families but Troy is also popular among the over-65 crowd.

Did You Know: The annual Troy Strawberry Festival is one of the most largely attended festivals in the Midwest.

6. Beavercreek

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,823
  • Commute Time: 18.2 minutes
  • Income: $74,533
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 18.3%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 48.7%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 467 inhabitants

Beavercreek is one of Dayton's largest and fastest-growing suburbs, with a population of just over 45,000. Residents earn higher than average incomes, with a median salary of almost $75,000 and top-rated schools are a big draw for families. There are close to 100 restaurants and bars to choose from, serving up everything from French specialties to classic surf and turf.

Did You Know: The official city flower of Beavercreek is the Stella D’Oro daylily.

5. Kettering

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,129
  • Commute Time: 19.4 minutes
  • Income: $50,187
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 26.2%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 514 inhabitants

Just down the road from Beavercreek is Kettering, the largest suburb in the Dayton metro area. If you're on the hunt for a new job, you'll find plenty of opportunities here. Some of the largest employers in Kettering include Kodak, GE Capital, and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Crime rates are low, commute times are short and there more than 100 places to grab a bite to eat. A favorite local hangout is OinkADoodleMoo, which offers award-winning barbecue pork, chicken, and ribs.

Did You Know: The first home in Kettering was a log cabin built by John Patterson in 1798.

4. Westerville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 2,820
  • Commute Time: 20.2 minutes
  • Income: $84,095
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 17.1%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 51.1%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 407 inhabitants

Approximately 15 miles northeast of Columbus, Westerville has grown from a small Dutch farming community to one of the largest suburbs in central Ohio. Nicknamed the "City Within a Park," Westerville is an outdoor lover's dream with more than 40 parks and open spaces to explore. Violent crime is a rarity and incomes are well above average, with the median household bringing in just over $84,000 annually.

Did You Know: Westerville features several historic homes that served as shelters for fugitive slaves as they traveled the Underground Railroad.

3. Gahanna

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,532
  • Commute Time: 20.8 minutes
  • Income: $72,622
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 20.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 376 inhabitants

Gahanna is a great place to call home, particularly for families who are looking for a safe place to raise children. Restaurants are plentiful and you'll find there's always something to see and do. Some of the most popular attractions are historic Olde Gahanna, the Geroux Herb Gardens, and the Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve. When you're ready to whet your appetite, check out the Gahanna Grill, one of the oldest restaurants in the downtown area.

Did You Know: Gahanna is known as the Herb Capital of Ohio. Each year, residents celebrate the Gahanna Herb Festival to commemorate the city's history.

2. Mentor

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 889
  • Commute Time: 23.5 minutes
  • Income: $65,446
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 24.9%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 294 inhabitants

Mentor is known as the City of Choice and should you choose to call this community home, it's a decision you won't regret. Approximately 25 miles northeast of Cleveland, Mentor sits just off the shore of Lake Erie, and Headlands Beach State Park is a popular swimming spot. Manufacturing is a leading industry and the retail sector is one of the strongest in the state. From biking to boating, there are plenty of activities to keep residents busy.

Did You Know: The city takes its name from the Greek myth figure Mentor, who served as tutor and friend to Telemachus, son of Odysseus.

1. Grove City

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 974
  • Commute Time: 21.7 minutes
  • Income: $65,429
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 25.7%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 368 inhabitants

Since Grove City was first settled around the turn of the 18th century, the town has undergone many transformations. First a small farming community, then a bustling railroad depot and later an entertainment hotspot in the roaring '20s, Grove City today combines a small-town feel with big city appeal. You can tour the historic buildings of Century Village by day and head over to Plum Run Winery to sample the local vintage once the sun goes down. Crime is low and median incomes are high, making Grove City our top choice for the best place to live in Ohio.

Did You Know: Author James Thurber, who penned The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, was born just a few miles down the road in Columbus.

The cities we've included in our rankings have a number of things in common: low crime rates, relatively short commute times, proximity to metro areas, and a varied selection of dining choices. What makes them different is their unique history and personality. If you're looking for the ideal Ohio city to call home, our rankings can help you find your perfect match.

Data Sources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
  • FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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