For the past several months, Movoto Real Estate has been virtually traversing the country to find the best places to live in each state. We've already stopped by the East Coast and the West Coast; now we thought we'd turn our Saturday Night Science loose on the Midwest by taking a closer look at Ohio, the great Buckeye State.
So, what is the best place to live in Ohio? After we crunched the numbers and contemplated whether we should have some Graeter's Ice Cream or Skyline Chili shipped to our office, we concluded that Wickliffe was the best place in a land of bests. It wasn't all fun and games for Wickliffe, however. In fact, there were some real challengers. Here are the 10 best places in Ohio:
1. City of Wickliffe
2. City of Montgomery
3. City of Blue Ash
4. City of Willowick
5. City of Perrysburg
6. City of Powell
7. City of Mason
8. City of Upper Arlington
9. City of Willoughby
10. City of Findlay
How Did We Make Our List?
To create our list of the best places in Ohio, we first turned to the U.S. Census Bureau for places in the state with a population of more than 10,000. This gave us 173 place across the Buckeye State, on which only one could be named the best in Ohio. From here were measured each place based on a set of criteria, ranking the locales from one to 173, with the lowest score being the be best. Finally, we took the aggregate rank across the criteria we measured. The city with the lowest overall rank-in this case Wicklifee-was dubbed the winner, the best place in one of the best states in the union.
What were those criteria? We looked at seven unique pieces of data. These were:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
If your hometown isn't among the top 10, head down to the bottom of our post for a detailed chart that contains the top 50 best places in Ohio, complete with how each location ranked across our criteria. Otherwise, Ohioans, prepare for a virtual tour of what makes these 10 places the best in Ohio.
Wickliffe, the No. 1 place on our list, is a relatively small city in the north eastern portion of Ohio. Hopeful the city's more than 12,000 residents wouldn't be angry with us spreading the news that their city is amazing. While we would like to say that Wickliffe barely squeaked out a victory (it would make a good story) this wasn't the case. The city handily beat it's closest competitor. So what makes this city so amazing? How about it's weather, low crime, and low unemployment. For these individual criterion the city placed 5th, 6th, and 7th, respectively.
Source: Wikipedia user Ed!
The first area on our list located near Cincinnati, Montgomery came in a distant second on our list, though we would be remiss not to remind readers that this Hamilton County city did fare better than 171 other places. We think its definitely worth some applause. In what area's did Montgomery achieve? It ranked the well in terms of its weather and number of amenities.
3. Blue Ash
Source: Wikipedia user Nyttend
Blue Ash, another place in the Greater Cincinnati area, easily ran past Willowick to be named the third best place in the Buckeye state. Its claim to fame comes from its weather and amenities ranks, which were both good enough for the No. 5 spots. The cities average summer temperature is 73 degrees, while it's air quality scored a 41 (lower is better). As for amenities, Blue Ash has a total of 2,371 total businesses to patron.
But where did the city falter? Its unemployment rate could be better. The city has a 7.7 percent unemployment rate. To place this in perspective Celina, the place the ranked the best in this criterion, has a 4.9 percent unemployment rate.
It was a very close race for the No. 4 through No. 7 positions on our list. Still, Willowick, a city near Cleveland, pulled ahead of its closest competition to take the No. 4 spot. What pushed this city above the likes of Perrysburg and Powell? Its weather and unemployment rate are both superb when compared to other places in the state. Additionally, its crime rate is better than most of the places on our list. Willowick has an average summertime temperature of 71 degrees, while its unemployment rate is 6.2 percent. Finally, there were 1,283 crimes per 100,000 people, good enough for the No. 21 spot for this criterion.
Source: Wikipedia user Fogonthedowns
What made Perrysburg so swell? Across all our criteria this city in Wood County fared decently. It had neither exceptionally high ranks nor low ranks across our analysis. Where Perrysburg ranked the best was for its quality of life. For this criterion the city took home the No. 32 spot (remember this is out of 173). As we mentioned earlier, our quality of life criteria is comprised of sub-categories. One of these sub-criteria, Perrysburg did well for its high median home price ($199,800), which is an indicator of desirability.
Source: City of Powell
This Columbus suburb ranked well because of its low unemployment rate and high quality of life. According to our analysis, 5.5 percent of Powell's population is unemployed. As for the city's quality of life, here Powell took the No. 8 spot, in part because of its high home values.
While taking the No. 6 spot in a list of 173 is exceptional in and of itself, some might want to know how Powell could break into the top five. What held this Delaware County back was its residents' average commute time-28 minutes. (As one of our staffers who is familiar with the Columbus area put it: "That's absurd!")
Source: City of Mason
Another city close to Cincinnati, Mason made it to the No. 7 spot thanks to its tax rate, though its relatively low crime and unemployment rates helped as well. This city has a sales tax of 6.5 percent and income tax rate of 1.12 percent. After we compared these two sub-criteria and then averaged them, Mason walked away with the 11th best tax rank of the places we looked at. As for unemployment, some 7 percent of residents are not working; this is low enough for Mason to take the No. 35 spot for this criterion.
How could have Mason done better? It seems people are commuting to Cincinnati. The average commute time for Mason residents is 25 minutes.
8. Upper Arlington
Source: Wikipedia user Postdif
A low unemployment rate and crime rate, helped push this Columbus suburb into the top 10. Upper Arlington as the 15th best unemployment rate when compared to the other places on our list. Our data shows that 6.7 percent of people in the area are unemployed. Its crime rate is also low: 1,432 per 100,000 people. This is low enough for the No. 26 spot for our crime criterion.
What kept this city from move up our list? It's tax rate. Upper Arlington has an sales tax rate of 6.75 percent, which is higher than many places on our total list.
Source: Wikipeida user Daveku
This Lake County city made it onto our list with help from its nice weather and low unemployment rate. The average summertime temperature in this city is comfortable 73 degrees, while it's air quality scored a 41 (the lower the better). When these two sub-criteria were combined Willoughby took earned the No. 5 spot for weather.
What kept this city from placing her? It's commute. Willoughby residents spend an average of 24 minutes getting to work. While this figure isn't ideal, area residents should consider North Royalton. The average commute time for people living in this city is 30 minutes.
Source: Wikipedia user Alvin Trusty
The final place on our list, Findlay made our ranking thanks to its weather, taxes, and short commute time. This city in Hancock County has an averager summertime temperature of 71 degrees. It's sale tax, one portion of our tax rate, is 6 percent, the lowest of the places on our list. And lastly, Findlay residents have just an 18 minutes commute time.
Not all is perfect with Findlay, however. The city's crime rate kept it from placing higher. In this criterion, the city took the No. 140 spot with 5,028 crimes per 100,000.
The Five Places To Avoid
Now that we've covered the very top of our list, what about the bottom? Here are the five places that need some TLC: East Cleveland (No. 169), Galion (No. 170), Steubenville (No. 171), Trotwood (No. 172), and Zanesville (No. 173).
Finally, there are three more cities we should mention before we sign off. How did the three largest cities (the three Cs) in Ohio rank? The state's capital (and most populous city), Columbus took home the No. 82 spot. Cleveland, the second-most populous, took No 118. Lastly, Cincinnati walked away as the 101st best place in Ohio.
(click to enlarge table)
Featured Image Source: Flickr user laszlo-photo