9 Best Places to Live in Ohio, According to Local Real Estate Experts

Here's what you need to know before moving to Ohio.

<p>aceshot/Getty Images</p>

aceshot/Getty Images

Ohio, with its vast river valleys, scenic rolling hills, lush state parks, UNESCO-listed sites, and top-notch entertainment, receives over 200 million visitors each year. But the Buckeye State has also emerged as an increasingly popular destination to call home, welcoming over 200,000 new out-of-state residents in 2022, most relocating from Florida.

While everyone's reasons for putting down roots in a new place are different, several factors make Ohio a desirable place to live. The state's low cost of living, eight percent lower than the national average, and affordable housing — the median home price is $217,698 — are certainly a major draw both for young families looking for a place to settle down and retirees seeking a budget-friendly destination to spend their golden years.

And there are plenty of charming communities to consider — from peaceful small towns to bustling cities, these are the best places to live in Ohio.

Related: 11 Best Small Towns in Ohio


<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

"One of the best things about Dayton is that despite its size, it still has a small-town feel — you'll be greeted with a smile and polite hello no matter where you go," Dayton-based president of Irongate Inc., Realtors Rhonda Chambal said of this city of over 137,000 residents. Dayton is home to one of the largest Air Force bases in the country, employing over 30,000 people. Healthcare, defense, and education are three of the city's most important industries, with an unemployment rate of four percent, just 0.1 percent higher than the national average.

Chambal explained that the relatively low cost of living (about six percent below the national average), proximity to larger cities (Cincinnati and Columbus are about an hour away), good-rated school districts, diverse dining options, and a rich cultural scene attract people to the area.

Another major draw? According to Zillow, the median home value in Dayton is around $143,000, over $200,000 below the national average.


<p>aceshot/Getty Images</p>

aceshot/Getty Images

With 10 percent of Cincinnati covered in parks, the third-largest city in Ohio is also one of the nation's greenest. Sports fans here have three professional teams to support, but it is art enthusiasts who probably have it best. With over two dozen top-notch museums and at least 10 performance venues and theaters, the city is an art lover's paradise.

"While most of the state is very flat, Cincinnati is set among rolling, green hills overlooking the Ohio River, offering outdoor recreation year-round and a milder climate than our northern neighbors," Steve Early, a realtor at Sibcy Cline Realtors/Luxury Portfolio International, added. "From suburbs with large yards to urban living on the streetcar line with award-winning dining only steps away, this affordable city has never been more vibrant and diverse."

Because the city is rooted in history, newcomers can find all types of homes — from historic Victorian and craftsman houses to modern apartments and urban lofts. But best of all, home values here are well below the national average — currently around $235,00, according to Zillow.


<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, Toledo is the perfect home base for those seeking scenic waterfront views, a laid-back lifestyle, and endless outdoor recreation. The city's bustling art scene includes the world-class Toledo Museum of Art. And sports fans will thrive here — Toledo has many sports venues and a Minor League Baseball team. But most importantly, the city blends low cost of living — almost 28 percent below the national average — and affordable housing. In fact, Toledo's real estate market was ranked best in the country in 2024. Currently, median home values stand at about $116,000, also attracting many retirees on a budget.


<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

This beautiful northeast Ohio city recently outperformed 150 urban areas nationwide and ranked first in U.S. News & World Report's list of the most affordable places to retire. Thanks to its bustling arts scene, excellent healthcare facilities, proximity to larger cities, and affordable cost of living (18 percent lower than the national average), Youngstown is an excellent place to call home, whether you're a young professional or a senior.

"On the business spectrum, Youngstown is home to several companies, including the DeBartolo Corporation, Steelite International, and Gasser Chair. Youngstown has successfully changed the narrative from 'Rust' to 'Tech Belt,' leading the way in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, thanks to our nationally recognized business incubator," Patrick Burgan, owner and broker at Burgan Real Estate, explained.

And even though home prices are on the rise, they are still much more affordable than in other areas of the country; the median home price in the Mahoning Valley is $178,000.


<p>Mike Kline/Getty Images</p>

Mike Kline/Getty Images

If access to world-class healthcare facilities is a priority, then Cleveland should be at the top of your list. The city is home to two of the largest multi-branch medical centers in the country, The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, as well as several children's hospitals.

"Adding to Cleveland's appeal is that we're known for diversity and culture. University Circle is a hub for global arts, higher education, culture, and science," Janis McCormick, regional vice president of Ohio East at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services/Luxury Portfolio International, said, noting that the city's year-round cultural festivals, local craft brewery scene, and street fairs also add to its appeal with newcomers. The city is also ranked one of the best places to retire in the country, where monthly expenses don't exceed $1,700.

In terms of real estate, McCormick explained that the city offers a range of architectural styles.

"For instance, we have urban, country, and small-town settings. You can find a bungalow on the river just a short walk from the city center or a 10-acre ranch estate. We also have a lot of very neat midcentury modern homes built around the time of the Frank Lloyd era that are sprinkled throughout Cleveland," she added.

Median home values in Cleveland hover around the $100,000 mark, which makes the city one of the most affordable urban areas in the country.


<p>Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images</p>

Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

To say that Columbus is booming right now would be an understatement. The city's population grew faster than any other metropolitan area in the U.S. in the second half of 2023, primarily thanks to its affordable cost of living and housing.

"It is a goldmine for anyone looking to move their career up a notch," Julie Wills, a real estate agent at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said. "Here, you've got everything from big Fortune 500 companies to buzzing startups and a whole spectrum of industries, from tech to healthcare. Throw in top-notch schools and a vibe that's all about family, and you've got yourself more than just a place to visit."

10 percent of the city's population is aged 65 or over, which is good news for those who want to retire here, as the city also offers plenty of activities for seniors.

Home prices in Columbus have been on a steady upward trajectory for the past eight years, with no sign of slowing down. However, they are still affordable for first-time buyers. The median home price is around $240,000, and Wills explained that as values keep climbing, those who invest in property right now are looking at a "sweet return down the line."


<p>Laser1987/Getty Images</p>

Laser1987/Getty Images

Just like a few other places in Ohio, Akron was also recently spotlighted as a sought-after destination for retirees, but the city, which is also the birthplace of NBA superstar LeBron James, has a lot to offer families and young professionals. A beautiful parks system, excellent healthcare facilities, arts centers and museums, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and a Minor League Baseball team are just some of the amenities and urban facilities that make Akron a wonderful place to live.

"Akron has grown so much over the years. Businesses are booming and people are excited to move here," Ann Kyner, vice president and regional manager at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said. "We have a little of everything here — from charming historic homes to colonial and ranch-style residences. Just outside our downtown area, there are communities with horses and stables. It doesn't take much of a drive beyond the city center before you find a more rural vibe, complete with equestrians riding the trails."

And while real estate prices have gone up over eight percent since last year, the median home value has remained under $130,000, according to Zillow.


<p>Holly Hildreth/Getty Images</p>

Holly Hildreth/Getty Images

If bustling Columbus is not your cup of tea, consider this mid-size town of about 50,000 just 40 miles east of Ohio's capital. Newark is undergoing a major downtown restoration, making the town even more attractive to new residents. The city is a great place for families thanks to its many parks and green spaces (the 775-acre Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is nearby), good schools, and affordable home prices — the current median house value is $217,000, up 10 percent since last year.


<p>Raquel Lonas/Getty Images</p>

Raquel Lonas/Getty Images

Highlighted as the third-best emerging housing market in the country in a recent report by The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com, Canton is an under-the-radar town an hour south of Cleveland. One of its most well-known landmarks is the Football Hall of Fame, but Canton is chock-full of galleries, museums, parks, and top-notch dining spots.

"Canton is very affordable and full of places for adventure and new experiences," Dominic Fonte, a real estate agent at Cutler Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International, explained, noting that the town's neighborhoods offer a great variety of schools, amenities, and home styles such as ranches, apartments, and new construction residences.

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