Moving to Lexington

Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of city life or the tranquility of nature, you can choose either in Lexington, Kentucky. Nestled within the country’s Bluegrass region, the city is known for its Southern charm and traditional atmosphere peppered with lively music, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife. Known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Lexington is home to many Thoroughbred horse farms located in the rolling green hills just outside the heart of the city. On days when you’re ready for an escape to the peaceful countryside, you can take a horse farm tour, visit any number of historical sites, or taste some famous Kentucky Bourbon at several working distilleries.  

Not only is Lexington surrounded by beautiful countryside, but it’s also an affordable city to call home. Housing costs are lower than the US average, and the economy is strong. With many independently owned restaurants, chefs are putting Lexington on the dining map, plus breweries, famous Kentucky bourbon, boutique shopping, and exciting recreation, all add up to making Lexington a great place to call home. 

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy the Historic Downtown. Imagine being able to live in a city with such a rich history. In the early 1800s, Lexington was the largest and most prosperous town west of the Allegheny Mountains. Residents continue to refer to Lexington as “The Athens of the West” for its cultured and educated ambiance. Lexington has the honor of being 10th among the nation’s cities for its college education rate with 39.5% of residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Offering so many lifestyle advantages, you won’t regret moving to Lexington.

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Living in Lexington, KY: What to Know Before Moving to Lexington

As the second-largest city in Kentucky after Louisville, Lexington has a population of nearly 322,000 residents. Because of its size, it ranks as the 60th largest city in the nation. Located just northwest of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Lexington is an hour and a half drive from either Louisville or Cincinnati. In addition to its prime location, Lexington provides many opportunities to experience the city’s rich culture and history, as well as its mouth-watering Southern cuisine. 

Pros and Cons of Living in Lexington

If you’re planning on moving to Lexington, KY, you should know both the city’s positives and its negatives. For your convenience, we’ve provided a list of some of the pros and cons of living in Lexington.

Pros:

  • Affordable education: If you’re a parent concerned about the cost of your child’s education or you’re an adult pursuing higher education, Kentucky schools and colleges are more affordable than many other states.
  • Affordable housing: At 7% lower than the US average, housing in Lexington is well-priced. 
  • Non-partisan atmosphere: Although the population consists of many conservatives, the political atmosphere in Lexington is considered non-partisan and is more tolerant than many other Southern cities.
  • Diverse cuisine: While Kentucky is known for its delicious barbecue and tantalizing bourbon, you can enjoy many cuisines, including Indian, East African, Asian, and Cajun.
  • Beautiful landscape: From its abundance of bluegrass to its rolling hills, horse farms, and more, Lexington offers beautiful topography that will take your breath away.

Cons:

  • Humid climate: While Lexington doesn’t have record-breaking heat, its summers are very rainy and humid.
  • Landlocked: Kentucky borders the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee. Due to its location, there are no beaches in or around Lexington. 
  • Traffic: As with all large cities, traffic can be a daily struggle. Lexington’s traffic, however, is some of the worst traffic in the nation, and in 2018, the city was ranked by INRIX as the 28th most congested city in the U.S.
  • Limited public transportation: A bus system provides transportation seven days a week, but routes aren’t very expansive.
  • Natural Disasters: Kentucky is known for severe thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes, so you’ll want to make sure you prepare for the effects of these weather events.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: The average property tax in Lexington is 0.960%. Even though this rate is slightly higher than the average Kentucky property tax, it’s significantly lower than the nation’s average of 1.211%.
  • Sales Tax: The combined sales tax in Lexington is a comfortable 6%.  Groceries are exempt from any sales tax. 
  • State Income Tax: According to Taxfoundation.org, the income tax rate in Kentucky is set at a flat rate of 5.00% and doesn’t change based on income. Of the few states with a flat income tax rate, including Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, Kentucky’s income tax rate is comparable. 

Housing Market

The majority of residents in Lexington are homeowners. As of July 2019, the city’s median home value was $185,000 and, according to Zillow.com, this value is projected to rise approximately 2.8% over the next year. However, if you prefer to rent, as 41% of the Lexington population does, the median rental price is $920.

Some of the cheapest places to live in Lexington are Jamestown, Twin Oaks, Southeastern Hills, and Kenawood-Rockwood. 

Cost of Living

Lexington is an affordable city in comparison to the US average. The cost of living index (average 100) in Lexington is 95/100, which is 5% less than the national average. Housing costs are 7% less than the US average. Healthcare, groceries, and utilities will also be more affordable budget items, while the transportation cost is just 1% above the US average at 101/100. 

The Family Budget Calculator estimates that a family of four living in Lexington needs to earn approximately $76,700 a year to be able to pay the calculated $6,400 a month needed for the following expenses: housing, food, childcare, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities. Since Lexington’s median income is $48,700, both parents would need to work to comfortably pay for these expenses.

Weather & Natural Disasters

With a comfort index of 7.3/10, Lexington’s climate is one of the more comfortable in Kentucky. The majority of the days are sunny, although it does rain a lot – about 46 inches annually. While summers are rainy and humid, with July receiving the most amount of rainfall, the temperatures don’t tend to reach beyond the annual average high of 86 degrees F. July and August are the warmest months, while December and January are the coldest. Lexington winter temperatures reach an average low of 24 degrees and experience an average annual snowfall of 13 inches, with February receiving the most snow.

The most common natural disasters to occur in Lexington are flooding due to thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Recently, Kentucky was ranked 48th in the US regarding its disaster preparedness. However, the Lexington-Fayette County Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is working to improve community education regarding the risks of natural disasters and how best to prepare for them. 

Economy & Job Market

The unemployment rate in Lexington is 3.3%, which is slightly less than the national unemployment rate of 3.9%. The job market is on the rise, and 2018-19 experienced a 1.4% job increase. It’s estimated that in the next decade, Lexington’s job market will continue to see significant growth. 

Because Lexington is known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” horses are a billion-dollar industry in this Kentucky city. Since tobacco is widely-produced and sold, agriculture is also a major economic sector. Other top industries include healthcare, education, retail, and manufacturing. Some of the city’s major employers are Lexmark International Inc., Toyota Motor Manufacturing, and the University of Kentucky. 

If you’re looking for a job in or around Lexington, searching the Kentucky Job Network is a good place to start. 

Traffic & Transportation

City planners designed major roads as spokes in a wheel around the heart of the city, so streets can be difficult to navigate, and residents often complain about the rush hour traffic. Lexington’s traffic is, in fact, some of the worst traffic in the nation. In 2018, the city was ranked by INRIX as the 28th most congested city in the US.

But if you want to get out of town, interstates can take you in all directions. Running north-south around the east side of Lexington, I-75 can take you north to Cincinnati, OH or south to Knoxville, TN. Passing on the east side of Lexington and then turning north, I-64 has its beginnings near the Chesapeake Bay and continues west through to St. Louis, MO. Neither interstate runs directly through Lexington, so drivers rely on the closer-in beltways to navigate around the city. The northern beltway is The Inner New Circle Road (KY4), and Man o’ War Blvd is the southern beltway.

Walkscore.com gives Lexington low rankings for walkability (34/100), biking (41/100), and public transportation, with a transit score of 24/100. The message here is that you’ll want a car to commute to work, run your errands, and get out and about to where the fun is. 

Lextran operates bus routes around the city seven days a week, beginning at 5 am and stopping at 12:30 am. The small regional airport, Blue Grass Airport, is located four miles west of downtown and runs about 85 daily domestic flights. The closest international airports are Louisville (SDF) 63 miles west on I-64, and Cincinnati (CVG), 70 miles north via I-75.

What to Do

Lexington offers its residents a wide variety of cultural, historical, and recreational activities. From the Kentucky Horse Park, a kid-friendly equine-themed park, to relaxing with friends over a glass of bourbon at the Bluegrass Distillers you’ll find there’s something for everyone to do. 

Even though Lexington is primarily known for its Thoroughbred horses and famous Kentucky bourbon, you can enjoy plenty of other ways to experience the culture of one of the oldest cities in the United States. Founded in 1775, Lexington has a vast and compelling history. You can enjoy historic home tours, including the childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln, the Henry Clay Estate, home of John Hunt Morgan, or Joseph Bryan. Or explore a former plantation now known as the  Waveland State Historic Site. The 3,000 acre Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill features the largest restored Shaker village in the world.

On weekends or when your kids are on school break, they’ll have fun learning about art and science at the Explorium of Lexington or walking through the breathtaking State Botanical Garden. The Living Arts and Science Center, Lexington Ice Center, 12-mile Legacy Trail, 216-acre Jacobson Park with fishing and a playground, are more things kids will have fun exploring.

Does your family enjoy sports? So does Lexington. In addition to horse racing, you can watch the Kentucky Wildcats face off against the Louisville Cardinals. And the Lexington Legends minor league baseball team, a Houston Astros’ Class A affiliate, plays at the Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Schools & Universities

As parents moving to Lexington, your child’s education is probably a top priority. The Fayette County Public Schools is the sole school district in the city. There are 54 public schools and more than 42,000 students within this district. According to Greatschools.org, the majority of these schools hold an above-average or average rating, with Liberty Elementary School 9/10, Scapa At Bluegrass 9/10, and Lafayette High School 9/10 ranking the highest. Also, there are several private schools in and around Lexington. 

If you or a family member have plans to pursue higher education you can choose from seven Lexington colleges including American National University Lexington, Bluegrass Community, and Technical College, ITT Technical Institute Lexington, Lexington Community College, National College of Business and Technology Lexington East, Transylvania University, and the University of Kentucky.  Some offer classic degree programs, and others specialize in medical, technical, and theological fields. 

Crime

According to Bestplaces.net, Lexington ranks 22/100 for violent crime, which is slightly less than the national average of 22.7/100. The property crime rate, on the other hand, is 55.8/100 – significantly higher than the US average of 35.4/100. When you compare these statistics to those of nearby cities, such as Salvisa, High Bride, Midway, and Winchester, the crime map shows that crime in Lexington is considered moderate.

Utility Providers

Ensuring that your new home has all the necessary utilities is a vital step in your moving process. Here’s a list of the primary utility providers in Lexington, KY:

  • Gas service: Columbia Gas of Kentucky is based out of Lexington and provides service to more than 135,000 residents in Kentucky. To find out more, you can visit their website or call 1-800-432-9345. 
  • Electric service: Responsible for servicing 555,000 customers, Kentucky Utilities Company, headquartered in Lexington, is one of the leading electric companies in the state. To start service, visit their website
  • Water service: The Kentucky American Water Company is the primary provider of clean and affordable water to Lexington residents. You can learn more about this company and how to start service here
  • Trash pickup/recycling service: The city’s Waste Management Division is responsible for providing curbside trash pickup and handling household hazardous waste. The Lexington Recycle Center provides various drop-off locations for recyclables. Find out more about these two services at this website
  • Internet/Cable service: While there are many internet and cable providers in Lexington, here are some of the top: Spectrum, Mediacom, Windstream, and AT&T.  

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Best Neighborhoods in Lexington, KY

Once you decide to move to Lexington, take some time to learn about the city’s different neighborhoods so that you can make an informed decision about where you should live. When comparing neighborhoods, you’ll want to consider factors such as location, population, cost of living, job opportunities, and which schools are in the area. For your convenience, we’ve provided a list of eight of the best neighborhoods in Lexington.

Beaumont Residential

Beaumont Residential is a suburban neighborhood, and since it was established in the 1990s, it’s one of the newest in Lexington. It offers a combination of high-end homes, condos, and townhouses, many of which are owned by young families with children. Since Beaumont Residential borders US-68 to the south, US-4 to the east, and Man o’ War Boulevard to the west, it’s in a very convenient location for commuting, errands, and recreation. 

A busy neighborhood with plenty to do, Beaumont Residential boasts morning classes at the YMCA, which you can enjoy before skipping over to Tropical Smoothie Cafe for an energy boost. If you have a craving for nature, Beaumont Preserve is a 23-acre park located at the northern end of the neighborhood. With so much to offer, you won’t even miss Downtown, which is an 18-minute drive east of Beaumont Residential. 

  • Population: 2,090
  • Home Price: $548,000
  • Rent Price: $900 to $1,000
  • Schools: Rosa Parks Elementary School (rating: above average), Beaumont Middle School (rating: above average), Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: Commonwealth Baptist College, University of Kentucky, Sullivan University

Garden Springs

Just east of Beaumont Residential is the large neighborhood of Garden Springs. New Circle Rd borders the neighborhood on the west, Hwy 68 on the south, Allendale Dr on the east and Lane Allen Rd on the north. 

The Lexington School, ranked the 2nd best elementary private school in the nation, is located in Garden Springs. The neighborhood also offers high-ranking public schools, which is one of the reasons why Garden Springs attracts so many families with kids. It’s a relatively affordable area of Lexington, with many of its housing choices being standard single-family homes.

At Turfland Mall, you can run all of your errands before heading over to City Barbeque and Catering for smoked brisket and mouth-watering collard greens. Also, Garden Spring Park is a great place to walk your dog. If you want to venture outside the neighborhood, Downtown is only 14 minutes northeast.

  • Population: 3,000
  • Home Price: $187,000
  • Rent Price: $600 to $700
  • Schools: Garden Springs Elementary School (rating: below average), Beaumont Middle School (rating: above average), Lafayette High School (rating: above average), and The Lexington School
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Commonwealth Baptist College, Sullivan University

Ashland Park

Home to Henry Clay’s Ashland Estate, Ashland Park is a beautiful neighborhood that’s full of history and character. Only ten minutes south of Downtown, Ashland Park is a well-preserved neighborhood with homes designed in a plethora of styles, including Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, French Eclectic, small, modest cottages, and attached homes. It’s a quiet neighborhood that appeals to both young families and retired couples. 

Bordering US-25 to the north and Fontaine Road to the south, Ashland Park offers easy access to everything Lexington has to offer. The neighborhood itself is only a short walk away from some of the most popular restaurants in the city, including Bourbon n’ Toulouse, which serves Cajun cuisine.

  • Population: 1,990
  • Home Price: $539,450 median list price
  • Rent Price: $800 to $900
  • Schools: Cassidy Elementary School (rating: above average), Morton Middle School (rating: above average), Henry Clay High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus)

Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase is just south of Ashland Park and was once part of the 600 acres of land owned by Henry Clay. Like Ashland Park, it offers beautiful old homes featuring a variety of much-desired 20th-century styles. Also 10 minutes south of Downtown, Chevy Chase is very close to the University of Kentucky and is bordered by the neighborhoods of Chenault Road to the north and Woodlake to the south. 

Chevy Chase offers a variety of things to do. You can visit Chevy Chase Inn, which is the oldest bar in Lexington. There are also several churches in the neighborhood, as well as high-ranking public schools. For those wanting to enjoy a little bit of history, the Ashland Estate is only a few minutes away. 

  • Population: 1,020
  • Home Price: $490,000
  • Rent Price: $800 to $900
  • Schools: Cassidy Elementary School (rating: above average), Morton Middle School (rating: above average), Henry Clay High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus)

Kenwick

Bordered on its south end by US-25 and nestled between the neighborhoods of Eastside and Fairway is the neighborhood of Kenwick. You can expect to find a quaint mixture of old and new with Victorian-style homes and recently renovated 20th-century bungalows. Priding itself on its close-knit community, Kenwick has a neighborhood garden and its community center. 

Even though Kenwick is only a 10-minute drive from Downtown, there is also plenty to do in the other neighborhoods that surround Kenwick. National Avenue is only a few minutes’ walk away and is a great place to grab a bite to eat and meet a friend for a cappuccino. Two major brewing companies in Lexington, Pivot Brewing and Mirror Twin Brewing, are also nearby. 

  • Population: 1,810
  • Home Price: $345,000
  • Rent Price: $800 to $900
  • Schools: Ashland Elementary School (rating: above average), Lexington Trad Magnet School (rating: below average), Henry Clay High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus), MedQuest College

Fairway

Nestled between Kenwick and the Idle Hour Country Club, Fairway is a small neighborhood located 11 minutes south-east of Downtown. Complete with its own neighborhood Facebook page, Fairway is a close-knit community that hosts events such as yard sales, Halloween parades, and potluck dinners. It’s a quaint, charming neighborhood with a mixture of young and old residents. Fairway is one of Lexington’s more expensive areas, and you can expect to find mostly large, single-family residences. 

Though there isn’t much to do in Fairway itself, Henry Clay’s Ashland Estate, which is located just across US-25, is available to tour. There are also several places to eat on Delaware Avenue and US-60, both of which are just a few minutes away from Fairway. 

  • Population: 715
  • Home Price: $457,000
  • Rent Price: $800 to $900
  • Schools: Ashland Elementary School (rating: above average), Lexington Trad Magnet School (rating: below average), Henry Clay High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus), American National University

Southland

One of the more eclectic neighborhoods in Lexington, Southland mostly appeals to college students, young professionals, and families with children. Many of the homes in Southland, built with brick or stone exteriors, have recently been renovated but still maintain their charm. The residents host barbecues in their spacious backyards and enjoy each other’s company at the community pool. 

With US-68 bordering its western side, Southland is only ten minutes southwest of Downtown. Yet, there is still plenty to do in this funky Lexington neighborhood. Head on over to Southern Drive and shop the many locally-owned businesses or visit the Farmer’s Market to mix with neighbors and purchase locally-grown produce. The nightlife in Southland also promises a good time with Willy’s Locally Known, popular for its tantalizing barbecue and live music.

  • Population: 910
  • Home Price: $248,500
  • Rent Price: $700 to $800
  • Schools: Clay Mills Elementary School (rating: above average), Jessie M Clark Middle School (rating: above average), Lafayette High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus), Lexington Theological Seminary

Hollywood-Mount Vernon

Located in the backyard of both the University of Kentucky and BCTC, Hollywood-Mount Vernon is only six minutes south of Downtown. Tates Creek Road borders the east edge of this lively, college neighborhood and connects Hollywood-Mount Vernon with Ashland Park and Chevy Chase. Its friendly atmosphere not only attracts students, but it’s also a good location for younger families. The neighborhood’s large single-residence homes make Hollywood-Mount Vernon a good option for growing families or students who hope to have roommates.

If you’re looking for things to do, The Arboretum, Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farms, and the Ashland Estate are all just a few minutes’ drive away. Hollywood-Mount Vernon offers several options for shopping, aerobic exercise, and entertainment. 

  • Population: 990
  • Home Price: $390,000
  • Rent Price: $800 to $900
  • Schools: Cassidy Elementary School (rating: above average), Morton Middle School (rating: above average), Henry Clay High School (rating: above average)
  • Colleges: University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Cooper Campus), Summit Salon Academy

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