Moving to Columbus

If you enjoy all four seasons and what each offers, a move to Columbus Ohio will satisfy your appetite for change every few months out of the year. Colorful fall deciduous trees give way to snowy winters. Ohio awakens in the spring, and then showers give way to sunny, steamy summers. One of the fastest-growing cities in the US, Columbus’ growth in the last decade, is unlike nearly any other midwestern city, and the successful economy proves it. Residents of Columbus enjoy a thriving art and culture scene, college football whose fans are off the charts with energy and enthusiasm, ultra-charming historic districts, and quiet suburbs that make perfect homes to start a family or retire, whatever your stage in life.

Downtown Columbus is a mecca for shoppers and diners of every ilk. The cultural melting pot offers a variety of cuisine, craft beer, coffee, art, and entertainment to suit every taste. The patriotic July 4th celebration is second to none, boasting the largest fireworks display in the Midwest: Red, White, and Boom. It’s a party you won’t want to miss!

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Living in Columbus, OH: What to Know Before Moving to Columbus

As a thriving metropolis, Columbus is the most populous city in Ohio, with nearly 900,000 residents. Ranked by Money Magazine in 2016 as one of “The Six Best Big Cities,” people have flocked to what’s often referred to as the best city in the Midwest, and growth has continued over the last few years. Residents enjoy an active lifestyle and benefit from a diverse economy. A well-educated workforce and a forward-thinking population focus on opportunities for recreation, historic architecture, and displays of arts and sports. There’s something for everyone in Columbus.

Pros and Cons of Living in Columbus

Living in Columbus can be great, but like every city, it has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Sports: Sports aficionados have plenty of games from which to choose. The Ohio State football team is one of the best college teams in the nation. Fans of all ages are over-the-top supportive of the team every year. Columbus is home to the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets, the Columbus Crew soccer team, and minor league baseball team Columbus Clippers.
  • Education levels: Columbus has a well-educated population and workforce.
  • Affordable living: The cost of living is affordable, and housing options are plentiful.
  • Friendly for all: Columbus was named the gay mecca of the Midwest by the New York Times in 2010 and is home to one of the largest Pride events in the Midwest, the Columbus Pride Festival and Parade.
  • Diversity abounds: There’s a significant immigrant population in the city and also a thriving ethnic food scene.
  • Craft beer: The craft beer scene is exploding, and breweries are everywhere.
  • Golf courses galore: In the summertime, Columbus is a golfer’s heaven. There are too many amazing golf courses to name.

Cons:

  • Traffic and congestion: There’s no shortage of traffic on streets and highways around the city, and Columbus drivers are notorious for being some of the worst in the nation.
  • Air quality: The effects of urban sprawl are starting to show.
  • Boisterous football crowds: Don’t travel near campus on football game days unless you’re going to the game. You can find all-day fans in all the bars and streets celebrating with libations, regardless of who wins the game.
  • Boring scenery: Columbus is flat. There’s no beach or mountains, and the sky is gray for most of the winter.
  • Poor flight options: Domestic flights to and from the Columbus airport tend to be pricey.
  • Pockets of crime: Some areas of urban decay have high crime rates.

Tax Rates

The state tax in Ohio is relatively low compared to other states. However, various municipalities charge additional income taxes. 

  • Property Tax: Property taxes in Columbus are very high. The average property tax is 2.029%, much higher than the national average and higher than the average property tax in the rest of Ohio, which is 1.553%.
  • Sales Tax: The combined sales tax in Columbus is 7.5%, which is higher than the state sales tax rate of 5.75% and higher than the national average.
  • State Income Tax: Ohio’s income tax rate falls in the mid-to-low end of the spectrum at 5%.

Housing Market

The housing market in Columbus has been hot for several years, and the outlook for the coming years is optimistic. Just over half of Columbus residents own their homes; 47.2% are renters. The median home price as of September 2019 is $157,900. At this time, the market was considered a sellers’ market, as home values went up 7.3% over the previous year, and projections show them gaining another 3.6% in the coming year. 

Only 2.9% of houses and apartments in Columbus were available to rent in September 2019, and the average rent as of this time was $662 for a one-bedroom, $851 a month for a two-bedroom, and $1127 for a three-bedroom. 

In fall, 2019, the cheapest neighborhoods in Columbus were Fort Columbus Airport, Southwest, Franklinton, Near Southside, Olentangy River Road, Far South, South Alum Creek, North Linden, West Columbus Interim, and Tri-South. In some of these neighborhoods, you’ll get what you pay for – crime rates might be higher or the location less desirable.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Columbus is 9.6% lower than the US average. Bestplaces.net rates US cities on a cost of living index of 100; an amount below 100 means an expense is cheaper than the US average, and a number above 100 indicates it’s more expensive. The Columbus cost of living index is 90.4 of 100. In terms of overall expenses, Columbus ranks 93 in grocery, 89.2 in health, 76.4 in housing, 102.1 in utilities, and 103.8 in transportation. According to the family budget calculator, a family of four – two adults and two children – must earn $77,075 annually to live in Columbus.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Residents of Columbus can enjoy four seasons, each with its pros and cons. The hottest months of the year are July and August, with averages of 85 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Typically, there are about 15 days of temperatures in the 90s during these months, and humidity is high. You may want to bring a sweatshirt with you when you go out at night, as summer nighttime temps average in the mid-60s.

You’ll be bundling up in the coldest months of the year when January has an average high of 36 and lows of 20, and February highs average 40 with lows of 24. Due to Midwest humidity, Ohio winters seem a bit colder than the thermometer registers. Usually, there are a couple of zero degree days every year, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather and dress in appropriate layers. 

Columbus gets 56 inches of rain and 22 inches of snow annually. The most common natural disaster threats are tornadoes and snow and ice storms. Check the City of Columbus emergency preparedness website to stay up to date on natural disaster threats.

Economy & Job Market

Columbus has a strong and diverse economy based on education, insurance, banking, fashion, defense, aviation, food, logistics, steel, energy, medical research, health care, hospitality, retail, and technology. In 2019 the unemployment rate was 3.8% compared to the US average of 3.9%. In 2016 Forbes ranked Columbus the #7 best city for young professionals. In 2018 Business.com rated Columbus as one of the top five best cities for entrepreneurs and startups. 

The major employers include Alliance Data, Nationwide Insurance, JP Morgan Chase, American Electric Power, and Cardinal Health. Additional employers include Ohio State University and its associated medical center, hospitals, hi-tech research and development such as Battelle Memorial Institute, OCLC, and Chemical Abstracts, and retail clothing such as Limited Brands and the restaurant chain Wendy’s.

Job seekers will want to check out the fastest-growing jobs, such as marketing research analysts and specialists, software application developers, registered nurses, management analysts, and human resource specialists. If you’re looking for a job in Columbus, brush up on your skills. Take advantage of the workforce development resources in the area and start searching the Ohio job site Ohio.gov.

Traffic and Transportation

It’s easy to get around Columbus. COTA, the Central Ohio Transit Authority, provides public transportation in Columbus. With over 43 routes in a 562 square mile service area, COTA provides nearly 19 million passenger trips annually. Car sharing services are also readily available all around the city. 

The major interstate is I-270, the beltway curve highway in the Columbus metropolitan area. This highway intersects with I-71, which runs north and south through the state. I-70 runs east and west directly through Columbus. 

As Columbus grows, of course, the city is getting more and more congested. Rush hour can be tedious especially around the I-270 and I-70 split, which is known as a choke point. Steer clear of The Ohio State campus and surrounding areas on Saturdays during football season. With a stadium that holds over 100,000 fans, many who are tailgating, traffic can be messy. 

Columbus is a car-dependent city. With a walk score of 41 out of a scale of 100, most errands require a car. The transit score for the city is even lower at 33; however, the bike score is 47 thanks to flat topography and an extensive trail system.

What to Do 

With four changing seasons, Columbus provides lots of great year-round activities. During the winter, people enjoy exploring restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and sports arenas around the city. In the summer, residents are excited to see the sun. The town comes alive to take advantage of the parks and trail systems throughout the city.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been nationally recognized as the home of Jack Hanna and is home to notable animals and exhibits throughout the year. Both children and adults can enjoy hands-on science fun and experience the planetarium at the COSI science center. Nature lovers enjoy the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which is home to 88 acres of landscaped grounds. Columbus also boasts the Park of Roses, one of the largest public rose gardens in the US, with more than 12,000 rose specimens.

Art lovers can get their fix at the Columbus Museum of Art, which features diverse exhibits. If you fancy the performing arts, the Ohio Theatre, built in 1928, hosts everything from ballet to musicals to opera. 

Football aficionados make good use of The Horseshoe, The Ohio State University football stadium, but if hockey is more your thing, you can visit the Arena District and catch a Columbus Blue Jackets game. 

Schools and Universities

Columbus City School District serves Columbus students. Surrounding school districts include Upper Arlington, Dublin, Hilliard, Olentangy, Worthington, New Albany, Bexley, and Grandview Heights. There are some top-rated schools in Columbus based on academic performance and equity. Upper Arlington and Worthington are particularly well-known districts for above-average education. Greatschools.org rates schools in these districts 8 or 9 on a 10-point scale.

Ohio State University is the highest-ranked university in the state. However, Columbus is also home to Capital University, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University, Otterbein University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Mount Carmel College of Nursing, and Columbus State Community College. 

Crime

Violent crime in Columbus is ranked 29.0 on a 100-point scale. This rate is higher than the US average of 22.7. Property crime is ranked 57.1, considerably higher than the US average of 35.4. The pockets of high crime are Franklinton, Milo Grogan, Fort Columbus Airport, Olentangy River Road, South Linden, Tri-South, North Central, and Near Southside.

Utility Providers

When moving to Columbus, the best way to determine utility providers is to visit Columbus.gov to find out which utility providers serve your new address. 

  • Gas service: The largest company is Columbia Gas of Ohio. You can start service by clicking here.
  • Electric service: AEP provides electricity. Start service by clicking here.
  • Water service: To determine if you’re eligible for water service from the City of Columbus, you must call (614) 645-7330. You can read about the service connection here.
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service: The trash and recycling service you use will depend on your  Columbus address. You can read about the city refuse collection here.
  • Internet/Cable service: You’ll have a variety of choices for internet and cable services in Columbus. You can compare pricing and packages here.

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Best Neighborhoods in Columbus, OH

Here are some of the best places to call home in The Arch City.

Bexley

The suburb of Bexley is known for its historic and close-knit neighborhoods and is one of the best places to live in all of Ohio. Founded over a hundred years ago, its old, tree-lined streets frame large houses and estates surrounded by Driving Park and Wolfe Park on the bank of Alum Creek. Located just east of the Franklin Park Conservatory, the National Road (Main Street) bisects the neighborhood that is just southwest of downtown.

Home of the Ohio Governor’s Mansion since 1957, the Jeffrey Park Mansion, and The Ohio State University’s president, Bexley, is steeped in history and has been home to numerous notable politicians over the years.

Bexley is made up of three sections: North Bexley, Central Bexley, and South Bexley, all of which have distinct demographics. North Bexley, especially the Bullitt Park area, is known for its mansions. Homes in Central Bexley are large, between 2,000-4,500 square feet, and residents are mostly considered upper-middle-class and work predominately white-collar jobs. The homes in South Bexley are smaller and are home to clerical and trades workers and families with young children. The community is primarily white. 

  • Population – 13,000
  • Home Price – Median home value $328,300
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $938
  • Employers – Situated close to The Ohio State University and downtown Columbus, people who live in Bexley work all over the city
  • Schools – Bexley City Schools, Columbus School for Girls, Saint Charles Preparatory School, Columbus, Academy, Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Something to try: Visit the Drexel Movie Theater, a 1930s era landmark that now operates as a 501 c (3) nonprofit foundation.

Upper Arlington

Home of the Golden Bears and golfer Jack Nicklaus, the suburb of UA is famous for Scioto Golf Course. Upper Arlington is well-known for its excellent school system as well as parks and great neighborhoods. There are inviting bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, but if you can’t find something you like in Upper Arlington, downtown Columbus is just a short drive away to the southeast.

Over 80% of people who live in Upper Arlington own their homes. Housing can be challenging to find due to the highly desirable schools and location. The demographics in the area are primarily white, and UA is known for somewhat conservative politics.

The Upper Arlington community heavily promotes arts and culture. The Labor Day Arts Festival attracts more than 25,000 visitors each year and features over 200 vendors, live performances, music, and more. The biggest event of the year is the Fourth of July celebration. Evening festivities in the park and a spectacular fireworks display follow a large daytime parade.

  • Population – 43,500
  • Home Price – Median home value $357,200
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,169
  • Employers – Upper Arlington schools, small businesses, The Ohio State University, various downtown employers
  • Schools – Upper Arlington Schools

Something to try: A chocolate milkshake at Chef-O-Nette, an Upper Arlington dining tradition since 1955.

Harrison West

Harrison West is a historic, urban, small neighborhood on the northwest edge of downtown, just north of the Arena District and Italian Village and several blocks from the Olentangy River. Harrison Avenue, Goodale Street, 5th Avenue, and Olentangy River Road form this neighborhood’s borders. Since it’s only about 2.5 miles from downtown, residents enjoy living in the small neighborhood, but can still take advantage of all that downtown Columbus has to offer. 

Brick streets and houses built by craftsmen in the late 1800s and early 1900s give Harrison West a unique, historic feel. After experiencing an urban decline in the late 20th century, the area has transformed with redevelopment and gentrification over the last 20 years.

The small neighborhood doesn’t boast a lot to do, but it’s only a mile and a half from the Arena District, where there are 14 restaurants and bars, a movie theater, a skating rink, and a music pavilion. Only .8 miles away is Goodale Park, the oldest park in Columbus.

  • Population – 5,247
  • Home Price – Median home value $390,000
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,157
  • Employers – With proximity to downtown, people who live in this neighborhood work in a variety of places
  • Schools – The schools that serve this neighborhood are Columbus Alternative High School (rated excellent), Centennial High School & Whetstone High School (which have B ratings), Columbus Downtown High School and Columbus North International School (which have C ratings)

Something to try: Funk-ee-Town park is super fun for kids!

Clintonville

Clintonville is a large area located just northeast of The Ohio State University, several miles north of downtown Columbus and just south of Worthington. The western boundary is the Olentangy River, and the eastern boundary is I-71. The area once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

A popular settling place for young professionals who enjoy the informal character of the neighborhood, Clintonville’s homes are more affordable than many other areas of Columbus. The area boasts five distinct residential districts: South Clintonville has a mix of single and multi-family homes; North Clintonville has features higher-end properties; Beechwold, with its wide variety of available housing types; North of Morse is home to Bill Moose Run, Graceland Shopping Center, the Ohio School for the Deaf, and the Ohio State School for the Blind; and Old Beechwold, the only Clintonville district that’s listed on the city, state, and National Historic Registry.

People in Clintonville are friendly, and it has a charming small-town feel. You’ll find lots of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks in this area, which is known to be a more liberal, safe, affordable pocket of Columbus.

  • Population – 30,675
  • Home Price – Median home value $209,483
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $941
  • Employers – With proximity to downtown, people who live in this neighborhood work in a variety of government, healthcare, research, finance, and food service jobs.
  • Schools – The Columbus City Schools serve Clintonville:  Clinton, Indianola Informal, Colerain, and Indian Springs Elementary Schools; Dominion Middle School; Whetstone High School. There are also private school options

Something to try: Whetstone, a branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Victorian Village

Victorian Village is the ninth most walkable neighborhood in Columbus with a walking score of 83. It’s in a quaint area on the northwest side of downtown and south of The Ohio State University along Neil Avenue. Victorian Village is known for stunning architecture and Victorian houses built when a streetcar ran along Neil Avenue in 1900. Many historic houses in the neighborhood have been split into apartments, and you’ll find a mix of housing densities.

In walking distance to the Short North district of downtown, there are a lot of things to do near Victorian Village. The Short North has a lively nightlife scene and is full of restaurants, bars, and art galleries.

For those who appreciate unique and historic architecture, once a year, Victorian Village holds an annual Victorian Village Tour of Homes and Gardens, when about a dozen houses open for public tours. The event is accompanied by dinner in local restaurants and a fundraiser in a secret “bonus” house that’s not on the general public’s list.

  • Population – 3,989
  • Home Price – Median home value $264,575
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $941
  • Employers – With proximity to downtown, people who live in this neighborhood work in a variety of government, healthcare, research, finance, and food service jobs.
  • Schools – The Columbus City Schools serve this area. The Hubbard Mastery School is the designated elementary school. Other schools that serve this neighborhood are Columbus Alternative High School, rated excellent; Centennial High School and Whetstone High School which have B ratings; Columbus Downtown High School, and Columbus North International School which have C ratings

Something to try: Millions of visitors go to The North Market each year, Columbus’ authentic public market that’s home to dozens of unique merchants who make food and crafts of all kinds.

German Village & Brewery District

Located just south of downtown Columbus, German Village and the Brewery District are two gorgeous areas characterized by brick houses and lots of charm and swank. German Village got its name due to massive German immigration around 1830 – by 1865, one-third of Columbus’ population was German. Following WWI and an anti-German sentiment, the area declined until the 1960s, when it revived and became known once again for things like Schmidt’s sausages.

Architecture and cuisine are the highlights of this area. There are beautiful homes and delicious food that’s inspired by everything from French to Spanish to modern cuisine. Schiller Park is on the south end of the neighborhood, where you’ll enjoy an amphitheater, trails, and fountains. Bird-lovers can enjoy the Scioto Audubon Center, a 120-acre sanctuary with great views of the city.

The Brewery District, just west of German Village, was built by German settlers. At one time, this area was an industrial hub with a huge beer scene. Currently, visitors and residents can enjoy restaurants and entertainment that’s second to none.

  • Population – 1,967
  • Home Price – Median home value $331,050
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $941
  • Employers – With proximity to downtown, people who live in this neighborhood work in a variety of government, healthcare, research, finance, and food service jobs.
  • Schools – Schools that serve this neighborhood are Columbus Alternative High School, rated excellent; Centennial High School & Whetstone High School which have B ratings; Columbus Downtown High School, and Columbus North International School which have C ratings

Something to try: German Village Tours will provide a fascinating 60-90 minute tour of the area.

Worthington

Worthington, about 14 miles north of downtown along the Scioto River, is a great place to raise a family. Located at the intersection of US State Routes 23 and 161, Worthington is convenient for commuters. I-71 passes just east of the suburb, and I-270 passes through the center. The area is home to many families and retirees, and residents tend to be conservative.

Residents feel a strong spirit of community in Worthington. Education is a hallmark of the area, and the schools are recognized as some of the best in Ohio. Worthington is home to a nationally recognized library system, numerous churches, safe neighborhoods, and boasts a commitment to environmental sustainability. A focus on health and fitness inspired the creation of the Worthington Community Center, a family-oriented, state-of-the-art facility where residents can access the aquatic complex, fitness center, two basketball courts, and art studios.

  • Population – 14,074
  • Home Price – Median home value $235,220
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,058
  • Employers – AAA, Central Ohio Urology Group, Hyperion Materials and Technologies, Jack Maxton Chevrolet, Medvet, Worthington Industries
  • Schools – Worthington Schools, Columbus Japanese Language School, The Ohio Contemporary Chinese School

Something to try: Visit Antrim Park and Antrim Lake, a 120-acre recreation area.

Italian Village

A former immigrant neighborhood, Italian Village is a mixed land-use area that’s home to a variety of commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. Designated as a historic district, the community’s buildings reflect Italian influence, and homes in this neighborhood have the highest appreciation value in Columbus. Located on the north side of Columbus just north of downtown, Italian Village is adjacent to the central business district. I-670 marks the south border, Fifth Avenue the north border, North High Street the west, and the Conrail railroad tracks to the east.

Architecture lovers will appreciate the quality as well as the character of the buildings in this neighborhood. Vertical proportions, asymmetrical floor plans, and low-pitched roofs define the architectural style. Most porches feature decorative woodwork. St. John the Baptist Italian Catholic Church was founded in 1896 and became the landmark of the area. To this day, Italian is still spoken in its hallways. 

Italian Village is considered part of the Short North area, so it’s close to many restaurants, bars, and galleries. Close to Goodale Park, the community still holds an annual Italian festival there, as well as holiday potlucks, Salsa Saturdays, and other festivities.

  • Population – 2,937
  • Home Price – Median home value $244,800
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $941
  • Employers – With proximity to downtown, people who live in this neighborhood work in a variety of government, healthcare, research, finance, and food service jobs
  • Schools – The Columbus City Schools serve this area; The Hubbard Mastery School is the designated elementary school. Other schools that serve this neighborhood are Columbus Alternative High School, rated excellent; Centennial High School & Whetstone High School which have B ratings; Columbus Downtown High School, and Columbus North International School, which have C ratings

Something to try: Marcia Evans Gallery for entertainment.

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