Located on the shores of Lake Erie and bordered by the Maumee River, Toledo is a city with both historical and cultural significance. Founded at the beginning of the 19th century, Toldeo was originally a fort built to defend American territory from the British. After the War of 1812, the city became a key port on Lake Erie. As the Industrial Revolution dawned, the city became home to manufacturing, and especially the automobile and glass industries. Locals refer to Toledo as “The Glass Capital of the World” because of the number of glass companies still headquartered here. Unfortunately, Toledo’s economy isn’t quite as robust as it once was due to the decline in US manufacturing.
Regardless of its recent economic troubles, The Glass City is still a great place to live. During the heyday of big industry, the city built many museums, like the Toledo Museum of Art, which still attract throngs of visitors to this day. Industries other than manufacturing, like education and healthcare, are growing and bringing new jobs to the region. Lake Erie, once heavily polluted, has been cleaned up and now is popular for boating and fishing. Concert halls and sports venues offer plenty of opportunities for family fun or a night on the town. In short, this city on the lake is a wonderful place to live! No matter your reason for moving here, Toledo welcomes you.
Living in Toledo, OH: What to Know Before Moving to Toledo
Toledo, OH is a city many have heard of, but few know much about it. Located on the westernmost tip of Lake Erie, The Glass City has a population of around 300,000 within city limits, and another 300,000 in the surrounding suburbs. Known for its industrial past as a major automobile and glass manufacturing center, Toledo now boasts an increasing number of white-collar jobs. Some of the most prominent industries these days include healthcare and solar energy.
Located about an hour south of Detroit and less than two hours from Cleveland, Toledo is a small “sister city” to these much larger metropolitan areas. However, because there is much to enjoy in Toledo itself, citizens can have lots of family fun without going far from home. Prone to the economic cycles of American manufacturing, Toledo is known for both lower wages and an inexpensive cost of living. For those moving here, you’ll find appealing activities, jobs, and homes from which to choose. Welcome to Toledo.
Pros and Cons of Living in Toledo
First, the good news:
- Low cost of living: Your paycheck goes farther here.
- Stable housing market: You don’t need to worry about huge rent increases every year, and purchasing a house is very affordable.
- Fun for everyone: From stadiums to aquariums, and even nightspots, there are plenty of options for a family outing or date night.
- Everything is convenient: With a metro area of this size, you won’t have to spend long hours in city traffic to commute or do weekly errands.
- Close to larger cities: Detroit, Chicago, and Indianapolis are all close if you need big-city services.
Next, the bad news:
- Crime: Toledo has a crime rate much higher than the national average.
- Low wages: Salaries are lower on average than they are across most of the country.
- Unemployment is significantly higher than the national average: As of Summer 2019, the rate was 4.6%, compared with 3.6% nationally.
- Poverty: Toledo struggles with a higher poverty rate than the rest of Ohio.
- Overall poor business environment: Manufacturing isn’t the strong job sector it once was.
- Property Taxes: Nationally, the average property tax rate is only 1.2%. For Lucas County, which encompasses most of Toledo, taxes are about 1.53% of assessed value. This rate is on par with the Ohio average of 1.56%.
- Sales Taxes: Ohio, as a whole, has a base tax rate of 5.75%. Toledo also tacks on 1.5% for a total sales tax rate of 7.25%. Nationally, this total rate is about average. Notably, there are a wide variety of tax exemptions, but the most important one is food.
- Income Taxes: Ohio has a progressive tax rate, starting at just under 1/2% percent for the first $5,200 of income and growing to almost 5% of income over $208,500. Toledo also levies a 2.25% income tax on everyone who lives or works in the city.
According to Zillow, the Toledo housing market is doing well overall but is held back by a high foreclosure rate. Zillow predicts that this will get worse because more homeowners in Toledo are underwater on their mortgages than the national average. On the other hand, there are plenty of homes on the market, so potential homeowners have plenty of options from which to choose. For those looking to purchase, the median home value is a very affordable $69,700. Despite the low home values, only around 48% of Toledo residents choose to buy, which is a lower rate than the Ohio and national averages.
Renters can expect to pay about $700 each month, which is significantly lower rent than the national average. However, rents are on the rise. Perhaps this is due to the higher foreclosure rate against homeowners, who increase the demand for rentals. For those with decent credit and some money in the bank, buying a home is probably the better option.
Cost of Living
Largely due to the low cost of housing, Toledo’s overall cost of living index is 77.5/100. This index means that Toledo is a cheaper place to live than most parts of the country; it is also less expensive when compared with Ohio’s 87.7/100 cost of living index. Utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses are about the same as the national average, but in Toledo, the costs of just about everything else are far less expensive.
Weather and Natural Disasters
Toledo, as part of the Midwest, has a full six-month growing season. Average daily highs range from just above freezing in January, to about 87 degrees in July. The annual rainfall of 33.5 inches is just slightly lower than the nation’s 38-inch average. Average snowfall is 31 inches, which is three inches more than the national average of 28 inches. Due to its location just south of Lake Erie and close to the Maumee River, Toledo-area farmers have plenty of water for crops. The nation averages 205 sunny days per year, but Toledo only sees the sun about 180 days of the year.
Toledo is prone to tornadoes with a risk level slightly higher than Ohio as a whole and much higher than the national average. At times, the Maumee River floods, requiring expensive repairs for homeowners. During the winter months, snow and ice are hazards, as well. Far from any fault lines, Toledo rarely has earthquakes.
Economy and Job Market
Generally speaking, Toledo is a blue-collar town with blue-collar problems. This city once had a large influence on the Midwestern economy but has seen better days as manufacturing declined nationwide. As of 2019, the unemployment rate is consistently higher than the national average by 1% or more. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for those who have the right skills. For example, those who work in manufacturing might be able to find a job at the recently expanded Jeep plant, Libbey, Toledo Molding & Die, Heidtman Steel Products Inc, or Owens Corning.
If you have an interest in “green jobs” or environmental stewardship, you might find an opportunity at the University of Toledo, which has taken advantage of federal grants. Mercy College of Ohio and Owens Community College also call Toledo home. Naturally, universities create a variety of jobs, from professors and administrators, all the way down to foodservice and janitorial staff. Toledo Public Schools is in the top 10 Toledo employers.
Healthcare workers have plenty of options for jobs as well: Mercy Health has several campuses in the city, including a specialty clinic and children’s hospital. ProMedica is the other health system, running several general medical campuses throughout the metro area. The medical school at the University of Toledo is another major healthcare employer.
Overall, Toledo is experiencing a revival – in line with the saying that “a good wind lifts all sails.” Like most of America, it’s experiencing an improving economy and increased labor participation rate. Young people who are graduating from college and entering the workforce can stay in Toledo more often in recent years, instead of seeking employment in other major cities. Many towns have their boom and bust years. Toledo, it seems, is heading in the right direction.
Traffic and Transportation
Like many cities, Toledo has a public transport system. Although there are no subways, the local bus system, TARTA, serves many areas of the city. Other ground transportation options include a Greyhound bus station and easy access to Amtrak. Perhaps due to a large number of private industries in Toledo, there is a small airport with commercial flights available. However, with Detroit just 45 miles to the north, many people choose to drive to Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) instead of taking a flight out of Toledo.
I-75 runs north-south through Toledo providing direct access to Detroit and Cincinnati. If you’re heading east-west, you’ll travel I-80/90 to Cleveland in the east and Chicago in the west. Plenty of people drive through the area on their way to Michigan or Indiana, and for this reason, the highways are fairly busy. Rush hour traffic can get congested – a special rush-hour lane opens on highways during the morning commute. Predictably, the center of town tends to be the busiest, as most major employers are downtown. Luckily, Toledo is not a large metropolitan area, so the commute is still fairly short when compared with other cities across the US.
If you’re someone who likes to walk everywhere, Toledo is a challenge. According to Walkscore, the city is car-dependent with an anemic walk score of 46/100. For the average person, this means that the weekly errands will likely require a car or riding the bus. The ease of peddling is on par with walking – the city only scores 45/100 when it comes to biking. Either way, it’s easiest to walk and bike downtown.
What to Do
Whether you’re looking for some family fun, prefer to take in a show, or browse a museum, there’s an attraction for every interest. At the Toledo Zoo, which also includes an aquarium, children and adults alike can learn about 720 different species of animals from around the world. The Imagination Station science museum is similarly fun for all ages. If your family enjoys sports, consider taking in a Mud Hens Minor League baseball game or a Walleye Hockey match.
If the great outdoors is more your style, the Toledo area has several parks. Maumee Bay State Park has a general recreation area set on the scenic Maumee Bay. In addition to hiking trails and camping, the park also boasts golfing, without the expensive country club fees. Wildwood Park is also picturesque, with hiking trails that meander through the forest. Here, you can find the perfect picnic spot or sit and enjoy watching the birds.
Schools and Universities
For families moving to Toledo, there are several K-12 schools from which to choose. Depending on your choice of neighborhood, one of two public school systems will serve your students. Toledo Public Schools serves most parts of the city, while Washington Local Schools serves those in the northwest section of Toledo. Both school districts have several campuses at each grade level. For families who prefer private education, there’s a Catholic school system, Maumee Valley Country Day School, Emmanuel Christian School, and Toledo Christian School (TCS) to consider. Emmanuel and TCS are both K-12 institutions and serve students throughout the city.
Toledo also offers post-secondary educational opportunities. Mercy College is a Catholic four-year school. Originally founded as a nursing college, this school still emphasizes degrees in healthcare fields. If you want a liberal arts option, the University of Toledo (UT) is a public college that offers just about any major you would want. Both Mercy and UT offer an advanced medical education and a strong presence in local hospitals. Herzing University is a choice for those who want a trade-school education. Toledo’s local community college, Owen Community College, offers the typical range of academic and career-oriented courses.
Toledo has the unfortunate reputation of having a high crime rate, although this isn’t unusual for industrial cities that have suffered economically. The city has a crime rate that’s nearly twice the national average, and violent crimes are an especially grave concern. Assaults are the worst, at triple the national average, and murders are double the rate. Generally, crime is worse downtown on both sides of the Maumee River, and in the north by Hopewell Heights. For those who prefer to live in safer areas, the western part of the city is often the best bet, though there are safer neighborhoods in other parts of the metro as well.
- Water, sewer, trash, and recycling: The Public Utility Department provides many basic services in the City of Toledo. These include water, sewer, trash, and recycling. The city has its own waterworks and sewage treatment plant, which serves many of the surrounding areas as well. When moving, these accounts can be set up by clicking here.
- Electricity: Toledo Edison, a division of First Energy, services the Toledo area. Customer service, including account setup, can be completed through the website.
- Gas: If you have natural gas appliances or heat, there is a unique supplier choice program in Ohio. Participants include Duke Energy, Columbia Gas, Dominion, and Vectren. Each has different rates, and consumers are encouraged to choose the right one for their needs. The state website lists current offers, found here.
- Phone, cable, and internet: Customers looking for traditional phone service can call AT&T, which may have other services available as well. You can also purchase cable service through Spectrum, which also offers traditional bundles to customers. Frontier Communications provides fiber optics-based service, and Century Link is an internet-only provider that collaborates with DirectTV for service bundles. All of these companies are reachable through their websites, or the listed customer service phone numbers. As you can see, Toledo is a town that offers a lot of energy and communications options to residents.
Best Neighborhoods in Toledo, OH
No matter your reason for moving to Toledo, landing the right job and choosing the perfect home are the most important considerations. Although there are many choices in Toledo, we believe that the following neighborhoods are among the best. For those with school-age children, we’ve included the Great Schools ratings for each neighborhood school.
Just south of the I-475 freeway, Westgate is a desirable neighborhood in central Toledo. Featuring a lower crime rate and diverse home types, potential residents have lots of options. Westgate is home to a business park, several large shopping centers, and a cemetery. Neighbors characterize this area as having wide, relatively quiet residential streets, though it’s still close to many major businesses.
The University of Toledo campus is just outside the Westgate borders, so locals who work on campus enjoy a very short commute. Students attend Washington Local Public Schools, first at Grove Patterson Academy for K-8 (Greatschools index 7/10), then high school at Whitmer High (4/10). Relative to the rest of Toledo, real estate prices here are somewhat high: the average house price is $120,000. If you prefer to rent, expect to pay an average of $800 per month.
Located just north of Westgate, Franklin Park is an established neighborhood. Built back in the sixties and seventies, it’s home to a wide variety of houses and apartments, ranging from studios to large homes. According to Zillow, this is a popular neighborhood, and for a good reason: with malls and shopping centers, there are plenty of places to shop or find entertainment. Franklin Park is also home to Mercy Hospital, Notre Dame Academy, a library, and many other businesses. Its only drawback is a slightly elevated crime rate.
If this sounds like your type of neighborhood, you can expect to pay $113,000 to purchase a home. Rents average $702 per month. Have children? They’ll attend Washington Local Schools: McGregor Elementary School (6/10), Washington Junior High School (6/10), and Whitmer High School (4/10).
Technically a separate municipality, Ottawa Hills is surrounded by Toledo near Westgate and Franklin Park. Known as a safer area of Toledo, the town boasts its own police department and school system. Although there are smaller homes available, the median home price is still more than double that of other surrounding neighborhoods at over $270,000. Many large homes occupy big properties. For renters, the monthly cost runs around $900, which is noticeably more expensive than much of the area. In return, however, Ottawa Hills offers a largely suburban feel right in the middle of everything. Commutes are usually short, contributing to the popularity of this area.
You can enjoy the tennis club, and just outside the city limits are two golf courses. The University of Toledo is just over the city line, so Ottawa Hills is an excellent choice if you’re working at the university. Children attend the prestigious Ottawa Hills District, which has two schools: Ottawa Hills Elementary School (9/10), and Ottawa Hills Jr/Sr High School (9/10). Of course, if you live here, there’s a good chance you can also afford a private school if that’s your preference. Either way, Ottawa Hills is an excellent choice.
As an established, primarily residential neighborhood, Southwyck has an almost suburban feel. Houses have nicely landscaped yards, and two country clubs partially border the area. For those of modest means, this is a practical choice for peace and quiet at a reasonable price. Home prices average $156,400, and Zillow indicates that with housing prices rising rapidly here, it’s a seller’s market. Rents are reasonable at $650 per month. This neighborhood is on the rise, but increased housing prices haven’t yet affected rental rates.
Because the area is so residential, shopping is limited. A single shopping area provides you with somewhere to buy the basics. A few small restaurants line the main street, and there are several churches. The tony Maumee Valley Country Day School is in Southwyck, but for those who prefer public education, Toledo Public Schools provides Glendale-Feilback Elementary School through grade 8 (4/10), and Bowsher High School (2/10).
Located on the western bank of the Maumee River, Beverly is an attractive neighborhood with rising house prices. Due to its location on the river, many properties feature scenic views of the water. Generally, houses are small to medium-sized and boast ample lot sizes. Having a family garden here is a very real possibility. Home to the Beverly Country Club and Toledo Zoo, Beverly offers its residents plenty to do in their own backyards. Tourists visit to see the attractions, but lodging is limited in this neighborhood. For that reason, the impact of tourism on Beverly is fairly modest. Most lodging and businesses are outside the neighborhood, so residents will need to commute.
Housing is easy to find, as many residents are selling their homes in a seller’s market. Buyers can expect to pay an average of $111,600. For renters, the median price is a modest $650. Crime is very low in this neighborhood, making it an additional selling point. Schools are part of Toledo Public Schools. Beverley students attend Beverly Elementary School (6/10) through grade 8, and then Bowsher High School (2/10).
Backed up to the Michigan border, Whitmer-Trilby is a neighborhood with plenty of variety. Home to the General Motors transmission plant, it also has two parks and a country club. Typically, houses are on smaller lots, but most homes are still detached. Given its partially industrial nature, the neighborhood has many blue-collar workers. You’ll be able to join your new neighbors for backyard barbecues in the summer, pickup basketball games in the street, and share in overall American pride.
If this neighborhood sounds like a great place for you, expect to pay on average about $100,000 to purchase a house or $550 per month for rent. An older neighborhood, housing costs are largely holding steady, perhaps due to neighborhood dependence on the automotive industry. For those with children, this neighborhood has fairly average schools in the Washington Local District: Meadowvale Elementary School (5/10), Washington Junior High School (6/10), and Whitmer High School (4/10). Overall, this neighborhood seems like a solid place to raise a family, especially for families with modest means.
Located just north of the Ohio Turnpike and west of Beverly, the Glendale-Heatherdowns neighborhood is best known as the home of the University of Toledo Hospital. Also bordering the neighborhood is the Heatherdowns Country Club and South Toledo Golf Club. This area has a diversity of businesses and job opportunities. Like most areas, there are shopping centers, and it’s close to many other major employers. Houses tend to run small on small lots. From this, we can infer that couples and young families occupy many of the homes, rather than larger families with older children. However, crime is low enough here that your children could play in the street.
Houses are selling rapidly as of July 2019. Most homes are indeed houses, not apartments. Want to buy? You’ll pay an average $111,000 now, but be sure to act fast because house prices rose by 10% last year. Rents are fairly modest, at $650 per month. For households with children, educational options are admittedly mediocre. Beverley Elementary School (6/10) earned average ratings, but Bowsher High School (2/10) suffers low ratings. Then again, with the real estate prices rising so fast, it might be a good strategy for families with younger children to buy a home here, and then sell it when your kids are ready to enter high school. Either way, this is a very safe area by Toledo standards.
Something of a hidden jewel, DeVeaux is a neighborhood in the northern section of Toledo that is rapidly reviving. Mainly a residential area, residents enjoy Beauman and Pine Grove parks, a shopping center, and several low-cost restaurants. Most residences are small detached houses with a yard, and commuters can reach many major employers quickly. Two innovative schools call DeVeaux home: Start Academy, and Horizon Science Academy. Expect to drive to run your errands.
Property prices are modest but rising. As of July 2019, the median price for a home is $83,400, with modest growth. Prefer to rent? You’ll pay around $550 per month. On the edge of a higher crime area, this neighborhood is a bit calmer since property developers have improved the housing stock. Area children attend the Washington Local Public Schools, specifically Wernert Elementary School (4/10), Jefferson Junior High School (6/10), and Whitmer High School (4/10). Overall, this neighborhood is a good value for the money.
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