Living in Columbus, OH: 13 Pros & Cons (Video & Prices)

Living in Columbus - 900
Columbus, Ohio, U.S. (Sourced: via twenty20)

Are you considering a move to Columbus? That’s great! As a resident in the city, you’ll get to enjoy a thriving art and culture scene, plenty of things to do and places to go, charming historic districts, and quiet suburbs to settle in. That said, like any other city, Columbus has its pitfalls. Before you decide to make a move, take a look at the pros and cons of living in Columbus, Ohio.

PopulationMedian AgeBachelor Degree or Higher
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pros: low cost of living

The cost of living in Columbus is quite reasonable, especially when you compare it to some other major cities in the U.S. The cost of living in the city is 10% lower than the national average.

Columbus Median Home Price in October 2021
Median Home Price
Data sourced from Zillow Median Home Sale Prices

Columbus Median Cost of Utilities in October 2021
Utilities (Monthly)Prices
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment$195.69
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)$61.48
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Columbus Median Cost of Transportation in October 2021
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)$2.00
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)$62.00
Gasoline (1 gallon)$2.56
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Columbus Median Cost of Groceries in October 2021
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)$2.73
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)$1.91
Rice (white), (1 lb)$1.85
Eggs (regular) (12)$1.83
Local Cheese (1 lb)$5.48
Chicken Fillets (1 lb)$4.31
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)$6.22
Banana (1 lb)$0.63
Tomato (1 lb)$1.90
Potato (1 lb)$1.32
Onion (1 lb)$1.07
Lettuce (1 head)$1.42
Water (1.5-liter bottle)$1.39
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Cons: the weather can be dreadful

July and August in Columbus can get pretty hot, with averages of 85 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. You can expect 15 days of temperatures soaring to the 90s during these months, as well as high humidity. 

You will need a sturdy winter coat 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. Winters in the city seem a bit colder than the thermometer registers as a result of the humidity.

There may be a couple of zero-degree days during this period, so make sure you dress in appropriate layers. Columbus typically gets 22 inches of snow and 56 inches of rain and annually. The most common natural disaster threats in the city are tornadoes and snowstorms.

Columbus, OH Temperature Table

MonthTemp. Low. Avg.Temp. High Avg.
Data sourced from numbeo.com – October 2021

Pros: columbus is made up of diverse neighborhoods

Living in Columbus 2
Replica of the Flagship for Columbus (Sourced: via twenty20)

Columbus has a variety of neighborhoods and mini-regions where you might choose to live. Some of the best areas include:

  1. Bexley

This suburb is known to be one of the best places to live in Ohio. It is located just east of the Franklin Park Conservatory, and it features historic tree-lined streets.

Bexley is divided into three main sections: North, Central, and South. The Bullitt Park area of the North is known for its massive mansion; houses in Central Bexley typically range between 2,000-4,500 square feet in size; homes in the South are smaller and predominantly occupied by young families. The community is primarily white.

  1. Upper Arlington

The Upper Arlington area has a commendable school system as well as plenty of green spaces. You’ll also find trendy bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, plus the ever-buzzing downtown area is just a short drive away to the southeast. Arts and culture are the backbones of the Upper Arlington community, with plenty of festivals and events held to promote them. 

  1. Harrison West

Harrison West is a small neighborhood that is located on the northwest edge of the downtown area. The district is only about 2.5 miles from downtown, which means you can enjoy the perks of living in a small quiet community and take advantage of all that the bustling downtown Columbus has to offer at the same time.

Harrison West is about a mile and a half from the Arena District, where you’ll find 14 restaurants and bars, a music pavilion, a skating rink, and a movie theater. Goodale Park, the oldest park in Columbus, is also nearby.

Cons: columbus is not particularly diverse

Although Columbus is home to one of the most prominent universities in the country, the city is not as diverse as one might expect. The majority of the population is white, with 61.9%. African Americans or Black make up 29.1% of the population. After that, racial diversity in the city dwindles to 4.6% Asian, 1.2% Native American, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 3.2% from other races.

Pros: public transportation makes it easy to get around the city

Although driving is the most reliable way to get around Columbus, the city does feature a robust public transportation system called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), which can be used in significant city areas by commuters working downtown and everywhere in-between. 

If you reside in the downtown area, the Short North, or the German Village, COTA provides a free commuter bus known as Cbus. Cbus offers rides throughout the day to help ease the Columbus, Ohio traffic congestion. Both the main COTA lines and Cbus allow commuters to get to their destinations safely and quickly. If you plan to drive in Columbus, the average commute time is 22 minutes. 

Cons: traffic jams

Living in Columbus 3
 (Sourced: via twenty20)

With a population steadily drawing close to one million, Columbus experiences its fair share of traffic issues. While it only takes the average commuter 22 minutes to get to their destination, it can be a long and frustrating 22 minutes.

While there has been a considerable drop in traffic within the city, INRIX ranks Columbus as the 87th most congested city in the country. It is estimated that drivers lose as much as 8 hours stuck in traffic, with a cost of $125.36 per driver.

You’re most likely to be caught in traffic on Wednesday between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm. On a more positive note, the peak speed for drivers navigating the Columbus traffic has increased from 29 in 2019 to 39 in 2020.

Median Columbus Commuting TimeMedian U.S. Commuting Time
22 Minutes26.9 Minutes
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pros: plenty of green spaces in columbus

Living in Columbus 4
Inniswoods Metro Garden (Sourced: via twenty20)

If you love spending time in the great outdoors, you’ll love the fact that Columbus offers plenty of green spaces where you can walk, bicycle ride, hike, and swim. 

Some outdoor spaces worth noting include the lengthy Olentangy Greenway,  a multi-use path that runs North and South along the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. You’ll find walkers, runners, and cyclists all using this path that also runs through the prestigious Ohio State University and past the university’s serene Wetlands Preserve. 

Another key space is The Alum Creek Greenway which is located east of downtown, running north and south along Alum Creek. Alum Creek State Park is at the northern end of the Greenway, a green space that allows fishing, open water swimming, picnicking, and hiking.

Cons: columbus drivers are among the worst in the country

Closely associated with the traffic issue, Columbus has the unfortunate reputation of having some of the worst drivers in the country. Every metropolitan area has its fair share of bad drivers. Still, Columbus drivers are seemingly on another level – according to QuoteWizard, it was the fourth-worst driving city in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019. 

You are highly likely to witness an accident or at least be on the receiving end of the consequences of bad driving while on the roads of Columbus. 

Pros: columbus is filled with incredible restaurants and eateries

Living in Columbus 5
Downtown Market Columbus, Ohio (Sourced: via twenty20)

The food scene in Columbus is criminally underrated. It is highly diverse and full of pleasant surprises, giving you plenty of tasteful options to choose from. Some of the restaurants worth trying include:

  1. Greek

Apollo’s Greek Kitchen is the go-to eatery for college students and alums who need a quick mouth-watering munch. Lachish, the Greek in Upper Arlington, is another standout Greek restaurant. It offers a fantastic red snapper dish and a delectable lemon chicken soup that is worth a try.

  1. German 

To enjoy classic German meals like the bratwurst, cabbage rolls, and schnitzel, visit Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant in the heart of German Village. Hoftsbrauhaus in Grandview Yard is an excellent place for hosting family gatherings and corporate parties. 

  1. Mexican 

Condado is a local chain that allows you to create your taco or taco bowl with Short North, downtown, Easton, and Clintonville locations. For a cozier experience and delicious burritos, try Mamacita’s Mexican Street Food, located on Chittenden Avenue. 

  1. Thai 

To satisfy your craving for authentic Thai dishes, visit Bahn Thai on Henderson Road for options like spicy steamed mussels and Pad Thai noodles. Other local favorites include Basil Thai in German Village and Lemongrass Fusion Bistro in the Short North.

Cons: lack of sidewalks

An estimated 50% to 60% of the Columbus metropolitan area does not have sidewalks. This significantly compromises walkability within the city, plus there’s also the increased risk of accidents given Columbus’s worst driving ranking. You have the option to request a sidewalk be built, but you’ll first need to fill out an official request with the city and meet the required criteria.

Pros: great job market

Columbus has a well-established economy that allows it to remain a strong employment performer in the Midwest.

In addition to state-related jobs, the city has lucrative industries in all sectors people flock towards. With such diverse professional offerings, your chances of finding employment when you move to the city are elevated. Some of the most booming industries in Columbus include: 

  • Automotive
  • Finance and insurance 
  • Food and beverage 
  • Healthcare
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Technology 

Top employers include:

  • Ohio State University 
  • OhioHealth
  • State of Ohio 
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Nationwide 

Cons: poor air quality

Columbus has high levels of radon gas. Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste – you need special equipment to detect it. Gas is a carcinogen and the third leading cause of lung cancer in the country.  

Radon gas is a significant problem in Ohio as the state contains a geologic formation known as Ohio Shale, enriched in uranium. The second primary source of uranium in Ohio is the soil. Much of Ohio’s soil also contains quantities of radium. Both uranium and radium continuously break down and release radon gas.

Most of the homes in Columbus have high Radon counts (above the EPA recommended limit).  That said, most of them have a Radon System that easily mitigates the gas.

Pros: schools in columbus offer quality education

Living in Columbus 6
University, college, Columbus (Sourced: via twenty20)

You’ll be happy to learn that the expansive Columbus Public School System serves Columbus if you have kids. Each neighborhood has its own set of schools to facilitate a conducive learning environment. 

Columbus is also home to the Ohio State University, which attracts students from all over the country. Other notable institutions of higher learning include: 

  • Franklin University 
  • Capital University 
  • Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) 
  • Columbus Community College 
  • Otterbein University

Final thoughts

Columbus is a bustling city growing and prospering at an impressive rate, making it a great place to live. Hopefully, this list of pros and cons helps you determine if moving to this city is the right option for you.

Columbus compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)
Cities1-BR Avg. Rent2-BR Avg. Rent
San Antonio$1,040$1,300
San Diego$2,060$2,730
Data sourced from Zumper national rent report October 2021

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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