15 Pros and Cons of Living in Columbus, Ohio

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau recorded Columbus, Ohio, as the fastest-growing American city in 2020? There are many good reasons for that. The capital city of Ohio has had a lot of benefits to offer in the last few years. This is especially the case for racial and sexual minorities, as well as young professionals. 

Of course, there are quite a few downsides to the city as well. This is the case for most cities. If you’re wondering if Columbus, Ohio, might be the right city for you, then read on to learn 15 pros and cons of living in Columbus, Ohio. 

An aerial view of the Columbus skyline. There is a river on the left, surrounded by green grass. Many tall buildings in the back

Pros of Living in Columbus Ohio

Pro #1: Friendly People

Columbus residents are fine examples of the stereotypical friendly Midwesterner. Most know them for being people who strike up conversations with strangers in the street and help their neighbors who are in need. A recent study by StorageCafe ranked Columbus as the second city in the nation for neighborliness.

Of the Columbusites interviewed, a whopping 80% felt satisfied with their neighbors. This was 13% above the reported national average for the rating. In addition, 60% of these individuals rated community involvement positively, 54% said they felt a strong sense of community, and 63% said they would recommend their neighborhood to others. Therefore, if you like friendly people, you’ll get your fill of them in Columbus. 

Pro #2: Diversity

You’ll also find satisfaction in Columbus if you enjoy being around people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The city has a long history of being welcoming to a variety of immigrants, refugees, and other people of foreign heritage. 

Much of the ancestry of the population came from multiple European backgrounds. These include Italy, Poland, Germany, Ireland, and England. The city also boasts a Black heritage representation of 28.99% and an Asian representation of 5.82%

It is also becoming more diverse as it grows. Of the 921,605 reported population in 2020, 116,000 were foreign-born immigrants. This statistic accounts for over 80% of the new residents in the area. Of these, 22% came from Latin America, 23% from Africa, and 40% from Asia. 

Pro #3: LGBTQ+ Inclusion 

Also, if you’re an LGBTQ+ individual, you will find a safe and welcoming environment within Columbus. Around 35,000 individuals have identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and otherwise within the limits of the city. 

In 2014, 2015, and 2016, the city received perfect scores from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Municipal Quality Index for the treatment of its LGBTQ population. It also boasts one of the largest yearly Pride Parades, with over 500,000 participants each year.

In addition, the Columbusite government has a long history of passing laws favorable to their LGBTQ residents. They have passed laws against discrimination and the denial of equal access to city services and employment for these individuals. They also recently passed a law that banned conversion or reparative therapy. 

Pro #4: Food 

Cozymeal magazine recently ranked Columbus as #4 in its Top 30 Best Foodie Cities to Travel to in 2022. A 2021 WalletHub poll ranked it as the 60th best foodie city in the nation. It’s also the 3rd best city for food in Ohio. While these aren’t the best rankings, they still prove that Columbus at least has a food culture that can compete well with others. 

Part of the strength of Columbus’s food scene lies in the wide variety of ethnic foods it has (due, of course, to its diverse population). It boasts excellent European eateries such as Z Cucina di Spirito and Mozart’s. Columbus also has a thriving craft beer scene. It boasts 50 unique craft breweries. The international brewery BrewDog has also recently come to the area as well. 

Pro #5: Cost Of Living 

The average cost of living in Columbus is around $1,644 for one person and $3946 for a family of four. Rent is, of course, the most expensive area of this cost. The average rent in the city is $920 for singles and $1461 for a family of four. This is cheaper than the national average of $1,140 for a one-bedroom apartment. Necessities, like groceries, also have reasonable prices. A quart of milk costs only 69¢, and a dozen eggs cost $2.02. 

While these prices put the city in the top 23% of most expensive cities in the world, it still ranks 70 in a list comparing the cost-of-living indexes in 125 US cities. Therefore, the city is not the cheapest, but it’s also far from being the most expensive. 

Pro #6: Education 

Many statistics have proved that Columbus is an educational force to be reckoned with. WalletHub recently gave the city a ranking of 44th Most Educated in a list of 150 cities in the U.S. Eight of the high schools within the city’s proximity found a ranking within the top 20 of the state

Also, Columbus’s most well-known university, Ohio State University, ranks as the 49th top university in the country. The entire state of Ohio itself also ranks at 31 for education, which isn’t too shabby. Therefore, if you have young kids and you’re concerned about their education, Columbus would be a great place to move your family. 

Pro #7: Football

A photo of the outside Ohio State football stadium.  White concrete with a lot of windows

Columbus can be a great haven for the easily bored who like sports. The city ranks 38 in a WalletHub list of 392 Best Sports Cities. Part of this is because of the football pride and joy of the team, the Ohio State University Buckeyes. This team has an extensive collection of records and wins to its name. 

These include 8 FBS National Championship wins and 942 overall wins. The fanbase surrounding this team is also very loyal and passionate. A recent game between the Ohio Buckeyes and their biggest rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, drew in a large viewership of over 15.9 million viewers. A healthy football culture has also grown up in Columbus, with many traditions taking place during each game. 

Pro #8: Other Activities

Columbus is also not bereft of other activities and facilities that residents can enjoy all year long. While the city’s 370 parks weren’t ranked highly by the Trust for the Public Land in their ParkScore rankings (43.6 out of 100 points), the city’s zoo got rated #5 in the nation by USA Today.

The city also holds the annual Ohio State Fair, which is one of the largest in the country, as well as many other annual events. These include Red, White, and Boom, Restaurant Week Columbus, and an Oktoberfest celebration held in the historic German district. 

Pro #9: Overall Economy

One of Columbus’ biggest positives is the current robustness of its overall economy. The city currently enjoys a highly profitable and diverse economy based on insurance, food, logistics, fashion, education, and many more industries. Many of its best rankings are because of this benefit. It has the pleasure of getting a ranking as the #1 rising city in the US for startups, and it also received high rankings in multiple lists that covered the best cities for job seekers.

The fastest-growing job areas include registered nurses, software developers, human resource specialists, and management analysts. However, you are bound to find a job in such a robust economy. 

Pro #10: Plenty of Culture and Art

A photo of the Ohio State House. White stone with a lot of windows. The Ohio and American flags fly outside

Columbus, Ohio is teeming with opportunities to experience the latest in art and culture or even to explore the classics. From theater and art to science to animals, there are dozens of potential places to spend whole afternoons lost in the performances, thoughts, and experiences of some of the most educated and talented people in society. 

If you are looking for something a little slow-paced, you can check out COSI (Center of Science and Industry) or the Wexner Center for the Arts. If you want a show, check out Short North Arts District and see what’s being offered that day. There’s so much potential.

Cons of Living in Columbus Ohio

Con #1: Weather

A lot of bad types of weather hit the city often. While the summers are usually not too warm at an 85-degree maximum, they are very humid and rainy. In fact, Columbus has about 25 more rainy days, 2 more inches of rain, and 29 fewer sunny days than the US average. 

The city also ranks within the top 9 cloudiest large cities in America and 7 in a list of 16 US cities with the most cloudy days in the year. Its yearly snowfall is slightly below the US average, but it can still get cold in the winter. The lowest possible temperature is usually around 21 degrees.  

Con #2: Driving 

The traffic in Columbus didn’t use to be so bad. A 2008 INRIX study ranked Columbus at 48 in a list of the top 100 best metro areas for traffic. However, it’s gotten worse in recent years. A recent study noted that the average speed of drivers has slowed at least 1% from 2018 to 2019. This is likely because Columbus is growing so quickly. 

Yet, traffic isn’t the worst thing that Columbusite drivers have to worry about. A 2021 QuoteWizard study ranked Columbus as the city with the 4th worst drivers. This study was based on how many accidents drivers got in and how many DUIs and speeding tickets they received. Therefore, if you travel mostly by car, reconsider moving to Columbus. 

Con #3: Transportation

Of course, it’s difficult to travel in other ways as well. While the city has a great bus system, the city is also the largest metropolitan area in America without a passenger rail of any kind. This is very frustrating for those who can’t afford a vehicle. It has even caused many younger individuals to flee the state altogether. Bicycle riding is a popular alternative, but this is difficult to do during the cold Columbus winters. 

Besides this, flights to and from Columbus can be very expensive. This is mostly because of issues with supply and demand regarding the city’s available flight seats. 

Con #4: Higher Taxes 

The cost of living may be lower in Columbus than in many US cities, but the tax rates are higher. For property, the average tax rate in Columbus is 2.029%. For sales, it’s 7.5%. These are both higher than the average for these tax rates in the state. These are 1.553% and 5.75%, respectively. 

They’re also higher than the U.S. averages for these rates. The property tax average is 1.1%, and the sales tax average is 1.45%. The lower cost of everything else may compensate well enough for these. Some people have been caught by surprise by the difference when they move there, however. This has caused them financial difficulties. 

Con #5: Housing Prices Are Rising

Another photo of the Columbus skyline. River is on the right with a bridge crossing it. Tall buildings in the back

All the pros of the city have drawn numerous people to it. This has caused the housing market in the city to get ranked as one of the hottest markets in the country in 2022. However, this has unfortunately caused the average housing prices to rise as the inventory lessens to around 0.9 months’ worth. The overall average sales price for a home increased 12.9 percent in 2021. New listings also dropped by 7%, and the total inventory of homes dropped by 14.7%.

Apartment rents are also not safe from this increase. The average rent for a studio apartment has risen 23%; a one-bedroom, 13%; and a two-bedroom, 14%.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Ohio

Conclusion

Every place is going to have some pros and cons about its prices, people, economy, and so on. Sometimes all that you can do is choose the place with the cons you can manage the best. If you can handle the higher tax rates, crime rates, and housing prices, as well as the transportation issues, then Columbus, Ohio, is the best place for you. If you can’t, then there’s probably another city that will suit you just fine. 

Related: 17 Pros and Cons of Living in Cincinnati, Ohio