17 Pros and Cons of Living in Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is a 79-square mile city located in the southwest corner of Ohio, sitting geographically between Indianapolis (IN), Louisville (KY), and Columbus (OH). First established in 1788, Cincinnati has consistently remained one of the largest cities in the Midwest.

If you are thinking about moving to Cincinnati, this article will explore some of the pros and cons of life as one of the 309K residents that call Cincinnati home.

10 Advantages of Living in Cincinnati, Ohio – Pros

A nighttime photo of Cincinnati. A lot of tall buildings and roads can be seen.

We’ll first look at the positive reasons the city of Cincinnati is consistently ranked as the top place to live in Ohio.

1. Low Cost of Living/Housing

The city of Cincinnati has been ranked in the Top 10% on the list of the most affordable cities in the country to live in. Overall, the cost of living in Cincinnati is 16% lower than the national average, and this city is a rare location where the cost of living is below the national average in every major cost category. Specifically, the cost of housing is attractive to many potential residents with the median home price being $200K in Cincinnati versus the US average of $291K.

Potential residents should be cautioned, however, that the average salary in the city ($25K) is below the national average ($28K). As with any major move to a new city, potential residents should make sure they have a decent job lined up before making the move.

2. Diversified Economy

One of the reasons Cincinnati has continued to thrive over the last 200+ years is because it has maintained a diverse economy, unlike other Midwest “Rust-Belt” states that declined rapidly once their particular industry (e.g. car manufacturing) dried up.

Top employers in Cincinnati include the corporate offices of Kroger Company (a major US grocery store), Proctor & Gamble, GE Transportation, Fifth Third Bank, area universities, local government, and several major hospitals.

3. Diversified Population

One of the benefits of moving to a large city is that you are sure to find a diverse mix of residents The race demographics in Cincinnati are 48% White, 42% Black, and 10% Other. These cultural differences are visible as you travel from one Cincinnati neighborhood to another, and crossing into a different neighborhood can give you a new selection of food and culture. 

One comment often made about Cincinnati is that the city is divided nearly 50%/50% between Democrat and Republican politics. This increases the diversity of the city, but also can cause some frustrating political stalemates.

4. Colleges

The city of Cincinnati is home to over 20 post-secondary education institutions, including public, private, and even specialty colleges like the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Overall, the city ranks in the Top 10% of the Best College towns. Much like its housing, the city of Cincinnati is known for its quality education at reasonable prices 

Cincinnati continues to treat students well even after graduation. The city ranks #1 in the country for being the best city for recent college graduates, based on jobs, affordability, and fun.

5. Great Libraries

A photo of a library bookshelf featuring 6 rows of brightly colored books. The front of the picture is blurry while the back is in focus.

Cincinnati’s public libraries have been ranked one of the best in the country, and one of only five library systems to earn a prestigious Five-Star Library rating. It ranks in 3rd place for having the busiest libraries, with nearly 20 million check-outs per year. Cincinnati is a leader in per capita statistics for library visits, circulation, program attendance, and public internet use.

6. Great Parks

The Cincinnati park system ranks 8th in the country with 14% of the city land being dedicated to parks. The city has an average of 5 playgrounds per 10,000 residents and 77% of residents live within a 10-minute walk from a park.

Some of Cincinnati’s oldest parks, such as the 94-acre Alms Park and 224-acre Ault Park, were established in the late 1800s, predating many of the city’s buildings.

Cincinnati parks offer access to a wide range of activities including walking, biking, playgrounds, dog parks, picnics, sports fields, and more. The 700-acre Devou Park even has a public golf course, while the city’s largest park, the 1400-acre Mt. Airy, has an impressive 18-hole disc golf course.

7. Family-Friendly entertainment

Cincinnati has a variety of family-friendly activities, in addition to its generous parks and playgrounds. Fun and educational spots include the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the second-oldest zoo in the country, featuring over 500 animals. The Newport Aquarium is another favorite for animal lovers.

To see some wild animals, head over to the 113-acre California Woods Nature Preserve and the 700-acre Mt. Airy Forest. And for hands-on educational activities try the Cincinnati Fire Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum.

8. Plenty of Beer

Cincinnati is a mixing pot of a variety of cultures, but at one time the city had a strong German majority. With its German roots, it is not surprising to learn that Cincinnati has been making great beer since the 1850s. With more than 40 local breweries, the city has been ranked #3 in the nation for breweries per capita.

9. Nice Downtown Area

A nighttime photo of Cincinnati's downtown area. The photo starts with the Ohio River in the front and has tall buildings in the back. A large bridge is shown on the right of the picture.

Cincinnati’s expansive downtown area is sure to keep you from getting bored. Downtown is considered the heart of the city and the location of many of Cincinnati’s businesses.

Downtown features over 100 locally-owned restaurants covering every taste and budget. In a city famous for its beers, it’s not surprising to learn there are nearly 2 dozen bars located downtown. Downtown is also where you will find sporting events at the football and baseball stadiums. 

Downtown also happens to be the location where a lot of Cincinnati residents are employed. Most of the companies headquartered in Cincinnati have their offices downtown, and nearly all of Cincinnati’s tallest buildings are in the downtown area.

10. Culture

The downtown area is also considered the heart of Cincinnati culture. The city grew rapidly in the 1800s and many of those buildings still stand today. Downtown is home to nearly 60 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city offers a fascinating array of architectural styles. 

Downtown is home to several theatres, ballet, art, orchestra, choir, and opera buildings. Walking around the downtown area you will see a variety of public art displays including statues and murals. 

The city hosts a large variety of events and festivals celebrating live music, art, food and drink, comedy, flowers, German and Spanish heritage, athletics, sports, and more.

11. Plenty of Chili

Cincinnati has been called the “Chili Capital of the World” because it has more chili restaurants per capita than anywhere else on the planet. Please note, a Cincinnati Chili is not like a Texas Chili. The Cincinnati chili was invented in 1922 by a Greek immigrant, using Middle Eastern spices. It is more like a spaghetti chili poured over noodles and topped with an excessive amount of cheese.

5 Disadvantages of Living in Cincinnati, Ohio – Cons

A daytime photo of Cincinnati, filled with tall buildings and roads

Cincinnati is a big city and it comes with some big-city problems. Next, we’ll look at what aspects of the city may make you hit pause on your moving plans. 

12. Pollution and Allergies

Cincinnati is consistently ranked in the bottom 10% of cities in the country for air pollution, joining the unfortunate company of several California cities. The source of this air pollution is likely the 16 coal-burning power plants that produce 80% of Ohio’s power.

With its heavy air pollution and healthy ragweed population, Cincinnati ranks in the Top 10 Worst Cities for allergies, only slightly behind a few major cities that are much greater in size.

Unfortunately, it is not just the air that is polluted in Cincinnati but also its water. The Ohio River is considered the most polluted body of water in the country, with an estimated 23 million pounds of chemicals being dumped into its waters each year. The city combats this problem by employing some of the world’s best filtration on its drinking water.

13. Crazy Weather

Residents of Cincinnati get to experience all four seasons; hot humid summers, cold snowy winters, and pleasant temperatures in between. Annual rain is a bit above national averages, while annual snow is a bit below average. The city gets 30 days more than average when it comes to gloomy cloudy weather. 

But the really odd thing about Cincinnati is that residents sometimes experience these four seasons all within the same week. Of areas with decent size populations, Cincinnati has the 4th most unpredictable weather in the country. A week may start out as a warm spring day on Monday and end up with five inches of snow on Thursday. A day that is forecasted to be warm and sunny may actually end up cold and rainy. 

The reason for this unpredictable weather has to do with geography. Cincinnati is close enough to the Gulf of Mexico to get its warm wet air, and it is close enough to Canada and the Great Lakes to get cold wet air. These two masses of air like to hang out right around Cincinnati and play tug-of-war with each other. This gets combined with the fact that the city does not have any large body of water to help regulate and stabilize its weather. 

Residents of Cincinnati should keep a spare jacket and umbrella in the car and always have a Plan B in case the weather ruins their outdoor plans.

14. Traffic

It’s hard to find a large city that doesn’t have a traffic problem and Cincinnati is no exception. The city has some specific locations that cause much of the headaches. The I-71 and I-75 confluence at the Brent Spence Bridge has been rated the second-worst congestion point in the country, behind only I95 as it enters New York City. The Brent Spence Bridge was built to handle about 80K cars per day but currently carries twice as many. Other problem locations include a spot near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron (24th worst in the nation) and the I-75/I-74 exchange near Northside (81st worst).

15. Lack of Public Transportation

Cincinnati has some public transportation options but it is not very robust or reliable. The Cincinnati public transportation system ranks #37 in the country, behind smaller cities such as St. Paul, MN, and Wichita, KS. Riders of the Cincinnati transportation system often complain that the routes do not reach where they need to go, there are too many transfers required, and/or the routes take too much time to complete. Residents find it far better to travel via car, which only aggravates the traffic problems.

16. Crime, Drugs, and Poverty

A homeless man dressed in black pants and fluffy black jacket lays on the sidewalk with his head against a concrete wall.

The crime rates in Cincinnati are double the national average. Violent crime is a rate of 45 in Cincinnati versus 23 US average. Property crime is 75 in the city versus 35 national. In 2020, the city set a historic record high with 94 murders. Please note, most of the crime occurs in just 10 of the city’s 53 neighborhoods, especially East Westwood, Downtown, South Fairmount, North Fairmount, and English Wood.

The state of Ohio ranked #2 in the nation for opioid-related deaths, behind only West Virginia, and rising rapidly. Maps of drug overdose deaths in Ohio show a large proportion of the state’s deaths occurring in the Cincinnati area.

One reason why certain neighborhoods are struggling with crime and drugs is because of high poverty rates. Cincinnati has the 5th worst poverty rate in the country among the larger cities, approaching 30%; meaning 1 out of every 3 residents of Cincinnati live below the poverty line. The Black population is twice as likely to live in poverty as the White population.

17. Racial Segregation

Cincinnati is indeed a diverse city and you can experience different cultures by moving between neighborhoods. The downside to this is the fact there is a lack of diversity inside of each neighborhood; in other words, residents of certain races and ethnicities tend to live next to people that look like themselves. 

Cincinnati has been ranked as the 5th worst city in the country for segregated living. Nearly 50% of Cincinnati residents live in a neighborhood filled mostly with folks from their own race. And nearly 80% of neighborhoods have either White/Asian or Black/Hispanic residents.

Is Cincinnati a Good Place to Live?

A photo of the Cincinnati Bengal's playing football. The Bengal's team is lined up, with black uniforms and bright orange helmets.

Yes, Cincinnati has a great list of benefits, with a very reasonable cost of living. Cincinnati is a diverse city with some great libraries, parks, and colleges. It has a thriving downtown area with plenty to see and do. 

Of course, every big city has the typical big-city problems like pollution and traffic. Crime, drugs, and poverty are excessive in Cincinnati but are concentrated in just a few neighborhoods. 

As with any big move, make sure you have a job lined up and have researched the neighborhood you are staying, before calling the moving company.

What Does it Cost to Live in Cincinnati?

The city of Cincinnati has been ranked in the Top 10% on the list of the most affordable cities in the country to live in. Overall, the cost of living in Cincinnati is 16% lower than the national average, and this city is a rare location where the cost of living is below the national average in every major cost category. Specifically, the cost of housing is attractive to many potential residents with the median home price being $200K in Cincinnati versus the US average of $291K.

What is the ZIP code for Cincinnati, Ohio?

Cincinnati has 106 zip codes. Please see.

Is Cincinnati a Safe City?

Most Cincinnati neighborhoods are safe, however, the city has some of the worst crime statistics in the country. The crime rates in Cincinnati are double the national average, and the city recently set a historic record high with 94 murders. 

Most of the crime, drugs, and poverty are concentrated in about 10 of the city’s 53 neighborhoods, especially East Westwood, Downtown, South Fairmount, North Fairmount, and English Wood.

What County is Cincinnati, Ohio in?

Cincinnati is in Hamilton County, Ohio.

What is the Coldest Month in Cincinnati?

The coldest month in Cincinnati is January with an average low of 25°F and high of 40°F. The lowest temperature ever measured in Cincinnati was -25 degrees Fahrenheit on January 18, 1977.

However, it is not unusual for temperatures to occasionally drop below zero on any day in November through March. And there have been days in the past where Cincinnati experienced below-freezing conditions in April/May and September/October.

Related: 21 Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago