Ohio marks the boundary of the Midwest, and has a distinctive Midwestern flavor, such as many small towns and rural areas, friendly residents, and a cold climate.
To be sure, Ohio has several large cities: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, and many mid-sized towns like Dayton. The northern sections of Ohio face Lake Erie and offer excellent outdoor recreation.
The lake is one of the Midwest’s most popular recreational areas and a great place for fishing and boating. Elsewhere in the state, the Ohio River and Miami River run through the southern parts of the Buckeye State and also have opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Ohio’s many parks and nature preserves are good for bird and wildlife watching, and there are also lots of trails for biking and hiking.
The Ohio climate is humid-continental with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and winters are cold with frequent snowstorms. Snowfall in Ohio averages 28 inches per year. In Cleveland, the winter temperature ranges from about 33 degrees to 19 degrees. Cincinnati, which is further south, averages winter highs of 41 degrees with total snowfall of 23 inches.
According to an analysis by Bankrate.com in 2015, Ohio ranked 14th lowest in the U.S. for its weather. It also ranked 10th lowest for resident health and well-being.
An attractive feature of retiring in Ohio is the reasonable cost of living. The overall living cost is 36th in the country. The cost of living index is 88, well below the national average of 100.
The total tax burden in Ohio is 9.7%, a bit higher than the median rate for large U.S. cities. The income tax rate starts at .0587% and tops out at 5.39%, which applies to the $200,000+ bracket. Social Security and military retirement benefits are not taxed.
The median home price in 2015 was $116,400 which was also well under the national average. The state’s property tax is about average at 1.3% and there is a homestead exemption. Ohio has no estate or inheritance tax.
Although Ohio is known for crime, the overall crime rate in Ohio is only slightly higher than the national average. Property crimes account for the vast majority of the crime rate. Crimes occur mainly in the large cities: Columbus’s overall crime is nearly twice the national average while Cincinnati’s rate is a little more than double the national average and Cleveland’s rate is 140% above the national average. But in upscale suburbs of Columbus like Upper Arlington, the crime rate is 80% below the national average.
Here are several Ohio retirement destinations worth consideration.
A suburb of Cleveland, Lakewood is a town of 52,000 in northeast Ohio on the Lake Erie coast. Movoto recommended it as one of the best small cities to retire in, because it is an ideal location for active retirees and fans of outdoor recreation. The Division of Aging maintains one of the largest set of programs for seniors in the state. There are two senior centers offering nutritional education, transportation, and events and activities such as tai chi, book clubs, photography groups, and exercise programs, and day trips, outings, and cookouts.
Lakewood has more than 150 acres of open park space. Lakewood Park is one of the largest lakefront parks in Ohio and features a live concert stage, outdoor swimming pool, picnic pavilions, playground, and ball courts. A walking/jogging/biking trail circles the park. The park’s million-dollar lakefront promenade, opened in 2006, provides excellent views of downtown Cleveland.
The Beck Center for the Arts is the largest cultural arts center on Cleveland’s West Shore and hosts numerous live theatre performances, concerts, events, and art shows. There are four other art galleries in town. The Lakewood public library has two branches and is regularly ranked among the top five public libraries for its size in the U.S.
Also located on the northern end of Ohio, Mentor dates back to the Eighteenth Century and was the home of President James A. Garfield. More recently, CNNMoney twice ranked Mentor as one of the Top 100 Places to Live in America, in 2006 and 2010. MarketWatch also named the town as as one of the best places in Ohio to retire, because of its amenities, cultural offerings, natural scenery, and active senior community. About 17% of the population is age 65 or over.
The town of 50,000 features a thriving shopping district, a large mall, and over 150 restaurants. There is also a 4,000-member senior center.
The city maintains over 1,200 acres of green space, including 34 parks and Headlands Beach State Park, the longest public swimming beach in Ohio. Bird and nature watchers can enjoy hiking in Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve and Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve. Meanwhile, history fans can visit the James A. Garfield National Historic Site and the nearby Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In fact, all of the amenities of Cleveland are just a half hour drive away.
Known nationally as a bastion of progressivism, Oberlin offers many opportunities for active seniors and other residents to get involved in various causes, especially environmentalism.
The home of Oberlin College, Oberlin is a college town of 8,000. Both the town and the college are at the forefront of the environmental movement, and recruit seniors and other residents to participate. About half of the school’s electricity comes from environmentally favorable sources. The city has a goal of having net-negative greenhouse gas emissions, with garbage trucks running on sustainable fuels and many bike paths.
The college’s cultural attractions are appealing to many retirees. The Allen Memorial Art Museum contains 14,000 works of art, some by well-known masters, and is regularly ranked as one of the top five college museums in America. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the oldest music conservatory in the country, received the 2009 National Medal of the Arts, and has the largest private jazz music collection in the U.S.
The Oberlin Heritage Center enables visitors to explore the area’s past, while the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts has various exhibits that include textiles, quilts, origami, and photographs.
A suburb of Cincinnati in southwest Ohio, Blue Ash is a tiny town of 12,000 but rates high for amenities, climate, and air quality. The average summer temperature is 71 degrees. Blue Ash is located 20 miles from Cincinnati and transportation is available at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport.
Besides the amenities available in Cincinnati, Blue Ash offers several annual events of its own. “Red, White and Blue Ash” is held annually in celebration of the Fourth of July and includes the biggest Independence Day fireworks display in the region. It also features internationally popular rock acts. In 2010, the bands Yes and Peter Frampton drew a record 150,000 people to that year’s Red, White, and Blue Ash event.
Taste of Blue Ash is held in August and features cuisine from a local restaurants, free music by local and national performers, and a family area featuring festival rides, free games, and other entertainment. Beats, Arts & Eats, started in 2012 and growing in popularity, is held in the fall and features food vendors, artists, and live music.
Additionally, Blue Ash and the neighboring city of Montgomery partner to support the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, which performs at local events. In addition, the orchestra provides an annual Concert Series during the summer months.
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