WASHINGTON, February 9, 2018: As noted in my first article in this series, I replied at length about a year ago to a Quora query. The question: Would be a good idea for a millennial professional couple to relocate to one of several Rust Belt cities. The cities they named were Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Buffalo, New York.
Today, let’s take a brief look at Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cincinnati: Located on the Ohio River and adjacent to the state of Kentucky – its busy airport is actually located across the river in Covington, Ky. – Cincinnati is loaded with Democrats, politically speaking. Yet as is generally the case throughout Ohio, the city’s northern suburbs are loaded with some of the most conservative Republican enclaves in the country. Former Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner hails from this area.
So if it’s politics that move you, the city itself is where lefties will likely feel most comfortable. For conservatives and libertarians, select Cincinnati suburbs are just the place for you, your manicured lawn, your American flag, your gun rack and camo togs, and above all, your highly Deplorable status.
In general, the Cincinnati area is a mirror of Flyover Country in general and Ohio in particular. Densely populated cities head left, while smaller towns and rural areas are solidly conservative. That’s why America’s real “swing states” are clustered here.
Cincinnati is a vastly underrated small city that’s been vital to America’s economic development since America’s frontier days when it served as a river gateway to the wide open plains and the mountainous West. Business-wise, it’s still a major Ohio River port today. It also boasts the headquarters of at least three nationally-known Fortune 500-style companies: consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble and mega-grocery chain Kroger, and, believe it or not, Macy’s.
As a result of the business generated by these corporate giants and smaller companies that complement them, Cincinnati still offers fairly decent employment possibilities in its region as it diversifies further into tech, banking, and consumer staples. As with other cities on this list, there are still manufacturing jobs available here. But employment in other areas is growing as much of the city, like much of Ohio, is betting its future on attracting non-Rust-Belt businesses and getting them to relocate here. The recently-passed GOP tax cut package will be a big help here as well.
Culture-wise, the city is an excellent center for the performing arts. Cincinnati is especially proud of well-known Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It also boasts a fine, mid-tier opera company as well.
Crime? It can get nasty in some areas of the city. Otherwise, Cincinnati is no different from other large urban areas in the U.S. If you live in a half-decent neighborhood, just keep your eyes open and lock your doors at night, and you’ll be just about as secure as anyoe else.
As for those flag-flying near-in suburbs, they boast among the lowest crime stats and lowest costs of living in the U.S.
Are you a professional sports fan? The football Bengals and the baseball Cincinnati Reds will easily fill the bill, even though it’s been quite a while since either team was in contention for real post-season action.
The bad: Occasionally tinderbox race relations and a couple of really nasty neighborhoods.
The weather: As in most of Ohio, summers are surprisingly humid, a climate that’s due at least in part to the effects of Lake Erie far to the north as well as the Ohio River itself. Many a torrid summer day feels like it does in America’s Deep South, which is a surprise for many people who relocate to this city. On the other hand, you get all four seasons here, including chilly, humid winters and occasional outbursts of serious snowfall. But if you fear a nasty heating bill, don’t despair. During the winter, Ohioans statewide generally have the advantage of cheap and plentiful natural gas for cooking and heating alike. Steamy summers can be handled easily with air conditioners or a heat pump.
Should you move there?
It’s up to you. Obviously, Cincinnati is not New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco or L.A. On the other hand, it has its own discreet charms, including its orchestra and professional sports teams, its internationally-known zoo, its popular and deliciously different Cincinnati-style chili, its local brews and it quirky but often charming local neighborhoods.
Taxes are relatively high here, particularly for real estate. But that’s balanced by substantially cheaper home prices, which, in many areas, are substantially below the national average. Another plus: fairly inexpensive prices for groceries given that much of Ohio is farmland. For that reason, fresh, local produce, beef pork, poultry are abundant and cheap in season.
Wine fans will be largely disappointed in Ohio wines, although there are some winners here. The main issue, though, is that Ohioans in generally like cloyingly sweet wines, if they like wine at all. Otherwise, they just head back to their default brews after their brief flings with Ohio-grown fermented grape juice. That said, major cities like Cincinnati offer an impressive array of U.S. and international vintages, so wine conoisseurs needn’t fear a move here.
In short, Cincinnati could be a good move for up-and-coming young families looking for room to spread out and raise one or more kids. Schools outside the city are reasonably good; inside the city, not so good, which is essentially a national trend. Alternatively, there are plenty of Catholic elementary and high schools throughout the state that offer a better education when compared to public schools, albeit with considerably more expense involved in this choice. And yes, these schools will accept a certain number of students from other religions and won’t subject them to proselytization.
Bottom line: While Cincinnati still has its faults, you can settle in here comfortably, get a decent job, raise a family, and meet people that are so down-to-earth that you’ll feel a little like Dorothy in the Land of Oz if you hail from NYC, Philadelphia, New Jersey, or other dog-eat-dog East Coast U.S. cities. As the toxic politics that dominates coastal American cities gets ever more nasty, Rust Belt cities like Cincinnati and and its assorted city suburbs can offer an excellent opportunity to return to the kind of America that many of us used to know. That’s a big plus in our book, no matter which way your political and social style tends to swing.