Located along the banks of the Ohio River, Cincinnati, OH is a city with a rich blend of history, culture, and urban vibrancy. But is Cincinnati, OH a good place to live? If you’re thinking about calling the Queen City home, weighing the pros and cons of living in Cincinnati is essential. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking at homes for sale in Cincinnati, apartments for rent, or are just curious about what it’s like to live here, this Redfin guide is for you.
Pros of living in Cincinnati, OH
1. Things to do
If you’re a fan of art, consider checking out the Taft Museum of Art. Visitors can enjoy special exhibitions, the beautiful outdoor garden, the Museum Shop and Lindner Family Café, events and programming for all ages—and so much more. The Taft Museum of Art is a one-of-a-kind, multi-sensory experience that puts you at the center of art and history right in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.
“This is where I think so many people miss out on visiting a city like ours,” says Mike Stokes, President of Cincy Brew Bus, a guided tour of the best breweries in Cincinnati. “There is so much to do every season all of the time. From the enchanting Festival of Lights at the Zoo to the thrill of Kings Island amusement park, catching games featuring the Reds, Bengals, Cyclones, and Bearcats, or immersing in events like the Cincy Beer Fest and Cincinnati Food Tours—the options are endless. Immerse yourself in history with the Brewing Heritage Trail or explore the artistic wonders at the Cincinnati Art Museum and Taft’s Museum of Art. Enjoy concerts at the Riverbend Music Center, and embrace leisurely strolls through Smale Riverfront Park and Washington Park, the list goes on.”
Lisa Andrews, a registered dietician at Sound Bites Nutrition loves how Cincinnati offers something for everyone. “I like to spend my free time going to live concerts or shows at Riverbend, the Taft Theater, Woodward Theater, and Aronoff Center. I also enjoy biking on the Loveland Bike Trail and playing pickleball at Lang Courts or Sawyer Point. I highly recommend checking out Findlay Market, the oldest continuously operated public market in Ohio and offers a great mix of indoor and outdoor local food and craft vendors. Findlay is also home to an incubator kitchen where new restaurants and vendors often get their start.”
MainStrasse Village in Covington, just across the river from Cincinnati, is a historic and charming neighborhood. The cobblestone streets are lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, and pubs offering a delightful blend of local and international cuisine. “It’s an enchanting locale where individuals come together to foster a community built on diversity, acceptance, and an overall cheerful atmosphere,” shares Stoney’s Village Toy Shoppe. “Oh, and by the way, we have a touch of eccentricity that adds to the charm.”
2. The incredible food scene
“One of my favorite Italian restaurants is Via Vite located in the heart of the city on Fountain Square,” shares Murissa Shalapata, co-founder of Foodie Town, offering city guides, travel guides, restaurant reviews, and more. “It is perfect for special occasions, yet won’t break the bank. Another unique restaurant is Nicholson’s Scottish Pub. You feel you’ve left the country and entered Scotland. Finally, you need to try German lager beer. One of the best spots is along the river at Moerlein Lager House.”
“Tacos hold a special place in my heart, and Pata Roja Taqueria on Court Street downtown is my ultimate go-to spot,” says Gee Horton Art Studios, a self-taught artist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. “This hidden gem not only captures the essence of authentic Mexican flavors but elevates the taco experience with an array of tantalizing options.”
“In the past few years, Cincinnati and surrounding areas have blown up with amazing food choices,” explains Soul Unique Consignment Boutique, featuring new and gently used clothing, accessories, designer handbags, and home decor. “From one of a kind taproom bars and outdoor balcony seating, to once in a lifetime experience at Jeff Ruby, there are options for every price range and even the most picky eaters.”
3. Events and festivals
Cincinnati provides its residents with a lively calendar of events and festivals that captivate both locals and visitors alike throughout the year. From the renowned Oktoberfest Zinzinnati to the Cincinnati Music Festival, the city hosts celebrations spanning music, culinary arts, and sports, attracting both locals and visitors. The Bunbury Music Festival and the MidPoint Music Festival add to the dynamic calendar.
“Undoubtedly, the Blink Festival, held biennially, stands out as an unparalleled spectacle,” states Gee Horton Art Studios. “This arts-focused event showcases an impressive array of expansive projection mapping, murals, and interactive light sculptures contributed by artists from around the world. The Blink Festival is a captivating celebration that transcends traditional boundaries, offering a mesmerizing experience that reflects the global diversity and innovation within the realm of visual arts.”
4. Beautiful parks
“The Cincinnati area has some of the most beautiful parks and small town scenes that make living here feel like home,” shares lifestyle photographer Heather Ford of Two Blooms Photography. “I love being able to give my clients so many different options when it comes to planning their photo sessions in a place where we all feel comfortable and safe. The small business scene is incredible and I always enjoy recommending local dives for my clients to visit after our sessions together.”
Some notable parks include Eden Park, with its serene lakes and beautifully landscaped grounds, offering a tranquil escape within the urban landscape. Washington Park, located in Over-the-Rhine, provides a vibrant community space with a playground and regular events. For nature enthusiasts, Mt. Airy Forest stands out as one of the city’s largest parks, featuring hiking trails, a treehouse playground, and a disc golf course.
5. City Culture
Murissa Shalapata, co-founder of Foodie Town, a resource for travel guides, restaurant reviews, and more, states “The city takes pride in its rich German heritage and proudly hosts the world’s second-largest Oktoberfest, surpassed only by Munich. A genuine love for beer and brats permeates the cultural landscape. Adding to the charm is Over-the-Rhine, a historic 360-acre German neighborhood brimming with breweries, restaurants, and shops, creating a vibrant tapestry of cultural experiences for residents and visitors alike.”
Mike Stokes of Cincy Brew Bus shares, “The art scene in Cincinnati is truly special, especially for a city this size. Cincinnati takes immense pride in the arts, boasting incredible galleries, museums, and a vibrant music culture. Our love for beer is deeply rooted in the city’s German cultural foundation. Throughout various neighborhoods, you’ll discover fantastic German festivals featuring exceptional food, beer, dancing, games, and music. Paired with our distinctive old-world Italianate Architecture, taking a stroll here feels like stepping back in time.”
“Having grown up in Eastern Kentucky and spent seven years in New York before settling in the Greater Cincinnati area, I have come to appreciate numerous aspects of this place,” says Miranda Schultz, writer behind lifestyle blog, The Plus Life. “First on my list is the vibrant culture. The people here exude warmth, kindness, and a welcoming spirit. My husband and I have forged many meaningful friendships, a sentiment shared by our children. Additionally, we delight in the plethora of enjoyable activities, with favorites including The Cincinnati Zoo, The Cincinnati Children’s Museum, Entertainment Junction, Silverlake The Family Place, and the abundance of fantastic playgrounds and parks.
Cincinnati has a rich cultural heritage that is a source of pride for its residents. The city’s historic architecture, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall, the exceptional world class restaurants and its unique art scene all come together to make Cincinnati an extraordinary place to live. One art gallery that stands out is the Joseph Clark Gallery which showcases a diverse collection of tribal artifacts from sub-Saharan west Africa, as well as original artwork from local artists and artisans. The Cincinnati close-knit communities celebrate their unique traditions through annual events like the Taste of Cincinnati highlighting the culinary delights from various cultures.”
6. Cincinnati neighborhoods
“Cincinnati is full of fun, eclectic neighborhoods,” explains Lisa Andrews of Sound Bites Nutrition. “One of my favorites is Northside, known for its diverse, LGTBQ-friendly shops and restaurants including Shake it Records, Tickle Pickle, and Melt Revival. Northside hosts an unforgettable Fourth of July Parade that people around the city attend annually. I’m also fond of Pleasant Ridge, where I live. It’s a diverse, friendly neighborhood with a tight-knit community of runners, pickleball players, and craft beer lovers. Some of my favorite spots include Coffee Exchange, Café Alma, and Nine Giant Brewery.”
“Cincinnati has many great neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and appeal,” states Rivertown Inkery & Apparel, vintage-inspired shirts, apparel, and other printed items. “Oakley is more of a traditional single-family home neighborhood with a main business district filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. It is also right next to other neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Walnut Hills, and Columbia Tusculum. All of these great areas complement each other and give residents a lot of options outside of just where they live.”
“In my opinion, Findlay Market is the most lively and active area of the city,” shares Rivertown Inkery & Apparel. “It has a wonderful mix of businesses and people that cannot be matched. Located in the northern end of Over-the-Rhine, this historic area has been undergoing renovation for the last 5-10 years and there is much more to come. On any given day, you’ll encounter folks who call this area home, people who live nearby but do their shopping here, and tourists from other cities. The historical architecture and brewery sites are my favorite, and you can even take a tour and see some of the underground prohibition era tunnels that are scattered throughout these sites.”
“The can’t-miss neighborhoods for me are Walnut Hills and the West End,” says Gee Horton Art Studios. “Walnut Hills, known for its historic charm, is a vibrant community undergoing revitalization, boasting eclectic shops, art spaces, and a diverse culinary scene. The West End, on the other hand, exudes a unique character with its mix of historic architecture and modern development. Its proximity to major cultural and sports venues adds an extra layer of allure. Exploring these neighborhoods unveils not just the city’s history but also its evolving cultural dynamism, making them essential stops for anyone looking to truly capture the essence of Cincinnati.”
7. Low cost of living
Cincinnati’s cost of living is favorable, making it an attractive destination for residents seeking economic stability. Housing costs in the city are notably reasonable, providing diverse options for both homeowners and renters. In fact, the median sale price in Cincinnati was $255,000, nearly $160,000 below the national median. Rent prices come in lower as well, with an average of $1,261 asking rent, versus a national average of $1,473. The overall affordability extends to everyday expenses, including groceries, transportation, and utilities.
Cons of living in Cincinnati, OH
1. Unpredictable weather
Cincinnati’s weather dances to its own rhythm, showcasing a capricious nature that keeps residents on their toes. With distinct seasons, the city experiences everything from sweltering summers to brisk winters, often within the same week. Spring and fall offer a brief respite, but sudden temperature swings and unexpected rain showers are the norm. The Ohio River’s influence adds another layer of unpredictability, influencing local weather patterns. Cincinnati residents have learned to embrace a versatile wardrobe and stay attuned to weather forecasts as Mother Nature’s whimsical temperament ensures that each day is a meteorological adventure in the Queen City.
2. Lack of public transportation
Cincinnati, unfortunately, grapples with a notable deficiency in public transportation infrastructure, which impacts the city’s accessibility and convenience. The absence of an extensive and efficient public transit system can pose challenges for residents and visitors alike, limiting options for commuting and making the reliance on personal vehicles more pronounced. While efforts have been made to enhance public transportation, the city still lacks the comprehensive network found in many metropolitan areas. As Cincinnati continues to evolve and grow, addressing the gaps in public transportation infrastructure remains a crucial consideration to foster a more sustainable and commuter-friendly urban environment.
3. Bad traffic congestion
Navigating Cincinnati’s roadways can often be a test of patience due to persistent traffic congestion plaguing the city. With a growing population and limited public transportation options, the reliance on personal vehicles contributes to congestion, especially during peak hours. The challenge is further compounded by ongoing construction projects aimed at improving infrastructure, adding temporary obstacles to the daily commute.
Is Cincinnati, OH a good place to live? Final thoughts
Cincinnati is a city with undeniable charm and complexity, offering a myriad of experiences for those who choose to call it home. The diverse neighborhoods, vibrant arts scene, and culinary delights underscore the city’s cultural richness. However, the challenges of unpredictable weather and traffic congestion serve as reminders of the urban dynamics residents navigate. As the Queen City continues to evolve, the blend of its positives and challenges forms a narrative that captures the essence of urban living in the heart of the Midwest.
In the end, whether you decide to make the move to Cincinnati, OH or not, it’s clear that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks when making this dynamic city your home.