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Cincinnati vs Cleveland [2024] | Where Should You Live?

Last Updated on: 24th August 2021, 12:33 pm

Thinking about a move to Ohio but aren’t sure which Buckeye State city to call home? This midwest state is known for its low cost of living and high quality of life and both cities offer a good mix of affordable housing, diverse economies, and popular attractions. Cleveland is far colder and more liberal with an industrial feel while Cincinnati feels more like a Southern city and it’s known for its architecture, medical and research jobs, friendly residents, and small town feel despite its size. Here’s how they stack up.

Pros & Cons of Living in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland

Is Ohio’s biggest lake city or river city right for you? Let’s cover some major benefits and drawbacks of Cincinnati vs. Cleveland to help you make an informed decision.

Living in Cincinnati Pros

Top-Rated Attractions in Cincinnati

Did you know Cincinnati is home to some of the top-rated attractions in the United States? You’re just 23 miles from Kings Island, one of the country’s best roller coaster theme parks. Zagat Survey has named the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden one of the best zoos in the nation and it’s one of the oldest. Newport Aquarium in Kentucky is within walking distance of downtown!


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Another one of the highlights of living in Cincinnati? You’ll also find great museums in the city like the Cincinnati Art Museum, one of the oldest in the U.S., and the famous Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal housed in a historic art deco train station with several museums in one: the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, and the Cincinnati History Museum.

One of the perks of living in Cincinnati is you’ll never be short on fun things to do!

Great Food & Nightlife in Over the Rhine

Cincinnati is best known for its famous Cincinnati chili but that’s not the only cuisine that makes Cincinnati unique. Locals love goetta, a German-inspired meat and grain sausage, LaRosa’s pizza, and Graeter’s ice cream. You’ll notice the impact German immigrants have made on Cincinnati’s cuisine — especially during Oktoberfest! Cincinnati hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the hemisphere: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati draws in more than 500,000 people in a single weekend.

Speaking of the city’s German heritage, the Over the Rhine or OTR neighborhood, once the population center for German immigrants, has been revitalized into an exciting nightlife destination with fun bars like 16-Bit Bar and Arcade and lounges like Ghost Baby, a recently opened lounge and music venue in the German brewery tunnels under OTR that had been empty since the 1850s.

Cincinnati’s so fun that it was recently ranked as the second-best nightlife in the United States! A pro of living in Cincinnati is you’ll always have something exciting to do on the weekend.

Cincinnati’s Great Economy & Jobs

Cincinnati has one of the fastest-growing economies in the Midwest and generally has more jobs available than people to fill them! Cincinnati is headquarters for several Fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s, AK Steel, and Fifth Third Bank. Cincinnati has a reputation for its strong economy and high-paying jobs in manufacturing, research, medicine, and aviation. Healthcare alone accounts for one-sixth of the region’s economy with major employers like Cincinnati Children’s Health and TriHealth.


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One of the benefits of living in Cincinnati is you won’t have trouble finding a job, especially in in-demand fields!

Living in Cincinnati Cons

Cincinnati’s Subpar Public Transit

Unfortunately, Cincinnati has no subway system, only partially built and abandoned tunnels after plans for a subway fell through. There is a Metro system and a streetcar system that transports passengers throughout downtown, but it’s definitely not easy to get around the area without a car. If you’re used to living in a city with a strong mass transit system, one of the drawbacks is you’ll be disappointed trying to navigate Cincinnati without a car.

Living in Cleveland Pros

Cleveland’s Great Public Transit System

Cleveland has one of the best-developed mass transit systems in the U.S. The RTA rail system, the Rapid, makes it affordable and easy to get around the city. The city’s most popular route, the Healthline, serves more than 5 million per day and it’s considered one of the best examples of rapid bus transit in America with low fares, fewer stops for faster travel, comfortable stations, and level platform boarding. Residents will tell you that the city’s highly rated transit system is a clear perk of living in Cleveland.

There are four lines on the RTA Rapid train system including the Red Line which lets you ride from the airport to downtown for $3. You can also hop on free downtown trolleys in Cleveland while out shopping and bar-hopping.

Great Historical & Cultural Attractions in Cleveland

Cleveland has plenty of history and culture to explore in part thanks to its diversity: up to 117 nationalities are represented in the city with neighborhoods like Slavic Village and the Polish-influenced Tremont. You’ll find plenty of things to do like the Cleveland Museum of Art, founded in 1913, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and downtown’s Hungarian Museum. One of the most famous Cleveland attractions is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame while families love the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.


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The city also hosts endless cultural events you’ll love like the Irish Cultural Festival and Kurentovanje, a Slovenian Mardi Gras festival.

Cleveland’s Lake Erie Lifestyle

Lake Erie is responsible for Cleveland’s growth during the industrial age and it remains a large part of daily life in the city. One of the advantages of living in Cleveland? Beautiful lake views and plenty of things to do at the shore. Explore the water with a speed boat, paddleboard, or kayak or visit some of the lighthouses in the region like Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, home to one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes.


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Locals love Euclid Beach Park with 300 miles of hiking trails plus the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and golfing. Another great destination is Edgewater Park just minutes from downtown with swimming (with a special dog swimming beach!), picnicking, fishing from Edgewater Fishing Pier, and cycling.

Living in Cleveland Cons

Cleveland Gets a lot of Snow

Not a big fan of the snow and the cold? One of the biggest drawbacks of living in Cleveland is the cold weather and lake effect. Cleveland gets an average of 54″ of snow per year compared to the national average of 28″. Thanks to this lake effect, you’ll get more severe winters on the east side of Cleveland than the west side — a tip to keep in mind if you decide to settle in Cleveland.

Jobs Can Be Harder to Find in Cleveland

Cleveland’s economy has made progress in the last few years but it still falls behind when you compare jobs in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland. The Forest City has a higher unemployment rate than Cincinnati, lower household income, and a lower projected future job growth rate. You may find it hard to find gainful employment or a high-paying career in the region — a definite downside of living in Cleveland.

Cost of Living in Cincinnati Versus Cleveland

Ohio as a whole is known for its low cost of living, but how does the cost of living in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland compare? You’ll find the Cincinnati cost of living is much lower than Cleveland! According to Numbeo, you would need just $4,027 in Cincinnati to maintain the same standard of living you get with $4,700 in Cleveland!

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Consumer prices are 18% lower in Cincinnati versus Cleveland
  • Rent is 6% lower in Cincinnati compared to Cleveland
  • Groceries are 24% lower in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
  • Local purchasing power is 31% higher in Cincinnati over Cleveland

The average rent in Cincinnati is $650 for a one-bedroom apartment or $860 for a two-bedroom apartment. Despite rising rent prices, Cincinnati is one of the most affordable cities in the United States! By comparison, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Cleveland is $1,123, according to RentCafe.

Additional Things to Consider Between Cincinnati vs. Cleveland


Cleveland and Cincinnati are very similar in population although Cleveland comes out a bit ahead. The population of Cincinnati is 302,000 (2.1 million metro) while the Cleveland population is 383,000 (2 million metro).

Traffic in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland

Hate being stuck in traffic? It’s something you’ll get used to during rush hour in Cincinnati, which battles with Columbus for the worst congestion in the state. Cincinnati is the 40th most congested city in the United States. It may not seem too bad if you’re used to a big city like Boston, New York, or Los Angeles, but I-75 and I-71 are almost impossible to travel during rush hour. Clevelanders enjoy far less congestion: the city ranks 98th in the country.


While Cincinnatians know rain, Clevelanders know snow. A lot of it. Cleveland gets 54 inches of snow per year but Cincinnati only gets 15 inches, well below the national average. Summers are also a bit warmer in Cincinnati. The climate in Cincinnati vs. Cleveland comes down to not only Cincinnati’s location further south but, more importantly, the effect of Lake Erie on Cleveland weather.

Crime Rate in Cincinnati Versus Cleveland

Neither Cincinnati nor Cleveland has the highest safety rating, but Cincinnati has far less violent crime than Cleveland while the two are about equal on property crime. In fact, one of the downsides of living in Cleveland is it has a violent crime rate nearly double the rate in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati to Cleveland Distance

What if you fall in love with one city but want to enjoy the attractions of the other. The good news is the cities are a day trip away. How far is it from Cincinnati to Cleveland? 250 miles or just under 4 hours away. Here’s how to get from Cincinnati to Cleveland on I-75.

Where Are You Moving: Cincinnati or Cleveland?

Have you decided which city will be home? The Queen City of Cincinnati boasts beautiful architecture, an exciting nightlife, a huge park system, and a stronger economy while Cleveland delivers easy lakefront living, less traffic, and an amazing mass transit system. Which city is calling to you?

If the strengths of living in Cincinnati are too much to ignore, call the trusted Cincinnati movers at Bell Moving & Storage to help with your relocation. Fill out our Request a Quote form for a free moving estimate to get started!


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