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Cincinnati vs Lexington ❓🌉 | Living in Cincinnati Versus Lexington [Pros & Cons]

Last Updated on: 10th January 2023, 07:50 pm

Trying to decide between living in Lexington, Kentucky or Cincinnati? These two cities are just 80 miles apart but differ significantly in terms of culture and economy. Lexington is famous as the Horse Capital of the World and home to the University of Kentucky while Cincinnati, or the Queen City, is known for its many museums, breweries, performing arts, and, of course, Cincinnati-style chili. Lexington is firmly in the South in the heart of Bluegrass Country and feels like a “big small town” surrounded by horse farms, while Cincinnati’s culture has a unique blend of Midwest-meets-the-South with more museums, cultural attractions, and family-friendly entertainment.

Whether you’re moving for a lower cost of living, job opportunities, or better amenities, you’ll want to carefully consider the pros and cons of Cincinnati vs Lexington to decide which city is right for you.

Pros & Cons of Living in Cincinnati vs Lexington

Can’t decide between living on the Ohio River or the heart of Bluegrass Country? A good place to start is this list of pros and cons of living in Lexington vs Cincinnati.

Living in Cincinnati Pros

Cincinnati has many great schools

One of the benefits of living in Cincinnati is you’ll find great schools combined with affordable living. 36% of schools in Greater Cincinnati are among the top 25% nationwide, and one Cincinnati school district is among the top 10 districts in the country.

Learn more about school districts in Ohio to see how they rank.

There are tons of attractions in Cincinnati for families & couples

A major advantage of moving to Cincinnati is you’ll be within minutes of some of the Midwest’s best attractions, not to mention over one dozen great museums and a fun and historic entertainment district with nightlife options. Here are just some of the top things to do near Cincinnati:

  • Kings Island, one of America’s best roller coaster theme parks and winner of the 2022 international Park of the Year award
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, home to the internationally famous Fiona the hippo, one of America’s oldest zoos, and frequently rated the best zoo in the United States
  • Coney Island, a family-friendly water park with the largest recirculating pool in the world
  • Newport Aquarium, ranked one of the top 10 aquariums in America by US Today

 

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Cincinnati is one of America’s most affordable cities

One of the perks of living in Cincinnati? You’ll enjoy a great quality of life with more disposable income than most cities. When it comes to housing, your money goes further in Cincinnati. It’s been ranked the most affordable city for renters living alone, although Lexington ranked #5.

The Cincinnati metro area also ranked the #7 most affordable housing market in the world according to the 2022 Demographia International Housing Affordability Index. The index ranks housing affordability based on income in relation to housing prices. Lexington didn’t make the list.

Living in Cincinnati Cons

Cincinnati has a high crime rate

The high crime rate is one of the biggest downsides of living in Cincinnati, with violent crime 130% above the national average. However, you need to put Cincinnati crime into perspective: in 2020, 58% of homicides occurred in only seven neighborhoods. Over-the-Rhine, a popular nightlife destination, also has a high crime rate, but a lot of this is due to the high concentration of bars and clubs.

 

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Living in Lexington Pros

Lexington is a gateway to outdoor recreation

A major benefit of living in Lexington is amazing access to pristine nature and outdoor recreation. As Daniel Boone said upon reaching Kentucky: “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.” Lexington Parks & Recreation oversees more than 100 city parks, 6 pools, 5 golf courses, and 6 community centers. The city is surrounded by picturesque horse farms, rolling Bluegrass hills, and rivers plus some of the region’s best outdoor attractions easily within reach.

Hike to waterfalls, explore the stunning Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest, go horseback riding, try rock climbing, and explore the water in a kayak – all within an hour.

Lexington has a friendly, college town atmosphere

A plus of living in Lexington is enjoying the charm of small town Southern culture with all the opportunities and excitement of a big city. Lexington has been ranked as one of America’s best college towns thanks to its beautiful surroundings, inviting streets, and cool hang-out spots.

 

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Living in Lexington Cons

Schools in Lexington aren’t the best

The lack of quality education is a drawback of living in Lexington. While it has some of the best schools in Kentucky, even the best high schools in Lexington are not ranked among the top #1,000 nationwide. Only 13 are nationally ranked and among the top 5, three have graduation rates of 92% or less, just average for Kentucky.

Lexington has notoriously bad traffic & poor infrastructure

While some drivers will downplay it, Lexington traffic is awful in part due to poor infrastructure that has not kept up with the city’s growth. The average Lexington driver loses 79 hours in traffic congestion every year, which costs $1,108, making it #28 among the most congested cities. WalletHub ranked Lexington the 16th worst city to drive in based on traffic and infrastructure, safety, cost of ownership, and cost and ease of maintenance.

Cost of Living in Cincinnati vs Lexington

The cost of living in Lexington vs Cincinnati is similar on the surface, but a deeper dive into the numbers shows Cincinnati offers not only a lower cost of living but higher pay on average.

Here are just some important metrics to help you understand the Cincinnati vs Lexington cost of living.

Lexington vs Cincinnati Cost of Living
Lexington KY Cincinnati OH National Average
Cost of Living Index 90.5 86.8 100
Median home price $300,000 ($154/sq ft) $228,250 ($139/sq ft) $454,900
Average rent $1,155 $1,259 $2,040
Median household income $61,526 $45,235 $70,874
Average hourly wage $24.05 $26.40 $28.01
Income tax 5% 2.77% to 3.99%
Sales tax 6% 6.5%

The Cincinnati cost of living is more than 13% below the national average with an average hourly wage just 6% below average. By comparison, the Lexington cost of living is 9.5% below average but the average wage is 12% lower than average.

 

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You can expect to earn more living in Cincinnati compared to Lexington in virtually every industry. Here are examples of median wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Construction: $26.53 in Cincinnati vs $23.90 in Lexington
  • Office & administrative: $20.47 in Cincinnati vs $19.17 in Lexington
  • Architecture & engineering: $41.82 in Cincinnati vs $37.08 in Lexington
  • Healthcare practitioners: $39.47 in Cincinnati vs $38.42 in Lexington
  • Educational instruction: $30.54 in Cincinnati vs $25.59 in Lexington

Additional Considerations of Living in Lexington vs Cincinnati

Population

Do you prefer living in a large metropolitan area with plenty to explore or do you prefer a more rural or suburban environment? The population of Cincinnati and Lexington are very similar at just over 300,000, but they are drastically different when it comes to population density and metropolitan population.

Cincinnati is 3x more densely populated than Lexington with a city area less than 80 square miles. The Cincinnati metro population is 2.26 million, the largest in Ohio and the 5th largest in the Midwest, while the Lexington metro population is just 517,000.

Cincinnati OH vs Lexington KY Population
Cincinnati Lexington
Population 309,317 322,570
Population density 3,974 people/sq mi 1,137 people/sq mi
Area 79.6 sq mi 285.5 sq mi
Metro population 2.26 million 516,811
Metro area 4,808 sq mi 1,484 sq mi

Crime in Cincinnati Versus Lexington

If crime is a major concern when deciding between living in Cincinnati or Lexington, you’ll find Lexington comes out ahead overall. Lexington has a crime rate of 3,295 crimes per 100,000 and 297 violent crimes per 100,000. That’s 40% above the national average, but violent crime 24% below the national average. There were 37 homicides in 2021, breaking the 2020 record of 34, with a homicide rate of 11.5 per 100,000.

 

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The Cincinnati crime rate is higher: 4,576 crimes per 100,000 and 893 violent crimes per 100,000. That’s 95% above the national average. The Cincinnati violent crime rate is 130% over the national average. There were 77 homicides in 2022 with a murder rate of 25 per 100,000.

Just keep in mind a city’s crime rate is not the best indicator of your risk of being the victim of crime. There are many safe Cincinnati neighborhoods with crime rates just a fraction of the national average.

Jobs in Lexington vs Cincinnati

When comparing the Cincinnati versus Lexington economy, you’ll find that Cincinnati comes out ahead for job diversity and high-paying jobs. There are six Fortune 500 companies and seven Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the Queen City, and the region’s top employers represent a diverse number of industries including finance, education, healthcare, research and development, manufacturing, and logistics.

Major employees in the Cincinnati region are:

  • Kroger (18,000 employees)
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (16,500)
  • CVG Airport (14,600)
  • TriHealth (12,000)
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare (10,300)
  • University of Cincinnati (10,100)
  • UC Health (10,100)
  • Proctor & Gamble (10,000)
  • GE Aviation (9,000)
  • Bon Secours Mercy Health (7,700)
  • Fifth Third Bank (7,500)
  • Cincinnati Public Schools (6,500)
  • The Christ Hospital Health Network (6,200)
  • Amazon (6,000)
  • City of Cincinnati (5,800)

 

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Education, healthcare, and manufacturing dominate the Lexington economy.  There are only seven major employers in Greater Lexington with more than 2,000 employees in the region:

  • University of Kentucky (12,400 employees)
  • Fayette County Public Schools (5,400)
  • KentuckyOne Health (3,000)
  • Xerox (3,000)
  • Lexington-Fayette Urban County (2,800)
  • Lexmark (2,100)
  • Walmart (2,000)

Lexington to Cincinnati Distance

No matter which city you decide to call home, the attractions of the other are never out of reach. It’s 82.8 miles from Lexington KY to Cincinnati OH on I-75, or about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Lexington Versus Cincinnati: Where Are You Moving?

Have you decided between living in the Queen City or the Horse Capital of the World? Both cities have so much to offer, from Lexington’s gorgeous Bluegrass region to Cincinnati’s many attractions. If you have decided to call Cincinnati home, the friendly movers at Bell Moving & Storage are here to help. Give us a call to get started with a free, personalized moving quote today!

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