Are you thinking about moving to Dayton, Ohio? Nicknamed the Gem City, although historians aren’t exactly sure why, Dayton is famous for the Wright brothers, its history of aviation, and as the birthplace of the cash register. While dwarfed in size by Cincinnati and Columbus, the two large metro areas it’s sandwiched between, Dayton is a historic and vibrant city all its own. Here’s why you’ll love living in Dayton, Ohio, one of the most affordable metro areas in the country.
Where Is Dayton Ohio?
Dayton is located in Montgomery County, Ohio, with a small portion in Greene County. It’s in the Miami Valley area of southwest Ohio on the Great Miami River. Five major waterways converge in the city: the Great Miami River, Stillwater River, Mad River, Twin Creek, and Wolf Creek.
Dayton suburbs surrounding the city include the cities of Kettering, Beavercreek, Oakwood, Huber Heights, Riverside, Vandalia, Moraine, and Trotwood and unincorporated communities of Shiloh, Fort McKinley, Drexel, and Northridge.
The Dayton metro area isn’t technically part of the Cincinnati metro area, but there has been talk for a decade that the two metro areas may soon combine into a Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex. It’s just 54 miles from Dayton to Cincinnati and 71 miles from Dayton to Columbus.
- Dayton County: Montgomery (small portion in Greene)
- Area: 56.96 square miles
- Dayton zip codes: 43 zip codes between 45390 and 45490
- Area codes: 937 and 326
- Dayton elevation: 738 feet
- Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Closest airport: Dayton International Airport (DAY)
Dayton Ohio Population & Demographics
The population of Dayton Ohio is 137,644, according to the 2020 census, with a population density of 2,467 people per square mile. It’s the 6th largest city in Ohio by population. The Dayton metro population is 814,049. Greater Dayton, sometimes called just the Miami Valley, is Ohio’s 4th largest metro area and covers Greene, Miami, and Montgomery counties.
The Dayton population has been in decline since the 1960s. Dayton had a peak population of 262,332 in 1960, which has nearly halved to 137,644 in 2020. This is due to the decline of manufacturing in the region but also significant growth in the suburbs of Dayton.
Dayton Ohio demographics:
- Median age: 31.9 (Ohio: 39.6)
- Sex ratio: 53% female to 47% male over 18
- Median household income: $39,315 (Ohio: $62,262)
- Average commute: 20.8 minutes (Ohio: 23.7 minutes)
- Homeownership rate: 49% (Ohio: 67%)
- Educational attainment: 20% bachelor’s degree or higher (Ohio: 30.7%)
- Foreign-born population: 4.7% (Ohio: 5%)
- Veteran population: 6.8% (Ohio: 6.8%)
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Transportation & Getting Around Dayton
After moving to Dayton, OH, you’ll find it easy to get around. Greater Dayton is served by three major highways: I-675 forming a partial loop serving the eastern and southeastern suburbs, I-70 running east-west, and I-75 running north-south.
Public transportation is operated by the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) with bus and trolley routes. Intercity bus transportation is available through the Dayton Greyhound Station.
For air travel, the Dayton International Airport is just outside the city, with 21 nonstop destinations through 10 airlines. There are several smaller regional airports, including the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport, owned by the city, and two private airports.
Cost of Living in Dayton Ohio
Living in Dayton Ohio is very affordable – even more so than Ohio overall. The Dayton Ohio cost of living index is 71 or 29% less expensive than the national average. By comparison, the Ohio cost of living index is 83.
You’ll pay less for almost everything in Dayton, especially housing. Dayton rent is less than half the national average, and the Dayton median home price of $115,000 is less than one-third the national median sales price of $375,000!
Dayton Ohio living is affordable, but the cost of living index can make it hard to put into context. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a family of four with one working adult needs to earn $36.26 per hour. With two working adults, the living wage for Dayton is $24.91 for a family of four. A single adult needs to earn $15.15. The Dayton Ohio minimum wage is $10.10.
The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator shows a family of four needs to earn $6,261 gross per month or $75,128 per year for a modest lifestyle.
Dayton Real Estate | Home Prices & Average Rent in Dayton Ohio
Are you planning to rent or own while living in Dayton Ohio? The good news is, either way, you can expect affordable housing. The average rent in Dayton Ohio is $984, according to RentCafe. That’s less than half the national average! Average rent ranges from $650 to more than $1,900, depending on the neighborhood.
The median home price in Dayton is $115,000 or $81 per square foot. That’s up 8.8% year-over-year. Homes sell after a median of 34 days on the market. The Dayton housing market has been impacted by rising mortgage rates in 2022 and 2023, with the median home price up 4% from 2021. Home prices are increasing more slowly than during the COVID-19 pandemic, and fewer homes are being sold. However, inventory of homes for sale in Dayton remains low despite demand, with Dayton Realtors President saying the region has had about 20% of normal inventory.
If you’re thinking about buying a house after moving to Dayton Ohio, you can get started with your home search by exploring Dayton OH homes for sale online.
|Average Home Prices & Rent in Popular Dayton OH Neighborhoods|
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*Median home price based on 3 or fewer home sales in a year
Best Neighborhoods in Dayton Ohio
Looking for a hip, walkable neighborhood? Are you more interested in a safe, established neighborhood good for families? No matter what you have in mind, you’ll find great Dayton neighborhoods that will make you feel right at home. Here’s a look at the best places to live in Dayton Ohio.
Oregon District – One of the Trendiest Dayton Ohio Neighborhoods
Close to Downtown Dayton, the Oregon Historic District is one of Dayton’s oldest neighborhoods. The Oregon District covers about 12 square blocks, and it’s known for its brick streets and historic architecture, with homes and buildings dating back to 1820 through the early 20th century. You’ll find everything from boutiques and hip bars, and art galleries to cool amenities like Urban King, an indoor rock climbing gym.
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South Park – Walkable Neighborhood Near Top Attractions
This neighborhood has it all: it’s walkable, close to everything, safe, and offers many housing options. South Park, Dayton has a combination of multi-family housing, bungalows, and historic Victorian houses with shopping and dining along Brown St and Wayne Ave. You’re close to the bustling Oregon District and two of the city’s top employers: Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.
Grafton Hill – Close-Knit & One of the Safest Neighborhoods in Dayton Ohio
Looking for a safe place to live where you can be part of the community? Grafton Hill should definitely be at the top of your list. This charming, historic neighborhood is known for its active neighborhood association and regular community events like Oktoberfest at the Art Institute, Festival on the Hill, and Greekfest. It’s home to the Dayton Art Institute and within walking distance of downtown Dayton. You’ll find a variety of home styles, including Tudor, Queen Anne, and Craftsman homes. It’s also one of the safest places to live, with 53% less crime than the Dayton average.
University Park – One of the Most Desirable Neighborhoods in Dayton
Home to the University of Dayton, University Park is a unique Dayton neighborhood with an urban yet very residential setting. The neighborhood features quiet, tree-lined streets with Victorian, Colonial, and Craftsman homes. It’s next to Miami Valley Hospital and home to Carillon Historic Park and Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, two of the top attractions in the city.
Dayton Weather & Climate
The Dayton climate is humid continental with long, warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Dayton, Ohio living comes with 40” of annual rainfall and 17” of annual snowfall, both close to average for the U.S. The average temperature in Dayton in summer is 85° with an average January low temperature of 21°. About one week a year has high temperatures over 90°.
The best time to visit Dayton is May to June or September to avoid the chilly winter months and muggy, hot summer months.
Top Restaurants in Dayton OH
Ready to explore the best Dayton restaurants? Here are just a few of the places that will become regular haunts, including a couple in Dayton’s Oregon neighborhood, the lively entertainment district.
The Trolley Stop
Located in the heart of the Oregon District, The Trolley Stop is Dayton’s oldest continuously operating tavern, with a history going back to 1839. Visit one of the best restaurants in Dayton for live music, great cocktails, and American cuisine with locally sourced ingredients.
530 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402 (937) 461-1101
Jimmie’s Ladder 11
Housed in a restored 1892 firehouse, Jimmie’s Ladder 11 is a fun hangout with a folksy tavern vibe, large beer list, live music, and regular drink specials. It’s one of the best places for date night or a night out with friends!
936 Brown St, Dayton, OH 45409 (937) 424-1784
One of the best Dayton Oregon District restaurants, Thai 9 is an upscale Thai restaurant with authentic Thai cuisine, sushi, sashimi, and an extensive menu of craft beer and wine.
11 Brown St, Dayton, OH 45402 (937) 222-3227
Things to Do in Dayton
Living in Dayton means there’s always something fun to do just around the corner. Despite its fairly small size, Dayton is home to a philharmonic orchestra, ballet, and opera, with many live music and performing arts venues. The city offers a fun nightlife and college scene with dozens of parks and river recreation. Here are just some of the fun things to do in Dayton Ohio.
Top Attractions in Dayton Ohio
- National Museum of the US Air Force is one of the most visited Dayton attractions. This aviation museum has a 3D theater, popular flight simulator, thousands of artifacts, and over 350 aerospace missiles and vehicles. Admission is free!
- 2nd Street Market is one of the best things to do in Dayton this weekend. Visit year-round for specialty foods, prepared foods, seasonal outdoor vendors, and indoor vendors for local produce.
- Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway is definitely on the list of fun things to do in Dayton Ohio for adults with gaming, sports betting, horse racing, live music at the H Lounge, and great dining.
- Day Air Ballpark is Dayton’s minor league baseball stadium in downtown and home to the Dayton Dragons, the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
- Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center is the center of Dayton’s arts scene and home to the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic, with regular touring Broadway productions.
Dayton Museums, Entertainment & Arts
- Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a fun science museum for kids and adults with fossils, a planetarium, and live animals. Stop by to visit Patience the Sloth and watch the otters play.
- The Dayton Art Institute is ranked one of America’s top 10 art museums for kids, with over 20,000 works and many notable pieces. This iconic Dayton attraction is housed in a historic Italian Renaissance-style building overlooking downtown.
- Scene75 Entertainment Center is one of the top things to do in Dayton Ohio with kids! There’s 14 attractions, arcade games & a full bar and restaurant with laser tag, mini golf, bumper cars, and more!
- Fraze Pavilion in Kettering is one of the largest live music venues in the Dayton area, with a 4,300-seat capacity and regular international acts.
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Dayton Parks & Outdoors
- Carillon Historical Park is a 65-acre outdoor museum with a 4D theater and exhibits on transportation and Dayton history. See the original Wright Flyer III at the Wright Brothers National Museum, step onto one of the world’s oldest trains, see an operational 1930s print shop, and visit the Newcom Tavern, circa 1796.
- RiverScape MetroParks is one of the best parks in Dayton! Set along the Great Miami River, the RiverScape offers winter ice skating, summer concerts, festivals, and landscaped gardens.
- Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark is a gorgeous Dayton Park on Stillwater River with the Swamp Forest boardwalk and ten formal gardens.
Shopping in Dayton
- Airway Shopping Center is home to many retailers and shops with a large Asian market, Big Lots, and more.
- Dayton Mall is the city’s largest shopping mall with restaurants and shopping from dozens of major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, H&M, Forever 21, and Macy’s.
Map of Dayton Things to Do
Dayton Crime Rate
The crime rate in Dayton, Ohio is 5,023 total crimes per 100,000 people with 1,523 violent crimes and 5,391 property crimes per 100,000 in 2020. By comparison, the U.S. crime rate is 2,357 total crimes per 100,000 with 399 violent and 1,958 property crimes per 100,000. Dayton saw its largest crime spike in 2022 in years with an increase in car thefts, assault, and domestic violence. There were 1,540 reported car thefts in 2022, up 83% from the previous year.
While Dayton has a high crime rate, remember that crime is often concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods have crime far below average for Dayton and even the U.S.
Jobs in Dayton Ohio
Before moving to Dayton, you’ll probably want to know about the local job market and economy. Dayton has five key industries: aerospace R&D, IT, advanced materials and manufacturing, water, and human sciences and health care. Dayton has a labor force of 387,000, almost 3x its population.
Many jobs in Dayton, OH are centered around the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or the Great Miami Buried Aquifer, one of America’s largest natural underground aquifers. The aquifer supports businesses like Buckeye Vodka and brands like Pepsi and Cargill which have Dayton operations.
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Health care plans a huge role in the Dayton economy. Dayton area hospitals employ more than 32,000 people. It’s been ranked one of the best cities for excellence in healthcare by HealthGrades and several regional hospitals like Miami Valley Hospital are consistently rank among the best hospitals in America.
Aerospace, aviation, and research and development have been a foundation of the Dayton economy for more than a century. Dayton is the birthplace of aviation with a large concentration of aviation and aerospace technology and R&D organizations like the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), and the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center.
Major employers in Dayton:
- Premier Health Partners
- Kettering Health Network
- Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center
- Dayton Children’s Hospital
- University of Dayton (jobs)
- Dayton Public Schools (jobs)
- Montgomery County (jobs)
- City of Dayton (jobs)
The average weekly wage in Dayton is $1,152 with higher average wages in Greene County. By comparison, the U.S. average weekly wage is $1,334. The average hourly wage in Dayton is $26.42 according to the BLS versus $28.01 for the U.S.
Schools in Dayton
While living in Dallas Ohio, you will be served by Dayton Public Schools, the state’s 12th largest school district with more than 12,000 enrolled students. The district operates 28 schools including seven high schools. Dayton’s Stivers School for the Arts magnet school is one of the best high schools in Greater Dayton and ranked #69 in Ohio. Students interested in pursuing the arts can enter the school in 7th grade by audition and choose one art area for their major.
If DPS schools aren’t a good fit for your children, there are more than 30 charter schools in Dayton to choose from. You’ll find a broad range of options like the Dayton SMART Bilingual Academy and Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) PREP, a free, public charter school independent of DPS with over 1,300 students in K-12.
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There are more than 30 private schools in Dayton. The Miami Valley School (PK-12) is one of the highest-rated private schools in Greater Dayton. Other great options include Carroll High School, Archbishop Alter High School, Spring Valley Academy (PK-12), and the Greater Dayton School, Ohio’s first private, non-religious elementary school.
Interested in pursuing higher education in your new city? Dayton has been ranked one of the top metro areas in the country for higher education with two major universities and Sinclair Community College, one of America’s largest community colleges. Wright State University is a public university and home to Boonshoft School of Medicine. The University of Dayton is the largest private university in Ohio.
Are you ready to see what Dayton, Ohio living is all about? Bell Moving & Storage is here to make your relocation as seamless and stress-free as possible. Call our Dayton movers today to get started with a free, personalized moving estimate!