Cleveland vs. Cincinnati OH: Which City is Better to Live In?

Comparing Cleveland and Cincinnati

When deciding between living in Cleveland and Cincinnati, you'll notice that both cities offer distinct advantages. Cleveland's lakefront lifestyle provides scenic views and affordable living, while Cincinnati's riverside charm includes higher median incomes and vibrant dining options. Each city boasts a thriving job market, with notable employers across the healthcare, finance, and manufacturing sectors. Cultural attractions and entertainment abound in both locales, yet the cost of living and lifestyle differences might sway your decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate in Cleveland is more affordable, with lower home prices and rent compared to Cincinnati.
  • Cleveland offers a lakefront lifestyle with activities on Lake Erie, whereas Cincinnati features riverfront attractions along the Ohio River.
  • Both cities have rich cultural scenes, but Cleveland is known for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Overall Comparisons

Cleveland and Cincinnati have notable differences in size, location, and climate. Cleveland is larger with a bustling downtown, while Cincinnati's charm lies in its unique neighborhoods and scenic river views.


Despite Cleveland having a larger population than Cincinnati, each city offers distinct lifestyle experiences shaped by its unique cultural, geographic, and infrastructural characteristics. With a Cleveland population of 380,989 compared to Cincinnati's 303,954, Cleveland's larger size brings advantages and challenges.

Public Transportation

When it comes to public transit, Cleveland RTA allows commuters a choice between public transportation and driving in Cleveland. In contrast, Cincinnati's public transportation options are more limited, which might affect your daily commute.


Cleveland may experience more snow per year due to its northern location and proximity to Lake Erie. This results in colder, snowy winters. This is the main climate difference between the two, as when it comes to temperatures throughout the year, the two cities are very similar. During the summer, Cincinnati holds a slight edge in warmth and an overall lead in rainfall for the year.

Cleveland vs. Cincinnati: Location Differences

Location of Cleveland vs. Cincinnati

Cleveland and Cincinnati each bring their unique charm to Ohio, with Cleveland's lakefront locale and Cincinnati's riverfront setting offering distinct lifestyle experiences. The Cleveland location along the shores of Lake Erie gives residents access to scenic views, a refreshing lakeside breeze, and some of the best Ohio beaches.

In contrast, the Cincinnati location on the banks of the Ohio River provides a different kind of waterfront experience. Residents can take river cruises, dine at waterfront restaurants, and explore the picturesque riverside parks. The Ohio River adds a unique character to Cincinnati, making it an excellent spot for those who appreciate riverfront living.

Both cities aren't just about their geographic settings; they also boast rich cultural attractions. Landmarks like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Playhouse Square highlight are just a few of the top attractions in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Cincinnati offers a vibrant arts scene renowned for its historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, filled with lively bars, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Cleveland vs. Cincinnati: Which Has a Lower Cost of Living?

The cost of living in Cleveland offers more affordable housing and lower health-related expenses. On the other hand, Cincinnati has higher median home costs and slightly higher grocery expenses, which could affect your overall cost of living.

Housing Costs

Housing costs in Cleveland are significantly more affordable than in Cincinnati. Rent prices in Cleveland are 2% lower, meaning residents can save money every month. The median home cost in Cleveland is $130,00, whereas Cincinnati's is $210,800. Not only are housing prices more affordable, but home utilities in Cleveland are also 3.3% cheaper than in Cincinnati. This means your dollar stretches farther, even when you're shopping in the most luxurious towns near Cleveland.

Everyday Expenses

Cleveland's overall cost of living index is 83.0, making it more affordable than Cincinnati, which has an index of 88.3. This difference extends beyond housing for homeowners vs. renters and into other critical areas like healthcare, food, and transportation costs.

Healthcare costs in Cleveland are 8.0% lower than in Cincinnati, providing a slight edge for those mindful of medical expenses. Cleveland also comes ahead regarding food costs, with a food index of 93.5 compared to Cincinnati's 97.6. This means you'll likely spend less on groceries and dining out in Cleveland.

Transportation costs are another area where Cleveland proves to be more budget-friendly. The transportation index in Cleveland is 90.5, whereas Cincinnati's is 93.6. This difference can affect everything from gas prices to public transit fares.

Average Household Income

Cincinnati's median household income of $46,260 per year surpasses Cleveland's $32,053, reflecting the higher cost of living in Cincinnati. This difference in household income is crucial to understand when you're evaluating both cities for potential relocation.

Higher income levels in Cincinnati can provide better purchasing power. However, it's essential to factor in how this median income aligns with the overall cost of living. While Cincinnati offers higher income levels, it also comes with higher expenses. In contrast, Cleveland's lower median income is matched by more affordable living costs, potentially offering a higher quality of life on a limited budget.

Economy & Top Employers

Job Market in Cleveland and Cincinnati

Cleveland's best places to work include healthcare giants like the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. In contrast, Cincinnati's economic landscape is shaped by consumer goods and retail behemoths such as Procter & Gamble and Kroger.

Biggest Companies to Work for in Cleveland

Cleveland's job market thrives with major companies like KeyCorp, Progressive Corporation, and Sherwin-Williams, offering diverse career opportunities. These Cleveland companies play a vital role in the city's economy, providing stability and growth. You'll find several Fortune 500 companies, such as Eaton Corporation, Parker-Hannifin Corporation, and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., contributing significantly to the local business landscape.

If you're looking for healthcare opportunities, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and MetroHealth System stand out as top employers. These institutions aren't only leaders in healthcare but also major contributors to the city's economy. Their presence ensures a steady demand for healthcare professionals and support staff.

Cleveland's business landscape isn't just about traditional industries. It's also a hub for technology and innovation. Companies like Hyland Software, MRI Software, and OEConnection are at the forefront, offering exciting roles in tech-driven environments. Additionally, renowned institutions like Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, and the Cleveland Institute of Art foster innovation and talent development, ensuring a continuous flow of skilled professionals.

Biggest Companies to Work for in Cincinnati

You'll find plenty of top employers in Cincinnati, including Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Macy's, providing diverse job opportunities. These companies are just a few of the major employers that contribute to the city's robust economy. Procter & Gamble is a global leader in consumer goods, Kroger is one of the largest supermarket chains, and Macy's is a prominent name in retail, all offering numerous career paths.

Cincinnati's economy thrives on advanced manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and consumer goods. Major employers like Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati play vital roles in healthcare and education, respectively. Fifth Third Bank is another significant player in the financial sector, ensuring a stable job market for residents.

Things to Do in Cleveland vs. Cincinnati

Cleveland offers iconic attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and extensive green spaces in the Metroparks. Cincinnati features the renowned Cincinnati Zoo and vibrant arts at the Music Hall. Whether you're into sports, exploring museums, or enjoying live entertainment, both cities have access to some of the top things to do in Ohio.

Parks & Outdoor Activities

Both Cleveland and Cincinnati offer an array of outdoor activities and parks that cater to nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. In Cleveland, you'll find the extensive Cleveland Metroparks, which span over 23,000 acres and offer numerous hiking, biking, and nature trails. For a day at one of Cleveland's beaches, head to Edgewater Park, where you can swim in Lake Erie, enjoy a picnic, or catch stunning sunset views.

Cincinnati doesn't fall short when it comes to outdoor attractions. Smale Riverfront Park, located along the Ohio River, is perfect for families with its playgrounds, fountains, and picturesque views. If you're seeking a more rugged adventure, Mount Airy Forest, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., offers hiking trails, disc golf, and a unique treehouse playground that's a hit with kids and adults alike.

For those who love national parks, Cleveland's Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides ample opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and even scenic train rides through beautiful landscapes.

Professional Sports

Sports Teams in Cleveland and Cincinnati

Cleveland and Cincinnati offer a thrilling array of professional sports experiences that cater to avid fans and casual spectators alike. In Cleveland, sports entertainment is headlined by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Guardians, and Cleveland Browns. Iconic venues such as Progressive Field, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and Cleveland Browns Stadium create unforgettable game day experiences, reflecting the city's vibrant sports culture.

Cincinnati is home to the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals. Great American Ball Park and Paycor Stadium are the heart of Cincinnati's sports scene, delivering electrifying atmospheres that draw fans from all over. The city's sports culture thrives on the dedication and passion of its fan bases, who are known for their unwavering support.

Museums, Arts & Culture

While enjoying the great outdoors is a highlight, Cleveland and Cincinnati also offer rich cultural experiences that shouldn't be missed. In Cleveland, you'll find the Cleveland Museum of Art, a world-renowned institution with an impressive collection spanning thousands of years. Another must-visit is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where you can dive into the history of music legends and iconic rock moments.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Art Museum houses over 67,000 works, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces. If modern art is more your style, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati offers cutting-edge exhibitions that challenge and inspire.

Vibrant cultural districts make up some of the best neighborhoods in each city. Cleveland's University Circle is a cultural hub packed with museums, theaters, and botanical gardens. In Cincinnati, the Over-the-Rhine district is known for its historic architecture and lively arts scene. Annual events like Cleveland's IngenuityFest and Cincinnati's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebrate local arts, music, and culture.

Restaurants, Nightlife & Live Entertainment

You'll find a vibrant mix of restaurants, nightlife, and live entertainment in both Cleveland and Cincinnati, each city offering its own unique flavor and experiences. Cleveland's culinary scene boasts various restaurants catering to every palate, from fine dining to local eateries. Don't miss local favorites like the West Side Market, where you can sample a variety of cuisines.

Conversely, Cincinnati is famous for iconic spots like Skyline Chili and Montgomery Inn, giving you a true taste of local cuisine. When it comes to nightlife, Cleveland's trendy bars and live music venues keep the city's walkable neighborhoods buzzing. Theater enthusiasts will love Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center outside of New York.

Cincinnati's nightlife is equally compelling, especially in the Over-the-Rhine district, where craft breweries and cocktail bars abound. Both cities celebrate their culinary diversity with food festivals. Cleveland's Taste of Tremont and Cincinnati's Taste of Cincinnati are annual highlights, showcasing the best local cuisine and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cleveland or Cincinnati a Better Place to Live?

Deciding where to live depends on your priorities. If you value affordable housing, access to lake activities, and cultural attractions, Cleveland's a great choice.

Is There More to Do in Cleveland or Cincinnati?

You'll find plenty to do in both cities. Cleveland offers cultural attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Cincinnati has the vibrant arts scene and popular spots like the Cincinnati Zoo and Kings Island.

Is Cleveland a Nice City to Live In?

Yes, Cleveland is a nice city to live in. You'll enjoy affordable neighborhoods, reliable transportation, and cultural attractions. Additionally, Cleveland's suburbs remain connected to the spirit of the city, making the entire area a great place to live.

Cleveland vs. Cincinnati: How to Choose

Fans of unique waterfront lifestyles and rich cultural attractions can be happy in either Cleveland or Cincinnati, but Cleveland's lower cost of living and affordable housing make it a budget-friendly choice. Both cities have stable job markets, especially healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. Ultimately, your choice depends on your lifestyle preferences and financial priorities when moving to Ohio.

Ready to start looking for your new home in Ohio? Call The Young Team at (216) 402-4774 today to get in touch with a local real estate expert who can help you start your homebuying journey.

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