Are you considering moving to Columbus for a new job, a blossoming relationship, or simply because you thrive on new adventures? There is much more to this upbeat Central Ohio city than the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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Moving to Columbus - A Comprehensive Guide - Life Storage

Over the past decade, Columbus has become a prime real estate market in the United States. In 2018, Forbes reported that Columbus is the 14th largest city in the nation and experienced a 10% growth. With those numbers in mind, if you plan to move to Columbus—often referred to by locals as “Cbus”—you are in good company. 

If you’re moving to Columbus, Ohio, check out these 10 facts below to help you settle in.


1. Columbus has a low cost of living and a diverse job market. 

Columbus, Ohio, Job Market and Industries - Dispatch

According to the cost of living index at Area Vibes, Columbus, Ohio, is a solid 10% less expensive than the national average. In categories like healthcare, housing, and utilities, Columbus is significantly cheaper than the national average.

The city’s diversified economy allows Columbus to remain a strong employment performer in the Midwest. It is among the top 100 metro areas in the nation, making moving to Columbus a safe and smart option for workers, notes The Columbus Dispatch.

Along with Ohio State University and state-related jobs, the city is teeming with industries in all sectors that attract people from around the country and the world. With such professional diversity, transplants to the city have the possibility of finding employment within a reasonable time frame. 

The following industries consistently thrive in Columbus

  • Automotive
  • Data centers 
  • Fashion and apparel
  • Finance and insurance 
  • Food and beverage 
  • Headquarters and business services 
  • Healthcare
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Personal care and beauty
  • R&D
  • Retail and eCommerce
  • Technology 

This strong job market often features five jobs for each candidate, making Columbus a true candidate’s market when moving to Columbus. Top employers in the city include:

  • Ohio State University 
  • OhioHealth
  • State of Ohio 
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Nationwide 

The combined low cost of living in Columbus, Ohio, and the consistently healthy and diverse job market among high-profile employers can make moving to Columbus appealing on these two essential points alone. 


2. Columbus is not a cowtown…anymore.

Columbus, Ohio, City Skyline Sunset

Over the past three decades, Columbus has undergone some serious changes. In the late 1980s, the city still held the remnants of a small town. 

Many referred to the capital city as a “cow town” since there was a foundation of agriculture. However, city leaders have pushed for Columbus to grow into its state capital status, perhaps tired of the world thinking the capital city was Cleveland or Cincinnati. Local businesses are growing and all types of annual festivals and other community events are being held here.


3. If people are eating something in Columbus, they’ll soon eat it everywhere.

Columbus has had a diverse demographic map that has closely resembled the rest of the U.S. for several decades. This makes it an ideal barometer for the nation, according to Columbus Monthly. The city has historically served as a hot test market for new fast food items, high-end drinks and snacks from Starbucks, and other brands. 

While the products and means of delivering testimonials have changed over time, Columbus remains a hot testing market today. Businesses across the U.S. take Cbus residents’ opinions seriously. They return to the test kitchen for tweaks and refinements, if necessary.


4. Columbus is an expansive city made up of diverse neighborhoods. 

Columbus covers over 233 miles, allowing for a variety of neighborhoods and mini-regions where you might choose to live. The city really has it all. You’ll find everything from the most rural suburbs to an ever-growing downtown condominium market for peak urban living. 

Here are some of the most beloved neighborhoods in Cbus: 

Downtown 

Once known as the city’s primary business and civic district, the area has become equally known as a residential center as well. Condominiums, townhouses and high-rises have sprung up all over the downtown area over the past two decades. Downtown has become increasingly attractive for city dwellers to move in for proximity to work and an urban lifestyle. 

The Short North, and Victorian and Italian Villages

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☀️

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Just north of downtown, the Short North is the city’s premier arts district, featuring numerous boutique art galleries. The area also includes Victorian Village, directly north of downtown and Italian Village, which lies just northeast of downtown. 

During the first weekend of each month, the combined neighborhoods host Gallery Hop. Local residents and visitors from around the world visit this popular event. People trail from one gallery, exhibit, or installation to the next, passing musicians and street performers all along the way. 

Each year, the community hosts the Community Festival, also known as ComFest. This three-day gathering of Columbus and regional musicians, artists, and food vendors takes place at Goodale Park, in the heart of the Short North. 

The style of homes in the neighborhoods include historic Victorians. Loving and dutiful owners restore and maintain their homes. They are committed to sustaining the neighborhood aesthetics and sensibilities as they are keeping up their own homes.  

German Village

Just south of downtown is German Village, which is another historic neighborhood. Per its name, the area was settled by German immigrants in the 1800s. 

Properties consist of mostly red-brick homes, red-brick streets and wrought-iron fences. Many of the roads still have the original red-bricks. This means you’ll find a slower and more relaxed atmosphere along the tree-lined streets. A centerpiece in this low-key city neighborhood is Schiller Park. Schiller Park features a recreation center, tennis courts and a stage that features two-to-three Shakespeare plays each summer. 

More Columbus Neighborhoods to Explore

Additional popular neighborhoods in the Columbus area include the hip and trendy communities of Grandview, Clintonville, Olde Towne East, Franklinton and Dodge Park. These neighborhoods are ideal for singles and young families. Established suburbs that fan out toward the city’s outskirts include Grove City, Bexley Whitehall, Polaris, Easton, Worthington, Westerville, and Hilliard. These neighborhoods are ideal for growing families, working couples and retirees. 


5. Public transportation makes Columbus living easier, cheaper and more convenient. 

Columbus is a car town. However, it does feature a healthy public transportation system called the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), which covers major areas of the city for commuters working downtown and everywhere in-between. As a bonus for downtown workers, residents in German Village and the Short North, COTA provides a free commuter bus known as Cbus. Cbus makes frequent trips throughout the day to ease Columbus Ohio traffic congestion and to solve parking issues in busy areas. Both the main COTA lines and Cbus allow travelers the chance to get to any destination safely and without stress. 

Car lovers can expect an average commute time of just under 22 minutes. If you need to drive, it may not prove too stressful or time-consuming, depending on your perspective. 


6. Green spaces abound in Columbus Ohio. 

If you love the outdoors, Columbus features plenty of green spaces where you can walk, bicycle ride, hike, and swim. 

Some key areas to enjoy include the lengthy Olentangy Greenway, which is a multi-use path that runs north and south along the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. Runners, walkers, and cyclists share this path that also runs through Ohio State University and past the university’s Wetlands Preserve. The Alum Creek Greenway lies to the east of downtown, running north and south along Alum Creek. At the northern tip of the Greenway is Alum Creek State Park, which allows for open water swimming, hiking, fishing, and picnicking. 

The city also has several large urban parks. These include Schiller Park in German Village, Goodale Park in the Short North, and Franklin Park on the city’s east side. In the latter, you’ll find Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. (Stop in here to see the beautiful butterfly and Chihuly glass exhibits.) 


7. Schools in Columbus, Ohio offer residents many ways to achieve a degree and advance your career. 

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Another perfect sunset over Buckeye Nation ☀️

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For families with children, the city is served by the expansive Columbus Public School System. Each neighborhood has its own schools to prevent overcrowding and to facilitate a peak learning environment. 

Ohio State University is the best-known college in the area, but there are others that attract students from all over.

Other area colleges include: 

  • Franklin University – The Franklin University campus is located on the city’s near eastside.The school is best-known as a business college, offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
  • Capital University – Capital University is located in Bexley. It is best known for its music conservatory program and its law school, located in downtown Columbus.
  • Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) – Art students from all over the country come to Columbus to attend the CCAD, located on the near eastside.
  • Columbus Community College – Many students earn a technical degree or save money earning the first two years of a bachelor’s degree at Columbus Community College on the near eastside, near CCAD. 
  • Otterbein University – Located in Westerville, Otterbein University is a private, liberal arts college that offers over 70 majors and features a beloved theater department.
  • Ohio Dominican University – Ohio Dominican is a private university, located in the Sunbury area of Columbus, in the northeast area of the city. The school offers undergraduate, graduate, online, military and adult programs.
  • DeVry University – A for-profit college, DeVry focuses on technical studies and offers bachelor’s, master’s, associate’s, and graduate programs. The school is also known for its medical billing and coding programs.

8. Columbus offers a broad range of things to do, taste, and experience for everyone.

After moving to Columbus, you’ll have a diverse range of activities and events to suit any of your tastes. Nights out for residents might include a night at the musical theater, a local playhouse, a concert venue, a movie at a multiplex, or heading to a professional hockey or soccer game. 

One of Columbus citizens’ favorite events is dining out. Thanks to the multicultural blend of the city, you can enjoy cuisines from around the world.

Restaurants to Try

  • Greek – In standard university fashion, Ohio State University features a Greek restaurant, front and center at N. High Street and 13th Avenue. Apollo’s Greek Kitchen is a classic haunt for college students and alums who need their crinkle-cut french fry fix. A trip to Bethel Road in Upper Arlington leads you to Lashish the Greek, which features a lemon chicken soup and an amazing red snapper dish.
  • German – A Columbus classic German restaurant lies in the heart of German Village. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant lies at the end of a cozy, brick-paved cul-de-sac on E. Kossuth. Visit for the bratwurst, cabbage rolls and schnitzel. But you cannot leave without ordering a cream puff. Hoftsbrauhaus in Grandview Yard is relatively new to the area. It is a fine addition to Columbus’s German restaurant collection. Larger than Schmidt’s, Hoftsbrauhaus is perfect for family gatherings and corporate parties. 
  • Mexican – Columbus is home to many fine Mexican restaurants that serve all the classic dishes. The local chain called Condado has become a hot favorite where you can create your own taco or taco bowl to perfection. Visit locations in the Short North, Clintonville, Easton, and downtown. Mamacita’s Mexican Street Food on Chittenden Avenue, near the Ohio State University campus, offers a cozier experience and delicious, massive burritos. 
  • Indian – Columbus has had an amazing array of Indian restaurants for several decades. You will find a beautiful Indian buffet spread pretty much any day of the week, in any Columbus neighborhood. Aab Restaurant has locations in Bexley and Grandview. They host a stunning buffet. Favorites include curry dishes with chicken or lamb, tandoori, naan, and so much more. Other local favorites include Indian Oven on E. Main near Olde Towne East and the New Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant, which is just a few blocks north of the Ohio State University campus on N. High Street in a neighborhood known as ‘Old North.’ 
  • Thai – For delicious, authentic Thai dishes, Bahn Thai on Henderson Road is the place to go. Spicy steamed mussels and Pad Thai noodles are just a few of the beloved dishes in this little Upper Arlington hideaway. Other local favorites include Lemongrass Fusion Bistro in the Short North and Basil Thai in German Village on S. Front Street. 

9. The housing market in Columbus is competitive. 

The median price for homes in Columbus is $190,000, which is 18% below the national average. Combining that with the low cost of living and attractive job market, Columbus is an affordable city to live in. 


10. Navigating the business end of moving to Columbus isn’t too difficult. 

Here is our best advice for moving to Columbus: 

Registering to vote…

…can be done online via the Franklin County Board of Elections website. The website requires you to provide identification for registration. This may include a driver’s license, state identification card, military identification card, bank statement, paycheck, current utility bill or government check, along with the last four digits of your social security number. If you prefer registering to vote in-person, the city offers thousands of locations in convenient areas in all neighborhoods. 

Renewing or transferring your driver’s license…

…can be done at one of the many Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles locations. Here, you can also register your vehicle and title, take commercial driving tests and more. In December 2019, the Ohio BMV expanded online check-ins to shave wait time upon arrival. 

Take a moment to review these pro tips on avoiding the crowds and long wait times at the BMV:

  • Mornings are usually less crowded than afternoons.
  • Mid-week has fewer crowds than Mondays and Fridays.
  • Avoid days right before holidays, which are often crowded.
  • The first and last days of the month attract people who need to attend to urgent business.
  • Avoid lunch hour since staff usually breaks at around noon, leaving a reduced staff. 

And last but not least…

…renting storage may ease the process of relocating to Columbus. If your close dates don’t match up perfectly, or if you need some space to help you get organized, self-storage is an easy, inexpensive answer.

Find self-storage near your new Columbus home!


Are You Ready for Your Big Move to Columbus, Ohio?

Hopefully, this list helps you feel more confident about moving to Columbus. Columbus is a big city with a small-town feeling. The friendly people here are generally happy to help with directions or anything else you may need. 

Thanks to a low cost of living and other conveniences, settling into Columbus is likely easier than you imagine. Get ready to enjoy time in the Cbus, among a diverse population of residents who want to enjoy a low-key life with nights at local eateries and pubs or at home with friends and family. 

About the Author

Melissa Cooper

Melissa Cooper

Melissa Cooper has lived in Columbus, Ohio, for over 30 years. She has a Bachelor's degree in English from The Ohio State University and has watched the city change before her eyes over the past several decades, thanks to a diverse range of industries and people. She loves her hometown that continually brims with dining, entertainment, cultural, educational and occupational opportunities.

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