The No. 7 Most Affordable Housing Market: Columbus, Ohio

Locals and real estate pros have some serious love for the Discovery City.

Columbus, Ohio locals love their city for a vast array of reasons and cite popular events, diverse industries and varied neighborhoods as just some of the factors keeping them in the area.

Another major reason to love Columbus, according to the familiar, is its affordability. As of September 2019, real estate website Redfin, for example, lists Columbus as a very competitive market, with a score of 79% and an average home price of $195,000. Zillow lists the median rent price in Columbus at $1,295 as of September 2019.
According to locals and local real estate pros, there are some solid reasons as to why the Discovery City is such a budget-friendly option.
Chip and Sue Parrish are longtime Columbus residents and realtors with Keller Williams Classic Properties Realty who frequently work with people looking to relocate to Ohio’s capital city. Chip is also a graduate of The Ohio State University, a major employer in the area.
“When we have a relocation client we like to say Columbus is a great place to live, work, raise your family and vacation from,” Sue said. “We don’t have oceans or mountains and the corresponding land and dirt prices that go along with oceans and mountains. We’re a very large college university city. There are nearly 50 colleges and universities right here in central Ohio, of course, anchored by The Ohio State University, which was founded in 1870 and has an enrollment of nearly 60,000 students, making it the fifth largest university in America.”
Sue cited Columbus neighborhoods such as the Brewery District, the Arena District, the Short North, German Village, Italian Village and Franklinton as especially popular choices among locals.
Columbus is also “an attractive place for companies” and counts Cardinal Health, Worthington Industries and Nationwide Insurance as some of the biggest employers, Sue said.
“Columbus is an attractive place for companies and not any one industry, so it’s very, very diverse as far as industry goes,” Sue said.
Copywriter Alexa Sibberson, a Columbus local and Ohio native, was raised in the Columbus suburb of Dublin and attended college at The Ohio State University. Today, she lives in the Columbus neighborhood of Schumacher Place.
“What's nice is the city is small enough that there are affordable places to live in almost every neighborhood if you're willing to wait and look,” Sibberson said in an email.
She especially enjoys her own neighborhood.
“We have new bars and restaurants popping up constantly, and we're super close to anything else going on in the city,” Sibberson said. “I'd say the same about any other pocket neighborhood—Columbus is so small, especially the general downtown area, that you're close to everything no matter where you end up. I've definitely seen more young people moving out of the Short North and into areas that feel more like a community and less commercial, and it's nice to see neighborhoods pop up around local businesses, like in Franklinton, as opposed to more workplace-focused areas.”
Prospective Columbus residents should simply know that Ohio’s capital city is a great place to live, she said.
“Last weekend I had a friend ask me to tell him all the reasons not to move here, and I really couldn't think of one,” Sibberson said. “It's a fun city, and the affordability really allows for a nice quality of life. There is definitely a neighborhood here for everyone, it's just getting to know the city and discovering where you fit in, just as it is in any city!”
Columbus local Zachary Low, who works in film distribution, has been living in the city for about 11 years and has specifically resided in the Old North Columbus neighborhood since 2014.
“Job growth is strong in Columbus, and interest rates are low,” Low said in an email. “Columbus consistently ranks highly on lists of ‘cities on the rise,’ ‘best places to live,’ etc. but has remained (relatively) affordable despite increasingly rapid growth.”
When asked which two to three neighborhoods are the city’s best, Low’s response was loyal.
“I will always go to bat for my beloved Old North,” Low said. “Affordable places to live, loads of good food options, and all within walking distance of several of the best places to catch live music in the city. Italian Village is also a great place to spend a Friday or Saturday night, with great bars and breweries along Fourth Street, and less congestion than the often overcrowded High Street in the Short North.”
Prospective Columbus residents should be open to exploring the city’s different neighborhoods.
“There's so much cool stuff going on outside of the traditional Downtown and trendy Short North areas,” Low said. “Look into developing neighborhoods, find one that suits you best and get involved! It's up to residents to advocate for the things that are important for growing and sustaining communities, not the developers. You'll have plenty of opportunities to eat and shop locally, support the vibrant arts scene and contribute to the positive type of growth that acknowledges and preserves the city's rich history instead of ignoring and destroying it. Columbus is as great as we make it.”