Choosing the Right Neighborhood in Cleveland or Akron

by | Jan 28, 2014 | Neighborhoods & Housing

Considering a move to Cleveland or Akron? I bet one of the first things you did was surf through on-line real estate listings to see what your housing dollar could buy. But that should never be the first step. What you really need is the big picture overview of the region from 30,000′ before you focus in on a specific home in a specific neighborhood. Here’s how to do that.
The first step is knowing which neighborhoods to concentrate on. so, after working with more than 2,500 families who have relocated to NE Ohio since we opened our doors in 1979, here is some advice on how you can narrow your search from the 50+ suburbs in our region, to the 2-3 that most closely match your criteria and the “personality” you want in a neighborhood!
Every year, Executive Arrangements staffers spends weeks researching facts & figures about Northeast Ohio so we can pass that info on to our clients and help them make informed decisions about a relocation to our region. But if the company relocating you to NE Ohio is not a client of ours, here are tips on how to do research on your own. Most importantly, never rely on any ONE source of information to the exclusion of others. Use multiple sources including:

  • archived articles on the internet: cleveland.com/datacentral is a wonderful resource
  • use social media to find connections to someone who lives in Cleveland or Akron to get the inside scoop from locals
  • plan an in-person visit to get a feel for the area first hand – and if you have children, make sure you visit a few schools too
  • review the most recent federal census data to gather hard facts on the region and individual suburbs. One of our local universities drills down to share useful info on the census
  • one of the best books ever published about how to find the ideal town for you is My Kind of Town by Eric & Margaret Burnette (available on amazon and ebay last time I looked)
  • the annual June issue of Cleveland Magazine’s Rating the Suburbs. is a bit controversial, but it has tons of facts and figures to help with your decision. If the suburbs you like best are not in the “Top 15” do not let that deter you from exploring
    them. Half our staff lives happily in a neighborhood that will never crack the top rated suburbs. Take it all with a grain of salt, as with any publication their #1 goal is to sell magazines. FYI: the Ratings the Suburbs issue does not include urban neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland or Akron that are in hot demand right now (examples: Cleveland’s Ohio City & Tremont neighborhoods and Akron’s Highland Square and West Akron neighborhoods) so you have to go to other sources.
  • New to Cleveland by Justin Glanville really gets to the heart of what
    each  urban neighborhood is known for and is a great investment if you want to live in the city of Cleveland or an inner-ring suburb
  • the Akron chamber of commerce puts out a great free publication every other year called the Akron Relocation Guide which is a great tool for discovering the suburban and urban neighborhoods around the Akron/Canton region.
  • Maxine Goodman Levine College of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University has a wonderful on-line resource (NODIS – Northern Ohio Data & Information Services) that provides visual graphics to get to know our region’s demographics, population shifts, age of housing/building stock, etc.

Here are some things to consider are you try to find the perfect neighborhood for yourself:

  1. If you have school age children, your very first step should be to consider the type of school they need ) Do you want public, private, parochial?  Any special needs, AP classes, size of classroom? Visit one of our earlier blog posts  (how to find the best schools in Cleveland or Akron)  for more detailed questions to ask about schools to whittle down your choices to the 2-3 that make sense for your family
  2. How far are you willing to commute to your office?  Get realistic estimates by talking to people who make the drive in rush hour traffic and then try the route yourself at 7:30 or 8:00 am (don’t accept the “it’s only a 20 minute drive” as that is the line most Clevelanders use when describing how long it takes to get ANYWHERE)
  3. What age of housing stock do you prefer? NE Ohio has a wide range from 150 year old Victorians to brand new contemporary homes with open floor plans and lots of closets to 4 story townhomes that eliminate maintenance.
  4. Will you rent or buy? Some suburbs and exurbs offer very few rental options compared to inner-ring suburbs
  5. What is the range you would be willing to pay per month for rent or what is your budget to purchase? This may rule some suburbs in and out and you can tell that from the median home sale price listed in the census. The most affluent neigbnborhoods in NE Ohio (according to Crain’s Cleveland Business newspaper) in order are: Hunting Valley, Bentleyville, Pepper Pike, Gates Mills, Kirtland, Moreland Hills, Highland Heights, Waite Hill, Hudson, Orange, South Russell, Solon, Boston Heights, Bainbridge, Brecksville and Richfield (based on median household income).
  6. What kind of personality do you want in a neighborhood? Privacy & elbow room? Sidewalks and front porches? Diversity of income, race, age and background? Create a list of the non-negotiable things that are important to your family and focus on the suburbs that match those needs.
  7. What sorts of things do you want to be close? Parks & running paths? Quick access to watch pro sports or see a Broadway show? Do you want to live close to water, or have a dock in your back yard for your boat? Malls and shopping districts? Whatever you do on a regular basis should be no more than 20 minutes away or you won’t enjoy it often enough.

So whether you want suburban bliss with a acre of land on a tree-lined street that is known for backyard BBQ’s, block parties, playgounds and Little League practice in the ballfield down the street…..
or you want an empty nester neighborhood with century homes with lots of character, front porch conversations and coffee shops within walking distance, you can find it here, you just need to spend a little bit of time researching your options.
For more information on how Executive Arrangements can help your organization attract and retain the best talent around by providing highly personalized orientations to NE Ohio for job candidates and new hires, please call us at 216.231.9311.