When most people think about retiring, Florida usually is their first consideration. Ohio, however, has in recent years also become a popular choice for retirement.
The pros of retiring in Ohio include a low cost of living for retirees, excellent healthcare infrastructure, and many Active Adult Communities and housing options. The cons of retiring in Ohio include no ocean coastline, high property taxes, and limited public transport.
This article will take a deep look at the pros and cons of retiring in Ohio so that you can make an informed decision.
What It’s Like Living in Ohio
Before we delve into the pros and cons of retiring in Ohio, we need to take a general look at what it’s like living in the state. Also known as the Buckeye State, Ohio is a Mid-Western state and is the 34th largest state in the country.
The state capital, Columbus, is the 15th largest city in the country, and the state is home to the largest Amish population in the USA.
Ohio has a very convenient location in the country in terms of economic benefits. Since it links the Midwest to the Northeast, it sees a lot of business, tourism, and cargo traffic.
Kentucky borders the state in the southwest, West Virginia in the southeast, Pennsylvania in the east, Michigan in the northwest, and Indiana in the west. Lake Erie is Ohio’s northern border, while the Ohio River forms its southernmost border.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Ohio has a humid continental climate. Ohio has around 173 sunny days per year, and the summers are typically humid and hot. The winters are generally cold, with most of the snowfall occurring in January and February.
The maritime tropical air masses that periodically move through the state are responsible for the hot, humid summers and the occasional mild winter weather. Ohio has an average snowfall of 28” to 56” (71 to 142 cm) a year, with the average winter temperature being 20°F (-6°C) in January.
The mean summer high in July is 84°F (28.9°C).
Ohio culture has a large German influence due to the German immigrants who settled in the Buckeye State in the mid-1800s. This German influence is responsible for the famous Midland dialect, which is still heard today in Ohio.
With its friendly Midwestern culture, Ohio is often referred to as being typical of American suburban culture.
Generally speaking, Ohioans are polite, friendly, and welcoming.
Pros of Retiring in Ohio
With just under a quarter of its population over 60, Ohio is a popular state for retirees. Like all states, there are pros and cons to retiring in Ohio.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of retiring in the Buckeye State.
1. Excellent Healthcare Infrastructure
Growing older, unfortunately, sometimes comes with health problems, and it is helpful living close to a good hospital. Regardless of where you choose to live in Ohio, you’ll always be within 30 minutes of a good healthcare facility.
Ohio offers an excellent hospital network. The world-famous Cleveland clinic is one of the country’s best hospitals, as is University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
In Columbus, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is very highly regarded, while Christ Hospital in Cincinnati offers exceptional healthcare. The Buckeye State also offers a large number of doctors per capita.
2. Ohio Has a Thriving Sports Scene
If sports are an essential part of your life, your retirement will be full of excitement in Ohio.
Ohio boasts several excellent professional and college sports teams with an enthusiastic fanbase. It hosts six teams that participate in the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB. Illinois, by contrast, has only five teams.
The top sports teams in Ohio include the:
- Cleveland Indians
- Cincinnati Reds
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
Game days are always packed with excitement, and the state has large stadiums in all major cities.
3. Ohio Offers Lots To Do Outdoors
If you enjoy spending time outdoors, Ohio offers you plenty to do in the fresh air. Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati are very bike-friendly cities and have extensive biking trails.
Although Ohio doesn’t have an ocean coastline, it has many rivers, lakes, and creeks. Whether you want to enjoy some watersports on Lake Erie, canoeing on the Ohio River, or fishing in one of the state’s many minor rivers, there are always many options.
Home to the Memorial Tournament each May in Dublin, Ohio has many golf courses.
A few examples of excellent golf locations are:
- Muirfield Village Golf Course
- Manakiki Golf Course
- Virtues Golf Club
- Fowler’s Mill Golf Course
Many folks enjoy hiking in Hocking Hills, strolling along Lake Erie, and camping in Mohican State Park.
4. Ohio Has Great Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes
No one likes to think about needing to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home, but it is a reality for many of us as we age. Retiring in Ohio means that you are spoiled for choice regarding nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
According to a study conducted by Newsweek where over 15,000 US nursing homes were analyzed, 14 Ohio facilities came very highly rated.
The majority of these establishments accept Medicare and Medicaid and are evenly scattered throughout the state.
5. Ohio Is Centrally Located for Travel
Many folks enjoy traveling during their retirement, and Ohio is centrally situated for countrywide and international travel.
The state capital, Columbus, for example, is halfway between Chicago and New York City. It is approximately an eight-hour drive to both cities from Columbus, while a flight to these cities is less than an hour.
The nation’s largest international airline hub in Atlanta is also a 45-minute flight away, but the state has five of its own international airports. Around 50% of the US population lives within 500 miles of the state capital, Columbus.
6. The State Has a Low Cost of Living
Are you looking to make the most out of your pension? If so, you should consider Ohio as the state that offers excellent value for money in many spheres. As a whole, the cost of living in Ohio is lower than the national average. The average national cost of living score is 100, and Ohio’s is only 87.7.
Let’s take a look at how Ohio measures up in other aspects.
Retiring in Ohio means that you won’t be taxed at all on your social security retirement benefits.
Some pension income, including that from an IRA or 401(k), is taxed in Ohio as regular income, but there are sometimes credits available. If you are receiving a veteran’s pension, you will not be taxed in Ohio.
There is no tax on inheritance, and the state sales tax is 5.75%, but this can vary according to the city.
Compared to other states, Ohio offers highly affordable homes, which can help improve your quality of life during retirement.
The median home cost in Ohio is only $179,700, compared with the national figure of $291,700.
Housing becomes more inexpensive the further away from the urban centers you get. If your dream is to own beautiful waterfront property, even if it’s not overlooking the ocean, this can be possible in the Buckeye State.
Everyday Consumer Items
In Ohio, no sales tax is charged on food that is not eaten on the premises.
In terms of everyday affordability, Ohio was named by AARP as being one of the best states to live in, with an annual income of less than $40,000.
If you want to make your dollar stretch as much as you can, you should consider Akron. This city makes it possible to retire on $75 or less per day due to the low housing costs and the many senior discounts.
7. Ohio Has Three Major Livable Cities
The largest cities in Ohio are Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, each offering big-city living benefits.
Centrally located in Ohio, Columbus is the state capital with a population of 850,106. The median home price in Columbus is $144,900, which is well below the national average of $291,700.
Living in Columbus offers you lots to do during your retirement. The city has its own symphony orchestra, and the Ohio Theatre and Palace Theatre often put on excellent productions.
Cleveland is situated on the shores of Lake Erie and offers you easy access to Ohio’s many picturesque islands.
Kelleys Island, South Bass Island, and Middle Bass Island are only a short ferry ride away and offer plenty of fun summer activities.
Cleveland can be icy cold in winter due to the lake effect weather system. However, it offers exquisite lakefront living opportunities, is home to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and has many fascinating museums.
Situated in southern Ohio, Cincinnati lies on the Ohio River. In 2019, the city was named by U.S. News & World Report as the 10th most affordable city in the country.
The city boasts many beautiful metro parks, exquisite architecture, and plenty of cultural activities to keep you busy during retirement. If you don’t enjoy cold winters, Cincinnati could be an excellent option for you as the weather is typically slightly warmer here.
8. The State Has Excellent Deer Hunting
If you enjoy hunting, Ohio offers excellent whitetail deer hunting options.
In recent years, the state has implemented a deer management program that permits the harvesting of several does and only one antlered male each season. This, together with Ohio’s perfect habitat for deer, makes it an attractive option for hunters.
Ohio’s hunting season is also the longest countrywide, with the bow season running from September 29 to February 3. The gun season is from November 26 to December 2, and there are two additional days from 15 to 16 December.
9. Ohio Has a Friendly Community Spirit
The Midwest is known to be a friendly and welcoming region, but Ohio is even more so. Living even in the largest Ohio cities can have a small-town feel and wonderful community spirit.
It’s widely believed that the friendly Ohio atmosphere stems from its origins as a farming community. Farming communities are known to be considerate, people-focused, and friendly, and Ohio is undoubtedly all of these things.
The largest city, Columbus, was previously and colloquially known as “Cow Town” as it was formed due to the extensive farming activity in the area.
Newcomers to Ohio can expect:
- Friendly smiles from strangers.
- Impromptu chats in the grocery store.
- Invitations to share a meal in someone’s home.
Making friends in Ohio is easy, which can ensure that your retirement is filled with fun and meaningful relationships.
10. The State Offers Free Access to State and Metro Parks
In many states, people have to pay to enjoy the city parks. In Ohio, entrance to state and metro parks is free. The Buckeye State’s many parks are vast and are excellent for hiking, rafting, and picnicking.
Popular Ohio state parks include:
- Mohican State Park: This popular state park is located in Loudonville and has a beautiful gorge, forest, and meandering river.
- Maumee Bay State Park: Situated close to Lake Erie, Maumee Bay State Park is popular with birdwatchers and visitors looking to enjoy a peaceful day with a picturesque lake view.
- Hocking Hills State Park: Every fall, Hocking Hills State Park boasts some of the state’s most beautiful fall colors. The park has cabins if you want to stay over and enjoy their many hiking trails.
- Alum Creek State Park: If you enjoy boating and relaxing on the beach, you will love Alum Creek State Park. The park has a campground and scenic trails for hikers.
11. Ohio Is a Prime Location for Birdwatchers
Birdwatching is a hobby that many folks enjoy during retirement. If you are an avid birdwatcher, Ohio offers excellent opportunities to spot unique birds.
The annual spring warbler migration, which sees warblers migrating southward over Lake Erie, draws thousands of visitors to Magee Marsh in northwestern Ohio each year. Here, the Biggest Week in American Birding takes place, known as one of the most exciting bird-watching events in the country.
Apart from this, Ohio boasts other popular birdwatching sites such as:
- Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area
- Headlands Beach State Park
- Buck Creek State Park
12. Columbus Is a Test Market
Did you know that Columbus is a test market?
Before many products are launched to the rest of the country, they are first tested on the Columbus, Ohio market. The reason is that companies generally believe that Columbus is a good representation of the US population.
Therefore, living in Columbus means that you could be one of the first people to try a broad range of products.
13. Ohio Has Many Active Adult Communities
Active Adult Communities are aimed at the over 55s and offer attractive residential developments. They offer residents excellent opportunities to meet other folks their age and you can opt for a maintenance-free lifestyle.
Ohio has 98 such communities throughout the state, including developments in Dublin, Lorrain, and Akron.
14. Ohio Has Four Distinct Seasons
Although not as cold as some states, Ohio winters can be cold and harsh. However, unlike southern states where there is a humid subtropical climate with no distinct seasons, Ohio allows you to enjoy the merits of each season.
If you retire in Cleveland, Toledo, or another city or town close to Lake Erie, you can expect lake effect winter storms that can lower the temperatures even further.
Summers in Ohio are typically hot and steamy, with occasional thunderstorms.
Ohio is beautiful in the fall with its flame-colored leaves, while springtime is colorful and lively with cheerful flowers. These transition seasons have mild and pleasant temperatures.
15. The State Doesn’t Often Experience Extreme Weather Events
According to a study conducted by WorldAtlas on the 10 states safest from natural disasters, Ohio ranks as the fifth safest state nationally. Although Ohio is geographically located close to Tornado Alley, it is not susceptible to damaging twisters.
During the springtime, however, there is often a risk of a mild tornado. Ohio tornadoes, luckily, do not usually cause much damage.
The Buckeye State also doesn’t lie on an earthquake fault, and since the state doesn’t have a coastline, it is not vulnerable to cyclones.
16. The Buckeye State Has a Low Crime Rate
Compared with the national average of 2,489 per 100,000 people, Ohio’s is only 2,349 per 1000,000 residents. This makes it 6% lower than the national average. Of course, you can expect higher crime rates in the state’s main cities of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
17. Great Waterfront Living
Ohio doesn’t have an ocean coastline, but it is bordered by Lake Erie in the north and the Ohio River in the south. The Lake Erie shoreline is an impressive 312 miles (502 km) long and a popular destination for enjoying the sandy beaches and watersports.
Over 70 of Ohio’s state parks have public beaches, and popular sites include:
- Headlands Beach
- Huntington Beach
There have been many residential developments along Lake Erie’s shoreline and around the Ohio River in recent years. Most of these homes give beautiful views of the water.
18. Ohio Has a Strong Economy
Ohio has a thriving and robust economy. The top money-generating industries are agriculture, manufacturing, construction, retail, mining, and real estate.
The northern Ohioan cities of Cleveland and Toledo are located in the so-called “rust belt,” which has seen a gradual economic decline since the 1980s. However, Ohio is still considered to be an up-and-coming state with a bright future.
Most seniors do not plan on working during retirement, but there are always plenty of job opportunities in Ohio if they do.
19. The State Has an Excellent Highway System
If you live anywhere in Ohio, you have easy access to its extensive highway system and can drive anywhere quickly. The Buckeye State has 1,572 miles (2,529.88 km) of Interstate highway, and WalletHub rates the state as 29th best nationally for its traffic and infrastructure.
Ohio has 5 main Interstate highways:
- Interstate 70: Running westwards to Indianapolis and eastwards to Pittsburgh, Interstate 70 also cuts horizontally through Columbus.
- Interstate 71: This is a diagonal Interstate highway that runs in a southwesterly direction to Cincinnati, northeast towards Cleveland, and north to south through the state capital of Columbus.
- Interstate 75: Starting in Dayton, Interstate 75 runs north to Toledo and then toward Detroit, Michigan.
- Interstate 77: As a north-to-south Interstate road, Interstate 77 begins in Akron and ends in Charleston, West Virginia, in the south.
- Interstate 90: Interstate 90 is an east-to-west highway running just south of Lake Erie. It connects Buffalo, New York, with Toledo in the west.
20. Ohio Boasts a Wealth of Cultural Activities for Retirees
Ohio has many museums and cultural activities for seniors.
Popular Ohio museums include:
- The Cleveland Museum of Art
- Toledo Museum of Art
- The Wright Brothers National Memorial
- National Museum of the US Air Force
Retirees can also take courses at OSU (Ohio State University). While you do not need to pay for these courses, they won’t count for credit toward a degree.
Cons of Retiring in Ohio
Although Ohio is a popular state for working folk and retirees alike, there are downsides to living in the Buckeye state for retirement. The downsides to retiring in Ohio depend on what is important to you and what you want for your retirement.
Below we will take a look at the cons of retiring in Ohio.
1. The State Has Limited Public Transport
Ohio is very much a driving state with very little public transport.
In the three main cities, there are regular buses. These buses, however, are few and far between but are reasonably priced. You can buy a bus day pass for as little as $4.50 and a monthly pass for $62.
2. It Has Hot and Humid Summers
If you don’t mind hot and humid weather, Ohio may be perfect for you. Ohio is not as hot and oppressive as Florida, but if you typically struggle with hot and steamy summers, it might not be the right state for you.
You can expect the hot and humid weather to last from June through to the middle of September.
3. Ohio Has a High Rainfall Average
If you are not a fan of rainy weather, Ohio may not be the most suitable option for you.
Ohio gets an average of 40” (101.6 cm) of rain compared with the national average of 38 inches (96.5 cm). Most of Ohio’s rain is in the southeast, and it gradually gets drier the further northwest you travel.
4. Southern Ohio Can Negatively Affect Allergy Sufferers
With southern Ohio’s high ragweed population, if you have allergies, they can often flare up, especially during the springtime. Dayton is colloquially called “sinus valley,” and you should think of avoiding southern Ohio if you believe your allergies will worsen.
5. Ohio Doesn’t Have an Ocean
While Ohio’s northern border is along Lake Erie, the state does not have access to the ocean. If you want a seaside vacation, the closest beaches to the Buckeye State are:
- Ocean City
- Virginia Beach
- Myrtle Beach
Each of these seaside locations is at least a nine or ten-hour drive away.
6. There Are No International Embassies in Ohio
If part of your retirement plan is to travel extensively internationally, it may be inconvenient living in Ohio as the state has no international embassies or consulates for in-person visa applications. Some visas can now be done online, but many countries still require an in-person visit to the embassy.
The closest cities to Ohio with international embassies or consulates would be either New York City or Chicago.
7. Most of Ohio Has a Mainly Flat Landscape
Ohio consists mainly of plains, and the landscape is very flat. In southern Ohio, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains begin, but many folks comment that the state’s landscape is dull and uninspiring.
If you are looking to retire in a place that boasts spectacular scenery, Ohio may not be your best bet. While it can look pretty during the fall and when it snows, Ohio has no geographical wonders, like majestic mountains or exquisite coastlines.
8. Ohio Has High Property Tax
Although the Buckeye State is well-known for its low cost of living and reasonable property prices, it has high property tax. At 1.57%, Ohio is the state with the 13th highest property tax in the country.
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend on property in Ohio, it could be a dealbreaker.
9. Ohio Is a Political Battleground
Finally, when it comes to politics, Ohio is a swing or battleground state. Every four years, just before the elections, Ohio becomes inundated with political rallies, political advertisements, and a lot of hype.
Many people enjoy the election fever, but if this bothers you, it could be a drawback.
Whether or not Ohio is the best place for you to retire depends on your personal preferences.
The cost of living is low in Ohio, and you can enjoy rich cultural life in the three main cities. If you enjoy birdwatching, golfing, or hunting, the Buckeye State should be a top option. On the flip side, Ohio has higher than average rainfall with hot and humid summers. It has no ocean, increased property tax, and limited public transport.
If you’re still undecided, an excellent idea could be to take a road trip to explore the state for yourself.