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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Columbus.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Columbus 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Columbus area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Columbus proper, although Upper Arlington certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Columbus are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..
We examined the 35 biggest suburbs of Columbus to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Ohio lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Columbus in terms of quality of life.
What's the worst suburb of Columbus? Whitehall ranks as the worst suburb of Columbus for 2022 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Columbus that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Columbus too.
Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
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The 10 Worst Columbus Suburbs To Live For 2022
We'll get the ball rolling with Whitehall, the absolute worst place to live around Columbus according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Whitehall beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 5th worst in the Columbus area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Whitehall.
You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Welcome to Hebron. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 26.4 miles to Columbus. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $41,739 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Columbus suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Circleville on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Columbus suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Johnstown, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Columbus suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 2nd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Columbus. Remember, we looked at 35 cities for this study.
Johnstown is about 19.4 miles to downtown.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,171 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $37,000 (lowest)
More on Johnstown:
Baltimore has the distinction of being a Columbus suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Baltimore has the 10th lowest home values in the metro Columbus area, where the median price is $142,800. To put that into perspective, in Upper Arlington, the median income is $200,580, which is the best in the area.
Baltimore has an unemployment rate of 9.03% which ranks 3rd worst.
Obetz has 5,205 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 9.298751200768493%.
Ah, Buckeye Lake. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Columbus.
It's the place with the 10th most out of work residents in the Columbus metro area (4.87%).
Lancaster is a city about 26.9 miles from Columbus, but Columbus probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Lancaster has the 5th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 11th highest unemployment rate (4.79%) in the entire Columbus metro area.
Homes only cost $131,700 for a reason. That's cheap for Columbus standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Columbus, then Grove might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Columbus suburb.
About 3.01% of residents are out of work.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $42,780 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $175,300 (17th lowest)
More on Grove:
Rounding out the ten worst Columbus suburbs to call home is Mount Sterling.
Located 24.1 miles outside the city, Mount Sterlings is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 6th highest unemployment rate (8.05%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $51,910 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $133,500 (8th lowest)
More on Mount Sterling: Data
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Columbus for 2022
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2016-2020, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Columbus.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 35 suburbs to evaluate around Columbus.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 35 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Columbus." We're lookin' at you, Whitehall. You can download the data here.
Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
Summary: The areas around Columbus where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022
Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Columbus with Whitehall casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Columbus aren't all bad. Upper Arlington takes the cake as the best place to live around Columbus.
- Upper Arlington
- Grandview Heights
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Detailed List Of The Worst Columbus Suburbs