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 Powell certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Columbus are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 33 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.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Columbus for 2019:
- Buckeye Lake (Photos)
- Whitehall (Photos)
- Obetz (Photos)
- Hebron (Photos)
- Circleville (Photos)
- Lancaster (Photos)
- West Jefferson
- South Bloomfield (Photos)
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.
For more Ohio reading, check out:
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Columbus for 2019
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 2013-2017, 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 33 suburbs to evaluate around Columbus.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 33 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, Buckeye Lake.
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.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Buckeye Lake, the absolute worst place to live around Columbus according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Buckeye Lake beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 6th worst in the Columbus area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 3rd 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 Buckeye Lake.
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.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $23,636 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $41,500 (1st lowest)
More on Johnstown:
Welcome to Johnstown. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 19.4 miles to Columbus. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $23,636 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 Whitehall 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 Obetz, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 10th lowest Columbus suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Columbus. Remember, we looked at 33 cities for this study.
Obetz is about 8.5 miles to downtown.
Hebron has the distinction of being a Columbus suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Hebron has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Columbus area, where the median price is $100,800. To put that into perspective, in Powell, the median income is $187,200, which is the best in the area.
Hebron has an unemployment rate of 4.1% which ranks 18th worst.
Circleville has 13,780 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 21.3%.
Ah, Lancaster. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Columbus.
It’s the place with the 5th most out of work residents in the Columbus metro area (8.1%).
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $40,435 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $160,000 (16th lowest)
More on Grove:
Grove is a city about 9.2 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. Grove has the 3rd most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the 14th highest unemployment rate (4.7%) in the entire Columbus metro area.
Homes only cost $160,000 for a reason. That’s cheap for Columbus standards.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Income: $57,802 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $127,700 (10th lowest)
More on West Jefferson: Data
If you absolutely have to live near Columbus, then West Jefferson might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Columbus suburb.
About 7.5% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Columbus suburbs to call home is South Bloomfield.
Located 18.5 miles outside the city, South Bloomfields is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 11th highest unemployment rate (5.6%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Columbus where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Columbus with Buckeye Lake casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Columbus aren’t all bad. Powell takes the cake as the best place to live around Columbus.
- Grandview Heights
- Upper Arlington
For more Ohio reading, check out:
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- 10 Worst Places To Live In Ohio
Detailed List Of The Worst Columbus Suburbs