The suburbs of Columbus call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Columbus to avoid all the hustle and bustle.
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 Saturday Night Science to determine which Columbus ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Columbus area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of 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.
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.
Now don’t freak out.
What’s the worst suburb of Columbus? Whitehall ranks as the worst suburb of Columbus for 2023 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.
For more Ohio reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Columbus Suburbs To Live For 2023
Median Income: $42,400 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (highest)
Median Home Value: $105,300 (2nd lowest)
More on Whitehall:
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 2nd 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.
Median Income: $46,205 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $137,900 (5th lowest)
More on Circleville:
Welcome to Circleville. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 26.6 miles to Columbus. Income levels here are the 5th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $46,205 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Median Income: $31,200 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $36,600 (lowest)
More on Johnstown:
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Columbus suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Johnstown 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Columbus suburbs.
But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.
Median Income: $56,304 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $135,700 (4th lowest)
More on Mount Sterling:
If you live in Mount Sterling, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Columbus suburb for median household incomes.
Not only that, but this is the 7th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Columbus. Remember, we looked at 35 cities for this study.
Mount Sterling is about 24.1 miles to downtown.
Median Income: $62,717 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $127,900 (3rd lowest)
More on Buckeye Lake:
Buckeye Lake has the distinction of being a Columbus suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Buckeye Lake has the 3rd lowest home values in the metro Columbus area, where the median price is $127,900. The median income is $206,130.
Buckeye Lake has an unemployment rate of 5.21% which ranks 11th worst.
Median Income: $48,478 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $138,800 (6th lowest)
More on Hebron:
Hebron has 2,268 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 12.70053475935829%.
Median Income: $71,967 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $147,400 (10th lowest)
More on Obetz:
Ah, Obetz. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Columbus.
It’s the place with the 3rd most out of work residents in the Columbus metro area (8.39%).
Median Income: $45,861 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $157,300 (12th lowest)
More on Baltimore:
Baltimore is a city about 22.2 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. Baltimore has the 3rd most uninsured people, 4th worst incomes, and has the 5th highest unemployment rate (7.57%) in the entire Columbus metro area.
Homes only cost $157,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for Columbus standards.
Median Income: $45,184 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (25th highest)
Median Home Value: $179,600 (15th lowest)
More on Grove:
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 2.59% of residents are out of work.
Median Income: $80,580 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $146,500 (9th lowest)
More on South Bloomfield:
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 6th highest unemployment rate (7.39%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Columbus for 2023
To figure out how bad a Columbus suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.
It’s Saturday Night Science.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 dropouts
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Columbus.
We also limited the analysis to places with 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 looking at you, Whitehall.
We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Columbus.
Summary: The areas around Columbus where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023
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. Powell takes the cake as the best place to live around Columbus.
- Upper Arlington
For more Ohio reading, check out:
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Detailed List Of The Worst Columbus Suburbs