Worst Columbus Suburbs For 2020

We used science and data to determine which Columbus suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around Columbus.

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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. 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 2020:

  1. Buckeye Lake (Photos)
  2. Whitehall (Photos)
  3. Obetz (Photos)
  4. Johnstown
  5. Hebron (Photos)
  6. Grove
  7. West Jefferson
  8. Circleville (Photos)
  9. Baltimore (Photos)
  10. South Bloomfield (Photos)

What's the worst suburb of Columbus? Buckeye Lake ranks as the worst suburb of Columbus for 2020 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.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in ohio check out the best places in ohio overall or the worst.

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:

The 10 Worst Columbus Suburbs To Live For 2020

Buckeye Lake, OH

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,792
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,875 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $100,800 (3rd lowest)
More on Buckeye Lake:  Data | Photos

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 8th 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.

Whitehall, OH

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 18,874
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,022 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $84,800 (2nd lowest)
More on Whitehall:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Whitehall. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 5.4 miles to Columbus. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $41,022 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.

Obetz, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,740
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $55,476 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $117,300 (6th lowest)
More on Obetz:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Columbus suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Obetz 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.

4. Johnstown

Johnstown Location In Pennsylvania

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,812
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $24,294 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $39,700 (1st lowest)
More on Johnstown:

If you live in Johnstown, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 1st lowest Columbus suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 1st worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Columbus. Remember, we looked at 33 cities for this study.

Johnstown is about 19.4 miles to downtown.

Hebron, OH

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,183
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $40,985 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (17th highest)
Median Home Value: $103,600 (4th lowest)
More on Hebron:  Data | Photos

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 $103,600. To put that into perspective, in Upper Arlington, the median income is $203,194, which is the best in the area.

Hebron has an unemployment rate of 3.91% which ranks 17th worst.

6. Grove

Grove Location In Oklahoma

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,862
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Income: $41,250 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $166,300 (16th lowest)
More on Grove:

Grove has 6,862 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 13.392724573125465%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,343
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $58,007 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $128,800 (9th lowest)
More on West Jefferson:  Data

Ah, West Jefferson. 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 (5.22%).

Circleville, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,853
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $41,660 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (20th highest)
Median Home Value: $123,300 (8th lowest)
More on Circleville:  Data | Photos

Circleville is a city about 26.6 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. Circleville has the 6th most uninsured people, 6th worst incomes, and has the 20th highest unemployment rate (3.73%) in the entire Columbus metro area.

Homes only cost $123,300 for a reason. That's cheap for Columbus standards.

Baltimore, OH

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,982
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Income: $40,457 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $129,200 (10th lowest)
More on Baltimore:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Columbus, then Baltimore might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Columbus suburb.

About 9.29% of residents are out of work.

South Bloomfield, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,116
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $64,271 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $116,100 (5th lowest)
More on South Bloomfield:  Data | Photos

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 (6.63%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Columbus for 2020

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 2014-2018, 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. 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.

The areas around Columbus where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

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. Upper Arlington takes the cake as the best place to live around Columbus.

  • Upper Arlington
  • Grandview Heights
  • New Albany

For more Ohio reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Columbus Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Buckeye Lake 2,792 $46,875 $100,800
2 Whitehall 18,874 $41,022 $84,800
3 Obetz 4,740 $55,476 $117,300
4 Johnstown 19,812 $24,294 $39,700
5 Hebron 2,183 $40,985 $103,600
6 Grove 6,862 $41,250 $166,300
7 West Jefferson 4,343 $58,007 $128,800
8 Circleville 13,853 $41,660 $123,300
9 Baltimore 2,982 $40,457 $129,200
10 South Bloomfield 2,116 $64,271 $116,100
11 London 10,139 $54,836 $136,100
12 Lancaster 39,942 $41,881 $121,300
13 Heath 10,646 $52,391 $142,100
14 Pataskala 15,465 $72,908 $172,700
15 Ashville 4,143 $71,985 $152,600
16 Reynoldsburg 37,644 $66,037 $153,100
17 Delaware 39,219 $66,035 $175,400
18 Sunbury 5,280 $75,433 $209,700
19 Groveport 5,593 $66,125 $159,000
20 Marysville 23,509 $70,793 $184,500
21 Pickerington 20,148 $92,783 $204,100
22 Westerville 39,242 $90,443 $226,700
23 Gahanna 35,061 $84,429 $209,700
24 Canal Winchester 8,328 $90,172 $187,300
25 Hilliard 35,665 $95,831 $238,600
26 Bexley 13,764 $108,750 $359,200
27 Granville 5,766 $104,698 $358,900
28 Worthington 14,705 $102,731 $273,000
29 Powell 12,909 $149,119 $367,000
30 Dublin 45,559 $135,514 $371,800
31 New Albany 10,896 $203,194 $494,600
32 Grandview Heights 7,681 $95,033 $342,500
33 Upper Arlington 35,223 $115,093 $376,400

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