5 Amazing Places to Raise a Family in Ohio

Written by Drew Wood
Updated: November 13, 2023
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The Midwest has a family-friendly reputation, and that’s especially true of Ohio. The state is a nice mix of urban, suburban, and rural. Even if you live in the most rural parts of the state, you’re never far from a city with all the entertainment and amenities you could want. The major cities have affordable suburbs with convenient commutes to downtown, allowing many to live in a quiet neighborhood with good schools, parks, and friendly neighbors. Let us introduce you to five amazing places to raise a family in Ohio. Remember, this is just a small sample of the scores of neighborhoods across the state your family could happily call “home.”

1. South Russell

Cleveland, Ohio, USA downtown skyline on the Cuyahoga River at dusk.

Cleveland is the second-largest city in Ohio after Columbus. Its population is over 361,000.

©iStock.com/Sean Pavone

South Russell is a suburb of Cleveland, about 37 miles from downtown. Cleveland itself is a port city on Lake Erie, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is the largest city on the Great Lakes. As for South Russell, the population is a little less than 4,000 and the schools are considered to be excellent. Residents praise the area as quiet, safe, and scenic, with a concerned and responsive local government. As of the 2000 census, only 0.6% of the population of South Russell lived below the poverty line. Be aware that the Cleveland metro area is subject to lake-effect snow, so invest in a snow-blower!

2. Oakwood

Skyline of Dayton, Ohio and Surrounding Neighborhoods

Oakwood is a neighborhood near Dayton, a city of 136,000 in southwest Ohio.

©Ami Parikh/Shutterstock.com

Located just three miles from downtown Dayton, Oakwood has a population of about 9,500 people. It’s a spacious suburban community located in Montgomery County. Oakwood has a lot to attract long-term residents: excellent schools, parks, restaurants, and other amenities. It’s a family-oriented place where most residents own their homes and tend to be socially conservative. Dayton hosts the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which are both located less than 30 minutes from Oakwood.

3. Madeira


Cincinnati is in the far southwestern corner of Ohio near the borders of Indiana and Kentucky.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Madiera, population 9,400, is a suburb of Ohio’s third-largest city, Cincinnati (population 309,500). It has a small downtown area and a few light industries but otherwise is a bedroom community for people working in the city. Madiera has attracted many of its residents for its excellent school system. Residents also rave about the friendliness of the community, with neighbors helping one another and getting together to socialize. Notably, BusinessWeek voted Madeira as one of the “Best Places to Raise Kids–For Less” in 2007. If you visit or move to the Cincinnati area, notice how long it takes for someone to ask you if you’ve tried Skyline Chili yet. The “secret” chili ingredient in this local specialty is cinnamon, which sounds weird, but once you taste it, you’ll start asking other people if they’ve tried it!

4. Ottawa Hills

Toledo, Ohio, USA downtown skyline on the Maumee River at dusk.

Toledo is located on Lake Erie near Ohio’s border with Michigan. Its population is 266,300.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Ottawa Hills is a suburb of Toledo, Ohio’s fourth-largest city. Toledo has an interesting history. Ownership of the city was disputed between Ohio and Michigan. In exchange for giving up its claim, Michigan was given the territory of its Upper Peninsula. Ottawa Hills has about 4,800 people and is located only about 9 miles from downtown. Local residents praise it as a great place for kids to grow up: safe, friendly, involved teachers, and high-quality schools. The cost of living is more affordable in the Toledo metropolitan area than in many other parts of the state. Ottawa Hills has attracted a good many educated, white-collar professionals.

5. Bexley

View of downtown Columbus Ohio Skyline at Sunset

With 908,000 people and a metro area of over two million, Columbus is Ohio’s largest city.


Bexley is a community of about 13,800 located just over three miles from downtown Columbus. This means it’s possible to walk there, and worthwhile to do so as Columbus had a nice facelift in the 1990s and 2000s. Columbus has a diversified economy and hosts six Fortune 500 companies. Socially, Bexley is a progressive community with a reputation for being welcoming to people of multicultural or LGBTQ demographics. The community’s composition is mostly white upper-middle class, but it is in easy access to more economically and ethnically diverse communities.

Lots of Choices

This selection of towns includes great suburbs and neighborhoods close to the largest cities in Ohio. Some of these are award-winning communities. Some are more urban, others more suburban. You’ll find that some of them lean more conservative, while others are more progressive. In all cases, these are safe, friendly places with some of the best schools in the region. Next time you’re in the area, drive through one of these neighborhoods. Maybe you’ll decide it’s the perfect place to raise your family.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jose carlos Cerdeno/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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