Home > Personal Finance > The True Cost of Living in America: Cincinnati

Comments 0 Comments

Michelle Nix has lived in a lot of places: Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Oakland, Calif. But when it came time to start a family, she went home to Cincinnati.

Smart move. The once-battered Midwest city is in the middle of a radical transformation – and it ranks 8th in our recent list of affordable U.S. cities.

“It’s a great Midwestern city. It has almost anything you could want,” Nix said.

Nix and husband Stephen spend only about a quarter of their income on mortgage payments for their three-story brick shotgun-style home on the city’s north side, where they are raising Theo, 2, and Fritz, who’s 6 months old.

“(Cincinnati) has some delicious restaurants, dive bars, fancy bars, breweries, beautiful parks, two decent sports teams, college basketball, great niche neighborhoods and really nice, good-hearted people,” Nix said.

Cincinnati’s strategic location on the Ohio River made it a boomtown in the 1800s, thanks to steamboats, which helped connect the frontier of the fledging U.S. with the Port of New Orleans and the rest of the world. Some historians say it’s the first major city formed after the American Revolution, making it the first distinctly American city, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team.

The city also borders Kentucky and the slave states of the South, which made it a crossroads for racial tension during the Civil War era.

michele nixLike most Rust Belt cities, it suffered mightily as manufacturing declined and well-off residents fled to the suburbs during the second half of the 20th century.

But the city is undergoing a major urban renewal, highlighted by an ambitious project known as The Banks – mixed-use housing and commercial development along the river, bookended by baseball and football stadiums.

The renewal has paid off. General Electric recently announced it was moving its Global Operations center to the city, creating nearly 2,000 jobs. A low cost of living for employees and a new streetcar transportation option helped the city win over GE. Cincinnati is also home to corporate headquarters for Kroger, Procter and Gamble, and Macy’s. And it enjoyed 2.5% growth last year, the highest in the Midwest and among the highest in the country.

While the city itself has a modest population of 300,000, down almost half from its heyday in the 1950s, the surrounding metropolitan area (including parts of Kentucky and Indiana) includes 2.2 million, making it a top 25 market in the nation.

Its central location helps make up for what some residents might be missing living in the Midwest, Nix said.

“I think Cincinnati doesn’t have the same cultural events and activities like some bigger cities. Also, the music scene and theater are here, but we miss some bigger names to other cities,” she said. “We’re a 2-hour-or-less drive from Indy, Louisville and Columbus.”

On the other hand, with a median home sales price of $133,000, and a median household income of $56,000, many Cincinnati residents can meet their financial goals and still afford a trip or two to catch a Broadway show. Or in Nix’s case, a trip to Brooklyn to visit friend and author Caroline Zancan, and to marvel at real estate prices in one of America’s most expensive cities.

“I don’t see how they afford it some time,” she said.

Cincinnati by the Numbers:

  • Affordable Cities Ranking: 8th
  • Housing Poor Residents: 30.4%
  • Median Home Sales Price: $132,500, per Trulia
  • Median household income: $55,729 per Fact Finder

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock; Inset image courtesy of Michelle Nix

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team