Reviews & Comments
Columbus, OHMiss it Every Day
I lived in Columbus from age 18 - 40. I've since moved a lot for my career: Westchester NY (NYC), Washington DC, Jackson MS, Irvine CA, Salt Lake City UT, and Pittsburgh PA. So I feel like I have a good representative sample. I also travel a lot and have been to every US city and state. And although I am a bit of a homer (I went to Ohio State) I have to say that Columbus is the only place I think of when I think of "home."
So let me start out with the negative things about Columbus that I don't think anyone is going to debate: 1) The winters are cold and unbearable, and there is really nothing to do outdoors between December and April. 2) There are not mountains or beaches nearby; it is largely surrounded by farmland to the north and west and Appalachian foothills to the east and south. 3) Sports revolve around Ohio State. 4) There are a lot of chain restaurants in the suburbs (although where isn't this the case?).
Now for the good, which I could spend days writing about:
1) Traffic is easy. Some people complain about it, but that is because they grew up in the countryside where the biggest issue was getting past tractors. Anyone that has lived in other metro areas knows how easy traffic is in Columbus. And while there are some bottlenecks (70 east, for example) they are easily avoided for the intelligent.
2) Convenience: You can get anywhere in the city in 20 minutes. The outerbelt and highways are in perfect symmetry. In other cities I have to take a half-day just to go to the doctor. Here I can knock out the dentist, doctor, and oil change in 2 hours. And if you have kids, no more driving for hours on end to get to soccer practice. It is so easy to get around here.
3) Suburban towns with character. Before we get into the city itself, lets talk about the adorable suburban towns and activities. They all have a New England colonial flare. Dublin, Worthington, Upper Arlington, Bexley, Westerville, Powell, Hilliard...every one has a unique town center with its own distinctive character. Fun to live in and fun to visit. No other city has it so good!
4) So many other cities nearby. When I lived in Salt Lake, I felt so isolated. Nothing within a 5-hour drive. In Columbus, if you want to get away for a weekend you have so many driveable options: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Dayton, Cincinnati, Detroit, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Washington DC, Chicago even, all within reach. Plus all of the other interesting and cultural things: Amish country, Hocking Hills, Cedar Point, The Wilds (pet a rhino!), the Great Lakes, rafting in WV, the list goes on and on and on. For a place situated in middle America, you will NEVER run of new and fun things to do.
5) Sports. Ok, I get it, you're not an Ohio State fan. But if you are a college sports fan, nothing beats a game at the 'Shoe. And that aside, there is so much to do in the city and nearby: Blue Jackets (NHL) have (in my opinion) the best arena in all of sports (even Sports Illustrated agreed!). The Columbus Crew has the first soccer-specific stadium in America. Columbus is an annual stop on the PGA Tour with the Memorial Tournament, which some call the "5th major". And if you love tennis, the last ATP Tour stop before the US Open is just a 90 minute drive away in Mason, OH. Football? Besides Ohio State, you have the Steelers, Browns, Bengals, Colts and Lions all within short drives. Basketball? Besides Ohio State you have the Cavs, Pacers and Pistons nearby. Baseball? Columbus has the best minor league park in America (no joke, look it up). And if you want MLB, the Reds, Pirates, Tigers and Indians are not far. Columbus is the bullseye on the sports map!
6) Activities for kids. So many fun and affordable things to do. Columbus has the top-rated zoo in America run by Jack Hannah, and also has a nearby waterpark. Two of the best amusement parks in America (King's Island and Cedar Point) are a short drive. COSI is one of the best science centers, and only 60 minutes away is the US Air Force museum with the largest collection of planes in the world. Couple that with numerous, welcoming groups, sports, and other activities, and Columbus is one of the best places to to raise a family in America.
7) Great schools. OK the city schools aren't great (when is that not the case?), but within a 10-15 minute drive outside the city you have some of the best suburban public schools districts in America (see towns listed above).
8) Great outdoor activities. So, again, lets caveat that with the fact that winter is harsh and there aren't mountains, but the urban bike paths are the best I've ever seen. The Olentangy Bike trail blows my mind, and can get you all the way to Cincinnati. It is just perfect. And the metro parks are just amazing (especially Highbanks). If you're a hockey player, Columbus has the best adult rec program in the country, no questions asked. The same goes for most other indoor sports as well. And the outdoor sand volleyball in summer...how is it that Columbus has a better sand volleyball scene than Newport Beach?! It is the best!
9) Boating. Lots of lakes, rivers and reservoirs for the kayakers, fishers, sailers and boaters out there. And don't forget that Lake Erie is a short drive north.
10) Ohio State. Yeah yeah, you hate the Buckeyes. That aside, having one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the countries in the heart of the city isn't a bad thing. Take advantage of everything it has to offer!
11) High Street. It runs north to south and bisects the city, and is its cultural hub. The amazing and distinct districts, shopping, restaurants, breweries, and coffee houses along it cannot be beat. If you ever get a chance, get your bike in and start in Worthington (north end of the city) and ride all the way to south of downtown. You'll pass through Columbus' amazing cultural points: Old Worthington, Clintonville (my favorite!), Park of Roses, University District, Victorian Village, Short North (amazing shopping and culture), Arena District, downtown, and German Village (probably one of the most unique cultural destinations in the country).
12) Airport. It isn't Heathrow, but where else in America can you leave your home an hour before your flight, park at the airport and be at your gate before the flight even boards? Nowhere but here. It may not have a ton of direct flights, but it is the most convenient airport on earth.
13) The people. The friendliest people you'll ever meet. Of course Columbus has its bad parts, but if you stay north of German Village and west of Interstate 71, you'll be just fine.
14) The economy. Where to begin? Being the state capital, having the largest US university, and tons of big business...Columbus is always booming. There are so many large companies headquartered here that people didn't even realize: Cardinal Health (Fortune 15), Wendy's, Abercrombie, L Brands (Victoria's Secret), Bath and Body Works, Big Lots, Rocky Boots, Huntington Bank, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Nationwide Insurance, AEP, Hexion, Worthington Industries, Bob Evans, and so many more. It is an amazing place to work and thrive.
15) Civic engagement. Unlike other cities that are closed off to outsiders, Columbus is very welcoming (both at the local level and city level) and there are numerous opportunities to get involved and make a difference in your community. The same can be said for philanthropic activities: Pelotonia is the largest charitable bike ride in the world and has raised over $100 million for cancer research. And that just scratches the surface. People in this city are so generous.
16. Natural beauty. So yeah, no mountains. But go walk along the river walk downtown, or through the many parks, or through neighborhoods in spring when the trees are blooming, or during summer when the lightning bugs appear. So beautiful. And the 4th of July fireworks...best in America.
17. Golf. Columbus was ranked the second best golf city in America. No joke. Sure, you can't golf in winter, but when April arrives, get out those sticks!
18. Affordability. Having bought 6 different houses across America, Columbus is the best for affordability. Don't pay any attention to those aggregate statistics you see, they don't tell the real story. The big question is: Where can I get a nice 4 bed, 3 bath for my family in a good school district, close to downtown, and for how much? In Columbus, look at the Scioto Run development along the river in Hilliard Schools with a 15-minute drive to downtown (or anywhere for that matter). $300,000 for a NICE house. And I mean NICE. In Salt Lake that house costs $600,000, in Westchester it is $1.2 million, in Irvine it is $1.5 million. But in those cities you aren't making enough to justify the cost. I got a 20% pay increase when I moved to Westchester, but my house cost 4x as much. Columbus is ridiculously affordable.
19. Breweries and restaurants. Where do I begin? So many great ones. Go get your brewery stamp book and spend a weekend touring around. And the restaurants in German Village, Short North and all the small little towns are just great. Jeni's Ice Creams is consistently rated the best ice cream in the country (try the goat cheese!). Brother's Drake is the largest meadery in America. And you have to stop by the North Market, get some grub, and then walk over to Goodale Park, one of the most beautiful spots in the city. I've eaten all of the world, but I always crave the Columbus restaurant scene. So vibrant, delicious, and fun.
20. Arts and culture. Home to four world-class downtown theaters, and thriving music scene, a monthly gallery hop in the Short North, and numerous other activities, there is always something fun going on. Pick up a Cbus Magazine and see for yourself!
21. Healthcare. No brainer with the OSU Medical Center nearby, but the the Ohio Health system and others make this one of the best cities for healthcare.
22...boy I could go on for hours but I have to leave now to take the kids to soccer practice because it is going to take an hour to drive them 10 miles. I miss Columbus!
For those that don't enjoy Columbus, I just don't understand. Did you move to the east side of town and just sit around Olive Garden on the weekends? Get out, get active, challenge your comfort zones and enjoy everything this amazing city has to offer. Once I'm done working I'm moving back in a heartbeat.
re: Stay away unless you're Mormon
Spot-on analysis. Even the Mormons themselves aren't happy. On the surface they pretend to be, but mental illness and depression are rampant here. Especially with the proliferation of the internet where kids can (that have literally been brainwashed since birth, every Sunday) read the Wikipedia article on the Book of Abraham and have no idea how to reconcile their deeply ingrained culture with the fact that the church is obviously a lie. It is really a sad state of affairs. Suicide rates and depression are higher here than most anywhere else in the country. The church itself is crumbling. They do a get job of herding the flock, but they can only keep it up for so long. They continue to change (or as they call it, receive a "revelation") to accommodate changing youth sentiment, but they aren't fooling anyone. The mothers are the real problem: No matter where you go in Utah County you see 20-something moms with 4-5 young blonde kids. They don't work: The church teaches that their role is have children. So women have this immense pressure to get married young and procreate (see mental illness and depression comment earlier), which creates leagues of helicopter moms, always wanting to create this illusion of the perfect family to one-up the other moms, when in reality their kids are extremely dysfunctional and full of mental illness themselves. If you can live in a cabin in the mountains and hide from all of this you may be fine, but unfortunately it is in your face 24/7 in Utah County. It is really depressing, even for an outsider. I'm not sure how much longer the church can sustain itself with the internet. It is obviously a lie, and Joseph Smith is one of the greatest con-men (if not THE greatest) in our country's history. Unfortunately back then they didn't have the internet to verify the veracity of his claims, and even so they still had to run across America and hide in Utah because everyone back east (except for a few thousand of the easily conned) knew it was a lie. And here in Utah they had 150 years to sit, incubate and reproduce without any outside influence or information (hence whey the church is so large now). Otherwise it would have simply gone the way of the Branch Dividian Cult, which is no different really.
Long story short, stay away if you aren't LDS. And if you are, have some courage to confront your beliefs and family. Is it really worth spending your life living a lie just to appease them? And if you are concerned about this celestial kingdom afterlife that they use to instill fear, just read the Wikipedia article about the Book of Abraham. It is a complete fabrication, and you are building your entire life around it? God loves you. The church does not. Pick one :-)
re: Nice small town.
Please look at my other comment. Unless you are Mormon, stay away.
Provo, UTThe Mormon's Last Refuge
With Salt Lake being a "normal" America city, Mormons have moved south to Utah County, which is anchored by Provo (the home of their main university, BYU). When driving south from Salt Lake you round a curve called "Point of the Mountain" and enter Utah County, and you can feel the oppression and judgement hit you in the face. If you are not Mormon (and in some cases even if you are) this is the worst place in America to live. In a normal town, you can walk over to your neighbor and say "hey, why don't we have everyone over for a BBQ on Sunday?" There are two problems with that in Provo: 1) Mormons do not do anything with anyone outside of church on Sunday, and EVERYTHING is closed. 2) The first thing they will ask is "what ward do you belong to?" to assess whether you are LDS. If you are, you're in. If not, you might as well be a black person living in Suburbicon in the 1960s. No joke. They are not outwardly mean; in fact, they are very nice to your face. But the undercurrent of judgement and resentment towards non-Mormons is palpable. I felt more comfortable when I visited Iran. Their churches say "Visitors Welcome" but you are not allowed in their precious temples: Only the most hardcore Mormons (donate 10% of salary, go on mission, married at 18 with 10 kids) get to go there. What "Visitors Welcome" really translates to is "we want to convert you but if you aren't interested, piss off and stay away from our kids." If you have children and send them to public school and they are not Mormon they will be mercilessly bullied. And get luck getting involved civically: If you are not Mormon there won't be any sports leagues, social activities, etc. that will openly accept you. Everything revolves around the church.
It is a real shame that the Mormons had to settle here. It may be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Too bad that their backwards, ultra-conservative and ill-informed outlook on the world has tarnished to beauty. I live here because I have to for my job, but am always actively looking for a way out. If you have to come to Utah, live in Salt Lake or Park City. Otherwise...stay away (and heck, the Mormons probably wish the same for you).