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Moving to Cincinnati

The city of Cincinnati straddles the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky along the Ohio River. New arrivals in Cincinnati will discover a city that offers an excellent standard of living, especially for those who want to raise a family.

Living in Cincinnati as an expat

Cincinnati is a compact city with a growing economy and a diverse range of job opportunities. The outlook for the Greater Cincinnati area is very positive, as it is considered one of the fastest-growing economies in the entire American Midwest region.

There is plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation in Cincinnati, whether one is looking for a luxury condo close to the city centre or a humble home suitable for a large family. Each of the areas and suburbs in Cincinnati has its own unique charm.

Newcomers will enjoy lots of choice when it comes to lifestyle in Cincinnati. With bars, restaurants and nightclubs as well as a lively theatre scene and exciting shopping opportunities, residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment. 

Unfortunately, infrastructure for public transport in Cincinnati is not quite as extensive as one would find in bigger US cities. Buses and taxis are good options for getting around, but owning a car does make life far easier.

Cost of living in Cincinnati

The cost of living in Cincinnati is reasonable, and new arrivals often report that they can live comfortably on middling salaries. Though slightly higher than the state average of Ohio, Cincinnati's cost of living is much lower than the national average. The cost of utilities and groceries in Cincinnati is quite high, but the low cost of housing makes up for it.

Expat families and children

Those looking to escape the fast pace of city living will appreciate the fact that residents of the Greater Cincinnati area pride themselves in taking the time to enjoy leisure activities and a good quality of life. Locals are highly family-orientated and many prominent community events are tailored to accommodate children. While there are no international schools, there are a number of good public and private schools in Cincinnati.  

As is the case when moving anywhere in the US, newcomers to Cincinnati must ensure that they have adequate medical insurance to cover their family's healthcare needs. There are a number of good hospitals in Cincinnati.

Climate in Cincinnati

Cincinnati's climate may take some getting used to, depending where newcomers hail from. Summers are warm and humid, while winters can get bitterly cold and snowy. New arrivals can expect cloud cover throughout much of the year as well. Temperatures often drop to around 8°F (-13°C) in winter and max out at about 93°F (33°C) in summer.

Cincinnati is a great choice for Americans looking for pastures new, or for expats who want something a little different to the country's popular and over-crowded coastal cities. Economically stable and growing, family-friendly and with plenty to see and do, Cincinnati may be just the ticket.

Working in Cincinnati

Those moving to Cincinnati will find that the city has an incredibly diverse economy, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the Midwest. Once famous for its dominance in the pork processing industry, today many Fortune 500 companies choose Cincinnati as their base.


Job market in Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s economy has experienced steady growth over the years. The stable economy in the city has led to the creation of new job opportunities, especially in the transportation, financial services and hospitality industries. The unemployment rate in the city is often lower than the national average.

Cincinnati is home to a number of giants in the manufacturing and retail industries, while education is also a significant contributor to the city’s economy. The University of Cincinnati is recognised as one of the city’s largest employers as are several of the city's hospitals. Thanks to the presence of various tertiary education institutions, Cincinnati is home to a largely educated and skilled workforce. 


Finding work in Cincinnati

Most people relocating to Cincinnati will do so for a new job. Those specifically seeking employment in the city should start their search online. International job portals contain a list of the latest vacancies, and job seekers can also look at job sections of local papers. Most local publications have an online version as well. 

Anyone looking to work in Cincinnati and relocating from outside the US will need a valid work permit to take up employment in the city. 


Work culture in Cincinnati

Though Cincinnati residents are known to work hard, the work culture is a bit more relaxed and flexible than in major cities such as New York or Los Angeles. Work-life balance and the wellbeing of employees are taken seriously, and salaries are generally sufficient for a comfortable quality of life. Work relationships are valued, and collaboration is seen as an important tool. As in the rest of the US, it’s best not to bring up sensitive topics such as politics or religion at meetings or work gatherings.

Accommodation in Cincinnati

Cincinnati's location straddles the borders of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, which means that new arrivals in the city have a huge diversity of neighbourhoods and architecture to choose from, as well as a wide price range.

Factors to consider when deciding on a home in Cincinnati will include proximity to one's workplace, access to transport links and, for those with children, the presence of good local schools. In addition, new arrivals will need to consider lifestyle preferences – such as being close to nightlife and entertainment facilities or access to green areas and open spaces.


Types of accommodation

Newcomers will find a range of property options in Cincinnati. From post-war houses in older neighbourhoods to modern riverfront apartments and condos, there's something to suit everyone’s preferences.

The type of accommodation available will often depend on location. Larger family homes are generally found in outlying suburbs, while accommodation in the more densely packed city centre is mostly in the form of apartments.


Finding accommodation in Cincinnati

House hunters in Cincinnati should begin their research on properties before arriving in the city. The internet is a great place to get the search started – websites, forums and blogs offer advice and insight into the experiences of other expats. Real-estate websites and property portals are also useful as they allow expats to get a good idea of what is available and the costs involved in renting property in different parts of Cincinnati. Once in Cincinnati, the classifieds sections of the local newspapers can also be useful.

As residents are generally unfamiliar with the property market when they first arrive in their new city, the best bet is to consult a real-estate agent. These professionals have an intimate knowledge of the property market and can often provide access to a wider range of properties, in order to find a place that meets an individual’s needs.


Renting accommodation in Cincinnati

Most people relocating to Cincinnati opt to rent property rather than buy, at least initially. There are plenty of furnished and unfurnished rental options available in Cincinnati.

Making an application

Once new arrivals have found a suitable property, the first step is to submit an application. Agents or landlords may carry out credit checks and it’s wise to have references from previous landlords or one’s employer at hand as these may also be requested.

Deposits

Traditionally, security deposits in Cincinnati are equivalent to a month's rent, paid prior to the start of the lease along with the first month of rent. Tenants renting from landlords who only manage a handful of properties will still have to pay this form of deposit.

That said, since early 2020, landlords leasing 25 rental units or more are obligated to accept any one of three forms of payment for the deposit:

  • The tenant pays the deposit off in six or more equal monthly instalments;
  • The tenant signs up for state-approved renters' insurance; or
  • The tenant pays a one-time lump sum equivalent to 50 percent of their month's rent.

The insurance or security deposit is used to cover any damages to the home during the tenant's lease period. If the home is returned to the landlord in a good state, the deposit should be returned in full. Note that tenants who take the option of renters' insurance instead of a deposit forgo this benefit and won't be reimbursed.

Leases

The typical length of a lease in Cincinnati is 12 months. At the end of the leasing period, the tenant and landlord can either end or renew the lease. It is possible to break a lease early, and in this case landlords are required to make a reasonable attempt to find a suitable replacement tenant. If one cannot be found, the original tenant will be liable to continue paying rent until the lease expires.

Utilities

Before signing a lease, tenants should establish what is included in the rental cost. Utilities such as water, gas and electricity are not usually included and are typically an additional expense for the tenant. 

Areas and suburbs in Cincinnati

The best places to live in Cincinnati

Greater Cincinnati is made up of various areas and suburbs of different character, and new house hunters are sure to find a neighbourhood that tickles their fancy. From urban city living to family-friendly suburbs, new arrivals from all walks of life should find something that meets their requirements, lifestyle and budget. Below are some recommended areas for new arrivals looking for a new home in the city.


Recommended neighbourhoods in Cincinnati

Cincinnati

Mount Adams

Mount Adams is situated on a large hill overlooking Cincinnati’s city skyline and the Ohio River. The area has a European feel to it with narrow winding streets and quirky shops, bars and cafes alongside old houses and churches. Mount Adams is a charming place to live and is surrounded on three sides by Eden Park: a fantastic urban park that boasts some of the city's best-known landmarks including the iconic Spring House Gazebo. Rental rates in Mount Adams are fairly pricey and residents are mainly young professionals with high disposable incomes.

Columbia Tusculum

Just 15 minutes from Downtown Cincinnati, Columbia Tusculum is a beautiful historic neighbourhood with a good combination of older, more affordable houses and freshly renovated high-end properties. As the city's oldest neighbourhood, houses here are primarily in the Victorian style. There are several excellent schools in the area too.

Hyde Park

Those that want to live close to the city centre without having to deal with the fast pace of city life should consider Hyde Park. The area is an easy commute from Downtown Cincinnati, but has plenty of its own shops and restaurants. Hyde Park is a prestigious neighbourhood and, as a result, property prices are high. Active expats will be in their element as they’ll find they are surrounded by runners, walkers and cyclists. The area is popular with middle-class families thanks to its proximity to good schools and great recreational amenities.

Indian Hill

Indian Hill is an upmarket area and is considered a great neighbourhood in which to raise a family. Houses are large and there are plenty of open green spaces in the area. The accommodation here is largely made up of single-family houses. Schools here have an excellent reputation and tend to be highly popular.

Pleasant Ridge

This area has a strong community spirit and is a fantastic place for families. There's plenty to do, with a number of parks and a community pool for the kids, as well as a number of quirky local restaurants and shops. Accommodation here is generally in the form of older but spacious family homes.

Healthcare in Cincinnati

Healthcare in Cincinnati is of a high standard and new arrivals can expect to receive quality treatment. That said, as is the case across the US, those living in Cincinnati should ensure they have comprehensive health insurance.

Though all hospitals are required to provide emergency care to everyone who needs it, long-term care can be denied to those without proper medical insurance or other means of guaranteeing payment. Healthcare costs in the US can be extremely high so it's much preferred to invest in good insurance rather than paying out of pocket.

There are a number of good hospitals in Cincinnati. Below is a list of recommended hospitals.


Hospitals in Cincinnati

Bethesda North Hospital

Website: www.trihealth.com
Address: 10500 Montgomery Road

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Website: www.cincinnatichildrens.org
Address: 3333 Burnet Avenue

Christ Hospital

Website: www.thechristhospital.com
Address: 2139 Auburn Avenue

University of Cincinnati Medical Center

Website: www.uchealth.com
Address: 234 Goodman Street

Education and Schools in Cincinnati

The Greater Cincinnati area consists of many public school districts, some of which have a better reputation than others. Parents considering moving their families to Cincinnati are therefore advised to research their options well before making any decisions and choosing a neighbourhood. Options for private schools in Cincinnati are largely limited to religious-based education.

For expats who find neither of these options satisfactory, homeschooling is an option worth considering.


Public schools in Cincinnati

Expat children can attend public school free of charge in the US. Placement at a public school is determined by geographical location, meaning that students attend the school in the zone in which they reside. Expats with children will therefore want to ensure that they move to a good schooling district.


Private schools in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is home to a number of private schools, most of which offer education through a religious lens. Some are single-sex schools, but most are co-educational.

Each school has its own admission requirements, which may involve tests and personal interviews. Competition for a place at the best private schools can be fierce and expats should apply well in advance as places may be limited.

There are very few – if any – foreign-curriculum schools within Cincinnati itself. Expats planning to send their children to one will most likely need to search further afield in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana.


Homeschooling in Cincinnati

Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular in the US. Parents who choose homeschooling for their children often do so because of the flexibility it offers.

When it comes to homeschooling, state regulations vary. In Ohio, parents must notify the superintendent of their school district prior to beginning the process of homeschooling.


Special-needs education in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) has a Student Services Department which manages special education. This department offers services to students from the age of three to 21. These services are provided regardless of whether a child attends a public or private school.

The department manages special-needs students systematically in accordance with their 'Pyramid of Interventions'. This model conceptualises intervention as being made up of three tiers, with tier one being low-intensity interventions and tier three being high-intensity interventions. Each tier has a list of possible problems a student in that tier might encounter, as well as possible solutions. If solutions provided by a particular tier prove to be inadequate, interventions from the next highest tier are considered.


Tutors in Cincinnati

Tutors are available in Cincinnati and can be hired on a short or long-term basis. Parents can either approach an individual tutor or one of the city's large tutoring companies. These companies will assign an individual tutor based on client needs.

Expat children can benefit from tutoring in a number of ways. Firstly, non-English speakers can benefit from tutors who help them improve their English while maintaining their mother tongue. In addition, tutors are a great resource for helping children catch up with the curriculum in their new school.

Lifestyle in Cincinnati

As the third largest city in Ohio, Cincinnati offers many exciting things for residents to do in their free time. The city boasts numerous bars, restaurants and nightclubs as well as theatre shows and shopping opportunities. With a diverse history, Cincinnati is refreshingly multi-cultured and is sure to have something for everyone.


Shopping in Cincinnati

Cincinnati features many eccentric markets and shops reflecting the culture of the people. Those looking for a unique experience should head to Jungle Jim's International Market. Known for its quirky goods, great selection of wine and beer, and international items, this shopper's paradise is well-frequented for its 'drink as you shop' policy. 

Cincinnati also has a number of shopping malls for new arrivals to keep up with the latest trends in fashion, including Kenwood Towne Centre, Rookwood Commons & Pavilion, and EastGate Mall. 


Eating out in Cincinnati

Cincinnati has a strong German heritage, influenced by European immigrants who settled in Ohio centuries ago. Street food has a distinctive Germanic flair, and many restaurants specialise in Bavarian cooking.

Two staple dishes in Cincinnati include 'Cincinnati Chili' – a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs – and 'Goetta', a dish composed of ground meat, oats and spices formed into a loaf which is then sliced and fried in butter.

There are also a number of fine-dining restaurants throughout Cincinnati, known for their quality cuisine.


Nightlife and entertainment in Cincinnati

Cincinnati has a vibrant nightlife and is home to many bars that offer craft beer, happy hour specials and late trading hours. 

It's also a haven for theatre buffs. The city boasts an engaging community of artists, educators and producers. New arrivals will be spoilt for choice in terms of professional plays, community theatre and everything in between all year round. 


Sporting and outdoor activities in Cincinnati 

Cincinnati ranks highly nationwide for its active lifestyle, boasting beautiful parks and landmarks like the mile-long Cincinnati Skywalk. There's also a wide assortment of green spaces for outdoorsy types to enjoy, whether it's for a quick run or a simple picnic. The city's iconic Ohio River also offers all sorts of fun water-based activities, from riverboating to kayaking and more.

See and Do in Cincinnati

There's no better way for new arrivals to discover their new city than by exploring the numerous attractions in Cincinnati. Below is a list of some of the highlights of things to see and do in Cincinnati.


Recommended attractions in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Museum Centre

This centre features three museums in one location at an old converted railway station. These include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, and the Museum of Natural History and Science. The centre is also home to the Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.

Irwin M. Krohn Conservatory

The conservatory is the city's horticultural gem with more than 3,500 plant species from across the world in themed greenhouses that include a desert garden and a tropical rainforest. The conservatory also houses a collection of bonsai trees.

Taft Museum of Art

Housed in a 200-year-old building, this museum displays a small but impressive collection of artworks. Visitors can enjoy viewing paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Whistler and Goya, as well as sculptures and Chinese porcelains. 

Fountain Square

This square is at the heart of the Cincinnati city centre, with an impressive fountain that was cast in Munich and erected in Cincinnati in 1871. Various seasonal events are held in the square throughout the year.

Carew Tower and Observation Deck

This art deco building from the 1930s is one of Cincinnati's tallest. Classified as a National Historic Landmark, it contains shops, restaurants and offices, but the highlight is the panoramic views over the city from the observatory on the 49th floor at the very top of the building.

American Sign Museum

This unique museum displays all kinds of signs and the colourful, brightly lit collections are a feast for the eyes. Guided tours are recommended to bring to life the stories behind the signs and, on weekdays, tours include a visit to the on-site neon shop for a demonstration of neon-sign making.

What's On in Cincinnati

Cincinnati hosts a number of large annual events. From flower shows and arts festivals to food events and sporting celebrations, there’s something for everyone, and those moving to Cincinnati won’t struggle to find things to do over weekends and holidays.

Here are just a few of the most popular events in Cincinnati.


Annual events in Cincinnati

Bockfest (March)

Celebrate Cincinnati’s brewing heritage at Bockfest, held on the first weekend in March each year. Two of the festival's biggest attractions are the opening street parade – traditionally led by a goat pulling a keg – and the brewery tours that run throughout. 

Flying Pig Marathon (May)

Runners from around the region flock to Cincinnati to take part in this 26-mile (42km) marathon. But new residents don’t need to be elite runners to take part in this festive annual event, which also includes a half marathon, as well as shorter fun-run distances – and even a two-mile race for dogs and their owners.

Taste of Cincinnati (May)

Held every Memorial Day weekend in downtown Cincinnati, this is the country’s longest-running culinary arts festival. Attendees can enjoy the fare of more than 50 fine-dining restaurants against the backdrop of live music at one of the festival's five stages.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (September)

This annual event celebrates Ohio's German heritage with German-style music, food and beer. More than 500,000 visitors attend each year, making it the largest Oktoberfest in North America.

Festival of Lights (November/December)

For a magical start to the holiday season, expats can't go wrong with a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden to see the Festival of Lights. More than 3 million LED lights are used to create all sorts of striking displays in dazzling colours.

Getting Around in Cincinnati

Public transport in Cincinnati is limited to buses and a single streetcar line. While trains do pass through Cincinnati, they are only useful for interstate travel. As a result, most people in Cincinatti get around by car.

Cincinnati has an incomplete subway station, but despite several attempts to convert the subway tunnels into a light rail system, the subway remains inactive. 


Public transport in Cincinnati

Buses

For those using public transport in Cincinnati, the most common way of getting around is by bus. The Greater Cincinnati region is served by two separate bus services, one on either side of the Ohio River. Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is on the Ohio side, whereas Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) services the Kentucky side.

Streetcar line

There is a single streetcar line in operation in Cincinnati, known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector, which runs in a loop from Downtown to Over-the-Rhine. Future expansions have been proposed but no concrete plans have been put in place.


Taxis in Cincinnati

Taxis are available in Cincinnati, although they may not be as widespread as in other larger US cities. It's usually possible to flag one from the street, but it’s recommended to rather phone and book a taxi ahead of time.

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are also available in the city and are often preferred to regular taxis for their convenience.


Driving in Cincinnati

New arrivals are likely to find that a car is a necessity in Cincinnati as the public transport system is not as well-developed as in many other metropolitan areas. While fuel costs in the US are reasonable, the cost of driving a vehicle can become expensive depending on location, distance travelled and how frequently a person drives.

Expats who already have a driver’s licence from their home country are usually permitted to drive in the US, as long as their driver’s licence remains valid. It's also recommended, but not necessary, to obtain an international driver’s permit (IDP) in one's home country prior to departure. Even for those who don’t end up using it, the IDP makes renting a car easier and can also act as a secondary form of identification in some cases. 

Once an expat becomes a resident of Ohio, they should visit the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles in order to obtain a local driver’s licence.


Walking in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is home to acres of parklands and beautiful scenery, making walking around the city a popular activity. Due to the city's hilly landscape, walking is largely recreational, although the Steps of Cincinnati (400 sets of stairs throughout the city) are helpful if getting around on foot is a must.