Oh, Columbus?
November 11, 2016 3:21 PM   Subscribe

There's a chance I may be moving to Columbus, Ohio for a job. Post-election and as a liberal person of color, I'm a little nervous. Can you tell me what it's like? And maybe if I'll like it?

I am wanting to move almost ANYWHERE from where I'm currently living (very small town in the south) and found a job that I'm very interested in Columbus. However, after the election, and seeing how red Ohio was and knowing very little about it besides LeBron, I'm a little nervous. I'm used to being a blue dot in a sea of red, but I was hoping my next city would be more progressive.

I have lived in Minneapolis and Atlanta previously and liked some aspects from both cities. I know Ohio is still the midwest, but the only thing that bothered me about Minnesota was the whole "Minnesota Nice", which made it seem really hard to make friends--except with transplants. It seemed like if you were in Minneapolis and from Minnesota, you only hung out with your friends from high school and college. Little hard to break into the group. I'm afraid Columbus will be the same? Atlanta and the South seemed more friendlier to strangers and newcomers from my experience.

I am:
-Half black and Asian woman, almost mid-twenties.
-Pretty liberal and progressive.
-Very interested in food, local food, local music, arts. Typical hipster things (no side eyeing please) like local coffee shops and bookstores. Not really into sports.

After reading this thread, I got a little feel of neighborhoods.

They said Columbus is fairly diverse? It is important to me to see fellow black people and Asian people, and it would be great if they were near my age. Living in Minneapolis, it was a little hard to find other African Americans (although I had a lot of Somali and Hmong friends), but even then--I know how segregated it can get. I'm sure it's not as diverse as Atlanta, but will I be shocked compared to Minneapolis?

So, please tell me about Columbus! Things I'm curious about:

-Could I find a decent apartment in a cute, young neighborhood on $40-42K salary?
-Is there a pretty good local arts/music/food scene?
-Are there quite a few young professionals? (I'm just worried about making friends or dating...)
-Is it a progressive city?
-Is there a nightlife?
-Tell me what you like about your city and what you like to do for fun! Or where you like to eat because I love throwin down on some food.

posted by buttonedup to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
I haven't lived in Columbus, but it's much less Ohio than the rest of Ohio. The last time I was there, we had our choice of lots of good places to eat and there were definitely neighbourhoods of young professionals. The university is HUGE and that does influence the culture of the city, mostly in a good way.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:33 PM on November 11, 2016

Columbus is a mix. The city is pretty liberal and diverse, and the suburbs are, well, exactly what you expect suburbs to be. Minneapolis is an ok comparison, except every single person in Columbus is a transplant. (Get ready to hear a LOT about Cleveland sports teams.)

You can absolutely love comfortably on 40k. I lived in a nice neighborhood (Grandview) on like 24k a few years ago.

Lots of foodie shit, art stuff everywhere. I think the music scene is kind of boring, but I'm not into contemporary music. People who are like it. Twenty One Pilots are our local celebs.

Everyone's a young professional.

Ohio's a red state, but if you look at the county maps, Franklin County is deep blue.

Nice nightlife, the Arena District.

I don't really like the city anymore. Everyone's a hipster. But if regret not moving to Brooklyn five years ago, you can make up for it by moving to Columbus today. If you're into that sort of thing, you'll like it.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Columbus for the last 10 years, but I'm an old, so I'll leave the questions about young neighborhoods and nightlife to others. Regarding progressives, the urban areas in Ohio--Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati--are blue in the overall red of the more rural areas. Franklin County, where Columbus is, went 60% for Clinton, if that helps give you some perspective. Feel free to get in touch with more specific questions!
posted by kittydelsol at 3:37 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

-Could I find a decent apartment in a cute, young neighborhood on $40-42K salary?
Most likely, some neighborhoods are going way up in rent but not everyone has lost their minds

-Is there a pretty good local arts/music/food scene?
Yes there are a few major art collectives/studio spaces and galleries (Google 400 W Rich and Blockfort), lots of music but it skews toward rock type stuff, food is very big here there are lots of great and diverse restaurants.

-Are there quite a few young professionals? (I'm just worried about making friends or dating...)
Yes tons, OSU is a huge school and lots of grads stick around after school

-Is it a progressive city?
The neighborhoods can be pretty segregated, it's true. And we are a blue city surrounded by red counties, yes. But the city itself is very progressive (Google Comfest and our Pride festival also Democratic city govt). My circle of friends is pretty diverse, and it wasn't a difficult feat to accomplish and I'm 10+ years older than you.

-Is there a nightlife?
Yes, see above for restaurant, music, OSU influence. Lots of bars and breweries and special events.

-Tell me what you like about your city and what you like to do for fun! Or where you like to eat because I love throwin down on some food.
This might be too long of an answer so I'll try to keep it brief. OSU football and lack of good public transportation sucks, but we have awesome libraries and parks, great museums and events, so many cultures and influences that are not too hard to find, it's pretty easy to (driving) get around, and easy to travel to so many other great places but still come back to a pretty fully developed city that a lot of people don't realize can be a great place to live.

Hopefully you can come visit before accepting a job and check it out. You can also peruse the r/Columbus subreddit to look at questions from other possible transplants and things like that.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

More third party resources you can use would be Columbus Alive (watered down from the alternative weekly it used to be, but lots of food/event info), 614Now, and Columbus Underground. Some more event type festival things are Independent's Day, the Columbus Arts Festival, Jazz & Rib Fest, the Greek Festival, Italian Festival (you just missed that one), I think Festival Latino is still a thing, and the Asian Festival. Cultural artistic influence from The Wexner Center for the Arts (my fave), Franklin Park Conservatory, The Ohio History Connection, Columbus Museum of Art, and COSI. Yeah, a lot of those might be tourist things you don't do every day, but you can, and they are here influencing the city every day.
Oh and the bookstores are oooookay, you would probably like The Book Loft in German Village, it's pretty unique.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 5:08 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went to Ohio State in the 90s. If I would have stayed in Columbus, I would have tried to live within 15 minutes of campus. I think those are the areas where you'll find the most diversity, culture, arts etc. The campus is hugely influential on the entire area so I would think of it as less of a city in a red state and more of a very large college town. Feel free to message me if you have questions.
posted by rglass at 6:13 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

-Could I find a decent apartment in a cute, young neighborhood on $40-42K salary?
I'm not sure, on that salary range. It depends on what you consider dealbreakers in terms of housing options, and if you want to live alone. "Decent" and "cute" and "young" are not universally understood descriptors... I know people who put up with things I would never tolerate in their apartments, and could care less because it gives them what they want. But I can tell you that you should to skew your housing search to the downtown/German Village/Short North/Arena District/Clintonville areas for maximum proximity to the factors you're looking for. Parking must be factored in because other than buses, there is no public transportation. Or you will need to consider roommate(s).

-Is there a pretty good local arts/music/food scene? Yes!

-Are there quite a few young professionals?
I'd say definitely yes. But- they are also, many of them, native Ohioans. I disagree with the poster above who said that everyone is a transplant. Perhaps they are not native to Columbus, but they didn't come from very far away. Meaning, they graduated from East Bumfuck High, went to OSU with most of their class/ or are still going to OSU, and view Columbus as the mecca of all things. You'll need to find your people. At work you may sit next to a cool hip artsy chick but the next cube is where some douchebro Buckeye football freak thinks Trump walks on water. But there are also lots of true imports. Many global corporations have their HQs here, which changes the landscape.

-Is it a progressive city?
Hmmm... not sure what you mean- that word is tough to have consensus on. I'd say, definitely more progressive than small southern towns. Probably more so than Atlanta or Minnesota.

-Is there a nightlife?
Yes- see above-mentioned downtown etc. areas. Those are where you will find 90% of that type of thing, so living close is important for staying tuned in.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:39 AM on November 12, 2016

Ah yes, to clarify: I want to live alone. I'm just looking for an apartment that is not a hell hole and preferably in a neighborhood that is walkable to coffee shops and restaurants and shops or bars (not like a strip mall.)

If anyone has been to Minneapolis, kinda akin to the Uptown neighborhood.

Thanks so far for feedback and insights!
posted by buttonedup at 8:23 AM on November 12, 2016

I lived there several years ago, between OSU and Clintonville. I really liked it there, and it was less expensive than Short North. Lots of inexpensive apartments that were within walking distance to coffee places, etc. I recall German Village was nice and less also less expensive than Short North.

OSU has plenty of white conservatives, but also lots of progressives, ethnic minorities, GLBT. Independent of OSU, there was a strong art scene, a farmers market, a co-op grocery store, some poetry events. If I could, I would happily move back.

Many retail and fast-food companies are headquartered there because Columbus was a good place to do market research.
posted by neutralmojo at 9:07 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I live in Columbus and like it. There are many neighborhoods that are walkable to coffee shops and shops. If you visit, check out German Village, Old Towne East, Italian and Vic Village, Clintonville for in the city. Grandview Heights might be a good possibility, too. I own, but feel like rent has been going up recently, but Columbus is an affordable place to be.

There's a good music and arts scene with galleries and lots if great local music places. The short north is the traditional gallery area, but check out Franklinton for a younger viewpoint. The food scene is good, too. Lots of great local places to eat - many new breweries lately, good cheaper eats like the North Market, and lots of midpriced places with everything from tacos to sushi.

Overall, Columbus has a lot of young professionals and is progressive, with a strong lgbt community and a celebration of diversity. It is Midwestern and has conservatives as well, plus a very strong enthusiasm for OSU football. All of my friends were horrified by the election results and my neighborhood ( in between OSU and Clintonville) is full of Clinton signs, but I work in a conservative suburb and I know some of them probably voted for Trump. I think in the city, it's not hard to feel surrounded by liberal progressives.

I hope you get a chance to come visit if you're thinking of moving here! If you have any questions, please feel free to MeMail me.
posted by ceramicblue at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2016

Late to the thread, but I feel like I need to chime in on a few things. I grew up in Columbus and moved away in my mid-thirties, so a few observations.....

every single person in Columbus is a transplant

Patently untrue, unless my family left and nobody told me. :P

-Could I find a decent apartment in a cute, young neighborhood on $40-42K salary?
Most likely, some neighborhoods are going way up in rent but not everyone has lost their minds

Cute or young neighborhood? Depends on what part of town you're talking about. Decent apartment in a safe neighborhood? Absolutely. And if I'm wrong about this, Columbus is completely fucked.

Lots of great local places to eat - many new breweries lately, good cheaper eats like the North Market, and lots of midpriced places with everything from tacos to sushi.

Food is pretty good and nicely affordable. Another vote for the North Market here - local food, small merchants, and a kick-ass farmer's market.

-Is it a progressive city?
The neighborhoods can be pretty segregated, it's true.

I'll be honest. Columbus has always been pretty segregated throughout my lifetime. That doesn't mean that diversity doesn't exist. It just doesn't exist on the scale that it would in other cities. It's all relative. I think you might find more progressive thinking and lifestyles (not surprisingly) among the younger population in Columbus. Just to let you know, though, that certain communities are very homogeneous.

I agree with someone upthread who mentioned that the diversity will tend to center around OSU campus and its environs.

--I spent enough of my life living in Columbus, so I doubt I will live there again. However, almost everyone I grew up with still lives in Columbus, so for a lot of people I know it's a friendly, mellow, affordable place to be. Memail me if you'd like.
posted by strelitzia at 11:08 AM on November 12, 2016

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