Searching for the right place to put down roots? Look no further than Akron. A recent CNBC poll ranks Akron as one of the best cities in the United States for first-time home buyers. Akron was also listed by Business Week magazine as the eighth most affordable place to buy a home in America.
The cost of living in the Greater Akron region is well below the national average, with homes priced from $110,000 to $150,000 in most areas around the city. The average mortgage payment for local homeowners in 2010 was $570 a month.
“Upper-scale homes easily cross the $1 million threshold, giving the region a range of housing options to suit any lifestyle,” says Caren Wallace of Stouffer Realty.
The Old College Try
But housing isn't the only good deal here. Forbes magazine has named Akron the fifth most affordable college town, and the University of Akron was recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the best universities in the entire Midwest. In addition, a University Park Alliance is currently collaborating with government, private and nonprofit organizations to further revitalize the 50-block area around the university.
Akron city officials are also proud of the arts and culture scene throughout the community, with sites such as the Akron Art Museum, Akron Civic Theatre, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Akron Zoo. Annual events include the All-American Soap Box Derby, a WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club, and a National Hamburger Festival.
Akron has a first-class health system in place, plus the city oversees 16 parks. Akron-Canton Airport accommodates 100,000 passengers each year, and the city is within close proximity of major cities such as Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh.
“Akron also has a good highway transportation system in place, with short and easy work commutes during the morning and evening hours,” says Rick Rebadow, executive vice president of with the Greater Akron Chamber.
A Region Full of Amenities
Besides Akron, the Greater Akron region that includes Summit, Portage and Medina counties are home to 21 cities – Aurora, Barberton, Brimfield, Brunswick, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Hudson, Kent, Macedonia, Medina, Munroe Falls, New Franklin, Norton, Ravenna, Rittman, Stow, Streetsboro, Tallmadge, Twinsburg and Wadworth. Each of the cities has its own amenities and are nice places to work, live and play.
Kent, for example, is home to Kent State University, and the city is undergoing an initiative centered on downtown revitalization thanks to a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money will go toward a proposed Kent Multimodal Transportation Center that will include a bus transfer facility, hotel and conference center, office space and retail stores.
The project is scheduled to begin mid-2011 and will create 260 construction jobs, and ultimately 700 permanent jobs.
“This is one of those once-in-a-hundred-years legacy moments that you can tell your grandchildren you were here to see,” says Dave Ruller, Kent city manager. “This money will be a game-changer. All of the project aspirations for downtown Kent just got catapulted forward and should now be within reach over the next two years.”