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The Cost of Living Diaries: Dayton, OH

How much does it cost to live in Dayton, OH? We got a local to tell us all the details.

By Lindsey Hyde on April 13, 2022

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Dayton, OH? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked a Dayton local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!

The best of both worlds can be found in Dayton, as the region boasts a bustling downtown full of cute shops, must-try restaurants and an eclectic art scene, as well as stretches of natural beauty, like RiverScape MetroPark that runs along the Great Miami River, where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors. To get an inside look at life in Dayton and how it impacts residents’ wallets, we sat down with Lisa Wagner, the executive director of a concert venue called Levitt Pavilion, who has lived in the area since she was a teen.  

Lisa Wagner
Executive Director
Levitt Pavilion

Q: What has kept you in Dayton? 

A: Probably family as well as opportunities. My husband owns his own business…and I’ve always worked downtown. I’m excited about what’s happening with the revitalization and the energy that’s bubbling up in our urban core. 

Q: How would you describe the atmosphere in Dayton?

A: I think Dayton has the Midwestern sensibility of being friendly, inviting and welcoming (coupled) with some of the mid-to-large-city amenities. We’ve got the breweries, the distilleries, we’ve got minor league baseball, we have a tremendous arts community — both visual and performing arts. There’s so much to do and so many things to choose from. 

Q: What do you love about living and working in Dayton?

A: I love that you can be anywhere in 10-15 minutes. We don’t have the same kind of traffic issues as some of the bigger cities. It’s affordable. You can live here very comfortably and then have money to go travel to places where you want to experience new cultures and things like that. I think that’s one of the draws. I really, really love this city, and I love who we’re becoming. 

Five Rivers Metro park is in the downtown district of Dayton, Ohio and has a wonderful dome center and surrounding garden.
iStock/Ron and Patty Thomas

Q: What is the housing market like in Dayton?

A: In terms of markets our size, I think that there’s still affordable housing. What I think is really exciting is the downtown housing market — I think it’s at 97% occupancy. You know, that’s incredible. 

Q: What is an affordable activity available to residents in Dayton?

A: Of course, I’m going to toot our horn in that we’re doing 50 total free concerts (at Levitt Pavilion) every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the summer. It’s high caliber. It’s national touring acts that we bring in. We pay the artists, but we make it free for the community. 

Q: What’s one of your favorite restaurants in Dayton, and about how much would you pay for dinner and drinks for two?

A: I love The Oakwood Club because it’s that tried-and-true, great steakhouse. (Dinner for two) with drinks is probably around $75-$80. But I do love Sueño (a Mexican restaurant), Salt Block (a bakery and café) — there’s so many great restaurants right now.

Q: What’s a fun coffee shop in the area, and how much would your favorite drink cost?

A: Probably Third Perk. It’s got a really cool vibe and it’s always like the who’s-who — like if you want to run into people and have good conversation. (My usual order) is whatever they have in drip — probably their (highlander) grogg. I think it’s $2 for a large. 

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