An Evolving City, Columbus is Home to More Than Just Ohio State Grads

Recently named the hottest housing market in the nation by realtor.com, Columbus is an affordable city with a diverse job market and an eye for innovation.

Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University (emphasis ours and alumni’s) boasts more than 68,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in the nation. Ohio State (OSU) also employs more than 47,000 total workers—and that doesn’t even count the 34,000 full-time employees of the university’s Wexner Medical Center.

Widely considered the universally-American test market from everything from restaurants to politics to retail, Columbus also has a booming startup community and an eye for innovation. To prove it, the city went ahead and won the Smart City Challenge of 2016 to the tune of a $50 million investment toward improving sustainable transportation.

Additionally, several major corporations pull their weight in Columbus’s economy, including JP Morgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance, Honda, Kroger and Limited Brands. Of course, Columbus is also Ohio’s capital city—so local, state and federal government opportunities abound.

And where there are jobs, there are residents.

“In April of 2019, realtor.com named Columbus the No. 1 hottest housing market in the nation. I think that can be attributed to the number of jobs in the city,” noted Mallory Beckley, a Columbus real estate agent with Keller Williams. “The diverse and robust job market definitely has an impact on the real estate market.”

Renting in Columbus: It’s a way of (post-college) life

Rental properties surrounding OSU are plentiful—and in high demand. “The housing market directly outside campus itself is a hotbed for real estate investors interested in rental properties,” said Beckley. “There will never be a lack of students needing housing, and because of that need, rental prices can be competitive.”

Beckley has noticed a pattern among OSU graduates who remain in Columbus to live and work. After dipping their toes into the rental market in areas that are walking distance from campus, such as the University District, Victorian Village and Clintonville, graduates soon venture out for slightly more upscale digs and self-actualized-adult vibes.

“A lot of people move to the Short North where they are far enough from campus to not feel like a student but still have the perks of affordability, walkability and nightlife,” said Beckley. “Three to five years after graduation, people may opt to move to one of the even-further-from-campus neighborhoods like Grandview Heights, Old Towne East, the Arena District, Italian Village or Clintonville, to name a few.”

Goodbye light beers, hello local craft brews.

Owning a home in Columbus: Historic architecture meets affordability

After a few more years, the steady migration from campus often pulls homebuyers to Columbus-area suburbs such as Westerville, New Albany, Worthington and Pickerington.

“There are a ton of neighborhoods that are very attractive for homebuyers right now,” said Beckley. “Franklinton, North Linden and Southern Orchards are just a few that are undergoing major developments with new libraries, restaurants and co-working spaces. A lot of homes in these areas are being purchased for rehab, and once they’re completed, they’ll sell rather quickly.”

Redfin rates Columbus as a “Very Competitive” market with a score of 80/100. Still, the website indicates that homes typically receive just one offer with an average sale price of $200,000, slightly lower than the nationwide median sale price.

In addition to affordability, Columbus boasts some attractive historic architecture, including near the university. Haunted frat party, anyone?

“There is some beautiful architecture in the neighborhoods surrounding OSU’s campus, such as Victorian Village, which—you guessed it—has beautiful, large, historic Victorian-style homes,” said Beckley. Located just south of OSU and close to one of the city’s most popular green spaces, Goodale Park, these homes were built around the turn of the century.

“Grandview Heights, Old Towne East, Bexley and several other neighborhoods have some incredible architecture as well,” added Beckley. “If you like 100-year-old homes with a ton of character that have also been very well kept, you’re likely to find them in several of central Ohio’s communities.”

An evolving city, an evolving housing market

Ultimately, the demand for quality housing in Columbus is now on the rise, as the city’s population is expected to increase by 1 million by 2050.

“For the last few years, I keep hearing about this shift in the market that’s supposed to happen, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” said Beckley. “Columbus is growing a lot, and I think the housing market is growing with it.”

So, if you’re considering a move to the city, start setting your plans in motion now—because Columbus is already becoming known for so much more than the Buckeyes.