The Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Ohio
The average full-time worker in Ohio enjoys a slightly shorter commute than most Americans. But all across The Buckeye State, we found cities where workers spend significantly less time commuting.
On average, residents of the most commuter friendly cities in Ohio get to work in just 19 minutes, which is six minutes less than the national average. An impressive 50 percent make it to the office in less than 15 minutes.
Many commuters don’t think about how the amount of time they spend behind the wheel impacts their life. But they should, as long commutes can increase stress and reduce quality of life. Plus, commuters who face long commutes may pay higher auto insurance premiums. On the other hand, there are benefits of a short commute, and that’s why the Ohio cities with the shortest commutes deserve acknowledgement.
To determine which cities made the 40 Best Commuter Cities in Ohio list, Obrella first looked at the 2013 Census Survey and found cities with populations of more than 10,000 residents. Then, we examined traffic data of those cities, based on the most recent survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums
As the time you spend commuting increase, so does the chance you’ll be involved in an accident. That makes you a greater risk to an insurance company, and means you’ll likely pay a higher auto insurance premium. When you shop for auto insurance, be prepared to give the insurance representative an accurate estimate of how far you travel to get to work, and update your provider if your commute shorten or lengthens.
If your commute increases, your auto insurance premium could increase by as much as $10 per month. Contact your Ohio car insurance company to find out how your premium may be affected.
How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life
Here are some facts about how spending a lot of time getting to and from work can take a toll on your quality of life.
- According to a Gallup Poll, workers who commute more than 90 minutes to work are at an increased risk for neck problems and chronic back pain.
- When compared with commuters who spend less time on the road, people with long commutes are more likely to feel tired and anxious, and experience less enjoyment.
- A study carried out in Sweden discovered that a marriage is 40 percent more likely to end in divorce when one partner commutes longer than 45 minutes a day.
- Research conducted by California State University Long Beach and University of California Los Angeles found that the length of commute had a stronger correlation with obesity than any other factor analyzed.
- Political Scientist Robert Putnam reports that for every 10 minutes a person spends commuting, their social connections decrease by 10 percent.
- A study by Thomas James Christian of Brown University found that every minute of a commute reduces time spent on positive lifestyle activities, like exercising, preparing meals, and resting.
Whether your goal is to improve your quality of life or save money on your auto insurance premium, there are steps you can take to reduce your commute. Take a few tips from these 40 cities in Ohio where, on average, residents commute for 15 minutes less per day than the typical American.
The 40 Best Commuter Cities in Ohio
#1 – Athens
Congratulations to Athens for having the fastest commute time in Ohio. The historic town is home to Ohio University, the area’s largest employer, but technology related businesses are gaining a foothold in Athens and mom and pop shops enjoy strong support. Known as a “smart” community, Athens encourages the use of alternative energy and sustainable farming.
Athens is located in Southeast Ohio, in the Appalachian region of the state. Its rather isolated location could be why residents stick close to home when it comes to employment and as a result, enjoy short commutes. In fact, over the course of a week Athens’ residents spend 50 percent less time commuting than the average American and 94 percent of residents get to work in less than 29 minutes.
#2 – Sidney
Located between Columbus and Cleveland, Sidney offers a small town ambiance with big city advantages. It’s also a progressive, growth-oriented community, where residents enjoy a variety of employment opportunities, an array of housing, and strong support for schools.
Make Sidney your home and there’s a good chance your commute will be 40 percent faster than the typical American’s, and a six out of 10 chance you’ll make the trip in less than 15 minutes.
#3 – Van Wert
Low cost of living, outstanding schools and a focus on the arts are a few reasons why 10,000 people call Van Wert home. Recognized as a Main Street Ohio community, Van Wert’s downtown district boasts an impressive collection of eateries, charming boutiques and a wealth of festivals. But Van Wert also has a number of job-ready industrial sites that are perfect for manufacturing, and plenty of incentives to help you relocate or launch your business.
In Van Wert, the average time it takes to get to the office is just 17 minutes, and more than 80 percent of workers enjoy a drive that’s 29 minutes or less.
#4 – Findlay
There’s a lot happening in Findlay, Ohio. Findlay was recently selected as the newest city to join the well-respected Ohio Main Street Program, which will further revitalize its already booming downtown district.
Findlay residents get to work in about 17 minutes, which is eight minutes faster than residents of most U.S. communities. And, the city is improving walking and bicycling paths to encourage residents to leave their cars at home, which means commute times in Findlay may get even shorter.
#5 – Bowling Green
Located in Northwest Ohio, Bowling Green is a thriving, progressive community that maintains small town ambiance. Home to Bowling Green University, the ninth largest university employer in Ohio, we weren’t surprised to learn many of Bowling Green’s residents work in the field of education.
Whether they work in education or another field, the typical Bowling Green citizen makes it to the job in a mere 17.5 minutes.
#6 – Sandusky
If beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and short commutes appeal to you, you’ll want to learn more about Sandusky. Situated on Sandusky Bay, Ohio’s sixth best commuter city is one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations, but it’s also a great place to live and work.
Sandusky has one of the best-protected harbors on the Great Lakes. As a result, its manufacturing and industrial base is strong. Jobs that support tourism, such as those in accommodations, food services and retail are also prevalent.
#7 – Wooster
Diverse and innovative are two words that describe commuter friendly Wooster. In addition to being recognized as a major agricultural center and boasting several innovative firms, Wooster is also part of a nationally recognized Micropolitian area that’s noted for livability and economic growth. Two of the area’s largest employers are Wooten College and the JM Smucker Company.
Six out of 10 Wooster residents make it to work in less than 15 minutes, and eight out of 10 commute for 29 minutes or less. With all that Wooster has to offer, it’s no wonder it’s been honored as one of the happiest places to live in The Buckeye State.
#8 – Ashland
If you’re considering starting or relocating a business, Ashland offers a number of perks, including an array of business incentives and access to a well developed transportation system. Plus, Ashland was just honored by “Site Selection Magazine” and the sixth best Micropolitian in the U.S. Ashland is big on business, but it’s also a vibrant college town. Ashland University employs nearly 1,000 people, making it the largest employer in Ashland County.
All this, and Ashland is safe too. The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Ashland is one in 1453. To put that into perspective, the state average is one in 349.
#9 – Oxford
Home to Miami University, the seventh largest university employer in the state, Oxford is a lively college community located in western Ohio. Oxford residents are an active bunch who enjoy access to numerous trails, abundant green space, and well maintained parks. With so much to do, it’s a good thing the typical Oxford worker only spends 18 minutes commuting.
We applaud Oxford residents for taking advantage of BCRTA, the public bus system. Not only does Oxford have one of the highest percentages of mass transit users of any city on our list, it also boasts the smallest percentage of workers who commute alone.
#10 – Coshocton
Situated in the hills of East Central Ohio, Coshocton is a small, artsy town of 11,000 residents. Nicknamed “The Made in the U.S.A. City,” Coshocton has a rich history of producing made in the U.S.A. products, such as the American flag. Coshocton County Memorial Hospital, Coshocton City Schools and Ohio Central Railroad are a few of the community’s major employers.
Eight in 10 Coshocton workers commute for 29 minutes or less, and an impressive six in 10 get from home to the office in less than 15 minutes.
#11 – Fremont
Fremont is located in North Central Ohio. It’s a forward thinking community that appreciates citizen involvement. In fact, Fremont recently published its building innovation for growth (BIG) plan, which incorporates two years worth of community-wide sharing of needs, wants, and hopes for Fremont’s future.
Fremont has a strong manufacturing base that includes Crown Battery and Heinz U.S.A., and more than 40 percent of residents have blue-collar jobs. Fremont residents can brag they get to work seven minutes faster than the average American, and four minutes faster than the typical Hoosier.
#12 – Bucyrus
Touted as the “small city out in the middle of everywhere,” Bucyrus is located in North Central Ohio at the crossroads of Route 30 and Route 4. Its strategic location mean residents enjoy access to big cities like Columbus, without compromising the best of small town living. It also gives residents the choice of working locally or in one of the surrounding cities without enduring a long commute. Those that stick close to home will find a mix of jobs from entry level to executive, in a variety of industries.
At 12.51 percent, Bucyrus had the second highest high rate of carpoolers of any city on our list, and that could be why more than half of its residents enjoy a commute that’s less than 15 minutes.
#13 – Defiance
Honored as a Main Street community since 2008, Defiance was also named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns for 2014 to 2015. Defiance is the County Seat for Defiance County, and it’s also the hub of a larger six-county region. The economy in Defiance is largely based on the manufacturing, but jobs in education and healthcare are also prevalent. General Motors, Defiance City Schools, Defiance Regional Medical Center and Defiance College are a few of the area’s most prominent employers.
In Defiance, about one in 10 people use mass transit to get to work, and eight in 10 commute for 29 minutes or less.
#14 – Norwalk
There’s a lot to be excited about in Norwalk, Ohio. A Tree City U.S.A. for more than three decades, Norwalk’s exudes small town charm, but it also boasts an array of amenities, easy access to the shores of Lake Erie and an exceptional business environment. Over the last few years, more than 24 new businesses have opened in Norwalk, and many others have made significant expansions.
Put down roots in Norwalk and you’ll benefit from a commute that’s six minutes faster than most Americans.
#15 – Marietta
Marietta is located the Mid-Ohio Valley, where that Muskingum and Ohio Rivers meet. Brick paved streets, heritage homes, and a quaint downtown are a few reasons Marietta enjoys a reputation as a charming waterfront city. It’s also a Foreign Trade Zone, which encourages businesses to keep product production local.
With a commute time of 18.8 minutes, the typical Marietta resident gets to work about 25 percent faster than the typical American, and more than half commute for less than 15 minutes.
#16 – Greenville
You know what they say about location, and Greenville has got it. Strategically located in west central Ohio, Greenville is near the near the Interstate 75 and Interstate 70 commercial corridor, which is often referred to as the “Crossroads of America.” Its location make it the perfect place for businesses in the manufacturing sector. In fact, several nationally known companies are located in Greenville, including BASF Corporation, Honeywell, and Whirlpool Corporation.
Greenville is great for business, but it’s also perfectly positioned for workers who want to advance their education. More than half dozen institutes of higher learning are within an hour drive of Greenville.
In Greenville, 84 percent of workers commute alone, nine percent carpool and two percent work from home.
#17 – Piqua
Piqua is less than 30 minutes north of Dayton. The city of 20,000 residents offers affordable land, low taxes, and economical transportation costs that make it an ideal place to launch or expand a business of any size. Impressively low utility costs, a strong entrepreneurial support network, and excellent access to growing markets round-out the reasons why Piqua is pro-business.
Only two percent of Piqua’s workers commute for more than 60 minutes, and 83 percent get to work in 29 minutes or less.
#18 – Lima
Located in the northwestern part of the state, Lima is roughly 70 miles from both Dayton and Toledo, via Interstate 75. The city takes improving citizens’ quality of life seriously, starting with crime. From 2012 to 2013, Lima reduced violent crime by 26 percent. Another way Lima has made an effort to improve citizens’ quality of life is by making the city more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
We applaud Lima for having a higher percentage of carpoolers than any other city on our list. In fact, at 13.62 percent, its rate of carpoolers is nearly 40 percent more than the average city on our list.
#19 – Bexley
Commuters looking for a closely knit community with good schools and low crime will want to learn more about the capital city suburb of Bexley.
We were impressed to discover that almost 70 percent of Bexley residents have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher and 94 percent are employed in professional jobs such as management and teaching. JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Capital University are a few of the area’s leading employers.
When compared to the other commuter friendly cities in The Buckeye State, Bexley had the second highest rate of telecommuters and second lowest rate of those who commute for 60 minutes or more.
#20 – Cambridge
Cambridge is situated in southeastern Ohio at the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 77. Its location creates an ideal opportunity for industrial development, and there is a lot of positive economic progress taking place in the region. The gas and oil industry is booming, business parks are expanding, and Zane State College recently opened a new multi-million dollar, full-service campus in Cambridge.
More than 11 percent of residents carpool, which helps minimize traffic and could be one reason the average Cambridge worker gets to the office in 25 percent less time than the typical American.
#21 – Steubenville
Steubenville is perched on the banks of the Ohio River, 40 miles west of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. A family friendly community, Steubenville residents are proud of their safe neighborhoods, quality schools and small town values. The local steel mill used to be the community’s biggest employer, but now, the gas and oil industry is taking root and is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to Steubenville.
Over two percent of Steubenville residents work from home, almost 10 percent carpool, and about one percent use mass transit.
#22 – Dover
There are plenty of reasons Dover was recognized by the “Today’s Show” as a “City of Distinction.” In addition to excellent schools, a ranging of housing and short commutes, Dover is home to more than 900 businesses. From manufacturing to chemical development, healthcare to retail outlets, Dover’s economic base is diverse and continues to grow. Recently, Hi-Tech Testing announced it will relocate to Dover, and create up to 100 good paying jobs. All this, plus Dover was ranked the 33rd safest city in the state.
Make Dover your home and there’s an 80 percent chance you’ll commute for less than 29 minutes, and a 50 percent you’ll be behind the wheel for less than 15 minutes.
#23 – Troy
Troy residents are getting to work faster than ever. Just a few years ago, roughly 30 percent of workers commuted for less than 15 minutes, but today, 50 percent do. This figure is particularly impressive considering Troy is located just outside of Dayton, the state’s sixth most populated city.
About 88 percent of Troy workers commute alone, and eight percent take advantage of mass transit.
#24 – American Township
Bordered by the larger community of Lima and surrounded by several townships, such as Bath, Perry, and Marion, American Township is perfectly positioned for workers who don’t want to waste a lot of time behind the wheel. Several state routes and Interstate 75 also help keep commute times to a minimum. Home to large corporations and manufacturers, as well as international research labs and food processing companies, American Township boasts a vast assortment of employment opportunities.
About 40 percent of American Township workers make it from home to their place of employment in less than 15 minutes, and an equal percentage commute for 15 to 29 minutes.
#25 – Tiffin
Tiffin was recently named the seventh “Best Town for Small Businesses in the Midwest,” and it’s easy to understand why. Thanks to a strong Chamber of Commerce and a wealth of business incentives and entrepreneurial assistance, Tiffin’s small businesses have been growing at a rate of 1.5 percent per year.
Tiffin boasts the third highest percentage of mass transit users, and the average worker commutes for just 19.6 minutes, which works out to be about five minutes less than most Americans.
#26 – Mansfield
Located in North Central Ohio, Mansfield is the third most populated city on our list. It’s recognized as an outstanding community to raise a family, and its housing considered the third most affordable in the U.S.
Mansfield also offers diverse job opportunities. From manufacturing jobs like those at Gorman-Rupp, a pump system manufacturer, to healthcare related work at MedCentral Health System, Mansfield has something for everyone.
An impressive 86 percent of Mansfield residents commute for 29 minutes or less. That’s one of the highest rates among the best commuter cities in Ohio.
#27 – Bellefontaine
About 25 percent of jobs in Bellefontaine are in administration, sales and food service, but from telecommunications companies to major manufactures like Honda, Bellefontaine is known for its vast assortment of employment opportunities. Entrepreneurs will appreciate that the Logan County Chamber of Commerce offers comprehensive new business support, starting with its informative business startup guide.
More than 12 percent of Bellefontaine residents share a ride to work, and that could be one reason eight out of 10 workers get to the job in 29 minutes or less.
#28 – New Philadelphia
If you’re thinking of launching a startup, you’ll want to learn more about New Philadelphia’s Tolloty Technology Incubator. Created to provide startup space for companies in the high-tech research sector, Tolloty Technology Incubator offers a state-of-the-art lab, eight offices, two conference rooms, and more. It’s also strategically located at the gateway of Tuscarawas County’s 170 acre Regional Technology Park. Recently, Lauren Innovations became the incubator’s anchor tenant.
About 10 percent of New Philadelphia residents carpool to work, two percent work from home, and 55 percent get to their place of employment in less than 15 minutes.
#29 – Niles
Niles is situated in northeast Ohio, less than 10 miles from Warren and Youngstown. Its location gives residents the chance to live in a small town while enjoying the amenities and job opportunities of a larger city. Niles has a rich history in the manufacturing industry, but over the last few years, growth in the healthcare and transportation industries has diversified and strengthened the economy.
The average commute time in Niles is five minutes faster than it is in most U.S. communities, and an impressive 86 percent of workers get from home to the office in 29 minutes or less.
#30 – Ironton
A reasonable cost of living, excellent schools and remarkably low crime make the quality of life in Ironton enviable. Plus, Ironton is a business friendly community. Located in southern Ohio, Ironton offers direct access to a number of resources, including the Ohio River, major highways, and rail.
Compared to the typical U.S. employee, the average Ironton worker spends about one hour less per week getting to and from work. Over the course of a year, that adds up to two days less spent behind the wheel.
#31 – Alliance
Alliance, Ohio is a city on the upswing, and that means more local job opportunities. For example, over the past decade, the local university has greatly expanded, a 60 million dollar hospital was built, and businesses that closed due to the downturn in the national economy are back up and running.
We were pleased to discover that nearly 13 percent of Alliance residents carpool. That’s about 30 percent more than the average city on our list, and could be why 56 percent of locals enjoy a commute that’s less than 15 minutes.
#32 – Wilmington
Wilmington is located in Southwest Ohio, near the center of the “golden triangle” that’s formed by Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. Thanks to Wilmington’s prime locale, citizens enjoy small town life with access to big city offerings.
Wilmington’s location and excellent infrastructure also make it perfect for aviation and logistics related businesses. To that end, the city’s pride and joy is The Wilmington Air Park. The air park has enjoyed robust growth, and is expected to create hundreds of jobs over the next year. If you’re look for a city that offers short commutes and a great deal of potential, you’ve found it.
#33 – Warren
The commuter friendly city of Warren offers a low cost of living, diverse neighborhoods, and a stunning riverfront park system. On top of all that, Warren has received numerous awards for its commitment to maintaining a healthy environment for its citizens.
Warren’s economy was once dependant on steel-making and automobile assembly, but over the years Warren’s economy has diversified, which has enabled the city to stay competitive. Today, an assortment of companies call Warren home, including to Delphi Packard Electric Systems, Ohio Security Systems, and AVI Food Systems, which are three of the city’s largest employers.
Warren is the third most populated city on our list, but that doesn’t stop five out of 10 residents from getting to work in less than 15 minutes.
#34 – Salem
Salem is situated in the hills of Northeastern Ohio, roughly 60 miles from both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and 35 miles from Akron and Youngstown. Its location offers residents the perfect blend of small-town life and big city perks.
Many Salem residents are employed by one of the area’s 75 manufacturing and industrial service firms, which produce products like modeled plastics and hydraulic valves. The availability of local jobs means residents don’t have to travel far for employment, and that helps keep the typical Salem commute to 20 minutes; five minutes faster than it takes the average American to get to work.
#35 – Fairborn
Fairborn is approximately 10 miles northeast of Dayton, where Interstate 70 meets Interstate 675. Its location means the 32,000 people who call Fairborn home enjoy easy access to jobs in Dayton, as well as other nearby communities such as Springfield. Those who work locally may find themselves employed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). By far the largest employer in Fairborn, WPAFB employs more than 25,000 people in jobs such as research and development and flight operations.
More than 10 percent of Fairfield residents carpool to work, which is on par with the national average, and slightly more than the typical city on our list. Only three percent of Fairfield residents commute for 60 minutes or longer, which is well below the national average of eight percent.
#36 – Portsmouth
Nestled along the Ohio River, Portsmouth offers a quality of life that’s hard to find these days. In addition to year-round recreation, awarding winning hospitals, and state of the art schools, Portsmouth also boasts a pro-business climate. Its Business Revolving Loan Fund is just one way Portsmouth helps small businesses thrive.
Over half of Portsmouth’s working population commute for less than 15 minutes, and 81 percent make the trip into work in 29 minutes or less.
#37 – North Canton
Like several of the best commuter cities in Ohio, North Canton is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. For example, North Canton is part of the Ohio Enterprise Zone Program, which offers tax incentives to local businesses that expand, and to businessess that relocate to the area. So far, five businesses in North Canton have signed Enterprise Zone agreements. The North Canton Community Improvement Corporation also helps keep business booming through low interest loans, competitive equipment leases and land acquisition.
As the number of North Canton’s businesses increases, so does the availability of local jobs and that could be why four in 10 residents get to work in less than 15 minutes.
#38 – Canton
With nearly 80,000 residents, Canton is by far the most populated city on our list. World-class hospitals, expansive parks, and housing that’s estimate to cost less than half the U.S. average are a few reasons Canton residents can brag about their community.
We were pleased to discover Canton has the highest percentage of mass transit users among the best commuter cities, and one of the highest rates of carpoolers. Fewer cars on the road could be why the average Canton worker commutes for just 20.5 minutes.
#39 – Beavercreek
Beavercreek is Dayton’s second largest suburb, and a great place to live and work. In fact, the city`s focus on education, economic stability, and superior recreation helped earn it recognition by “Money Magazine” as a “Top 100 Great American Town.” Beavercreek is ranked as one of “The 50 Safest Cities in Ohio” and there’s an 80 percent chance you’ll get to work in 29 minutes or less.
#40 – Upper Arlington
Upper Arlington is an affluent suburb of Columbus. The quality of educated offered by Arlington City Schools is one reason many parents choose to live in Upper Arlington and commute to Columbus for work. In fact, not only was Upper Arlington ranked the second best suburb in Ohio and the third best in the U.S. by “Business Insider,” its high school was honored as the third best in the state. All this, plus Upper Arlington residents get to work in 20 percent less time than most Americans.
Which are the Worst Commuter Cities in Ohio?
With an average commute time of 27 minutes, residents of these Ohio cities only spend two minutes longer getting to work than the typical American, and one quarter make the trip in less than 15 minutes.
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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Ohio cities whose population exceeded 10,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report.
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