Moving to Cleveland

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Relocating to the Cleveland area

Feb 2008

My husband may be taking a job near Cleveland, in Mentor, Ohio. Having never been there, and not knowing much about the area, I am somewhat apprehensive about the move. It seems like such a huge change (i.e. culture shock!) from living in the Bay Area. I would so very much appreciate feedback from anyone who has lived there, or near there. We have three small children, one of whom will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Are the schools any good? What school districts? What neighborhoods we should be looking at? My husband's future boss suggested looking around Chardon, Concord, Chagrin Falls, and Mentor itself. Anyone have a recommendation? Thank you so much... tinagr

I was raised in the Cleveland area, and have observed that people who have lived there are extremely positive about the place. Ohio, and particularly Cleveland, is still not successfully transitioned to a post-rust-belt economy and continues to suffer quite a bit economically. That said, Ohio is known for excellent public schools and public libraries. You will be astounded at how inexpensively one can live there.

I recently attended a meeting with many CA school administrators, who commented that Ohio administrators gripe about cutting items from their budgets that even the richest CA districts don't dream of putting in. I believe you will be amazed at the quality of the cultural institutions in the area: orchestra, art museum, health museum, rock n roll hall of fame, etc.

People who love the Berkeley/Oakland area will probably like Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, maybe even Lakewood. Unfortunately, these are close-in suburbs to the city and quite far from Mentor. Chagrin Falls, Chardon do have good schools, but are not all that diverse racially or economically and so may involve more culture shock. Mentor is not bad. I'm not familiar with Concord.

I have been surprised recently to see many of childhood friends turn back flips to return to the Cleveland area because it's a great place to raise a family.

The weather is of course miserable - constant snow in the winter (although global warning has lessened the severity), sweltering in the summer. The Mentor Headlands beach is one of the best places ever to spend one's summer days. Best of luck! Hometown Clevelander

As a life-long resident of the Cleveland area who has recently located to CA, I can provide some guidance.

Yes - you will be in for a culture shock, but not as much as you think. Cleveland is a relatively liberal town (at least in pockets - it is not Iowa). The biggest shock will be the weather. Cleveland has 3-4 of the best months you will find anywhere, but 4 or 5 of the worst months you will find anywhere. The lack of sun in the winter can be depressing, but the occasionally you will get crisp snow and a blue sky and have a truly beautiful winter day (although don't look for it to be like Tahoe).

In terms of the area, Chagrin Falls is really the cream of the crop. Hudson is right there with it. Excellent schools and really nice homes. Homes that do not exist in the Bay area. On the positive side, if you own a home in the Bay area, you can sell and live like a king in either of those areas. I am sure you have already been on and have an idea of home prices, but the Cleveland market is really depressed. Foreclosures have hit all price ranges and there is a lot of desperation selling going on. In this market, you can expect to get a huge discount and if you have multiple homes in mind, low ball offers may be entertained. Another thing, much unlike the Bay area, in the Cleveland market a 90% offer is not viewed as a low-ball offer - especially in this market. So, you should do extremely well on buying.

People talk about Chardon a lot, but the snow belt is really tough there. Chardon is very nice; however, when the West Side of Cleveland has 2-3 inches of snow, Chardon can have 12''. Cleveland has what is called ''Lake Effect'' snow, and there are only a few places in the world that have it (it is caused by lake Erie). Unless you really like a lot of snow (I mean a lot), you probably want to stay out the snow belt as commuting can be very difficult especially for someone who did not grow up driving in snow.

Obviously, there is a lot more to tell....and if you have specific issues in mind I will be glad to share my ''hard earned'' wisdom when it comes to Cleveland.