Both Cleveland and Columbus are big, important, cities in Ohio.
However, considering they’re both large and play an integral role in Ohio’s economics and politics, you may wonder how they differ.
While the two cities have plenty in common, there are some main differences that separate them.
Here are some differences between Cleveland and Columbus.
Cleveland Vs Columbus (What’s The Difference?)
One of the big differences between Columbus and Cleveland is the population.
Columbus is the capital of Ohio and has always had a relatively strong population because of that fact.
However, recently, Columbus’ population has continued to increase while Cleveland’s population has decreased over time.
Columbus grew by 180,715 residents over the course of a decade.
That brings its official population to 905,748.
Cleveland, on the other hand, has reportedly shrunk by 6.1%.
Their official population is 372,624.
There are a few reasons behind Columbus’ population growth.
The first is the economy.
While other cities are showing their economies start to stall or even stutter, Columbus’ economy has been growing.
Between 2014 and 2017, the city’s GDP grew by $2.3 billion.
Naturally, people looking for jobs are going to find that attractive.
Growing economies mean jobs and likely higher wages.
Slowing economies mean fewer jobs and low wages.
Experts point to the fact that while other cities around it were part of the industrial boom, Columbus’ economy is far more varied.
Like many other cities, the industries and manufacturers eventually left the area for cheap labor elsewhere or simply went out of business.
They became part of the rust belt.
Since Columbus has several universities, hospitals, and insurance companies, they have a far more varied economy.
They’ve started to attract intelligence technologies into the city which has opened up even more opportunities for employment.
Because of this, more people are coming to Columbus to take part in a varied economic environment rather than one that’s facing stalls and problems.
2. Unemployment Rate
Another big factor behind the push in population and a difference between the cities is the unemployment rate.
Unemployment rates are important because it gives people a perspective as to how the city treats its people.
A low rate means that the city does what it can to help people find jobs and get them off of the streets.
A city with a high unemployment rate likely means that they have a slow economy that doesn’t support its residents.
The unemployment rate in Columbus is 4.7%.
This is a decrease from the 5.1% rate it had in August 2020.
However, Columbus’ unemployment rate is lower than Cleveland’s.
Cleveland has an unemployment rate of 6.5%.
A year prior, Cleveland’s unemployment rate was 13.4%.
While clearly, Cleveland has also improved in helping its residents find jobs, it still has a higher rate than Columbus.
One must also consider the population differences and these rates.
Columbus has a larger population than Cleveland but they still have a lower unemployment rate.
This indicates that Columbus has a stronger economy than Cleveland.
3. Cost Of Living
Unlike other capital cities, Columbus has a low cost of living.
In fact, the cost of living is higher in Cleveland than it is in Columbus.
According to Nerd Wallet, the cost of living is 6% lower in Columbus than it is in Cleveland.
One of the most important factors in considering the cost of living in an area is housing costs.
In Cleveland, the average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,150 per month.
In Columbus, you can get the same sized apartment for $1,084.
While it may not seem like much of a difference, those dollars can add up over the years.
For homeowners, the average home price in Cleveland is $283,240.
In Columbus, it’s $259,990.
When it comes to buying a home, the price difference is a bit clearer.
It’s more affordable to buy a home in Columbus than it is in Cleveland.
Transportation costs are also a bit lower in Columbus.
The average price of gas in Cleveland is $2.83 while it’s $2.62 in Columbus.
Feeding the family is important and how far you can stretch your dollar determines how well you can feed your family.
Food costs in Columbus tend to be cheaper than in Cleveland.
Bread in Cleveland costs around $4.41 while it costs $3.19 in Columbus.
A 12-inch pizza at Pizza Hut costs $11.99 in Cleveland while it costs $9.99 in Columbus.
Even McDonald’s is more expensive in Cleveland.
A quarter-pounder with cheese is $4.04 in Cleveland while it’s only $3.79 in Columbus.
Clearly, when it comes to living in the two cities, you can spread your money around a bit more in Columbus than you can in Cleveland.
4. Healthcare Costs
At some point, you’re likely going to find yourself needing to see a doctor.
Whether it’s a regular check-up or something more serious, you can count on taking on some medical costs.
When comparing Cleveland with Columbus, you may want to choose Columbus to get treatment.
It has lower healthcare costs.
The average price of a doctor’s visit in Cleveland is $117.
In Columbus, the average price is $103.23.
It’s slightly more affordable, which means you can see your doctor more often and receive preventative healthcare.
Dentist visits are another important healthcare concern that you should consider.
The average cost of a dental visit is $111.00 in Cleveland while it’s $83.26 in Columbus.
If you need new glasses or have to get an eye exam, then you’ll need to visit an optometrist.
The average cost of such a visit in Cleveland is $85.40.
In Columbus, it’s $61.30.
Finally, a common medication that those suffering from high cholesterol use is Lipitor.
In Cleveland, the average monthly cost of Lipitor is $505.49.
You can find it cheaper in Columbus with an average price of $455.76.
Clearly, if you spend a lot of your income on healthcare costs, then moving to Columbus may help you save some money in the long run.
Considering that both Columbus and Cleveland are in the same state, you may think that they have the same climate.
This is true to a degree.
In general, both Cleveland and Columbus have the same type of weather and temperatures.
However, because Cleveland is close to Lake Erie, it has a slightly different climate than Columbus.
In the summer, living in Cleveland is a bit more ideal than it is in Columbus.
That’s because the air coming off the lake helps keep the city and surrounding area cooler.
You’re also always within easy reach of the beach to cool off.
In Columbus, you’re not as lucky.
However, come winter, Lake Erie becomes a nightmare.
While the lake provides cool temperatures in the summer, it also provides blasts of cold air in the winter.
As a result, Cleveland tends to be a bit cooler than Columbus in the winter.
It’s also subject to a lot more snow.
The moisture in the air caused by Lake Erie means that there is a greater chance of more snow falling.
Columbus is far enough from Lake Erie that it doesn’t get dumped on as much.
Its residents only have to deal with the usual winter snow.
Outside of the lake’s effects on Cleveland, however, the two cities share relatively the same climate and weather.
Another important factor to consider when comparing the two cities is their crime rates.
The unfortunate thing about Columbus and Cleveland is that they both have high rates of crime, especially compared to the national average.
In Columbus, the average number of crimes reported is 33,954.
That’s 57% above the national average.
Most of those crimes were property-related.
That means it could have been theft, damage to the property, or the resident could have received injuries or even been killed at their property.
The number of property crimes, which was 28,530 is 60% above the national average.
Even more concerning is the number of violent crimes in Columbus.
There’s an average of 5,064 violent crimes in the city which is 43% above the national average.
Because of these abysmal percentages, the FBI gave Columbus an F rating in terms of safety.
Cleveland fared even worse after considering its smaller population.
In Cleveland, the average crime number is 21,714.
While this may seem smaller than Columbus, it actually shows that its rate is 144% above the national average.
That’s because Cleveland has a smaller population than Columbus.
Property crimes had 15,433 reported which is 108% above the national average.
They also reported 6,281 violent crimes.
That came out to be 327% above the national average.
Obviously, Cleveland received an F rating for safety, too.
When it comes to the two cities, both have poor safety ratings, but Cleveland is far worse than Columbus.
A final difference between the two cities that we will discuss is the kind of entertainment that you can find.
In Columbus, one of the biggest attractions is its State House.
If you love history or enjoy seeing political architecture, then that’s a natural draw to the area.
The other big attraction is Ohio State University.
The University rests in the city and houses at least 60,000 students at any one time.
Because it’s a college town, it has many of the college pastimes that you can expect.
College sports are a big thing in the city.
For places of culture, you have the Columbus Museum of Art.
The city also boasts a huge park where you can hike for 10 miles.
The park in question is the Highbanks Metro Park.
For shopping, dining, and other nightly events, you can head to the Easton Town Center.
There are more than 200 stores and restaurants in the area.
Clearly, Columbus has a lot to offer, but Cleveland has a couple of attractions that Columbus can’t compete with.
It has Lake Erie.
For anyone who loves being out on the water or enjoys water-related activities, Cleveland has what you need.
With large stretches of beach and plenty of docks and harbors from which to choose, you can have a pleasant time on Lake Erie.
The lake isn’t the only thing to do in Cleveland, either.
The city is also home to the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Every year, there’s a big celebration of rock and roll when the organization inducts a new artist or more into its Hall of Fame.
Cleveland also has a set of professional sports teams that residents love to cheer for.
The Cleveland Cavaliers is just one such team that even once boasted LeBron James on its roster.
If you like baseball, then you’ll have the Cleveland Guardians to root for each season.
In terms of culture, Cleveland has The Cleveland Museum of Art to visit.
There’s also a zoo, plenty of shopping, and tons of restaurants.
Both cities have plenty to offer their residents.
Cleveland has the beautiful Lake Erie while Columbus has its college life attractions.
When Was Columbus, Ohio Founded?
Columbus was a late bloomer in terms of the city’s founding.
The state legislature decided to move the state’s capital to a more central location.
They founded Columbus in 1812.
The city was named after Christopher Columbus.
Once most of the capital buildings were ready for use, the legislature moved to Columbus in 1816.
The city would see rapid growth and even incorporate a nearby settlement called Franklinton.
Franklinton had been there since 1797.
Columbus’s real population growth occurred after two major means of travel opened.
The first was when a feeder branch opened from the Ohio and Erie Canal.
That occurred in 1831.
Five years later, in 1836, the Cumberland National Road from Maryland connected with the city.
A railroad would eventually come to Columbus, too, in 1850.
Columbus would go on to play an important role in the American Civil War.
Camp Chase was there, and it was one of the largest facilities where the Union forces held Confederate Prisoners of War.
It was also a helpful staging area for Union forces to launch.
While the city saw its economy grow in the Civil War, it continued to boom long after.
One of its initial major productions was horse-drawn carriages.
What Are The Largest Local Economies In Columbus, Ohio?
Although Columbus, Ohio may have started by producing horse-drawn carriages, it quickly evolved into various other trade efforts.
For one, it became a large aircraft manufacturing site.
However, in the 21st century, the fastest-growing economies have been in the health, education, utilities, transportation, and business services sectors.
Columbus also owes its economic success to its excellent location.
Thanks to various railroads, a highway network, and an international airport, the city has always been close to half of the US population.
Although Columbus may not be the oldest city in Ohio, it has been one of its most important.
When Was Cleveland, Ohio Founded?
Cleveland is one of the oldest cities, if not the oldest city in Ohio.
It was the Connecticut Western Reserve that scouted and surveyed the area that would become Cleveland.
They named the area Cleaveland, originally, after General Moses Cleaveland.
General Cleaveland was one of the investors of the company and also helped survey the land.
The first survey occurred in 1796.
It had 220 lots, and the company had priced them for $50 each.
Few wanted to pay that price, however, so the initial population of Cleaveland was a mere three people.
In 1810, that number had only increased to 57.
One of the major reasons behind the slow population growth was the fact that there weren’t any major roads connecting Cleaveland to other cities.
It was only after the War of 1812 that Cleaveland started to gain a population.
With most of the threat from the Native Americans gone, railroads were able to start production.
At this point, Cleaveland had become a farmer’s market town.
People came from along the river to sell their wares.
By 1820, 606 people lived in Cleaveland.
It was during the 1820s, however, that Cleaveland saw its chance for real growth.
It was during this time that construction was finished on the Erie Canal.
This opened up the city to water transportation and even connected it to the Atlantic Ocean.
It also connected Cleaveland to the Ohio River.
In 1831, the city changed its spelling from Cleaveland to Cleveland.
Most believe that’s because the local newspaper had a difficult time fitting the name into their headlines.
Dropping the A made it easier for them, and everyone chose to adopt the new spelling.
What Industries Was Cleveland Known For?
Once railroads connected Cleveland to other locations, it became a hot spot for some industrialists.
John D. Rockefeller began the Standard Oil Company in 1860.
Samuel Mather opened his steel production plant.
Most of Cleveland’s population found itself either working in the steel mill or drilling for oil.
Unfortunately, that also meant that many of the workers lost their jobs during the Great Depression.
As business suffered, many ended up cutting workers loose to stave off debt.
Despite that hardship, Cleveland reinvented itself as a cultural and social city.
It opened up Euclid Beach Park in 1894 which essentially became Ohio’s version of Coney Island.
It also brought baseball to its forefront and opened up art galleries.
Although it may have started as an industrial complex, the old city of Cleveland has since evolved with the times.
Cleveland and Columbus are both located in Ohio.
However, despite sharing many similarities, there are key differences between them.
Their histories, economies, crime rates, and even local climates make them distinct from one another.
Are you a true Ohioan? The oldest city in the state is Marietta (1788).