Tell me about Akron, Ohio

This seems to be the place for these threads, so here is my inquiry.

I have a job opportunity there that I’m considering. The wife does NOT want to move there, and I’ve never been there, so I’m looking for some informed opinions.

I don’t want to flush it just yet. Is there anything positive going on out there? I know a lot of the tire/rubber companies have moved out, but I don’t know if Akron has made a recovery with other industries, or if it is a downtrodden city on its way down.

IT was very rust belt in the '70’s and early '80’s, but there was a tremendous renaissance after that, in large part due to the efforts of Mayor Donald Plusquelic. (And also my mom, who was a lawyer in the city’s development office. :)) When I lived there (moved away permanently in '95, but spent 9 months of each of the prior 4 years away at school) the downtown was clean and bustling, and the public schools in West Akron are very good, although maybe not the calibre of the best public schools in the really tony suburbs of bigger cities. There are also good private schools.

It’s big enough to have several cultural opportunities and some great restaurants. Not on the scale of a really big city, certainly, but Cleveland’s only an hour away, and it does have all that. (Cleveland gets a bad rap; it’s no different than any city its size, with all the good and bad that entails.)

I also really enjoyed Akron because it was big enough for there to be cool goings on, but small enough so that you could kind of know all the movers and shakers in town. On the 4th of July everyone goes to Cascade Plaza downtown, and I’ve described it (I think on the SDMB) as the greatest cocktail party ever – you’ll see everyone you know, have a bit of a natter, and then move on.

I’d move back there in a second if the opportunity arose. Of course, like I said, my info’s largely a decade out of date (although I still keep in touch with a few people still there). I think samclem still lives there, so he may have a more accurate picture.


Thanks for the info, Cliffy.

My wife will not be happy to read your reply! I look forward to **samclem’s ** (and other’s) responses.

About all I would do is echo Cliffy’s reply. This is the land that time forgot. But that isn’t always a bad thing. Just depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve lived here from 1971 until today. My kids went to public schools here, albeit the best ones, and they’re just fine. Housing prices, compared with almost anyplace in America(except for the entirety of Indiana) are very low. No, strike that. A friggin’ bargain. You can live like a king/or queen. But do we have the amenities of a Chicago/NY/etc.–no.

I guess, before I respond much more, I wonder why your wife won’t be happy.

She’s a big city gal, NYC to be exact. East coast bias and all that. I, on the other hand, am much more inclined toward the small town. The further inland I can move, the happier I’ll be. But then again, I grew up in a small town, so home is always where you feel more comfortable.

Naturally, we presently live on the east coast. :dubious:

Crap! Those gd’ed insular NewYawker’s. :slight_smile:

This is a great town. I was born and raised in Arlington VA. So I"m a big city boy. But this is where I live, and probably where I’d choose to live. I love visiting my parents in Arlington. It sure is exciting to go back to the big city and all the trappings. But it’s a lovely place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d rather take my $250K and buy a mansion here, rather than scrape by to live in a tiny box for $500-750K in a big city.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s many a night I envy dopers who live in the big cities.

Akron, for a middle America town, is pretty progressive and more liberal than you might think. Northern OHio in general retains some sense of the liberalness which came from the labor unions of days gone by. When you get downstate, Columbus and Cinci, you get way more conservative.

I’ll be glad to answer specific questions.

Just ask Ukulele Ike about Akron. He’s living in NY, but will tell you that he envy’s me the ability to have a Swenson’s Cheeseburger here in Akron anytime I want.

To be serious–if I had the big bucks, I’d probably live in Chicago, NY, SF. But I"m talking big, big bucks.

Seems to me there are some housing developements in that area that co-op all their utilties so it ends up being a very cheap place to live. I’m talking about everything down to cable.

If you like biking they have a really nice national park to the North.

Thanks for the reply, samclem. My wife isn’t buying it. Yet. I’ll need more info.

She’s a bit of a PITA about this kind of thing, but I love her to death so what are you going to do? But the truth is, I love the smaller town feel. And the position is a good one, with a nice salary. Here’s one of the problems. She has a good job and is concerned about her job opportunities.

That’s one big concern. The other concern is if we relocate, how easy is it to find a job if I would need to? I’ve grown tired of relocating, but I’m willing to if it gets me away from NYC. One good thing about the larger areas, of course, is that there are more opportunities. I don’t want to go to a place with one or two major employers. If you happen to burn a bridge, it can often cascade throughout the town because of the size.

I’ve lived in DC, too, so I’ve had my share of the larger east coast cities. My wife has NO desire to move to a smaller city, and when we go to visit my family in smalltown USA, she looks like a trapped animal. I don’t know why. I guess she feeds off the energy of the city.

Is it slower paced than the NYC, DC, Philadelphia’s of the world? Are the people friendlier?

I assume it’s not a transient community. So, would new people like me and my wife be welcomed or scorned?

If I get out there in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be looking for a Swenson’s cheeseburger. I have a feeling I’ll be dragging my wife out with a bungee cord. :smiley:

FTR, she hasn’t said no. She has just made the “face”. :dubious:

It doesn’t look good, but I look forward to more replies.

Thanks for the info so far.

If you come into town any time except June 20-24th, I’d be perfectly willing to take you around town, be your guide, show your wife why she should want to move here… My email is listed, and I’ll be glad to provide a phone number. I work all day except Fri/Sun, but would love to sell you on the town.

To again be honest, your wife’s job choices would probably be extremely limited here. I don’t know what she does, but this probably ain’t the place for her to do it. And even if she could find a job in Cleveland, which is mega-bigger for jobs, the commute sucks. But, driving in the NY/NJ area sucks too.

Your cost of living would probably go down by 1/3-1/2. No joke.

I live in a 2-bedroom apartment, full kitchen, full l.r., full d.r., solarium, just went to $630/mo. but includes heat. Regular gas is $2.79/gal right now. Grocery stores are very competitive. Rush hour traffic in Akron is non-existant. At least by Wash/NY standards. The National Park(Cuyahoga Valley) is great, but you have similar easily accessible parks all over this area.

I live right in the middle of the near west side of Metro downtown Akron. I can be in the Cuyahoga Valley in a 10 minute drive. I can drive another 10 minutes and go to Szalay’s farm and buy corn that was picked that hour from a field which is 1/4 mile away.

This place is for you, but for your wife—I’ll have to work on that.

Plus, isn’t fun poppy-punk band Reliant K from there? or Canton? or kinda that area…

I must admit…I do enjoy their sarcasm…

I will tell you - I live in North Canton, about 20 minutes south of Akron, and have worked in Akron. I’m like your wife - I moved here from NYC three years ago (I moved when I met my husband).

I really do hate it here. The only high point is my job, which I love. But as far as the Akron/Canton area, I really do hate it - I don’t find much about it appealing. We will be moving back to my hometown in Virginia in the next few years, when I can transfer with my company. While Virginia isn’t NYC, we can’t afford to raise our family in NYC and my family is in Virginia, so it’s a better situation all around.

I’m sorry to sound like such a downer - but I didn’t grow up here (although my husband did), and aside from my marriage, my job, and a few friends, I have been EXTREMELY unhappy here.


One of the cool things about Akron is that it’s part of a huuuuge metropolitan area … Northeast Ohio. People live in Cleveland and work in Akron, and vice versa. People live in Canton and work in Akron. Hell, people even live in Youngstown and live in Akron.

Everything in NE Ohio is accessible to everything around it. There are dozens of suburbs and exurbs around - you don’t need to live in Akron per-se. Lots of communities to choose from and each has it’s own personality.

I was born and raised in Macedonia - a town exactly 18 miles north of Akron and 18 miles south of Cleveland. I love the area so much that I bought a house here. It’s just so damn convenient. I live within 15 minutes of 2 of every major store. There’s a ton of universities, two airports, hospitals, malls, parks (NE Ohio parks are AWESOME), three baseball teams (Cleveland, Akron Aeros and Lake County Captains), two library systems, downtown areas, farm areas, rich suburban areas, poor suburban areas, a host of immigrants, industry, technology…anything you could want.

You could very easily live in a southern Cleveland suburb and work in Akron - let your wife work in downtown Cleveland and you commute about 45 mins to Akron. You guys could “play” in Cleveland on the weekends or enjoy the suburban life.

Really, Northern Summit County is where it’s at (Akron is in central Summit County) if you want to have the best of both Cleveland and Akron. But I am biased because I am from here :wink:

As for Akron itself…I never spent much time there growing up. We spent more time in Cleveland because of family. However, I go down there once a year at Christmas and I have been watching it’s transformation over the years. I would definitely say that it is progressing and becomming a lot more downtown-y. Still not as big as Cleveland but it’s got a super sense of community pride.

If you would like to hear me gush more about Northern Summit County, and give you some generalizations about different cities and towns in NE Ohio, feel free to email me.

To follow up on Elza B’s post…my friends and I consider everything south of Cuyahoga Falls (a northern suburb of Akron) to be…well, southern. You go to a gas station in Fairlawn and the cashier has a southern accent. Lots of West Virginians and other southerners came up to Ohio to work and they made it as far as Akron - it’s said that “Akron is the capital of West Virginia.”

You can sort of tell how it goes if you drive down I-77 from Cleveland, which starts at Lake Erie. There’s all sorts of buildings and commerce around, with an exit about evey 10 miles to a new city. Once you get south of Akron (Canton is the next big town south of Akron on I-77) everything starts spreading out…you see less buildings and more grass. Exits are further apart…then once you pass Canton you start to see cows…

To my astonishment, most of the people I know from south of here have never even BEEN to Cleveland. The mind boggles.

To keep your wife from blowing a gasket, I highly recommend NOT looking at locations south of Akron. They may have some lovely gated communities out in Jackson…but it’s so small-town it’ll make her gag.

Depends what sort of job(s) you’re looking for.

Medicine is huge in NE Ohio, with three competing medical companies (two in Cleveland, one in Akron) and a few smaller outfits in the boondocks. There is a fair amount of business in the trucking industry. There are remnants of the ancient industrial base that once thrived, here. There are quite a few legal establishments and a few banks that seem to have survived the late 80s/early 90s consolidation crush. There is also a hopeful nascent chemical industry.

While has the typical generic job stuff, Cleveland/Akron has a site that started, here, that specializes in Ohio and surrounding areas. You can browse it to see what jobs look like in the area at the moment.

I try to go to Cleveland as much as possible - unfortunately, that’s not always possible. I don’t mind Cleveland as much as I mind Akron/Canton.

I work in Jackson Township - it’s not so much small-town as it is nouveau riche/snobby and horribly overpriced. Plus, it’s very, very crowded in the one major shopping area (which I have to drive through to get to work every day). I don’t usually recommend to ANYONE that they move to Canton, but that’s just because I’ve discovered how much I hate it.

(However, we’re not all backwoods hicks, I promise :stuck_out_tongue: :wink: ).


Oh man. Now I’m gonna be thinking about Swenson’s all day.

Just as a point of clarification. I’ve lived in actual small towns, and Akron is on a whole other scale. It’s a small city. It has a legitimate downtown, and it partakes to a much greater degree of the kinds of things cities have (just, y’know, smaller) than of the towns you see in, say, central Ohio (or central New York, or central Pennsylvania, or central Virginia, etc.). Sure, from downtown Akron, if you know the way, you can drive 40 minutes and see cows grazing, but you can do that from downtown D.C. as well.


I am a lifelong resident of NEO (Medina/Akron) and think it certainly has its pluses and minus. Most of which have already been covered, but let me add/ emphasize a few more :

Also, let me emphasize we have two really good airports, which while you likely can’t appreciate from NYC, going around the coutry you likely won’t find TWO top notch facilities. Akron-Canton airport is turning into a major hub for domestic flights for Airtran, and of course you are covered internationally from Cleveland. Plus we’re a major hub for expressways, so driving anywhere is pretty easy (probably one of the reasons the region is so interconnected).

Also, there are a lot of nice, and Different living styles available. Everything from Mansions (Bath, Hudson) to Upscale suburban (Medina) to Lake living (Portage Lakes). Whatever style you like, you can make it happen here.

Not nearly as much as if it were a Skyway :wink:

I guess I’d answer generally, “It depends”. There are a lot of mid-size companies around who are pretty progressive, specifically in Summit county. You exand into the general NE Ohio region, and there is a really good selection. I guess I’d say for some fields it’s really limited, and for others you can write your own ticket.

If you’d like, feel free to PM me regarding more specific business/employer questions, or I’d be happy to answer questions here as well. I am a senior manager for one of the major tire companies in the area, and am pretty plugged in to the economic status of the region.

First, a big thank you to everyone who has responded so far!

I am going to let my wife read this thread, without any influence by me, later this evening. I’ll let you all know if the “face” changes.

Second, thanks samclem, for the offer. Depending on the timing, I may take you up on your offer. I’ll be finding out more about coming out in the next week or so, but I’m not sure I want to make the trip without my wife because if she’s not coming, well… I’m not either.

Elza B - Thank you for your perspective. An east-coast female who is living where my wife has only flown over is important. And I appreciate your candor.

So, based on what I’ve read, is it fair to say that if I do relocate, to look at neighborhoods in the north/east/west of town? We would be looking at a single family home in whatever suburbia is like out there. Personally, I like the sounds of southern Akron… cow country and all. But I’m guessing that’s not going to fly in this house.

Also, I did ask and didn’t see it answered (if it was, I apologize). Do people embrace folks that transplant to Akron, or are you shunned by the folks that have lived there for 20 years? I don’t want to have to live in a community where if I don’t belong to the neighborhood church, I’m a heel. I’m actually a pretty good neighbor. Just ask me! :smiley:

Naw, that only happens in New England.

We moved back to Akron from Memphis when I was about 13, but to a whole different part of town, and I didn’t have any trouble.


Well, as I look around my immediate office, over half of the people who work here are less than 5 years transplants from major metropolitan areas (Chicago, Detroit, NYC, St Louis). In talking to them I’ve noticed they have mostly settled in either Hudson or Bath, which are (unsuprisingly) upscale / upper-middle/wealthy suburban living. Many of them have no-working spouses, and I know that they have done pretty well adjusting to life here, and seem to enjoy it (especially compared to Detroit). So I’d say a resounding yes, even though I dont’ have personal expreience to this.