Columbus is Among the Youngest Cities in America. Here is Why.

As one of the youngest cities in America, Columbus blends big city amenities with Midwestern hospitality.

By Logan Dawson / September 27, 2021

living here

Throughout the past decade, the Columbus Region has been growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has ranked first for population growth among similar large metro areas in the Midwest between 2010 and 2020, with a 15% population jump from 787,033 to 905,748. Columbus’ rising tech scene and its burgeoning logistics and e-commerce corridor has allowed it to hold strong even at the height of COVID. In fact, according to a report by HireAHelper, Columbus had a net gain of 41% between those who moved into the city and those who moved out. Elsewhere, CBRE’s Tech Talent Scorecard recently ranked Columbus as having the No. 10 highest concentration of millennials, making it one of the youngest cities in America.

You may be asking — how is this possible? According to NCBI, cities with a diverse economic structure are less vulnerable and have a better chance of survival. In Columbus, no single industry represents more than 18% of total employment. The Columbus Region also offers a strong university presence with a talented workforce fueling a wide array of industries, from retail to biomedical to fintech and insurtech.

Columbus Arena District
Arena District

A Cultural Kaleidoscope that Continues to Grow

Columbus blends big city amenities with Midwestern hospitality. As one of the youngest cities in America, Columbus has a progressive mindset, with a strong arts and culture scene and an exceptional Pride community. Home to a lively social scene and close to 50 breweries — over half of which have opened within the last five years — the Region isn’t all work and no play. 

The city was called an “unlikely food paradise” by USA Today in 2020 thanks to a slew of culinary delights including everything from West African dishes to northern Chinese cuisines. Here you will find neighborhoods with fresh, diverse cultural offerings like Saraga International Grocery and Momo Ghar — the Tibetan-Nepali dumpling shop lauded by restaurateur Guy Fieri. Whether it’s Festival Latino in the fall or the Asian festival in the Summer, Columbus celebrates its diverse communities while continuously striving to be more inclusive and more equitable.

“I just love the fact that you have different neighborhoods that reflect different characters. [Residents] can experience different cultures and not feel as though they have to travel far to experience those things,” said Alexia Winfield, an analyst for JPMorgan Chase and creator of the Columbus Book Project.

The Columbus Arts Festival takes place annually, featuring hundreds of nationally recognized artists, and draws 500,000 people to the downtown area. Summer and fall festivals like Dublin Irish Festival and the Columbus Greek Festival bring in thousands of people looking to expand their worldviews. Additionally, Stonewall Columbus recently recognized 40 years of Pride celebrations in an effort uplift LGBTQ+ identities. The annual Pride festival and march bring over 800,000 visitors to Columbus each year.

Did we forget to mention Columbus’ sports scene? Whether it’s quick-paced Columbus Blue Jackets hockey, fan-enthused Columbus Crew SC soccer at the brand new, one-of-a-kind stadium, or championship-bound Ohio State Football, there’s never a weekend without a game to watch, a tailgate to attend or an opportunity to yell “O-H” to passersby, who are guaranteed to respond with an “I-O!”

Vibrant community in Columbus

A Talented and Tight Tech Community

LendingTree ranked Columbus sixth in the U.S. for cities with the youngest entrepreneurs. The Region is filled with open-minded young professionals, which is why Co-founder of Forge Biologics Erandi De Silva attributes part of the company’s growth to talent.

“This very tight-knit start-up community which directly led me to find my co-founders for Forge Biologics as well as the initial investors in this business, Drive Capital,” De Silva said. “We have great access to talent and a great quality of life that we can build upon and help recruit talent to move here.”

Much of that talent comes from right here in the Region. Local students can move directly from attending college at one of the city’s 52 higher education institutions into a good-paying job with career potential. Companies look beyond city limits for talent, too, with 42% of those moving to the Region holding a college degree.

Higher Education options in Columbus

A City that Won’t Break the Bank

With a cost of living that is 10 percent lower than the national average, the Region’s residents get more for less – making it attractive for young professionals. The average commute to work also one of the lowest in the nation at just 23.5 minutes, meaning lower fuel costs and more time to enjoy doing the things you love.

Businesses throughout the Columbus Region also offer some of the highest compensation rates in tech, with an average salary of $87,390 in 2020, according to SmartAsset.

“The cost of living is relatively low, and the software engineers are skilled,” said Ryan Buzzanca, head of engineering at Bold Penguin.

Virginia Nunes Gutierrez, COO of the Co-op Bottoms Up Coffee, reported a similar experience.

“My uncle came here over 20 years ago because there were job opportunities, a Latino community and the great cost of living,” Gutierrez said. “There is something unique about Columbus; it’s a city with a hometown feel.”

Regardless of your career aspirations, the Columbus Region boasts an array of opportunities young professionals. Are you ready to grow your career in a city that offers high livability, exciting nightlife and a low cost of living? Read more about Living Here in the Columbus Region. 

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