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Best Things About Living in Cleveland

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Too often the mention of Cleveland Ohio is met with jokes and jeers. As we north coast residents know, however, the truth is far different from the national perception. Cleveland is a great place to live. Sure we have our challenges. What city doesn't? But, Cleveland has a lot to offer. Below are my choices for the Best things about Cleveland. Do you have something you'd like me to add? Send me an email at cleveland@aboutguide.com.

The Cost of Living

(© istockphoto; licensed to About, Inc.)
According to a 2003 Cleveland Growth Association publication, Greater Cleveland's cost of living is 2.6% below the national average. In addition, the study cited listed Cleveland as the 99th most expensive city in which to live (although the Cleveland metro area is the 15th largest such area), well behind Boston, Detroit, Charlotte, San Diego, Nashville, and Tampa.

Cleveland's Cultural Institutions

Severance Hall - Cleveland Ohio
(© R Mastroianni/courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra)
Cleveland's 20th century heritage as a major manufacturing center has given the city a legacy of world-class arts and cultural institutions. Among these are the Cleveland Museum of Art, founded in 1913 on land donated by Western Union founder Jeptha Wade and others; the Cleveland Orchestra, whose neo-classical home, Severance Hall, was built by industrialist John L. Severance; and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, founded in 1930 as a home for the 17,000-book botanical library donated by Eleanor Squire.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie Coastline from Cleveland's Edgewater Park
(© istockphoto; Licensed to About, Inc.)
Lake Erie, rarely more than a few miles away in Cleveland, is a great source of recreation, scenic beauty, and natural resources (such as the salt mines under the lake). It's also a vital element in creating Lake Erie Icewine and the Lake Effect snow that protects our north coast gardens in the winter. The history of Lake Erie can be explored all along the coastline at lighthouses, maritime history museums, and such unique sites as the Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island.

Cleveland's Ethnic Background

(© 2006 S. Mitchell; licensed to About, Inc.)
Cleveland's "melting pot" heritage is still evident in the city's many ethnic neighborhoods, churches, food stores, and restaurants. There's Slavic Village, developed by Poles and Czechs who found work in Cleveland's late 19th century and early 20th century steel mills and textile mills; Little Italy, which grew up peopled with artisans that found work at the adjacent Lake View Cemetery; and Asiatown, a more recent enclave of Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian immigrants.

This mixtures of cultures gives Cleveland a rich, depth of culture not experienced in such younger cities as Atlanta, Tampa, and even Columbus.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Winter -- Cleveland Ohio
(© Jason Pratt/cc license)
Clevelanders tend to take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for granted, unless we have visitors in from out of state, but the graceful I.M. Pei building is well-known throughout the music world. Not only is the record-player shaped (from the air) building the cornerstone of the Cleveland harborfront, but it houses thousands of Rock and Roll artifacts, including costumes, original hand-penned lyrics, album covers, photos, and lots more. I've visited the museum dozens of times and I always find something new. Cleveland's number one attraction is not just for visitors.

Cleveland Health Institutions

(J D Pooley/Getty Images)
That people come from all over the world to be treated at Cleveland hospitals is no accident. The Cleveland Clinic is rated one of the top three US hospitals by US News and World Report magazine as well as the number one cardiac care center. In addition, nearby University Hospitals' Seidman Cancer Center is one of 39 comprehensive, multi-discipline, cancer centers in the US and is rated among the top 25 US cancer centers by US News and World Report. University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies and Children's Hosptial is among the top 10 children's hospitals and is ranked the number one neo-natal care center by the same report.

The Number of Fortune 500 Companies

(J D Pooley/Getty Images)
The Greater Cleveland area is home to several Fortune 500 companies: paint manufacturer, Sherwin-Williams; conglomerate Parker Hannifin; insurance company, Progressive Insurance in Mayfield Village; and aluminum recycler Aleris International, based in Beachwood. Further south of Cleveland, Akron is home to Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and First Energy, and Canton is home to the Timken Company, the world's largest manufacturer of tapered roller bearings.

Northeast Ohio Colleges and Universities

Adelbert Hall
Northeast Ohio has a wide variety of educational institutions, from the relatively affordable and accessible Cleveland State University to private Oberlin College, one of the first US colleges to admit women students, to Case Western Reserve University, named the number 1 undergraduate college in Ohio (and number 38 in the US) by US News and World Report magazine in 2007. Other area collges and universities include John Carroll University, Ursuline College, Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, the University of Akron, and Kent State University.

Many of these institutions also offer continuing education programs for adults, including several discounted programs for residents over 55.

Widespread WiFi

(© nick schlax/istockphoto; licensed to About, Inc.)
In 2006, Intel named Cleveland as one of its picks for the top three digital communities worldwide. This distintion was awarded to us in large part because of the number of schools, public buildings, libraries, and other spots around town that offer free wireless Internet access. Among these are Cleveland State University, Cleveland Hopkins Airport, the Cleveland Public Libraries, Tower City, Case Western Reserve University, and a host of local coffee houses.

For a partial list of Cleveland hotspots, see this compliation by Cleveland.com.

Cleveland Sports

Charlie Frye, Cleveland Browns Quarterback
(Courtesy of Charliesfryes.com; used with permission)
Yes, I realize that being a Cleveland sports fans takes a certain amount of courage and fortitude, but what other city our size has the variety of professional sports teams that Cleveland has. There's always a major league sporting event and team to cheer -- from the Cleveland Browns, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the Cleveland Indians.

Less nationally-visible teams, but no less exciting are the Cleveland City Stars soccer team, the Akron Aeros AA baseball team, the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, and the Lake Erie Monsters hockey team.

Of course, there's also the OSU Buckeyes winning football and basketball teams, just two hours down the road in Columbus.
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