When deciding where to live — whether you’re new to the area or a Tristate veteran looking for a change — there are plenty of things to consider.

Are you looking for the safest area? Check out Terrace Park or Anderson Township. How about a community with plenty of growth? Liberty Township, West Chester or Mason are your best bets. If low property taxes are first on your priority list, you’ll want to consider places such as Hebron, Ky., or Evendale. And if you’re looking for places with short commute times to downtown, Mount Adams, Hyde Park, Oakley and Mount Lookout all clock in as attractive options.

Whatever you’re looking for, our annual ranking of the Tristate’s best burbs will help you find a community that suits your needs.

View the ratings online >>

Check out Cincy’s Rating the Burbs coverage on Channel 5 >>

Behind the Numbers

How did Cincy compile its rankings? We started with the communities in our eight-county Tristate area that had the highest 2008 median home sale values. For data-gathering purposes, we limited the list to communities designated as political subdivisions (city, township or village) or Census-Designated Places. Communities with populations under 1,000 were eliminated, as were communities that would not report their crime statistics.

Then, we took that list of communities and collected raw data on their home occupancy, education, crime, tax rates, commuting times and change in home value over four years. These numbers were converted into points and weighted according to their value. (Most people want to avoid higher property taxes, so they were counted negatively in the scoring. But since they may contribute to better community services, they weren’t weighted as much as other factors, such as education.)

We made a few changes in our calculations this year that may explain why the results are a little different compared to past years. We used the change in home value over four years instead of the current year’s home value, and gave more weight to property taxes.

Also, you’ll see some statistics in our charts that were not calculated in the rankings, but may still be useful for your information. For example, median home values for 2008 didn’t factor in after we used them to determine our initial list, and population was used only to determine the rate of crime per 1,000 residents.

We appreciate the police departments, school districts and real estate representatives that cooperated with us on this project.

Home, Taxes and Commuting

Median home sale prices were provided by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) staffs of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors and the Southeast Indiana Board of Realtors.

Property tax information for Ohio was collected from county auditors and public valuation administrators. Because property taxes can vary considerably with special taxing districts, credits, reductions and rollbacks, homeowners or prospective buyers should confirm actual taxes for a specific property by contacting the county auditor or treasurer’s office.

Commuting numbers indicate the average drive time to work in minutes as reported in the 2000 Census.


Greater Cincinnati has some 200 villages, hamlets, townships, towns, small cities and municipalities. That means 200 different police departments, each with unique methods of record-keeping. Cincy collected 2008 information where available and attempted to even the playing field by comparing only “apples to apples” in the major crimes reported: murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, theft and auto theft. Crime statistics were adjusted to rates per 1,000 residents, because 10 violent crimes in a community of 2,000 people is much more troubling than 10 violent crimes spread out over a community of 50,000. In cases where theft/larceny numbers were radically skewed by the presence of, say, a sizable shopping mall or major concert arena, we adjusted to account for that (on the assumption that shoplifting at a mall or car break-ins in an amusement park’s parking lot don’t necessarily impact a community’s quality of life or its residents).


This ranking of Tristate public school systems included only those districts serving the communities that were included in our original list.

Because private and parochial schools do not have to report all the data collected from public schools in our three-state region and their students come from many communities, it’s not possible to compare public-private fairly.

For communities served by more than one school system, data was used from the district serving the most students in that community.

The following data is listed for your information, but wasn’t used in the school system rankings: per-pupil spending, school taxes, the percent of economically disadvantaged students (those eligible for free or reduced lunches under federal income guidelines), and the percent of gifted students.

Academic and other statistical information was gathered from state education departments and our own surveys of school districts.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports were also considered in the rankings. AYP reports are mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. For school districts that already score exceptionally high in the academic achievement measures used, it is difficult to raise those AYP numbers significantly every year.