Questions for your apartment quest:
Where can I walk?
Cleveland is one of the most walkable cities in America. Many apartments are strategically located near business districts, universities, bar scenes, artsy streets, or wonderful parks for summertime picnics and wintertime sledding. Play your cards right and you’ll have more convenient destination than you can shake a walking stick at.
How long will it take to get to work?
Cleveland gets some pretty bad traffic, especially between University Circle and downtown. New projects have backed up the roads that cross the river, and when the I-90 Bridge goes under construction, the city will be having major traffic pains. Consider taking the Rapid, Cleveland’s mass transit rail.
Is parking included?
Many Cleveland apartments will have an extra charge for either indoor or outdoor parking. This cost runs up to $150 per month in the trendier luxury apartments and lofts around the entertainment districts. Others will include parking in the listed rent price. In either case, be sure to ask about parking lot security, because even indoor parking is subject to smash-and-grabs.
Is it safe?
So you’ve found a beautiful, oh-so-cheap apartment near your favorite bar. Is that “too good to be true” mantra kicking at your brain yet? Consider this: the money saved on a cheap apartment may very well end up going towards repairing your car’s windshield over and over. And, if you don’t have a car, your money may still end up in the hands of the neighborhood mugger. More expensive apartments will offer more safety features in the downtown areas, and looking at neighborhoods outside the urban core will provide you with options that are both safe and affordable.
Is there pest control?
Just because there aren’t any roaches or mice while you are getting the tour, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Even people with OCD will see the occasional rodent. That’s just how it goes in industrial cities. So make sure to ask how bad these infestations get and what the pest policy is. If your apartment complex doesn’t have a service, then you had better add the price of an exterminator onto your potential rent.
Cleveland is divided into three main areas: downtown, East of the Cuyahoga River, and West of the Cuyahoga River.
Downtown is centered around Public Square and made up of a range of districts, including The Flats, the Warehouse District, the Quadrangle District, the Civic Center, the Erieview District, the Gateway District, the Theater District, the North Coast District, and University Circle.
The Flats This neighborhood comprises both the east and west banks of the Cuyahoga River. Originally industrial, it is now the hot spot for nightlife and luxury apartments. Warehouse conversions are extremely popular, with ceiling-high windows overlooking downtown Cleveland and the great ships of Lake Erie. $$ - $$$$$
Warehouse District Yoga people, dog people, business people and homeless people are the scene in this industrial neighborhood. Here, you can look down from your warehouse apartment and see the Public Square, Lake Erie, neighborhood watering holes, and the Adultmart, adding a little forbidden color to the view. $ - $$$$$$
Quadrangle District This neighborhood is home to both Cleveland State University and a Cuyahoga County Community College campus. Add a hospital and a few live-work factories and you’ve got a dynamic community of students, doctors, and artists. $ - $$$$
Erieview District Also known as the financial district, this neighborhood is the heart of Cleveland’s offices and financial institutions, as well as the Galleria. This is the big mall in town, meaning there will be a lot of events, restaurants, and shopping areas to fill your day. Unfortunately, however, the apartment scene is pretty scarce, so unless you’re willing to part with an arm and a leg, we suggest you search a little further away.
Gateway District Also known as “Millionaire’s Row,” this historic neighborhood is known for its prestige. It is home to internationally famous-for-being-filthy-rich names, such as Rockefeller. There is an extravagant and historic mall, as well as plenty of entertainment along East 4th Street and Euclid Avenue. Public parking is free for up to one hour… I guess that’s how long they think it takes to empty your pockets here. Keep in mind that this neighborhood has its name for a reason, so expect to pay a pretty penny if you’re looking to rent here. $$$ - $$$$$
Theater District A theater-lover’s delight, this neighborhood boasts Playhouse Square, home to the many Broadway shows, Shakespearean plays, and operas of Cleveland. It is also a thriving neighborhood for technology students, as there are plenty of local companies partnering with regional schools and universities. $$
North Coast District This district sits on the shores of Lake Erie, fishing for tourists with its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, and the Cleveland Browns Stadium. The few apartments available here are absolutely luxurious, which fits with the whole upscale-touristy-condominium vibe. $$$$$
East of the Cuyahoga River is home to some of Cleveland’s most popular neighborhoods. There is a large population of students, young professionals, and creatives. Migrations of this creative class have spurred the transformation of old industrial buildings into live-work loft spaces for artists, as well as other new developments. However, it can still be a tough area when considering safety and commute. Like any city, just be sure to be smart when heading out at night.
University Circle Home to Western Reserve University, this neighborhood is full of students and artists. Wade Park and the Botanical Gardens are a huge bonus for those who yearn a little nature in their lives. Many residents participate in the “yoga in the park” and stroll the neighborhood for eclectic eats and hidden art galleries. Unfortunately, the prices aren’t as down to Earth as most of the activities featured here. $$$$
Fairfax Quiet, safe, and humble, the character of this neighborhood is as unique as its architecture. The area is also chock-full of historic churches, some of the oldest in the United States, so look no further if you’re into that. $$
Buckeye-Shaker There’s a lot going on at Shaker Square, which is wonderfully walkable. There are also plenty of museums, antique shops, and a great farmer’s market for all you organic types out there. It’s a safe neighborhood with plenty to do. $$$
Little Italy This small, urban neighborhood is rich in culture and abundant in amazing pizzarias. Its proximity to University Circle attracts many college students who mix quite comically with old Italians and medical staff from the nearby hospital. There is neighborhood co-op grocer, art walk, pay-as-you-go art classes, museums, pubs, and the annual Assumption Festival. The festival (which falls on August 15) is a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s assumption into Heaven; so don’t break out the Mardi Gras beads. Even then, you’ll be still be hard pressed to have a bad time among the carnival games, rides, and –our personal favorite- fireworks! $$ - $$$$
Collinwood Ever seen “Welcome to Collinwood”? Well, this is the very same neighborhood of criminals, misfits, and head-cases. Dangerous, yet tight-kit and culturally intriguing, this neighborhood is currently going through a revival complete with art galleries and an indie music scene. You won’t find any typical apartment complexes here, but there are plenty of renovated old homes converted into fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, and so on. $
On the other hand...
West of the Cuyahoga River, you will find some older, established neighborhoods as well as another revival happening in the neighborhoods of Detroit-Shoreway, Ohio City, Tremont, and Edgewater.
Detroit-Shoreway This neighborhood is a retail hub with all the great spots at Gordon Square and along Detroit Avenue. There is also a theater revolution taking place, with a new building for the Near West Theatre and renovations to the Cleveland Public Theater complex. Additionally, the city plans to renovate treasured shops, bury utility lines, and rebuild the West Shoreway access, a boulevard that allows Detroit-Shoreway access to the lake. $
Ohio City O.C. is home to the West Side Market, the oldest market in the city, and the Great Lakes Brewing Company, the oldest microbrewery in the state. But, there are some wonderful new things happening as well. Insanely-fabulous apartments born out of old homes and industrial spaces are springing up. Plus, there are tons of great restaurants, bars, shopping, and a monthly art walk. The area is extremely walk friendly during the day (big surprise there, right?). At night, however, you should make sure to take your walks among a group of friends. Just keep your street wits up and all is good in the hood. $$
Tremont A music loving, artsy pub-hopper who picks a hookah bar over a sports bar any day will feel a strong sense of community here. Creatives are often drawn to rough neighborhoods, however, so you can expect to have your car broken into at least once. Be safe. Keep your walk habits populated with friends at night, and keep your doors locked. $$
Edgewater Super nice, easily walkable, much safer for both you and your car, this neighborhood is located a little further west on Lake Erie. There’s not as much of an art scene, but there are plenty of local treasures like little old diners and Edgewater Park. There’s also plenty of parking, a rare luxury in Cleveland. Imagine the money you could save on private parking and avoiding those ever-present smash-and-grabs. $$$
West Park This is the suburban hideaway for Cleveland’s stable, conservative families. Adorable bungalows and mini-mansions line the streets, and the few apartments located in this area are “walk-ups” and townhomes. After all, these are the suburbs. Thankfully, it’s ultra-safe. The most dangerous thing you might encounter on the streets here is a skunk. $$$
May this guide turn your struggle for the perfect apartment into a short, sweet salvation. With any luck, you’ll be hopping around downtown like Drew Carey singing “Cleveland Rocks!” in no time.
-By Kera Zacuto
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