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Cost of Living in Dayton, OH 2021

By: Emily Kho
July 26, 2021

Dayton has multiple nicknames, but the two most popular are “the Steel City” and the “City of Bridges.” First nicknamed the Steel City, Dayton earned this recognition as home to over 300 steel-related businesses. Similarly, the nickname of the City of Bridges was given to Dayton thanks to its 446 bridges, greater than any other city in the world, including Venice, Italy.

Located in Allegheny County, Dayton is one of the best cities to live in Pennsylvania. In this booming city, residents can enjoy a mix of urban and suburban living, with an extensive offering of coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and parks. Dayton is home to young professionals and families alike, with public school ratings above average.

Those who choose to call Dayton home enjoy entertainment options galore, including three teams competing at the highest professional level in their respective sports. If you find yourself interested in moving to Dayton, you’ll want to get a better idea of your potential costs. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Dayton to understand better how much you’ll need to live there comfortably.

Dayton Housing Costs

Many cities across the country experienced significant drops in rent prices during the peak of the pandemic. As things begin to reopen once again, however, we’re seeing rent prices beginning to return to normal trends. There was a significant drop-off with Dayton prices again starting in August of 2020, which began taking a turn at the start of the new year.

According to the latest Rent Report on Dayton, the median rent index is $650 for a one-bedroom apartment and $799 for a two-bedroom. Despite the drop in rent prices in the latter half of last year, rates started growing again and have continued to trend upward for the previous five months.

Overall, the city's year-over-year rent growth falls below the national average of 8.4% and the state average of 7.8%. So, while rent prices are trending up in Dayton, the growth rate is still minimal compared to other cities in the state and other states in the country.

Rent increases in Dayton are opposite to other major cities across the nation that have seen a significant decrease year-over-year. Major cities like San Francisco have seen a -10.2% decrease in rent prices year over year, much like Seattle, -3.9%, and New York, -3.0%. Despite these decreases, Dayton rent prices are still more affordable than in these major cities.

The Dayton housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $219,571. These prices fall well below other major cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, with median home prices of $1,477,442, $863,058, and $371,880, respectively.

Dayton Transportation

The downtown area of Dayton is compact, making the well-integrated public transportation system easy to navigate. The city offers traditional modes of public transportation like buses and trains, as well as a more modern approach via light rail and Zipcars.

The public transit agency for the greater Dayton area is the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which serves over 230,000 riders daily. You can catch a one-way ride for $2.50 utilizing the reusable plastic transit card known as ConnectCard. Frequent riders can pick up passes, offered daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.

The Port Authority also offers ConnecTix, which are limited-use smart cards purchased at ConnectCard machines. Single trips cost $2.50, and riders can purchase up to a 10-trip pass for $25.

If you're a single adult without children, you'll spend about $4,332 for transportation in Dayton over a year. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $9,889 for transportation in one year. Thankfully, gasoline prices are around $2.76 per gallon, lower than the national average of $3.04.

Dayton Food Costs

Dayton has a diverse culinary scene as well, with many famous dishes. While living in the city, it’s worth checking out some local favorites like the Dayton Salad, the Primanti Brothers, or pierogies.

Thankfully, dining out in Dayton is relatively cheap and costs an average of $12.00 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will run $55.00 without alcohol or dessert.

In Dayton, single adults without children can expect to spend at least $3,690 on food per year. However, if you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $8,406 per year for food.

You can anticipate costs similar or slightly above the national average for food items purchased from the local East End Food Co-Op, the Market District Supermarket, or Reyna Foods. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $4.05 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.58.

Dayton Healthcare Costs

Regardless of where you decide to call home, your health should always be a top priority. As such, healthcare is an additional cost worth noting when looking at the cost of living. Whether you plan to visit your doctor minimally or have a medical condition requiring you to see them more regularly, having medical insurance in Dayton will help you manage your costs.

Additionally, health insurance ensures you’ll be able to afford the care you need should any emergencies arise in your new hometown.

You will want to account for proper medical care when planning your budget in Dayton, as healthcare should always be considered an essential cost. A single adult without children will pay around $2,729 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $7,008.

Dayton Utilities

The climate in Dayton varies drastically throughout the year. The summers are known for being warm and partly cloudy, while the winters are frigid and bring a lot of snow. The coldest month in Dayton is in January, with an average overnight low temperature of 19.9°. The hottest month of summer is July, where the average daytime high is typically 82.7°.

Because the summers are humid and muggy and the winters are often below freezing, you'll need to account for higher utilities to keep comfortable year-round. Dayton’s basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $188.28 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment. Adding on Internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $77.50 for a total of $265.78 each month.

These costs can add up quickly over time, which is why it’s a good idea to understand how much utilities will cost in an apartment before making your move. Having this information will allow you to budget accordingly for this often overlooked expense.

Dayton Fitness and Entertainment

The city of Dayton has fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone. However, considering how harsh the winter months can be, you will likely need to spend your winters in a local gym for workouts. You’ll want to consider club membership costs at Fitness Factory, Celli’s Fitness Center, Union Fitness, or others in the area. Thankfully, these costs are relatively low, with a fitness club membership fee for one adult costing $38.50 monthly.

If you’re looking for some entertainment, you can purchase a seat at the local cinema for $11 without snacks or drinks. Otherwise, check out a professional sports game, watching the NFL Steelers, the NHL Penguins, or the MLB Pirates.

Dayton also has tons of other, more affordable entertainment options. You can visit museums, including some of the most popular like the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, or the Children’s Museum of Dayton. The city also has several parks to enjoy for those who prefer to stay outdoors as weather permits, including Frick Park, Emerald View Park, and Riverview Park.

Other Expenses to Consider in Dayton

Ohio's sales tax rate is 5.75%. Depending on where you live, this can increase to 8%. Dayton sits at 7.5% for their sales tax.

If you are going to move from out of state, make sure to pay attention to additional costs that can add up, like cross-country movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. Cross country moves may also require even more fees, such as apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons. Be aware of these extra costs so you can add them to your budget as needed.

Another overlooked expense to consider is furnishing your new apartment. You can get tips on how to decorate your apartment on a budget to help keep you in line and avoid spending too much.

If you know what type of lifestyle you plan to lead in Dayton, you can begin figuring out your recommended salary. The living wage in Dayton is $13.08 per hour, which is the basic wage required to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and other necessities. Keep in mind that the living wage is based on life led pretty frugally and does not account for any extra costs like dining out or entertainment.

You can also look at the average salary index in Dayton, which is $66,000 per year, roughly $17.90 per hour. Remember that the living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different figures. You can use the 30% rule for rent to determine your recommended salary in Dayton.

You should not be spending more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent to live comfortably, according to the 30% rule. For example, if your rent is close to the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Dayton and costs $949, your monthly wages should be at least $2,847 per month or $34,164 annually.

This salary might sound reasonable to you, but much like the living wage, this is recommended for a very basic lifestyle. You’ll need to pursue a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or both if you anticipate having additional living costs, including the occasional NFL, NHL, or MLB game.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Dayton are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Legal, and Computer and Mathematical positions, respectively.

Job Market in Dayton

Dayton has a slightly less healthy job market compared to similar-sized metro areas. Some of the city’s largest employers include hospitals and health care systems, including Allegheny Health Network, St. Clair Hospital, Highmark, and UPMC. Other major employers in the greater Dayton area include Google, Dayton Public Schools, and Carnegie Mellon University.

The unemployment rate in Dayton is 9.2%, 1.1% above the current national average. Not surprisingly, this rate took a significant hit as a direct result of the pandemic. Thankfully, Dayton sees a steady recovery as businesses become open once again.

Final Thoughts

Dayton might be the place for you whether you are looking to move to an area with the perfect blend of urban and suburban vibes. Register with Apartment List today and start checking out the thousands of available apartments to rent in Dayton!

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Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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