Being Young Parents in Cleveland Heights

Moving from West Michigan almost four years ago, people would give us funny looks when we told them that we were moving to Cleveland. “Cleveland?!” They would respond with wrinkled noses and quizzical looks, as if we told them we were going to live in a houseboat on a burning river filled with chemicals. And then over the next few years we would regale them with the awesomeness that is Northeast Ohio.  And then they would all be jealous and ask to stay in our guest room when they wanted an inexpensive, cultural and culinary delightful weekend trip.

For young parents Cleveland Heights has been an idyllic place to live. I once posted about an event we took our kids to in Cleveland Heights and a friend commented on Facebook- “so jealous! Next to Paris and Madrid, Cleveland Heights is my favorite city!” I am not even joking. And neither are the people who started the “Cleveland is my Paris” bumper stickers.

It’s not just that Northeast Ohio has tons of great, free events for kids and families it’s that they do a great job publicizing them. On any given day I can look on Cleveland Heights’ Lee Road library’s website, walk into Phoenix Coffee Company on Coventry or hit up University Circle’s museums for amazing events. We drove with friends to the Akron Art Museum and enjoyed an exhibit on the work of Ezra Jack Keats- author of the beloved children’s book “A Snowy Day.” Besides the creative displays and seeing the vibrant artwork we were able to go on one of the free days at the museum- a great perk for families on a budget!

Akron Zoo Penguins - Danielle Filipkowski

Just in the few years we’ve lived here what was once a lame stretch of ever-changing stores across from Case Western has become a beautiful vibrant neighborhood in and of itself including the glistening onyx jewel of the Museum of Contemporary Art, tasty Mitchell’s Ice Cream and local restaurants and breweries. We worry about getting fat living here there are so many good places to eat.

But then again, so many metroparks are nearby that it’s been ridiculously easy to enjoy nature and get some exercise outside. We eat our Melt sandwiches and then frolic at the North Chagrin Reservation or Mentor Headlands Beach. Just a few miles away from our home is Euclid Creek, where we stroll, hike, play on the playgrounds and throw rocks into the ravine and watch them splash into the water below to the delight of our sons.

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We love living here because Cleveland Heights feels like a real neighborhood. We walk our kids to Oxford Elementary school where our oldest son is in 1st grade. In the summer when we walk or bike around the neighborhood we see his friends from school playing outside or at the school’s playground. Friends who live throughout Cleveland Heights have commented on this as well at their kids schools.

Though you can look on real-estate websites browsing homes or apartments it’s hard to gauge the “vibe” of a city or neighborhood.  Spend a weekend in Cleveland Heights or other Northeast Ohio communities and you will quickly see that the vibe is that of a friendly, vibrant, diverse community with lots of places to enjoy.

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Jessica lives with her husband and two sons in Cleveland Heights, OH and works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship teaching college students how to talk about their faith. Follow her blog about faith, culture, motherhood and thrift-store adventures at or on Twitter @JessicaLeepFick.

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