By Aliza Scher
If you had asked me three years ago after we found out that my husband matched in Cincinnati, Ohio for his medical residency if we were going to stay here, I would have looked you in the eyes and laughed; I would always say, “we are going for residency and then moving back!” My husband and I both grew up in New Jersey and we were living in Teaneck before we moved, and I loved it there – I mean, what’s not to love? Tons of people, multiple shuls, countless kosher restaurants, and many kosher supermarkets; it was everything a young, modern orthodox family could want. And while I still love all of those things about Teaneck and the Northeast in general, what I didn’t realize until we left, was despite having what seemed like everything we could ever need, we were actually missing so much!
At the time that we moved we had one 2-year old daughter, and were living very happily in our Teaneck apartment. “Big picture” items like school tuition, mortgages, and property taxes never really crossed our minds. Now, after living in Cincinnati for the past 2 ½ years and seeing many of my close friends and siblings struggle to pay school tuitions and afford the high cost of living in the Northeast, I’ve been able to finally open my eyes, look around and recognize the incredible opportunities living in a community like Cincinnati can provide for a young family.
Our daughter will be in Kindergarten next year and her total cost of tuition after the Ed Choice Scholarship – which is provided to anyone living in Amberley Village (where the Orthodox community is located) – will be less than $4000 for the year. I can’t even describe how it feels to not have to break the bank to be able to afford a high-quality Jewish education for your child. Not only do we receive tuition scholarships, but the Jewish Federation in Cincinnati is extremely generous and provides additional funding for each child towards summer camps and spending time in Israel. Besides all of these benefits, the simple low cost of living here cannot be beat. It still blows my mind that although my husband is a resident earning a meager resident salary, we are still able to afford a 4 bedroom, 2300 sq ft home on over an acre of land, in the heart of the Jewish community. I love watching my daughter come home from school each day and run to play with her friends on our block who all within easy walking distance from our home.
Before we came to Cincinnati, I was so worried about moving to the “middle of nowhere”; I was afraid we would have nothing to do and would be painfully bored all the time. My husband would always insist that I was wrong and would be pleasantly surprised; as much as it pains me to admit it (especially publicly!), he was right. Cincinnati has a very vibrant downtown packed with theatres, museums, and major league sports, and we are lucky to have many beautiful parks around the city that offer activities including hiking, boating and splash parks. We have a very active JCC that is always offering programming and entertainment for adults, kids, and families. The best part is that everything is close by, easy to get to, and you never have to worry about traffic.
The hardest part about moving to Cincinnati, though, was not being near family. As I am sure most people can relate, working full-time while having to take care of little ones is extremely difficult. When we lived in Teaneck both of our parents were tremendous helps and we relied on them significantly. Not having family here was definitely challenging at first, but quickly became a non-issue. Whether it be small favors like picking our daughter up from school, or bigger ones like watching our infant for two weeks until her spot in daycare was available, we never had to worry because when you’re out-of-town and in a community like this, your friends quickly become your family. As an added bonus, there are still plenty of inexpensive flight options between NY and NJ, so it is easy for family to come and visit whenever they want.
So if you were to ask me again today, after living here for what feels like a very short 2 ½ years, if we are going to stay in Cincinnati, I would look you in the eyes and say “we’d be crazy not to!”