Are you thinking of moving or relocating to Toledo, Ohio? Would you like to know what the quality of life is like living in Toledo?
A. Martinez reports in this review:
|Weather||How much crime?||What are the neighborhoods like?||What are the people like?|
|Honestly, both summers and winters are brutal in Toledo. Growing up there, I remember the temperature getting past 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) on some summers and into the negative teens during some winters.
As former swampland in northwest Ohio, Toledo also gets heavy rain, flooding, heavy snow, and high winds fairly often. The terror that strikes the heart of every mobile home mama comes from the tornadoes, though.
Every child in Toledo goes through at least one tornado drill per year at both public and private schools. The city has a well-maintained system of outdoor warning sirens, tested at least monthly, that alert citizens of a tornado warning. It is not uncommon for entire schools, businesses, and the local university to tell everyone in the vicinity to shelter in place when a tornado warning is known to be active or when the sirens go off. You haven't really lived until you've huddled against a packed bathroom wall with strangers on either side of you while what sounds like a WWII air raid siren blasts in the background!
Alternatively, if you are crazy, you can apparently have a lot of fun chasing these tornadoes and trying to find the land of Oz.
|The level of crime in Toledo is either tolerable or terrifying, depending on where you live.
I started out in Toledo as a homeless illegal immigrant living in church basements and/or my family's car in downtown Toledo. Every one of the windows of our car was soon broken and my father was nearly choked to death by gang members.
By the time I was a teenager, I had papers and was living in a nice apartment bordering the quiet suburb of Sylvania. The crime there ranged from the occasional gang fight (not shootout, just fistfight) or drug deal at the nearby mall to high school kids calling in fake bomb threats at their schools.
|The north side, south side, and east side are great places to purchase drugs or meet members of the three local gangs: the Crips, the Bloods, and what residents generally call "the Mexican gang." They are not the nicest places to go to school or reside.
Downtown is OK as long as you stay by the river and leave before dark. Unless you are there to acquire the services of an underage prostitute, I do not recommend staying there after dark.
The Old West End and the area immediately surrounding the university are not nearly as dangerous. The Ottawa Hills area, which is technically a suburb, is also safe, but if you are not a WASP, walking through there will earn you suspicious glances, so I cannot recommend it to my fellow immigrants.
Living downtown is not bad if you live in an apartment by the riverside that offers some security and avoid walking around at night.
|The answer to this question depends on what part of Toledo you live in and, to be blunt, your appearance.
The downtown area is about average for a Midwestern city. People will not bump you like in New York, but will also not smile at you like they do in small towns.
People living in the north side, east side, and south side are wary toward outsiders due to the level of crime they live with, so expect some hostility there. Sorry to say this, but the hostility will be greater if you are lightly pigmented, since that marks you as an outsider in many neighborhoods.
The area surrounding The University of Toledo is filled with students and foreigners, two groups I've been part of and can honestly say are naive, so I would consider that the friendliest area.
The Old West End is a bit more friendly than downtown, but less friendly than the immediate university area. It is diverse and includes everything from artists to graduate students to pot dealers to families. You generally won't find a lot of drama there unless you instigate it.
|Downtown Area||Restaurants||Schools||Single life|
|During the daytime, the riverside downtown area is very nice and walkable. There are a wide variety of smaller shops to visit, and in the summer, you can even find friendly street vendors.||Visiting Tony Packo's is absolutely mandatory on a trip to Toledo. Unless you are on a halal or Kosher diet, you had better order a hot dog with everything on it to get the full experience.
You should also hit up the The Spaghetti Warehouse and order something random off the menu, because everything is good.
If you want a more peaceful environment, Sakura Japanese Steakhouse is quiet and has amazing green tea ice cream.
Really, though, Toledo is known for its great restaurants, so this list could go on and on. Just try different places.
|The public schools are not good enough to wipe your rear end with. The test scores are a consistent embarrassment to the city. The public schools are also dangerous, with frequent fighting and gang activity common.
Every Toledo parent I have known who could afford it, or in the case of charter schools, managed to enroll their child in time, has opted for a religious school, private school, or charter school instead. A few have even selected homeschooling just to avoid the Toledo public school system.
Many of the suburbs, like Ottawa Hills, actually do have excellent public schools, but that is outside of the scope of this question.
|Toledo isn't a difficult place to pick up girls or guys.
If you are young, I recommend hitting on sorority or fraternity types around the university campus. Bring beer and you will be popular.
If you are older, I recommend hitting up downtown nightclubs and bars instead. Watch out for the prostitutes, as Toledo has many'unless that's what you're into. I won't judge.
|Noise||town comparison vs.||Best hospital||Tourist attractions|
|Toledo isn't a very quiet city.
It's got the Toledo Express Airport 10 miles away, so yes, you will occasionally hear airplanes and see some pretty low-flying ones, too.
I-475 and I-75 are also noisy, but that's to be expected.
Also, as I mentioned above, outdoor warning sirens are tested at least monthly, not counting when they go off for random testing or actual emergencies, and those will leave you feeling like you're in a WWII movie.
Oh yeah, and there's also the constant music blasting from old cars in many neighborhoods, interspersed with the occasional fireworks (legal here) and gunshots, but again, you should have expected that if you read this far.
|At first glance, Toledo is much like the other cities you will find on I-75, like Findlay and Lima.
What makes it stand out are the world-famous Toledo Zoo, the renowned Toledo Museum of Art, and the surprisingly good public university that has managed to keep both an open admissions policy and fantastic professors.
|Toledo actually has excellent hospitals, and with the number of people who get shot each year, there is certainly a need for them.
My vote for best hospital is The University of Toledo Medical Center, probably because they are heart specialists and helped me with my heart condition.
I have been to most of the ERs and, while generally understaffed and rude, the medical care they offer is better than you will find elsewhere.
|As I mentioned above, you have to visit the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Zoo, Tony Packo's, The University of Toledo, and the riverside.
The Historic Church of St. Patrick is also beautiful to visit, even if you are not religious. And I recommend a ferry ride on the river downtown, though again, it's best not to actually have contact with the water.
|General comments|| || || |
|Maybe I have not made Toledo sound very attractive in this review, but it is the city that took me in when I was unwanted, and I will always love it for that.
Toledo is a city that will accept you. Not every neighborhood will, but the city itself will find a place for you. It is cheap to live there and there are people from all walks of life around.
What does Toledo feel like? It feels like a Rust Belt city genuinely trying to revitalize itself against a backdrop of decline. As in all cities plagued by closed factories, Toledoans remember the "good old days," or at least believe they do, and the collective memory gives many hope to keep attempting to improve their environment in small ways.
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