We bought a house to live in/renovate in Cleveland Heights Summer of 2009. Great restaurants and cultural activities. We could have been a big supporter of the city and renovated multiple homes, but the heavy handed inspections turned us off and we moved.
We found the 'point of sale' process to be very heavy handed, and it ultimately led to the sale being unprofitable for us when we were required to replace a driveway with minimal cracks in it (while potholes on Taylor Rd. were likely to rip a wheel off...) We had a 9 page list of stuff to fix before we could sell the home. We would have done 95% of it anyway, but the $6500 for the driveway really threw things off and left a bad taste in our mouths.
The property (and school) taxes are also absurdly high, particularly considering that most upper income people send their kids to private school. When we sold the home in Fall of 2010 (we meant to be there 4-5 years, but changed plans) the school taxes were the second highest in the state (right behind Shaker Heights just to the south.) We moved to Mantua with the second lowest school taxes in the state and much better performing schools (surprising in the sticks.)
We bought our house for $30,000. We sold it for $70,000 after about 1000 hours of work put into it. The county still had it valued at $130,000, even after one reduction. Taxes were $3950/year. Our current home is 1/3 larger with 8 times the land (and better schools) and taxes are $2200/yr. Those $329/mo in taxes works out to $70,000 in value over 30 years at 4% interest. So the taxes literally reduced the value of the home by 50%.
I was a contractor for several years as well, Cleveland Heights was one of the trickier cities to work in out of the 40+ cities I did work in.
The additional costs of living there (taxes and inspections), combined with older housing stock in need of repairs, are depressing housing values and sending the city on a downward spiral. I hope they catch it because there are a lot of cool things about it.
Finally, the highway is very tough to get to. Fastest I ever got there was 12 minutes to I-271. Other directions are about a 20 minute ride. If you work at Case Western Reserve, University Hospitals, or The Cleveland Clinic, this is a great place to live. If you need to get to the highway, pick a suburb closer to a highway.
Enough whining. This is a wildly walkable city, second probably only to Lakewood. There are a TON of cool restaurants. Cain Park has some great shows. The Shaker Square Farmer's Market is AMAZING. Lots of green space. Zagara's is a sweet grocery store, and you can walk there from a lot of neighborhoods. RTA from Shaker Square is great for getting downtown or to the airport. Amazing library. Some of the prettiest churches and houses I've ever seen. My favorite era of homes is here: between the war. They are built like brick outhouses with gorgeous trim and built ins (but an energy and comfort nightmare, my professional specialty.)
We trained for a marathon living here and never ran the exact same route twice. (Watch your routes, though, we got a little nervous a few times...) Little Italy is really cool. The museums and orchestra are some of the best in the world and only a few miles away. Church Festivals are a blast (especially the Greek and Catholic ones, as a protestant we don't drink much, often making us sticks in the mud...)
Part of my negative outlook is also influenced by the fact that we moved here somewhat under duress. My wife and I both lost our jobs within 2 weeks of each other in early 2009 (when the world was about to end) and we sold our home in Kent, then used the equity to buy a foreclosure in Cleveland Heights. We both started businesses at that time (which are still going) but it was very stressful. So keep that in mind, I was not in the best of mindsets.
I recently moved to Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and to say the least, I have been completely blown over! The pleasant suburban feel of this place is inimitable. With no more than 50,000 residents, this place is a real treat for the mind and soul. You can enjoy peace and indulge in communal activities at your own leisure. The temperature is also quite agreeable, the coolest month being January, and the warmest month being July.
It can certainly be a bummer for people who love the fast life, even though there are some sizzling nightclubs for entertainment and fun, such as Velvet Dog, Anatomy Night Club Ultralounge, Bounce Night Club, etc. Though there are not many great places for shopping, this place has its fair share of delights including cigar bars, hookah bars, piano bars, karaoke bars, etc. There are a number of sports venues too for games enthusiasts.
You can enjoy an amazing dinner at Melt Bar & Grilled or Aladdin's Eatery, and spend evenings in Fairmount Martini & Wine Bar! If you are an art lover, you can go to Cedar Lee Cinemas, which features a lot of off-beat and independent films. Cain Park, an outdoor covered amphitheater, is where the city comes alive with scores of events, concerts, dance performances, and arts festivals happening all year round. It also offers ample opportunities for education by means of two school districts and a large number of private schools within the city.
Cleveland Heights is a melting point of cultures, having as many Whites as African Americans, and a good number of Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, Hispanics and Latinos! It is a beautiful place with an amazing culture that thrives on mutual respect and admiration. Basically, if you want to enjoy the small pleasures of life, this is the place to be!