Moving to Lake Darby, Ohio? Here’s What You Need to Know!
Lake Darby is a safe and lovely suburb of Columbus-- perfect for families or those who prefer the quiet life.
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Photo by Mark Romesser courtesy of Columbus Metro Parks.
When you’re looking to move to the Columbus, Ohio metro area, don’t overlook Lake Darby! It’s a beautiful suburb a scant half-hour’s drive from Columbus with a rural feel and a rather unique government designation! Not to mention, with it’s rural setting, the picture above could easily happen in your backyard!
Is Lake Darby a town or a lake?
Lake Darby is actually not considered a town, village, or city. It’s what is known as a Census Designated Place, or CDP. Essentially, what this means is that the area known as Lake Darby by the government is a statistical designation only of an area of land where the population has concentrated but not become incorporated into a town or other official corporate entity. Most residents do not use the designation of “Lake Darby,” but rather the “Darby Estates.” For the purposes of this article, we will use “Lake Darby” to refer to this area, except when quoting or paraphrasing a source. (The “Darby Estates” is also the name of one of the main housing developments in the area).
Lake Darby is located in the western portion of Franklin County, primarily in Prairie Township-- although some smaller portions extend north into Brown Township. It’s western border is designated by Big Darby Creek, and the village of West Jefferson lies directly across the creek. (By the way-- a word on the local dialect. Some folks will pronounce creek as “crick” and others correctly as “creek.”)
US Route 40 designates the southern border of the community, which leads east into Columbus and west to Springfield. The entire area of the Census Designated Place is only 3.5 square miles. Subdivisions include the aforementioned Darby Estates, as well as Westpoint and Westpoint North.
What is it like to live in Lake Darby?
So, this is where it gets interesting. Since Lake Darby isn’t really a town, there is no designated or official “Lake Darby” local government. What this translates to is that depending on which part of the Lake Darby Census Designated Place you reside, you’ll answer to that township’s authority for taxes and safety or emergency services, utilities and such.
The Lake Darby Estates is the housing development to the south and west of the area known as Lake Darby. According to Nextdoor, residents here love the area’s peace and quiet, natural areas, and their neighbors. “Dog-friendly” is also on the list. The population in this portion of Lake Darby is about 2,470, and the typical resident is about 46 years old and owns their own home. Approximately 95% of residents are homeowners who are interested in camping, home improvement, do-it-yourself, gardening, travel, crafts, hiking, and live music.
The next portion of Lake Darby is Westpoint, the middle and slightly northern part of the Lake Darby area. Around 2,873 people live in this subdivision, 93% of them also homeowners. The average Westpoint resident is around 45 years old, which is the average age of homeowners in the United States. Many of the residents’ favorite things were shared by the Lake Darby Estates, but they add dogs, family activities, books and baking. The reasons they love living in Westpoint include its cleanliness, how dog-friendly it is, the kids, and their neighbors.
Westpoint North is-- you guessed it-- the northern and somewhat eastern portion of the Lake Darby area. 1,538 folks make this their home, and 93% of them own their home. The average Westpoint North resident is also 45 years old, and-- judging from the Nextdoor topics, loves, and trending topics-- have families and kids who live with them. When polled on why they love living in Westpoint North, their answers mirrored those of the Lake Darby Estates and Westpoint. Their interests were largely the same, with the exception of two specific schools: Brown Elementary School and Hilliard Bradley High School.
Lake Darby is a rural area with a concentrated area of population. It is a very safe area, with low crime statistics. Violent crime is 7.3, compared to the national average of 22.7. Property crime-- defined as theft, larceny, and such-- is 23.1 compared to the national average of 35.4. Property crime generally does not include threat to a person nor use of or threat of force against a person.
The average household income in the Lake Darby area is $86, 081/year whose homes are valued at around $146,000, which is below the national average. Rent is well above the national average at around $1, 237/month. Only about 5% of the area’s population rent, though. Taken as a whole, 95% of all of Lake Darby residents own their homes-- not far from the averages of each of the housing developments.
Taken as a whole area, Lake Darby residents are generally white with college experience. 3% are Asian, 3% are Hispanic, 2% are African American, and 4% are biracial. There’s slightly more diversity here than other Columbus suburbs. Individuals are generally employed-- 15% of them make under $15,000 and 61% of them make between $15,000 and $64,000 per year. 20% of residents make more than that. There are slightly more male-identifying individuals than female. 32% of residents are minors, 6% are college-aged, and 34% are between the ages of 25 years and 44 years old. Only 4% of them are over the age of retirement, so the area is mostly made up of families with young children and possibly some with college-aged kids who aren’t living at home anymore.
On a scale of 1-100, with the national average being 100, the cost of living in Lake Darby is generally less expensive. Lake Darby has an all-around score of 86.9 on the scale. Groceries, health, and housing cost lower than the national average, with housing having the biggest discrepancy. Utilities cost a tiny bit more-- that scored 102-- and transportation is a little bit less.
Does Lake Darby have good schools?
The schools in the Lake Darby area are generally very good-- most of them are above average, according to Niche.com. Remember, Lake Darby isn’t a town, so none of these schools will be listed as being in Lake Darby proper. There are 14 schools and education centers in the Lake Darby census designated place, who spend an average of $11,766 per student. Taken as a whole, the schools have a 97.4% graduation rate. Of those students, 20% will stop their education there and 28.5% will earn a 2-year degree. 36.5% will earn a 4-year degree, of which 6.7% will leave school. 9% will attend a Master’s-level education. Overall, there’s an 18:1 student ratio amongst the schools. Niche.com’s highest ranking Lake Darby area schools were Hilliard Bradley High School, Hilliard Memorial Middle School, and Brown Elementary School-- which probably explains why the Westpoint North area can’t stop loving them. Westland High School and Norton Middle School scored lowest, with South-Western Preschool Center, Hilliard City School District Preschool, and the Bostic Head Start Center not receiving a grade.
It’s also important to note that there are several libraries in the surrounding areas. The Hilltop Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is under 20 minutes away, the Westland Area Library is about 15 minutes away, and the Hilliard Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is 25 minutes away. There a few other libraries, but these three are the closest to the area designated at Lake Darby.
Where can we go for family fun or a date night?
It’s fairly safe to say-- based upon the “favorite things about” and “interests” sections about the three Lake Darby subdivisions-- that the area is focused on building strong families through outdoor activities and possibly also diy projects like gardening and crafts. With Ohio’s reputation for excellent parks, sports, and agriculture this should come as no shock, either.
This rural area is perfect for taking up family-friendly hiking trips, canoe trips down the Big Darby River, and fans of running for fitness (or fun) will appreciate the gorgeous scenery. The lush soil is ideal for planting all kinds of vegetables and herbs-- which also save on grocery bills, not to mention drives to the grocery store-- and flowers, which provide beauty and peace to your home. You could even combine the two ideas and plant an edible flower garden!
The bonus to sharing these interests-- or trying them on for size-- is that you can easily turn them into an opportunity to interact with your neighbors and create a stronger sense of community and belonging. Join an app like Nextdoor to see who in your area shares these interests-- of course, gardeners can just look in the yard!-- and strike up a conversation with a question about what grows best or where the most family-friendly hiking trails are located. You could even join a farmshare program-- or start one!
Another way to interact with your new Lake Darby area neighbors is to check the “Things to do in Lake Darby, Ohio” Facebook page. They have recommendations on places to eat, shopping, and more as well as links to each featured places Facebook pages.
One featured place to eat is Madden’s Traditional Irish Pub, located in Galloway, Ohio. There’s always something happening at Madden’s! Live music, karaoke, holiday-themed bashes, and daily drink specials reign supreme. The bar is family-owned and run, but we’d recommend it more for a casual date night than a family night with the kiddos.
At the Oak Grove Tavern, they serve big breakfasts and residents rave about the Friday night steak dinners. There’s free wi-fi, and the staff is friendly. This bar is a rather diverse, catering to both casual date night seekers and bikers. Painting, bingo, live music and more!
TripAdvisor also recommends Ann & Tony’s Restaurant, an Italian restaurant in West Jefferson. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options for lunch and dinner. The staff are hailed as “very friendly” and one reviewer even mentioned that there is a small boutique inside!
If it’s dessert with the family you’re after, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt is your destination. Started in Youngstown, Ohio in 1945 out of a humble gas station, Handel’s has become recognized worldwide as some of the best American ice cream it’s possible to eat. All of their ice cream is made fresh, daily, in each location. They also offer ice cream pops and sandwiches-- a dessert destination dream come true! The only downside is that the nearest Handel’s is on Federal Street in Columbus, which is about a half hour’s drive. The upside? That’s plenty of time to digest dinner and make room for more ice cream!
Remember how we noted that most of the residents liked gardening? A short drive to Galloway will land you in Heavenly Gardens garden center. Started in 1996, Heavenly Gardens now has two greenhouses and a laboratory. The owner, Jaimie, is a noted daylily breeder known for his hybridizing talents. If you can’t make it to the property-- maybe you’re busy unpacking from the move, or maybe you haven’t moved yet-- you can take advantage of their online order form.
Did we mention that folks here also love the outdoors? Hiking, kayaking, picnicking, and canoeing were all repeat mentions as favorite activities by residents. Prairie Oaks is a Metro Park located in West Jefferson named after the 500 acres of prairie and grassland it protects. It’s used to restore native plants to the area, and also for the aforementioned activities. The park itself is well over 2,000 acres large, with deep lakes for boating and fishing. Bonus? There are specifically-marked pet-friendly trails along with areas for dog swimming. Cats are welcome, too!
There are several other parks in the Metro Parks system-- check out the website for more information and directions. Make a list, visit each one twice-- you’ll spot something new each time!
While Lake Darby, Ohio may not be an actual town or village-- it may not have a specific zip code or its own police and fire departments-- it’s still a very real and safe place in which to live and raise a family. It feels like the area was designed for safe, quiet living with good schools and a focus on being outdoors with nature and your family. It may be a “census designated place” but it’s definitely on our short list of places to live in Ohio!