(As published in “Rating the Burbs, “April 2007 issue of Cincy)

Editor’s Note: This article was published in the 2007 issue of Cincy. Housing values refer to 2006 data.

Ask someone to define the boundaries of Western Hills — even a person who claims to live there—and you discover this place is more a state of mind. But there's nothing imaginary about this: Western Hills has neighborhoods that are gems — and some of the best values in the Tristate.

The average home sale price in Western Hills last year was $232,826. That’s a 44 percent increase in five years, and a 2006 value that’s 41 percent higher than the average price for all of Green Township.

Like other Cincinnati suburbs that boomed in the 1960s, parts of Western Hills show their age. There’s still evidence, though, of that West Side virtue of taking care of your property, no matter how modest it is. Venture near Western Hills Country Club to see sprawling estate homes that would fit comfortably in Indian Hill.

Western Hills is a community identified by the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors in its MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The area ranges from urban Glenway Avenue to rural Devil’s Backbone Road, with Bridgetown, Cheviot and Westwood to the north, and Covedale, Delhi Township and Delhi Hills to the south.

Mercy Hospital Western Hills and Gamble-Nippert YMCA are valued community resources, as are Oskamp Playfield, Kuliga Park and three public golf courses. New shopping centers reinvigorated the retail options for residents. Landmarks include Western Bowl on Glenway Avenue and pizza king Buddy LaRosa’s original location on Boudinot Avenue.

Much of the Green Township area—served by township police and county sheriff personnel—is considered secure. Crime rates have been a rising concern, however, in some west-side Cincinnati neighborhoods.

As for public education, the small city part of Western Hills is served by Cincinnati Public Schools. The sparkling new Midway School on Glenmore Avenue covers grades PK-8. Old “West High” on Ferguson Road is now two 9-12 schools on one campus: Western Hills Design Technology and Western Hills University. The bulk of the community is covered by the highly regarded Oak Hills School District, which earned an Excellent rating from the Ohio Department of Education for five years straight. With a high proportion of Roman Catholic families, Western Hills has numerous parochial schools, including Seton and McAuley high schools for girls, and the venerated Elder High for boys.

OTHER ‘MLS’ COMMUNITIES

Many other Tristate communities have a community identity and an MLS listing name, but are not official political subdivisions or Census Designated Places. Many would rank high in our survey if we could statistically compare them to others. Examples: Beckett Ridge (which was included with West Chester), Kenwood (included with Montgomery), Kings Mills, Landen, Miami Heights and Monfort Heights. In Miami Heights, west of Bridgetown, the 2006 median home sale price was a hefty $271,535.