Rating the Suburbs 2011: City Style

Chris and Trina Ford, Cleveland Heights

Preparing for a move to Northeast Ohio from Portland, Ore., Chris and Trina Ford toured their first few homes in Cleveland Heights in shock.

"The house you can get in Cleveland versus Portland or Seattle is phenomenal," says Trina Ford.

The Fords — both 35 and Canadian-born — rented in a trendy Portland neighborhood for the past seven years. Older homes with more than 2,000 square feet in that area typically sold for about $1 million, she says.

The couple were drawn to Cleveland Heights for its old-house charm and its proximity to Case Western Reserve University, where Chris has a job in neuroscience research. The ability to walk to work, nearby shopping and restaurants was a priority in their home search.

The Fords spent a long weekend last fall looking at about 50 houses, most within walking distance to Case. The last house they saw was a 3,078-square-foot Cleveland Heights colonial.

Built in 1907, it was carefully maintained with pristine hardwood floors, a kitchen updated in 2001 with stainless appliances and Corian countertops, and a sunroom addition that floods the house with natural light.

"We wanted an older home, but not one that required a lot of work," Ford says. "We're not super handy."

Tired of homes with boring backyards, the Fords found a gardener's dream out back. It's navigated by a stone walkway and filled with perennials, herbs and vegetables.

Best of all, the house is a five-minute stroll to Coventry and a 25-minute walk to Case.

"It's a quiet area, but we're close to arts and culture and food," Ford says. "It feels like we're part of the city."

These transplants are enjoying their new home and their new community, with day trips to the Cleveland Museum of Art, evenings at Severance Hall and shopping outings to neighborhood spots such as Zagara's.

"I was surprised that I felt at home as soon as we got here," she says. "Day one, it was home."

Home Inspection

Sold for: $225,000
Asking price: $320,000
Time on the market: 219 days

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