LIVING HERE: Portage County Communities

• Population: 15,712
• Median Household Income: $84,135
• Median Home Value: $241,800
Located in the northwest corner of Portage County, this affluent rural community is favored for its easy commute to both Akron and Cleveland, its top-rated school district, beautifully maintained properties and newer housing developments. Walden, a luxury community within Aurora, offers upscale, custom-tailored homes, an award-winning spa, an elegant inn and a prestigious golf club. Residents of Aurora also enjoy proximity to Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, one of Northeast Ohio’s two outlet malls. For more information, contact City of Aurora at 330.562.6131;

• Population: 2,870
• Median Household Income: $58,250
• Median Home Value: $151,600
Founded as a mill town in the mid-1800s, this village in northeastern Portage County retains its rural character in the midst of Northeast Ohio’s rapid growth. Garrettsville features many Victorian and colonial homes, as well as shops and businesses that date back to the town’s early days. Garrettsville is served by the James A. Garfield Local Schools, one of the best in Portage County according to Residents also enjoy hiking and biking on the 8.5-mile Portage Park District Headwaters Trail. For more information, contact Village of Garrettsville at 330.687.9637;

• Population: 1,320
• Median Household Income: $49,779
• Median Home Value: $187,100
This charming college town in northern Portage County is surrounded by rolling farmland, just west of the upper portion of the Cuyahoga River. Residents of Hiram enjoy low property taxes, plentiful outdoor recreation and highly regarded public schools. At the heart of the community, both literally and figuratively, is Hiram College, a nationally ranked liberal arts college offering undergraduate, graduate, adult-undergraduate and other educational programs. For more information, contact Village of Hiram at 330.569.7677;

The Kent Heritage Festival, an annual day-long celebration, features fireworks, live music and over 100 food vendors and craft booths. / Photo: John Ridinger

• Population: 29,761
• Median Household Income: $36,539
• Median Home Value: $139,900
As the largest city in Portage County and the home of Kent State University, Kent enjoys all the culture and vibrancy of a progressive college town while retaining the low cost of living and accessibility of Northeast Ohio. Colorful murals and public art adorn the city streets; festivals and live music keep people hopping. The university adds around 30,000 seasonal students to the city’s population and is also home to Kent State University Museum, one of the world’s largest collections of historic and contemporary garments and textiles, and the May 4 Visitor Center, commemorating the fatal shootings of four student protestors 50 years ago. For more information, contact City of Kent at 330.678.8007;

• Population: 1,153
• Median Household Income: $41,500
• Median Home Value: $134,100
Mantua (pronounced "MAN-a-way") is located 20 miles northeast of Akron, along one of the most scenic stretches of the Upper Cuyahoga River, yet with easy access to the Ohio Turnpike (I-80). A popular destination for paddlers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts, Mantua also boasts highly rated schools, the annual Art on the Hill festival, the western terminus of the Portage Park District Headwaters Trail, and a growth plan managed carefully by the village’s downtown revitalization committee. For more information, contact Village of Mantua at 330.274.8776;

• Population: 11,582
• Median Household Income: $36,087
• Median Home Value: $99,600
This centrally located seat of Portage County has experienced rapid growth and a downtown revival in recent years. Founded over two centuries ago, today the community boasts a tasteful mix of contemporary and historic buildings, a wide selection of housing options and a diverse economy. Many Ravenna residents commute to Akron and Cleveland, while others are employed by local manufacturers, county government or University Hospitals Portage Medical Center. Ravenna is also known for its annual Balloon-a-Fair hot air balloon festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. For more information, contact City of Ravenna at 330.296.6326,

• Population: 5,306
• Median Household Income: $62,705
• Median Home Value: $169,900
Randolph Township is a medium-size community in southern Portage County and part of the Waterloo Local School District. Randolph Township is best known for hosting the annual Portage County Fair, which includes a demolition derby, truck and tractor pulls and all your other favorite features of a classic county fair. For more information, contact Randolph Township at 330.325.3101;

• Population: 8,215
• Median Household Income: $62,089
• Median Home Value: $174,100
This rural, family-oriented community 17 miles east of Akron is conveniently located at the Interstate 76/State Route 44 interchange. Rootstown is home to Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), a fully accredited university offering degrees in medicine, pharmacy and health sciences. Residents of Rootstown also enjoy boating, picnicking and camping at West Branch State Park, which encompasses 5,352 acres of land and 2,650 acres of water. For more information, contact Rootstown Township at 330.325.9560;

The Streetsboro City Park offers a playground, skate park, tennis courts, a paved walking path, baseball fields, concessions and many other amenities. / Photo: Michelle Hushion

• Population: 16,224
• Median Household Income: $58,511
• Median Home Value: $144,300
Streetsboro offers residents a close-knit community, affordable housing and proximity to Interstate 480 and the Ohio Turnpike (I-80). Streetsboro's popular
theatre program, THRIVE, encourages students and community members to create and stage live performances. Boulder Creek Golf Club is located in Streetsboro, as is the Tinker’s Creek Area of Liberty Park, which features archery, boating and fishing. For those who enjoy overnighting in the great outdoors, there is the Streetsboro/Cleveland SE KOA campground. Residents also enjoy all the amenities and cultural attractions of nearby Kent to the south and Hudson to the west. For more information, contact City of Streetsboro at 330.626.4942;