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This Couple Isn’t From Here, But Walnut Hills Has Become The Place They Call "Home"

CITY / FAMILY: Exploring the things that transform a house, a place, and its people into a home.

Nearly 10 years ago, Nick Dill decided to stay in Cincinnati after moving here from Cleveland for college. After meeting Coral (a Vancouverite), years later, they married and settled into a home in Walnut Hills. Together, they have a daughter, and this is their story...

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What are your names?
Our names are Nick, Coral, and Annise Dill.

What do you do, how do you spend your time?
Nick is an engineer for the City of Fairfield. He also sits on the board of Sustainergy Cooperative, a worker-owned energy efficiency company. In his spare time, he grows veggies in the backyard, does projects around the house, and reads.

When I’m not at home with Annise, I (Coral) am the development director for a local non-profit. In my spare time, I write, make textile toys for Annise, and I’m finishing my yoga instructor certification.

Tell us a little about your family.
Our little family is made up of three; Nick and I plus our daughter, Annise. We also have a family pet, Webster, the bunny.

About seven years ago, Nick was headed to Vancouver BC, and his friend connected Nick with the CEO of a non-profit in Vancouver where I was working. The CEO asked me to give Nick a tour of the organization. It was a good tour. We were married 14 months later.

A month after we were married, Webster, our miniature lop, joined the family. Six months ago, we welcomed little Annise. She is an absolute joy, and we have a hard time remembering life before she came along — probably because of sleep deprivation.

What brought you to, or kept you in Cincinnati?
Nick grew up in Cleveland, but he moved to Cincinnati to attend college UC. While in school, his life got increasingly wrapped up in this town; by the time he graduated and was free to leave, the choice to stay was an easy one. When we got married, one of us needed to move. The low cost of living made Cincinnati the obvious winner.

Initially, it really didn’t feel like home for me. As I waited on my green card, I couldn’t work, get a driver’s license, a bank card, or even a library card. Thankfully, in the years since, Cincinnati has become home.

We both love this city. We have amazing friends and neighbors who we love. And what Cincinnati lacks in natural beauty (compared to Vancouver), it makes up for in community.

What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there?
We live in Walnut Hills. Nick has lived here since 2008, and I joined him in 2011. We had a brief interlude in Prospect Hill before buying this house.

Why did you pick your neighborhood? What do you love about living there?
Community. Nick originally moved to Walnut Hills because he knew people. After spending a couple of years away, we were excited to find a way back. Not to brag, but our neighbors are the best.

We also love that Walnut Hills is in the middle of a quiet renaissance, but it maintains the "best-kept secret" feel because it doesn’t draw the crowds of OTR. It also has a very distinct, small town feel. If you frequent the local establishments and participate in community events, you’re sure to run into friendly faces everywhere you go.

What are some challenges of living where you do?
When we heard this question, we let out a collective groan, and rolled our eyes in unison: the curb on our street is too high! It probably seems trivial, but we have to park strategically to open our car doors without them scraping against the concrete.

On a more serious note — poverty. Seeing poverty every day is very challenging, especially when it impacts the people we know and care about. Another major challenge is the only local grocery store is moving out, which is unfortunate.

Have you done any major renovations on your home? What makes it yours?
The interior of the house underwent a large renovation prior to us buying it, so our biggest projects have been maintenance. The masonry needs the most attention, so we work on that piece by piece. There’s a lot of it.

The house is special to us because we got married in the living room. We had our wedding in Vancouver, but we didn’t make it legally binding until we arrived in Cincinnati a few days later. The previous owners are friends, and they provided the space while another neighbor officiated. When we had the opportunity to buy the house, it already had a special meaning for us.

Do you have a favorite park or place to hang out?
We love going to the local hang outs — Fireside Pizza, Brew House, Parkside Café — but our favorite place to hang out is in our backyard, with our neighbors. Have we mentioned them yet?

Is there anything you hope your daughter will learn from living where you do?
We hope Annise will appreciate the diversity of this neighborhood as much as we do while positively engaging others. Walnut Hills may not have the established wealth or glamor of other neighborhoods, but the people here are genuine, and people are what make any neighborhood great.

What changes do you hope to see in your neighborhood in the next 10-20 years?
When we first moved here, Walnut Hills was rough. Businesses were boarded up and many homes were left to rot. If you would have told us then how different Walnut Hills would be a short six years later, we wouldn’t have believed you! So, in another 10-20 years, we hope to see even more repopulation and growth in Walnut Hills’ business district.

We hope that it will continue to reestablish itself as a vibrant, diverse neighborhood.

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Scroll back to the top for a peek inside the Dill’s home.

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