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Columbus, Ohio is the state’s capital and its largest city. With over 850,000 people in the city alone, it has continued to grow at a rapid pace, where other Midwestern cities have slowly declined. It’s a remarkably industrious town, benefiting from a highly diverse economy and a talented workforce. ‘

Columbus is unique in that it is a true Rust Belt town. Located almost dead center in the middle of Ohio, it has traditionally relied heavily on manufacturing, energy and steel production. But unlike almost all of its Rust Belt counterparts, Columbus has managed to continuously adapt, soaring in population over the last few decades, even as once-thriving cities like Detroit and Toledo have lost 50 percent or more of their populations.

Today, Columbus has a strong industrial presence in a wide array of sectors ranging from defense, fashion, food and beverages, manufacturing and medical research to science and technology. With an unemployment rate of just 3.8 percent, the city comes in significantly below the unemployment rate of Ohio as a whole. The median home price in the city is just $134,000, on the extreme low end for a large metropolis. This makes the city highly affordable and a great place to raise a family. In fact, Columbus has been named one of the best cities to live in the United States, for various reasons, by magazines such as Forbes, Business Week and fDi Magazine.

The Columbus metro area fared incredibly well during the 2007 housing crisis. The average home value lost just $30,000. Compare that with some areas in California, where housing prices collapsed by $300,000 or more. The rebound in the Columbus area’s housing market has also been unusually strong. The average Columbus home today is worth approximately 10 percent more than it was in 2006. This is in light of a national housing scene where some markets are still selling at 75 percent or less of their mid-2000s highs.

All this adds up to a city that, as the statistics indicate, is one of the best in which to work, out of anyplace in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean all of Columbus residents are immune from financial hardship. The city still has a large minority population, which has struggled economically for generations. In fact, the housing statistics don’t tell the complete story. For many upper-middle-class neighborhoods, the statistics severely underestimate the recent gains. For the neglected ghetto, much of the gains have not materialized at all, with the residents of those neighborhoods actually faring worse today than they did ten years ago.

If you had to pick anyplace to move within the United States, and you were educated and hard-working, Columbus would be a good selection. However, if you still found yourself in economic strife, despite the bounty of opportunities, you may be tempted to take advantage of Ohio’s somewhat lenient bankruptcy laws.

But declaring bankruptcy, especially in a place with so many economic opportunities, may be the worst possible option. For many Ohio residents who are confronted with tough financial situations, debt settlement may be a superior means of exiting debt as quickly as possible and with minimal damage.

Which Ohio residents can debt settlement work for?

Debt settlement can be an excellent means for relieving oneself of debt because it can often capture many of the benefits of bankruptcy without the terrible costs. Broadly speaking, debt settlement can be a good option when the debtor has unsecured consumer debt, he has identified and corrected any out-of-control spending that may have led to the accrual of debt to begin with and he has a good income relative to the principal amount owed.

Many personal finance gurus contend that debt settlement is not worth doing because it doesn’t address the underlying issues that led to the debt accumulation in the first place. That’s why it’s extremely important for the debtor to first analyze his spending habits, then get on a written budget and stick with it in order to avoid the same budgetary pitfalls that led to the unmanageable financial situation.

Also, it’s important to note that debt settlement cannot typically be pursued with government-backed debts. Things like student loans, child support, alimony and back taxes cannot be discharged through debt settlement. Any company professing to be able to rid its customers of these forms of debt should be treated with extreme caution.

Finally, it is very important that the debt settlement program can be completed within three years at an absolute maximum. A year or less is preferable. This is because the consequences of staying indebted start to become very steep after three years or so. For people who have few prospects of exiting debt by then, bankruptcy may be the better option. The idea is to leave debt and the necessity of paying interest as soon as possible and to start saving and investing, accruing compound interest.

If all these criteria are met, debt settlement may provide a path to getting out of debt quickly. Good debt settlement companies can often reduce the principal amounts by up to 50 percent. This can allow their clients to become debt free and begin enjoying real financial freedom as quickly as possible.