My wife, best friend and his wife all went to UD, so I’ve visited many times.
I lived in Bay for a few years, but we now live in Westlake. Bay’s taxes are one of the highest on the west side, while Westlake’s are the lowest, so something to consider. The east side of Westlake (look for the intersection of Westwood Rd and Walter Rd) is affordable, and offers several advantages worth considering; we’re halfway between I-90 and I-480 with easy access to both (actually, two points of access to 90). We are convenient to Great Northern and Westgate shopping, but not in either traffic patterns. Westlake has a lot of businesses, which keep our taxes very low, but none of them are near the area I’m describing.
Our city government does a great job of managing its finances…we have great services, schools, and recreational facilities. By contrast, adjacent North Olmsted is broke and hurting. We’ve had the same mayor since the mid-80’s, so he must be doing something right!
Comparing to Bay, Westlake’s access to freeways is MUCH more convenient and our taxes are MUCH lower. We are a bit further from the lake (3 miles vs basically on the lake). Oddly for a lakeside community, there aren’t any particularly convenient ways to put a kayak in the lake in Bay, however, so it’s not especially salient. Most people in the western suburbs put in down in the Rocky River metroparks (google Emerald Necklace Marina) or go to Wendy Park, which is closer to downtown. If you did end up in Bay, you’d likely be better off heading farther west to Lorain county for put-in locations.
There is actually a small beach just north of Westlake called Bradstreet Landing. It’s been under construction for the past year or two and will probably be nice when they finish it, but it experiences mild to heavy surf conditions at times, making launching more challenging.
Bay is an older community than Westlake, which may/may not be important to you. I think the schools are probably similar, but don’t quote me, as my kids are long grown and never attended either. Bay is close to Crocker Park shopping (a very upscale shopping experience) but much farther from the more practical stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes. Westlake has much more convenient access to the nearest Metropark entrance (5 minutes down Columbia Rd).
Feel free to hit me up offline if you’d like more information, and good luck with your search!