Indianapolis, Indiana


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What's it like to live in Indianapolis?

What is it like to live in Indianapolis, IN?

I was born (and live) in Indy now. Leaving to live in five other states, I come home again and again. Whether you like sports, arts, or are a foodie, Indianapolis offers much.

For those who hate Indy, it is different than the ‘90s. With that said, cities, to an extent, are wonderful or horrible, depending on what you like and want in a town.

It is the “biggest small town” you will find I say and mean it. Friendly people, without too many uppity people, while offering pro sports, year-round symphony, and one of the world’s top children’s museums. Topnotch universities and a lovely downtown, canal, and free events year round.

What is it like to live in Indianapolis, IN?

Grew up in Indy, I now live in San Francisco. Will probably move back someday.

Keep in mind with the novel I wrote below, I absolutely love Indianapolis. Every city of this size is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, Indy really isn't special in that regard. My opinion (partially backed by data) is that most millennials grew up in the suburbs, and we want more of a diverse urban environment to live in, and many of us have decided to invest in and change the cities we grew up outside of. People are exponentially investing in Indianapolis. It has a long way to go, but it's turning into a great cultural experience, not just the family friendly and affordable place it's known for.

TL;DR: Indy has enough of everything that big city people enjoy, plus the benefits of smaller towns.

Some things that I think are important to know:

When it comes to weather, it is just like Chicago, New York, Boston, Philly, etc. Winters that aren't so bad until January hits, then it sucks for two straight months. Spring is beautiful unless it rains too much. Summer is awesome until brutal humidity and temperatures hit in late July, but it's way better than the Winter. Then the Fall is just incredible with moderate temps and changing leaves to enjoy campfires, going on camping trips or college football games out of town. So basically if you're used to the awesome moderate temperatures of the west coast, then it's not going to be as pleasant.

Indy is technically one of the largest cities by population, but that's because the city and county government combined in the 70's, making it the 12th largest city on paper. But hardly any cities have combined with their county government. Looking at cities by metropolitan areas will help you judge more accurately. So when you look at population by metro areas, Indianapolis is 34th, right behind Cleveland, OH. For this reason, I personally don't consider Indy to be a major city. The population density is very low, which is why there's not much public transportation, and why housing is very affordable. The city is very sprawled out, and although a lot more people are moving downtown, it's still not very densely populated downtown. The downtown area with all the big buildings is mostly made up of hotels and businesses. You absolutely have to have a car to enjoy everything the whole city offers.

What is it like to live in Indianapolis?

So far everyone has posted good answer, for them.

Personally I love Indy but it's not a great fit for everyone. The weather is unpredictable. You can literally go from shorts one day to a winter coat the next day. I'm OK with our museums - not the greatest but they are solid. The art museum always have outdoor events that my wife and I enjoy. (Google search Newfields) The winter lights there are always nice but the hot apple cider with whiskey you can buy makes it even more enjoyable. The best museum in the city is the Children's Museum. It is routinely ranked as one of the best in the country. Even though my children are grown I will still go there.

Outdoor activities are what you make of them. We have no mountains, nor any oceans.
Central and Northern Indiana are flat. Southern Indiana starting about Bloomington is hilly. If you want to hike I would recommend the state parks in Southern Indiana, plus Turkey Run. If you like canoeing or kayaking there are plenty of waterways to enjoy.

The state has plenty of history. It's easy to find but honestly not a lot of people enjoy history. There are several festivals around the state with my favorite being the Feast of the Hunter's Moon up in Lafayette.

Crime rate is technically on average with Chicago based on differences in the populations. That said, it really is isolated for the most part to some of the various neighborhoods around the city. Crime is mobile but violent crime is mostly bad guy on bad guy violence with the occasional innocent caught in the cross fire.

If you are into sports Indy is a great city. Indiana loves basketball. As a matter of fact the state has four of the largest high school gyms in the country. Indiana is all about high school, college and professional basketball. The city has professional teams in football (Colts), basketball (Pacers), soccer (Indy Eleven) and a minor league baseball team (Indians).

Additionally, if you love automotive sports Indy is considered the racing capital of the world. We have the Indy 500, NASCAR Brickyard 400, drag racing, midget cars, motorcycle racing, etc.

Pros/Cons of Living in Indy?

There are lots of things already covered here but how much that impacts your opinion I think it will vary greatly on what you are into and what you value.

Cost of living here is still pretty low comparatively. Indianapolis has some really good restaurants. And they are relatively cheap compared to what you would see on much of the east coast. There is lots of development occurring right now in and around the city with lots of homes being flipped, vacant property being purchased and built up throughout the city. In the last 5 years the downtown area has changed quite a bit.

If you are into college sports there is a lot of activity here with NCAA championships and Big Ten Tournaments (football and Basketball) being held here fairly regularly.

If you are into racing the Indy 500 is here and is a massive event.

If you like craft beer there is a quickly growing and improving beer scene in Indy.

There are some pretty good conventions held here. Gen Con and ComicCon are both pretty huge events.

The biggest Cons I have with the city is really just the lack of things to do outdoors. There are not many nearby lakes or hiking of any kind. There aren't many established dirt trails for cycling or running. But if you are willing to go on a trip there are some great spots a few hours away.

Pros and Cons of Living In Indianapolis