Moving to Indianapolis, IN: A Bellhops City Guide

You’ve got a decision to make, huh? You’re thinking about moving to Indianapolis, maybe because of a job, or for family, or just because you’re looking for a change. But then you realize that it’s in Indiana, and you're just not sure about that part of the country.

Then keep reading. Your friends at Bellhops are here to help. Because if relocating to Indianapolis is a possibility in your future, you’ll need to know, not just about things to do there, but about what’s it like to live there. That’s why we’ve gathered all the best info and resources to help make your decision easier. We’ve also talked with several Indy locals about what they love and hate about the "Crossroads of America."

The Indy Basics: The Population, The History, and the People

Downtown Indianapolis. Photo by Jim Grey. Creative Commons License.

1. An Overview of Indianapolis: A Little Data and a Little History

If you’re looking to move to a big city with a small-town feel, then Indianapolis is definitely a place to consider. This ever-changing city has a low unemployment rate of 4.2%, a dynamic sports scene, and one of the best growing sustainable food and agriculture scenes in the country. Located in the heart of the Midwest, Indy is a welcoming city with a growing economy.

Indiana’s capital, Indianapolis, is the most populous city in the state. With a population of around 855,000 people, it is the 15th largest city in the United States. The metropolitan area has more than 2 million residents, making Indianapolis (or Indy, for short) the economic and cultural center of Indiana.

Indy was founded in 1821 as a transportation and manufacturing hub. Following the Civil War, Indianapolis grew quickly, becoming the world’s third-largest pork packing city and the second largest railroad center in the U.S. It also became home to 60 automakers, rivaling Detroit as the center of automotive manufacturing industry.

But, Indy is more than ham and trains. The city is mostly known for its amateur sports. The city is not only home to the largest, single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500, the city has one of the largest children’s museums in the country, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and features many other great museums and parks.

2. The People of Indianapolis

Indianapolis is a very family-friendly place, and it has a growing millennial/generation z population. Nearly 66% of the population in Indianapolis live in family households, and more than 35% of the residents are under the age of 25. Many of these families and young residents are attracted to the city’s low cost of living (more on that in a bit) and the job opportunities.

Around 40% of Indianapolis residents identify as religious. Many of them identifying as Catholic or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s not uncommon to hear foreign languages spoken on the streets, with new residents moving to the city from around the world.

Though Indianapolis has long been predominantly Republican, the city is becoming more liberal-leaning in recent years.

Zach Onusic and his family have lived in Indianapolis for a little over a year now. "It’s a great place to raise a family. It's a tight-knit community, which is both good and bad," said Onusic. "We ran into many generational families, (people who had been there for generations), which made it feel like stepping back in time and it was hard to break into the community as an outsider."

Indianapolis World War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis. Photo by Roger Gerbig. Image has been cropped. Creative Commons License.

The Indy Economy: The Cost of Living and the Job Market

3. Cost of Living

If you’re looking to jumpstart your career, Indianapolis is ranked 21st in the US. This is due to the healthcare industry and growing technology sector. According to Forbes Magazine, the cost of living in Indianapolis is 7.6% below the national average making it a great place to both live and work. The average annual salary is $45,780, which is slightly lower than the U.S. average of $48,320. And the average price for rent is a little over $800.

Expatistan is an excellent site with an extensive list of how much you can expect to pay for all sorts of expenses, including rent, healthcare, groceries, clothing, and pretty much anything you can think of. They also compare these costs to different other major cities around the world.

4. The Job Market

Indianapolis has seen extensive job growth over the past few years, with healthcare, tourism, and sports among the top industries there.

More than 90 national companies have headquarters in the city, including Eli Lilly and Company, Anthem Inc., Angie's List, RCI, Simon Property Group, Dow AgroSciences, Finish Line and the NCAA. Which, obviously, is a good thing if you’re looking for work. Indiana is one of the only Midwest states guaranteeing residents the right to work without the obligation to join a union.

Indianapolis, IN skyline.

Where to Live in Indianapolis: Indy’s Most Popular Neighborhoods

5. Downtown: Bright Lights, Big City

In the midst of the high-rise buildings downtown, you’ll find several luxury apartments. But, like many metropolitan areas, choosing to live downtown in Indy’s the Wholesale District will cost you a pretty penny. The good news is there is a trade-off for the higher rent price; Living downtown provides easy access to favorite hotspots within walking distance. You can enjoy a stroll to Lucas Oil Stadium, museums, the White River or even grab a quick cocktail after work at a local favorite Ball & Biscuit. And if you’re in the mood for fine dining the Wholesale District, provides prime dining opportunities like Harry and Izzy’s, a steakhouse started by two friends back in the 1940’s, a favorite of both locals and tourists.

6. Bates Hendricks: Growing and Growing

Bates-Hendricks is a neighborhood in transition, with young professionals flocking to the area over the last five years to take advantage of low home prices and costs of living. Located just east of downtown and bordered by Interstate 70 and Interstate 65, this growing neighborhood boasts easy interstate access, as well as a short downtown commute. Many consider this an optimal neighborhood for those who want to live in Indy without owning a car. Bike lanes also provide a safe commute around town.

7. Fountain Square: Anything but Square

If you're looking for a small town feel in the big city, then Fountain Square may be the district for you. Located just southeast of downtown and Interstate 70 and Interstate 65, it is a haven for artistic types. The Murphy Art Center resides here. Virginia Avenue is full of local restaurants with varying cuisines. It’s the perfect walk for those who are hungry.

8. Broad Ripple: North and Fun

This popular neighborhood extends from North College Avenue on the west and North Keystone Avenue on the east. Housing is predominantly single-family bungalows along with smaller, older apartments and lofts. Local businesses are on full display, with many unique restaurants, cafes, and local gift shops. Millennials spend their weekends playing at the breweries, comedy clubs, and bars. Broad Ripple also has an artistic feel. The Indy CD & Vinyl Record Shop is a can’t-miss for music nuts.

Also, if your neighborhood search depends on the public school offerings in that area, School Digger has you covered.

9. Indy Nightlife - Sports Bars, Live Music, and Lounges

Indianapolis is a sports-crazed city. But whether you’re looking just to watch a game or dance the night away or there is a ton to do downtown according to USA Today 10 Best. "You can dance the night away, catch a game with the gang at a neighborhood sports bar, grab a bite to eat with friends in a cozy pub, laugh at a comedy club or savor a drink while people-watching in some bustling tavern," says the site.

But some locals say they love the 'chill bars' and arts in the area. Current resident Christine Johnson says, "if you're into the arts, we get touring theater, big art shows in the summer, and there are some smaller finds: a divey Korean-style karaoke bar and a great drive- in."

Canals outside of the Indiana State Museum. Photo by Doug Waggoner. Creative Commons License.

Transportation, The Weather, and the Hoosier Spirit

10. Easy Access to the Rest of America

Indianapolis isn’t called “The Crossroads of America” for nothing. Several major interstates surround and intersect the city, allowing for easy access to road trip to other destinations in the Midwest.

The Indianapolis International Airport serves all major US airlines and flies to over 40 non-stop domestic destinations. In 2016, the airport received the highest satisfaction rating from customers for medium-sized airports by USA Today.

11. A Green City

The city is on its way to becoming one of the greenest, most sustainable cities in the nation. While Uber and Lyft have dominated nationwide, Indianapolis is launching its own companies to promote ride-sharing and decrease dependency on owning cars. Companies like Blue Indy, a car rideshare program, make it easier for people to get around without having to own their own cars.

12. Public Transportation

IndyGo, the city’s public transportation system, can get you where you need to go throughout the city but has limited stops the further you travel from downtown. The city is working on expanding public transit, but for now, you may still need a car to get around if you live outside the downtown area.

13. The Weather

Winter in the Midwest can be brutal. Between cold temperatures and snow, it’ll take you a little longer to get from point A to point B from November through February. Be sure to invest in a sturdy winter jacket and boots to keep you warm.

Most say the summers make it worth enduring the long, cold winter months because summers in the Midwest are sunny for the most part. However, it can get a little humid in July and August, so beware.

14. Hoosiers: More Than Just a Movie

Indiana is known in the sports world for being a basketball state. The movie Hoosiers is based on a small-town Indiana basketball team’s journey to win the 1954 state championship as underdogs.

If college basketball is more your scene, The Indiana Hoosiers compete in the Big 10 and are a March Madness favorite annually. And last but not least, there are the Indiana Pacers, because a basketball state needs a professional basketball team.. It’s not just a sport; it’s a way of life.

More Resources for Moving to Indianapolis

Since we can't say everything here, here are even more resources to help you with your moving decision:

15. Five Helpful Links

  • Indy Star: If you’re going to move to Indianapolis, you need to read locally.
  • Downtown Indy: A non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the downtown area as a great place to live, work and play.
  • Indianapolis City Market: Shop local, eat local, drink local.
  • Slow Food Indy: Indianapolis is a leader when it comes to sustainable food grown and consumed within the area. This place recognizes producers, grocers, and restaurants that source local foods in their establishments.
  • Indy Urban Acres: This farm serves the food-insecure populations by donating much of its organically grown vegetables to families in need.

Like what you see?

To conclude our guide on moving to Indianapolis, we thought we’d let you hear from Christin one more time. Here's her overall take on living in Indianapolis, "Ultimately, if you dig the Midwestern mentality, Indy is a great place to hang your hat. There are good folks here, and the place is small enough that you run into people you know. You can network easily. And you still get into a great restaurant even if you've failed to make a reservation. People who stay in Indy care about their community. The ingenuity of Hoosiers is showcased in their capital!"

And hey—if you decide to take the leap and move to Indianapolis, get in touch. We might know some people who can help.

Finally, if you think we missed something in our guide, let us know! Email us at