Home to just under a million residents, Indianapolis (or Indy, as it is often called) is the largest city in Indiana. Indy is perhaps most famous for hosting the Indianapolis 500 (an annual 500-mile automobile race that attracts attendees from all over the world). But thanks to its friendly locals, midwestern charm and a long list of local attractions (think museums, monuments and more), Indy is well worth a visit at any time of the year. Whether you’re thinking about living in Indianapolis or simply interested in visiting while you’re in town for the Indianapolis 500, consider this your go-to guide to the Circle City.
1. Living in Indianapolis: An Overview
Indianapolis became a city way back in 1821, just five years after Indiana was admitted into the Union. It was originally designed as a planned municipality, with a layout resembling that of Washington, D.C. In addition to becoming a major railroad hub, the midwestern city emerged as a major destination for metalworking and meatpacking. In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened as a test track for local automobile plants, and its first race took place just two years later.
Today, Indianapolis is considered the largest city in America that is not constructed on a navigable body of water. It is a popular choice for both young working professionals and families with children. Indy is known for its two major league sports teams (the Indianapolis Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts) as well as its plethora of parks, trails and restaurants. Because of its affordability, it’s an ideal choice for people who want to save money without sacrificing the comforts of city living.
- Population: 887,642 (2020)
- Diversity: 59.0% white (non-Hispanic), 29.0% Black or African American, 3.7% Asian, 10.4% Hispanic or Latino
- Primary language: English
- Highest temperature: 85°F (July)
- Lowest temperature: 23°F (January)
- Warmest months: May to June
- Coolest months: early December to early March
Located just three hours from Chicago, Indianapolis is no stranger to the cold, snowy winters that the Midwest is known for. On the flip side, the summers are known for being long and humid…so you’ll definitely want to relax on your patio with a handcrafted cocktail after a long day of work. Throughout the year, temperatures generally range from 22°F to 85°F, which means Indy is a great place for anyone who wants to soak up all four seasons. For warm-weather activities, the best time of year to visit Indy is from mid-June to late September.
2. What’s the Cost of Living in Indianapolis?
If you’re looking for affordable housing options, you’ve come to the right city. According to a survey conducted by SmartAsset.com, The Circle City ranked 12th on a list of U.S. cities with the most affordable housing costs. It also ranked as one of the top cities where people are spending the least on housing costs.
- Housing: $284,566 median sale price
- Average number of days on the market: 6
- Rent (one-bedroom): $1,020 per month
- Utilities: $175.26 per month
How Expensive Is Renting in Indianapolis?
The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Indy is around $1,000 per month, with the average size of an apartment clocking in at 880 square feet according to RENTCafe. Renter-occupied households make up 45% of the inventory, while owner-occupied households make up 54% of the inventory. Some of the most popular neighborhoods to rent a property in include Woodland, Broad Ripple and Wholesale District.
3. The Best Neighborhoods in Indianapolis
There are 237 neighborhoods in Indianapolis, so there are plenty of great options to choose from. Here are five of the most desirable neighborhoods in Indy — and how to decide which one is right for you.
Considered by many to be one of the best places to live in Indianapolis, Broad Ripple is known for its bohemian vibe and laid-back spirit. From lively breweries to hot new restaurants, the buzzy neighborhood is brimming with see-and-be-seen new spots. After drinking or dining at the trendiest new spots in town, head to Broad Ripple Park for a leisurely walk along the White River.
- Population: 8,100
- Average household income: $87,505
- Cost of living: $229,537 for the median home price; $1,318 for the median rent price
- Places to check out: Broad Ripple Park, Broad Ripple Farmers Market, Indianapolis Art Center
Allionsville is a densely populated neighborhood in Indianapolis that is dotted with chic single-family homes. It’s popular with young families because of its highly ranked schools and amenities (which include a youth baseball and softball club). But there are also plenty of other attractions for those who don’t have kids at home, from parks with jogging trails to breweries with some of the best beer in town.
- Population: 14,124
- Average household income: $79,002
- Cost of living: $253,858 for the median home price; $937 for the median rent price
- Places to check out: Fletcher Park, Blind Owl Brewery, Root & Bone
Centered around the Castleton Square mall, Castleton is a bustling commercial area with a wide array of shops, restaurants, supermarkets, and entertainment options. From Sahm Park (a water park with a waterslide and picnic area) to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the neighborhood is filled to the brim with must-visit attractions. After a busy day of exploring the area, residents can unwind with a drink at Kip’s Pub or The Free Spirit.
- Population: 10,998
- Average household income: $52,754
- Cost of living: $145,537 for the median home price; $1,057 for the median rent price
- Places to check out: Sahm Park, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Newfields
Located just two miles from downtown Indy, Fall Creek is an up-and-coming neighborhood with an urban core and unending list of shopping and entertainment options. Though it’s an easy drive to Indy’s best downtown attractions, there’s plenty to enjoy in Fall Creek as well — from locally-owned coffee shops to old-school diners.
- Population: 21,377
- Average household income: $72,776
- Cost of living: $193,148 for the median home price; $905 for the median rent price
- Places to check out: Goose the Market, Cityoga, Monon Coffee
Located around four miles from downtown Indianapolis, Meridian-Kessler is a historic neighborhood with a racially and socio-economically diverse populace. Early 20th-century mansions line the tree-lined North Meridian Street Historic District, while more modern mansions make up the outskirts of the neighborhood.
- Population: 17,374
- Average household income: $104,601
- Cost of living: $305,205 for the median home price; $1,224 for the median rent price
- Places to check out: Red Key Tavern, Black Cat Bakery, The Sinking Ship
4. What Are the Best High Schools in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis has the second-largest school district in the state, with over 31,000 students and 2,500 teachers. Here are five of the best public schools in the area.
5. The Job Market in Indianapolis
From May 2020 to May 2021, the local job market improved by 8.45%, which is higher than the job markets of many other similarly-sized cities. Major employers include IU Health University Hospital, New Era Technology, and Eli Lilly & Co. The most common industries (with median salaries) are:
- Office & Administrative Support Occupations: $41,485
- Sales & Related Occupations: $66,585
- Management Occupations: $62,090
- Production Occupations: $34,020
- Food Preparation & Related: $30,069
Here are some places you can find open positions in Indianapolis:
- Find Indianapolis jobs on Indeed
- Find Indianapolis jobs through Glassdoor
- Find Indianapolis jobs through LinkedIn
6. The Best Things to Do in Indianapolis
From museums and parks to boutique shops and cocktail bars, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Circle City. And with four distinct seasons, you can also enjoy new activities all year long – from picking pumpkins at a patch in the fall to tubing down the river in the summer.
- Indianapolis Zoo ($20.75 for adults, $16.75 for children). Located in White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo is home to over 3,800 animals. Visitors can go on a series of family-friendly rides or check out the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which houses one of the largest groups of orangutans in any U.S. zoo.
- Active Indy Tours (from $20). Instead of aimlessly wandering around the city yourself, schedule a tour with Active Indy Tours. Whether you choose a biking, running or walking tour, it’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes view of Indy.
- Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park ($58 for adults, $38 for children). See Indy from a whole new vantage point by booking an aerial adventure at Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park. As you complete Tarzan-like swings on the high-ropes course above the woodland expanse, you’ll enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Indianapolis.
- The Pickled Pedaler (from $150). Let the good times roll by booking a trip on the Pickled Pedaler, a custom-designed bike bar where you can pedal and drink on your way to the greatest bars and breweries in Indianapolis. It’s a great option for a bachelorette or birthday party.
- White River Canoe Company (cost varies). Located about 40 minutes from downtown Indy, White River Canoe Company is an adventure outfitter located on the White River. Visitors can soak up the dog days of summer with a leisurely tubing, canoeing or kayaking excursion.
Parks and Attractions
- White River State Park. Spanning more than 250 acres, White River State Park features an array of waterways, trails and greenspaces. Consider renting a surrey or bicycle so you can see the park in a whole new way, or watching a movie at the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum.
- Eagle Creek Park. Distinguished as the largest park in the city, Eagle Creek Park is a 3,900-acre expanse that features over 10 miles of pathways. Visitors can go fishing, hiking, or boating – and they might even be able to glimpse a bald eagle while they are there!
- Highland Park. Located in a revitalized section of the Holy Cross Westminster neighborhood, Highland Park is a hilly hideaway with great views of the cityscape. The park is especially popular among individuals who want to enjoy panoramic views of the fireworks show downtown on the 4th of July.
- Monument Circle. Located in the heart of Indy, Monument Circle is a tribute to the soldiers who served in the Civil and Spanish wars. Though the observation deck is currently closed, visitors can peruse the nearby gift shop for the perfect Indy souvenir.
Places to Eat
- Harry & Izzy’s. In search of an unforgettable night out on the town? Head to Harry & Izzy’s, a buzzy steakhouse where the cuts of meat are rivaled only by the wine list. It’s an excellent choice for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.
- Root & Bone. Helmed by a James Beard-nominated chef, Root & Bone features upscale Southern comfort food and barrel-aged cocktails. Though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, we’re especially partial to the fried chicken brined in sweet tea.
- Nada. Looking for some classic comfort food? This lively restaurant serves up reimagined Latin American cuisine, from empanadas and Peruvian chicken to tacos and grilled street corn.
- Mesh. For one of the trendiest watering holes in Indy, head to Mesh, where you can sample happy hour specials and cocktails with friends. If you’re getting hungry, stay for a steak or salmon dinner.
In 2019, Indianapolis ranked last out of 100 American cities for the quality of its public transportation system. But thanks to the addition of the Red Line public bus transit system (which opened in September 2019), public officials hope that commuters will have an easier way to get around the city. At present, however, Indy remains a primarily car-centric city.
8. Planning Your Move
Thinking of moving to Indianapolis? Check out our guides to learn everything you need to know about packing, staging your home and moving:
- Essential Tips for Packing and Moving While You Sell Your Old House
- Tips on Staging a Home for a Quick Sale
- The Essential Guide to Selling on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
Be sure to download our checklists, too: