When young professionals are looking for a place to settle down, Indiana is often overlooked. The “Hoosier State” can sometimes take a back seat to places like Texas, New York, and California. But with a diverse economy, friendly citizens, good education, and a multitude of lovely cities and towns, Indiana has a lot to offer.
The people of the region get to experience the extremes of all four seasons in Indiana. The summer heat can typically reach highs in the upper 80s, and the winters get very cold and snowy. Spring and fall are described as being quite pleasant in Indiana.
The state has a rich history and is named for its deep Native American roots. Indiana means “land of the Indians.” It’s centrally located in the Midwest, and so people from all walks of life tend to settle down here. It’s a melting pot of sorts.
With public transit in many of the cities, multiple institutes of higher education, and professional sports franchises, Indianapolis is an attractive place for young professionals. The cost of living is reasonable, as Indiana is the 10th cheapest state in that category.
Housing costs are even better. Single-family homes cost an average of just $185,805, making it the 8th cheapest average in all of the United States. Renting a home with two bedrooms averages a reasonable $840 per month. Unemployment is also very low.
With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some of the cities of Indiana. Factoring in the cost of living, housing, professional opportunities, and things to do, here is a list of the 9 best places to live in Indiana in 2023.
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1. CARMEL – Hamilton County
Our list would be incomplete without Carmel. It’s routinely listed among America’s best places to live by respected publications. The safety here is off the charts. Crime rates are nearly 80% lower than the national average overall! Young adults who wish to settle in a place that’s ideal for starting families should look at Carmel.
Among the population of 101,643 are a high percentage of people who work for nationally-recognized companies. Geico and Liberty Mutual are among the large companies that enjoy the business-friendly atmosphere of Carmel and have major operations here. The average household income is $107,916.
Carmel residents do have to endure a slightly higher cost of living. It’s 12% higher than the national average, making it one of the more expensive cities in Indiana. Real estate is out of reach for many people too, as the median home price is $437,800.
Still, with great schools, beautiful parks, popular shopping areas, and a representative sense of Midwestern community, Carmel remains a top destination.
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2. GRANGER- ST. Joseph County
The quieter suburb of South Bend, Granger has terrific public schools, lots of restaurants and parks, and proximity to some great Indiana attractions despite being more of a rural community. The population of Granger is 31,051 and has been growing since the 2020 census. Crime rates here are very low: 56% lower than the Indiana average, and 60% lower overall than the average for the entire United States.
Living in such a convenient and nice community comes with a slightly higher cost of living. Granger is a tad more expensive than the national average, and 13% higher than the Indiana average. It’s the same story with the local real estate. The median home costs $321,800. This is still affordable for many young professionals today. With household incomes nearly 70% greater than the national average, Granger residents can afford to make this place nice for all.
Granger has low unemployment too, and its location in central Indiana makes it a place where commuters can get around to the desirable jobs.
Residents might have to travel a bit outside of town for more exciting nightlife, but there’s lots within a reasonable rideshare distance. It’s just a 15 minute drive to check out the world-renowned University of Notre Dame and all that it has to offer. In fact, many Indiana residents already know that Granger was the home of Ara Parseghian, former head coach of the Notre Dame football team.
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3. BLOOMINGTON – Monroe County
Bloomington is the home of Indiana University, so many of the recent graduates choose not to go anywhere after school is done, making this a fun place for younger professionals to explore. It has all types of areas one might expect in a college town. There’s a popular shopping district and a traditional Midwest town square. The population is 85,603 and growing in recent years.
As with many college towns, white-collar jobs dominate the landscape. In addition to education, there are businesses here that deal in pharmaceuticals, technology, health care, and of course, the arts. This place is known and has been recognized as a good place for business by publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. The median home price is higher than the state average. It currently sits at $256,600.
Crime is about on par with the Indiana average in Bloomington, so it is a relatively safe place to settle down. With its good balance of nature, neighborhoods, and nightlife, it’s no wonder that Bloomington has come to be known as “the gateway to scenic Southern Indiana.”
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4. NOBLESVILLE – Hamilton County
Noblesville, a suburb of greater Indianapolis, sits along the White River and is known as a beautifully quiet and friendly area for its 65,835 residents. The historic architecture and walkable downtown area are attractive features of Noblesville. The schools are also known for being very nice and well-kept.
With a median age of just 33.5, Noblesville is a great place for young people to make some friends or start a family. The cost of living here is very close to the national average, coming in at 2.8% lower. A median home in Noblesville will cost around $284,600. Plenty of career opportunities exist here due to the proximity to the rest of the Indianapolis area, as multiple other towns and cities are easily commutable.
As far as suburbs go, this place is extremely safe. Crime rates are 57% lower than the rest of the state. Violent crime in particular is very low. It’s 77% lower than the national average.
Noblesville has plenty to do. It is the home of the popular Ruoff Music Center, a large outdoor concert venue that hosts many nationally-recognized acts. There are plenty of public parks, seven golf courses, and a popular shopping district. Amateur gardeners will be happy to know that Noblesville is the home of the annual Indiana Peony Festival.
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5. FORT WAYNE – Allen County
With its terrific restaurants, booming tourism industry, and welcoming atmosphere, Fort Wayne seems like it was built for young professionals. It’s even easy to scope out the town before settling in, as the local tourism office offers a pass with discounts on some of the city’s best attractions. 292,378 people call Fort Wayne home, making it a larger Indiana city.
Real estate is more affordable than lots of the other towns on the list. The median home cost is $172,600. The cost of living is about on par with Indiana as a whole, excellent for such a desirable and popular city.
The top industries in Fort Wayne include manufacturing, retail, finance, and health care. While the city is relatively safe, one problem is that the schools aren’t highly-rated. But young people who don’t plan to have kids shouldn’t take much of an issue with this.
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6. WEST LAFAYETTE – Tippecanoe County
West Lafayette is the home of Purdue University and offers an exceptional quality of life. It’s an incredibly safe community, especially compared to its neighbor Lafayette just across the Wabash River. Crime rates here are 63% lower than the state average, so its population of 49,688 can feel secure living here.
West Lafayette features a diverse array of neighborhoods, as it has a good mix of urban and suburban style areas. There are plenty of amenities here, including restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, shopping, and medical centers. The median home costs $283,600. With an extremely low unemployment rate, this is a wonderful place to think about settling down.
Purdue University employs 12,000 people, making it the largest employer in the city. There are also nearly 100 technology companies based here, employing thousands more. There is a great deal more opportunity nearby in the city of Lafayette.
With the University nearby, adventurers and lovers of excitement will find plenty to do here, and lots of people to meet. Those who prefer nature need not fret. There are miles of walking and biking trails to enjoy as well.
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7. WESTFIELD – Hamilton County
This suburb of Indianapolis has a population of 46,145 and a median household income of $85,071. This is the perfect place for anyone who likes to be close to a major city but still wants a small-town community feeling.
As a predominantly white-collar city, Westfield is an attractive place for young people looking for new career opportunities. The proximity to Indianapolis makes it a convenient location for commuters, and those who wish to start families will be happy to know it is consistently mentioned among the most family-friendly places in the United States.
The median home costs here are well above average for the state, coming in at $355,800, but those who can afford to live here will find it well worth the price. It’s an extremely safe community with great schools and a highly educated population.
The public parks and natural areas are one of Westfield’s highlights, and although the nightlife may not be the most exciting, it’s easy to travel over to Indy for the fix.
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8. FISHERS – Hamilton County
Another suburban gem is Fishers, known for its modern homes and rapid population growth in recent years. 97,020 people call Fishers home, and it’s easy to see why. It’s relatively diverse compared to some of the other Indianapolis suburbs. The people here prioritize keeping the small-town feeling, as they have rejected resolutions to be reorganized as a city multiple times.
The cost of living in Fishers is 16% higher than in the rest of the state, which is the price to pay for being such a nice community. With contemporary real estate, median home prices are also higher than average, coming in at $344,600.
As crime is over 70% lower than the national average in Fishers, young professionals and families alike can feel safe and confident here. Industry opportunities abound as it is also just a short drive into Indianapolis.
Perhaps most notable about Fishers is that it’s a great community for nature lovers. It is home to over a dozen parks and nature preserves. The local Trail and Greenway system is in charge of the maintenance of over 85 miles of natural land for all to enjoy.
9. ZIONSVILLE – Boone County
Rounding out our list is Zionsville, located almost directly in the center of Indiana. With a quaint little brick-lined downtown area, Zionsville projects a welcoming atmosphere and a relatively successful tourism industry. It’s a small town, with a population of just 25,709.
The real estate here is some of the highest in the entire state. The median home costs $464,400. The cost of living here is 31% higher than the state average too. Living in Zionsville doesn’t come cheap, but crime is relatively nonexistent, so young professionals who prioritize safety may want to take a look here.
Indianapolis is commutable from Zionsville, but the downtown alone is enough to make residents want to stay home. It’s been impeccably maintained and offers several things for people to take part in, including shopping and dining.
Zionsville is known locally for deep community pride. One of its most important sites is the Sullivan Munce Cultural Center, which is a place for local art, genealogy, and historical local artifacts on display.
Young adults who have recently finished college and are looking to jumpstart their careers should consider settling down in Indiana. The state is a haven for businesses and thus there are many career opportunities. The cost of living is affordable, and there are a surprising amount of attractions and activities to keep people busy. The best places we’ve listed here are by no means a comprehensive list. But Indiana is a great place to get started looking for a forever home.
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