If you appreciate all four seasons and a relatively low cost of living, Indiana might be your dream state. But it might not be for you if you value walkable communities or rely on public transportation. Either way, before you pack your bags, take the time to consider some of the pros and cons of living in Indiana.
Every state has its benefits and drawbacks. Residents of Indiana tend to love their state, but it might not be for everyone. If you’re thinking of moving to a new state,
Jerry is here to help you with that decision by comparing some pros and cons of living in Indiana. Jerry is the
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Pro: Low cost of living
On rankings of state-level cost of living, Indiana tends to consistently rank around 10th, with a cost of living index of 90.0 (compared to a national average of 100). This is largely thanks to the low cost of housing in the state, which has some of the cheapest housing in the country.
According to Zillow, the typical home value in Indiana is around $222,000, compared to the typical home value nationwide of about $356,000. By comparison, the average mortgage payment in Indiana (around $690) is around half of what many people pay for a room in a shared house in New York City.
The downside though, is that finding a high-paying job can be difficult and minimum wage is low, resulting in many Hoosiers struggling to live comfortably despite the comparably low cost of living. In 2020, an estimated 11.6% of Indiana residents were living in poverty according to the
US Census Bureau.
Con: Landlocked, unforested, and far from the mountains
For lovers of beaches, mountains, and outdoor recreation, Indiana can leave a lot to be desired. Obviously, the state is far from the ocean and getting to Appalachia–the closest mountain range–requires a full day of driving.
To make matters worse, only 21% of the state is covered by forest, the 10th lowest forest coverage in the country. If you are thinking of moving to Indiana, finding inspirational landscapes, and solitude in natural spaces can be a challenge.
There is a bright side though. The state has a policy of providing a park space within 60 miles of every resident, and while Indiana might not have the sheer natural beauty of California or Utah, it is possible to find peace among the cornfields and waterways.
Pro: Good access to waterways
For people who value natural spaces in their homeland, the thing that Indiana does have going for it is access to lakes and rivers. Of course, there is Lake Michigan in the northwest for anyone in Lake, Porter, or LaPorte counties or those willing to make the drive. But it’s not just Lake Michigan that makes Indiana’s waterways great.
Indiana has over 900 lakes, and roughly 24,000 miles of rivers running through it. The White River and its tributaries provide a getaway for residents of Indianapolis, lakes like Monroe Lake and Tippecanoe Lake are recreation hubs for thousands of people, and the Ohio River provides wild spaces all along the state’s southern border.
For anyone that loves fishing, boating, paddling, waterskiing, swimming, or many other watersports, Indiana is a lovely place to be.
Con: Limited entertainment options outside of Indianapolis
Outdoor recreation aside, Indiana has a reputation for being a boring state. Forbes ranked it at 38th on their
list of most fun states in America. Unfortunately, that is a sentiment that is echoed by many Indiana residents as well–that there is not a lot going on if you don’t live in the city.
If you do live in the city, though, there is actually a thriving art, music, and food scene. Indianapolis has much more to offer than just the Indy 500, with regular community festivals and events, theater productions, small and large live music venues, and delicious food options.
Pro: Relatively low crime rate
Across the state, the average crime rate is comparable to the national average, and Indiana ranks 22nd for violent crime compared to other states. Most of that crime, though, happens in Indianapolis, which has a violent crime rate over double the national average of 4 per 100 per 1,000 residents.
The rest of the state, though, is much safer. Outside of Indianapolis, Indiana is one of the safer states in the country. With some exceptions, violent and property crime rates outside of Marion County are well below the national average.
Con: Poor public transportation
A major drawback of living in Indiana is the lack of public transportation infrastructure. With the exception of Indianapolis, living in Indiana without a car is a challenge at best. To be fair to Indiana, this is an issue that is consistent across the country, with the norm in small to mid-sized cities being frustrated with public transport, if it’s available at all.
To illustrate the issue, a community wellness coordinator at Purdue University, ran a
small experiment, by testing how long it would take to get from campus to a grocery store in Fort Wayne. The trip, which would have taken 24 minutes by car, took him about three hours round trip.
Pro: Excellent universities
If you are looking to raise a family or weighing options for attending university, then the quality of higher education in Indiana definitely makes the “pro” list. Indiana has 86 colleges and universities, offering plenty of opportunities for potential students.
With notable names like Notre Dame, Indiana University, Purdue, IUPUI, Butler, and Indiana State University, there is a range of educational opportunities in the state, from ivy league to community college. Students who are eligible for Pell grants might even be able to attend for free or at significantly reduced prices at Indiana State or Earlham College.
Con: Below-average healthcare
There's a bit of a chicken or egg situation in Indiana when it comes to healthcare. The state ranks poorly in both
resident health and wellness (41st) and
healthcare quality and accessibility (32nd). This is likely largely the result of poor funding. Indiana has some of the lowest healthcare funding in the country, particularly in rural districts.
At least partially because of the poor healthcare, there are well above average rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health issues in Indiana. As well, Hoosiers rank among the worst in the country for determinants of health like smoking, physical activity, and healthy sleep behaviors.
Pro: Hoosier hospitality
So, Hoosiers may not be the healthiest population in the country, but they are known for being among the kindest.
Time and time again, you hear stories of how friendly the people of Indiana are. It can make a big difference when moving to a new city or state when the community is kind and welcoming. The sense of community, friendly disposition, and welcoming nature of Hoosiers is perhaps the largest pro of living in the state.
Con: Lack of diversity
Of course, urban centers like Indianapolis are relatively diverse–about 50% of the population of Indy are white and a similar proportion describes themselves as religious. But when you leave the city, the diversity dwindles considerably. In the small towns and rural areas especially.
By the numbers, statewide 84% of the population is white, 72% are Christian, 42% are republican, and 4.5% identify as LGBTQ+ (compared to 7.1% nationwide).
Something that is interesting, though, is that Indianapolis is perhaps the most representative city of the US as a whole in terms of diversity, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and consumer habits, with metrics in all of these approximating the national average. So, for a city in a relatively homogenous state, Indy provides a fascinating bubble of diversity.
We couldn’t decide whether the weather in Indiana was a pro or a con for the state. Some people believe the hot muggy summers and cold snowy winters are difficult to bear. Others love that the midwest climate provides variety in its seasonality, where you can appreciate the contrasts and find refreshment in the early autumn air after weeks of scorching heat. So, we’ll leave it up to you if getting the full experience of all four seasons is a pro or a con of moving to Indiana.
Is Indiana a good state to live in?
Sure, living in Indiana has its drawbacks, but so does every other state. Most Hoosiers love living in Indiana and you might as well.
Indiana is a great state for:
Anyone looking to own a home or have more space
Couples looking to start a family in a safe, affordable neighborhood
People who value community
But, if you value access to the mountains, diversity in your community, or access to high-quality healthcare, then the cons of living in Indiana may outweigh the pros.
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