Navigating the Crossroads: A Comprehensive Guide to Moving to Indianapolis

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Indianapolis at a Glance 

With three stadiums, hundreds of restaurants, dozens of museums and one very famous Speedway, Indianapolis is investing at a breakneck pace to make this already exciting city even more sensational. And while this mid-size city has lots of big-city amenities, it’s unequivocally Midwestern in its unassuming attitude.  

Also known as the Crossroads of America, Indianapolis lies on the rolling White River, which provides commercial, recreational and natural resources to this buzzing city of 880,621. As the seat of Marion County and the Indiana state capital, Indianapolis is the literal and cultural center of the state, where major universities like Purdue and major corporations like Eli Lilly provide a robust base for innovation.  

Indiana is also known throughout the Midwest as the region’s most obstinate holdout on observing Daylight Time, which it grudgingly acquiesced to in 2006. Most of the Midwest is a part of the Central Time Zone, but not the Hoosier State. Most of Indiana — including Indianapolis — is in the Eastern Time Zone.  

If you’re interested in moving to the capital city of the Hoosier State, get an insider’s look at Indianapolis below, including popular neighborhoods, attractions and tips for commuting.   

Embracing the Hoosier Spirit

Newbies from the coasts will fall in love with the down-to-earth lifestyle of what newscasters love to call the “nation’s midsection.” Actual Midwesterners resent the idea that they are the reason the country needs to let its pants out an inch, or that collectively, they might require a belt. And when you move to “flyover country,” you’ll soon realize that this wonderful terrain was worth stopping in all along.  

Midwesterners are known for being friendly and unpretentious — don’t be alarmed when they do strange things like smile and wish you good morning on the street. You might find a bouquet of zinnias from your neighbor’s garden waiting for you on your porch or be invited for campfire and cocktails in the cul de sac. Like many cities in the region, Indianapolis is a community-centric place and, unlike the NYC subway system, maintaining eye contact is not verboten here. It might even be … welcome.  

True to its moniker as the Crossroads of America (or perhaps even surpassing it), Indianapolis’s population is more diverse than either the state’s or the country’s, with 52.7% identifying as white, 28.8% as Black/African American, 10.8% as Hispanic/Latino, 5.4% as two or more races and 3.9% as Asian.  

This cultural vibrancy may not be what earned the city its sobriquet, but it’s still noteworthy. The real reason behind the city’s nickname is that when the federal highway system was established in 1926, two of its major thoroughfares — U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 41 — intersected in downtown Indianapolis, so anyone wanting to travel coast to coast or from Canada to Mexico would likely end up — however briefly — at the literal crossroads in Indianapolis.  

Indy’s central location offers numerous advantages, both culturally and economically. Trade, transportation and utilities is the city’s biggest economic sector, employing more than 249,000 people. But the Indianapolis-Carmel area economy is solidly diversified, with a strong base in professional services, education and health services, and the government.  

Many people don’t automatically think of Indy as a tourist destination, but with its numerous family-friendly attractions and modest prices, it’s not so surprising that leisure and hospitality employs more than 114,000 residents.  

Learn more about some of our favorite Indy attractions below. 

Cost of Living in Indianapolis

Indianapolis’ affordable cost of living can be a big attraction to new residents, particularly when it comes to housing, where the city scores nearly 12 points off the national average. The median gross rent in Indy is $962/month and the median home value is only $156,300. That’s nearly $100,000 less than the U.S. average and several hundred thousand less than coastal giants like New York and Los Angeles. It may be worth giving up some big city amenities when it means giving up big city price tags, too. 

Compared to other popular Midwestern cities the price of real estate in Indianapolis falls roughly in the middle. A house will cost you roughly the same amount in St. Louis and Cincinnati as it will in Indianapolis, but Milwaukee’s prices are $20,000 less and Minneapolis’ are more than $120,000 more.  

However, income levels in Indianapolis are also substantially lower. At $54,321, the median household income in the city is more than $7,500 below the state average and nearly $15,000 below the U.S. average. But keep in mind that in New York City, $15,000 might only get you a couple of parking spots for the year.  

Wondering how much it might cost to move to Indianapolis? Start a quote today. 

Education and Schools

Another draw to the Indy area is its schools. From pre-K through graduate school, Indianapolis is an exemplar of education. For younger learners, Indiana has 63 charter schools and 15 magnet schools, many of which are considered the best of their kind in the state and maintain a high teacher-to-student ratio. Purdue University Polytechnic High School, backed by the university of the same name, is dedicated to preparing Indianapolis youth for the rigors of college education and rewarding STEM careers. 

At the university level, the greater Indianapolis area has several notable public and private institutions, including IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis). In fall 2024, Purdue University — which has a large campus in nearby West Lafayette — and Indiana University — which has several campuses throughout the state — will formally separate from IUPUI, but they will each maintain independent campuses in the city.  

Butler University is rated as the #1 Regional University in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. This mid-size, private school has an enrollment of just under 5,000 and is known for its undergraduate teaching and innovative programs.  

Indy Neighborhood Spotlight 

Exploring Downtown Indianapolis

Unlike a lot of midsize cities in the past decade, Indianapolis has bet big on downtown. The $9 billion investment in new developments in its already popular and well-appointed district hopes to bring even more visitors to its family-friendly destinations and shine a brighter light on the lesser-known gems.

The Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites are just some of the key attractions that bring more than 8 million visitors to the area each year. But don’t miss the quirkier corners of the city, either. Catch a performance at the Cabaret. Read a banned book at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library (DYK: he was an Indy native!). Or get out and explore Downtown Indy’s eight miles of biking and pedestrian trails, along with all the twists and whirls of the water at the White River State Park.

Getting around downtown is easy on two wheels, four wheels and on the IndyGo bus system (learn more below about commuting in Indianapolis.) 

The Charm of Broad Ripple

A few miles north of downtown, the community of Broad Ripple offers an artsy escape from city life. This diverse area near Butler University is noted for its public art and murals, its restaurants and nightlife and the easy access to outdoor activities along the White River.

In the wintertime, you can go skating on the Holliday Park ice rink. In the summertime, you can picnic around the gardens and let the kids run wild on one of the best playgrounds in town, which is now slated for a major renovation. Hikers and bikers will want to check out the Monon Trail — a converted rail path — passes through Broad Ripple, and cyclists, joggers and aspiring marathoners alike enjoy the 26-mile-long paved pathway that connects far-flung areas of the city. But don’t let the laid-back vibes of this suburban enclave fool you — Broad Ripple has turned out some real superstars, and at the top of the neighborhood’s top ten list would have to be David Letterman (and Letterman’s mom, of course).  

Suburban Living in Carmel

The upscale neighborhood of Carmel lies directly outside the I-465 beltway. One of the highlights of this far northern suburb of 100,000 is its arts & design district, where galleries, showrooms and specialty shops bring a touch of the extraordinary to the everyday. The lively city center is full of cool eateries, like Woody’s Library Restaurant, where you can dine in the stacks of the converted 1914 building.

The cost of living in Carmel is substantially higher than it is in Indianapolis proper. The median home value in Carmel is now over $370,000 — more than twice the cost of a home in the city — but incomes are also twice as high in Carmel. The Carmel-Clay school district is a source of pride for this family-friendly area, but there are numerous ways to immerse yourself in the community-centric life, here, from activities in the neighborhood’s many parks and green spaces to attending outdoor performances in town.   

Fountain Square’s Eclectic Scene

Just south of downtown, Fountain Square has its distinctive appeal. As one of the city’s six cultural hubs — and a stop on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail — Fountain Square is a small business centre and a destination for the arts. In the fall, residents look forward to the annual Art Squared festival, which celebrates local talent with a four-day block party. When you’re not shopping for handmade creations, boutiques like Zodiac Vintage will reward the sharp-eyed thrifters with finds from other times. For more blasts from the past, head out to Atomic Bowl for some duckpin bowling at these beloved, midcentury lanes. Or take your sweetheart swing dancing at the historic Fountain Square Theatre. But the biggest draw to Fountain Square may be its close-knit, welcoming community. You won’t have to change who you are to find your niche here. 

Living Like a Hoosier 

Must-See Attractions

If you’re moving to Indianapolis, you’ll find no shortage of ways to have fun, whether you’re a sports fanatic, outdoor enthusiast or a history buff. And if you check all three of these boxes, all the better — you’ll find you’re in good company with your diverse interests.   

In the center of downtown, you’ll find the city’s iconic Monument Circle, an impressive and inspiring tribute to the state’s veterans. The towering Soldiers and Sailors Monument has an observation tower that is open to visitors, and the area surrounding the circle is filled with memorials commemorating those lost in the Vietnam War, on 9/11 and in other global conflicts.  

When you need a diversion, the performing arts scene in Indianapolis is thriving. The Urban Musical Theatre, the Cabaret and the historic Hilbert Circle Theatre, where the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs, are just three of the many venues that light up the nightlife in Indy.   

Lauded as one of the best of its kind in the country, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will take your family on a journey from prehistoric times to the future of space travel. Hands-on exhibits keep kids entertained and engaged in learning for hours — you’ll likely tire out before they do.  

Kids and parents alike will enjoy a trip to Newfields. This stellar art museum is surrounded by gorgeous, explorable grounds that invite the curious and the rambunctious to let their imaginations — and their feet — roam wild.  

Outdoors

You’ll never be far from outdoor fun in Indianapolis. There are 214 parks in Indy, along with 130 playgrounds and 13 miles of trails. One of the city’s greatest public treasures is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which connects city greenspaces like the 3-mile-long Canal Walk with public art, gardens and activities like swinging and bocce ball. Some of the best parts of the trail are hidden in plain sight, like artist Jamie Pawlus’ crossing signs, which humorously replace traditional Walk/Don’t Walk signals with the text “Care” and “Don’t Care.” 

The city’s oldest formal greenspace is Garfield Park, which opened in 1873. More than just a place for picnics, this 123-acre haven has its own visual arts center, performing arts center, gardens and public pool.  

If you’re looking for a true escape from urban life but don’t have time to leave town, Eagle Creek Park offers 5,300 acres of wilderness just northwest of the city. Located on the Eagle Creek Reservoir, your family can spend the day kayaking, fishing and forgetting their troubles. The Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park inside Eagle Creek amp up the activities to a level that can uncrank even the crankiest of teenagers. 

Of course, the outdoors is more than a playground — it can also be an inspiring classroom. No place in Indianapolis brings history to life in Conner Prairie. This Smithsonian Affiliate is one of the nation’s most popular outdoor museums, where visitors can learn about the Indigenous cultures of the area, explore an early 19th-century village and meet the resident livestock, which includes Ossabaw Island hogs, English Longhorn cattle, and Tunis sheep.  

Sports Events

Since 1911, when Ray Harroun drove his Marmon “Wasp” to victory, the Indy 500 has ignited passions (and sometimes actual flames) for racing. In the past 120+ years, the race speeds have more than doubled and the top prize money increased from $14,250 to $3.6 million. If you want to get in on the action, just head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the tracks burn bright with the bravest and most brazen of drivers in the world for the event each spring and other popular events throughout the year. 

When you’re looking for lower speeds but more contact, the Indianapolis Colts tear up the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium downtown. This American Football Conference team may have once belonged to Baltimore, but these NFL superstars brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy home to Indy in 2007. (And, yes, Mayflower moved the Colts from Baltimore. Sorry, Baltimore, but the Ravens did bring you a Super Bowl!) The Indiana Pacers have had several storied players and coaches over the years, including team member Reggie Miller and 1997/98 coach Larry Bird. Despite several post-season appearances, the Pacers haven’t yet been able to clinch an NBA title.  

Not to be overshadowed by the pros, the Purdue Boilermakers are hometown heroes in Indianapolis, and the rivalry is fierce between this team and their biggest Big Ten rival, the IU Hoosiers.   

Commuting in Indianapolis

With a relatively low population density but lots of major thoroughfares traveling through the city, commuting in the Crossroads of America isn’t quite as bad as it is in other U.S. cities, but be prepared for heavy semi-traffic on the highways. The mean travel time to work in Indy is 23.9 minutes — comparable to nearby St. Louis and Cincinnati but far less than Chicago and several minutes off the U.S. average of 26.8. 

While the city doesn’t have a light rail system, it has made major improvements to its public transportation, including an all-electric fleet of vehicles for its IndyGo BRT, or Bus Rapid Transit, service. The red line travels along a heavily trafficked, 13-mile-long corridor to provide train-like service to Indy residents on articulated vehicles outfitted with interior bus racks. Riders board the vehicles on level platforms, making them more accessible and more appealing. Fares are just $1.75 a ride, $4.00 for a day pass or $60.00 for a monthly pass.  

It might surprise you just how much those bicycle racks get used, too. Indy has been named one of the country’s top 50 bike-friendly cities, and if you’re already a rider or just an aspiring cyclist, Bike Indianapolis can help you find the best bike paths in Indianapolis, even for beginners. The Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program makes it easy to try out traveling on two wheels. 

Tips to Relocate to Indianapolis

Find a Trustworthy Mover

If you’ve decided to make the move to Indianapolis, the best way to plan your next steps is by finding the right moving services for you. Follow these tips on how to hire the best movers. By hiring a professional, long-distance moving company like Mayflower, you can make your cross-country move to Indianapolis smooth and worry-free.  

Get a quote on moving to Indianapolis.  

Mayflower will be there for you Every Step of the Way® during your move to Indianapolis. For nearly 100 years, we have been the nation’s most trusted moving company, and we’re committed to making your relocation worry-free. Mayflower’s nationwide network of movers is licensed for interstate moves, and the MyMayflower Move Portal will keep all the details of your relocation at your fingertips.  

Consider Moving Full Service

If you’re planning a cross-country move to Indianapolis, Mayflower’s long-distance movers can help you move from anywhere in the nation. Our dedicated agents are here to assist you with all your needs, including full-service moving solutions. Mayflower’s custom moving packages can include packing and unpacking services, storage services, car shipping, debris removal and more. 

If you’re moving to Indy from another city in the Hoosier State, Mayflower’s Indiana movers and our movers in Indianapolis can perform local moves independently under their own brands and business names 

Get Moving Tips and Resources from the Pros

Planning to move to Indy on your own? Mayflower’s moving resources can help the do-it-yourselfer keep everything on track and on budget.  

However you plan to relocate to Indianapolis, you can take advantage of Mayflower’s helpful moving checklist and planner. Learn more about the Hoosier State and the Midwest in Mayflower’s state guides, city guides and Moving Guide to Indiana

And don’t forget — Mayflower will be there for you even after your move is complete. We have great tips to help you settle into your new home after you arrive in Indianapolis.  

Plan Your Move With the Nation's Most Trusted Mover

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