Indiana is known for its famous sports teams and events, railroad history, and sprawling farmlands. Whether you prefer life in the busy big cities or relaxing in the quiet suburbs, Indiana has something to offer everyone. If you’re ready to move to Hoosier State, NewHomeSource has compiled a list of the 10 best places in the state to live.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.37%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.39%
Violent crime index: 24.6
Nonviolent crime index: 47.4
Cost of living index: 73.8
Kokomo tops our list of best places to live in Indiana. The county seat of Howard County, Kokomo is home to attractions like the Seiberling Mansion, Kokomo Art Center, and Kirkendall Nature Center. On warm summer days, catch a live music performance at the Performing Arts Pavilion in Foster’s Park, or take your dog to the local dog park. In addition to retail stores and grocery stores, Kokomo folks can buy fresh food and handmade crafts at the local farmer’s market. Kokomo experiences wet and cold weather, especially in the winter; residents can expect 48 inches of rain and 31 inches of snow per year. The city leans somewhat politically conservative and provides access to 40 hospitals and 12 schools. Popular nearby suburbs include Alto, Judson, and Hemlock.
2. South Bend
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.51%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.62%
Violent crime index: 42.1
Nonviolent crime index: 69.3
Cost of living index: 68.4
South Bend is best known for the University of Notre Dame, which is located just north of the city. But there’s more to South Bend than just the famous university, of course. St. Joseph River runs through the city and offers its residents access to outdoor activities like kayaking, whitewater rafting, and fishing. Take your dog hiking with you across the city’s parks and trails, visit the animals of Potawatomi Zoo, or go on a shopping spree at the University Park Mall. South Bend experiences 172 sunny days per year, which can be enjoyed at the local water park and golf courses. Folks should be prepared for upwards of 63 inches of snow per year – the highest snow accumulation on our list! South Bend residents can choose between 24 hospitals for medical care and 30 schools for education. South Bend is politically liberal, and popular neighborhoods include Granger, Osceola, and Mishawaka.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.67%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.26%
Violent crime index: 68.6
Nonviolent crime index: 57.7
Cost of living index: 79.3
Located 15 miles east of South Bend, the politically conservative Elkhart-Goshen metropolitan area is home to over 52,000 residents. The St. Joseph River runs through the city of Elkhart, and folks can enjoy waterside views at the parks along the river’s shoreline. If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, visit the beautiful displays at the Wellfield Botanic Gardens or power up at the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum. If you own a dog, you’ll be pleased to hear that 11 restaurants in Elkhart allow your dog to join you while you dine. The Elkhart-Goshen metropolitan area experiences typical weather for the region, with 39 inches of rain and 55 inches of snow expected per year. For medical care and education, you have your choice between three area hospitals and 21 schools. Prefer life in the suburbs? Be sure to check out popular choices like Dunlap and Nappanee.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.83%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.49%
Violent crime index: 34.2
Nonviolent crime index: 70.9
Cost of living index: 78.5
Evansville is located along the Ohio River and is home to great attractions. Museum enthusiasts can enjoy the Evansville African American Museum, Evansville Museum (which has science, history, and art exhibits), and USS LST-325, a naval landing ship tank dating back to World War II. Take advantage of 204 sunny days per year by visiting the Angel Mounds State Historic Site to learn about the Native Americans who used to live there or checking out the 700+ animals at Mesker Park Zoo. Evansville is a very dog-friendly city; nearly 40 restaurants and breweries allow your dog to accompany you, and Evansville has its own dedicated dog park. Evansville only experiences an average of 10 inches of snow per year, which may make this city a good choice if you’re tired of shoveling the driveway constantly every winter. Evansville is politically conservative and provides access to 16 hospitals. If you dream of suburban living, check out suburbs like Melody Hill, Newburgh, and Haubstadt.
5. Terre Haute
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.83%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.76%
Violent crime index: 19.4
Nonviolent crime index: 69.7
Cost of living index: 74.3
Terre Haute is located five miles east of the Indiana-Illinois border. This city is big on community engagement and activities, and you can expect events like art fairs, music festivals, and movies in the park. For educational experiences, visit the Candles Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Dobbs Park Nature Center, and Eugene Debs Museum. Make the most out of 192 sunny days per year by hiking through the J.I. Case Wetland Wildlife Refuge, taking your dog running on the National Road Heritage Trail, or going kayaking along the Wabash River. Be sure to check the weather before going out, of course; Terre Haute experiences an average of 44 inches of rain and 16 inches of snow per year. 11 hospitals and 24 schools are ready to assist you and your family regarding medical care and education. Terre Haute is politically conservative, and popular neighborhoods include North Terre Haute and West Terre Haute.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.85%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.03%
Violent crime index: 63.4
Nonviolent crime index: 66.9
Cost of living index: 83.5
Indiana’s capital city lands as the sixth best place to live in the state. Known affectionately as “Indy,” Indianapolis is home to famous events and attractions like the Indy 500, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Newfields museum. Enjoy 186 sunny days per year visiting great parks like Eagle Creek Park and outdoor attractions like the Indianapolis Zoo. Go shopping at the sprawling Indianapolis City Market or engage in a unique experience at the Rhythm! Discovery Center. Be prepared for cold, wet weather, including 42 inches of rain and 22 inches of snow per year. Dog owners can look forward to nearly 200 restaurants allowing your furry friends to accompany you while you eat! Politically, Indianapolis is moderately liberal and encompasses 17 hospitals. If city life feels too crowded, try moving to suburbs like Speedway, Noblesville, and Westfield.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.92
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.03%
Violent crime index: 39.6
Nonviolent crime index: 66
Cost of living index: 72.5
Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, Gary is a moderately liberal city home to over 73,000 residents. Gary experiences an average of 186 sunny days per year, and you can make the most of the sunshine by relaxing on Marquette Park Beach or going for a hike along Nelson Algren & Simone de Beauvoir Trail. Like the rest of Indiana, Gary experiences wet and cold weather so be sure to bundle up and enjoy an indoor attraction like the Hard Rock Casino. If you’re looking for big-city entertainment, Chicago is a mere 25 miles west of the city. The proximity to the Windy City means Gary folks have access to over 80 area hospitals, so you’ll never have to worry about where to seek medical care. If you prefer to stay in the quiet suburbs and away from the city hustle, check out neighborhoods like Mooresville, Simonton Lake, and Lake Station.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.03%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.54%
Violent crime index: 29.6
Nonviolent crime index: 62.5
Cost of living index: 78.6
Lafayette is the county seat of Tippecanoe County. Spend your days visiting the animals and walking the trails at Columbian Park Zoo, shopping to your heart’s content at the Tippecanoe Mall, or going to the Imagination Station if you have children. With over 15 restaurants welcoming your dog and a designated dog park within the city, Lafayette is a dog-friendly place to call home. Lafayette experiences an average of 187 sunny days per year, which is perfect for hiking along the Wabash Heritage Trail (bring your dog too!). Be prepared for 38 inches of rain and 19 inches of snow per year as well. Lafayette is politically liberal and provides access to 27 hospitals and 18 schools. Popular suburbs include West Lafayette, Battle Ground, and Shadeland.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.26%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.89%
Violent crime index: 19.9
Nonviolent crime index: 56.3
Cost of living index: 71.9
Muncie is located 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis and happens to be Indiana’s most affordable city. Art fans will love Muncie; not only does the city have a thriving arts scene and museum, but it’s also home to The Bob Ross Experience, the filming location of The Joy of Painting that is open to visitors. Other notable attractions include the museum and gardens of Minnetrista, community theaters, and a children’s museum. During the 185 sunny days Muncie experiences, take your dog jogging with you along Muncie’s great hiking and biking trails. Residents can also expect 40 inches of rain and 22 inches of snow while living in Muncie. The city leans politically conservative and provides access to 37 hospitals and 11 schools. Prefer the suburbs? Try Yorktown or Dateville!
10. Fort Wayne
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.49%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.30%
Violent crime index: 23.5
Nonviolent crime index: 48.1
Cost of living index: 78.9
Last but certainly not least is Fort Wayne, a city of over 265,000 residents in northeast Indiana. Fort Wayne is home to exciting attractions like the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne’s Children Zoo, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Go for a morning hike along the many hiking trails and nature preserves, take your dog with you to eat at one of over 50 dog-friendly restaurants, or catch a live performance at Piere’s Entertainment Center – whatever you choose, you’re bound to have a good time. Fort Wayne’s climate is typical for the region, with the city experiencing 182 sunny days, 38 inches of rain, and 30 inches of snow each year. For medical care and education, you have your pick of 28 hospitals and 81 area schools. Fort Wayne leans politically conservative, and popular suburbs include Huntertown, Leo-Cedarville, and Grabill.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Sarah graduated from Trinity University in 2012 with a degree in International Relations and Political Science. She writes blogs on new homes, decor, communities, and more for NewHomeSource. When she’s not writing, you can find her spending time with her three cats.