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Moving to Indianapolis

Indianapolis is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition not just for Americans relocating from elsewhere in the US, but also for expats.

Young professionals, in particular, seem to be flocking to Indiana’s capital to take up jobs in the city’s thriving healthcare, insurance, tourism and sport-related industries. The influx of young job seekers can also be attributed to the city’s low cost of living – especially its remarkably affordable housing – and competitive salaries. 

The good news for those averse to big city living is that, even with the influx of newcomers and a steady population growth, Indy still retains its famous small-town feel, which, ironically, is another driver in attracting more and more people.

Indy residents or “Hoosiers”, as they refer to themselves, certainly know how to have a good time, and fun-loving newcomers, particularly those partial to sport, will fit right in. The city has a brimming sports calendar of just about every variety, but the highlight of the year is undoubtedly the renowned Indianapolis 500, the world’s oldest currently operational automobile race, the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, and the pride of Indiana. The weeks leading up to the big race see Indy come alive when downtown explodes with festivals and parties, while race day itself attracts more than 250,000 people to the famous old speedway.

Not just for petrol heads though, the city has worked hard to increase the cultural value beyond the race track. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an 8-mile urban-planned pedestrian and bike pathway, connects neighborhoods and cultural districts, and offers access to multiple attractions including museums, galleries, public art, eateries, and shops along the route. In fact, Indy has become something of a foodie hotspot in the Midwest, and has been mooted as one of the most underrated food destinations in the country.

Those prospective residents who like a bit of greenery will be happy to know that the city abounds with leafy parks and fields perfect for running or a bit of dog walking.

Accommodation is easy to come by and, as mentioned, rather affordable. From ritzy inner-city apartments and condos in downtown neighbourhoods bursting with cultural and culinary hotspots, to bigger bungalows and four-squares towards the lush – and quieter – outskirts of the city, new arrivals won’t struggle to find a home suited to their taste and budget.

Newcomers and expats will have a huge range of schools to pick from. Not all public schools are of the same standard, though, and some expats may opt for private schooling or even the city’s only international school, but should be aware that these charge pretty exorbitant fees. The city’s healthcare is also superb but, even though slightly more affordable than the national average, is rather expensive, so health insurance will have to be factored in when prospective residents aiming to work in Indianapolis apply for jobs and negotiate for salaries.

All in all, Indy is a charming city to call home, and residents are friendly and welcoming. Expats will be pleased to know that it’s not uncommon to hear a profusion of foreign languages spoken on the streets, and that foreigners are received warmly and treated kindly. Combine that with the city’s vibrant economy, its multitude of things to see, do and eat, its cosmopolitan vibe, and low cost of living, and it's easy to see why so many people are choosing to make the Circle City their new home.

Weather in Indianapolis

Expats who like their climes varied will be glad to know that Indianapolis experiences distinct seasons. Summers are typically hot, humid and wet with an average high temperature peaking at around 84.9°F (29.4°C) in July, while winters are usually quite frosty and often snowy, with the average low temperature dropping the mercury to a crisp 19.9°F (-6.7°C) in January. What exacerbates the cold is the absence of mountain ranges to the north of Indy, which allows frigid winds from Canada to strike the city unhindered. As a result, Indy experiences around 24 snowy days during the year, registering around 26" (660.4mm) of snow. Spring and autumn are usually fairly pleasant, but unpredictable with occasional rainfall.

With an average annual precipitation of 42" (1066.8mm), rainfall is spread throughout the year, but is heaviest during late spring and summer, while the average humidity hovers around 72 percent through the year peaking in December when cloud coverage is at its densest.

Those who enjoy getting out of the house will want to do so from late spring in May to autumn in September when Indy experiences its most pleasant conditions. These months are mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from  55.9°F (13.3°C) to 84.9°F (29.4°C), affording plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and explore the city’s many attractions. During December to February it'll become clear that it’s time to batten down the hatches when sunshine is in short supply, temperatures drop below freezing, and snowstorms are common.

Indianapolis isn’t that prone to weather hazards, but does experience snowstorms, thunderstorms and rainstorms, which could lead to flood situations.

 

Working in Indianapolis

Indianapolis has a rich history of manufacturing and, with 60 automakers, even rivalled Detroit as a centre of automobile manufacturing in the 20th century, but, as in many Midwestern cities, deindustrialisation took its toll resulting in the closure of most automotive plants. Nowadays, Indy’s economy is unrecognisable from those heady days and mostly revolves around healthcare, insurance, and tourism generated through major sports events and conventions.

That’s not to say that the city’s economy isn’t thriving. It’s much more diversified than a few decades ago, job growth has been climbing steadily – the city ranking as one of the fastest high-tech job growth areas in the US – and unemployment is low. Young professionals, in particular, are relocating to Indianapolis to further their careers in the healthcare, insurance, tourism, or sport-related industries – the phenomenally popular Indy 500, in particular, generating plenty of income. The city’s influx of young, skilled job seekers is also driven by its relatively gentler cost of living as compared to other nearby cities.

The city’s central location and proximity to the vast agricultural region known as the corn belt, as well as to bustling metros of the upper Midwest and East, make it a vital logistical centre, home to hundreds of distribution firms employing tens of thousands of workers.


Job market in Indianapolis

New arrivals in Indianapolis shouldn’t struggle to find a job. The city currently boasts three Fortune 500 companies, namely health insurance company Anthem Inc., pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and the biggest real estate investment trust in the US, Simon Property Group, along with 90 other national companies.

Sports tourism plays a huge role. Sprawled over 560 acres just west of the city is the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which sees hundreds of thousands of people descend on the city every May to watch the most-attended sporting event in the US, the Indianapolis (or Indy) 500. Other major sporting events include the Brickyard 400 and the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments. Each of these, along with huge conventions held at various venues in the city every year, contribute tens of millions to the city’s economy, creating thousands of jobs, and millions in tax revenue.

Professionals moving to the city who work in the fields of healthcare or insurance, will also have their pick of jobs, as several healthcare, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies have located their headquarters and regional offices in Indianapolis in the last few years. Logistics companies are also widespread, and the city is home to the second largest FedEx Express hub in the world, and as a result, Indianapolis International Airport ranks as the sixth busiest US airport in terms of air cargo transport, handling over 1 million tons per year, and employing thousands.

Those who work in education should also come by jobs fairly easily. Apart from hundreds of schools, the city is also home to a host of higher-education institutions, such as Ball State University, Butler University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Marian University, Martin University, and Ivy Tech Community College, among others.

Indiana is also one of the only Midwest states that guarantee residents the right to work without the obligation to join a union.


Finding a job in Indianapolis

When searching for a new job in Indianapolis, new arrivals will do well to start their search online. Employers will often advertise new vacancies on various web portals and sites such as LinkedIn, or on recruiting sites. 

Industry-specific agencies, be it in healthcare, insurance, hospitality or sports, are also a good way to go as they have intimate knowledge of the job market and will help connect suitable candidates with employers.

Being a rather compact city known for its “small-town feel”, Indianapolis has remarkably tight-knit communities and networks who welcome newcomers and are quick to lend a helping hand in the search for jobs.


Work culture in Indianapolis

As in any city, work culture in Indianapolis largely depends on the individual’s particular industry and company. Generally speaking though, Indy is much slower paced than the notorious rat races of big east coast cities such as New York, and the vibe is a bit more laid-back with a healthier work-life balance.

The workforce of Indianapolis, these days, is rather young, and the economy is vibrant and growing across a variety of sectors. Unemployment is remarkably low, and job security is generally stable, with workers guaranteed the right to work without the obligation to join a union – a right not all that common in Midwestern cities.

Big national- and Fortune 500 companies that call Indianapolis home often provide their employees with a substantial range of benefits, opportunities, and career growth, while smaller start-ups in the tech and hospitality industries allow for more flexibility, if not as many benefits.

Cost of living in Indianapolis

Young professionals seem to be flocking to Indiana’s cosmopolitan capital, and for good reason. Indianapolis offers an exceptional quality of life – especially to professionals just starting out or young families – as the cost of living is remarkably low as compared to other nearby cities and particularly big coastal metros such as New York.

Accommodation, in particular, can be rented for a relative song. Prospective residents of Indy will be happy to know that the average housing expenses in the city are a whopping 19 percent lower than the national average. In fact, most everyday expenses are cheaper in Indianapolis than in other big US cities, while salaries are only fractionally lower than the national average.

Below we list some of the costs that expats or new arrivals to Indy will have to calculate before negotiating their salary and moving to the Circle City.


Cost of accommodation in Indianapolis

Of course, different areas will charge different prices. Downtown Indianapolis, with its shiny highrises and plush apartment living, is naturally more expensive than living slightly further away from the centre of town. Even so, living in downtown Indy is miles more affordable than living in downtown Washington DC, for instance – sometimes as much as 50 percent cheaper.

Most expats or Americans relocating to Indy from other parts of the country opt to rent rather than buy, at least at first. Downtown has a booming rental market where young professionals and new families rent – furnished or unfurnished – small-to-large luxury apartments, duplexes, condos and lofts. Neighbourhoods surrounding downtown offer a variety of more affordable single-family bungalows and houses, as well as bigger properties and mansions, with a vast price range.

In general, housing expenses are 19 percent lower than the American national average, which represents incredible value when considering the quality of accommodation on offer and the general quality of life in the city.


Cost of education in Indianapolis

Americans relocating from other cities will want to take some time to research the schools in Indianapolis to make sure their kids continue getting the standard of education that they’re used to, and at a comparable price. 

The city has a wide array of good public schools, which come and little to no cost – including several charter and magnet schools – that new arrivals may find suitable. The city also has myriad private schools that provide superior education, sport programmes and a raft of extracurriculars that public schools don’t, but whose tuition comes at a (often astronomical) cost.

Expats who would like for their children to continue the curricula they started in their home countries will want to check out the International School of Indiana, which offers students access to certified full-continuum International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes and immersion programmes. But again, the school’s fees are exorbitant, and expats will need to think carefully and budget accordingly before enrolling their children.


Cost of healthcare in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is known as a bit of a healthcare hub in the Midwest, with a range of superb hospitals. The city is divided into four rough quadrants, each quadrant dominated by one of the four healthcare systems operating in Indianapolis, the biggest of which is Clarian with three hospitals. Indy is also home to the state’s only medical school.

Although healthcare in Indianapolis is said to be around six percent cheaper than the American average, it is still fairly expensive and health plans would have to be considered carefully before expats move to the city. Insurance schemes are vast and varied, and require some research, but are ultimately a necessity to ensure the health of one’s family.

It’s worth negotiating with prospective employers to include medical insurance, or at least a contribution thereof, into one’s employment contract, as this will represent a considerable saving in monthly expenses.


Cost of transportation in Indianapolis

Indianapolis’s public transport system is not only efficient but quite affordable too. Standard buses and the relatively recently introduced rapid transit electric buses are most popular with commuters. Short and long term bus passes, or a tap-and-go phone app that is easily reloadable, are the most cost effective. Indy residents also make regular use of grab-and-go bicycles – these are also exceptionally reasonably-priced, and long-term passes are available.

Newcomers to Indianapolis may feel like they’ll be more comfortable exploring the city with their own set of wheels, particularly if they have long-distance commutes or for those eager to venture a bit further afield. The price of petrol (gas) isn’t expensive, especially when compared to bigger East Coast cities, and second-hand vehicles can be acquired at relatively little cost.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Indianapolis

New arrivals who like to treat themselves to the odd night out will find that Indianapolis caters to most tastes when it comes to fine eateries, fun bars and ritzy clubs. The cost of a night out will largely depend on a person’s inclination and preference, but those looking to be a bit more frugal will still be able to have fun in the Circle City. The month of January, in particular, is an optimal time to explore the city’s culinary offerings when, during Devour Indy, hundreds of restaurants design special three-course menus at discounted prices for residents to enjoy.

A lot of the city’s attractions are free of charge. Museums, parks, canal walks, monuments, memorials, galleries and more can often be visited at no or very little cost, and bars regularly have enticing specials for the thrifty at heart.

During the month of May, the city comes alive with the Indy 500 motor race, when restaurants, bars and other attractions have special rates for the weeks leading up to race day.


Cost of living in Indianapolis chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Indianapolis in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,250

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 780

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,570

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,200

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 1.40

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.65

Rice (1kg)

USD 3.35

Loaf of bread

USD 2

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 6.30

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 6.50

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 7

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.65

Cappuccino

USD 3.60

Bottle of local beer

USD 4.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 57

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.10

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 63.50

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 150

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.25

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.60

Accommodation in Indianapolis

Listed as the 17th most populous city in the US, Indianapolis is a sprawling metropolis located in the heart of the Midwest. In fact, the cultural and economic hub at the centre of Indiana is often referred to as the “Crossroads of America”. It therefore goes without saying that the influences in Indianapolis’s myriad districts are vast and varied, and the city boasts a huge diversity of neighbourhoods with housing in just about every price bracket.

It really comes down to the type of lifestyle that newcomers to the city would be interested in, and proximity to transport, schools, economic hubs, sport facilities, parks, and so on, should be considered before buying or renting a property.

The city has a vibrant, growing economy and more and more people seem to be flocking to the capital because of its surprisingly low cost of living, vibrant neighbourhoods bursting with cultural and culinary hotspots, and a fanatic sport scene. 


Types of accommodation in Indianapolis

People relocating to Indianapolis will be spoilt for choice, as the city boasts a wide array of housing options. It comes down to which type of community would suit new arrivals best, be it a younger, modern community in the hustle and bustle of downtown and close to public transport, a quiet community with resident programmes and convenient access to local shopping, or communities with more space and access to parks and fields.

Apartments

These are mainly self-contained units in larger buildings; referred to as "flats" in some parts of the world such as the UK.

Single-family homes

These are smaller stand-alone houses, usually on a small plot of land ideal for smaller families or those on a budget.

Bungalows

A low house having only one storey or, in some cases, upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows.

Duplexes

Duplexes are two or more living quarters housed in the same building.

Condominiums

These are ideal for newcomers to an area. It's a community of similar-styled homes with shared amenities, usually found in the vibey downtown area

Mansions

These are more prominent on the outskirts of the city. They're large houses with five or more rooms, pool, garden and various entertainment areas.


Finding accommodation in Indianapolis

Prospective residents of Indianapolis would do well to begin their search for accommodation before moving to the city. Google, as they say, is your friend. The internet is flush with property sites, forums, blogs and portals that will provide valuable localised information on the kind of Indianapolis neighbourhoods that would suit new arrivals best; short- and long-term rental listings; amenities; utilities; and more. A word of warning: when sites demand personal information or upfront payment, rather steer clear – even if they’re legitimate, there are enough free alternatives that can achieve the same objectives.

Of course, real estate agents are another avenue to pursue when searching for a new home and they’ll be able to share essential info on Indianapolis’s housing market, although, generally in the US, realtors tend to be more focused on the buying- than the rental market.

Once in Indianapolis, it’s worth picking up magazines and newspapers for local listings, or even just going for a drive around prospective neighbourhoods and keeping an eye out for “for rent” signs.


Renting accommodation in Indianapolis

New arrivals and expats in Indianapolis tend to rent properties, at least at first. Downtown has a booming rental market where young professionals and new families rent – furnished or unfurnished – small-to-large luxury apartments in high-rises, duplexes in charming brick-paved neighbourhoods, or more opulent condos and lofts. Neighbourhoods surrounding downtown offer a variety of more affordable single-family bungalows and houses, as well as bigger properties and mansions, with a vast price range.

Making an application

Once new arrivals have found a potential new home to their taste, it’s advised to tender an application as soon as possible, as there will likely be other interested parties. Prospective renters, and expats especially, will have to prove – often with bank statements – that they can indeed afford the lease, and agents or landlords will in all probability perform background- and credit checks.

It’s also prudent to have references and testimonials from current and former employers and former landlords. Where possible, it’s wise for expats to include with their application a reference letter from family members or friends currently residing in Indianapolis or elsewhere in the US.

Deposits

Indiana law makes provision for landlords to collect a one-time deposit from tenants, known as a security deposit. There is no limit in Indiana as to the maximum amount of a security deposit, but usually, it’s the equivalent of a month’s rent, and it’s customarily paid prior to the start of the lease along with the first month’s rent.

Deposits can be paid in the form of cash, cheque or money order, and an unusual law in Indiana allows for landlords to place a lien on a tenant’s motor vehicle instead of collecting a traditional security deposit. Deposits can’t be non-refundable, as it remains the property of the tenant, but landlords are allowed to make deductions from the deposit or keep the whole amount for various reasons, including to cover unpaid rent, for damages in excess of normal wear and tear, other breaches of the lease agreement, unpaid utility bills, or – if pre-arranged with tenant – to cover the last month’s rent. Indiana landlords must return security deposits, or the portion thereof that is owed to the tenant, within 45 days after the lease is terminated.

Leases

Lease agreements in Indianapolis are usually for a full year, but shorter-term leases are common too. At the termination of the lease, the landlord and tenant can either agree to renew the lease or end it. It is possible to terminate a lease early, but it is generally the prerogative of the landlord whether the tenant will be liable to pay the full amount of the agreed lease. If a replacement tenant can be found by the landlord, the previous tenant won’t be liable to continue paying off the lease.

Utilities

It is important for prospective tenants to scrutinise a lease agreement very carefully to ascertain which utilities are included in the rental cost before committing. Some utilities may be included, but often services such as water, electricity, gas, refuse, and internet are not part of the rental price and will be additional expenses for the tenant.

Areas and Suburbs in Indianapolis

The best places to live in Indianapolis

Indianapolis boasts a wonderful sprawl of neighbourhoods for just about every taste and budget. Those keen on a bustling urban environment should opt for one of the zones in the vibey downtown area, while families more inclined to some peace and quiet should look at the tranquil environs towards the leafy outer edges of the city. Below are a few areas that newcomers and expats may find agreeable.


Recommended neighbourhoods in Indianapolis

Downtown Indy. Chris Bowman. Flickr. 13990589584_cfbbb22e05_oDowntown

As in many major US cities, Indianapolis’s downtown area is rather expensive. The trade-off for the often exorbitant rental costs is that one has easy access to all manner of amenities and hot spots. Restaurants, cultural landmarks, sports stadiums, museums, bars and nightlife spots are within walking distance, and access to public transport abound. The Wholesale District is probably the most popular and exclusive, but there are multiple neighbourhoods in the downtown area, offering a variety of options, including luxury apartments in high-rise buildings, trendy lofts and lavish condos.

Fountain Square

Just south-east of downtown, the ethnically and socially diverse Fountain Square is a haven for artistic types, so new arrivals and expats of that inclination will fit in here really well. With something of a small-town feel in a big city, the little neighbourhood resembles a European village to an extent with its town square and central fountain. It’s a vibrant suburb, with eclectic eateries, striking architecture and a range of attractions and entertainment, particularly visual, literary, and performance art. Virginia Avenue is a stunning walk particularly for foodies looking to indulge in a variety of cuisines. Fountain Square also has easy interstate access for commuters.

Bates-Hendricks. Nyttend. Wikimedia CommonsBates-Hendricks

East of downtown lies the exciting and up-and-coming neighbourhood of Bates-Hendricks. The little suburb has a great location, close enough to downtown for a walk or short bike-ride, but also just far enough to eliminate most of its noisy bustle. Characterised by turn-of-the-century homes and unique buildings, and a strong sense of community, Bates-Hendricks boasts everything from modest single-family bungalows to two-story living. Young professionals have been flocking to this growing suburb over the last few years, mainly owing to its reasonable rental prices and relatively low cost of living. Its proximity to downtown attractions and restaurants makes it an appealing option for newcomers and expats looking to get by without a car. Bicycle lanes also make for easy commuting about town.

Broad Ripple

Popular among millennials, Broad Ripple is a fun neighbourhood in the north of Indianapolis. Dotted with many unique and varied restaurants, cafés, and bars, the suburb also has an artistic feel to it that attracts young and old. Young families and professionals new to Indianapolis will find plenty of housing options in the forms of single-family bungalows, smaller, older apartments, and lofts. Small local businesses abound, and newcomers will find breweries, comedy clubs and bars around every corner.

Riverside

To the north-east of downtown Indianapolis nestles the verdant little neighbourhood of Riverside. As you may have guessed, a large portion of Riverside has frontage on the White River, and the suburb predominantly consists of bungalows and American foursquare-type homes (basically square, boxy-designed homes, usually two-and-one-half stories high, with four large, boxy rooms on each a floor, a center dormer, and a large front verandah with wide stairs). It’s a recreational neighbourhood, with an abundance of greenery including golf courses, fields, and a rolling eighty-acre park. While mostly residential, the southern portion of Riverside is a mixture of commercial and industrial properties. It’s also steeped in history with many landmarks, including Indianapolis’s oldest golf course (Riverside Golf Course), its first zoo, and the Riverside Amusement Park.

Woodruff Place. Nyttend. Wikimedia commonsWoodruff Place

A mile east of downtown is the stunning suburb of Woodruff Place. New arrivals and expats in Indianapolis looking for more space and bigger homes will want to browse here. The neighbourhood is known for its breathtaking Victorian-era homes and other classic and charming architecture. It’s the perfect area for those who like walks and bicycle rides in lush surrounds, but who’d also like easy accessibility to the restaurants and other attractions of downtown.

Healthcare in Indianapolis

The city of Indianapolis is considered something of a healthcare hub in the Midwest. New arrivals to Indy and expats will be glad to know that the metro is covered by no less than four major healthcare systems namely Community Health Network (Community), Indianapolis University Health (IU Health), Franciscan Alliance’s Franciscan Health (Franciscan), and Ascension’s St. Vincent Health (St. Vincent), all with flagship centres in downtown Indy. 

The city is also home to the state’s only medical school and the national headquarters of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Although healthcare in Indianapolis is slightly more affordable than the American average, it is still quite expensive and health plans would have to be considered carefully before expats move to the city. Insurance schemes are vast and varied, and require some research, but are ultimately a necessity to ensure the health of one’s family.

The city is divided into four rough quadrants, each one dominated by one of the four major healthcare systems, which in turn oversees a number of hospitals. Below we list the major hospitals in Indianapolis.


Hospitals in Indianapolis

Indiana University Health Medical Center

www.iuhealth.org
Address: 550 N University Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Franciscan Health Indianapolis

www.franciscanhealth.org/healthcare-facilities/franciscan-health-indianapolis-9
Address: 8111 S. Emerson Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46237

Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital

www.healthcare.ascension.org/st_vincent/indianapolis‎
‎Address: 2001 W 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46260

Community Hospital East

www.ecommunity.com/locations/community-hospital-east
Address: 1500 N Ritter Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46219

Community Hospital North

www.ecommunity.com/locations/community-hospital-north
Address: 7150 Clearvista Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46256

Community Hospital South

www.ecommunity.com/locations/community-hospital-south
Address: 1402 E County Line Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46227

Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital

www.eskenazihealth.edu
Address: 720 Eskenazi Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Education and schools in Indianapolis

New arrivals to Indianapolis will need to take a few factors into account when choosing schools for their children, including proximity of the school to their places of residence and work, the standard of teaching, the type of school, and, of course, tuition fees.

The schools of Indianapolis, as in the rest of the US, are divided into three levels: elementary school (pre-school to grade 5); middle school (grade 6 to 8); and high school (grade 9 to 12).

Parents will also have to decide whether to enrol their children in a public school, private school, or a private special-needs programme, and whether to obtain the services of a tutor.


Public schools in Indianapolis

The quality of public schooling in Indianapolis varies, and parents will have to explore options thoroughly before committing to a school.

Eleven public school districts serve residents of Indianapolis, the biggest of which is Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) serving more than 30,000 students, making it the second largest public school district in Indiana. The 11 districts operate a range of traditional public schools, magnet and charter schools.

Admission to public schools in Indianapolis is usually based on zones – students living in a local area may enrol at the school in that area at little to no cost, but if students wish to attend schools outside their zone they may be required to submit academic records (of a certain level), references, and perhaps even pay tuition.

Magnet schools

Magnet schools are classified as public schools, but with specialised courses or curricula, and typically offer bespoke subject matter in the fields of science, technology, engineering, maths, performing arts, or languages. The term “magnet” refers to how these schools typically draw students from across normal boundaries such as school zones. There are magnet schools at elementary, middle, and high school levels, and these are primarily state-funded, but they do receive additional outside funding and aren’t bound by US curricula and are instead able to develop their own.

Charter schools

Charter schools are considered semi-autonomous public schools that receive public funds. Charter schools in Indianapolis operate under a contract with public school districts, which details how the school will be organised and managed, methods of assessment, goals, and programmes. Charter schools do need to follow a state-mandated curriculum, although there is more flexibility as to how it is designed, and, similar to magnet schools, students may choose to enrol in a charter school regardless of where they live and whether they fall in a particular school zone.


Private schools in Indianapolis

Newcomers to Indianapolis may choose to enrol their children in a private school. These generally provide a higher quality of education, better facilities, advanced placement- and honours programmes, superior sport programmes, and a wider range of extra-curriculars than public schools. Student to teacher ratios are also much lower in private schools, with the average in Indianapolis being around 13:1.

Private education does come at a cost though, and parents will need to factor the often exorbitant tuition fees into their budget, along with additional expenses associated with private schooling, such as uniforms, books, field trips, and other extracurricular-related fees.

Indianapolis has more than 120 private schools of differing standards and price ranges, serving over 27,000 students. The average tuition fee is upwards of USD 8,000, and the average acceptance rate is around 80 percent.


Most private schools in Indianapolis (more than two thirds) are religiously affiliated, generally Roman Catholic and Christian.


International schools in Indianapolis

Expats relocating to Indianapolis may prefer to have their children continue the curriculum of their home country. One institution in Indianapolis, the International School of Indiana (ISI), offers students access to certified full-continuum International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, and immersion programmes for its students in Spanish, French, and Mandarin, with students picking up a third language in grade 6.

Founded in 1994, ISI offers high-quality education for three-year-olds through grade 12s, and serves more than 600 students. The school plays a vital role in the increasingly global business community of Indianapolis, and provides an environment where students can associate with other expat children.


Tutors in Indianapolis

Whether your child is having trouble comprehending grade 4 science, or whether they require some help tackling university entrance exams, private tuition can be of great help, and Indianapolis has no shortage of good tutors.

Schools will often be able to recommend reputable private tutors in the field that extra help is required, or parents could approach any of the many tutoring companies operating in Indianapolis. Web portals could also point parents in the direction of legitimate and vetted tutors, but they are advised to do thorough research on the company before admitting their child into their care.

Tutors can be a great source of mentoring, confidence-building, and individualised learning, and sessions can be conducted at a learning centre, at your home, or via video call.
 


Special needs education in Indianapolis

Indianapolis law stipulates that each local school corporation must make available special education and related services to all eligible children ages 3 through 21. This law guarantees all students with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education designed to meet their individual needs. It also offers protection for the rights of students with disabilities and their parents.

Public and private schools in Indianapolis make provision for special needs students, including support structures and programmes for children with mental, developmental, behavioural, or physical disabilities. If the disability is too severe for the child to attend a public or private school, Indianapolis has several special education centres and facilities geared towards children with special needs.

Lifestyle in Indianapolis

Known as the Crossroads of America because of the high number of highways and rail routes that meet here, Indianapolis is a well-visited city with a diverse culture. The capital and biggest city in Indiana, Indianapolis consistently ranks among the cleanest and safest cities in the US, with a vibrant downtown, and buzzing arts-, culture-, and sports scene.

The people of Indianapolis, often referring to themselves as “Hoosiers”, know how to have fun. A typical sports-crazed city, Indianapolis has a brimming sports calendar of just about every code, including the biggest event of the year (and the largest single-day sporting event in the world), the extremely popular Indy 500.

It’s not all about blood, sweat and high octane though, and culture vultures and foodies will also be able to get their fix in the Circle City. Indy is dotted with a variety of museums, galleries, theatres, unique bars and breweries, exciting eateries, and artisanal shops. Those who like to get outdoors won’t be disappointed either as the city is blessed with plenty of tree-lined parks and fields.


Sports in Indianapolis

Home of the Colts (NFL) and Indiana Pacers (NBA), plus a highly celebrated college sports programme, not to mention the annual Indianapolis 500 motor race, sports fans are never bored in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500 for short) is the world’s oldest currently operational automobile race, the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, and the pride of Indiana. It’s held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, lovingly referred to as the “Brickyard”, in an enclave suburb of Indianapolis, aptly called Speedway. An open-wheel, open-cockpit formula colloquially known as "Indy Car Racing", the Indy 500 is one of the most famous and watched races in the world, only second to the Monaco Grand Prix and perhaps the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It attracts upwards of 250,000 people on race day, and is an irresistible spectacle of speed, daring, and danger.

Those expats or new arrivals from other states with a keen interest in sports not competed on a race track will be thrilled to know that Indianapolis is home to six professional sports franchises: the Indianapolis Colts (American football), Indiana Pacers (men’s basketball), Indiana Fever (women’s basketball), Indianapolis Indians (baseball), Indy Eleven (football – or soccer), and the Indy Fuel (ice hockey). It’s also the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Basically, if you’re into sports, Indy’s the place to be.


Arts and culture in Indianapolis

Contrary to belief, Indianapolis is not just for petrol heads and sport fanatics. The city is rich in history, art, and culture, from tiny bespoke galleries in districts such as Broad Ripple to majestic museums of just about every persuasion. From street performers and buskers in Fountain Square, to historic theatres on Mass Avenue graced with symphony orchestras and Broadway shows.

Besides the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an 8-mile urban-planned pedestrian and bike pathway connecting neighbourhoods and cultural districts, Indy also has one of the most walkable downtowns of any major city. New arrivals hungry for a bit of culture will love taking in a play or a live show, shopping for hand-made collectibles, sipping on local brews, sitting down to world-class meals, or simply marvelling at the city’s charming architecture and soaking up the sights.

Downtown is further characterised by sidewalk cafes; street art and graffiti murals; quaint boutiques; a buzzing night-life scene with pumping clubs and cosy pubs; and stunning greenways and parks.

The Canal and White River State Park is a particular highlight. One could go for a run, bike-ride or relaxing stroll, enjoy an afternoon at the ballpark, browse the Indiana History Center or Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, or even enjoy an outdoor concert.


Eating out in Indianapolis

Much of the Midwest seems to be dominated by chain restaurants, but happily Indianapolis has, in the last few years, undergone something of a food renaissance and has managed to climb to the top of several “best food cities” list in the US, including being named the most “Underrated Food City in America” by Condé Nast Traveler

Downtown is chock-full of world-class eateries catering to all tastes, from superb steak houses, farm-to-fork establishments and vegan offerings, to cajun, creole, and Italian eateries, excellent local burger joints, and delis that serve up life-changing sandwiches. Most local restaurants in the city are eco-conscious and aimed at sustainability, highlighting seasonal ingredients and fresh produce. A lot of pubs also serve up surprisingly delicious and innovative grub alongside vintage cocktails and exceptional brews.

A local and traditional Hoosier speciality that keen foodies will want to try is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Rarely seen outside of Indiana borders, this delicious creation consists of a cutlet of pork tenderloin that has been pounded to different degrees, breaded or battered, fried, and served on a bun topped with onions and mayo, and whatever else the specific establishment chooses to add.

See and Do in Indianapolis

New arrivals to Indianapolis will have an absolute ball exploring their adopted city, as there is a wonderful array of things to see and do in this surprisingly bustling and cosmopolitan Midwest metro.

The majority of Indy residents, or Hoosiers, may be racing diehards, but the city has worked hard to increase the cultural value beyond the famous speedway. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an 8-mile urban-planned pedestrian and bike pathway, connects neighborhoods and cultural districts, and offers access to multiple attractions including museums, galleries, public art, eateries, and shops along the route.

Most attractions won’t cost an arm and a leg either, so newcomers will be able to get to know their new city and soak up the sights quite affordably. Below are a few highlights of the Circle City that expats will want to check out first.


Attractions in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The most celebrated car race in the US, the Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500 for short) is the world’s oldest currently operational automobile race, and the biggest single-day sporting event in the world. It’s held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway seven miles out of town, lovingly referred to as the “Brickyard” owing to the fact that it was originally paved with bricks (still used to mark the finishing line). The circuit is a 2.5-mile oval track and the race is 500 miles. The Indy 500 is the biggest day on any true Hoosier’s calendar, and it attracts upwards of 250,000 people on race day.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a good shout for a fun, educational family day out. Aimed at youngsters, the museum is packed with interesting and interactive displays on a range of topics related to transportation, culture, science, and archaeology. A huge favourite with the kids, of course, is the Dinosphere exhibit, which recreates the world of dinosaurs, and includes a real Tyrannosaurus Rex bone, as well as a display of the recently discovered species named Dracorex Hogwartsia in honour of Harry Potter’s famous school for wizards. Other interactive exhibits include space travel, science, pop culture, toys, and music.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Housed in the lovely Newfields Park north of the city centre is the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The highly celebrated museum consists of four pavilions, namely the Krannert Pavilion (American art from pre-Columbian times to the present day, and Asian art), the Hulman Pavilion (from Baroque to Neo-Impressionism, and the Eiteljorg Gallery of African and South Pacific Art), the Clowes Pavilion (medieval and Renaissance art, 18th-century British works, and watercolours by Turner), and the Lilly Pavilion (British and American furniture and German porcelain). All in all, a fun day out for art lovers.

Eagle Creek Park and Nature Reserve

One of the largest municipal parks in the US, Eagle Creek Park and Nature Reserves covers a total area of 5,300 acres of land and water. A popular destination in the summer, the park rents out all sorts of watercraft at the marina, and visitors can even take sailing lessons. There’s a big playground for kids, treetop zip lines, beach volleyball, and a 36-hole golf course at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Keen anglers will also have a great time casting for walleye and largemouth bass. The park also hosts regular summer concerts.

Monument Circle

History buffs will enjoy a closer inspection of Monument Circle in downtown Indy, where the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial has been standing since 1902 and commemorates the lives lost during the Civil War. Just north of the monument is the Mausoleum and Memorial Hall, while the large Circle Center Mall can be found three blocks south. The Indiana World War Memorial is another interesting site – the Shrine Room on the third floor being a particular highlight, its construction comprised of building materials from around the world symbolising peace and unity.

White River State Park

Smack in the middle of downtown Indy is the sprawling White River State Park. A welcome solace from the scurry of the city centre, the park boasts peaceful greenery and leafy shade. It’s also home to an assortment of top tourist attractions including two museums, a zoo, a baseball park, an IMAX theatre, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial. The highly popular Canal Walk is a three-mile pedestrian area that runs from the park to 11th street in the north, used by runners, cyclists, or those out for a relaxing stroll.

Eiterjorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art

Located at the entrance of White River State Park, this museum houses a large collection assembled by Indy businessman Harrison Eiteljorg. Its displays range from paintings and sculptures by landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Thoman Moran, to pictures and sculptures by artists such as Charles M. Russell and Frederick S. Remington. It also boasts extensive works of the Taos Society of Artists, and Indian art from all over North America.

Indianapolis Zoo

Also located in White River State Park, the zoo contains several habitats including an aquarium and huge botanical gardens that cover over three acres of permanent and changing gardens with flora from around the world. Opened in 1964, the zoo contributes significantly to worldwide conservation and research and provides specially created and spacious environs for a massive variety of animals.

Rhythm! Discovery Center

A delight for musos and music lovers alike, the Rhythm! Discovery Center is a percussion museum that exhibits all aspects of percussion, from its historical significance in shaping modern music to the actual physics of sound waves. It also displays music artefacts from around the world, including some bizarre and long-forgotten instruments. The museum has an array of interactive exhibits, including the fun Groove Space, where one can play hundreds of instruments. A myriad of educational programmes and concerts are also hosted here.

What's on in Indianapolis

With a host of exciting attractions throughout the year, newcomers to Indianapolis will never be bored. The Circle City has a packed calendar of fun events for every age and taste, from food and art festivals to motor-racing extravaganzas. There’s something to look forward to every month, but the month of May really sets Indy abuzz, when the Indianapolis 500 comes to town and brings with it a raft of fringe attractions.

There’s always a vibe in the city, it’s just a matter of finding the right vibe for you. Below is a list of some of Indy's best annual events.


Annual events in Indianapolis

Devour Indy (January)

Every January, hundreds of the city’s restaurants design special three-course menus at discounted prices for residents to enjoy. There are no coupons or tickets required; keen foodies should simply check out the Devour Indy website for the list of participating restaurants, pick their favourite, make a reservation, ask for the Devour Indy menu on arrival, and tuck in.

Museum by Moonlight (February)

In February, the famous Children’s Museum of Indianapolis hosts an annual extravaganza exclusively for “big kids” (21 and over), with all proceeds going towards the Children’s Museum Fund which ensures that all children and families, regardless of income, can experience the museum. Visitors are in for a great time exploring all five floors of fun and interactive exhibits, enjoying a few drinks, and indulging in free food samples from local restaurants.

317 Day (March)

With the city’s area code being 317, it’s no wonder Indy celebrates St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) like few other cities. Needless to say, the beer flows on 317 Day, and local restaurants and bars often have specials of 31.7 percent or discounts of $3.17. Join in for the parade, canal dyeing, Blarney Bash, and more.

Indy Film Fest (April)

One of the Midwest’s fastest-growing and most-watched film festivals, the Indy Film Fest is a 10-day celebration of cinema, attracting filmmakers from all over the world. Movie buffs have the chance to experience over 100 short and independent features, documentaries and world cinema films exploring a broad range of genres. These are shown repeatedly in three theatres at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.

500 Festival (May)

Indianapolis is the place to be in May. With over 50 events and programmes, among them the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon (which includes a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), the JP Morgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day (Indiana’s largest outdoor festival for kids), the 500 Festival Memorial Service (paying homage to fallen heroes on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial), all finally culminating in the biggest motor race in America, the Indy 500. Race day sees over 250,000 spectators at the biggest single-day sporting event in the world.

Indy Ultimate Adventure Race (June)

Indianapolis is a sports-crazed city so newcomers who are partial to sport will fit right in. This one-of-a-kind adventure race takes advantage of all of Indy’s famous sport venues, and lets competitors shoot a layup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, kick a field goal at Lucas Oil Stadium, run the bases at Victory Field, and kick a goal at Carroll Stadium. The race also incorporates some of Indy’s other famous landmarks, monuments, and cultural institutions, and makes for an unforgettable day out.

Fourth of July (July)

Indianapolis takes Independence Day celebrations seriously, with a fun-filled four-day weekend. Newcomers to the city will revel in a variety of celebrations, from touring the largest collection of monuments and memorials outside of Washington DC, and taking in a baseball game at Victory Field to watching the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra perform at Conner Prairie and enjoying the Donatos Downtown Freedom Blast at the Indiana War Memorial grounds.

Indiana State Fair (August)

A traditional summer celebration, the annual Indiana State Fair has been entertaining visitors from far and wide for 160 years. The fair attracts huge crowds with delicious eats, animal interactions, free performances, games, and more than two weeks of thrilling events and programmes that cater for all tastes.

Penrod Arts Fair (September)

Known as “Indiana’s Nicest Day”, this arts fair on the lovely grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art actually spans a full weekend showcasing more than 300 artists, with six stages of entertainment, performances by over 75 arts-related non-profits, and a large kids area. Beer lovers will also enjoy sampling a few brews at the Indiana Craft Beer Garden.

Circle of Lights (November)

You know it’s time to get into the holiday spirit by the time Indianapolis's ultimate tradition, Circle of Lights, rolls around. More than 100,000 people gather on the Friday following Thanksgiving to enjoy holiday performances in the lead up to the lighting of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, when 4,784 lights are lit to ring in the holiday season.

Big Ten Football Championship (December)

As mentioned, Indy is a sports-mad city, and football forms a huge part of the sports calendar, culminating in the Big Ten – the ultimate football conference in the Midwest, which Indy plays host to every year. Football fans look forward to the event all year, when the best of the Midwest compete at the Lucas Oil Stadium for Big Ten bragging rights.

Getting around in Indianapolis

Getting from A to B in Indianapolis is simple and fairly painless. Although the city has no subway rail system (trains do pass through Indianapolis, but they’re mostly geared towards interstate travel), the IndyGo is an affordable, user-friendly and super efficient bus system that services most of the city with both regular buses and rapid transit electric buses. Apart from buses, Indianapolis residents travel by foot, car, bikes, dockless electric scooters, taxis and ride-hailing services. It’s important for new arrivals to do the necessary research on public transportation options before arriving in the city in order to determine the most suitable choice for their location, mobility, and budget.


Public transport in Indianapolis

Buses

The most common way of getting around Indianapolis is by bus. The IndyGo offers more than 30 fixed routes that criss-cross the city, including the Red Line rapid transit electric buses which traverse a 13-mile north/south route from Broad Ripple through downtown to the University of Indianapolis campus.

To board an IndyGo bus, one will need exact change for a single two-hour ride (including transfers); or one could purchase one-day- or seven-day bus passes; or, to avoid the admin of acquiring bus passes or dealing with change, one could get MyKey, a tap-and-go reloadable card purchasable at any ticket-vending machine (MyKey is also available as a downloadable app for digital access).

Grab-and-go bicycles

In a push to encourage bicycle commuting, the city now offers over 50 convenient bicycle stations and hundreds of bicycles as part of a grab-and-go system. Riders either purchase an annual pass that allows for unlimited 30-minute rentals, or they pay a minimal fee per ride. Passes or one-off rides can be acquired at any bikeshare station kiosk or via the Pacers Bikeshare app. Riders may pick up and drop off bicycles at any Pacers dock space, and the service is available all day, every day.

Electric scooters

Similarly, one can also make use of dockless scooters. Newcomers to the city will find these useful for short local commutes, or to cover the short distances between IndyGo stops. To rent one of these, riders must download an app first (Lime, Bird, and Spin all currently operate in Indianapolis), and then scan a QR code to unlock a vehicle. Rides are usually calculated by time of use, until the rider stops the timer via the app. 

Users may only ride on streets and in bike lanes, but never on sidewalks, and must ensure that they never park in restricted areas or block sidewalk ramps, private driveways, or parking spaces, as they will be liable to a fine.


Driving in Indianapolis

Even though Indianapolis is quite easily navigable by public transport and ride-hailing services, new arrivals and expats may feel more comfortable with their own set of wheels, particularly if their commutes are over longer distances.

To be able to drive in Indianapolis, expats must have a valid driver’s licence. They’re allowed to drive legally for one year using a valid driver’s licence from their home country together with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). If expats intend to stay in Indianapolis for longer than six months, or mean to purchase a vehicle, they will have to acquire an Indiana driver’s licence. Note that International Driver’s Permits aren’t issued in the US to nonresidents, so will have to be obtained in one’s home country before travelling to Indianapolis.

After purchasing a new or second-hand vehicle, drivers in Indianapolis – or anywhere in the US – are required to have their licence, car registration, and proof of vehicle insurance with them at all times when using the road.


Ride-hailing services in Indianapolis

Taxis are available throughout Indianapolis: one can flag these down, but it’s recommended to phone and book taxis in advance. The city also has a bevy of digital ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft (download the apps for these and follow a few easy steps to set up an account), and one could also arrange shuttle buses and limo services for private rides or carpools.


Walking in Indianapolis

Residents of Indianapolis enjoy exploring the city on foot, particularly the downtown area, which is dotted with restaurants, bars and other gems that are often only noticed when walking. If new arrivals are able to find a new home within the confines of downtown and happen to secure employment in downtown too, they are often able to walk to the office, perhaps just with a quick bus transfer in between. The city is generally safe for walking (be vigilant after dark), and has a bouquet of lovely parks and fields for running, dog walking, or just to breathe in a bit of fresh air.