Indiana is kind of amazing, just plain and simple. While some ignorant people may call the place a “fly-over state,” we have to respectfully and firmly disagree with them. This state is certainly more than lots of corn fields, the big Indy 500 race, and being called “Hoosiers”.
It’s also the perfect place to relax on the Wabash river, was the temporary home to the notorious John Dillinger, is the best place to get sugar cream pie, and is home to countless festivals, historical landmarks, and top-notch eateries. Where exactly are the best places to call home in the state, though?
We’re only too happy to have that ball in our court. The Movoto Real Estate Blog decided to figure out where the best spots are, so we grabbed some numbers, calculated the results, and came up with a top 10 ranking of the very best places to live in the state. Those places were:
1. City of Carmel
2. Town of Fishers
3. Town of Zionsville
4. City of Noblesville
5. City of Jasper
6. City of Westfield
7. City of Columbus
8. Town of Munster
9. City of Greenwood
9. City of Crown Point
If you don’t see your favorite city or hometown on the list, don’t worry. There’s a chart at the bottom of this article that will show you just how your chosen location did by our rankings.
For example, if you’re wondering where Indianapolis or Fort Wayne placed, we’ve still got you covered. If you’re wondering just where we got this ranking from, we’d be happy to tell you that too in this next section, assuming we’re not taking you away from a basketball or football game.
Our Cardinal Criteria
We do everything strictly by the numbers in order to get our results. To create a Big Deal List like this one, we collect data from sources including the U.S. Census (2010)and business listings. In this case, we collected data on every place in Indiana with a population of at least 10,000—a total of 76 places—in seven different criteria. Those criteria were:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
From there, we ranked the places from 1 to 76 in each criterion, with one being the best possible score. We then averaged rankings into one Big Deal Score. The place with the average score closest to one was named our winner.
If you’re interested, you can even read a detailed explanation of our methodology for these rankings.
Let’s talk about those scores right now, as well as what made the other places in our top 10 so outstanding.
This city that calls itself “The Partnership for Tomorrow” is the No. 1 place in Indiana for today. People looking to find a great working city need look no further than this 79,191 population location.
The employment rate ranked third on our overall list and the median household income was a staggering $101,494. The crime rate placed fourth for that criterion and there are plenty of amenities to indulge in, such as Joe’s Butcher Shop and Mitchell’s Fish Market. The housing and rent prices were high to reflect all these great numbers and the desire people have to live there.
Though the numbers pretty much speak for themselves, there’s more to Carmel than a great working atmosphere and places to shop. There are a ton of biking opportunities, including the Monon Trail and a Japanese garden where visitors can relax and enjoy tea. For those interested in more cultural pursuits, there is an arts and design district within the city that hosts festivals during certain times during the year as well as a variety of performance venues.
The town of Fishers finishes is home to 76,794 locals. If you’re thinking that’s a pretty big town, you’re absolutely right, and the place will become an official second-class city in 2015.
If you’re worried about feeling safe, there’s no need in this little town, as it boasted the lowest crime rate on our list at only 921 crimes per 100,000 people annually. The employment rate ranked third, tied with first place Carmel at only 6.1 percent unemployed, and the median household income was a very high $89,407.
For those not into more modern luxuries, Fishers plays host every year to a Renaissance faire. The event features jousting, eclectic shopping, an art show, music, and more. For something a little less wild but still very fun, the Fishers Freedom Festival happens each June and offers food, games, and a big fireworks display at the end of the night.
Zionsville’s downtown area is designed to have a village feel, consisting of small shops, a brick paved road, and restaurants for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. There’s a fireworks show every Fourth of July, high school sports and arts, and the whole place feels like an anachronistic little town. It’s no wonder at all that it had the best quality of life on our entire list.
Small town living has other advantages, too. The crime rate ranked second lowest on our list and the weather is tied for No. 1. Employment is decent, and the median household income is the highest for that criterion.
The housing costs were very high here, but that just means that people know how great this spot is and are willing to pay what it’s worth. While there may be fewer amenities than some larger places, locals can still enjoy spots like My Sugar Pie and Big Dave’s Deli.
Noblesville sits regally at No. 4 with some solid stats across the board. The crime rate is low, the quality of life is good, there are plenty of amenities, and the employment rate is 93.9 percent.
Beyond that, the median income is fairly high while the rent and home prices are slightly lower than the top three places on our list. That makes this place a pretty sweet deal.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Noblesville, either. There are several golf courses, a performance theater, a plethora of parks, and many different historical sites to visit. Shopaholics won’t get bored, either, considering the Hamilton Town Center opened in 2008.
Jasper is simply a worker’s paradise. Its 15,038 residents are fortunate to enjoy an unemployment rate of only 5.9 percent and the commute time was a very low 15 minutes, the lowest on our list.
The crime rate here was quite low, and ranked third for that criterion. While the temperatures can be a bit touchy at times, the many amenities—including the bar Snaps—can be enjoyed all year round regardless of the weather.
For more seasonal events, locals can look to Strassenfest, a massive festival celebrating the German heritage of the city and it’s sister village of Pfaffenweiler, Germany. Events include a polka show, beer and sausage tastings, music, and four days of street festival fun.
The unemployment in this charming place was low at only 6.1 percent, and the summer temperature ranking ranked a very impressive third for that criteria.
Workers are paid what they deserve for their long commute times, at a median household income of $86,360. The crime rate here is quite low, and the quality of life is decently high, meaning that this is one safe and comfy little place to reside.
Sports fan may find that Grand Park is the right kinda place for them. Opening soon, it has all sorts of sports fields, from baseball to rugby, and two indoor facilities as well. It’s intended to be a hub of activity and fun in this fairly small city.
Columbus knows how to flaunt its style. Besides having some truly amazing architecture, this city has lots to keep its 44,061 residents entertained.
Locals can enjoy ice skating at the Hamilton Center Ice Arena or enjoy one of the many lovely parks during sunnier months. People who want something fun and interesting to watch can drop in on a roller derby tournament at Skateland or take in a cricket match at Ceraland Park.
Just by the numbers, Columbus still looked like a really great place to live. The employment rate was high and the commute time low, which means workers can comfortably get to their jobs. The air quality was the best on our list, which makes this city a real breath of fresh air, and the average summer temperature is 73 degrees. If you like to be active, working, and enjoy some more eclectic pastimes, Columbus might just be the right city for you.
The sixth place quality of life in Munster was just one of the reasons the town is so high on our list, but it’s a big one.
The median household income was high, the taxes were very low, and the air quality ranked fourth for that criterion. The crime rate is also quite low at only 1,973 crimes per 100,000 people, which means this is a very safe and homey place to call your own.
Car enthusiasts will be happy to find that Munster hosts a large car and motorcycle show each year, which is free to the public. Wine lovers can look forward to The Grape Escape in July, where locals can listen to live music, sample a wide variety of wines, and enjoy local foods. We wonder if they’ll serve muenster cheese?
This decently sized city made a strong showing across the board, with a high quality of life ranking, a decent tax rank, and a high employment rate. More than that, the amenities scored 14th for that ranking, and the air quality was very good, so this place is fun as well as healthy.
Each year in July, this city puts on a Freedom Festival of exciting proportions. There are street vendors, live music, games, kids events, and, of course, a fireworks show at the end of it all. If you’re in the mood for good eats and it’s not the time of year for festival food, you can always try a little something sweet at Mrs. Curl Ice Cream.
9. Crown Point
Tied with Greenwood is little Crown Point. With only 27,317 residents, this is one of the smaller places on our list but still has a ton to offer.
The taxes here were very low, the crime rate was only 1,729 crimes per 100,000 people, and the median income placed 12th overall for that criterion. The air quality here was also quite good and was tied at fourth with Munster. In fact, the weather in general was good here, with average summer temperatures of 71 degrees.
Speaking of fun, Crown Point is home to the Lake County Fair, the second largest county fair in Indiana. The 10-day event has games, horse shows, a monster truck competition, local food, and more, and it all takes place in a historic setting. Historic settings seem to be a theme in this place, considering there are several museums and historic landmarks scattered throughout the city.
The Who’s Who Of The Hoosier State
Just as there are some high-flying Hoosier cities, there are are also some low-lying ones. Connersville finished at No. 76, last on the list of places we analyzed because of high taxes, few amenities, low quality of life, and high unemployment rate. New Castle dropped its defenses and sat at No. 76, mostly because of a high crime rate and low employment ranking. Finishing up our bottom three was Martinsville, which may have decent weather and employment, but ultimately lost out when it comes to crime rate, tax rank, and total amenities.
Overlooking those few blemishes, places like Carmel show what an interesting, fun, and worthwhile experience it can be to put down roots in Indiana.