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. On a bigger scale, Indianapolis's overall cost of living ranked 99th out of a 239 cities worldwide, making it a great and rather cost-effective city to live and work in.

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 farther 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, bespoke 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 April 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,200

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 750

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,200

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.60

Rice (1kg)

USD 3.50

Loaf of bread

USD 2.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 6

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 6.20

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 6.20

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.70

Cappuccino

USD 4

Bottle of local beer

USD 4

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

USD 53

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.10

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 58

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 165

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 3

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.65

Expat Health Insurance

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