Best Cities for Young Families in Indiana

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Best Cities for Young Families in Indiana

Quality of life matters to all future homeowners, but young families in Indiana may have tighter finances that limit their options. And some couples may be trying to find the best place to buy their first house at the same time they are preparing for their first child.

NerdWallet crunched the data for the second year in a row to help people find the “Best Cities for Young Families.” Our analysis considers several factors:

    • Home affordability. We looked at median home value and selected monthly homeowner costs to prioritize affordable communities.
    • Prosperity and growth. Looking at current and past family incomes, we calculated the income of residents, as well as the projected long-term growth of each city.
    • Quality of education. We looked at ratings from GreatSchools to find the best schools for young families.
    • Family friendliness. This year, we added a new component to our methodology — the percentage of families with school-age children and the poverty rate for young children. This measure helps determine if an area is not only affordable for families, but if it is also a healthy one for children.

NerdWallet crunched the data for 109 places in Indiana —cities, towns and census-designated places. Only places with over 5,000 residents were analyzed. To see the full data set, click here.

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Our analysis of Indiana revealed some trends:

Capital communities. Sprawling out in every direction, seven of 10 of our top cities were around Indianapolis.

Home values are high. Our methodology favors affordable communities, and in Indiana, we found that the high quality of life offset higher housing prices.

Larger cities dominate. In Midwest communities, we often find that smaller cities are the best cities for young families. But in Indiana, the average population for our top 10 cities is 32,000.

Best Cities for Young Families in Indiana

1. Fishers

Residents in Fishers will find highly rated schools balanced with recreational activities. Families can watch free movies in the fall, go to a “Glow in the Park” party in the Nickel Plate District and check out the annual pumpkin festival. With a median home value of $209,700, housing costs are slightly above Indiana’s average, but our data found Fishers is worth the investment for families focused on quality of life.

2. Westfield

This family friendly community, which has the highest percentage of families with children in the state, is within commuting distance of Indianapolis. In Westfield, family income has grown to just over $100,000 in the past 15 years.

3. Granger

Granger, a census-designated place outside South Bend — home of Notre Dame University — is a middle-income community of just under 30,000. Granger has a number of families with children, and a zero percent poverty rate for young children. The 51.9% of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree is twice as high as the state average, which suggests that Notre Dame’s faculty make Granger their home. The median family income here is $102,000, and the public schools have earned an 8 out of 10 ranking at GreatSchools.

4. Brownsburg

With its location 17 miles outside Indianapolis, Brownsburg is a draw for residents seeking an affordable mid-size community near a large metro area. The median home value of $144,100 makes Brownsburg the second-most affordable place in our top 10, yet the poverty rate for young families is low. The town features several parks, including Arbuckle Acres, Williams Park and Stephens Park, and along with the town’s low cost of living, comes highly ranked schools, which received an 8 at GreatSchools.

5. Avon

Avon, a Brownsburg neighbor, is another community outside Indianapolis, with convenient access to Highway 36 and the Indianapolis airport. Avon is smaller and slightly more expensive than Brownsburg — the median home value in Avon is $164,900. In addition to academics, the town’s schools also excel in the arts: the marching band has won three national championships. Music also makes it mark elsewhere in the town that is home to the Hendricks Symphony and Choir.

6. Carmel

There’s no shortage of positive developments in Carmel — one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. Young families here will find company: 35% of residents have children. The Meridian Corridor provides job opportunities for working parents, who have seen the median family income grow by a third in the past 15 years. Home values — at a median of $297,300 — are the second highest in the state, so buying a house here can present a challenge for families who want to move to Carmel.

7. Zionsville

Zionsville’s strong schools, which were rated 9 at GreatSchools, come with a bonus: the community is near Indianapolis, just an 18-mile commute for working parents. The town, and its village style downtown area, is known as a family friendly community. Zionsville’s Fourth of July fireworks show brings visitors from all over the state.

8. Batesville

A bit more rural than many of the communities featured on our list, Batesville makes the top 10 due to its affordable housing and schools. Batesville’s schools earned an 8 in a place where the median home value is $181,000. Although, it’s farther from metro areas, Batesville is located about the same distance from Indianapolis or Cincinnati. Residents find jobs at the Batesville Casket Co. and Hill-Rom, a health-care equipment manufacturer.

9. Boonville

As the place where President Abraham Lincoln studied law, Boonville is a city that has a rich history. In addition to being home of the Warrick County Museum, the city also has a downtown historical district. The city is smaller, with a population of 6,238, but with home values at $90,600, it is the most affordable place for homebuyers on our list.

10. Plainfield

Rounding out our list is Plainfield, a city of 28,000 about 20 miles from Indianapolis. The median home value of $147,000 puts Plainfield in an affordable range, and its school system ranked 8 out of 10 by GreatSchools. Residents can choose from a variety of parks and other activities — from the Vandalia Trail to the Recreation and Aquatic Center and more.

 Best Cities for Young Families in Indiana

Location GreatSchools rank Median home value 1999-2013 family income growth 2013 median family income Percent of families with at least 1 child under 18 Young Families Score
1 Fishers 9 $209,700 28.26% $105,136 38.80% 75.58
2 Westfield 8 $217,400 54.78% $100,931 39.10% 75.53
3 Granger CDP 8 $193,200 22.74% $102,086 34.40% 71.59
4 Brownsburg 8 $144,100 24.99% $79,049 29.00% 70.20
5 Avon 8 $164,900 23.50% $84,235 32.20% 69.51
6 Carmel 9 $297,300 33.30% $125,580 35.10% 67.44
7 Zionsville 9 $336,700 35.67% $129,375 38.40% 66.59
8 Batesville 8 $181,000 36.25% $79,829 26.30% 66.13
9 Boonville 7 $90,600 34.22% $56,500 19.70% 64.71
10 Plainfield 8 $147,900 19.53% $69,079 25.80% 64.67
11 Noblesville 8 $168,500 13.92% $80,785 28.00% 64.37
12 Tell City 7 $90,200 39.23% $57,500 14.90% 64.31
13 York 6 $125,000 19.71% $70,372 27.70% 63.88
14 Huntingburg 7 $107,900 29.76% $54,400 23.30% 63.87
15 Dyer 7 $191,100 26.09% $86,643 25.90% 62.02
16 Jasper 7 $128,600 25.21% $65,903 21.80% 62.00
17 St. John 7 $250,300 38.96% $104,542 33.50% 61.94
18 Lakes of the Four Seasons CDP 6 $179,700 36.10% $93,778 24.20% 61.52
19 Decatur 6 $93,800 17.50% $52,550 19.50% 60.48
20 Crown Point 8 $172,500 16.86% $75,112 20.30% 60.23
21 Munster 8 $196,400 23.99% $92,072 22.20% 59.92
22 Dunlap CDP 4 $125,000 11.87% $62,112 30.90% 59.50
23 Lowell 5 $145,600 28.29% $70,299 27.70% 58.97
24 Hartford City 6 $60,700 10.52% $43,826 17.50% 58.96
25 Danville 6 $150,200 12.09% $70,409 26.90% 58.89
26 Washington 5 $76,700 32.85% $50,100 17.30% 58.65
27 Greenwood 7 $131,900 15.29% $66,060 21.60% 58.50
28 Greencastle 6 $115,400 42.42% $58,750 20.30% 58.39
29 Nappanee 7 $129,900 -8.28% $48,913 27.70% 58.33
30 Sellersburg 4 $109,300 37.45% $63,929 20.20% 58.19
31 Chesterton 7 $168,900 15.64% $76,601 24.60% 58.06
32 Hobart 6 $132,800 25.21% $68,961 19.20% 57.88
33 Princeton 4 $82,400 28.29% $47,862 21.20% 57.73
34 Cedar Lake 6 $153,900 26.26% $63,672 22.50% 57.32
35 Mount Vernon 6 $94,800 19.48% $59,063 18.10% 57.02
36 Greensburg 7 $103,300 12.05% $50,915 15.80% 56.99
37 Valparaiso 8 $162,800 5.67% $64,077 20.40% 56.81
38 Bluffton 7 $94,000 6.34% $48,167 13.90% 56.39
39 Auburn 6 $104,800 3.56% $54,563 20.30% 56.32
40 Ellettsville 5 $119,400 31.81% $56,614 20.30% 55.81
41 Schererville 7 $207,800 22.55% $86,364 19.70% 55.72
42 Huntington 5 $75,000 9.91% $47,759 16.60% 55.24
43 Portland 6 $68,400 8.24% $44,736 14.20% 55.00
44 Lawrence 6 $125,500 9.87% $62,199 19.30% 54.79
45 Highland 6 $153,900 21.34% $71,718 19.10% 54.77
46 Franklin 5 $115,700 13.48% $59,353 22.50% 54.67
47 New Haven 5 $92,200 14.25% $56,664 21.00% 54.52
48 Greenfield 6 $118,100 8.45% $56,836 20.70% 54.36
49 Lebanon 6 $112,700 14.01% $54,460 17.80% 54.11
50 Columbus 5 $140,900 26.73% $66,273 20.60% 53.96
51 Jeffersonville 5 $126,300 33.22% $60,299 17.40% 53.93
52 Charles 5 $110,600 31.16% $46,681 14.80% 53.76
53 Gas City 5 $78,000 17.69% $49,497 14.60% 53.58
54 Plymouth 6 $85,700 -3.29% $40,085 22.30% 53.50
55 Brazil 5 $72,500 5.73% $39,722 19.50% 52.60
56 Beech Grove 6 $93,600 0.24% $47,058 19.20% 52.45
57 North Manchester 6 $94,700 9.39% $51,172 14.80% 52.44
58 La Porte 6 $91,600 2.14% $46,763 15.80% 52.40
59 Warsaw 6 $115,900 10.30% $49,803 16.40% 52.32
60 Scottsburg 4 $99,300 18.40% $43,905 16.30% 52.14
61 Fort Wayne 4 $99,900 22.57% $55,206 17.70% 51.90
62 Mooresville 5 $125,100 18.27% $62,143 19.40% 51.25
63 Seymour 4 $101,200 15.87% $50,238 19.40% 51.24
64 Portage 5 $140,100 19.65% $64,987 17.80% 51.16
65 Peru 5 $57,000 0.16% $39,503 16.70% 50.85
66 Bedford 5 $88,600 10.06% $43,430 16.00% 50.78
67 Terre Haute 5 $76,800 13.32% $42,630 13.40% 50.63
68 Madison 5 $117,800 18.52% $54,807 16.20% 50.45
69 Martinsville 6 $97,400 5.05% $42,338 15.80% 50.38
70 Wabash 4 $77,800 8.16% $47,607 18.70% 50.31
71 Elwood 3 $73,200 19.24% $43,212 18.40% 49.96
72 Rushville 5 $82,000 13.98% $41,769 17.00% 49.50
73 Salem 5 $80,700 12.23% $41,726 15.40% 49.14
74 New Albany 6 $110,100 11.97% $47,021 12.90% 48.95
75 Connersville 6 $68,900 -5.48% $38,595 12.60% 48.67
76 Vincennes 3 $74,000 32.95% $47,095 15.00% 48.63
77 North Vernon 4 $78,400 2.52% $42,054 17.70% 48.55
78 Crawfordsville 5 $91,600 -5.16% $40,981 16.70% 48.45
79 Lake Station 4 $81,200 8.60% $45,017 18.10% 48.23
80 Columbia City 5 $94,700 1.23% $47,939 14.90% 47.99
81 Griffith 4 $140,900 13.77% $64,949 16.90% 47.84
82 Frankfort 3 $82,300 16.74% $49,830 16.00% 47.80
83 Mishawaka 5 $93,900 10.64% $46,411 12.30% 47.72
84 Lafayette 4 $102,200 15.84% $52,686 15.90% 47.69
85 Angola 5 $109,100 4.67% $45,896 14.90% 47.47
86 Speedway 7 $117,500 0.04% $49,025 8.90% 47.43
87 Clarksville 3 $114,200 20.18% $53,704 17.80% 46.63
88 New Castle 4 $67,400 8.27% $40,563 12.80% 46.18
89 Kokomo 3 $84,000 12.21% $50,890 15.70% 45.99
90 Shelbyville 6 $98,500 -6.35% $43,434 13.30% 45.98
91 Merrillville 4 $130,400 11.75% $62,975 15.80% 45.52
92 Logansport 3 $65,100 -0.78% $40,181 18.10% 45.47
93 Goshen 3 $107,800 -0.63% $46,582 18.70% 45.36
94 West Lafayette 4 $174,500 24.25% $88,851 13.00% 44.96
95 Indianapolis (balance) 4 $118,000 6.36% $51,857 14.90% 43.91
96 Kendallville 4 $82,900 5.17% $44,531 10.60% 43.64
97 South Bend 3 $85,100 9.00% $42,562 14.80% 42.91
98 Bloomington 6 $171,900 8.63% $54,375 10.50% 42.85
99 Evansville 3 $90,000 13.32% $46,565 12.50% 42.72
100 Hammond 2 $92,400 7.36% $45,330 18.00% 42.26
101 Rochester 6 $89,500 -9.94% $37,778 13.10% 42.22
102 Richmond 4 $81,300 2.09% $39,146 14.80% 41.68
103 Elkhart 3 $85,900 -8.36% $37,126 16.60% 41.30
104 Muncie 3 $73,200 10.90% $40,364 10.00% 41.11
105 Marion 3 $65,200 4.19% $39,297 9.40% 39.92
106 Michigan City 3 $93,100 14.32% $45,181 10.90% 39.19
107 Anderson 2 $73,600 9.14% $43,166 12.00% 38.65
108 East Chicago 2 $82,900 0.09% $31,806 14.70% 34.69
109 Gary 2 $65,400 -1.54% $31,709 6.70% 29.99

 

Methodology

All data are from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey. Our methodology took into account four factors:

Home affordability. Home affordability, 30% of the final score, was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score.

Growth and prosperity. Growth and prosperity make up 20% of the final score. The two metrics involved were growth in family income from 1999 to 2013, and the median family income in 2013. Both were weighted equally and positively.

Family friendliness. To measure if an area is a good one for families, which is 30% of our final score, we looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child under 18, and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child under age 5. The percentage of families with at least one child was 70% of the score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30% of the score.

Educational quality. Using data from GreatSchools, every place was assigned a ranking from 1 to 10 for the quality of schools. The education score is 20% of the final score.


Road to Indianapolis, Indiana, image via iStock.

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