Listed as the 16th 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. Proximity to transport, schools, economic hubs, sport facilities, parks and so on, should also 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.
These are mainly self-contained units in larger buildings; referred to as 'flats' in some parts of the world such as the UK.
These are smaller stand-alone houses, usually on a small plot of land ideal for smaller families or those on a budget.
A low house having only one storey or, in some cases, upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows.
Duplexes are two or more living quarters housed in the same building.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
►For more on the city's neighbourhoods, see Areas and Suburbs in Indianapolis
Are you an expat living in Indianapolis?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Indianapolis. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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