Young professionals seem to be flocking to Indiana’s cosmopolitan capital, and for good reason. The cost of living in Indianapolis is remarkably low compared to nearby cities such as New York, while the city offers an exceptional quality of life.

Accommodation, in particular, can be rented for a relative steal. Prospective residents of Indy will be happy to know that the average housing expenses in the city are a whopping 17 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 in Indy will have to consider before negotiating their salary and moving to the Circle City.

Cost of accommodation in Indianapolis

Of course, different areas and suburbs in Indianapolis will charge different prices. Downtown Indianapolis, with its shiny high rises and plush apartment living, is naturally pricier 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 up to 50 percent cheaper.

Most newcomers relocating to Indy from other parts of the country opt to rent rather than buy, at least at first. Downtown has a booming accommodation 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 reasonable single-family bungalows and houses, as well as bigger properties and mansions, with a vast price range.

Over and above rental costs, new arrivals and expats must also pay for utilities such as electricity, water and internet. These are 7 percent higher than the national average, so newcomers should be sure to include these in their monthly budget.

Cost of education in Indianapolis

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

Indianapolis has a wide array of excellent public schools, which come at 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, sports programmes and a raft of extracurriculars that public schools don’t, but these schools are often associated with high tuition costs.

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 costly, and expats must carefully consider their options 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, which has three hospitals. Indy is also home to the state’s only medical school.

Although healthcare in Indianapolis is said to be cheaper than the American average, it is still fairly pricey and health insurance plans must 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 considerable monthly savings.

Cost of transport in Indianapolis

Indianapolis’s public transport system is not only efficient, but it's quite affordable too. Standard buses and the relatively recent transit electric buses are most popular with commuters. Short and long-term bus passes, or a tap-and-go MyKey fare card that is easily reloadable, are the most cost-effective. Indy's residents also regularly use grab-and-go bicycles, which are 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. Petrol (gas) isn’t expensive, especially when compared to bigger East Coast cities, and second-hand vehicles can be acquired at little cost. One of the biggest daily and monthly costs associated with owning a vehicle in Indianapolis is parking, so new arrivals are advised to consider this when purchasing a car.

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 budget-conscious newcomers can still have fun in the Circle City. The month of January, in particular, is an optimal time to explore the city’s culinary offerings during Devour Indy, when 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 be visited at no or 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 groceries in Indianapolis

The cost of groceries in Indianapolis is 4 percent lower than the national average. As such, new arrivals and expats who purchase local brands and shop at local stores such as Kroger, Walmart or Meijer can expect to spend less than in other major cities such as New York and Washington, DC. It is also fairly easy to find vegan and organic products around Indianapolis.

Those who are looking for premium and speciality products will enjoy shopping at The Fresh Market or Whole Foods. These stores offer organic produce and items from around the world at a premium.

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 November 2023.

Accommodation (monthly)
One-bedroom apartment in city centreUSD 1,473
One-bedroom apartment outside of city centreUSD 1,200
Three-bedroom apartment in city centreUSD 2,350
Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centreUSD 1,820
Eggs (dozen)USD 2.31
Milk (1 litre)USD 0.86
Rice (1kg)USD 5
Loaf of breadUSD 3
Chicken breasts (1kg)USD 13
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)USD 8
Eating out
Big Mac MealUSD 9
Coca-Cola (330ml)USD 2
CappuccinoUSD 4.50
Local beer (500ml)USD 5
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantUSD 78
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and dataUSD 53
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)USD 71
Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)USD 238
Taxi rate (per kilometre)USD 1.24
Bus/train fare in the city centreUSD 1.75
Petrol/gasoline (per litre)USD 0.98

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