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The Best Places for Young Families in Indiana

Some couples wait a while to start a family, a wise strategy considering what lies ahead. All priorities tend to shift toward children, and everyday life stays child-focused for as long as they look to you for their wellbeing. One of those priorities is the need for additional living space, a place for your family to call its own.

As you look for property in Indiana for your family, whether it be near the Hoosier National Forest or the attractions of Indianapolis, keep in mind that you will have to weigh a number of factors before making a sound decision. It might be important to you that the community have a lot of families and potential playmates for your youngsters. If it is an affluent community, consider how that might affect your cost of housing. Or you might get more value per square foot by purchasing a home outside a city limit. Think about the drive time, however. Podcasts might keep you company on a one-way trip longer than 30 minutes, but consider how much family time you might give up on an extended commute.

You will need to make educated choices about the home’s affordability, so stay abreast of important information regarding getting a mortgage. LendingTree can help with that, with articles on minimum mortgage requirements and the direction of interest rates.

With all that in mind, researchers at LendingTree compiled a list of the best places for young families in Indiana.

Key takeaways

  • Huntingburg is the best place to raise a family in Indiana, based on our analysis, with a final score of 73.2.
  • Westfield and Huntertown take the second and third spots, with final scores of 71.9 and 71.2, respectively.
  • On the other end of the list, we found Gary to be the most challenging place for young families in Indiana, with a final score of 35.9.
  • East Chicago and Linton finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 41.5 and 45.4, respectively.

The top 10 cities to live in Indiana

#1 Huntingburg

Located in one of the southwest corners of Indiana, 127 miles south of Indianapolis, the town of Huntingburg is known for milder weather than the northern parts of the state, and has several attributes that put it comfortably at the top of the ranking, with a score of 73.2. The number of households in Huntingburg that have children are in the minority, 39.6%, and the homeownership rate among those families is the lowest of our Top 10, at 67.6%.

The community is more modest, as the median household income of families with children is $72,083, and the monthly median housing cost is $622. The town’s work life appears to balance its modest income: the unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds is 1.8%, and the average commute time is easy, almost 19 minutes. Statistically, zero teenaged residents 16 to 19 years old are not in high school or already have graduated.

#2 Westfield

With $106,171 in median household income for families with children, and a monthly median housing cost of $1,397, Westfield comes second in the ranking with a score of 71.9. Almost half of Westfield’s households, 48.7%, have children and among those, 83.7% own their homes. The employment and work environment in Westfield are both favorable. The unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is 0.8%, and residents commute about 24 minutes to work. Just 1.1% of 16- to 19-year-old Westfield residents are not enrolled in or have graduated from of high school.

#3 Huntertown

Some great attributes are attracting new residents to Huntertown, Indiana, which comes in third with a score of 71.2. Located in Allen County in Northeast Indiana, Huntertown’s population is growing: between 2015 and 2016, the population increased from 5,260 to 5,286, up 0.49%, according to DataUSA. The median household income of families with children is $91,500 and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,033.

A minority of households in the town, 41.2%, has children, but of those households with kids, most of them (92.1%) own their homes. About 2.1% of residents between 25 and 44 years old are unemployed, while 0% of 16- to 19-year-olds have not graduated or aren’t enrolled in high school. Residents in the town commute about 26 minutes to work.

#4 Dunlap

Technically, Dunlap is a Census-designated place in Elkhart County, and a suburb of the town of Elkhart and Goshen. Still, the community places fourth in the ranking, with a score of 70.6. Dunlap is one of the more modest communities in the ranking, as the median household income of families with children is $68,839, and the monthly median cost of housing is $895.

Just 40.6% of all households have children, and of those families, 78.9% own their homes. The unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is 2%, while workers here commute an average of 20.9 minutes to work.

#5 Zionsville

Located 19 miles north of Indianapolis, Zionsville rounds out the Top 5 with a score of 70.4. Families with children had a median household income of $166,780, with $1,673 in monthly median housing costs. Less than half of its households, 42.5%, have children, but a whopping majority of those own homes: 90.7%. Economic prospects appear to be bright in Zionsville, with an unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds of just 1.4%. That is much lower than Indiana’s statewide unemployment rate of 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average commute time to work is about 26 minutes.

Zionsville has one of the highest rates in our Top 10 of 16- to 19-year-olds who either aren’t enrolled or haven’t graduated high school, with 2.4%.

#6 Granger

Carve the Census-designated area of Granger out of Clay and Harris townships, and you’ll have the community that placed sixth in the ranking with a score of 70.4. It achieved the same score as Zionsville, so how did this community get edged out? The number of households with children is decidedly in the minority, 38.9%, but virtually all of them, 94.3%, are homeowners. Median household income for families with children is $116,412, and median monthly housing cost is $1,123.

Where Granger falls short compared to Zionsville is its rate of unemployment, 3.9%, which is slightly higher than the statewide rate. But just 1.6% of 16- to 19-year-olds are not enrolled in or graduated from high school. The average commute time to work is not bad, either, at about 23 minutes.

#7 Monticello

At No. 7 in the Indiana rankings with a score of 68.7%, Monticello is a community about 88 miles north of Indianapolis. The median household income of families with children is $46,045, and monthly median housing costs amount to $696. Monticello has a lower profile of households with children, 35.8%. While a majority of households with children own their homes, 69.4%, that is a substantially lower percentage compared with other towns in the Top 10.

Other quality-of-life measures brighten prospects for life in Monticello, however, as the unemployment rate is 2.7%, beating the statewide average. Statistically, no 16- to 19-year-olds were not in high school. On average, residents here commute just 16 minutes to work.

#8 Fishers

As one of the largest municipalities, with a population of about 91,832 (as of July 2017), Fishers lands in the ranking with a score of 68.6. It has the second-highest median household income among families with children, with $125,722, and its monthly median cost of housing is $1,376, also one of the highest in the top 10 places for young families. Just 45.9% of households in Fishers have children, and of those households, 86.6% own their own homes. The highest proportion in our Top 10, 2.9%, of 16- to 19-year-olds are not enrolled in or have graduated from high school. The jobless rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is relatively low at 2.4%, but residents of the city who do work have an average commute of just 27.5 minutes. With all of these attributes it’s no wonder that Fishers has seen its population grow 18.8% from April 2010 to July 2017.

#9 Carmel

This city of 92,198 lies 16 miles almost directly north of Indianapolis, and makes the ranking with a score of 68.5. It posted double-digit population growth, 16.4% from April 2010 to July 2017, but its population of households with children has remained relatively low, at 39.3%. Yet the families that do have children have a high home ownership rate, about 85.9%. Unemployment among 25- to 44-year-olds is just 2.5%, and the average commute time to work is about 24 minutes.

The percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds not in high school or graduated is 1.3%. As for affluence in the city, the median household income of families with children is $143,698, and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,467.

#10 Hidden Valley

Where Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky state lines converge, you will find Hidden Valley, which scored a ranking of 68.0 and closes out the top 10 best places in Indiana for young families. Among families with children, the median household income is $120,084 and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,331. Just 43.7% of households in Hidden Valley have children, and the homeownership rate among them is 79.7%.

A couple of economic indicators bode well for the tiny residential community of 5,387 (as of the 2010 Census), which has seen its population increase by 22% since 2000. The unemployment rate is effectively zero, and all of its 16- to 19-year-olds are accounted for in high schools. Hidden Valley lies about 23 miles west of Cincinnati, giving residents an average travel time to work of about 31 minutes.

Understanding the rankings

We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 5,000 people in the state for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used are:

  • Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests a place with good job opportunities and a community with more resources.
  • Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new childcare expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
  • Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where home ownership is both more common and perhaps important for a family looking to buy, more practical.
  • Unemployment rate of 25-44 year olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life, locally. We focus on 25- to 44-year-olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.
  • Percentage of 16-19 year olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and therefore school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but is well-correlated.
  • Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less-stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.
  • Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.

Methodology

Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to their relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 5,000.

 

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