Fast Cars & Football vs. Corn & Cows: Pros + Cons of Indiana Living

I used to really resent living in Indiana. Growing up, all I could focus on is how boring it is 90% of the time. Case in point: ask anyone what they know about Indiana—all they can usually come up with is "corn and cows." However, now that I'm an adult, I can appreciate all of the cool stuff that Indiana offers. I'm also still able to identify all of the negative aspects of the state; it isn't all fast cars and football, unfortunately.

Pros

Lots to do in downtown Indianapolis and in neighboring cities

 

 

Between Indy and neighboring cities like Carmel, Noblesville, and Fishers, there's quite a bit to do. There's:

+ Endless delicious restaurants to try, from cult classics like The Cheesecake Factory to local favorites like Shapiro's Delicatessen
Topgolf and IKEA in Fishers
+ The aforementioned Indianapolis Motor Speedway
+ The Children's Museum
+ The NCAA Hall of Champions
+ The Indianapolis Zoo & White River Gardens
+ The Lucas Oil Stadium ( home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts )
+ Great shopping at the Fashion Mall at Keystone in Indy and at the Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville
+ The Ruoff Music Center ( formerly known as the Deer Creek / Klipsch Music Center ) and the Banker's Life Fieldhouse, both of which are the most popular music venues in the state
+ The Carmel Christkindlmarkt during the holidays

And probably about a million more local favorites that I don't even know about!

Home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

 

 

If you're an Indiana resident and you've never been to the legendary, historical Indianapolis Motor Speedway, what are you doing?? I feel like I practically grew up there ( hence the low-quality-but-still-adorable photo of my dad and I behind the Pagoda circa ~2012 ). Nearly very year since I was about eight years old through high school, my dad and I would go to the Formula 1 race or the MotoGP race hosted at the Speedway. If you've never been, I highly recommend going. The Speedway has such invigorating, magical energy, if you're into cars and racing.

Lower cost of living

Indiana generally has a much lower cost of living ( housing, food, taxes, and healthcare ) than other states—in fact, Indiana is ranked as the twelfth cheapest state in terms of cost of living by World Population Review, who ranks Mississippi as the cheapest state and Hawaii as the most expensive.

Notre Dame Football—Go Irish!!

 

My parents are from Mishawaka, and my grandma worked at Notre Dame in the Golden Dome building for years, so I've basically been an Irish fan since I came out of the womb. I've been lucky enough to go to at least one football game almost every year since late middle school or early high school. There's nothing like the atmosphere on Notre Dame's campus on a game day. Just like the Speedway, the energy is invigorating. Highly recommend going to a game if you enjoy football!

We get to experience all seasons ( for the most part )

As much as winter can be a drag ( it just lasts too long now! ), we get to experience all four seasons in Indiana, which I view as a pro. I love spring and fall, but those are unfortunately our shortest seasons. I remember when I was little, those two seasons seemed to last much longer than they do now. Thanks a lot, climate change. If you're an Indiana native, let me know in the comments if the spring and fall seasons seem shorter now to you as well!

Great in-state universities to choose from

 

 

Indiana is home to the network of Indiana University, the most notable being IU Bloomington and IUPUI, as well as Notre Dame, Butler, and Purdue. As a Hoosier alumna, it pains me to include Purdue, but I will rise above the rivalry and do it anyways. I think that earns us Hoosiers some brownie points, personally. (;

Cultural epicenter in Bloomington

Bloomington is not only home to my alma mater, IU, but it's also home to a wide range of cultures. This is especially true on the famous Fourth Street, nestled between campus and downtown. The street is home to a variety of ethnic and international restaurants, and I've never been disappointed by a single one. My favorites are Anatolia ( Turkish cuisine ), My Thai ( Thai cuisine ), Little Tibet ( Tibetan, Thai, and Indian cuisine ), and Siam House ( Thai cuisine ). There are quite a few restaurants that I haven't yet tried—you can find Burmese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Afghan, and other international cuisines on Fourth Street as well.

The international student population at IU has created a very diverse culture throughout most of Bloomington, which is amazing. It's been very cool and inspiring to live in such a welcoming town, and I've been lucky to experience the authenticity of many cultures thanks to the wonderful international residents.

Only a few hours from some major US cities

 

 

Even though Indiana can be so dull at times, we are right in the middle of a ton of great cities:

Chicago, IL ( which is where T and I were photographed above in the summer of 2016 )
Indianapolis, IN ( duh )
Louisville, KY
Mackinac Island, MI
Traverse City, MI
Branson, MO
St. Louis, MO
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Gatlinburg, TN
Nashville, TN
Milwaukee, WI
Wisconsin Dells, WI

 

Near Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes

We may not be anywhere close to the beaches of Florida or California, but we have the Great Lakes! Although Lake Michigan is the only one of the five that touches Indiana, Lake Erie is also relatively close ( it touches Ohio—Cedar Point is actually on the coast of the lake ). If you're looking for a summer beach vacay on a budget, visiting one of the Great Lakes is a great option.

 Awesome state parks in Southern Indiana

 

 

If you're into nature and hiking / camping / mountain biking / kayaking / spelunking / other outdoor activities, the state parks of Southern Indiana are the place for you. I personally love kayaking through Turkey Run State Park, hiking through Brown County State Park, camping at Spring Mill State Park, and spelunking at Wyandotte Caves in O'Bannon Woods State Park. On the topic of spelunking, Marengo Cave is another favorite of mine, but it isn't in a state park.

Cons

There's not as much "fun stuff" to do

Indiana is not Florida or California or New York or Oregon or Colorado. We are nowhere near that cool, nor do we have as many awesome activities available as the aforementioned states do. However, if you look hard enough and are willing to do a little driving, you can still find some pretty cool 'n' fun stuff to do here. If you need ideas, scroll back up to the little list above.

So much corn

Indiana has a few big / modernized cities, but other than that, most of the state is just farming fields. Not that there's anything wrong with farming, it just makes for a very boring landscape and interstate drive. Plus, non-Indiana natives always reduce our state to corn, which gets pretty old.

Very minimal public transit options

Public transit is basically nonexistent in most of Indiana. I'm from Fort Wayne, and the bus system there is absolute trash. I've lived in Bloomington for nearly six years, and the bus system here definitely caters to college students who live off-campus. It's not that great of a system for residents who live further away from campus—the bus routes for non-campus areas don't run nearly as much as near-campus areas. I've seen buses running in Indy, but I don't know if they run often enough to be considered a good option. We don't have high-speed trains or subways either, so if you don't have a car, you're kind of SOL.


Home of Mike Pence, the KKK, and ass-backwards social politics

I don't really feel like I need to elaborate here—this point speaks for itself. I would love to see Indiana become a more progressive and accepting state, especially in terms of racial equality, women's rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. We're all human beings, period.

No one knows how to drive

I don't know if this is just an Indiana thing or not, but no one adheres to the commonly-known driving rules in this damn state. Prime example: on the highway, the left lane is the fast lane and the right lane is the slow lane. No one ever respects that rule here, and it gives me major road rage. And god forbid it snow, then we're really in trouble. I'm going to move on from this point before I get too heated—it's a sensitive subject for me, lmao.

Creative jobs are hard to find

If you want to do anything creative for a living—write for a magazine, work for a publishing company, be in the cosmetics industry, etc.—you can't do it here for the most part. The closest option for those types of creative jobs is Chicago. Other than that, you're looking at New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, and the likes of those locations. While you can always move, that's not necessarily an option for everyone. Indy has the best options as far as creative jobs in Indiana go, but there aren't nearly as many positions available here as there are in other cities.

It's a long trip to get to any of the coastal "destination" states

Wanna visit California, Florida, New York, or any other coastal state? Prepare yourself for a long and expensive flight or a long and expensive drive. Luckily, we have all of those awesome neighboring cities that I oh so kindly listed AND linked for you above... (:

If you're from Indiana or currently live in-state, what are your pros and cons? I'd love to hear them! Be sure to leave a comment below and we'll continue the convo.

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