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Indianapolis: A Vintagey Place to Live

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by Paisley, May 7, 2016.

  1. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Here's a tale of two cities. Until Thanksgiving week last year, I lived in my hometown of Denver, Colorado. Just to clear up a few misperceptions, Denver is on the plains (not in the mountains), gets roasting hot in the summer, the traffic is as bad as anything I've driven in in Los Angeles, the price of housing has skyrocketed, and so a lot of ugly houses are being built, in addition to all the ugly architecture that was already all over Denver. They can't tear down nice brick houses fast enough to put up steel and glass boxes or more traditional houses that show more money than taste. Someone has even started a campaign against all the ugly building called Denver Fugly. Good luck to him.

    Seeing that I could sell my two-bedroom crackerbox for a ridiculous amount of money, and being tired of spending two hours a day in traffic to go to a job seven miles away, I moved to Indianapolis. I had some connections here and loved the city. The people are friendly, traffic is light, and historic preservation of the beautiful houses and buildings here (along with architectural requirements for new buildings) is enforced. There are some funky modern houses among the rehabbed ones on the near-east side, but they match the size, shape and roof pitch of the older houses, so it looks more evolutionary than jarring. There are a couple of state parks that are an easy drive from most locations.

    It's also an inexpensive place to live. Practically everything is less expensive than it was in Denver--especially if you want to buy antiques. Vintagey foods are more available here--lard from pasture-raised hogs, jowl bacon from the same pasture, chicken livers, beef tongue and fatty hamburger. The low-fat fad doesn't seem to have caught on here.

    A few other fads (expensive ones) like look-at-me kitchens and huge SUVs haven't caught on here, either. I see a lot of sedans and mini-vans; not many SUVs. A Zillow search of houses here shows a lot of basic kitchens. Think laminate countertops and white appliances--in craftsman, Victorian and Tudor revival houses.

    The biggest bargain is housing. You can get a decent house here for under $100,000. If you're willing to put in some major sweat equity, you can homestead an abandoned house for under $10,000. From the neighborhood to the state level, people are working to revitalize areas close to downtown. A lot of what was happening in Denver 20 years ago to drive growth is happening here now. There could be a good upside for people buying a house here if they're willing to live in it and stay put for a long time.

    Some downsides: some up-and-coming areas are still pretty seedy and there's quite a bit of crime. Some parts of Indianapolis (north and northwest of downtown) were until a few years ago among the most dangerous in the United States. I live on the east side and I would say, if you live here, have an alarm system, lock your car doors, and keep your valuables locked up (preferably in the house, not the garage). Stay out of rough areas at night. The state allows you to obtain a permit to carry a gun; you can have one in your home without a permission slip. (ETA: I'm not saying you need a gun, just that they are allowed.)

    On the whole, I'm happy I moved here and think Indianapolis might appeal to people who appreciate vintage architecture, thrift, and a general lack of snarky pretense. Oddly, people think I am nuts for leaving Denver to come here. I tell them I'm sure I had the car pointed in the right direction on I-70.
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
    PeterB, scottyrocks and Bruce Wayne like this.
  2. You had me until this bit:

    There isn't a house cheap enough, traffic heavy enough or architecture nice enough to tempt me to move to a city with "downsides" such as these!
  3. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    The only things I do differently here regarding safety are having an alarm system and not walking to the drug store at 10:30 pm. I'm not taking a position on whether to have a gun, just stating what the law is here. Everything else is a pretty standard precaution even in a fairly safe place like (most of) Denver.
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  4. Please ignore this question if you wish as it is personal - but your story was personal and this question sort of jumped out at me as a key pivot to being able to move or not: were you able to find a similar job to the one you had at similar compensation? The reason I ask is, for me, any move would be driven by an ability to find / replace a job. To be sure, if the cost of living - as you noted - is lower, then less compensation might be okay.
  5. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    I did admin work in Denver, and it's a field that's going downhill in general. Employers are either paying less than they were several years ago, or they expect you to do a lot more work. There were some admin jobs available here where I could have made within 15% of what I was making before (where I'd worked for 13 years), but they didn't appeal to me. Knowing what my sister-in-law and a former coworked makes, or made, that might actually be more than I would have gotten in Denver had I gotten a similar job there.

    Last summer when I was visiting, I heard a guy in a diner saying he was making over $50,000 driving a truck. There's a lot of trucking here and I see ads on trucks and billboards looking for drivers.

    I think a friend of mine makes $25 an hour teaching piano at an academy (PT, no benefits).

    Burger flippers make $8 an hour here; I think they make $9 in Denver.

    I made $10 an hour temping for Marion County (it was easy work testing voting machines and processing absentee ballot applications).

    Unemployment is about 5% here.

    I'm taking advantage of my short commute (15 minutes each way vs. an hour) to study database programming.
    bamabino likes this.
  6. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    • 7% sales tax.
    • Flat state income tax of 3.3%.
    • Property taxes are constitutionally capped at 1% of property values for homesteads (owner occupied), 2% for other residential property and farmland, and 3% for all other property. (Taxes also cover trash pick-up.) My property tax was well under 1% of what I paid for my house, even though I'm not a homesteader.
    • There's no estate tax.
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  7. Edm1

    Edm1 New in Town

    i agree. Work in Indy some...used to live in Colorado. It is a nice city. Much cheaper. Nice place to live.
  8. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    A nice place, and good for your balance sheet. Low costs, and not many normative cues to run out and buy a Navigator or a $500 purse or even a dishwasher. And hiking in the forests nearby restores me in a way that the Rockies never did.
    Bruce Wayne likes this.
  9. You should come up north to the Indiana Dunes sometime!
    Paisley likes this.
  10. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    I live three hours from a beach?!! I didn't realize that. I must go there this summer!
  11. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Vintage Policing

    Some neighborhoods in Indianapolis are going to be getting vintage policing: cops walking a beat. Residents wanted police officers to get to know the good, the bad and the troubled people in a neighborhood. Those areas are in the most need of crime reduction.

    Nicer Areas--Check out the Vintage Architecture

    There ARE some nicer areas of the city--a house there will cost more, of course. I first wanted to move to Irvington, a historic district a short drive from downtown, I-70 and near a nice city park. This link takes you to a Google street view of Irvington. (People I talked to from Irvington said they've lived there for decades without a bit of trouble. Starbucks has a shop there.) This is a link to Woodruff Place (as of five years ago--there's been a lot of work done since then); here's nearby Cottage Home with a couple of funky modern houses (the blue building on the right is home of the East Indy Winter Farmers' Market). (Unfortunately, Woodruff Place and Cottage Home--along with newly revitalized St. Clair Place--are next to the ghetto, even though there's a yoga studio and a crunchy food co-op full of hipsters nearby.) This is Little Flower (a good value). Here's Warren Park, a nice area. Broadripple is a popular neighborhood, but it's mostly on a flood plain. A lot of people like Fountain Square.

    Take a look at Google street view and you can see a lot of improvements in different areas.

    Business developments:

    22 new nonstop flights to Indy
    Amazon opened a facility
    Sales Force opened a large office
    Whole Foods will build a store downtown this year or next
    Eli Lilly is based here
    A search of business moved headquarters to Indianapolis
  12. ^^^Several homes in Woodruff Place I'd love to buy - beautiful vintage architecture.
  13. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Woodruff Place blew me away, too. The nice houses there are $200,000, but I believe there are still some fixer-uppers among them.
  14. I love the cement sidewalks, walkways and the two-strips-of-cement driveways - plus those porches!
  15. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    IMO, the place with the best bones on the east side is Brookside Park. There's a large park--108 acres--with woods and iconic architecture. The northwest side of the neighborhood sits on a crest overlooking the park and the area is full of set-back sidewalks and craftsman, Tudor revival and American farmhouse style houses. On the opposite side is 10th Avenue, which has seen a lot of redevelopment. There's a new elementary school, a food co-op and (across 10th) a new yoga studio. It's close to Massachusetts Avenue, a really hip place. But it's also by the ghetto. Sadly, most of the neighborhood is rundown and has a long way to go. However, the last park cleanup had a huge turnout and I'm taking part in the next one tomorrow.
    Last edited: May 14, 2016
  16. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Serious restorations!

    2007 v. 2015 near Woodruff Place.
    There was construction--both new and rehabbing houses--up and down this street when I visited last year. Link shows 2009 v. 2011--lots more work done there since then.
    Massachusetts Avenue at the start of the cultural trail. Volunteers painted murals and planted flowers there and elsewhere around the city for the Superbowl a few years ago. We gave a spring cleaning this year.
    Old and new on Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave as we call it. When you're a success, those extra syllables are the first thing to go.
    I don't know why the razor wire was there, but the homes look better without it.
    Near a few favorite restaurants in Irvington. If you'd rather have pizza or catfish than tofu salad, you're in the right place.
    The historic Benton House, restored some years ago. There are a few second empire style houses around Indianapolis--the style made out to be haunted in old movies.
    Fading Fast likes this.
  17. ^^^And what a gorgeous library.
  18. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Not sure which one you mean.
  19. The "Spades Park Branch" it came up as the fifth picture to the right on the bottom run of pictures when I clicked on your "2007 v 2015 near Woodruff Place" link.

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