Gary, Indiana Read Guide >
10. Don’t believe all the hype … Often cited as the “murder capital of the U.S.,” Gary has a reputation among outsiders as a barely-modernized Wild West, where gunshots fill the air around the clock and crows pick the meat off the dead bodies that line the abandoned city streets (wow, who knew we could be so macabre!) Such depictions make for interesting fiction (and probably make residents of other cities feel a lot better about their own hometowns), but they’re also largely fabricated. The truth is that there are plenty of neighborhoods in Gary, situated outside the downtown area, where crime is rare, houses are well-kept, and bullet-proof vests aren’t a prerequisite for strolling the streets after 6 p.m.
9. … but believe some of the hype. Once a thriving industrial town, Gary has fallen on ridiculously hard times in recent decades as the steel industry has declined. It’s safe to say that the magic has disappeared in many parts of the “Magic City:” Much of the inner city lies in ruins, crime rates in certain areas are off the charts, and the “wealth flight” that began in the 1960s is all but complete. The once bustling Broadway Avenue district is practically a ghost town. Shopping destinations aside from the occasional strip mall are nonexistent. The unemployment rate has soared to over 15 percent, while 1 in 3 residents now live under the poverty line. So make sure you have a job lined up before relocating to Gary and scout out your potential neighborhood carefully before signing a lease, because certain parts of Gary are downright scary.
8. Get your motor running. It’s imperative to have your own set of wheels in Gary. Public transportation is inadequate (to put it kindly) for such a sprawling city, and it’s downright precarious (from a crime perspective) to walk the downtown streets, especially after nightfall.
7. Common sense is king. It’s not difficult to spot the economically depressed areas of Gary: Busted/barred windows, graffiti, and abandoned buildings are surefire signs you’re in a sketchy neighborhood. Use common sense when choosing an apartment, and remember that when you sign a lease, you’re stuck with it for its duration. So don’t commit to a property unless you’re completely sure it’s a good fit for you.
6. Look on the sunny side. Instead of sitting around your apartment fretting about what others have to say about your city, why not get out and enjoy some of Gary’s amenities? The city is home to a professional baseball team (the RailCats of the American Association league), an urban flea market, a pair of casinos, and numerous parks, trails, and Lake Michigan beaches. Downtown Chicago is a mere 25 miles away, so Gary residents can easily partake in everything the Windy City has to offer as well.
5. Save those greenbacks. The cost of living index in Gary is remarkably low – 23 percentage points lower than the national average – and a typical 1 to 2BR apartment or townhouse goes for between $450 and $650. So you’ll be able to spend your money on more pressing needs, like RailCats tickets and Michael Jackson paraphernalia (Gary is the boyhood home of the Jackson 5 and is dotted with King of Pop souvenir shops).
4. Be prepared. After you’ve decided an apartment complex is right for you, work on gathering those tedious documents that landlords require. Arm yourself with your most recent 2-4 paycheck stubs, a recent banking statement, and a detailed list of previous residences. Especially in the nicer parts of town (Miller Beach, Ross, etc.) landlords charge prospective tenants a $35-$55 fee to run background/credit checks and also require a good faith deposit that covers the first 2-3 month’s rent.
3. To Beach or not to Beach? That is the question. Most Gary residents will tell you that if you want to live in the most modern, family-friendly environs, then look no further than the Miller Beach area on the shores of Lake Michigan. Other viable options for renters include the newly-constructed condos, townhouses, and freestanding homes along East Edge (within walking distance of both the Lake and Marquette Park) or the various apartments in the Glen Park, Aetna, and Ross neighborhoods.
2. Get smart. Renter’s insurance, which only costs between $12 and $25 a month in Gary, is a great way to protect your belongings (like that beer-stained rocking recliner from 1974 that you’re so proud of) in case of fire, theft, or property damage. Also, keep in mind that landlords are not legally required to install new locks on doors before welcoming new tenants, so if you’re the suspicious … we mean, safe … type, feel free to change the locks on your own (most landlords have no problem with this, as long as you provide them with a copy of the key). Finally, inspect your new place carefully (along with an objective third party) before taking up residence to make sure your appliances, pipes, showerheads, etc. are up to par.
1. Leave the danger to Danger Mouse. As its urban core has deteriorated into a crumbling shadow of itself, Gary has become a popular destination for “urban explorers” looking for an up-close peek at the city’s off-limits or abandoned structures. Our advice: If you get your jollies from ogling urban decay, peruse the city streets in the light of day only, and with a large group. Also, stay out of an abandoned building’s interior; chances are, you’ll be trespassing, inhaling asbestos, or walking into an unsound structure the moment you step through the door.
And now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and find you the perfect place to call home in Gary! Best of luck and happy hunting!
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