Indianapolis is an enigma. Naptown, Indianoplace, and references by Baltimorians too unsavory for this site are all used as paramount putdowns about a city thought to be blander and more uninspired than powdered water. But Indianapolis is the capital city to movies set in the Hoosier State such as Hoosiers, Breaking Away, and Rudy (if ever you've wanted to see a grown man quiver and cry with joy rent these, you'll see). Plus, at certain times of the year, Indy becomes as frenetic as any city on earth; like its New Years, Mardi Gras, Fourth of July, and Robert Isray Appreciation Day all rolled into one.
Indianapolis is a city most largely defined by its sports and the banter and camaraderie that always accompany such a potent cultural bond. Beyond this though, ten Fortune 1000 companies within the city limits mean that the Indianapolis employment picture is decent (sorry, the Colts aren't hiring quarterbacks).
Indianapolis is in the shallow end of the pool of monthly rent and it's easy to wade in and out. The most expensive 1 BR apartment in Indianapolis welcomes you at under $1,300 per month. The other Indianapolis neighborhoods, all within easy reach of one another, average around $700 for a 1 BR, $850 for a 2 BR, and $1,000 for a $3 BR. If you've ever lived in NYC, LA, SFO, or any other city recognizable solely from its initials, you're going to have a lot of extra funds each month for all the tenderloin sandwiches and Sun Kings.
Like every major city, there is shopping, art, colleges, parks, culture, sport, and pockets of divine dining. Indianapolis is marginally more compact in these regards, but no different. Well, no different except for the high school hoops fanaticism and the refurbished remnant of a failed waterways experiment - the Grand Canal - complete with gondolas. Let us explore the apartment scene of the Venice of the Midwest.
Downtown: Home to most of Indy's popular attractions (Colts, Pacers, Symphony, the historically significant Hilbert Circle Theater, Circle Centre Shopping), burgeoning restaurant scene, and IUPUI, the downtown area/canal/wholesale district is the most "now" section of Indianapolis. It used to be the most "then." Not that long ago, much of downtown Indy was on the "strictly functional" side of architecture and vibe. As Indianapolis was the site of the world's first union train station, it was largely dominated by its sprawling network of railroad operations - sort of a proletarian and thuggish aura. Since 1995, nearly $700 million has been invested in chic buildings including some destination hotels. Now the whole place vibes less Orwell's 1984 and more Prince's 1999. $1,300 for top-of-the line 1BR. Plenty of high end 2BR apartments available for that price. $800 for a decent 1BR.
Broad Ripple: Youthful, fun, full of nightlife, proximity to the most tenacious NCAA team ever, the Butler Bulldogs, as well as David Letterman and Kurt Vonnegut, Broad Ripple is clever and relevant. Broad Ripple is about 6 miles north of downtown and its "we're open if you are" motto sums up a lot about the bohemian nature of the village. There're 50 restaurants, some of them family style places, within a 1/3 mile radius. It's clean with lots going on. Around $725 for a 1BR, $875 for a 2 BR.
Fountain Square: Just a couple miles southeast of downtown Indianapolis, Fountain Square is one of Indianapolis' six designated cultural districts. Fountain Square is the primary neighborhood for Indy's artists and galleries and is anchored by the (bubbling with Americana) diner/duckpin bowling alley. Around $500 for a 1BR - bungalows and lofts here too.
White River Area: A couple miles west of downtown you'll find White River State Park - America's only urban cultural park. Located in the same vicinity is the Indianapolis Zoo - the only such institution accredited as a zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden. More sedate and outdoorsy than most other Indianapolis neighborhoods, the White River area boasts lots of golf courses and easy access to the 65 and 465 if you're driving somewhere, and the racetrack for if you're driving somewhere really FAST.
East: Go East-Northeast from downtown Indianapolis for 10 miles or so, in the direction I-69 and/or I-465 and you'll find many cookie-cutter complexes. Respectable, with landscaped grounds, amenities, water features, and social events, these offer the least in terms of vibrancy, but the most in terms of commuting and a lot-for-a-little. Decent 1 BR apartments under $500, 2 BR under $700.
Traffic is not much of a problem, there is reasonably priced parking downtown, and the public transportation system is easy enough but limited. Keep your car.
Downtown Indianapolis and its cultural districts do not feature many apartment complexes or highrises. Smaller, landlord owned (but not onsite) homes in the Cape Cod or Bungalow style are somewhat common rental options. As such, the terms are rather varied, with some tenant-at-will, some 6-month lease scenarios, some 15-month arrangements in more upscale residences, and, of course, lots in between. Pets are widely accepted, even in the complexes, but pet deposits/pet rents may exist.
Plan about 5 times as well around Memorial Day (Indy 500) and end of July (Brickyard 400). Indianapolis gets insanely big and busy - not a good time to have the in-laws come in from Topeka.
Indianapolis, for its undeserved vanilla rep, does host the world’s most attended sporting event: the Indy 500 at which those seated, in pavilions, and tailgating can top 400,000, or 50% the size of the city itself. Say what you will about the societal contributions of racing, but that is an impressive feat considering there are just 32,000 total hotel rooms in the entire metropolitan region.