Oh, it’s just the scent of Terre Haute, welcoming you to your new home. Once a center of industry and hot bed of union organizing, Terre Haute’s slow decline has little left of its glory days other than that lingering smell of manufacturing. Terre Haute is actually proclaimed Pittsburgh of the West. Odd. Don’t worry, by the time we finish with your apartment hunt you’ll have forgotten all about it.
Seriously Though, What Exactly is That Smell?
Terre Haute’s large paper mill, long attributed as the source of that particular malodor, has packed up and left, like many of the industries that made the city a thriving, working class community. Clabber Girl still manufacturers its baking powder there (who needs smelly paper when you have Snickerdoodle cookies anyhow?), and the river is said to maintain some of the pleasant pollution of early industry. The source of the odor, however, remains unattributed. But who doesn’t like a good mystery, right? It could be Mick Mars of Motley Crue.
Despite the fact that the city is home to a number of universities, nightlife remains scarce, things close early, and entertainment options tend to be centered around chain stores and malls in the farther reaches of town. Solving a few mysteries will definitely keep you entertained for at least a couple of months.
Are you busy raising a family? That’s great news! Terre Haute is a very family-friendly city with plenty in the way of community and kid-centric events and activities. Parks, zoos, and the library—you name it and you’ll be able to keep your kids entertained, even if you are not.
Terre Haute also has a fairly low cost of living for a city with such a low per capita crime rate. Take that French Lick.
Like many blighted post-industrial cities, Terre Haute’s downtown has been drained of its once historic department stores and restaurants, as malls and larger shopping centers developed in the suburbs. While there are many community groups dedicated to revitalizing the downtown, the area remains rather empty and downtrodden, with higher instances of crime in the surrounding areas.
East and West
As Terre Haute is hemmed in by the Wabash River to the west and farmland to the east, the city hasn’t grown much in these two directions. The western portion of town has a 70s urban feel that makes it slightly run down. If you’re looking to live close to the center, stay on the west side of town. While homes here are older than in more suburban parts of the city, they tend to be better maintained and located in safer neighborhoods than on the east side. Two bedrooms in these areas generally go for $550-700.
North and South
North and south Terre Haute is where much of the city’s suburban sprawl is located. North Terre Haute is home to the Twelve Points and Plaza North malls, so a lot of new rentals have sprung up in this desirable area. The north side, however, is also the home of Indiana State University and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Though ISU’s campus is relatively safe and quiet, particularly when compared to larger college campuses, pockets of “student ghettos” exist throughout and have higher instances of petty crime.
The south side has experienced a similar trajectory of development, with growth centered on the construction of malls and shopping centers. A large number of safe, new townhomes and apartment complexes are located in this region of town. Two bedrooms here and on the north side generally range from $600-700.
Overall, locating a decent apartment or town house in Terre Haute should be easy as a pie (With Clabber Girl baking powder, of course). You can find great places via online apartment hunting searches (like this one!), or in the classifieds section of the local newspaper. Many rentals, particularly those around ISU, have flexible lease options and move-in bonuses. Credit checks and application fees vary from $20-30, and deposits generally cost one month of rent.
However, if you’re having trouble, the quickest and easiest way to secure a room in Terre Haute is to land yourself in the Federal Correctional Complex on the southwest side of town. Three square meals a day, tight security, and an occasional view of the Wabash River! Timothy McVeigh gave it two thumbs up!
As a mid-sized city, Terre Haute isn’t too bad around morning and evening rush hour. Interstate 70 runs through the southern portion of the city and brings in out-of-town commuters. Though traffic may be slower during these times, it’s definitely nothing to be too concerned about. Third Street and Hulman are the other two large roads through town and are subject to mild congestion during rush hour.
The city operates several fixed route buses throughout town, including routes to the city’s major shopping centers, as well as the town’s colleges and universities.
So, welcome to Terre Haute, where a low cost of living and a family-friendly vibe prevail. And if you find out where that stench is coming from, please let me know!