Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Indianapolis.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Indianapolis ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Indianapolis area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Indianapolis proper, although Zionsville certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Indianapolis are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 32 biggest suburbs of Indianapolis to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Indiana lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Indianapolis in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Indianapolis for 2019:
- Sheridan (Photos)
- Martinsville (Photos)
- Beech Grove (Photos)
- Shelbyville (Photos)
- Lawrence (Photos)
- Speedway (Photos)
- Mooresville (Photos)
- Lebanon (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Indianapolis that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Indianapolis too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Indiana reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Indiana
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Indiana
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Indiana
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Indianapolis for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2013-2017, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Indianapolis.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 32 suburbs to evaluate around Indianapolis.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 32 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Indianapolis.” We’re lookin’ at you, Morgantown.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $22,794 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $76,000 (1st lowest)
More on Morgantown:
We’ll get the ball rolling with Morgantown, the absolute worst place to live around Indianapolis according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Morgantown beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Indianapolis area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Morgantown.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Welcome to Sheridan. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 24.7 miles to Indianapolis. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $46,602 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Indianapolis suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Martinsville on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Indianapolis suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Beech Grove, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Indianapolis suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 2nd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Indianapolis. Remember, we looked at 32 cities for this study.
Beech Grove is about 5.3 miles to downtown.
Shelbyville has the distinction of being a Indianapolis suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Shelbyville has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Indianapolis area, where the median price is $96,300. To put that into perspective, in Zionsville, the median income is $127,152, which is the best in the area.
Shelbyville has an unemployment rate of 5.2% which ranks 15th worst.
Lawrence has 48,081 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 15.8%.
Ah, Speedway. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Indianapolis.
It’s the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the Indianapolis metro area (6.3%).
Mooresville is a city about 16.7 miles from Indianapolis, but Indianapolis probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Mooresville has the 19th most uninsured people, 11th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (7.6%) in the entire Indianapolis metro area.
Homes only cost $123,700 for a reason. That’s cheap for Indianapolis standards.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,577 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $100,800 (6th lowest)
More on Ingalls: Data
If you absolutely have to live near Indianapolis, then Ingalls might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Indianapolis suburb.
About 4.7% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Indianapolis suburbs to call home is Lebanon.
Located 24.1 miles outside the city, Lebanons is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 31st highest unemployment rate (2.4%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Indianapolis where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Indianapolis with Morgantown casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Indianapolis aren’t all bad. Zionsville takes the cake as the best place to live around Indianapolis.
For more Indiana reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Indiana
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Indiana
- 10 Safest Places In Indiana
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Indiana
Detailed List Of The Worst Indianapolis Suburbs