Pros and cons of buying/renting in Indy--your thought?

It looks as though we are about to move to Indianapolis. The decision is whether to rent or buy. Right now, I could buy if I wanted to do so. It would involve finessing a mortgage (right now I’m self-employed but making semi-decent money) and pretty much draining the bank account, but it is possible. Of course, it would be nothing big and fancy.

I’ve wanted my own house for a long time. Some reasons (aka, the pros for buying over renting in Indianapolis):

  1. Enough storage space for all our stuff. I’m sick of depending on my mom’s basement. I’d like to be able to look around and say, “It’s all here.”

  2. No noisy neighbors. Well, at least not directly above, below, or to the side.

  3. It’s a canvas on which you can draw at will.

  4. Ample space.

  5. It’s “yours,” and the money doesn’t just “go away,” like rent. When circumstances are right, you can make money on your house. (But I don’t believe in this pro myself. See the first con.)

The cons of buying right now in Indy.

  1. It’s not “yours,” it’s the bank’s, and even 5% interest is nothing to scoff at. Further, you do pay rent: it’s called property taxes. For a decent house these will be $3,000 or more, a large percentage of what we would pay in rent anyway. Finally, housing prices in Indy, like many places of the country, are not outrageous but not very attractive either. We are talking $250k for something that is nice but no great shakes. I don’t have the knowledge to call it a bubble, but the prices do seem high to me. I don’t know if there is much upside.

  2. Indy is a nice place to buy a house for a millionaire. I dream of owning one of those mansions on Meridian; they would be a great value. But if you are looking at midrange, there is not much exciting. Lots of clunky 60s and 70s houses (architecture here in little Crown Point is usually much better), and new = McMansion, hold the pickle. I won’t shell out big dough for anything that doesn’t thrill me.

  3. Risk. This is the big factor that makes me wonder why people buy at all. If you have to sell and you can’t, trouble. If you have to sell and ending up losing money, pain. If you sell, make money, but don’t beat inflation, the federal government charges you for the privilege (capital gains tax). If anything goes wrong with anything, it’s 100% your problem.

  4. Fees, commissions, etc. etc.

The pros and cons of my renting right now in Indy.

Rents are cheap as hell. You can get a nice 3-bedroom for $1000. Parking included, of course. But you can also get a nice apartment for under $500. I have not done a deep study of value there, but it is harder to imagine a town that is much cheaper.

Lower risk. I can save my money for building my business. No need to buy major appliances. Then, if my business takes off and I make some serious money, I won’t have to make the jump from a house I wasn’t thrilled to live in to begin with.

The rest of the pros and cons are implied in what I’ve written above, I think. Thanks for your opinions and advice.

Here are some facts, though perhaps they aren’t the ones you are looking for. First, the governments of Indianapolis and Marion County were merged a few years ago (except for some towns that opted out, such as Speedway and Lawrence.) It’s all Indy, all the way to the county line. One of the effects of this is that car insurance will cost you a high-crime-area rate. A boss of mine rented a place near the county line; his insurance agent told him his bill would be half as much if he lived 2 blocks north, in Hamilton County.

If you’re going to work on the northeast side, and you don’t mind a little commute, houses are much cheaper in Anderson.

Some parts of Indy are in transition from being run-down to being revitalized, and there can be some bargains there.

Check with the Dept. of Transportaion to find out if there’s a big road project happening soon near your new home. You could be looking at traffic hell for a couple of years.

After you move, get a really good map. You’ll soon learn when city streets are slower than the interstate highways, and when they aren’t. It’s not hard to get around in Indy, even though some streets don’t have street signs.

Thanks AskNott–good advice.

No thoughts on buying versus renting, in Indy or other places?

I rent in Indy, and it’s easy as pie. As for the economics of buying a house, I’m not so sure. Eventually, I want to buy something in Lawrence township, great schools and conveniently located.

I think Indy is a great city to live in. There is always something fun going on (music, theater, good restaurants), and you can live in the city and still feel like you’re in a small town.

As for the Anderson idea, check it out thoroughly before you move there. Noblesville might be ok if you’ve got the money, but Anderson is not someplace I’d want to raise my family. There are other “charming” small towns outside of Indy, but I prefer to stay in the city.

What’s wrong with Anderson?

Thats exactly what I was going to write. I used to live in Winchester and I visited Anderson a few times. It didn’t ‘seem’ bad but i didn’t live there so i don’t know the environment.

Have you checked for houses or one of the many apartment guides for indy? 1k a month seems kindof steep imo, i would’ve figured rent was closer to 700/month for a 2 bedroom.

And rent does get cheaper out of indy. If you are in a small town in Indiana a 2 bedroom apartment can be had for $250-350/month.

I find it to be a redneck shithole. It’s not terribly clean, and doesn’t seem to have much to offer. I don’t know about the school systems, but if the Anderson residents are any example of it, I’m not impressed. I could be wrong, but that’s my observation.

There have been changes to the cap gains tax that you might not be aware of. You can sell your house without paying capital gains as long as it was your primary residence for two out of the last five years. So, as long as you plan on staying in the house at least two years, you won’t get gored by the government ox.

However, if Kerry wins in November this will probably change for the worse.