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Old 07-08-2017, 04:36 PM
367 posts, read 484,476 times
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Which city would you choose in Northwest Indiana? I have 2 children who are 8 and 6 and schools are important. How is the diversity in Northwest Indiana? How far is the drive to downtown Chicago? What can I expect to pay in taxes? How far will 300k take me in NW Indiana? Anyone who moved to NW Indiana from Illiniois regret it?
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Old 07-08-2017, 07:32 PM
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We are in a similar situation and we are looking forward to move to Munster, Indiana.
Please search for this thread 'Is it a good idea to buy/rent in Munster, IN and commute daily to Chicago downtown for work?' that I posted a couple of days ago and the helpful comments I received. Thank you!
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Old 07-08-2017, 07:33 PM
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And similar threads like this one were helpful.. 'Looking to move to NWI'
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:28 PM
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If schools are important, Munster gets the highest ratings in the region. That being said, other top school districts in the region are Crown Point and Lake Central. The following link is a good tool where you can put in school district or high school and see performance, size, student make up, etc.


At $300K you can pretty much live in any town, it just depends on how important home size and age of home are. Munster, having the top schools and being closest to Chicago, tends to be more expensive (all other things held equal). Also, Munster has passed referendums to go above the 1% property tax cap on residential. The effective tax rate is 1.4% currently. School funding is different in IN than in IL. The state gives schools money directly based on the number of students and other factors. This is supplemented with property taxes, however, voters have to approve property taxes which are over the 1% cap. This is great because it gives citizens control if they want to spend extra money for better education. As somebody who moved to NWI (Munster) from IL the total tax amount seems like a bargain given the strength of the school district, the overall lower housing costs and the manageable effective tax rate. I am not sure what effective tax rates are for other towns but most of the good schools in IN are getting the votes to have the 1% cap exceeded. These towns get that housing values and school performance are intrinsically linked.

The link I provided above will also give insight into your diversity question. I think overall NWI is probably very much like Chicago as you do still see heavy self-segregation in certain areas. Then there are areas which are much more diverse (meaning people of different race and religious backgrounds live together in harmony). My particular neighborhood is like that - but we do all share common cultural traits too. We are professionals/hard workers, don't blare loud music late at night, we watch our kids, pick up our trash, plant flowers/mow the grass, and look out for each other. I think in poorer areas you see more self-segregation perhaps there is less commonality in terms of work and professional lives? There are some threads on here which go into all this in more detail as really it is a topic in its own right.

In general it feels that most everything is less expensive here. No tax on food that you buy in the grocery store. Really economical grocery stores if you want them. Whole Foods if you don't Gas prices seemed lower when we moved. Housing costs are definitely lower. Not as much keeping up with the Jones. I took my kids to a baseball game in a very nice ballpark in Whiting the other night and the food prices were so cheap it was awesome. $2.00 cheeseburger or massive hotdog and $4.00 beers (tall ones).

So far, I don't regret the move. If your income is based in IL you will still have to pay the IL income tax but you get a credit in IN so you aren't paying the tax twice. So the increase in IL tax will still bite you unless you can move your business across state line or you are in a line of work that once you are settled in IN you can start looking for work here. So you can't move to IN to evade that tax increase but you can move here to take advantage of the property tax caps, the lower cost of living and the $2 billion surplus we are currently running. The IL tax increase solves nothing and obviously there will be more pain down the road. I am going to start lobbying hard for my boss to officially open an office here He lives in Crown Point so hopefully won't be a tough sell.
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:43 PM
Location: Schererville, IN
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I'd suggest Munster, Dyer, Schererville, and Saint John. All 4 towns have great school systems. Munster has its own school system, whereas the latter three share the Lake Central school system. Honestly you can't go wrong with either. A 300k budget will get you a fairly nice house in all 4 towns, although options will be smaller or more outdated in Munster. For reference, the house I sold in Schererville two years ago for 275k was a 2500 square foot two story with 4 bedrooms, and the taxes were roughly around 2500. Overall, NWI isn't extremely diverse, but if you are looking for an area with good diversity, I would suggest the autumn creek/foxwood estates neighborhoods in Schererville. I moved to Schererville from Lansing, IL in 2003 and I sure am glad I did.
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:24 AM
Location: Saint John, IN
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We moved to St. John from Plainfield last year. We do not regret the move and wish we had done it sooner. In your budget there will be more options in Dyer, Crown Point and Schererville than in Munster or St. John. A $300k home in Munster or St. John will be smaller and more outdated, but is possible. As far as diversity, I would rank as follows with highest to lowest as far as diversity with Munster on top and St. John being the least diverse as it is predominately white.

1. Munster
2. Schererville
3. Dyer
4. Crown Point
5. St. John

Munster has the best schools in the region (rated a 10) followed by Lake Central (which is all Dyer, Schererville & St. John rated between 7-9). Part of Crown Point goes to Lake Central schools and part go to Crown Point schools which are also highly rated. You can see all of these statistics on CD. Munster also has a great park district whereas St. John's park district is almost non-existent. I'm not sure about the park districts in the rest of the towns. Munster also has a great pubic pool.

As another poster stated property taxes are WAY lower than Illinois and no tax on food. Gas prices and utilities also seem to be lower. All the towns have Lake Michigan water (as far as I know) except St. John which has municipal well water. All the towns are family oriented! Lots of kids!

The drive downtown would depend on what town you choose and the time of day you are driving. Munster is the closest (about 29 miles) which would probably take you 40 minutes to an hour. St. John and Crown Point are the furthest and would take you at least an hour or possibly more. I believe there is the South Shore train in Hammond that can take you down town and that is expanding to Munster in the near future.

Last edited by CGab; 07-09-2017 at 11:13 AM..
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Old 07-09-2017, 07:20 PM
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Everyone is trying to escape "communist" Illinois(or commie California). They don't call it Crapcago for nothing.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:25 PM
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Are there any negatives to those who moved from Illinois to Northwest Indiana? There are many positives but there has to be some negatives.
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:49 PM
Location: Hammond
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I think negatives depend on who you are and what you are looking for. I moved from Chicago proper and prefer historic neighborhoods and places with thriving downtowns and good transit options. I would love to live in a place like LaGrange or Hinsdale, or maybe Beverly if such places were in my budget. In NWI those things don't really exist in one place. A neighborhood near downtown Gary or Hammond might be ideal if it were still 1950. I find Valparaiso attractive but it is further from work than I would ever want to commute.

So our best compromise was to live in one of the established neighborhoods in SW Hammond, which have a good sense of community, beautiful historic housing stock, low crime with a strong neighborhood watch group, the home prices are a little less than in north Munster, and about the shortest commute by train that one can have in NWI without living in a more sketchy area. The drawbacks are that Hammond's downtown is pretty dead and the schools are mediocre at best. But it works for us so long as we don't have any children.

Obviously for someone who prefer subdivisions, new houses, and shopping malls, they are not going to have the same negatives.
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Old 07-10-2017, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Fighting Fungus View Post
Are there any negatives to those who moved from Illinois to Northwest Indiana? There are many positives but there has to be some negatives.
- Your friends may sort of laugh at you when you move (if you run in the kind of crowd that likes to demonstrate wealth).

- You do not have many "luxury" or "high-end" shopping options if that is important. There is no Gucci store. Retailers do well here but it is more geared toward middle-market. We do have Whole Foods and have been getting a wider variety of restaurants and quick-service eating establishments.

- Just like certain areas of Illinois, you have to be careful if traveling around or near high-crime areas. One example I will give is Whiting. I really like downtown Whiting - it has a great vibe and is cute, clean, walkable and relatively safe. However if I drive through East Chicago to get there you have to be alert and I don't do it at night. Rather, I can take the Tollway which is a bit longer but safer in my opinion.
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