Back Home Again: Why I Moved From New York City to Indianapolis

Indianapolis skyline view from the canal at night

We kept it all a secret. My husband Andy and I didn’t even drop hints to our family that we were considering this monumental decision. It was an uncharacteristically dramatic move, but we were uncertain about leaving life in New York and moving to Indianapolis. With our future in the balance, we didn’t want anyone tipping the scales or being disappointed if we changed our minds about finally coming home.

We approached our return cautiously. But when I left Indianapolis eleven years earlier, it was both the riskiest and easiest decision I had ever made. During my junior year at DePauw, I had the future-shaping, worldview-shaking internship experiences that college brochures boast about. After a semester working at Rockefeller Center for NBC’s “Today Show,” I was sold. This Hoosier wanted to be a New Yorker. 

So, I spent the summer after graduation back at my childhood home in Speedway plotting and planning my escape. Indy’s revival was well underway by 2006, but I didn’t have the patience to stay and see the city bloom. Through my 22-year-old eyes, everything about life in New York was bursting with possibilities, and my hometown just couldn’t compare. When NBC offered me a gig as a production assistant, I didn’t hesitate. I jumped.

Indianapolis grew into a major metropolis while I was away.

I love that you can walk anywhere in New York. But up there, you quickly learn that if you’re not moving, you’re just in the way. While I was constantly in motion—learning, growing, failing, and succeeding—Indianapolis was rapidly evolving, too. 

During my decade away, Indy paved the Cultural Trail, scaled up into a tech hub, and transformed the airport into one of my favorites in the world. Friends moved to apartments off of Mass Ave and bought homes in Fountain Square. People started calling the neighborhood south of Broad Ripple “SoBro,” and the city greenlit the Red Line rapid transit bus. 

During the Super Bowl in 2012, I came back to Indianapolis to help produce broadcasts live from the Georgia Street fan village. I spent the week reporting on how my hometown rolled out the welcome mat with its signature brand of “Hoosier hospitality.” I remember that there were thousands of hand-knit scarves. The local volunteers dotting the downtown sidewalks were always ready to answer any question. And I marveled alongside our New York-based producers at how Indianapolis was the perfect match for this world-class event.

With the spotlight on this unassuming Midwestern city, I was so proud to see Indy’s spirit shine so bright. One of the stories we aired that weekend summed it up best: “Even before the teams take the field, Hoosiers already consider the Super Bowl a win for the home team.”

I realized that Indianapolis had new experiences to explore.

With the benefits of time and distance, I began to view Indianapolis from a different vantage point. Whether traveling for work or fun, Andy and I like to visit the local spots that make a place tick. 

In New York, we lived in a city where on any weekend you can play tourist. You can easily see a new exhibit, try a restaurant that just opened, or walk through a previously uncharted neighborhood. It felt like even if you lived in New York your entire life, you would never run out of new things to do.

For a long time, I naively thought that was an exclusive perk of living in a metropolis as overwhelming and audacious as New York. But the more I traveled—from big cities where I didn’t speak the language to quaint enclaves that reminded me of my college town—the more I realized how misguided I was. Even a place I once considered too small of a pond could hold an ocean of new experiences. 

It was a personal victory that Andy loved visiting Indianapolis too. He’s from Liverpool—an undeniably cool city. But I think any Liverpudlian would feel as at home in Indy as Andy always has. I saw Indy through Andy’s eyes as we ran the Mini-Marathon, explored museums, and witnessed the Indy 500. We feasted on pork tenderloins, brunched at Cafe Patachou, and drank local brews. With each trip back, there was always something new to scout.

Indianapolis was the right place for the next stage of our lives.

By 2017, I had checked off more bucket list items than I could have ever dreamed of while living in New York. When Andy and I found out we were pregnant with our son Cal, we were suddenly confronted with big life questions. What did we want our lives to look like for the next thirty years? 

As heartbreaking as it was to leave the city we loved and the friends we considered family, all of the answers led west down I-70. In Indianapolis, we could upgrade from our one-bedroom apartment for a house with a backyard and still have a neighborhood with vibrant local character. 

Even in the suburbs, our home is in walking distance to an independent coffee shop with excellent cold brew, and we have three nearby farmers markets to choose from every Saturday morning. In Indy, we still have more locally owned restaurants, breweries, and boutiques than we could ever visit. And we love having so many options to listen to live music or cheer on a local team, although I regret to report that my husband is still a Jets fan.

We still miss walking around the waterfront of our Jersey City apartment and the magic of Central Park. But now, we have countless sprawling green spaces and fantastic playgrounds to explore. I was never the outdoorsy type, but there is nothing that Cal loves more than the freedom of an open landscape, ideally with decent hills to run up and down. From Holliday Park to the Monon Trail, it’s easy to find him the space he needs for his next adventure.

Our home in Indiana is the ideal centralized location.

Location is everything when it comes to family. We knew we wanted to have a good support system nearby when we first started our family. Here, Cal can play in his grandparents’ backyard in Speedway, where the change of seasons is still marked by the distinct, whiny roar of race car engines.

Cal is also growing up a short drive away from five (soon to be six!) of his cousins. We can celebrate every birthday, music recital, and graduation or get together for an impromptu Sunday night dinner. And it’s not just family. Now, our network includes the local librarian who leads story time and always remembers Cal’s name, as well as the neighbors who welcomed me into their book club and host chili cook-offs every fall.

With a new home base for travel, we no longer have a non-stop flight to England to visit my husband’s family. But after years of flying out of New York, Indianapolis International feels like a dream! We love using the direct flight to Paris for our hops across the pond. And now, it’s a weekend getaway to see Lake Michigan, visit friends in Ohio, or travel down the Bourbon Trail.

Moving to Indianapolis was the best decision we could have made.

The scariest part of leaving New York was walking away from my dream job. After producing stories and interviews at the weekend edition of the Today Show, I moved across the hall at 30 Rock to MSNBC, where I left as a senior producer for “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” 

I traveled around the country meeting people and sharing their stories. I led a control room during more breaking news events than I can count. Covering the 2016 election as we crisscrossed the country on the campaign trail was the most challenging and rewarding experience. I worried nothing could top it. 

But what I loved most about my job was working with a team of passionate, talented, and creative people to achieve a goal. That type of collaboration is happening every day all over Indianapolis. As I take a hiatus from my career to stay home with Cal, I feel nothing but hope and excitement about jumping back in when the time is right.

So, eleven years after I left Indianapolis in my parents’ minivan, I watched them drive up to our new home the afternoon of closing day to finally reveal our big secret. They were shocked and thrilled. But no one has been more pleasantly surprised than me at how our big move has turned out for our family. I was proud to make it as a New Yorker. But living in a city with millions of people, each with their own unique backstory, has made me even more appreciative of my own.