Insider Guide: Living in Indy After Graduation

Indianapolis Skyline

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

After years of hard work and dedication, walking across the stage and earning that diploma feels absolutely exhilarating. For many young adults, this is a time for new beginnings, and the first step is deciding where to live after graduation. But for the 61% of college students who start their career in the same city they graduated, post-grad life can feel a little… ordinary. 

Suddenly, your favorite coffee shop reminds you too much of the trauma of studying for finals.  The bar that once was the go-to place on campus now feels juvenile and awkward. And as much as you love your old college friends, growing your social circle wouldn’t be a bad thing. 

Lucky for you, Indianapolis is the perfect city to spread your educated, professional, and oh-so-adult wings. Since I graduated from Butler University, I’ve been exploring the city, looking for new ways to get involved and feel connected to my community. So, here’s my guide to finding a fresh start here in Indy, no matter how long you’ve called it home!  

​How to Find Friends Outside Your School Network

Living in the same place you graduated does give you a leg up, since you already know some people in the area. However, simply knowing someone is different than having a true friend group you can rely on. Don’t get me wrong; hometown and college friends can be great. But it’s important to expand beyond that and meet new people in your community. 

I recommend starting with local non-profits and networking groups, which are designed to help residents and newcomers make connections. If you find an organization that aligns with your interests and values, chances are you’ll find a community of people who also share your interests! 

Join a local networking group (or two!)

After a long day of work, a networking event can feel like the least fun thing on the planet. But networking groups allow you to socialize with a diverse community of industry professionals, including potential colleagues and mentors. Not only will you gain knowledge, support, and resources from these connections, but you could also find your new best friend along the way! Some of my favorite networking groups in Indianapolis include:

  • IndyHub is the largest network of young professionals in Indianapolis, focused on empowering and engaging people in the local community. They also host the annual IndyVolved event, where you can browse over 100 different organizations looking for new members and volunteers.  
  • The Young Professionals of Central Indiana is a networking group designed to help professionals in their 20s and 30s grow their career, create lasting friendships, and give back to the community. Each year, they host over 30 events such as speaker panels, development workshops, and monthly happy hours. 
  • Indy Maven is a community created by women for women—with the goal of supporting one another, offering resources, and connecting at monthly events. Indy Maven also maintains an award-winning weekly newsletter with inspiring news, lifestyle resources, and other content to uplift Hoosier women.
IndyVolved at Victory Field

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

People highfiving at the Indy Ultimate

Photo courtesy of Indiana Sports Corp

Make connections through volunteering.

Volunteering is an easy way to find people who share your passions, all while giving back to the city you call home. Whether it’s a one-time event or even a weekly occurrence, volunteering can connect you with a wide range of organizations involved in art, sports, education, the environment, and so much more. It also serves as an easy conversation starter, giving you and your new crew something you already have in common! 

Not sure how to get started? IndyHub keeps an ongoing list of volunteer opportunities on their website, but here’s a few organizations that could always use some extra support:

  • At the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis, you can sign up to mentor local kids in our community. Volunteers can help tutor students, coach a sport, or teach other skills at any of the Boys and Girls Club locations around Indy. 
  • IndyHumane is the local humane society here in Indianapolis, where you can volunteer to love on some animals and help them find their forever home. 
  • Indiana Sports Corp is the nation’s first-ever sports commission—and the team behind major sporting events like the 2024 NBA All-Star and the 2021 March Madness tournament. Their volunteers help execute these enormous events right in our backyard.
  • Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is an environmental community nonprofit that helps plant trees, clean up public spaces, and keep our city looking its best. 
  • Indy Reads is a unique volunteer-run bookstore that helps build literacy in our community. You can help by working in the shop or teaching reading lessons to readers of all ages. 

Start Exploring the City and Getting to Know Indianapolis

When you travel to a new destination, you spend hours diving into all of the cool tourist spots, history, and culture. But people typically don’t research their home the same way, especially if they’ve already lived there for years. 

My recommendation is to take time to be a tourist—right here at home! Since graduating, I’ve realized that Indianapolis is packed with rich history and unique attractions that many locals miss. No matter how well you know the city, there’s bound to be something new for you to discover. 

Learn the history behind your new home.

Founded in 1821, the City of Indianapolis has a unique history full of fun facts you may not have learned in school! For example, did you know that Madam C.J. Walker—America’s first self-made woman millionaire—had her business headquartered in Indianapolis? If you dive into Hoosier history, you might be surprised to find that our “Naptown” is one of the greatest things since sliced bread. (Another fun fact: Wonder Bread was originally manufactured here in Indy back in 1921!)

You can find remnants and echoes of Indianapolis history just about everywhere in the city. But if you’re interested in learning more, you can start by visiting the Indiana Historical Society or the Indiana State Museum.

Visitors admiring art at Newfields

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Family looking at the Dinosphere in the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Visit Indy’s must-see attractions and bucket-list items.

Did you know that Indianapolis has catacombs? Or that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a museum? While some days may feel ordinary, there’s a lot of extraordinary things about Indy that you might be missing out on, even after all this time. Some of our must-do tourist activities include:

  • The Indianapolis Catacombs Tour allows you to explore the historic ruins beneath the City Market. These catacombs don’t have any bones or crypts (that we know of), but they do have the remnants of the old Tomlinson Hall that burnt down in 1958. 
  • Built in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the oldest continually operating racetrack in the world—and the home of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. You can visit the IMS Museum on the facility grounds to learn more about the history of motorsports over the years.  
  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the biggest and best children’s museum in the world for a reason. With five floors of fun exhibits to explore, this makes the bucket list even as a grown-up. 
  • At Newfields, you can experience the beauty of art and nature all in one place. The Newfields campus is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, a 100-acre Art & Nature Park, and a beautiful array of gardens (including their Beer Garden!)
  • The Indianapolis Zoo is a local favorite for Hoosier families—with over a million visitors each year. There’s no better place to spend the day out in the sun, while admiring wildlife from all around the world!
  • Just about every Hoosier has seen the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, but not many people know that you can actually go inside the monument. You can even take an elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the city. 
Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Monument Circle

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Places to Try New Things and Find New Experiences in Indy

You know what they say: growth happens when you go outside of your comfort zone! When you first graduate, it’s easy to stick with the same people and places you already know. But trying new things can help you remember why you wanted to live in Indianapolis in the first place. 

Whether that means totally breaking your routine or just looking for a change of scenery, new experiences help reignite our passions and breathe new life into the same-old city. And who knows, you might even discover new reasons to call Indy your forever home! 

Take a tour of the many cities and neighborhoods around the Indy region.

Indianapolis may be the heart of our state, but the nine-county Indy region has more than 30 cities and neighborhoods for you to explore. Each neighborhood has their own unique community and culture with a wide range of amenities to match. Just think, your new favorite hangout could be waiting for you just on the other side of town! 

If you’re a downtowner, I suggest checking out popular Indianapolis neighborhoods like Broad Ripple, Irvington, or Speedway on the West Side. Northsiders are sure to find some fun down south in Greenwood or Beech Grove. And if you’ve never been north to Hamilton County, places like Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, and Westfield have some of the region’s best restaurants, music venues, and family-friendly things to do. 

Discover Indy’s unique local businesses, restaurants, and things to do.

If you’re interested in exploring the region, then look no further than our other guides on Things to Do in Indy! There are constantly new entertainment venues and dining options opening around town. You can make an evening out of it and try a new restaurant or bar each week, adding a bit of spice into your everyday routine. Or you can pick up a new hobby, including everything from swing dancing to book clubs!

After all, life is more than eat, sleep, work, repeat! Try adding in some extracurriculars to keep post-grad life fun. You can go on a bakery crawl through the city, stay active by joining a community sports league, or simply try a new coffee shop for your morning caffeine fix.

School may have been what brought you to Indianapolis, but there are millions of reasons to stay here, including (hopefully) a job! Your formal education may have wrapped up, but I hope that you continue to explore the city and learn what makes Indianapolis so special.