Declining job opportunities for working-class and blue-collar workers and expensive housing have seen more people leave Chicago than move in over the last five years, according to a 2023 article from ABC7. Many people making an exodus are heading for Northwest Indiana. The Region, home to Jasper, Lake, Porter, La Porte, Pulaski, Starke, and Newton counties, has become one of the country’s newest real estate hotspots because of its suburban lifestyle, low cost of living, and a reasonable commute to the state’s most populous city. Here’s what you can expect from Northwest Indiana’s real estate market.

Northwest Indiana Real Estate Market

Why Buy in Northwest Indiana?

There are several reasons to consider buying property in Northwest Indiana.

Low Property Prices and Tax

Development costs in The Region are fairly low. While property prices are slowly climbing, they remain relatively affordable. In February 2024, the median sale price in Northwest Indiana was $249,900, well below the national average of $415,500. Property tax for residential real estate is also capped at 1% of the assessed value to help buyers save.

Accessible Home Ownership

Many young adults find leaving Chicago and moving to Northwest Indiana allows them to buy property for the first time. Northwest Indiana is so affordable that more than 71 percent of households own their homes. That’s very different from Chicago, where just 46 percent of homes are owner-occupied.

Low Cost of Living

Northwest Indiana also has a low cost of living, especially compared to nearby Chicago. RentCafe says the cost of living in Indiana is 8% lower than the national average, noting its housing, food, health care, transport, and goods and services are all more affordable than in many other states. As the area is well connected to transport routes, goods and services can easily enter the state to keep prices low. Indiana also has a low flat-income tax rate of 3.15%.

Northwest Indiana’s low cost of living benefits owner-occupiers and investors. Owner-occupiers have less mortgage stress; their salaries leave plenty for loan repayments, daily essentials, and some luxuries. Since life is relatively affordable here, investors find attracting and retaining tenants in The Region easy.

Large, Accessible Plots of Land

Land is also incredibly accessible in Northwest Indiana. If you want to build, you’ll have numerous options, with vacant lots across the counties. Abundant land options keep prices low. You can find a larger property with space for play, outdoor entertainment, and gardens. Sizeable plots of land also allow for more spacious homes with plenty of room for your family. The average vacant lot size in Northwest Indiana is 6.9 acres, and many are even more spacious.

Easy Commute to Chicago

Constantly developing roadways and transit lines make commuting to Chicago a breeze. For example, the West Lake Corridor Project, a new 8-mile link between Hammond and Dyer connecting to the South Shore route to Chicago, will make commuting to the city from these Northwest Indiana locations even faster and more affordable. The South Shore Line connects Northwest Indiana hotspots such as Hammond, Gary, and Michigan City to Chicago. If you prefer driving, I-65 makes the commute easy. The journey from Munster to Chicago takes around 35 minutes, while the trip from Gary to Chi-town takes around 40.

Annual New Residential Construction Figures for Northwest Indiana

While no official figures exist for new construction homes built in Northwest Indiana, experts claim the local building sector is strong. In 2023, Christine Neal, executive officer for Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana, told NWI Life many of the organization’s builders are constructing new homes in The Region. These homes help ease demand for the limited number of existing properties in Northwest Indiana.

Neal also noted that Northwest Indiana has many new subdivisions with vacant lots ready for construction. One prime example is The Preserve, an upscale residential community in St. John. Its 400 lots are being built out in phases, with around 50 available to the public each year.

In 2022, St. John developer Jack Slager told Northwest Indiana Business Magazine that labor and material shortages have made keeping up with the demand for new construction homes challenging. Jason Harris, a mortgage loan officer and community lender with Centier Bank, added that requests for home loans are higher than in his entire career.

New Homes Built: How Much on Average Do They Cost?

In February 2024, 336 new construction homes in Northwest Indiana were listed for sale. The average list price for these homes was $474,416. The median list price was a little cheaper at $432,555. New homes in Northwest Indiana are typically large, with an average list price of $205 per finished square foot.

Prices vary depending on the type of home, its size, and its location. Several property developers specialize in luxury custom homes costing $500,000 up to $1 million or more. Many of these properties are in the affluent communities of Dyer, St. John, and Crown Point. However, there are also plenty of much more affordable newly built homes priced at $250,000 or less, according to Northwest Indiana Business Magazine. Many of these budget-friendly new construction homes are in DeMotte, Chesterton, and Wanatah.

You can purchase a recently constructed home or build one on a vacant plot of land. The median purchase price in The Region is $99,500. Land values vary dramatically based on location and size.

Build Your Dream Home in Northwest Indiana

Whether you want to escape Chicago’s high prices and fast pace or desire to expand your property portfolio, consider Northwest Indiana. Easy access to land and relatively low development costs make the Region’s real estate market one of the most appealing in the country. If you’re ready to start your construction project, speak with Steiner Homes. With more than 30 years of experience building custom properties in Northwest Indiana, we’ll work closely with you to create a beautiful home to your specifications in this in-demand area.