January 10th, 2017

A Place with a Small-Town Feel and Great Things to Do: The Barber Family in Urban Indy

by Amy Sheldrake Eddy

When Dan and April Barber decided to leave Atlanta a few years ago, they were faced with a choice between two cities: Houston and Indianapolis.  Dan was looking for a new job as an IT solutions architect and had received job offers in both of those places.  Although Atlanta was April’s hometown, after living there a couple of years, she and Dan felt frustrated by the lifestyle and the time spent in the car.  Her family lived only 8 miles away, but the drive took 1.5 hours.  They had moved to Atlanta from St. Louis, Missouri after they completed degrees at Covenant Seminary, and the couple missed their old neighborhood and life there.  

When Dan talked with friends in Houston and then flew out for a weekend visit, he got the impression that its culture and lifestyle were similar to Atlanta:  his friends from seminary all lived in different suburbs and never saw each other because of driving time and traffic.  Everyone expected to spend a lot of time in the car every day, commuting to work and chauffeuring kids to and from school, organized sports and various extracurricular activities.  

Dan visited Indianapolis and got a very different impression of life here:  for one thing, it was obviously a smaller place.  People weren’t required to spend as much time in the car dealing with heavy traffic.  But more importantly, he saw the city emphasizing the arts and cultural engagement.  He noticed an appreciation for the indie/DIY/young urban creative lifestyle, and a sense of community pride or neighborhood spirit from the people he met here, no matter which side of town they inhabit.  When Dan and April reconnected with some friends here they had known in St. Louis, they gathered that Indianapolis is a place where relationships, neighborliness, and close-knit communities tend to be valued and prioritized.

It wasn’t too difficult for the Barber family to choose between Indy and Houston.  They moved to Carmel, Indiana in July 2014, and rented a house near Dan’s new office.  Over the next several months, April started researching things to do with kids in Indy (and found a lot, to her surprise).  She and her two young kids visited the Children’s Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  They started hanging out at 100 Acres Art & Nature Park and Holliday Park, where they love to hike the trails along the banks of the White River.  They explored the canal downtown and it quickly became one of their favorite places.  April described her optimistic approach toward all the places she’s lived in the past as, “Let’s make the most of it; let’s try to enjoy, embrace and contribute to our place, wherever we are.”  She was determined to feel the same way about Indy, and her research and can-do attitude paid off; her family was rewarded with fun new experiences all over the city.  A new friend in Broad Ripple introduced April to a lot of kid-friendly things to do and places to go; within the first six months, the Barber family had gotten to know several families who lived in downtown Indy, had begun attending church downtown, and decided to consider moving there from Carmel.  

Dan and April talked with Mark Nottingham of Nottingham Realty to get the scoop on different urban Indy neighborhoods and settled on Fall Creek Place for their new home.  They decided to build a new home rather than buying an existing house or rehabbing a fixer-upper, because new construction was the more affordable option at that time in that location.  They’ve now lived in their new home and new neighborhood over a year and a half; April says they love it just as much now as when they first moved in.  “Indy is a place with a small-town feel, but with so many great things to do!”  She likes to use the hashtag #weloveindy whenever they share a photo of their family doing something new or fun around the city, like the Christmas tree lighting festival on Monument Circle the day after Thanksgiving.  “Whenever I stop to think about it, I almost can’t believe this is our life, it’s just so great.”