Good schools, smaller communities and less traffic helped make Johnson County one of the most popular destinations for families moving in central Indiana.
During a five-year period, an average of about 3,000 more people per year moved into the county than out of it, putting Johnson County’s growth ahead of both Hamilton and Hendricks counties to lead the region, according to numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.
People move into the county so they can send their children to local schools, face less congestion than in Indianapolis and have more housing options, local officials and experts said.
An average of about 12,000 people per year relocated to Johnson County from another Indiana county or another state, making Johnson County the third-highest in central Indiana behind Marion and Hamilton counties. Nearly 2,000 of those people came from Marion County, according to the study, which took an average from 2006 to 2010.
After subtracting the number who moved out, Johnson County had the largest population gain in central Indiana, closely followed by Hamilton County. Marion County had a net loss as more people moved out of the area than in, according to the study.
The new migration numbers show an ongoing pattern of people moving out of the city and into the suburbs, said Matt Kinghorn, a demographer with the Indiana Business Research Center.
“That’s been a trend that’s been going on for several decades now, especially when you look at how Hamilton and Hendricks have been among the fastest-growing counties in the country,” Kinghorn said.
While Indianapolis continues to attract people to the area for work, the surrounding counties are getting most of the residential growth, he said. Commuter numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau this year show that more than half of Johnson County residents travel to another county for work.
A combination of good schools and available space continues to make the county an attractive place for people to make their homes, which is reflected in the growth numbers, Kinghorn said.
Schools are the main driving force, Greenwood real estate agent Mike Duncan said. Even buyers who don’t have children consider it because good schools can increase resale value in the future.
“You’re looking at the schools themselves are ranked very high in comparison to other markets that are close by. Education is No. 1 and always has been,” Duncan said.
Families also have more housing options to choose from and less congestion in Johnson County, compared with Marion County or the more populated northern suburbs, said Johnson County Development Corp. president and chief executive officer Cheryl Morphew.
“If you want to live in an apartment or a condo or in a garden home or on a lake or in the country, you have all that. You have all of those options in Johnson County, and you really can’t say that in Marion County,” Morphew said.
Less traffic congestion and easy access to Interstate 65 help Morphew market the county to potential businesses looking to locate here, but she said those factors also apply to prospective residents.
Since the northside has developed faster and is becoming more crowded, more people may look to Johnson County as a place to live, Kinghorn said.
Homeowners can find a neighborhood with some available space.
“We’re not heavily, densely populated. We still have large homes with large yards,” Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
Many people looking to relocate to Johnson County also are looking for a small-community feel as opposed to Indianapolis, Duncan said.
Suburban counties like Johnson County offer a tighter community setting, while still having amenities such as parks, shopping centers and restaurants that are close and easy to get to, Kinghorn said.
Hamilton County still is seeing the most migration from Indianapolis, while Johnson County has surpassed Hendricks County since last year as the next most popular choice.