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How Much Does It Cost to Live in Bloomington, IN?

Thinking of moving to Bloomington? From rent to groceries to lattes, here’s how much it will cost you.

By Sarah Von Bargen on May 29, 2019

Wondering how much it costs to live in Bloomington, Indiana? Well, we figured it out for you! Keep reading to find out how much rent costs in Bloomington, as well as the costs of a good cocktail, who the best employers are, and if there are any “catches” to living in Bloomington.

Name: Kelsie

Age: 29

City: Bloomington, Indiana AKA Btown

How long have you lived in Bloomington?

I’ve lived in Bloomington for over ten years. I’m from southern Indiana and like many others, I originally came here to attend Indiana University. After graduating in 2011, I lived in Indianapolis for a short time, but happily moved back to Bloomington for a job opportunity.

What’s your rent/mortgage in Bloomington?

My boyfriend and I rent a one-bedroom apartment for $1,045. This includes a loft area, so it’s a very spacious one-bedroom. We also have a one car garage and a patio deck; the rent also includes a washer and dryer rental fee and a pet fee (two cats that rule the house).

We are located just southeast of downtown, so it’s easy to ride bikes downtown and walk. Our apartment complex has a nice pool and is right next to Bryan Park. For as long as we are renting, I don’t think we’ll find a better deal or a better place for us!

Indiana University in Bloomington, IN
Bloomington / Photo: Indiana University

Who are the main employers in Bloomington? Are jobs relatively easy to find?

The main employers in are Indiana University and Cook Medical. We have a large life sciences and medical device industry here with Cook Medical, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Baxter, Singota Solutions and Boston Scientific nearby. I think the job market is a little tough here because of the university. There’s definitely a lot of competition.

How’s the access to grocery stores and food in Bloomington? Are you going to be able to find things like quinoa and gluten-free pizzas at your local grocery store?

I think we have a great variety of grocery stores here! Kroger is the main grocery store; we also have two Fresh Thyme’s and a Lucky’s for more organic and specialty options.

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We also have a co-op called BloomingFoods with three locations in town. There’s one near my office that has a fantastic lunch buffet! There’s also an Aldi and an IGA nearby. I mostly shop Kroger and Lucky’s.

How family-friendly is Bloomington?

Bloomington is very family-friendly. The Monroe County Public Library has a full calendar of events and a great kids’ section. The Parks and Rec department always has fun events, like movies in the park and outdoor concerts, plus tons of incredible parks and trails around town.

There’s also WonderLab, a science museum with hands-on kids’ exhibits, plus insects and reptiles.

Bloomington / Cardinal Spirits

What’s it like to be a child-free adult in Bloomington?

While Bloomington is geared more towards families overall, I think it’s a great place for young professionals and those without kids! There’s a young professional’s group that puts on free events each month (networking, social activities and professional development) and Visit Bloomington does a great job of curating an events calendar.

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There are always great drink specials and activities downtown like plays by Cardinal Stage Company, music and movies at the Buskirk Chumley Theater and live comedy at The Comedy Attic. Plus, there is a First Friday Gallery Walk each month. We are lucky to have close access to Indiana University. There are always great shows at the IU Auditorium plus the art museum and sporting events.

The Twin Lakes Recreation Center has a ton of rec sports leagues where I’ve played volleyball for a few years!

Bloomington / Photo courtesy Visit Bloomington

How walkable is Bloomington? Is there a good public transit system?

Downtown Bloomington is incredibly walkable! We have a trail that runs through downtown called the B-Line and it connects to the southside, so it is easy to ride a bike north and south.

The east and west side are not as well connected, but once you get downtown, you can walk everywhere. We also have a ton of bike lanes – in the spring and summer, I ride my bike to work, which I love.

How diverse – ethnically, politically, religiously, economically – is Bloomington?

While we’re definitely more diverse than the communities surrounding us, I think we have a ways to go in terms of diversity. Politically, we are a blue dot in a red state. It’s a mostly white, liberal college town, typical for the Midwest.

Bloomington / Photo courtesy Visit Bloomington

To give us an idea of the overall cost of living – how much does a nice, fancy cup of coffee cost? A nice cocktail?

A coffee at Hopscotch or the Inkwell will run $4 to $5. A cocktail at Cardinal Spirits, The Uptown or C3 will cost $9 to $12.


What are your absolute favorite things about Bloomington?

This list could go on forever, but I love the variety of independent restaurants in town, being near the lakes, and our farmers’ market! We have a lot of ethnic restaurants on 4th Street (Thai, Indian, Korean, Mediterranean, Burmese), awesome pizza (my favorites are Aver’s and Mother Bear’s for delivery plus King Dough to dine out) and classics like the Uptown Café (love their brunch!).

For drinks, Upland Brewery has excellent beers and burgers. Cardinal Spirits, our first and only distillery, has the best cocktails and my favorite gin (try the Terra Gin!).

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In the summer, I always enjoy going out to the lakes. There’s Lake Monroe, the largest lake in Indiana, Lake Lemon and Griffy, just ten minutes from downtown. At Griffy, I like to rent stand up paddle boards or walk along the dam with friends. Lake Monroe is great for pontoon boat days and camping.

Our farmers market is the best – it’s like the whole community comes out every Saturday morning to party! There’s music and food vendors, so it’s a great place to grab coffee and a bite for breakfast before perusing the local produce, meats, honey, jams, flowers and more. The best summer days always start with the farmers market!

Most cities have a ‘catch’ – San Francisco has an insane cost of living, LA has terrible traffic, NYC has garbage bags lining the sidewalk. What’s the ‘catch’ with Bloomington?

I don’t feel like there is a catch! While Bloomington is on the more expensive side for Indiana, I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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