Carmel ranks among top small cities in America


By Eric Kuznar

Carmel has been named in the top 1 percent of Wallethub’s 2016 Best Small Cities in America.

Carmel ranked especially high for its low crime rate at 27th, housing costs at 22nd and was 11th in number of residences with at least a high school diploma.

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for Wallethub, said Carmel’s affordable living is the factor that stood out most to the analysts who worked on the study.

“Carmel ranked highly for the affordability,” Gonzalez said. “Specifically, its high median annual income, at almost $108,000, makes renting a two-bedroom apartment or owning a home extremely affordable for residents.”

Gonzalez said the study analyzed 1,268 small cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000.

Gonzalez said the study was inspired by the rapid growth in America’s small cities, which have experienced 10 percent more growth than the rest of the country.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has seen that growth since his first term as mayor in 1996. At that time the city’s population was 31,757. By 2015 it had risen to more than 88,000.

“All these things we have built over the last 20 years have made a huge difference,” he said.  “How we are perceived outside of the state has made a difference in the quality of life for our residences.”

Brainard said that closely monitoring finances, while giving space for growth to occur and welcoming diversity into the community, has made Carmel what it is today.

“Many cities try to design the market. We said very strongly that we are going to let the market work,” Brainard said. “Everybody does not want to live in the same type of house. We have all these different options for people.”