In 2006 I was freshly engaged to a West Lafayette native and teaching high school in St Croix, US Virgin Islands. My fiancé was sick of the heat and wanted to move back to Indiana. I would have followed him to the moon, so as soon as the school year ended, we moved to Indiana with all of our possessions crammed into my Volkswagen convertible that we shipped from St Croix. My fiancé’s pitch for West Lafayette was that it was, “the best place on earth to raise a family”. I desperately wanted kids, so it wasn’t a hard sell. My master plan was to get married, start a family, then move back to New Hampshire, my home state, within 5 years. Here I sit, 14 years and 5 children later, and I am the biggest cheerleader for the Lafayette Area.
When I moved here in 2006, the population in Tippecanoe County was around 100,000, a moderate sized college town. Since then, the population has nearly doubled to 200,000 people. The secret is out, folks, this is a great place to live.
Multiple times a month I meet people who tell me that they came to college here and liked it so much that they stayed. Living in a college town is great. Purdue University is one of the most diverse universities in the country. With the diversity brings different culture, language, food, and activities. There are frequently things to do associated with the university such as sporting events, concerts, theater, camps, and educational opportunities. Last year my daughters participated in a day long engineering clinic put on by the Purdue Engineering Student Council. These experiences can only be provided in a college town.
Besides adding amazing value to our community, Purdue University has grown tremendously. In the last 3 years there has been record breaking enrollment. With a growing number of campus buildings and student housing, signs of continued growth are everywhere around campus. An increased number of jobs within the university have also been a draw.
Outside Purdue, local industry has also grown. In the last decade, businesses such as Nanshan America, Rolls Royce, and GE Aviation have moved into the area, bringing with them hundreds of jobs. Research Park and Science Park have opened, bringing research and science-based jobs to our area. With Purdue being an engineering school, these are great employers to have in the area. Caterpillar, SIA, and Wabash National, all flagship local businesses, have also expanded. As long as our economy stays strong, our local industry should also stay strong.
The Lafayette Chamber of Commerce recently announced that the population of Tippecanoe County is projected to grow to 250,000 by 2025. As a community surrounded by cornfields on all sides, urban sprawl is prevalent in all directions. In 2018, 1751 residential building permits were issued. With the number of new neighborhoods, I see popping up in both West Lafayette and Lafayette, I am excited to see the 2019 number.
The university and jobs have brought people here, but our outstanding community is what keeps people here. It’s a relatively safe community where the schools are good and local government is strong, inclusive, and planning for growth. For being a larger community, you still have the small-town feel. The location is great, being only one hour from Indy and 2 hours from Chicago, so you can benefit from the major metropolitan areas without having the actually live there. For those that miss the ocean and the mountains, the low cost of living provides opportunities to vacation in those places.
I love it here and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.