ALEXANDRIA — A new study released Tuesday ranks Madison County’s third largest city as the most affordable place to live in Indiana.

The annual study was completed by financial technology company SmartAsset, which used an affordability index including property taxes, homeowners’ insurance premiums, mortgage payments relative to income and closing costs to formulate the rankings.

It’s the second straight year that Alexandria has topped the study’s rankings.

“You buy houses where you’re proud to be at,” said Warren Brown, Alexandria’s economic development director. “We’re on a pretty nice list of communities that are safe and affordable. It just speaks highly for Alexandria and what we’ve been able to do here.”

The city's amenities, including the pool at Beulah Park, some new restaurants and proximity to Interstate 69 are also appealing.

“The library here is really cool. They have a lot of great activities that go on," said Liz Vardaman, who has lived in Alexandria for eight years. "And then I love our church. The historical society is really great as well."

Sheri Mabbitt, who has called Alexandria home for nearly four decades, said the city has made a concerted effort in recent years to tidy up rundown neighborhoods. Simple things like letting children play in the front yard are what she believes outsiders notice.

"Good people, good neighbors," Mabbitt said. "It's an amazing town. I know just about everybody. I just like living here."

Brown and Ashley Olibas, director of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, both said it’s significant that the study focused on criteria important to homeowners because of the sense of permanence that comes with buying a house. They added that the city’s location and access to a variety of amenities are attracting more young people who are looking to settle down.

“We all know that ownership of homes has been an American dream, and when it can become a reality, especially for younger people, it’s a positive,” Brown said. “We see property values going up across the county, and here in Alex we’ve cleaned up a lot of the blight. I think it’s a preferred method of living for a lot of folks. People just want to own a home, make it their castle."

“Alexandria and Madison County in general is right in between so many big cities,” Olibas said. “If you need to go to Chicago, if you need to go to Ohio, those trips are relatively easy from here.”

Brown added that with a robust job market, quality schools, access to first-rate medical facilities nearby and the city’s commitment to adding more business and entertainment options, he’s optimistic that more potential residents will consider making Alexandria their home.

“As job opportunities continue to grow, people will continue to move back into the area,” he said. “It’s accurate that we’re an affordable, safe, fun place to be. It’s a real positive.”
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