MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) - Experts say the number of Illinois residents pulling up stakes and moving to Indiana likely will grow in the coming years because of factors including a lower cost of living and lower taxes.
More than 34,220 Illinois residents moved to Indiana in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey shows.
"Out of the gate, Indiana is going to start with the lead when it comes to financially attracting new residents and businesses," said Joe Rurode, director of economic development for the Northwest Indiana Forum.
"A lower cost of living, a pro-growth business climate and lower taxes have all played the traditional part, but in combination on the backend, we're really starting to see people recognize and flock to Northwest Indiana because of the significant quality of life improvements that are taking place," Rurode told The (Northwest Indiana) Times.
The Chicago-based Illinois Policy Institute estimates Indiana gained a net average of 54 Illinois residents every day in 2015 and said it looks like the trend may accelerate. In a recent article on the think tank's web site, Madelyn Harwood wrote the South Shore Line West Lake expansion and double-tracking projects are poised to draw even more Illinois residents across the state line.
"The Hoosier State is planning improvements to commuter train lines to Chicago, which will shorten commute times between Indiana and Chicago and make it more appealing for service-sector workers from the Chicago area to call Indiana home," Harwood wrote. "An increased outflow of Chicago workers to Indiana would weaken Illinois' suburban tax base."
Indiana gained a net total 19,747 residents from Illinois in 2015, since 14,473 Hoosiers relocated in the opposite direction that same year.
The Illinois Policy Institute attributes Indiana's net positive migration numbers to a better business climate and lower taxes, including sales taxes that are 23 percent lower than in Illinois. Illinois lost a net of more than 119,000 residents to Indiana from 2006 through 2015, it said.