Sense of community draws people to Westfield


In 2014, Family Circle named Westfield one of its “Top Ten Places to Raise a Family.”

“Housing is affordable, the schools are stellar, but it’s Westfield’s sense of community that folks love most about this town,” the magazine stated.

Since then, the population in Westfield has increased by approximately 25,000.

In 2020, placed Westfield at No. 6 on the “Best Places to Live in America.” In 2021, Westfield topped the list of’s “Best U.S. Suburbs.” In 2022, the city was rated 10th on Wallet Hub’s “Best Small Cities in America.”

Resident Lisa Brandenburg said she was feeling “stuck” living in New Jersey. Her husband is a native Hoosier, and the family decided to move to Westfield three years ago.

“Besides marrying my husband, it was the best decision we could have made,” Brandenburg said. “I’ve made more friends in my three years here than I did in my 13 years in Jersey. There really is something to Hoosier hospitality. The people are amazing and willing to stand up and help you with your crazy ideas.”

The “crazy ideas” include Brandenburg starting a Facebook group called Women Building Friendship in Westfield. The group focuses on planning events for women in the area to spend time together and get to know each other. The group has nearly 4,000 members, with more joining almost daily and similar groups popping up in neighboring communities.

Brandenburg also brought a nonprofit called Blessing Bag Brigade from New Jersey to central Indiana. It partners with organizations like the Westfield High School football team, churches and Scout troops to pack bags of essentials for people in need.

“I have met so many incredible people in Westfield, and many of them have a heart for service,” Brandenburg said.

CIW 0130 COM WhyWestfield1
The McConnells, Grainne, Graeme, Aidan and Molly, appreciate the schools and sense of community in Westfield. (Photo courtesy of Grainne McConnell)

Like Brandenburg, Grainne McConnell has become one of those people who enjoys giving back to the Westfield community. Immediately upon moving to Westfield after living in Europe, she applied to become a mentor with Westfield Youth Assistance Program, a role she’s filled for the past couple of years.

Back in Ireland, where McConnell and her husband Graeme were born, McConnell’s mother was always involved with helping others and fostering children who needed homes.

“From the minute I got here, I knew it was where we wanted to be,” McConnell said. “It was like coming home again.”

McConnell never quite felt that connection when they lived and worked in England and then later in Germany.

After having to learn another language in order to make friends, McConnell was ready to move back to an English-speaking country. So about five years ago, when the company they had both worked for, Roche Diagnostics, offered Graeme a job in Dubai, Singapore or the United States, the choice to move to the U.S. was an easy one.

Working remotely meant that the McConnells could pick anywhere in the U.S. to live. McConnell’s uncle lives in Washington, D.C., so they started looking there.

“The housing prices were ridiculous, and the schools weren’t very good,” McConnell said.

They decided, instead, to look around Indianapolis since Graeme had visited the Roche headquarters many times.

The McConnells liked the fact that the homes were more affordable and the schools were so highly rated. But it’s been the people that have made them feel like they belong in Westfield.

“The Hoosiers are very like the Irish,” McConnell said. “They like a bit of banter. It’s been so easy to make friends. You never feel like an outsider. To me, it’s the people that make Westfield.”

Brandenburg agrees.

“I’m 95 percent certain I’ve found my forever home,” she said. “If we could eliminate the brutal cold, I’d be 100 percent.”

According to former Westfield mayor Andy Cook, the census figures prove the desirability of Westfield.

“Designations are wonderful,” he said, “but our residents remain one of Westfield’s greatest assets.”