These two cities are very similar to each other, and they’re two hours apart, drive time. They are both very flat and don’t have large bodies of water, but they do have nice rivers flowing through them. Indianapolis is the state’s capital, and Fort Wayne sits to the north of Indianapolis. Both cities have fun things to do, great school systems, very affordable housing, access to the interstate and airports, etc.
Indianapolis has a population of almost 900,000 people, whereas Fort Wayne has a population of almost 300,000 people. So, Indianapolis is about three times larger than Fort Wayne, but Fort Wayne has been slowly catching up to Indianapolis. Since 2000, the population of Indianapolis has grown about 12%, whereas the population over the same period of time in Fort Wayne, has grown over 32%. A higher percentage of the population in Fort Wayne is married than that of Indianapolis, and Indianapolis has a higher percentage of single people. Northeast Indiana’s population, where Fort Wayne is, is growing faster than any other area in the Midwest because of quality of life and affordability; low cost of living.
Cost of Living
Overall, Fort Wayne is a more affordable city to live in, and is just under Indianapolis in total cost.
- Fort Wayne is 5.5% less expensive than Indianapolis
- Fort Waynes healthcare expenses, on average, are about 8% less than Indianapolis
- Fort Waynes consumer prices are 4% lower than Indianapolis
- Fort Waynes rent prices are about 18% lower than Indianapolis
- Indianapolis restaurants cost about 18% more than Fort Wayne
- Fort Waynes groceries are 5% higher than Indianapolis
If you’re comparing the two markets, they’re going to be very similar. Both cities have old neighborhoods, expansive suburbs, and they’re not locked by any bodies of water. So, theoretically Fort Wayne and Indianapolis can keep growing wider and wider.
A larger market is going to have more options. However, if you’re someone that likes to live downtown with an urban lifestyle, Fort Wayne has more options available than we’ve ever had before. If you’re looking for like a luxury condo in Fort Wayne, there’s very few to choose from, whereas Indianapolis has more choices for you. Total cost of home ownership is less in Fort Wayne, so houses are going to be about 5% less than they are in Indianapolis.
I will say though, from my experience of living in Fort Wayne and my knowledge of the Indianapolis market, you can get more house for your money in Fort Wayne. The median home price in Indianapolis is about $183,000, whereas, the median home price in Fort Wayne is about $173,000.
I’ve looked in both cities and the job market is pretty similar. The rate at which the two cities are adding jobs is pretty much spot on. They both have about a 5% unemployment rate, and 35-37% future job growth percentage for the next 10 years; this is compared to the US average of 33.5%. So these two cities are almost identical when it comes to jobs and opportunities. The largest employers in the two cities are all in the healthcare industry. Indianapolis has Eli Lilly, which is a drug manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company, and Anthem, which is a health insurance company. Fort Wayne’s two largest employers are Lutheran Health Network and Parkview, which are both hospital systems.
Both cities have very large public school systems, and unfortunately the inner city schools are ranked pretty low. There are still some really great teachers that care in both public city school systems, but the rankings aren’t very high. However, the suburb school systems really stand out. Fort Wayne and Indianapolis have very high rated school systems. Carmel and Noblesville are great school systems in the Indianapolis area. Southwest Allen County and Northwest Allen County are great schools in Fort Wayne.
Things to Do & Culture
Things to do and culture are of high importance on most people’s lists. Fort Wayne has a lot more to do than it did 5-10 years ago. One of the big things that is coming down the pipe for us is Electric Works, which is a former General Electric campus. Some of these buildings are over a hundred years old, and I believe a $300 million investment is going on right now. They are completely renovating these spaces and turning them into high-end offices, retail spots, living opportunities, and other mixed uses. Fort Wayne has a really good park system and a highly rated zoo called the Fort Wayne Children Zoo. We have TinCaps Baseball, which is our minor league baseball team; an award winning stadium that beats out other cities with its attendance. We have Promenade Park and the Landing Project. There’s probably about three or four pretty big projects going on just in downtown right now, and people are pretty excited. There’s the Rivergreenway, which is a trail system to almost anywhere in Fort Wayne; it follows the three rivers we have.
Indianapolis has a lot of fun things to do. You can go shopping downtown at Circle Center mall, catch a Colts NFL football game in a really cool stadium, go to a Pacers game, and explore tons of parks and trail systems. They have 95 miles of bike lanes and 75 miles of greenway that connects all over the city. The little town of Broad Ripple is a popular spot for young adults. There’s a really cool bar scene, coffee shops for studying, and really cool houses. You can’t forget about the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. These are two very large races that happen annually. The Indianapolis 500, I believe, is the largest spectator event held in the world. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is very large, and it has a really cool dinosaur exhibit among other things. I’ve been there many times as a Fort Wayne resident; it’s only about a two hour drive.
To recap, both cities are great, and I believe they both have really good things going for them. It would be a tough decision to figure out which city I wanted to live in if I was moving into Indiana from another state. Ultimately, I think it comes down to: do you want the hustle and bustle of a larger city, with more to do, a higher cost of living, and more people? Or do you want something a bit smaller, like Fort Wayne, with a lower cost of living and a little less to do? Geographically, they’re not far away, and nothing really looks much different. They also both have access to interstates and airports.
I hope this information was helpful for you. If you are thinking about moving to Fort Wayne, definitely get a hold of myself and my team. We help people every day, just like you, who are trying to move into the city. Even if you are thinking about moving to Indianapolis, I can still help you. I know a lot of great real estate agents who serve the Indianapolis market that I’d be happy to connect you with. I hope to talk to you someday!