Want to know what it is like to live in Fort Wayne, Indiana?
We absolutely love it here! Our mission is to showcase every bit of the Fort Wayne area through videos so you can make an informed decision before your next move. Fort Wayne is one of the Top 5 most affordable places to live in the nation and we have a growing, diverse population of people who love to call this place their home.
Pros and Cons of Living in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is blowing up. I’ve lived here my whole life, and it’s been fun to watch the expansion take place in the last few years. You can see the effect from downtown all the way out to the suburbs. There’s a ton of growth, expansion, development, and new construction going on. There’s a really great energy in our city, but there are definitely some pros and cons to living in Fort Wayne.
Let’s Start with the CONS of Living in Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne has true four seasons. This means that we have a real summer, a real fall, a real winter, and a real spring. I enjoy the four seasons, and I talk about this as a pro later.
In Fort Wayne, our winters last from December to March. We have 182 sunny days per year, while the national average is 205. If you don’t like the dark, Fort Wayne might not be a place for you. It’s not terrible, but I will say that during the winter time, there’s long stretches of darkness. In the summer time we get super sunny days, but the winters can be kind of tough. Now, what does it look like in the winter time in regards to snow? We might get a couple of days where it snows 3-5 inches, but it doesn’t stick around for long. Most of the days are typically between 20-35 degrees, but we can get some negative temperatures. The ground goes through cycles of freezing and thawing, so it can get slushy. If you can get through the winter time, there’s some beautiful things that come in the spring, summer, and fall. Another con about the weather, although they don’t happen often, is that we get tornadoes. Every once in a while, we’ll get some tornadoes that rip through a trailer park, or blow though a restaurant. It’s only every couple of years where something major happens, but it does happen, and that’s something we have to deal with.
We Have Three Rivers That Run Through Fort Wayne
That alone isn’t a con; our city was developed because of the three rivers. We were a trading outpost between settlers and the natives here. However, the last hundred years our rivers have taken an agricultural hit in commercial waste, so our rivers are kind of nasty. You don’t usually swim in our rivers because they are dark ugly looking. Due to these three rivers, there’s also several flood zones. I’ve lived in a flood zone, so I know you have to pay flood insurance. However, it’s a very small fraction of the total households. That’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re getting a mortgage and want to buy a house close to a river.
Our Airport is Small
Even though it’s called Fort Wayne International Airport, is nothing like an international airport. If you’re going to be flying out of Fort Wayne, you’re going to be taking a connecting flight to Chicago O’Hare, Detroit, Dallas, or Atlanta. You’re not going to fly too many one-stop destinations. As of today, there are 14 one-stop destinations that you can fly out of from, and they are Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Dallas, Sarasota, Florida, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Chicago, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Fort Myers, and Charlotte. It’s a very small airport, but I will say it’s very efficient. You can get boarded super quick, there’s not a lot of lines, and there’s only a couple of terminals. You can even stop and get a beer at a local place called Mad Anthony’s while you’re waiting!
We Have a Growing Homeless Population
Like any other major city, we struggle to find a solution to this problem. During the summer when I was on a riverboat cruise, I saw part of this community camping out by the rivers; I was shocked. I know Fort Wayne has some really great organizations and shelters that are helping people with addictions and mental health issues get back on their feet, and that’s encouraging to me.
Our City School District is One of the Lowest Ranked School Districts in the State
If you want to be in a high rated school district, then you’ll want to be in one of our two bigger suburbs, Southwest Allen County School District or Northwest Allen County School District. These schools are always ranked in the top 5 or 10 in public school districts across the state.
Fort Wayne Community School is one of the largest school systems in the state, and it gets a bad rap. One of the best things about it is the fact that it’s ranked number two across the state for being the most diverse school district. Out of 11,822 school districts across the country, it’s ranked 48th. I think that’s something to celebrate. With a diverse school district, there’s going to be challenges. There’s a lot of complex problems that administrators are going to have to encounter when it comes to language or lack of resources. They have to deal with a lot of issues that the average school system doesn’t have to deal with. My two boys go to Fort Wayne Community Schools, and we love it. We think the staff is awesome and the people are great. We wouldn’t trade that for a private school.
Outside of Fort Wayne Community Schools, Northwest Allen County Schools, Southwest Allen County Schools, there are more options. You can choose a private parochial school, or you could choose to go to Canterbury High School, Middle School, Grade School. This is a very nice, but expensive, private school with a very good education. If this is something that you think you’re interested in, go look it up and I’m sure you can visit. The other private schools are typically faith-based throughout the city, and there are some awesome options to choose from. Fort Wayne by no means is an undereducated city, but it has its challenges.
Here Are Some Pros to Living in Fort Wayne!
There are way more pros than there are cons.
Let’s go back to the weather. I talked about how our winters are pretty tough. Once again, we have four seasons in Fort Wayne, so when I get burnt out with one season, another season starts. It gets really hot and humid in the summer, with an average temperature sitting around 85, but getting to temps of 90-100 occasionally. Yet, it seems like as soon as I get tired of the heat, we have fall. Fall rolls around and is such a beautiful time of the year. We have beautiful 60 degree crisp days, and they’re gorgeous. There’s this rebirth with each season and new energy in the air. You don’t get that if you don’t have four seasons. If you live in a climate where it’s the same kind of weather, you don’t get to appreciate it as much.
Our Airport is in a Great Spot
I talked about how Fort Wayne International Airport is very limited, but it’s geographically located in a really good spot. From a driving distance, we’re a couple hours away from seven major Midwest cities. So you can just hop in the car and experience some really cool day trips. You can go watch concerts, go shopping in Chicago, Indianapolis, go to Cincinnati, catch a baseball game in Detroit, or head down to Louisville. You can find a lot of fun things to do with just a short drive, so you don’t even have to fly everywhere!
Our Lakes are Awesome
Fort Wayne is located within about a 1-2 hour drive from 200 natural lakes. This is what we do in the summer time; and if you don’t have a lake house as a second home, chances are, you know somebody who does. Most people in Fort Wayne spend at least one day at a friend’s lake over the summer time. This is just an awesome place where you go to chill out. You can ski in these lakes, or go to a “no wake” lake where they’re more peaceful. If you like to be involved with the outdoors, don’t discount Fort Wayne. Even in the winter time, we have things like ice skating.
Fort Wayne built an awesome mixed use park downtown called Promenade Park. They just built the first stage, but there’s a couple stages to follow. You can take your family there and hang out, or play some of their games they have there, or utilize the boat docks by going on boat tours. The city and the people are behind getting these rivers cleaned up. My hope one day is that these rivers are going to be as beautiful as they once were.
For the sports fans, a really awesome pro to Fort Wayne is our top ranked baseball stadium. Our baseball team is called the Fort Wayne TinCaps, and there’s always lots of fun things to do for. They have fireworks every week, and you can hear them throughout the entire city. It’s an awesome atmosphere!
If you are someone who likes to eat out, then Fort Wayne is a great city for you. We have a ton of restaurants, and most of them are local! We have several local breweries with really good beer. We also have local cafes and coffee shops.
Like every area, Fort Wayne does have its cons, but I believe the pros outweigh any of the cons. That’s why we have a positive migration, and we have more people moving into Fort Wayne than moving out. Fort Wayne is growing. And if you want to be a part of that, make sure to reach out to me.
10 things you NEED to know BEFORE you move to Fort Wayne Indiana
1. We love our finished basements
In fact, most houses in Fort Wayne have a basement. They aren’t common in other parts of the country, and that’s mainly because of the soil. However, we do basements and we do it big. We love them because it provides extra living space; it’s almost like a status symbol in Fort Wayne. When they build new homes they create the standard living space, and add on extra additions like bars, theater rooms, or man-caves; just as a second living space for the home. A lot of basements now have full daylight with 2-3 foot-high windows, which almost looks like the first story of a home!
2. Some people think we have really harsh winters, but the truth is..we really don’t
It’s pretty mild in my opinion, but I’ve lived here my whole life so I could be biased. We experience a few snowstorms every winter with around 6-8 inches. However, it usually melts away fairly quickly, and then we get above-freezing temperatures again for a few weeks. Winters are usually dark, so we don’t have as many days of sunshine as we do in the summertime. We actually experienced less days of sunshine than the average city across the country, which is unfortunate. However, when we do have snow and the clouds clear away, it gets super bright…it’s almost blinding.
3. We have a lot of city parks
I believe the reason we have so many is because they are in flood zones. We have three rivers here in Fort Wayne that occasionally flood. That happens in the summertime, but the parks that have beautiful green golf courses are created to soak in water, which eventually goes away. All of our parks are beautiful, and they’re great places to hang out!
4. We don’t have a lot of wildlife
We’re not living by a mountain where we have mountain lions, bears, and big game coming onto our properties. We have some deer and other small animals. At most, you might get some raccoons if you leave your garbage out. I will say that we have coyotes, and I’ve heard a few cases where coyotes take small pets if you’re not careful, but that’s rare. That would be the most dangerous wild animal that we have here. We also have mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get pretty bad in the summertime, and towards the late summer, they get pretty nasty and aggressive. I don’t know why but they’re just drawn to me, so I get attacked by mosquitoes like crazy. We also have termites every once in a while, but it’s not a big issue. We don’t really have any other wood-destroying organisms that would hurt a home, but mosquitoes are the big ones that are the most bothersome.
5. We love our lakes
Within about a two-hour drive, there’s about 200 natural glacier-type lakes with natural spring water that’s feeding them. Chances are, you’ll either know somebody that owns a lake property, or you own a lake property yourself. You’re more than likely going to spend a few weekends out on the lakes in the summertime, and you can do all the lake activities. Some of these lakes are huge, so they’re big sport lakes. We also have what’s called “no-wake lakes,” where they are more relaxed and chill. These are where you can get a pontoon boat, go on lake cruises, fish, etc.
6. The Fort Wayne TinCaps, our Minor League Baseball Team
It’s an awesome experience for you and your family during the summer. The TinCaps actually have the highest-ranked Minor League Baseball stadium in the country. We have what’s called “Thirsty Thursdays,” which is where you get discounted beer for around a dollar or two. Typically, once a week, we have fireworks displayed after the baseball game. I live just south of downtown in the city, and I can hear the fireworks go off, so I can say it’s a cool experience! We have a few concerts that take place in our baseball stadiums as well. There’s tons of things to do once you get into the stadium, like the rock-climbing wall, open grass hills, and all kinds of games and things you can do instead of watching baseball.
7. We have several mascots in Fort Wayne
We’ll start with the first one that is downtown in Fireman Square. There’s a big statue of a guy on a horse, and he’s named General Mad Anthony Wayne. He’s what Fort Wayne is named after. We also have elephants all over the city and in people’s yards! This came from IPFW, which was called: “Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne,” but now it’s called “Purdue University Fort Wayne.” They had a fundraiser, or some initiative where they made all of these mastodons, or what I call elephants, and each one has their own design!
8. Let’s talk about the real estate market
In 2020, Fort Wayne landed at the #1 hottest real estate market in the country, according to realtor.com. They tracked the amount of clicks and views and how quickly homes came on the market and sold. For six weeks in a row, we were number one. This is bringing a lot of people into our city, and it’s making our home prices appreciate quicker than home prices across the country. The good news is our home prices are still substantially below the national average. Our average sale price right now is about $185,000, while the average sale price across the country is closer to $250,000. So our cost of living in Fort Wayne is incredibly low, and much of that is due to our low real estate property values.
9. Fort Wayne is often called the “City of Churches”
This is appropriate because we have over 360 churches just in Fort Wayne. The cool thing about this is it’s very diverse, because we have just about every sort of faith represented in our city. Fort Wayne is one of the most diverse cities in America!
10. Drum roll please..My favorite part about living in Fort Wayne, is our festivals
Fort Wayne has so many festivals throughout the year that it’s hard to keep up with them. If you live in Fort Wayne and want some fun things to do, especially during the summertime and into the fall, these festivals are awesome! Let’s just start with a few of them:
We have a few music festivals, a Cherry Blossom Festival, Buster Fest, Arab Fest, and German Fest, which is 3-4 days in June where we have beer tents and celebrate German heritage here in Fort Wayne. There’s New Haven Canal Day and Barbecue Rib Fest, which is the best barbecue you’ll find around here. We also have Middle Waves, which is a multi-day music festival that brings national, local, and regional arts into Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne has an emerging art scene, which has been really fun to watch. In June we have Gear Fest at Sweetwater, which is the largest online retailer of music equipment and instruments, and Greek Fest, where you can get some really good gyros and Greek beer. Three Rivers Festival in July is a full week of activity that goes all over the city. Three Rivers has Junk Food Alley, rides, kids’ activities, and little offshoots of activities all around the community-like book readings, go-kart racing, wiener dog races, and more! This is one of the big festivals here in the Fort.
We have a Pickle Festival, a County Fair, the Pride Fest in September, the Latino Festival, more boat races, and Taste of the Arts. This is really cool because you can go downtown and experience local arts in Fort Wayne! We have Grable fair, which has an emerging local brew scene, so go taste some awesome beer, locally made. Then one of the top favorites is Johnny Appleseed Festival. This is a couple of days in September, and it’s always a beautiful weekend with beautiful weather. It celebrates the pioneers who moved to Fort Wayne and settled here, so you can shop for all kinds of old trinkets and eat good food while watching performances. This is a huge tradition that closes out summertime. It’s symbolic for people that live in Fort Wayne.
That’s just a few of the many festivals we have throughout the year in Fort Wayne.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Fort Wayne Indiana
How much does it cost to live in Fort Wayne? This is one of the questions we get asked all the time, and we’re going to answer it in this video. We’re going to look at the cost of owning a home versus renting a home, utilities, transportation, taxes, and dining.
Let’s get right into it!
Fort Wayne’s cost of living is extremely low. In fact, we are ranked 5th for the lowest cost of living across the country. Our cost of living is 21% less than the national average. In almost every metric they can use to calculate these things, we are at least 10% to 30% below the national norm for utilities, home costs, transportation, etc.
Why do we have such a low cost of living?
The number one thing is our home prices. Our home prices are exceptionally low when compared to the national average. Our median home price is 32% below the national average. Yes, that’s crazy. So if you are somebody who lives in a larger city, you’re probably paying a lot more for the same size home as what you would pay here in Fort Wayne.
I’ve had many people contact me over my 10 years of being a real estate agent. They’ve done a quick Google search and Fort Wayne pops up on their radar for being an inexpensive place to live and own a home. Our average sale price in Fort Wayne is $185,000, our median price is $135, so what can $185 get you? A nice 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home. Can you buy a house for $100,000 in Fort Wayne? Yes, you absolutely can. It’s going to be smaller and maybe under a thousand square foot, but there are opportunities.
So what can you get for $200,000? You can get a smaller home in one of Fort Wayne’s two best school districts-Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools. If you go up to $300,000, you can get a bigger home in those school systems, or a large 3,000 square feet home outside the school systems
For $300,000 to $400,000, you can find new construction homes with three car garages, or homes with a little land and outbuildings. As we head into the $400,000 to $500,000 price range, we are now in what is considered the luxury market in Fort Wayne. $500,000 to $600,000 is going to get you a distinctive property in the country, or it will get you a custom brand new home, such as those in Grey Oaks subdivision.
The $600,000 to $700,000 range is going to land you a beautiful home in one of Fort Wayne’s best golf course communities such as Chestnut Hills, Sycamore Hills or Cherry Hill. For $800,000 to $1,000,000 plus, you’ll get into Sycamore Hills, Twin Eagles or Fort Wayne’s only gated community, Heron Preserve.
Fort Wayne is really affordable, mainly because of our affordable home prices. So if you are going to be putting 10% down on a loan, your monthly payment on that average price of $185 in Fort Wayne, is going to be about $1,033. That would be your total monthly payment with taxes, insurance, principal and interest. In case, you were thinking about renting when you get here, there are some options for you.
The average rental rate in Fort Wayne is $735. If you want to be in a single family home, in one of the nicer school districts, then you’re starting at about $1,200. If you’re okay with a single bedroom apartment, you can definitely find some well below $735. Our average gas bill in Fort Wayne is about $65, our average electric bill is about $75, and our average water bill is about $70.
All right, so let’s talk about taxes…
Indiana has a state retail tax of 7%. We do have an income tax along with your federal income taxes, and we have to pay state income taxes. However, we make up for that with super low property taxes. So, for the vast majority of homeowners in Indiana, you’re paying 1% of the assessed value towards your property taxes.
So if you live in a $300,000 home, your property taxes with your homestead exemption, is going to be about $3,000 per year. That’s really good compared to most other places around the country. So yes, while we have to pay state income tax, we make up for that in our low property taxes.
So food in Fort Wayne is pretty much on the national average. If you want to go out to eat at a decent restaurant in Fort Wayne, you’re looking at a bill of about 40 bucks for two. If you want to go to a nicer restaurant and have some drinks, it’s about $80. You can also go to a neighborhood cafe and eat for two for under $20.
Top 8 Best Neighborhoods in Fort Wayne Indiana
If you’re thinking about moving to Fort Wayne, you probably want to know where you should start looking for a house. I’m going to help you out by giving you the top eight best neighborhoods in Fort Wayne! To create this list, I used census data, crime rates, unemployment rates, affordability for housing, amenities that people want to live by, such as restaurants, shopping, schools, parks, and more.
We’re going to jump straight into the North side of town and talk about neighborhoods in the Northwest Allen County School District.
Let’s start with Longwood…
Longwood is not a very large subdivision, but it has probably a couple hundred homes. It’s right by Parkview Regional Medical Center, which is a huge hospital complex, and across the street from Dupont Hospital. So if you’re going to be working at either location, you’ll live close by!
The average sale price in Longwood is about $225,000, and the average home is about 2,500 square feet. These houses take about eight days to sell, and there have been 16 sales in the last 12 months. So, not a huge amount of sales, but also not a huge neighborhood to begin with.
Your little ones are going to go to Perry Hill Elementary School, Maple Creek Middle School, or Carroll High School (which is the only high school for Northwest Allen County Schools-and it’s top rated).
It’s a good spot. It’s a great place to have a starter home in Fort Wayne.
Next is Pine Valley…
Pine Valley is a much larger subdivision than in Longwood, and it’s been around for a while. There are a lot of homes in this subdivision, and people love the country club golf course, pool, and tennis courts it has to offer.
What’s really cool is how they have pretty much every style of home that you could ever want. They have cape cods, lots of modern homes, two stories, colonials, and ranches. While some of these homes are pretty old, they were built really well. However, there are some newer sections that offer more of a contemporary look and design if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s also close to everything, so you can have the convenience of dining and grocery stores right across the street.
Dupont Road is one of the main roads in tis area, and it just got a huge remodel. They widened a large part of it to make it safer for traffic, which I think was based upon the growing amount of people in the area. Parkview Hospital and Dupont Hospital are also right around the corner.
Next is La Cabreah…
La Cabreah is going to be a little bit newer than Pine Valley, and these houses are bigger and more expensive. The average sale price is about $350,000, and the average size is a little over 3,300 square feet. There have only been nine sales in the last 12 months, so it’s not a terribly large neighborhood. The houses sell pretty quick though, with the average home sold in just six days. There is some good value here, just because they’re such big houses.
Your little ones are going to go to Oak View Elementary, Maple Creek Middle School, and Carroll High School.
Next is Woodmont…
Right next to La Cabreah is our final stop on this side of town. Woodmont is in a wooded area, and it’s been around for a while. This is one of the older neighborhoods out here, and it offers a lot of trees! These houses are even bigger, with the average home size at 4,600 square feet. The average sale price is about $400,000, and there’s been six sales in the last 12 months. People like this neighborhood.
So why do people want to live out here so much?
Well, you’ve got the Parkview YMCA, which was just built, and Salomon Farm, which is now a part of the Fort Wayne Public Park system. There’s a two mile walking loop, and some really cool family activities.
Pufferbelly Trail runs through a lot of neighborhoods on the North side of town. I believe they are trying to connect this to Downtown Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne has 100 miles of trail system, which all eventually connect to each other. Pufferbelly Trail goes in the back of a lot of subdivisions, so all of the neighborhoods in the area have a way to get on this trail system.
There are so many places in this area. There’s a Walmart, Sam’s Club, Crazy Pinz, an airport called Smith Field, a Lowe’s, Meijer, Home Depot, Costco, and more. So you have a lot of options for dining, retail, groceries, and fun!
Another reason why people like to live on the North side of the city is because most of the lakes in our area are up here. So we’ve got access to 200 lakes that are only within an hour to two away.
LET’S CHECK OUT SOME NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE SOUTHWEST ALLEN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT.
Our first stop is Oak Borough…
It’s off Covington Road in Southwest Fort Wayne, and has some homes that are pretty well built. They’ve been around for a while, as most of them are over 20 years old. The average size is about 3,500 square feet, and the average sale price is about $300,000. There have been six sales in the last 12 months. So it’s not a terribly large subdivision, but it has a steady amount of sales.
Your kids will go to Haverhill Elementary School, Summit Middle School, and then Homestead High School. This is in the Southwest Allen County School District, which is comparative to Northwest Allen County School District. They are both typically really high on the list statewide for the best school districts. They’re definitely the two best school districts in Fort Wayne. So people, a lot of times will buy a home in one of these school districts primarily to send their kids to these schools.
Next is Copper Hill…
Just around the corner is Copper Hill, which is much bigger than Oak Borough. The average home size is about 2,000 square feet, and these are much more affordable homes that sell for just over $200,000. We’ve had 28 sales in the past year, and the average days on market is 12 days.
Your kids will go to Haverhill Elementary, Summit Middle School, and Homestead High School.
Next on our list is Covington Woods…
This area is right across from Covington Road. These homes are a little bit bigger, with the average home size at 3,400 square feet. The average sale price is about $285,000, there have been 15 sales in the last year, and the average days on market is 19.
Your kids are going to go to Deer Ridge Elementary, Woodside Middle School, and Homestead High School.
The last neighborhood is called Shores of Rock Creek…
These are affordable homes in a really good location. The average size is just under 2000 square feet, the average sale price is $215,000, and there have been 9 sales in the last 12 months. They sell very quickly, having an average of 3 days.
Your little ones will go to Deer Ridge, Woodside Middle School, and Homestead High School.
So what’s there to do on the Southwest side of town?
Well, just like the North side of town, you have a YMCA, Indian Trails Park, a splash pad, baseball diamonds, a little area where hundreds of people play flag football, and a walking trail.
Near the West County Line, there are some of the highest valued properties in Allen County. You can see pretty clearly how it goes from development on the Allen County side to no development on the Whitley County side, because people are trying to get into Southwest Allen County schools.
Another place for some shopping and good restaurants is Coventry Plaza. You’ve got a Kroger Marketplace and tons of shops and restaurants.
If you like to get outside and move, then I highly recommend checking out Fox Island County Park. If you go to in the wintertime, you can do cross country skiing, which they have trails for. Then of course, in the summertime, there are just tons of things that you can do.
These neighborhoods are really great. Again, I came up with them based upon their affordability, low crime rates, and proximity of things you’re going to want to be around. If I can answer any of your questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Be sure to check out the rest of my videos if you’re interested in moving to Fort Wayne! I cover what it’s like to live, work, play, eat, and sleep in Fort Wayne. My team and I are licensed real estate agents, so don’t hesitate to call, text, or email if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!