As the second most populated city in the state, Fort Wayne is both a cultural and economic hub located in northeastern Indiana. Three rivers meet in the city, linking Fort Wayne to its historical roots. The Ohio border is just 18 miles east, Michigan is 50 miles north, and Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, and Milwaukee are all within 300 miles. This amazing centralized setting, paired with a low cost of living, makes Fort Wayne a popular location to purchase a home, open a business, begin a career, and raise a family.
As one of the largest metropolitan cities in the state, Fort Wayne offers an appealing mix of culture, along with an intimate feel that includes quiet neighborhoods, local festivals like the Three Rivers Festival, BuskerFest, which honors the humble street performer, and more. Additionally, Fort Wayne managed to weather the 1980s economic downturn that many other cities in the Rust Belt felt with the loss of manufacturing jobs. The city has undergone a long-term revitalization plan that includes investments from major manufacturers like BAE Systems and General Motors.
Living in Fort Wayne, IN: What to Know Before Moving to Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne’s population is about 264,488 people, making it the second-most populous city in Indiana. From the Algonquian tribal capital to a French outpost, to the Fort Wayne trading post and garrison, Fort Wayne is steeped in tradition and history. Fort Wayne is home to several Amish communities and claims to be one of the more religious populations in the US. The City of Churches has more than 360 places of worship and is headquarters of four national Christian denominations.
Pros and Cons of Living in Fort Wayne
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of living in Fort Wayne to see where it falls on your livability scale.
- Pretty much anywhere you need to go in the city is within a 20-minute drive
- Affordable cost of living and housing market
- Momentum in economic growth thanks to large corporate investments
- Friendly Midwestern vibe
- A growing arts community
- Two seasons: winter and road construction
- Higher than average crime rates in some areas
- Cold, snowy winters
- A growing drug problem
- Limited public transportation
Lower than average tax rates help contribute to the low cost of living in Fort Wayne.
- Property Tax: The median home value in Fort Wayne is $136,700. The average county tax rate is 0.915 percent. You can expect to pay property taxes of $1,251 annually on a $136,700 home.
- Sales Tax: In Fort Wayne, the combined sales tax rate is 7 percent. Indiana ranks #23in the US for sales tax, slightly lower than the national average of 7.3 percent.
- Income Tax: Of the states that charge income tax, Indiana is among the lowest with a flat rate of 3.23 percent. That means there are no tax brackets based on the amount you make.
Renters account for about a third of the population of Fort Wayne at 32.9 percent, and just under 3 percent of apartments and houses in the city are available to rent. The average cost to rent in Fort Wayne is $795 monthly.
If you’re in the market to buy a home, the average list price in Fort Wayne was $179,900 as of July 31, 2019, and the median home value is $136,700. The median price per square foot is $98, which is lower than the US average of $123. Home values jumped 10 percent in the past year and are expected to increase 5.6 percent by July 31, 2020.
Housing prices are among the lowest in the country, but some Fort Wayne neighborhoods are even cheaper than others. Village Woods ranks as the least expensive, with Southwood Park, Forest Park Boulevard, Sherwood To Pettit, Fairmont, Lincoln Park, North Anthony Area, Crown Colony, Southwick Village, and Northside completing the list.
Cost of Living
BestPlaces.net is a helpful resource for finding information on locations you’re considering moving to. They base their cost of living rating on a US average of 100. If the rating is below 100, the cost is considered cheaper than the US average and over 100 means the cost is higher than average. Fort Wayne cost of living is 83/100. Housing, rated 64.4/100, is the biggest factor for the city’s low cost of living. Ratings for Grocery, 88.7/100; Health, 80.5/100; and Utilities, 90.7/100 all contribute to Fort Wayne’s affordable cost of living.
For a resident of Fort Wayne, the average income is $23,607, which is lower than the US average of $28,555 per year. The median household income is $45,853. If you were to use the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator you’d see that for a moderate lifestyle, a family of four would require $6,338 monthly, which adds up to $76,057 per year.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Fort Wayne is a place where you’ll get to experience all four seasons. The coldest months of the year are January, with average highs of 32°F and average lows at 17°F, and February, with average highs of 36°F and average lows of 20°F. You’ll want to own a decent rain jacket and snow boots if you’re living in Fort Wayne. The average rainfall is 38.26 inches, and the average snowfall is 34 inches per year.
For those who prefer the warmer months, you’ll enjoy July’s average highs of 84°F and a low of 63°F and August’s average highs of 82°F and an average lows of 61°F. But be prepared for humidity and rain in the summers.
Along with the potential for floods, Fort Wayne has a tornado index of 242.94, which is higher than the US average of 136.45. You should have a plan in place with your family, roommates, and loved ones in case of an emergency. It’s also important to know how you can stay informed of potentially dangerous situations. Allen County has put together a helpful site to keep you prepared.
Economy & Job Market
Thanks to some sizable investments from manufacturers like BAE Systems and General Motors, there’s been recent job growth in the area. The job market has grown 2.7 percent over the past year and is predicted to blossom 38.6 percent over the next ten years, higher than the US predicted rate of 33.5 percent. The unemployment rate in Fort Wayne is 3.3 percent, which is slightly lower than the US average of 3.9 percent.
Healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, and retail trade are the top four industries in Fort Wayne. The top employers are Parkview Health Systems, Lutheran Health Network, General Motors, Lincoln Financial Group, BFGoodrich, Frontier Communications, Sweetwater Sound, and Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp. If you need some help finding a job in Fort Wayne, you can consult WorkOne Northeast which is a career center in the area that will be eager to help you find work.
Traffic and Transportation
If you’re the type who needs a cup of coffee before you can focus on work in the morning, you’ll have an average of 20.9 minutes during your commute to enjoy your java. That’s 5.5 minutes less than the average one-way commute time in the US. Some 83.9 percent of commuters drive their car alone to work followed by 9.0 percent who carpool, 3.7 percent who work from home, and 1.1 percent who take mass transit. The public Citilink buses are the public transportation option in Fort Wayne. If you don’t have a car, taxis and rideshare are your other options. Due to the limited public transportation options, the city’s transit score is 22/100.
Fort Wayne is conveniently located to major cities throughout the Midwest by one interstate and many highways. Interstate 69 runs through the city and connects to Lansing in the north or south to Indianapolis. Interstate 469 serves as the south and eastern beltway. Additionally, five Indiana state highways radiate out from Fort Wayne to major cities. Hwy 24 runs northeast to Toledo and west to Peoria. Hwy 30 runs west to Chicago and east to Pittsburg. Hwy 33 runs northwest to South Bend and southeast to Columbus.
Although there are some walkable areas in Fort Wayne, like downtown, Poplar, and Hoagland Masterson, you’ll probably want to have a car. The city ‘s walk score is a low 29/100, but the bike score is higher at 40/100. The League of American Bicyclists designated Fort Wayne a Bronze Level bicycle-friendly city in 2016.
What to Do
You’ll find a good mix of activities in Fort Wayne whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, culture, or otherwise. When you have some free time, there are plenty of places you can enjoy the sun in the summer and many others to seek warmth during the winter months.
For outdoorsy types, there are more than 80 parks and 90 miles of trails to enjoy. You can stop and smell the roses at the Lakeside Rose Gardens during the summertime or take in the flowers at Foster Park during springtime. For those unafraid of heights, play like a monkey in the treetop canopy trail at Promenade Park located downtown at Riverfront Fort Wayne. If you and your four-legged friend are looking for a place to run, chase, and play, check out dog-friendly Lawton State Park or Pawster Park. Three rivers converge in Fort Wayne, so there’s fun to have on land and water. Walkers and bikers enjoy the beautiful Rivergreenway trails that cover almost 180 miles throughout the city and Allen County.
The whole family can have fun at places like the Fort Wayne’s Children’s Zoo, one of the top ten zoos in the country; Science Central; and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Museums worthwhile visiting include the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, and the African/African-American Historical Museum. Art and architecture lovers will also want to check out the Main Street Arts Campus and Culture District for all sorts of theatre, dance, fine art, music, and architecture.
Locals flock to the many fall festivals throughout the season. You can enjoy the Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival, Johnny Appleseed Festival, Oktoberfest at Headwaters Park and more, all before the snow starts to fall.
The MLB, NHL, and NBA all have minor league affiliates in Fort Wayne. Baseball fans can see the Fort Wayne TinCaps, a San Diego Padres affiliate, at Parkview Field. Hockey fans can root on the Fort Wayne Komets, a Colorado Avalanche affiliate, at Allen Country War Memorial Coliseum. Basketball fans have the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, an Indiana Pacers affiliate, to cheer on at the same stadium where the Komets play.
Schools and Universities
Four school districts serve Fort Wayne. These include Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools, Northwest Allen County Schools, and MSD Southwest Allen County Schools. Both Southwest Allen County Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools rank in the top 10 districts in the state.
The top-rated elementary schools, all rated 9/10 from greatschools.org, are Cedarville Elementary School, Fred High Croninger Elementary School, Mabel K Holland Elementary, and Oak View Elementary School. For middle school, Maple Creek Middle School earned the highest rank with a 9/10 and Summit Middle School and Carroll Middle School are just behind with 8/10 ratings. For high school, Carroll High School earned top marks with a 10/10, Homestead Senior High School has a 9/10, and East Allen University (grades 9-12) has an 8/10.
For higher education, Indiana University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Center for Medical Education, Purdue University Fort Wayne, Concordia Theological Seminary, Indiana Institute of Technology, and the University of Saint Francis are all four-year options. Ivy Tech Community College offers associate degrees. Several private universities have regional branches in Fort Wayne.
BestPlace.net rates crime on an average scale of 100. Fort Wayne has a violent crime rate of 23.5/100, slightly above the national average of 22.7/100. The property crime rate is 48.1/100, higher than the US average of 35.4/100.
- Electric and water service:
- Gas service: Ferrellgas, 6910 Metro Mark Dr. N E, Fort Wayne, IN 45818. (419) 697-4610
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: Fort Wayne City Utilities, 200 E Berry St Room 130, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. (260) 427-1234
- Internet/Cable service: Frontier, Xfinity, HughesNet, DIRECTV, dish.
Best Neighborhoods in Fort Wayne, IN
Are you looking for a neighborhood with great schools? Or maybe you’re focused on housing prices or looking for a home in a historic district like West Central. Fort Wayne has over 250 neighborhoods, but here are eight considered to be the best.
Not only does AreaVibes rate Brierwood Hills as the best neighborhood in Fort Wayne, but it considers it to be the best neighborhood in the entire state of Indiana. It’s a small neighborhood, with only 159 residents of mainly upper-middle-income. It’s a great place for families with school-aged children and executives alike. Brierwood Hills has a suburban feel with mostly medium-sized to large single-family homes and townhouses generally built between 1940 and 1999. The median home value is $145,200, and it’s an entirely owner-occupied neighborhood (sorry renters).
Brierwood Hills is located just east of I-69 on the west side of Fort Wayne. The neighborhood bounds Cherry Lane to the east, Maple Lane to the west, Melody and Oak Lanes to the north, and Rose Ann Pkwy to the south. Downtown is about a fifteen-minute drive northeast.
Some favorite spots to grab a bite in the area include Spyro’s for breakfast and brunch, Rise’n Roll Bakery & Deli, Zesto Ice Cream, and Shigs In Pit BBQ.
The schools that serve Brierwood Hills include Haverhill Elementary School, 5/10 GreatSchools rating; Summit Middle School, 8/10; and Homestead Senior High School, 9/10.
Canterbury Green is rated just behind Brierwood Hills as the 2nd best neighborhood in the city and state, though it has a larger population of 2,735 people. Some 70 percent of the residents are families with children under the age of 18, and the median age in the neighborhood is 25.7.
The median rent price in Canterbury Green is $731 on AreaVibes, but Area Vibes, Zillow, and Realtor.com do not show median home prices for the neighborhood. Canterbury Green borders the St Joe River to the west and north and St Joe Rd to the east. The IPFW Pathway serves as the southern border of the neighborhood. Canterbury Green is about a fifteen-minute drive northeast from downtown.
Some neighborhood favorites include Lakeside Café for breakfast and brunch, Casa Grille for Italian, Wu’s Fine Chinese Cuisine, Acme Bar & Grill, and Ziffle’s Rib Bar.
The schools that serve the neighborhood include Northcrest Elementary School, 3/10; Northwood Middle School, 4/10; and North Side High School 1/10.
North Pointe Woods
This tiny neighborhood, with a population of 70, is ranked #3 in both Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana. The median home value is $171,000, and at a $90,417 median household income, North Pointe Woods residents’ incomes are 63% higher than the US average. Homeownership is 100%, so there won’t be opportunities for apartment rentals. If you’re fortunate you may find a rare homeowner who’s renting out their house. Well-maintained homes sit on large lots along winding roads. With established trees and open space, it’s not uncommon for residents to see deer or even wild turkeys wandering across their backyards.
North Pointe Woods is in northwest Fort Wayne, just over a fifteen-minute drive north of downtown. It’s tucked in just east of 1-69, south of the I-469 beltway, and bordered by N Clinton St on the west, Woodhollow Trail to the north, and Oakcliff Ln and Timberwood Ct to the east.
Some favorite spots in the area include Lunch Box Café for breakfast and brunch, El Azteca for Mexican and Zestos for a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day.
For elementary school, students in this neighborhood attend Lincoln Elementary School, 4/10; for middle school, it’s Shawnee Middle School, 4/10; and for high school it’s Northrop High School, 3/10. High school graduation rates in this neighborhood are 13% higher than the national average.
Following the trend, Aboite Meadows rates as the #4 best neighborhood in both the city and state. With a population of 483, Aboite Meadows is a tight-knit community, complete with a Christmas lights competition every holiday season.
The median home value in Aboite Meadows is $161,650, and the median rent price is $442, over 50% lower than the US average. Over 92% of residents own their homes in Aboite Meadows, and at $82,344, the median household income is 49% higher than the national average.
Aboite Meadows is about a 20-minute drive southwest of downtown. The neighborhood borders Aboite Lake Dr in the west, E Saddle Dr in the east, Aboite Center Rd in the south, and Pinto Lane in the north. Crime rates are 43% lower than the US average, and this is a great area to raise a family.
Some favorite spots for locals include Oley’s Pizza and Cebolla’s Mexican Grill.
Students in Aboite Meadows attend Aboite Elementary School, 7/10; Summit Middle School, 8/10; and Homestead Senior High School, 9/10.
Blum ranks as the #5 best neighborhood in Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana. With a population of 422, just over half of the Blum residents are families with children under the age of 18 and the average household income is $87,315.
The median home value in Blum is $101,900, but there’s no data for rental prices. Homeownership is 97%. Unfortunately the crime rate is 25% higher than the national average, up 3% from 2018.
Blum is about a 15-minute drive northeast of downtown Fort Wayne. It borders Blum Dr in the west, Reed Rd in the east, Stellhorn Rd in the south, and Tamarack Dr in the north.
The schools available to Blum neighborhood students include Robert C Harris Elementary School, 6/10; Lane Middle School, 3/10; and R Nelson Snider High School, 4/10. Although the Blum schools aren’t highly rated, the high school graduation rate is 100%.
Ranked #6 best neighborhood in both Fort Wayne and Indiana, Tamarack has a small population of only 374 residents. The median home value is $101,900, and 97% of residents own their homes. It’s a calm, family-friendly, suburban neighborhood with tree-lined streets and a handful of homes have pools to enjoy in the summer months.
Tamarack is about a fifteen-minute drive northeast of downtown, just north of the Blum neighborhood. Reed Rd is the eastern border, Blum Dr on the west, Thorngate Dr on the north, and Albert Dr and Janet Dr border the south. Some local favorites include New Haven Bakery, River Bend Pizza, and Willie’s Family Restaurant for breakfast and brunch.
Students living in Tamarak will attend Robert C Harris Elementary School, 6/10; Lane Middle School, 3/10; and R Nelson Snider High School, 4/10.
Another tiny neighborhood with a population of only 143, The Knolls is rated #7 best neighborhood in Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana. The median home value in The Knolls is $113,500. About 78% of residents are families with children under the age of 18.
The Knolls borders E State Blvd in the north, Ordway Dr in the south, Hillock Ct in the west, Knollwood Ct in the east, and is about a 15-minute drive east of downtown Fort Wayne.
Students in The Knolls will attend J Wilbur Haley Elementary School, 2/10; Blackhawk Middle School, 5/10; and R Nelson Snider High School, 4/10.
Lake Forest Extended
This small neighborhood is rated #8 in both Fort Wayne and Indiana and has a population of 418. Maysville Rd borders Lake Forest Extended on the east, Chivington Dr is the north border, and Skyhawk Dr and Kendawa serve as the western borders. Downtown is just a fifteen-minute drive west.
The median home value in the neighborhood is $113,500, and the median rent price is $720. The median household income is $69,608 – 26% higher than the US average, but the Lake Forest Extended crime rate is 10% higher than the national average.
Locals’ favorite spots include Bandidos Georgetown for Mexican, Cosmos Restaurant for breakfast and brunch, and Angel’s Café for some classic American.
Students in The Knolls will attend J Wilbur Haley Elementary School, 2/10; Blackhawk Middle School, 5/10; and R Nelson Snider High School, 4/10.
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