An enviable lifestyle awaits in this northern Indiana city.
Looking for a city that checks all the boxes on your must-have list — great job opportunities, friendly folks, diverse neighborhoods, four-season weather? Good news! South Bend, a midsize city in northern Indiana, offers all of that and so much more — and people are taking notice.
A college town, home to the University of Notre Dame, this region allows for a thriving, yet laid-back lifestyle. In addition to having an average commute time of just 21 minutes, residents are met with a lively arts and culture scene, delicious dining options, a phenomenal zoo, awesome recreational opportunities and a standout collection of parks. Plus, college sports and a minor league baseball team give residents plenty to cheer about season after season, while peaceful trails along the St. Joseph River allow them to relax and enjoy nature.
Eager to learn more? Here are eight reasons to make South Bend, IN, your new home.
South Bend has four seasons.
South Bend offers all four seasons — chilly winters, comfortable springs, hot summers and crisp autumns. Unlike some U.S. cities, the change of each season brings a whole new list of activities.
For example, autumn allows for long walks through the beautiful foliage, along with the chance to traipse through a corn maze and pumpkin patch. Not to mention, fall means Notre Dame football! Spring brings outdoor markets, a new season of sporting events and gardening fun. Summer allows for watersports, outdoor concerts and cookouts, while winter brings cross-country skiing, ice skating and cozy fires.
“It’s just a fun change for outdoor activities year-round,” says Willow Wetherall, executive director of Downtown South Bend Inc. “You get to experience this place in four distinct ways.”
Its outdoor recreation is superb.
Opportunities to recreate abound in South Bend, including a full slate of outdoor activities. Here, hiking and biking trails run the gamut. Many paths can be found in the area’s collection of parks, like Potato Creek State Park and Rum Village Aerial Park, while others, like the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, run for miles, connecting multiple communities.
And while out and about, you’ll have plenty of chances to check out some of Indiana’s gorgeous birds. In fact, Potato Creek is a haven for a variety of birds, from bald eagles to ospreys.
Park activities don’t just stop at hiking, biking and birdwatching. Howard Park offers ice skating between November and March each year at its 16,000-square-foot ice trail and pond.
St. Patrick’s County Park boasts a popular tubing hill and trails perfect for cross-country skiing. And Rum Village Park, a designated nature area, is home to a phenomenal disc golf course.
Watersports are also widely popular in the region. One of the first artificial waterways in North America, East Race Waterway in downtown South Bend is a topsummer attraction for whitewater rafting, not to mention a space where Olympic teams train and companies participate in team building activities. Plus, St. Patrick’s County Park and Potato Creek State Park are local favorites for kayaking and canoeing.
The arts scene is thriving.
A combination of exquisite attractions make up South Bend’s thriving arts scene. New murals continue to be painted in the city, adding to the area’s flair and providing beautiful pops of color. “Majestic Daisies” at Kodachrome Coffee and “Vortex” at Jiffy Lube, and “Hello Sunshine” on the side of Oh Mamma’s on the Avenue by local Alex Ann Allen are a few must-see works and Instagram-worthy moments.
And, the region is home to the popular South Bend Symphony Orchestra, which engages the community with all forms of orchestral music, as well as the Morris Performing Arts Center, which just turned 100 years old. It hosts the South Bend Symphony as well as nationally known music, dance and Broadway performances.
South Bend is centrally located.
While South Bend offers excellent attractions, the region’s location leaves the door wide open when it comes to entertainment. Nearby Mishawaka is bursting with retail and dining options and a burgeoning outdoor recreation scene, while a drive just farther east leads to Middlebury and Shipshewana, two Indiana towns in Amish Country flourishing with Amish-owned stores and cafes as well as outdoor attractions.
Another advantage of living in South Bend? A short car ride brings a host of gorgeous south Michigan beaches, where residents can relax in the sun and swim in the cool water.
And, South Bend’s Amtrak and South Shore lines allow for weekend getaways to Chicago, while South Bend International Airport can fly residents off to a slew of destinations.
The community is neighborly and diverse.
There’s no other way to describe it — the people in South Bend are just friendly. Whether you’re entering a local business or walking down the street, you are sure to be met with a warm greeting. Plus, the city is highly diverse.
“I love that it’s a mixture of people with deep ties, deep roots to the area, but we also have a large student population. … You always have an infusion of different demographics, and then South Bend has really vibrant ethnic communities,” Wetherall says.
Living in South Bend is affordable.
Move to South Bend and your wallet will breathe a sigh of relief. When calculating costs related to food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and more, South Bend’s overall Cost of Living Index (Q2 2022) comes in at 86.3 (100 is the benchmark). Compare that to nearby Chicago, which is 118.2.
Additionally, residents find the region’s housing and renting costs quite reasonable. According to Zillow, the median home value is $165,000 in South Bend and $198,000 in St. Joseph County, while the value nationally is $356,000. And as far as rent, the median price here is just over $800 per month, while the median rent in the U.S. is $1,096 (U.S. Census Bureau 2020).
Affordable Places to Live
The Cost of Living Diaries: South Bend, IN
Explore life in South Bend through the eyes of a local.
Its dark fiber is a magnet for tech enterprises.
South Bend is becoming an attractive tech hub that’s drawing new, innovative businesses to the region.
A great example is Aunalytics, a data platform company that delivers insights and solutions, named to the Inc. 5000 list. And this doesn’t even include the numerous start-up tech companies coming out of the amazing innovation and research taking place at the area colleges and universities.
While there are several advantages to relocating or starting a business in South Bend, the city’s access to dark fiber makes all the difference. Once lacking internet service providers, area leaders took it upon themselves in the early 2000s to create organizations that would help connect local business, government and education entities to dark fiber.
“That combination of fiber connectivity and power in our manufacturing spaces that are being transformed to attract technology companies is a really key asset,” Wetherall says.
It’s an education destination.
Premier higher education options run the gamut in South Bend, as the area is home to Saint Mary’s College, a private female liberal arts college; Holy Cross College, a private co-ed Catholic college; Ivy Tech Community College, which offers several associate degrees and certificates; Indiana University South Bend, a public four-year college; and the University of Notre Dame, a private Catholic university renowned for its groundbreaking research.
Also important to note? The highly educated students who graduate from these institutions each year further add to the region’s skilled labor force, making South Bend an even better place to live and work.
In addition to offering great educational programs and leading important research projects, Notre Dame provides students and the community with a range of arts and entertainment options, from stadium concerts, featuring talented artists like country legend Garth Brooks, to athletic events.
“It’s super, super fun to be in the city during home football games,” Wetherall says. “There’s tailgating on campus and, of course, attending the game, but there’s that energy across the community.”
No matter your taste — football, basketball, softball, hockey — the Fighting Irish will have you out of your seat and cheering for a W!