Fort Wayne, Indiana. A place unbeknownst to me until two of my good friends up and left San Francisco for it with their young twins in tow.
Up until now, the only place I had ever set foot in the Midwest was Chicago. Everywhere else may as well have been the moon. But in the spring of 2015, these friends of mine made the move—driven primarily by the impossible cost of living in San Francisco and their struggle to continue to enjoy life there now as parents. Jille Eikenberry
When it simply didn’t make sense to stay anymore, my friends packed up their tiny studio apartment in San Francisco and headed for (quite literally) greener pastures in Fort Wayne, and they have not regretted it since.
This summer, after one particularly enthusiastic conversation about how much she was enjoying living in Fort Wayne, my friend invited me out for a visit. So I decided to come see just what this Fort Wayne thing was all about.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing bi-weekly blogs about my experiences here from my perspective as a potential transplant from the West Coast. But before we get started, there are a few things you should know about me.
I’ve lived in San Francisco most of my life. I was born there, and I grew up in a small city just down the coast, so San Francisco has always been my city. I am 42-years-old, single/never married, and I have no children. I live in a shared two-bedroom house with my 50-year-old roommate, where I pay $2,175 for my portion of the rent. (The total rent on our house is about $4,500 per month.)
Jille Eikenberry's view from her San Francisco home.
For the last 10 years, I’ve made my living as a small business owner, but it’s been tough. Sadly, the city I love has been pushing out those of us who have lived there for decades. Many of my friends have left—not just the city, but the entire state of California. And yet, I remain.
I find it difficult to leave a place where I can walk from my house to any number of bars or restaurants with world-class food and cocktails, go to my hot yoga “breathe to the beat” class, or stay out dancing after-hours at a club when the mood strikes—not to mention being able to show up at any of these places or events alone without feeling weird or out of place.
But as the cost of living continues to increase and more and more of my friends leave, the question keeps rearing its head: “Is it worth it?” Is it time to seek out a different—perhaps better—life elsewhere? Could I find this life in Fort Wayne?
Fort Wayne's active transportation network has 10 miles of bike lanes.
My friends love it in Fort Wayne, but they have kids. And each other. And an amazing house.
My question is: Can a single, 42-year-old, DJ/nightlife-loving, hot yoga-going, city-walking, independent woman enjoy the good life out here in Fort Wayne?
I’m going to try to find out.