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Frank Gray

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne scored low on walkability, as stores can be reached only by car.

City's affordability gives edge as top place to retire

Over the years Fort Wayne has been labeled among the fattest and stupidest cities in America, but a recent study has concluded that all in all, it's not that bad a place to be.

If you're retired.

An outfit called nerdwallet, which uses economic and other data, looked at the 75 largest urban areas in the country and rated them according to which would be the best places to retire.

Miami and several other cities in the Sunbelt and South were rated the top places to retire, which isn't too surprising when you consider that as many as 1 in 6 residents in those cities is 65 or older and the average temperatures range around 70 degrees.

Still, Fort Wayne actually ranked the 14th-best urban area to retire.

I spoke to one of the people who crunched the numbers to come up with Fort Wayne's rank.

Affordability gave the city something of an edge. The average cost of living is a score of 100. Fort Wayne's cost of living was only 89.24, well below average.

Slightly more than 1 in 8 people in the city is 65 or older, making the city a sort of aging place, but not as gray as Miami or Henderson, Nevada.

The average temperature here is a relative killer, 50.2 degrees, but your average retirees probably won't be scared off by that – at least, as long as no one tells them about last winter with its record snowfall and cold so severe that the ground froze up to 5 feet deep, causing water main breaks all over the city.

The one area where Fort Wayne scored particularly low, though, was something called the walk score.

I spoke to Vivya Raghavan, an analyst with nerdwallet, about exactly what that was all about.

Simply put, how walkable is the city? Are amenities nearby? Does the city sprawl? Are there sidewalks?

Depending on where you live, groceries and conven­ience stores are nearby, and residential streets with sidewalks are handy.

But the walkability rating was dead on.

This city was designed for people in cars.

Granted, it would be foolish to expect to see a lot of senior citizens walking to Glenbrook Square, or Northcrest Shopping Center, or Jefferson Pointe, or Covington Plaza.

But there's no denying, retiring here without a car would be a big mistake.

FrankGray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.