What's it like to live in South Bend, IN?

Profile written by local expert:

Jeff Parrott

Home to the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, boasts a low cost of living and an array of parks and other diversions bound to keep locals entertained.

Like many Rust Belt cities, South Bend has faced economic challenges since it lost nearly a quarter of its population during the latter half of the 20th century, after some of its major manufacturers closed. That said, parts of the area are on the rebound. For example, South Bend’s downtown, on the scenic St. Joseph River, has undergone revitalization in recent years, bringing new apartments and condos that are attracting young professionals and empty nesters, as well as new bars and restaurants.


U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

South Bend, Indiana is ranked:

#70 in Best Places to Live

#86 in Best Places to Retire

#5 in Cheapest Places to Live




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

South Bend, IN Quick Stats

  • 320,700

    Metro Population

  • $45,580

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 37.9

    Median Age

  • $133,908

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $763

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.6 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in South Bend, IN?

The area offers plenty for lovers of the outdoors. In the summer, Lake Michigan’s beaches and sand dunes can be reached by car in 45 minutes, and many inland lakes are even closer. The St. Joseph River is known for its salmon and bass fishing. Downtown South Bend boasts the East Race Waterway, the first artificial whitewater course in North America, drawing skilled kayakers and novice leisure seekers who rent inner tubes. The downtown also features Four Winds Field, home to the South Bend Cubs, a Chicago Cubs minor league affiliate.

In the winter, St. Patrick’s County Park attracts cross-country skiers to its hiking trails. Howard Park’s ice skating ribbon can maintain the ice when the air temperature climbs as high as 60 degrees.

Indoors, downtown South Bend’s Morris Performing Arts Center stages events throughout the year, including touring Broadway shows, concerts and stand-up comedy. The Studebaker National Museum showcases classic cars, local history and some presidential lore. And on the city’s southwestern edge, Four Winds Casino South Bend offers machine games, a poker room and restaurants.

What's the cost of living in South Bend, IN?

Lower living costs make a dollar go further in South Bend and the nearby city of Mishawaka, located in the north-central part of one of the nation’s most affordable states

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in South Bend, Indiana.

Value Index

Index Score: 8.3 /10

How we calculate this.

South Bend offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019

South Bend


Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Mishawaka, IN and South Bend, IN.

What's the weather like in South Bend, IN?

Residents of the area, known locally as “Michiana” because it encompasses northern Indiana and southwest lower Michigan, enjoy a mix of all seasons. During the sometimes-volatile spring and fall, natives are fond of saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait until tomorrow; it will change.” 

Winters bring plenty of snow, much of it lake-effect, caused by northwesterly winds blowing over the warm lake waters. Lake-effect snow mixing with the westerly weather systems sometimes makes snowfall forecasts tricky for meteorologists.

What's the best way to get around South Bend, IN?

Although it has a public bus system, called Transpo, the area isn’t large enough to sustain the robust mass transit of a big metro area, so having a car is a necessity. Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft in recent years have increasingly established themselves. 

The South Shore Line, a commuter train, runs daily routes to and from Chicago. South Bend International Airport provides nonstop flights to various locations around the country and is served by Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The metro area is a two-hour drive from Chicago and just under three hours from Indianapolis.

Commuting in South Bend, IN

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.6 minutes

5.0 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in South Bend, IN?

There has long been a debate among Michiana residents over whether South Bend is a college town in the classic sense of the word. The city of South Bend is distinct from Notre Dame, which has its own police and fire department, post office and power plant. Thousands of residents in the area live without any daily interaction with the school. 

Some argue that a plethora of other higher education options in the area indeed make it a college town. These include Indiana University--South Bend, Bethel University, Ivy Tech Community College and two schools across the street from Notre Dame: Holy Cross College and the all-female Saint Mary’s College.

The area’s largest employer, the University of Notre Dame, draws young families with highly educated parents who enjoy relatively low living costs and crime rates, along with an abundance of parks and good schools. 

For all of the prosperity in redeveloped neighborhoods near the Notre Dame campus and east of the St. Joseph River, neighborhoods on South Bend’s west and southeast sides struggle with poverty.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in South Bend as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.