In the heart of the South, Arkansas is not the top on many people’s lists to move to, but it has many hidden charms that give it immense potential for new populations. Mountains, forests, and rivers are just a few examples of the natural beauty that runs through this state. Arkansas more than lives up to its nickname, “Natural State.” After learning what Arkansas has to offer, you might see the potential that’s waiting.
If you are even considering a move to Arkansas, you are probably asking yourself, “Is Arkansas a good place to live?” For those looking to embrace rural landscapes and natural adventures, Arkansas is a popular place for families and retirees to move as a way to escape overly busy lives and find tranquility in simpler living. Other perks like affordable living, pleasant weather, and friendly neighbors add to the allure of Arkansas.
To learn more about what it’s like to live in Arkansas, keep reading and start to decide if Arkansas is a good choice for you to live in.
Arkansas at a Glance
Home to over three million people, Arkansas is not a densely populated state, but it offers plenty of land and room for growth. Arkansas became the 25th state in 1836, but it was inhabited for centuries before that. For almost fourteen thousand years, Arkansas was home to Native Americans who lived in harmony with the natural bounty of the land.
Tribes in the area included the Chickasaw, Tunica, Osage, and Quapaw, and the state was actually named based on French explorers referring to the Quapaw people.
The capital of Arkansas is Little Rock, which is also the state’s biggest city that is home to more than 200,000 people. While Little Rock is a hot spot in Arkansas, many people live in rural settings, surrounded by the natural wonders of Arkansas.
Want to know more about Arkansas? The following fun facts can help you get to know the lesser-known joys of the state.
- Arkansas is home to the United States’ only diamond field, and the largest diamond, a 40.23-carat diamond. in North America was found in the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Visitors to the park have found diamonds for themselves for decades. The public is allowed to take home whatever diamonds they discover!
- The first female U.S. Senator to serve a full term was Hattie Caraway, who was an Arkansas native.
- Arkansas’ state bird is the mockingbird.
- The first Walmart opened in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. The company now employs over 2.3 million people.
- Arkansas’ original state nickname was the “Land of Opportunity,” but in 1995, the state wanted to attract more tourists, so they changed the nickname to the “Natural State.” Other nicknames the state has used include the “Bear State,” “Toothpick State,” and “Wonder State.”
- While Arkansas does experience weather incidents like tornadoes, it has only gone through one major earthquake, which was in the 19th century.
- As the largest rice producer in the United States, Arkansas has a huge rice industry, which is documented to have begun in 1902, but some sources suggest it was grown even before that.
- There’s a lot of wildlife diversity in the state. With 300 species of birds alone, this state is an exciting spot for nature lovers and birdwatchers alike.
- One of the most popular American novelists, John Grisham, was born in Jonesboro Arkansas.
- Arkansas doesn’t neglect its trees, and the state has over 18 billion trees.
Arkansas is a place fit for explorers who can see the rich history and hidden diamonds this state has to offer.
Pros of Moving to Arkansas
If you are thinking of moving to Arkansas, it will help you to know the pros and cons of living in Arkansas. Of course, what some people consider a pro will be a con to other people, but the following pros tend to be the most appealing features that Arkansas has to offer potential residents.
One of the biggest draws to Arkansas is affordable living. Arkansas has been ranked by Entrepreneur magazine as the second most affordable state in the nation. U.S. World News & Report ranks Arkansas as #4 for cost of living and #3 for housing affordability.
Forbes values the total cost of living in Arkansas at $32,979. Arkansas’ home values are also useful, and the state has a median home value of $133,600, so many people can afford to have homes of their own.
Pleasant Weather All Year
Another reason people choose Arkansas is that Arkansas offers relatively pleasant weather throughout the year. The hottest months of July and August have average maximum temperatures of about 92 degrees. The weather gets cooler in the winter, but in the coldest month of January, the average maximum temperature is about 50 degrees and the average minimum is around 29 degrees.
You can expect only about 5 to 10 inches of snow each year, and even in the rainiest months, Arkansas doesn’t get too much rain and has mostly sunny days throughout the year. Thus, most people enjoy being able to experience seasonal changes without some of the more extreme changes.
Easy to Get Where You Want to Go
Arkansas’ Department of Transportation maintains a large network of highways and roads. Four interstates and 3,000 miles of railroad tracks keep the state connected. With four airports, though no international airport, travel is relatively easy.
Arkansas doesn’t always have a lot of resources to spare, but its transportation network still ranks near the top for total miles. Thus, while it may take a lot of driving to get from place to place, the roads are designed with traveling in mind.
Small Town Charm
If you’re looking to live in a place where everybody knows your name, there are lots of options in Arkansas. Small towns are a way of life, and they are so much more personal than cities, where most people you see, you don’t know. It can be comforting to know exactly what you’re getting from your community. People also tend to use respective language, such as calling people “sir” and “ma’am,” so you may want to practice your best manners before moving to Arkansas.
Whether you’re looking for a community perfect for families or you want a place that appeals to retirees, there are numerous communities that can keep you connected and show you the small-town charm that Arkansas gives its residents.
Small-town charm means that your neighbors are likely to be friendly. Many communities rely upon one another for support and to reach shared goals. Thus, your neighbors can more easily become friends rather than remaining casual acquaintances.
In some rural areas, neighbors might be few and far between, but in Arkansas, the quality of your neighbors is more important than the quantity.
Arkansas embraces its identity as a natural hub. It is full of streams, rivers, and lakes. If water isn’t your thing, there are also mountains, forests, and parks that you’re sure to enjoy. Whether you want intense outdoor adventures or you just want to casually enjoy the scenery, Arizona can offer you the natural environment you want.
To put Arkansas’ nature into perspective, the state is home to 52 state parks, 9,700 miles of streams and rivers, and 600,000 acres of lakes. Arkansas is landlocked, but it certainly does make the most of the land it has!
The Beautiful Hot Springs National Park
While the natural beauty of Arkansas has already been mentioned, a special mention has to be given to the Hot Springs National Park. This national park is located in Garland County, Arkansas, near the city of Hot Springs. Tourists and locals alike love to come to this location to relax.
Thousands of visitors have come to the hot springs to enjoy the gallons of water that rush out each day. In the 19th century, people believed that going to the hot springs could be healing. Cultural and political figures like Bill Clinton, Alp Capone, and Major League Basketball players have all visited the spot.
Unique City Experience
People in Arkansas tend to live in rural areas, but Little Rock is a fascinating place to live because while it is a city, it’s not the kind of city most people think of. In fact, there’s a river running through the center that brings the natural vibes into a more populated area.
Arkansas is home to many notable companies like Walmart, J.B. Hunt, and Tyson Foods. These businesses help keep the economy going in the right direction. The production of agricultural staples like rice, soybeans, and poultry also adds to the job opportunities in the state.
Additionally, jobs like technology or healthcare are increasingly necessary and pay well, allowing for industry growth. Thus, a range of people can find a place in Arkansas that fits their skills and interests.
Cons of Moving to Arkansas
Arkansas is a great place to live for many people. However, there are several qualities that may make you reconsider moving to Arkansas. The following cons shouldn’t discourage you from moving to Arkansas, but they should give you a better idea of what to expect when moving to the state.
One of the biggest people have when living in Arkansas is concern about crime and public safety. The U.S. News & World Report ranks Arkansas #49 for crimes and corrections, and the state is ranked #47 for public safety.
The statistics paint a concerning picture for potential movers, especially when looking at violent crime figures. While the national average for violent crime is 399 per 100K residents, Arkansas’ violent crime rate is well above that at 672 per 100K residents. These numbers sound startling, but Arkansas does have towns known for their safety, such as Piggot, Pottsville, and Austin, so you may be able to find a place that feels secure while also giving you all the pros of Arkansas.
Some people love rural living, but many people don’t realize just how rural Arkansas is. Little Rock offers some urban amenities, but even Little Rock only has just over 200,000 people, so it is much smaller than some of the biggest cities in the United States.
Rural areas can make it harder to get medical care, groceries, or other services. Expect long drives into civilization and plenty of wildlife if you choose to live in a rural area.
Racism is Rampant
Arkansas has a long history of racism. As the home of the Little Rock Nine, the nation has long looked to Arkansas as a center of race struggles. While many changes have been made in race relations, there are still racial issues that Arkansas must confront.
About 75% of people who live in Arkansas say that racism is a significant problem, showing how Arkansas has a long way to go to be a more diverse and inclusive state. There are plenty of welcoming communities, but Arkansas has been ranked as one of the top ten states with the most hate groups per capita. Fortunately, that number is coming down, and hate groups are somewhat losing the hold they have over Arkansas.
There are some dangers you may encounter in Arkansas that you won’t encounter in other states and will require additional awareness.
While the weather is generally pleasant in Arkansas, Arkansas does have severe storms that can make it a challenging place to live. Major thunderstorms and tornadoes can cause a lot of damage. Fortunately, Arkansas has good warning systems in place to lessen potential damages and keep people aware of potential storms.
Arkansas is also home to wildlife that could harm you, like poisonous snakes and alligators. Thus, before you go wandering, you’ll want to have an idea of what dangerous creatures look like and what to do if you encounter them. While not usually deadly, you’ll also discover that Arkansas has big mosquitoes that can carry disease and in general be a nuisance.
Few Public Transportation Options
Arkansas is very drivable and has good road systems throughout the state, but it isn’t so easy if you don’t have a car. The rural nature of Arkansas means that you aren’t likely to get a lot of public transportation options.
Even in the biggest city, Little Rock, the public transportation isn’t well developed. While there are public transportation options you can use, you’ll be very limited in where you can go without a car.
Impoverished Areas Galore
Unfortunately, there are many impoverished areas in Arkansas. Based on information from the U.S. Census
Bureau, about 16.3% of people in Arkansas live in poverty while across the United States is 12.8%, so Arkansas has more poverty than the national average.
Poverty in Arkansas makes it hard to overcome other issues the state faces, such as high crime rates and struggling school districts. Arkansas has recently seen improvements in its poverty issue, but it will take several years to see whether it continues in the right direction.
Many Struggling School Districts
Arkansas is notorious for having low success rates in education, and it is ranked #47 in a WalletHub analysis of most-educated states. Many schools are underfunded, making it hard for teachers and students to reach desirable outcomes.
Families who live in Arkansas want to be careful about their school districts and often will budget for private schools for children in the pre-K to 12 system. Higher education offers some good options because Arkansas is home to the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State.
For people with a lot of health problems, Arkansas struggles with healthcare. Ranked #47 for healthcare overall, #40 for healthcare access, and #49 for public health, the healthcare system is well below many other states.
Although the overall state of healthcare in Arkansas is concerning, there are several renowned healthcare facilities in the state, such as the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. There are also many local general practitioners who love to get to know their patients, but it may take some effort to find the right provider for you.
How to Decide if Arkansas is a Good Place to Live for You?
Now that you’ve heard all the pros and cons, you have the information you need to start deciding if Arkansas is the best place for you. The following considerations can help you confidently make your final decision.
Think of the Lifestyle You Want
You have to decide what’s most important to you at this stage in your life and in the coming years. What you used to want may be different from what you currently want, so you have to evaluate your current mindset and react accordingly.
Analyze if Arkansas can fit your desired lifestyle. If a big city is what you want, you’re not going to find it in Arkansas, but if you want a slower pace of life in a rural setting, Arkansas could be a very good choice.
Budget Your Move
Moves are expensive, and there are costs that come with having to go to a whole new place. Thus, you’ll want to explore if a move to Arkansas is currently in your budget. Consider how much your moving costs will be as long as what the change in lifestyle will cost. Fortunately, because Arkansas is so affordable, most people can afford to move to Arkansas and will likely be able to save money in the long run.
Visit Arkansas for an Extended Stay
No matter how nice Arkansas may seem from afar, it’s crucial that you take time to get to know a place before you know there. Even if you’ve visited before, you need to visit with the possibility of staying in the long term.
Imagine what it would be like to live there and how the overall vibe of Arkansas would fit with your needs and interests. Try to stay in a location where you’d like to live because different areas of Arkansas can vary greatly.
Tips for Moving to Arkansas
Moving to Arkansas is a big step, but you can make your move much easier when you prepare ahead of time and follow the following tips for moving.
- Keep all moving information in one place. Having a designated file helps you stay organized.
- Create a moving checklist to organize all the tasks you need to get done before the move.
- Make sure you set aside enough money for moving costs. Average moves cost up to $5,000 dollars but moves can be even more if you have a complex move. A moving calculator can help.
- Schedule a date for the move well in advance so you can easily make the arrangements. It’s better to book services earlier rather than later to ensure you get the services you need at the most affordable price.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to pack boxes.
- Ensure you have a job and living arrangements ready for your anticipated move date.
No move is going to be easy, but with careful planning, your move can be something to look forward to and not something to dread.
When considering a move to Arkansas, it’s normal to have a lot of questions. You don’t want to move somewhere and realize that you’ve made a mistake. The following frequently asked questions can help clarify some of the most common questions people wonder about Arkansas.
The quality of life in Arkansas offers a slow pace and outdoor adventures. There are some opportunities to have limited urban amenities, but for the most part, enjoying the outdoors is the key to living a quality life in Arkansas.
People love that they can get in tune with nature when they live in Arkansas. They also love that they can be part of rural communities and take advantage of Arkansas’ low cost of living.
Arkansas is known for Southern hospitality. There are always going to be some people who aren’t as welcoming, but overall, Arkansas is full of kind and amiable people.
Arkansas is among the least expensive states to live in. Even the more expensive areas tend to be comparatively affordable, so many families can manage to live good lives in Arkansas.
A livable salary depends on factors, such as whether a person is an individual or part of a household, but the MIT Living Wage Calculation can help you understand what a livable salary in Arkansas for your circumstances is.
A good salary in Arkansas will depend on your lifestyle and the area you live. The average salary in the United States is $61,900 per year, and that number would be more than suitable for those living in Arkansas, where the cost of living is low and you can get a lot out of your money.
Because Arkansas has a low cost of living, the income to be considered upper income is lower than many other states. According to Business Insider, those with at least an income of $107,120 are considered upper income.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee