Bordering the rolling Mississippi River, Arkansas is also called The Natural State. Naturally, nature lovers will find plenty to amuse themselves with when they move here, from mountains and rivers to caves and hot springs. And of course, the state is home to Bill Clinton, and the Clinton Presidential Center sits in its capital. Here’s all you need to know if you’re considering moving to Arkansas, from the fun aspects like nature and food to the not-so-fun budgets and bills.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Arkansas
The state of Arkansas, abbreviated as AR, has over 3 million residents as of 2018. It currently stands at an approximate 3,033,950 for 2021. Its largest city also happens to be its capital – Little Rock, located in Pulaski County. The state covers 53,179 square miles and has a population density of 56 people per square mile.
The name and pronunciation of the state is Googled pretty often; the state of Kansas is nearby, and though both states share ‘kansas’ in their names, their pronunciations are quite different. Arkansas derives its name from a Siouan tribe of natives called the Quapaw. The Algonquians, one of the largest tribes across America, called the Quapaw “Akansa”. It was the French version of this name, Arcansas, that became the base for the eventual name of Arkansas. Since the last letters aren’t pronounced in French, Arkansas is pronounced “AR-kan-saw”.
The nickname of ‘Natural State’ is a well-deserved one indeed – the natural beauty this state possesses reveals itself to you no matter where you go. There’s the Ozarks with their ruggedness that have hiking trails galore and limestone caves for the adventure seekers. Apart from the Mississippi winding its way through, it also boasts the Ouachita Mountains, tumbling waterfalls, hot springs, and serene lakes. This is complemented by the homely feel that surrounds you— there’s no NYC or San Francisco hyperactivity and chaos here. Nonetheless, the bigger cities ensure there’s just enough nightlife for everyone to get by.
And of course, there’s no end to the delicious food you can eat when you call Arkansas home. There’s the famous Arkansas barbecue, fried catfish and fried chicken, pork tenderloin sandwiches, fried okra… we could go on and on. Fulfilling, hearty meals that you can dig your teeth into, that’s food in Arkansas for you. Pair this with its relatively cheap prices and the state becomes picture perfect. But before we forget, let’s have a look at the ugly underside of Arkansas with the crime rates.
Crime Rate In Arkansas
The crime rate of a location or neighborhood is extremely important and should be one of the make or break factors when deciding where to move. We’re approaching crime in Arkansas by dividing the crimes into two: violent crimes (murders, rapes, kidnapping) and property crimes (shoplifting, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson).
The violent crime rate per one thousand residents in Arkansas is 5.85, marginally higher than the national median of 4. This makes your chances of being a victim of one of these crimes 1 in 171. In terms of property crimes, the rate per 1,000 residents is 28.58, again higher than the national median of 21. Little Rock has a comparatively high crime rate, with 1 in 65 and 1 in 16 being your chances of becoming a victim of violent and property crimes respectively.
St. Joe, Williford, Concord, Bradley, and Dierks are 5 of the safest cities in Arkansas, while El Dorado, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, and Newport are some of the cities with high crime rates.
Arkansas experiences all four seasons through the year, and there’s a pleasant choice for everyone depending on where you choose to live. Summertime is warm and humid with a subtropical climate, and temperatures peak at an average of 93°F in July. On hotter days, the mercury can climb to as high as 110°F; this is when you ought to head to those lakes and ponds to take a dip. Autumn is mild and dry, perfect for harvesting cotton and rice.
Winter sees snow in the northern regions of the state, but at only around 4 inches, it won’t disrupt your daily life. Winter in the rest of the state is mild and temperatures hover around 51°F, dropping to as low as 32°F in some parts. Spring is pleasant, perfect to enjoy the bounty of nature the state possesses.
How Expensive Is It To Move To Arkansas
Checking out the expenses in a region you’re considering calling home is like being at the very top of a roller coaster ride, just before the dip. You wait with bated breath – will this be an exhilarating, fun experience or will you simply go downhill? Whatever it is, we’re at that point right now, so take a deep breath and read on.
Cost Of Living In Arkansas
Of course, your cost of living depends on a few factors, like where you live and what kind of salary you earn. But overall, living in Arkansas means you’ll be paying a cost of living that’s lower than the national average. Goods and services in Arkansas cost 14.7% less than the national average according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Remember to add income tax to your overall expenses when calculating your budget—it’s at 6.5%, and depending on local municipalities can be as high as 11%.
Naturally, if you live within one of its 6 metropolitan areas, you’ll be paying higher rates than the folk in the more rural sections. But even so, your costs remain comparatively low. For instance, the most expensive metropolitan area in Arkansas is the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway Metropolitan Area, where goods and services remain lower than the national average by a good 10.8%.
When it comes to food and groceries, a single adult spends around $2,988 annually on nutritional food bought from grocery stores and prepared at home. This is lower than the national average of $3,240. A family of four on the other hand spends $8,630 annually, comparatively lower than the national average of $9,354. Healthcare in Arkansas is also lower than the national average—the average annual expenditure on healthcare is $3,769 for an individual, lower than the national average of $4,266. A family of four spends $11,362, over a thousand bucks lower than the national average of $12,950.
Buying A House
The median house value in Arkansas is $143,910, and this figure has grown by 8% over the past year. Arkansas is home to some historical homes built before 1939, and the median home price for these homes is $88,100. Be prepared to shell out some cash if you want one of the latest properties since the median value of homes built in or post 2014 is $206,300. You won’t have to worry much about paying a property tax since the statewide effective rate is 0.63%. Plus, active-duty members of the armed forces are exempted from paying income.
Renting A House
Renting a house in Arkansas is fantastically cheap, and the state is known for its affordable rent rates. Currently, the average monthly rent in Arkansas is $1,050. More specifically, one-bedroom apartments go for $554 while units with around 5 bedrooms go for around $1,100.
In 2018, Arkansas was ranked as the 9th best state in terms of utility affordability—the average amount spent annually on utilities is $263. Arkansas is one of five states that have the lowest average electricity retail price, and the average monthly electricity bill comes to around $110.30. You’ll spend around $30 on the Internet, and at around $22, the water bill remains affordable. Gas costs around $65 while the cable bill will be around $40.
Arkansas Economy And Employment Opportunities
There’s plenty of employment opportunities in Arkansas and their unemployment rate has actually dropped by a point since January to 4.5%. This is lower than the national average of 6.2%. Arkansas has a range of industries doing well in the state, but of these, aerospace & defense is one of the major ones. Food & beverage comes in a close second, followed by healthcare, retail, and metals.
The median household income in Arkansas is around $47,597 while the average annual salary is around $26,577 a year. Some of the biggest employers in the state are Walmart, with 11,000 employees, followed by the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and Michael Carraway.
Education in Arkansas is well established and the people certainly know its importance, since over 89.2% are graduates at minimum. This is higher than the national average of 85.3%. 19% went on to pursue master’s degrees. The school dropout rate at 13% is just 1% higher than the national average of 12%.
There’s plenty of high quality schools to be found in Arkansas, numbering a total of 3,636 (public and private both). These include around 45 charter schools and 38 magnet schools. In terms of higher education, there’s plenty to choose from. There are over 40 institutes, including 22 two-year colleges, 12 private universities, and 10 four-year universities. The University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, John Brown Springs, and Harding University are four of the many esteemed universities in the state.
Getting Around Arkansas
Historically, Arkansas was one of the first states in American to benefit from paved roads and was also one of the first to participate in the interstate highway system that improved connectivity across America. Today, there certainly are transportation options in The Natural State, but they aren’t all that excellent. If you’re someone looking for a robust public transportation system, this may not be the state for you.
Rock Region METRO
Rock Region METRO is Arkansas’ central public transit system and it serves approximately 3 million people each year. People who live in the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Maumelle, Sherwood, and Pulaski County can benefit from Rock Region METRO. METRO local buses run along 26 routes and there are 58 buses that take these routes each week. Each bus also has a bike rack that can accommodate up to 2 bikes. A 31-day bus pass for an adult is $36.00, while a shorter 10-ride card is $11.50.
Certified as paratransit-eligible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, METRO Links riders are persons with disabilities whose disabilities prevent them from riding fixed-route buses. They have access to origin-to-destination bus service to and from locations that are within three-quarters of a mile from a non-express fixed bus route. If you want to be eligible, you’ll have to fill an application to Rock Region METRO along with your licensed healthcare provider. A one-way ride pass is $2.70 while a 10-ride pass is $25.
The METRO Streetcar operates throughout the Little Rock and North Little Rock downtown areas on two routes. These are the Blue Line (operates throughout Little Rock and crosses the Arkansas River to North Little Rock) and the Green Line (remains within Little Rock). The streetcars operate all 7 days of the week except on certain public holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Green Line doesn’t operate on Sundays.
Amtrak operates one National Network train through Arkansas, the Texas Eagle. It stops at six stations in Arkansas, and there’s one train in each direction daily. The stops are Arkadelphia, Little Rock, AR – Union Station, Malvern, Hope, Texarkana, and Walnut Ridge.
In terms of walking, Arkansas isn’t the best; Little Rock has a Walk Score of 31 and an even worse Transit Score of 18. Overall, it’s a lot easier to get by with walking and cycling in the downtown districts of bigger cities. The good news? Arkansas has some of the lowest commute times in the country with an average of 18 minutes to work one-way.
There’s a number of interstate highways running through the state, namely Interstate 30, 40, 49, and 55. Arkansas has the Arkansas International Airport in Blytheville (BYH), while The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT) in Little Rock and the Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) are the state’s two largest airports.
Best Places To Live In Arkansas
Located in Northwest Arkansas, the city of Bentonville is the ninth-largest city in Arkansas. It has a population of under 50,000, and around 54% of residents are homeowners. Bentonville is an all-rounder but is particularly great for families and nature-lovers. The Walmart headquarters are located here alongside over 15 parks and over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. The public schools are highly rated and the communities are friendly.
The typical home value here is $300,080 while the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,050.
Of course we had to mention Little Rock. The largest and most urban of Arkansas’ cities, 56% of the residents are homeowners. Little Rock is where the state government, culture, and business all culminate. Its position along the Arkansas River makes it a hub for shipping, and its central location gives nature lovers perfect access to Arkansas’ natural wonders. However, public education is mediocre at best.
The median home value here is $161,633 and the average rent is $792.
White Hall is perfect for young families and retirees looking for a place to settle down. The epitome of a great small-town place to live, White Hall is extremely affordable and also has good public schools. The communities are warm and welcoming, and quite close-knit, while the crime rates are low.
The median home value here is $101,986 and the average rent is $492.
Is Arkansas A Good State To Live In
Arkansas seems to have it all, from great food and a good economy to job opportunities and low costs of living, with a generous helping of that classic Southern charm. The weather is pleasant throughout the year without any of the extremes that plague other states, and education is great as well.
However, public transportation is fairly mediocre, and you can’t get by without a car if you want to live in Arkansas. It could also soon become dull for people who are drawn to modern amenities – there are not many shopping malls, for instance. The ‘small town charm’ that is so cherished in the first few weeks can soon become a slow lull if you’ve just moved from a hyper, urban city like Philadelphia or Portland. Plus, it makes up for its low costs with a sales tax of 6.5%.
Arkansas has a certain vibe, and the state is truly good to call home, but make sure you know just what you’re walking into before you make the call.
Is Arkansas A Good State To Move To?
Arkansas has great weather throughout the year, is quite affordable, and has great employment opportunities. However, there’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to modern amenities and public transportation, and the state can feel dull with its ‘small-town’ feel. If this is alright with you, then Arkansas will be practically perfect for you.
Is Arkansas Paying 10000 To Move There?
In November 2020, the Northwest Arkansas Council announced that it was working on an initiative called the ‘Life Works Here’ initiative to attract new residents. As part of this scheme, they will pay people a $10,000 stipend and also give them a street or mountain bike. Since then, they’ve had over 26,000 applications from across the US and the globe.
Recipients must make the move within 6 months of being accepted and remain for at least a year to get the full incentive benefits.
Is It Expensive To Live In Arkansas?
Arkansas is a fairly affordable state. The average income of $26,577 may seem low, but the low cost of living and healthcare which are both lower than the national average, and the low rent makes up for it.
Also See: Top Out of State Movers in the America