The Natural State earns its title for its beautiful mountains, rivers, and lakes. Arkansas encompasses two mountain ranges: the Ozarks and the Ouachitas, which make the state ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Arkansas is also known for its blues music, diamond mines, and agriculture First-time homeowners, retirees, families―there’s something for everyone here. If you want to move to Arkansas, NewHomeSource has compiled a list of the top six places to move to in the state.
1. Pine Bluff
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.32%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.53%
Violent crime index: 72.5
Nonviolent crime index: 81.9
Cost of living index: 69.5
Pine Bluff tops our list of best places to live in Arkansas. Enjoy quality attractions such as the Arkansas Railroad Museum, Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, and the Delta Rivers Nature Center. Traverse downtown and admire the murals painted along the buildings, or go for a picnic along the Arkansas River. Residents can also enjoy local farmers’ markets, live blues music, and performance theater. Pine Bluff is moderately liberal and is in the vicinity of 20 hospitals and six schools, including the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. Residents can expect a good mixture of weather conditions here; Pine Bluff sees an annual average of 53 inches of rain, 218 sunny days, and 2 inches of snow. If you’d like to live in the suburbs, check out White Hall, Sulphur Springs, and Woodlawn.
2. Fort Smith
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.34%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.08%
Violent crime index: 40.5
Nonviolent crime index: 75.6
Cost of living index: 76
Located in northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith is a thriving community of over 88,000 residents. The city earns its namesake from Fort Smith, an 18th-century fortress located along the Arkansas River; folks can learn more about its history at the Fort Smith National Historic Site and the Fort Smith Museum of History. Other attractions include a casino, waterpark, and beautiful walking trails that allow you to admire Arkansas’ natural beauty. Dog lovers will be pleased to know that there are 20 restaurants in the area that allow you to bring your pooch with you. Folks moving to Fort Smith can expect to experience an annual average of 42 inches of rain and 15 inches of snow, so be sure to check the radar before going outside. Fort Smith is a moderately conservative city and has 13 hospitals in the vicinity. Popular neighborhoods include Greenwood and Arkoma.
3. Little Rock
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.89%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.92%
Violent crime index: 72.1
Nonviolent crime index: 95
Cost of living index: 82.5
Arkansas’ capital city comes in as the third best place to live in the state. Located along the Arkansas River, Little Rock is a gateway city to great outdoor recreational activities along the river, including cycling, hiking, and camping. Experience fine arts at the local art museum, symphony orchestra, and performing arts theater. With 218 sunny days per year, the weather will often be favorable for outdoor activities like visiting the Little Rock Zoo or taking your dog to one of the local breweries for a drink. Little Rock does experience 28 inches of rain and 4 inches of snow every year, so it’s not always clear skies and sunshine. This moderately liberal city encompasses 22 hospitals, so you’ll never need to worry about finding medical care. Prefer life in the suburbs? Check out popular choices like Shannon Hills, Austin, and Salem.
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.06%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.75%
Violent crime index: 25
Nonviolent crime index: 59.4
Cost of living index: 80.4
Jonesboro is located in northeastern Arkansas. This moderately conservative city offers its residents plenty of opportunities for indoor and outdoor fun. During the 218 sunny days per year, take advantage of the warm weather by visiting the A-State Bird Observatory, or head out east to fish and hike along the St. Francis Sunken Lands. Further in town, check out the latest gallery at the Bradbury Art Museum, take your family for a fun day at the Hijinx Family Entertainment Center, or visit one of the 15 dog-friendly restaurants to dine with your furry friend. Jonesboro sees 49 inches of rain and 4 inches of snow per year, so prepare for winter accordingly. The political climate is moderately conservative, and residents have access to 10 hospitals and 11 schools. Popular Jonesboro suburbs include Rockwell, Magnet Cove, and Hot Springs Village.
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.54%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.64%
Violent crime index: 33.7
Nonviolent crime index: 61.2
Cost of living index: 92.9
Fayetteville is nestled in northwestern Arkansas and provides easy access to the Ozark Mountains. Outdoor enthusiasts will love that Fayetteville is a gateway to the mountains, but that the city offers 4,000 acres of land to explore, including 40 miles of paved and natural trails. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks sits along Lake Fayetteville and offers another glimpse of Arkansas beauty. The cultural scene is just as rich as the natural wonders; from its music festivals, performance theaters, and art museums, there’s always something artistic on the horizon. Fayetteville’s weather is typical for the region, with 45 inches of rain and 219 sunny days expected per year. The city is very dog friendly, with over 40 restaurants welcoming dogs. Fayetteville leans politically liberal and encompasses four hospitals. If you dream of living in the suburbs, check out Cave Springs, Bentonville, and Johnson.
6. Hot Springs
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.62%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.46%
Violent crime index: 37.7
Nonviolent crime index: 95.3
Cost of living index: 80.9
Hot Springs is appropriately named after the natural hot springs in the area. Take advantage of the namesake by visiting one of the bathhouses, including some that date back to the 19th century! Embrace the great outdoors by hiking through Hot Springs National Park (bring your dog along too!) or visiting Garvan Woodland Gardens. Further in the city, enjoy a myriad of activities like casinos, country clubs, and museums. Whatever you choose to do, you can rest assured that medical care is never far away because Hot Springs is in the vicinity of 17 hospitals. With an average annual rainfall of 57 inches, this moderately conservative city is the wettest on our list. Interested in living in the suburbs? Check out popular neighborhoods like Winan Hills, Red Oak, and Lake Hamilton.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Sarah graduated from Trinity University in 2012 with a degree in International Relations and Political Science. She writes blogs on new homes, decor, communities, and more for NewHomeSource. When she’s not writing, you can find her spending time with her three cats.