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The southern state of Arkansas has a lot to offer residents and visitors. Unlike many areas of the nation, where the cost of living in rural areas has risen, you can still find lovely housing that won’t break your budget.

Do be aware that some areas of Arkansas are popular with tourists; you may face high fees to get into some facilities.

Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas

Key Takeaways

  • Pros:
  • You can enjoy a low cost of living
  • Hikers, campers, hunters, and fishermen will enjoy amazing outdoor opportunities
  • Strong sports culture; fans welcome!
  • Cons:
  • Some regions have limited internet
  • Small cities struggle to draw in chain shopping and restaurants
  • There is limited nightlife
map of Arkansas

Cost of Living

Pros:
The cost of living is lower in Arkansas than in much of the country. You will pay less for

  • groceries
  • utilities
  • fuel

Because the weather here is quite temperate for much of the year, you may be able to do without your heat and A/C for many months of the year.

Cons:
Shopping options may be limited here. If you want to have access to a grocery store with a wide variety of prepared foods and live outside a major city, you may struggle.

However, thanks to the gentle climate, you may be able to find fresh veggies and one-of-a-kind preserves at farmer’s markets near your home.

Cost of Housing

Pros:
If you’re ready to buy a home in Arkansas, you may well find that your dollars will go quite a bit further than in other parts of the country.

If you are interested in a spot that is outside a city where you can build, you may be able to lower your housing costs even further.

Cons:
Unlike other states in the area, you will still need to get permits. There are stretches of Missouri that don’t require a building permit, but the cities and counties of Arkansas will require you to file for a permit to build any structure.

25 Top places to see in Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park: Known for its thermal springs, this park offers bathhouses, hiking trails, and beautiful mountain views.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: Located in Bentonville, this museum features American art from the Colonial era to contemporary works in a stunning natural setting.

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Buffalo National River: One of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states, offering canoeing, hiking, and camping opportunities.

Eureka Springs: A charming town with Victorian architecture, historic sites, and a vibrant arts community.

Crater of Diamonds State Park: The only diamond-producing site open to the public, where visitors can search for their own gems.

Petit Jean State Park: Arkansas’s first state park, featuring hiking trails, waterfalls, and stunning views from Petit Jean Mountain.

Mount Magazine State Park: The highest point in Arkansas, offering hiking, rock climbing, and breathtaking views.

Blanchard Springs Caverns: A beautiful cave system in the Ozark Mountains with guided tours showcasing impressive formations.

Ozark National Forest: Covering over a million acres, this forest offers hiking, camping, and scenic drives.

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Garvan Woodland Gardens: A botanical garden near Hot Springs with beautiful landscapes, trails, and seasonal displays.

Devil’s Den State Park: Known for its rugged beauty, hiking trails, and rock formations, including caves and bluffs.

Historic Arkansas Museum: Located in Little Rock, this museum offers exhibits on the state’s history and culture, including historic buildings and artifacts.

Heifer Village: An educational center in Little Rock focused on global hunger and poverty, offering interactive exhibits and gardens.

Thorncrown Chapel: A stunning glass chapel in Eureka Springs, designed by renowned architect E. Fay Jones.

Mammoth Spring State Park: Home to one of the world’s largest springs, this park offers fishing, hiking, and historical exhibits.

Pea Ridge National Military Park: A Civil War battlefield in northern Arkansas with interpretive trails and a museum.

Greers Ferry Lake: A popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports, surrounded by scenic landscapes.

Lake Ouachita: The largest lake in Arkansas, known for its clear waters, scuba diving, and outdoor recreation.

Arkansas Arts Center: A major art museum in Little Rock with a diverse collection of visual and performing arts.

Historic Washington State Park: A preserved 19th-century village offering living history programs and tours.

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park: An ancient Native American site with preserved mounds, trails, and a visitor center.

Magic Springs Theme and Water Park: A family-friendly amusement park in Hot Springs with rides, water attractions, and live entertainment.

Mount Nebo State Park: Known for its hiking trails, cabins, and stunning views of the Arkansas River Valley.

Old State House Museum: Arkansas’s original state capitol building, now a museum showcasing the state’s political history.

War Eagle Mill: A historic working grist mill in Rogers, offering tours, a restaurant, and seasonal craft fairs.

Weather

Pros:
If you haven’t been to Arkansas in the fall, you are in for a treat. The trees in this region really put on a show as they prepare to go dormant for winter.

Summers tend to be mild and spring is a great time to put in a garden.

Cons:
Winter can be cold and quite wet in Arkansas. If you are in the market for a building site of your very own, take a hard look at how and where water flows on your intended property.

Because Arkansas is mountainous, a hard rainstorm can put you at risk of a flood. Tornadoes are rare, but not out of the question.

Job Market

Pros:
The job market in Arkansas is competitive but healthy. Healthcare is expanding quickly and offers job hunters a lot of variety.

If you’re thinking about retooling and increasing your skillset, a job in healthcare may be a great way to prepare yourself to be in demand in Arkansas.

Cons:
Minimum wage is low in this state. That doesn’t mean that you’ll have to settle; there are pressures that push wages up across the country.

However, your best bet may be to have a job in place before you relocate here and build your budget around that income. If you hope to build a side hustle, be aware that not every area gets great internet.

male healthcare worker using a tablet

Education

Pros:
There are several terrific colleges and universities across Arkansas, most notably the University of Arkansas. This university is one of the top 100 in the nation.

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Even if you have no plans to go back to school, living in a university town will allow you to enjoy many activities on campus.

Cons:
The public school options in Arkansas are somewhat limited. Low teacher pay continues to be a challenge for many regional parents.

If your children are small and you’re looking for the best schooling options, you may have good luck in cities such as Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Little Rock.

University Of Arkansas
University Of Arkansas

Crime Rate

Pros:
Your risk of exposure to a serious crime will have a great deal to do with your location. You will want to take care while looking for an apartment or a home; like many regions of the United States, there are areas where your safety can be changed by moving just a few miles away.

Cons:
It should be said that poverty rates are high in Arkansas. As inflation rises, those who are struggling may become desperate. Again, location is key to your safety and lowering your risk of a property crime.

Sense of Community

Pros:
Arkansas is a southern state. You may hear a lot of “ma’am” and “sir” and even start to use them yourself! As you settle into your new home and learn more about what the area offers, you will enjoy these courtesies.

Cons:
Some folks who move into rural areas find that it can be hard to become accepted members of the community. There may be underlying history between neighbors that can make communication difficult.

It’s also important to note that there are folks in rural areas who moved there to avoid other people. Take the time to linger and engage when and where possible.

If someone down the road has a sign out offering fresh eggs for sale, stop, introduce yourself, and buy a dozen.

welcome to Arkansas road sign

Ease of Travel

Pros:
For all the mountains and rivers, Arkansas is a remarkably easy place to travel. There are several airports and Amtrak stops here as well.

Additionally, you can find some of the most scenic drives in the country in your new home state. Take your time; there may be tourists on the road as well as locals.

Cons:
You’re probably going to need a car in Arkansas. Buses within smaller cities may not be readily available, making running errands challenging.

Because this area does experience all 4 seasons, it may be best to get something with higher than average clearance; you can both manage snow in town and enjoy a drive through some of the beautiful wilderness nearby.

Luckily, there is no gas tax in Arkansas!

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