Moving to Arkansas | 2021 Cost of Living and Relocation Guide
Arkansas sits at a juncture in the South and Midwest region in the United States. It is rightly called a ‘Natural State’ and it doesn’t take one long to realise that Arkansas is truly packed with countless natural wonders. The state is blessed with some breathtaking vistas, making it an outdoor lover’s playground. You have hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, innumerable hiking trails in mountainous regions of Ozark and Ouachita. Minimal traffic, minimum pollution, extremely low cost of living and slow pace of life are the other advantages of living here.
Besides all of this, you have to keep in mind that Arkansas calls to live a simple comfortable life and is still predominantly a rural state. So depending on where you’ll be coming from, you may have to brace yourself to make certain adjustments to the pace and way of life. Although things remain more traditional in outlook, don’t be mistaken that all areas are sleepy towns.
Cities situated in Northwest Arkansas (also called NWA) lie on a completely different tangent from the rest of the state. And NWA is actually at a pace to beat other fast growing cities of the nation. This makes Arkansas a blend of densely populated metropolitan areas and small towns. Letting you get the best of both worlds.
Presently, the state is also recognized as one of the cheapest states to live in the US. It has a population that’s just crossed the 3 million mark. However, before you decide on moving to Arkansas, let’s run over other aspects that you should take into consideration.
Weather In Arkansas
The state of Arkansas enjoys 4 distinct seasons year round. The climate is mainly classified as humid subtropical in nature. In simple terms, it rarely gets extremely cold or hot. And none of the seasons falls under oppressive or severe conditions. And on an average, the annual rainfall ranges from 40-60 inches. But do note that the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains are wetter than the rest of the state. Below is a snippet of the temperatures you can expect during each season throughout the year.
Winters (end November to February) – Winters in Arkansas are extremely mild, where residents enjoy 6 hours of sunlight even during peak months. You would rarely notice any snow making a presence in December. However, parts of the north of the state receive light snowfall (around 2-4 inches). High temperatures fall in the range of 47°F (8.3°C) to 58°F (14.4°C). While during peak time, temperatures can drop to 26°F (-3.3°C) to 36°F (2.2°C) zones. Winters are truly short here and by the end of February, you can expect temperatures to rise.
Spring (March to May) – Spring is the time when things return to comfortable conditions across the state. It is considered to be the most pleasant time of the year. Temperatures fall in the range of 59°F (15°C) to 68°F (20°C) during this time. However, you may need to carry an umbrella or jacket because there could be light showers occasionally.
Summers (June to August) – Summers in Arkansas are hot and humid. But the humidity doesn’t drain you or stop you from stepping outside. It is actually pretty moderate with temperatures ranging from 83°F (28.3°C) to 92°F (33.3°C). The lakes, rivers and nature trails are visited most during the summer months.
Autumn (September to mid November) – Fall tends to be the most wonderful time of the year. The landscape of Arkansas comes to life with colors and the weather is favourable. The temperatures are at a lovely range of 51°F (10.6°C) to 80°F (26.7°C). However, the north can register slightly cooler temperatures than the South. Some of the top places to catch a glimpse of the fall foliage are Yellow Rock Trail at Devil’s Den State Park and Whitaker Point Trail in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness.
Transportation In Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) is the agency that is responsible and operates all the modes of commute in the state. The main agencies working towards helping residents get around by non-car modes are:
Central Arkansas Transit Authority (Rock Region Metropolitan Transit Authority)
This is the largest transit agency in the state with a fleet of 59 buses. The 21 fixed routes and 4 express commuter routes provide service to roughly 10,000 riders every day. Major stops are at College Station, Hensley, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Maumelle, Natural Steps, North Little Rock, Roland, Sherwood, Sweet Home, Woodson and Wrightsville.
Ozark Regional Transit
Once again, this is also a bus service providing bus services in the Northwest Arkansas region, including Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville.
Overall, the Arkansas Transit Association also has over 200 other similar agencies across the state to provide rural and urban public transit options to the residents of Arkansas. However, even though the transit options in Arkansas have a presence, it is relatively scarce. And depending on the area you reside in, you may or may find these modes feasible.
On another note, the state also has an extensive network of roadways. The 4 major Interstate highways are 30,40,49 and 55. These collectively make it easy to connect residents to the neighboring states of Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
Airports In Arkansas
The state of Arkansas has a good number of regional airports in most of the central and northwest parts of the state. Major domestic airports are located in the city of Siloam Springs, Rogers, Harrison, Fayetteville, Mountain Home, Batesville, Jonesboro, Paragould, Blytheville, Little Rock, Stuttgart, Helena, Pine Bluff, Camden, Magnolia, El Dorado and Crossett.
Arkansas has just 1 international airport known as the ‘Arkansas International Airport’ located in the city of Blytheville.
The most traveled airports are:
- Fort Smith Regional Airport
- Little Rock National Airport (named changed to Clinton National Airport)
- Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport
Amtrak, which is the passenger railroad service that serves most of the cities in the United states has 1 major train service passing through the state of Arkansas. The train line goes by the name ‘Texas Eagle’. This rail line is the longest in the United States. It runs from the city of Chicago upto Los Angeles. It connects residents to major cities in the state of Illinois, Missouri, Arizona and California. Although it isn’t a train service for intra-city travel, it is a great option for residents to get access to out-of-state cities.
The six railway stations in Arkansas are located at:
- Little Rock, Union Station
- Walnut Ridge
Job Market In Arkansas
When it comes to looking out for jobs in Arkansas, do keep in mind that the market varies by geographical location. Like we said earlier, the Northwest corner of Arkansas is developing at a pace that’s unimaginable and remarkable for the rest of the state. If you’re looking out for white collar jobs in some of the largest employers, there’s a high possibility that these companies are concentrated in the Northwest.
Another notable aspect is that Northwest Arkansas is home to seven times the US average of headquarters. Walmart, J.B Hunt, Tyson Foods, Dillard’s, Murphy USA, and Windstream are 6 of the Fortune 500 companies that have a huge presence in this region. These are the giant companies that are not just providing job stability for millions but also are the ones improving the growth of Arkansas’s economy structure.
Besides the success and potential of the job market in Arkansas, the state’s economy also depends on other sectors such as agriculture, healthcare and transportation.
Here is a list of some of the largest employers of the state alongside the sector they are linked towards. This helps you get a fair idea of the job profiles that are in demand.
- Rogers School District (education)
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (academic health and science)
- Fayetteville School District (education)
- Signature Bank of Arkansas (finance)
- Sam’s Club (retail company)
- George’s Poultry (processes poultry products)
- Simmons Foods (leading supplier of poultry)
Key Takeaway – Arkansas’ primary industries are agriculture, business services, manufacturing, and transportation logistics. Some of the giant companies have their roots planted deep in the state, alongside small homegrown businesses springing up here. Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville, the surrounding towns of Benton and Washington counties are where most of the largest employers are concentrated.
According to reports by HomeSnacks, the average median rent of houses in Arkansas is $1,050, while the national average is roughly $1,650 (so that’s a 36% difference in cost). This is surely refreshing news for renters, since this difference makes renting incredibly cheaper than the rest of the nation. While in comparison to its 6 neighboring states, Arkansas is still doing reasonably well.
To put things into perspective for you, we’ve compiled a list of the tentative rent costs for a 1 bedroom. You can refer to this list to compare things with a rough price point:
- 1 bedroom home in Arkansas – $660
- 1 bedroom home in Missouri- $825
- 1 bedroom home in Louisiana – $1,019
- 1 bedroom home in Texas – $1,200
- 1 bedroom home in Oklahoma – $715
- 1 bedroom home in Tennessee – $1,100
- 1 bedroom home in Mississippi – $730
This shows that renting in Arkansas is extremely affordable and nowhere en par with the higher prices in its neighboring states.
Having said that, just a heads up that in certain neighborhoods such as Pea Ridge, Centerton, Maumelle, Bentonville and Bryant, the cost of rent will be much higher. Since these are the more affluent parts of town with competitive costs.
Cost Of Living In Arkansas
Arkansas is known for its super affordable housing and low cost of living. Moreover, it has been ranked several times as one of the cheapest places to live in the United States. The average median value of homes is $141,806 (according to Zillow). This proves that home ownership is incredibly cheaper than the rest of the nation. To further emphasize, this means on an average you’d roughly pay $128,800 for a home in Arkansas, while the national average for the same home would be $231,200. The margin here is really big, isn’t it?
When it comes to the cost of utilities, a single person would probably need to budget around $750-$850 per month (without rent). However, what one must keep in mind is that the median household income in Arkansas is also pretty low (approx $45,726 annually). On the other hand, the national average income is roughly $55,322. So depending on where you’ll be moving from, Arkansas is going to be relatively inexpensive. But at the same time, odds are that your employer is going to take into account the decrease in expense. So overall you should factor in wages to also be lower than the national average.
See also: Utility Bills 101
Do keep in mind that the price ranges we’ve mentioned are just an average so you can form a perspective on the cost of living. Depending on if you choose to reside in Northwest Virginia, costs could look slightly different.
Top Cities To Move To In Arkansas
Fayetteville is the third largest city of Arkansas and is also home to the University of Arkansas. Thousands of students occupy the city, dramatically changing the atmosphere of the region. The perks of living in Fayetteville is that residents are in close proximity to the best hubs of the state. Cities like Rogers, Bentonville, Branson,and Springdale are all within reach. The town is also appealing for its low crime rate, warm people and relatively progressive lifestyle.
Median price of homes sold: $202,700
Median rent: $770
The city of Bentonville is ranked as the best place to live in Arkansas. This city is also the birthplace and world headquarters of Walmart. Bentonville has an exciting culinary scene, lively atmosphere and over 44 trails for jogging and walking. This also makes the town super bicycle friendly with very minimal traffic. Downtown, Crystal Bridges, and the Holler are some of the most vibrant cultural centers of this city.
Median price of homes sold: $221,400
Median rent: $918
3. Little Rock
Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of Arkansas. The city is located smack right in the middle of the state map. The city enjoys a central location but still maintains a low profile. It comes across as a quiet little town with family-friendly communities and short commute time. Residents here also have access to top-notch universities, schools and hospitals. Interestingly, it is also regarded as one of the best places to retire in the state.
Median price of homes sold: $162,800
Median rent: $850
The city of Conway is located just 30 minutes away from the state capital (Little Rock). It is recognised as the ‘City of Colleges’, since it is home to 3 educational institutions. Acxiom, University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Insight Enterprises are few of the largest employers that have their headquarters here. Conway even has its designated industry and office sites, making it extremely business-friendly. It also serves as a hub for several tech companies.
Median price of homes sold: $167,000
Median rent: $788
The city of Springdale is the fourth largest city of the state. It is located in Northwest Arkansas and has a reputation for being an important industrial city for the region. Depending on your line of work, you may find the job market in this area pretty impressive for a small city. There’s also many opportunities for outdoor activities from this city. If you’re looking for balance of work and play, Springdale is your safest bet.
Median price of homes sold: $146,400
Median rent: $762
Our Take On Arkansas
It is true that Arkansas has way more clusters of employment and cultural opportunities in the northwest and central areas of the state. The Northeast, southeast and southwest are generally off the grid and slow paced. But this gives residents the chance to experience different ways of life.
Arkansas also has a fantastic outdoor scene and the great weather is a huge motivator. You have the Ozark Mountain region, the Ouachitas, Arkansas River Valley, the Delta and Gulf Coastal Plain. The state also boasts of a very affordable cost of living and that might just be the one that fits the bill (Quite literally too!). Overall, the state does have a lot of character that varies from region to region. As long as you find an area cut out for you, moving to Arkansas can be a good decision you make, since it is easy to find reasons to call Arkansas home.