Arkansas might not be the first state you think of when considering a move, but when you start to do some research, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with the outcomes—especially if you’re looking into Northwest Arkansas (NWA). There’s a range of diverse scenery, plenty of things to do, and an affordable cost of living. However, as with any state or region, there are both pros and cons of living in Northwest Arkansas. To help you determine whether Northwest Arkansas is the right choice for you and your family, here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages.
What Are the Pros of Living in Northwest Arkansas?
Northwest Arkansas is located within the Ozark Mountains and includes four of the ten largest cities throughout the state, in addition to various other municipalities. It’s home to Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville and is currently considered the 13th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. So, why are so many people suddenly deciding that living in NWA is right for them? Let’s start by exploring some of the biggest advantages of life in Northwest Arkansas.
1. Strong Sense of Community
Towns within NWA boast a strong sense of community, and most residents are very supportive of local businesses, sports teams, and their neighbors. Local restaurants tend to outnumber chain stores, and small boutiques are plentiful in urban areas. This can be a great change of pace for anyone looking to escape the craziness that large urban areas tend to bring. Plus, if you’re considering starting your own business, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
2. Unbeatable Nature
Throughout the state of Arkansas, there are seven national parks and 52 state parks. Northwest Arkansas is home to its largest state park—Hobbs State Park. This 12,054-acre tract of the Ozarks spans along the shore of Beaver Lake. NWA has a total of 484 miles of trails, including 322 miles of natural-surface trails and 162 miles of multi-use paved paths. In fact, Northwest Arkansas is even considered the Mountain Biking Capital of the World!
Although there aren’t many major cities, the ones in the area are well-connected. Plus, NWA is only a short drive from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, so it’s great for individuals who like to get out of their state and explore. There are also great airports located in Northwest Arkansas that have direct flights to major cities across the U.S.
4. Plenty of Things to Do
You’ll never be bored with miles of trails, hundreds of lakes, forests, and rivers. Northwest Arkansas is an extremely active outdoor community, and you can easily find places to rent kayaks, go on hikes, rock climb, or bike if you’re up for it. If you’d prefer to stick to urban activities, NWA is filled with art, music, and culture and is home to both Walton Arts Center and TheatreSquared.
5. Affordable Cost-of-Living
With the current cost-of-living crisis, more people are moving out of major cities. If you’re interested in enjoying lower costs, Northwest Arkansas is the place for you. The cost of living in NWA is 1% lower than the overall state average and 9% lower than the national average. While each city is different, plenty of affordable housing exists for people from all areas.
6. Good Year-Round Temperatures
Northwest Arkansas has some great year-round weather, and the temperatures never reach extremes. Winters tend to be a little milder than in more northern areas, while summer doesn’t get as hot as in some coastal areas. Plus, fall lasts for a few months, giving residents beautiful scenery and perfect weather for outdoor exploring.
7. Low Property Taxes
Finally, Arkansas has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. The statewide average is about 0.57%, which is great if you’re looking to purchase property. In comparison, California property taxes are 1.25%, Illinois property taxes are 2.07%, and areas within New York reach as high as 2.4%.
Are There Cons Living in Northwest Arkansas?
While there are some really great advantages to living in NWA, there are also some disadvantages. Some of the most frustrating cons of living in Northwest Arkansas include the following.
1. Clusters of College Kids
There may be clusters of college kids throughout the town since there are a few colleges and universities in the region. Although many of them are respectable and tend to stick to themselves, sometimes it can be a little disruptive to everyday life. This is particularly noticeable on game days or during major university-sponsored events. However, most residents of the area also participate and show their enthusiasm for the local college sports team, which could also be seen positively.
While the region of NWA is pretty well connected, there aren’t many major interstates or freeways. Plus, with varying driving styles and the commute, rush hour can be particularly frustrating. At the same time, most regions throughout the nation suffer from bad traffic, at least at some point during the day, so it’s nothing unusual.
3. High Sales Tax
Although property taxes are notoriously low in Northwest Arkansas, sales taxes are on the higher end. The state tax rate is about 6.50%, and the maximum local sales tax rate is 6.125% (although not many municipalities reach this high). On average, the combined state and local sales tax rate is about 9.46%, which is the third highest in the nation.
4. Extreme Weather
Arkansas is prone to some severe weather and is in the top 10 nationwide for most lightning strikes per square mile. Still, Arkansas only experiences about 1/7 the amount of lightning as Texas! Arkansas is also included in the infamous “Tornado Alley,” so it’s important to take preventative care against high winds to avoid serious issues.
In addition to the extreme weather, NWA can be extremely humid. Oftentimes, humidity can be anywhere between 80% and 90%, so if you’re used to drier weather, it can be a bit of a shock. Still, states like Florida and Illinois can have higher humidity levels, so Arkansas isn’t necessarily the most humid state in the nation.
6. Dangerous Animals
One thing that many people don’t expect when moving to Northwest Arkansas is the presence of a few dangerous animals. NWA is home to a lot of different kinds of snakes—some of which are poisonous. At the same time, even the most active individuals don’t run into them while hiking, running, or biking on the trails. In residential areas, the chances of seeing a snake are pretty low. The risk of meeting one of the many species increases the deeper into the forests you go. This also increases your chances of seeing bears and bobcats.
7. It’s Quite Rural
Cities are spread out, and there isn’t as much urban life as cities like New York or Chicago. However, a lot of people understand that when moving here and admit that it’s one of the reasons they came. There’s certainly enough going on to qualify as a city and to get your fill of the urban nightlife, but many areas are more rural than other states.
If you’re planning a move to Northwest Arkansas or are already a resident, partner with First Star Exteriors for all your roofing, siding, and home exterior needs. We believe there is a perfect balance between hands-on, personable treatment, quality of work, and speed of delivery. That’s why our team provides fast, quality service to Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley area. Whether you’re new to town or simply looking for a reputable roofing contractor, First Star Exteriors has you covered. Our team of contractors provides thorough inspections, repairs, and ongoing maintenance to ensure your home is in great condition all year round. We also offer competitive rates with complete transparency and always prioritize personable partnerships with our clients. To learn more about our services, or to request a free quote within 48 hours, contact us today.