Best place to live in Arkansas? (Little Rock, Fort Smith: sales, houses, employment)
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I live in CA and want to relocate. The politics here are to liberal(slightly left of Stalin and Moa). Energy costs,taxes and various fees are through the roof. So much so that I can not afford to conduct business here anymore. From what I see on the net, Arkansas is my kind of place. I love the outdoors and friendly people. I would like to live lakefront or riverfront and near some mountains. Im not too concerned about real eatate prices. Everything there seems reasonable to me. Can any of you guys or gals from Arkansas recommend a nice place to live in Arkansas? I guess what Im asking is, If you could live anywhere in Arkansas, where and why?
I am currently living in Arkansas, I am originally from Southern California (I am not sure what section you were from, I resided in the Riverside area.), but moved out here due to some money problems. (Family resides here) I have lived here for about three years now... I would strongly suggest not moving to this state. My reasons being the following, some may be subject to my own opinion:
1. Arkansas has very humid weather half the year (unbearably if you ask me, 70-90%, no breeze) while the other half is fairly frigid. (Ice, rain, sleet)
2. Arkansas may seem like a friendly state to some, and there are some people I have met that were very cordial. However, the vast amounts of people I have came into contact with were very rude, due to me being an 'outsider.' (They have told me this before, flat out in my face, AR residents in my experiences are NOT fond of people out-of state)
And upon informing them (if they ask where I am from), that I was from California, they said several demeaning things about me being a resident of such state at one time. There is a very big cultural clash here it seems.
People here are VERY religious, I don't know how you are, personally I am not religious, but since I am not, alot of people here are always in my face about it. I guess you could call them religious zealots. There's also a large margin of racists here. (some of my friends here that aren't from the U.S. are afraid of the residents of some towns)
3. Nearly everything here is out of the way. By that I mean, towns, cities & things are fairly far apart. I have to drive 16-20 miles into town just to grocery shop. The roads/highways here are fairly small and rural (they aren't exactly the best roads...) and due to such, you have to drive at a lower speed most the time to get from point a to point b. (It adds up especially when you're driving many miles to work every day) The 'big' cities in AR are significantly further (50+ miles), so unless you live in the bigger cities, or have a set plan, coming here without a job-- you are probably not going to be able to support yourself. (Unless you have money banked or another means of making money)
4. The income levels are very low. Jobs and such here do not pay much (and minimum wage is very low, which is what most jobs here pay), gas prices are still the same as California's, except you get lower wages with in exchange for the asformentioned amount of travel needed to get anywhere, you can literally go broke working. The population in this state is extremely low. (It's less than some cities in CA for instance, this entire state), which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it. I look at it as a bad thing because that means less competition, less money & less options.
As far as properties go, property tax is almost nonexistant, other stuff is really cheap. But homes are not so cheap, anywhere you could get a half-decent job (bigger cities) you're looking at high $100,000 range to $250k+. Regular houses in out-of-the-way places are a bit lower, but not by enough to make up for the added gas costs. Most people I have met out here live in trailers. (I don't know your opinion on trailers, personally I don't like the idea of living in one, since their resale value is nonexistant, and they are eyesores in my opinion)
5. Business here is very difficult to manage. I don't know what kind of business you work at/own, but all the people who came here I have met and opened business have been either run out of town (literally, one had his building damaged twice by someone hitting & running with a vehicle, deliberately ) or just bankrupt from lack of business. I think it's partially due to the state is not wealthy so people don't have a lot of extra money to spend, and partially due to how the people are not accustomed to outsiders. (and therefore won't give them their business)
Last edited by Ravenasque; 02-02-2006 at 05:03 AM..
6. Sales tax here is pretty high in almost every part of AR, where I live it's almost 10%. Stuff at the grocery store, retail, ect. is not cheaper than CA, the prices are usually much more. Factor in the tax and you don't really save money. This is due to the fact there is not a large amount of competition, the only chain stores you really see commonly here are Wal-Mart (which owns almost the entire state really) & Brookshire's. The 'other' retail/grocery stores are of various types, but don't carry the things the 'bigger' chain stores carry. Other chain stores here are rare except in the bigger cities, (Target, ect.) I don't think they have Ralph's, Stater Bros., Albertson's, ect. here. (In 3 years living here I haven't seen a one anyways)
7. Utility bills are EXPENSIVE here. Water is very high here, I have asked people about it, what I have heard the reasoning for water being expensive is because they have to run a special process to clean the water. Electric is very high, maybe because the state is mostly rural & added costs to be maintaining electric lines (fallen trees and such) makes them charge higher prices. The phone bills are expensive, unless you live in a town supported by SBC, you'll be literally reemed by a company out here called Alltel. They are very expensive and charge a lot of fees for stupid things.
Natural gas usage is not common-place here, where you can find it, it is fairly expensive (moreso than CA, some people use propane here). So you are limited to electricity pretty much, and the electric companies out here are fairly expensive. (Factor in that you are now using electricity for some things you previously may have not used electricity for, and the already inflated price of electricity, and you've got a hefty bill on your hands).
8. The outdoors here are not like the outdoors most would think. Arkansas does look beautiful some times of the year, but it is fleeting (2 months or so in the Fall), the winter is fairly bleak here and ugly. Once it is summertime, prepare for thousands of insects. Due to the high humidity, this place is a breeding ground for all types of annoying insects, most notably the mosquito. The mosquitos here are quite a menace, so if you live near any type of water, prepare to be bombarded with them relentlessly. I live more than 15 miles from any water and I am constanly being bothered by these pests when it is not cold outside.
Ticks & fleas can be rampant in some areas, as well as another type of insect called 'chiggers' which are god-awful if you happen to come across them. (They are a type of mite I believe, they cause incredible irritation should they attach to your skin) There is lots of deer out here, so if you're a hunter you may enjoy hunting them, but they become a nuisance, especially since they tend to enjoy running across busy roads and causing accidents.
9. I am not sure if you know this or not, but Arkansas happens to have one of the biggest stores in the U.S. of chemical weapons. (The Pine Bluff Arsenal) They are supposively disarming them and slowly depleting the stocks, but this will take many years (decades I hear). This is uneasy for me, since I can only imagine what would happen if some of that nerve gas got out and blew around the state. (I don't know your stance on this type of thing)
10. The atmosphere is pretty depressing. Not a lot goes on here. It's a smaller state, not much along the lines of entertainment, even when you go out of the way into a bigger city. Adding in the fact that there isn't a lot of competition, you grow bored of shopping at the same places all the time (Wal-Mart mostly). I find this state more-or-less a set of monopolies, since no other companies really find much here to make money so the ones who have dug deep here (Wal-Mart, again) are very prominent and are pretty much the only option you have.
Last edited by SouthernBelleInUtah; 05-17-2013 at 04:04 PM..
Some people love it here. I don't, the reasons being what I said above, AR doesn't give you a lot of options, while it is a pretty lax state (nearly everything is legal here, automatic guns knives, ect.) there is also some very dumb things, such as many counties are dry (absolutely no alcohol sold at all) and that you cannot buy ANY alcohol on Sundays. (I blame it on too much Christian influence ) I cannot seem to keep myself busy living here, I get extremely bored from a lack of stimulation. (not much goes on here)
I had only visited this state a few times on vacation before I had to move here, and when I did, I disliked it then. But I had no choice. If I was you, I would look into other options, or at least vacation here for a few weeks ahead of time. Get to see how you like it for yourself. I would especially look into employment & housing before actually deciding to move, because just coming out here hoping to find something is a very foolish move, because you won't find many options. A few 'good' places here to try would be Hot Springs, Fayetteville, Fort Smith or Pine Bluff. They are the more notable cities here.
Thanks for the reply Ravenasque. Judging by the length of it, it appears you're right about there being little to do in AR, lol! I dont think you'll be hired by the AR board of tourism any time soon. Seriously though, I was considering a lake front home around hot springs. The lake front property there is about 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of similar property here. I realize that gasoline prices do not vary all that much but CA has the second highest electricity prices in the country just behind Hawii. Ditto gas and propane due simply to the high cost of conducting business here(something Im well aquainted with). It cost me ~$300.00 just to register a single vehicle here. Payroll costs(workmans comp etc.) are so expensive that I cant afford to hire the people I need. From what I see on the net, property taxes in AR are less than half what I pay. But enough about CA. What you said about the climate there is bothersome. I think you are right about visiting before making any decisions. I for one have to live near services(shopping banking, resteraunts etc.) How is Hot Springs for that sort of thing? Also how is cell phone coverage there and how common is high speed internet like cable or DSL?
What you said about the people there surprises me. Ive been to the south a few times. I was in Memphis not that long ago and I have to tell you I've never met a friendlier bunch of people in my life. They were almost to friendly and polite(if thats possible). I guess what Im looking for is a resort type of communty. Do have any suggestions other than the Hot Springs area?
Memphis is a bit of a different boat as far as people go. I've been there too, the difference is Memphis is abig tourist attraction (much like places in CA) so they are aquainted with new people coming to their state & they know that if they aren't very nice, they don't get all that extra moneys. That's not to say AR doesn't have it's share of decent people, it does, but not enough in my opinion to make up for living here long-term. First few times around you might find a lot of nicer people, but once you're settled in, you begin to see the true faces of these people.
As far as services go, Hot Springs is pretty much the big resort town out here. It's boom of having 'heated bathing houses' (was all that AR had for many years way back when for tourism, from the natural hot springs) is long gone, but the other stuff lives on. Fort Smith is not far from Hot Springs, is another 'big' city type place, Fayetteville is booming slowly. Little Rock is the biggest city in the state and has everything. All of these cities should have DSL/Cable. (I have DSL and am in a very small city ATM) Every city out here pretty much has decent cellular coverage, Alltel will reem you though, so try to get Cingular. (CIngular has better coverage anyways, but yet another monopoly on AR... ha)
You could easily visit all of these cities, in a single day, they are far apart, Fayetteville being the furthest from the others, but you could drive it if you wanted to. I would say Hot Springs is about the median for travel between each city.
There are other places than arkansas in the midwest. I live in Missouri and love it. I live in a mainly rural area but travel 10 miles to Iowa and 12 Miles to Illinois. I take advantage that all three states have to offer. I can travel 45 minutes north or south to get to a "big" city if I want to shop but can get what I want locally usually. Life is much slower here but I can go downtown and leave my front door standing open.You can buy a nice home for less than 100 thousand.Utilities will always be a problem no matter where you go. We have four seasons, Cold ,cool, hot and nice. (I like the fall best) St Louis and Chicago are 3 and 5 hours away by car. We have white sox, cubs and cardinal fans. Train and plane are also available and are great weekend trips. I agree You need to visit an area before deciding to move there.
There was a wise man who sat by the roadside as travelers passed. They often asked him, "What can you tell me about the next town?"
In reply, he asked, "Tell me about the town you just left."
If they told him that they just left a good town, then he told them the next town would be very good. If they said they didn't like the town they just left, then he told them they would not like the next town.
It's not so much the place your feet are in, it's the place you're head is in.
(Now that sounds like a California answer from a Tennessee boy.)
To be more on-point, Hot Springs is a charming little town with lots of natural beauty, good places to eat, and enough entertainment to satisfy most. The most popular of the three lakes there (Hamilton) is very crowded. Lake Ouachita (Wah-shee-taw) is mostly park land and can't be developed, but Lake Catherine is less highly developed and therefore highly prized.
Hot Springs can be a little schizo because the racing season each year brings lots of folks and money to town for a couple of months, clogging the streets and restaurants. Money flows and locals do well, but thereafter is a collective repose.
As much as I like to visit Hot Springs, I recommend you try some of the northern lakes. I like Missouri, too, but would prefer to stay near the southern bounds for the temperature. You don't want to go to Pine Bluff or elsewhere in the Mississippi delta. Look around Bull Shoals or Greer's Ferry/Heber Springs, or for another very quaint city, try Eureka Springs. If you just want to fish, Conway is one of the fastest growing areas of Arkansas and Lake Conway is good fishing, but that's about all.
If I could pick my spot, and if finding a job was not an issue, I would want to live in rural Northcentral Arkansas. Not too long ago, you could buy isolated plots for a thousand dollars an acre, but you had to dig a well, run miles of your own telephone and electric wire, and pipe in sunshine.
I grew up in California too, Riverside. I have lived in the smallest and largest parts of this state and would have to say that there it is a major culture shock here. Most of the state is very Christian however itís really based on what area you live in if they will harass you about that kind of thing. However the state does have a lot of plus sides:
First recognize what size of a city or town you are looking for. If you are looking to live in a small plantation type town, then you might either need to be retired or loaded as wages are not that good in the smaller towns. The best benefit is that the smaller towns can often be very friendly. The form of entertainment might be limited to the special events and celebrations of the town folk. Your second option is to live in a larger city or metro. Here you only have two good choices, 1. Live in the Little Rock metro. This is the largest of Arkansas and is very close to Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, and Conway. Plenty of entertainment, and good paying jobs and you get the benefit of the cheaper rents, realty, and land ownership. The other option is Northwestern Arkansas. Consisting of a 2 metros almost like one. You have Fort Smith, which is the second largest city, Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, and Rogers. Along the side of Fort Smith are several small cities like Van Buren and Poteau, Oklahoma that help the population. Jobs up in this area are not as scarce as the Wal-Mart headquarters drives a lot of companies to put offices in the area to be closer to the retail giant. Opening a business here is easy and cheap. The taxes are very lenient however we have a balanced constitution so government funding gets scarce sometimes (the reason for the bad roads.)
In the view of education, Arkansas tries but can't do much without the funding of the federal government to help out but they are really pushing to keep the standards of the No Child Left behind Act. All of the surrounding states allow gambling so if you have a habit then you might want to stray more into Central Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas lies between Oklahoma and Missouri so there are casinos right next the edge of the states. Fort Smith has casinos right next to it so it looks like part of the city.
So that sums it up, my opinion is that you avoid the small towns and stick with the metros.
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