Study: Best Cities to Live in Arkansas

Arkansas is one of the country's hidden gems. Wages are competitive and the availability of locally grown foods and other products help keep the cost of living low. Whether you're relocating for a new job, looking for a safe place to raise a family or trying to minimize expenses in retirement, Arkansas is the total package. Read on to find the 10 best cities to live and work in Arkansas.

Squeezed between the Deep South and the Midwest region; nicknamed "The Natural State," the landscape is a mix of dense forests, glassy lakes and, of course, the alternating plains and peaks of the Ozarks. The Ouachita Mountains are renowned as a source of some of the world's finest quartz crystals while Murfreesboro is famous for its diamond mine.

Arkansas' natural resources play an important part in its economy, along with agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and information technology. Planning a move to a new state or just the next county can be a hassle and it helps to know which cities are the most desirable. Before you call the movers, take a look at the CreditDonkey team's guide to the best places to live in Arkansas.

10 Best Cities to Live in Arkansas

Study Methodology

Each city's ranking is based in part on the following:

  1. Crime Rate
  2. Commute Time
  3. Income
  4. Education
  5. Restaurants Per Capita

Staying safe is always an important consideration when you're headed somewhere new. To help you find the cities where the crime rate is lowest, we ranked each location based on the odds of being the victim of a violent act.

Learning to navigate a new city takes time and it can be an exercise in frustration if you're constantly dealing with heavy traffic. Getting to work each day can be a headache so to keep your drive time short, we considered the average commute for each city on our list.

Arkansas’ diverse economy is ideal if you're looking for a new career opportunity, but you'll find that wages tend to be higher in certain areas than others. Our experts looked at the median household income for each city as well as the percentage of residents who hold a bachelor's degree to find those spots where workers can expect the highest pay.

Tip: Where does your money go? Read this article on household spending statistics.

If you're an Arkansas native you're probably familiar with classics like fried pickles and possum pie, but newcomers will find those aren't the only things on the menu. We considered the number of restaurants per capita to highlight those cities that offer the most places to satisfy your cravings.

10. Sherwood

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 245.2
  • Commute Time: 21.6 minutes
  • Income: $55,082
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 29.5%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 962 inhabitants

Located just over 10 miles to the northeast of Little Rock, Sherwood is one of the capital city's larger suburbs. Once a mining town and later a dairy farming center, the city is now a bustling commercial and residential hub. Sherwood features a mix of families, working professionals, retirees and students who come in search of affordable homes and higher pay.

Did You Know: One of Sherwood's most recognizable structures is the Roundtop Filling Station, erected in 1936 for the Pierce Oil Company.

9. North Little Rock

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 140.6
  • Commute Time: 18.8 minutes
  • Income: $39,558
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 25.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 367 inhabitants

Also part of the Little Rock metro area, North Little Rock is more than twice the size of neighboring Sherwood. Located on the north bank of the Arkansas River, this city of more than 64,000 residents offers a family-friendly atmosphere as well as a healthy job market. North Little Rock's numerous attractions include the USS Razorback, the Big Dam Bridge and the historic Argenta downtown area. If you're in the mood for a catfish dinner, The Catfish Hole comes highly recommended by locals.

Did You Know: Some of the names North Little River was once known by include DeCantillon, Hunterville, Barling Cross and Argenta.

8. Fort Smith

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 127.3
  • Commute Time: 14.8 minutes
  • Income: $37,232
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 20%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 414 inhabitants

Established as a military outpost in 1817, Fort Smith is Arkansas’ second largest city after Little Rock. Top employers include a satellite campus of the University of Arkansas, Sparks Health System and Baldor Electric. Despite its larger size, the average commute is still relatively short at just under 15 minutes. Whether you're interested in exploring the area's historic attractions, shopping the local boutiques or just taking a stroll through the park, Fort Smith has you covered.

Did You Know: A tourist attraction in its own right, Fort Smith's visitor center is located in a restored bordello once known as Miss Laura's Social Club.

7. Fayetteville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 194.3
  • Commute Time: 17.7 minutes
  • Income: $36,447
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 43.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 314 inhabitants

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Fayetteville is perhaps most notable for being the home of Razorback football. The University of Arkansas is the city's largest employer but other top companies include the Washington Regional Medical System and Tyson Foods. There are close to 250 restaurants to choose from, but if you're hungry for world champion barbecue, look no further than the Whole Hog Cafe.

Did You Know: Visitors and residents alike can tour the Clinton House Museum, the home where Bill and Hillary Clinton were married.

6. Conway

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 240.9
  • Commute Time: 19.8 minutes
  • Income: $46,805
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 35.3%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 520 inhabitants

Located just over 30 miles north of Little Rock, Conway began as a small farming community but its economic focus has since shifted to education. Nicknamed the "City of Colleges," Conway is home to the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College. Residents are highly educated, with more than a third holding a bachelor's degree or higher. There are more than 120 restaurants to sample but Dave's Burgers is a top pick for a fresh burger prepared just the way you like.

Did You Know: The annual Toad Suck Daze festival is Conway's largest community event.

5. Little Rock

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 76
  • Commute Time: 17.9 minutes
  • Income: $45,135
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 38.4%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 421 inhabitants

Home to over 196,000 people, Little Rock is Arkansas’ largest and busiest city. The state government is one of the chief sources of employment but there are a number of jobs to be found in the healthcare and retail sectors. The city features several distinct neighborhoods, like the historic Quapaw Quarter and the up-and-coming Hillcrest area, where new residents can find reasonably priced homes. Some of Little Rock's noteworthy attractions include the Clinton Presidential Center and the Museum of Discovery.

Did You Know: In 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" became the first African-American students to attend Central High School.

4. Jonesboro

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 233.2
  • Commute Time: 15.9 minutes
  • Income: $39,388
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 28%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 450 inhabitants

Located in northeast Arkansas, Jonesboro is a progressive college town of just over 70,000 residents. In addition to providing a substantial number of jobs, the main campus of Arkansas State University attracts thousands of students each year. The lower cost of living is tempting for families as well as retirees, and workers earn a median income of nearly $40,000. The city has more than 150 restaurants, including casual dining favorites Skinny J's and Godsey's Grill.

Did You Know: One of the world's largest rice mills is located in Jonesboro.

3. Russellville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 300.7
  • Commute Time: 14.2 minutes
  • Income: $36,972
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 23.2%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 337 inhabitants

An outdoor lover's dream, Russellville is located in the Arkansas River Valley, nestled between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. The city of 28,000 residents is close to Mount Nebo and the Lake Dardenelle State Park, making it a prime spot for fishing, hiking and canoeing. Russellville's workers enjoy the shortest commute of any city on our list and some of the top industries include manufacturing and technology.

Did You Know: Russellville is the site of Arkansas’ only nuclear power facility.

2. Rogers

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 285.9
  • Commute Time: 16.8 minutes
  • Income: $51,535
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 27%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 556 inhabitants

Along with Fayetteville and Springdale, Rogers is part of one of the state's fastest-growing metropolitan areas. A solid economy, higher median wages and a short average commute combine to make the city one of our top picks, particularly for working professionals and job seekers. Rogers is also an excellent choice for families due to its highly rated schools and quiet neighborhoods.

Did You Know: The first Walmart store was opened in Rogers in 1962.

1. Bentonville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 444.3
  • Commute Time: 15.8 minutes
  • Income: $61,680
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 38.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 345 inhabitants

Just a short drive from Rogers, Bentonville earns the number one spot on our list thanks to its lower violent crime rate and a cost of living that's nearly 13% below the national average. Homes tend to be a little pricier compared to neighboring towns, but residents also take home bigger paychecks. The city's largest employer is Walmart, which is headquartered here, but healthcare and education also account for a healthy number of jobs. The downtown area is where you'll find some of Bentonville's most appetizing dining spots, such as the Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie.

Did You Know: One of Bentonville's newest and largest attractions is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

If you've never been to Arkansas, you're truly missing out on an American treasure. Its deep-rooted traditions, welcoming people and flair for innovation are just a few of the reasons it’s so special. These 10 cities capture the spirit that earned Arkansas its reputation as the "Land of Opportunity" and make it a simply exceptional place to call home.

Data Sources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
  • FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census

The Top 10 Cities to Live in Arkansas

RankCityViolent Crime OddsAverage Commute TimeMedian Household Income% Bachelor's Degree or HigherPeople per Restaurants and Bars
1Bentonville1 in 444.315.8$61,68038.8%344.9
2Rogers1 in 285.916.8$51,53527.0%555.6
3Russellville1 in 300.714.2$36,97223.2%336.7
4Jonesboro1 in 233.215.9$39,38828.0%449.9
5Little Rock1 in 76.017.9$45,13538.4%420.9
6Conway1 in 240.919.8$46,80535.3%520.2
7Fayetteville1 in 194.317.7$36,44743.8%313.9
8Fort Smith1 in 127.314.8$37,23220.0%414.4
9North Little Rock1 in 140.618.8$39,55825.6%367.2
10Sherwood1 in 245.221.6$55,08229.5%962.1

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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