As you near retirement age, you may have your eye on several potential retirement destinations. Choosing one can be tricky, as there are several pros and cons to each state. If you’ve been considering retiring in Arkansas, you’ll want to consider some of its advantages and potential drawbacks.
Some of the pros of retiring in Arkansas include a low cost of living, competitive property prices, and plenty of natural beauty. However, Arkansas also has relatively high crime rates, few healthcare facilities, and sparse job opportunities.
In this article, we’ll explore all of the potential benefits of retiring in Arkansas. We’ll also discuss the drawbacks of living out your golden years in the Natural State. Using this information, you can decide if Arkansas is the right destination for your retirement dreams and goals.
Pros of Retiring in Arkansas
Arkansas often ranks highly on retirement destination lists, and it’s not too challenging to see why. There are several benefits of retiring in Arkansas, and some of the most notable advantages that retirees can enjoy are:
- Low cost of living
- Competitive property prices
- Mild weather
- Gorgeous natural attractions
- Plenty of retirement communities
- No state income tax on military retirement pay
Naturally, you’ll need to explore these benefits in greater detail to find out just how important they are to you. After all, if you’re hoping to live somewhere with a low cost of living, but you don’t enjoy the outdoors very much, Arkansas’s allure might not hold much power over you.
Still, if most of these benefits tickle your fancy, Arkansas could be the ideal retirement state for you!
Low Cost of Living
States that feature a low cost of living tend to be a little easier on retiree’s bank accounts. Arkansas has a comparatively low cost of living, most notably within the healthcare, transportation, and housing industries.
As such, folks living in this state generally won’t need to spend as much money as those living in California, Hawaii, or New York. Retirees looking to buy property in their retirement state might be thrilled to know that Arkansas’s property prices are about half of the national average.
Competitive Property Prices
Home prices aren’t what they used to be. In the 1960s, the average home might have cost around $12,000 (just about $100,000 when adjusted for inflation). Nowadays, the average US home costs more than double that. However, Arkansas’s property prices are far closer to the prices you’d have found in the ’60s.
The average home in Arkansas costs between about $120,000 and $150,000. To sweeten the deal further, property taxes in Arkansas are only 0.63%. Compare this to New Jersey’s 2.2% property tax, and you’ll understand why retirees often choose Arkansas.
Of course, the weather also plays a large role in retirement decisions. While New Jersey and New York can become frigidly cold during the winter months, Arkansas tends to enjoy mild weather. Those with arthritis might appreciate this lack of snowy weather.
When you’ve reached retirement age, the last thing you want to do is spend your winter shoveling snow and fighting seasonal arthritis. Many retirees choose to retire in warm, sunny locations like Florida, California, and Hawaii.
However, these destinations are often far more expensive than Arkansas, and their weather isn’t drastically different from the Natural State’s. Arkansas enjoys a relatively mild, temperate climate. There might be occasional rain in the springtime, and in the summer, temperatures and humidity tend to rise.
During the autumn, you can watch the leaves change color. When winter arrives, you might need a jacket to fight the occasional wind chill, but you won’t be slaving over an icy driveway or a snowed-in house.
Gorgeous Natural Attractions
Though Arkansas doesn’t always come to mind when you imagine beautiful scenery and jaw-dropping natural wonders, it probably should! There are state parks to enjoy, hot springs to soak up, and dimly lit caverns to explore in Arkansas.
You can dig for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro or just take a stroll around the lovely little community of Eureka Springs, where time itself seems to stand still. If you plan on spending much of your retirement out on the water, you might become good friends with the Buffalo River.
Plenty of Retirement Communities
Arkansas offers plenty of planned retirement communities, but quite a few organic ones have cropped up along the way. Whether you prefer the laid-back atmosphere of a natural retirement community or the energetic flow of a planned one, there’s a neighborhood for you in Arkansas.
Some of the most popular Arkansas cities and towns for retirees include:
- Holiday Island
- Hot Springs Village
- Stonebrook Cove
No State Income Tax on Military Retirement Pay
If you’re a veteran receiving military retirement pay, you’ll be glad to hear that Arkansas doesn’t charge a state income tax on such funds. As such, you can keep more of your well-deserved money and put it to fair use when you live in Arkansas.
Of course, you’ll still need to handle some of the Natural State’s drawbacks, including high property crime.
Cons of Retiring in Arkansas
Now that we’ve explored many of the positive aspects of retiring in Arkansas, it’s time to consider the less-than-pleasant drawbacks of living in the Natural State. In addition to gorgeous natural parks and a low cost of living, Arkansas is known for:
- High crime rates
- Low residential happiness
- Few healthcare facilities
- Sparse job opportunities
Worryingly, most of the crime throughout the state is property-based. This trend means break-ins, burglaries, and home invasions. Additionally, Arkansas has one of the lowest overall resident happiness ratings of any state.
Another thing to consider is the fact that elderly folks may struggle to find employment here. Arkansas also has some of the fewest healthcare facilities per capita. Retirees with severe health conditions may struggle to find facilities that accept their insurance or are close to home.
High Crime Rates
Fortunately, violent crimes aren’t as prevalent in Arkansas as in other parts of the US. Sadly, property crimes are somewhat common here. Approximately 30% of Arkansas residents have experienced property crime, including trespassing, vandalization, burglary, or arson.
Perhaps more worrying, it seems as though violent crimes are starting to become more common in Arkansas. Suppose you’re concerned about keeping your home, your household, and yourself safe. In that case, you might need to invest in additional security services and products upon moving to Arkansas, even if you don’t intend on living near urban areas.
Low Residential Happiness
According to a national scientific poll, Fort Smith, Arkansas, is one of the United States’ unhappiest communities. Many of the factors that play into this ranking include poverty, healthcare access, and mental wellbeing.
Unfortunately, Arkansas isn’t home to any of the nation’s happiest and healthiest communities, a fact that can become problematic for retirees hoping to live their best life as they enjoy their golden years.
Lackluster Healthcare Facilities
Arkansas has more hospital beds per capita than nearly any other state, but this reflects a sad truth. Approximately 10% of Arkansas residents do not have health insurance. Additionally, Arkansas’s hospitals aren’t the highest-quality facilities in the US.
While the Natural State is home to more than 100 hospitals, these facilities may be in poor condition, requiring repairs and upgrades. As such, Arkansas’s hospitals consistently rank poorly against the rest of the nation’s healthcare facilities.
Because of this, Arkansas residents search for the best-rated hospitals in their area before seeking treatment. Retirees that aren’t prepared to spend time searching for top-notch healthcare facilities could find themselves feeling frustrated and disappointed.
Sparse Job Opportunities
While retirement can be a blessing, many retirees find themselves with a lot of free time on their hands and very few goals. Others may struggle to make ends meet on their retirement pension or savings plan. When this happens, a part-time job could help.
However, Arkansas’s job market isn’t precisely tailored to older folks, and the general outlook for employment in the state is relatively grim. Positions that might typically go to retirees might be held by younger individuals who cannot find work elsewhere.
Arkansas is home to some beautiful parks and wild spaces. It also boasts a low cost of living, competitive property prices, mild weather, and a wide range of retirement communities. Retired military personnel is bound to enjoy the lack of state income tax on their military retirement pay.
However, Arkansas also has high crime rates, fewer healthcare facilities than other states, and sparse job opportunities for seniors. Additionally, Arkansas’s residents are some of the unhappiest in the United States. Still, if you feel that the benefits outweigh these drawbacks, then Arkansas may be a great retirement spot for you!
- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas up a bit in safety at hospitals; 4 centers get A grades, 7 get D’s
- Arkansas.com: Arkansas Weather by Month
- Arkansas Economic Development Commission: Arkansas Cost of Living | One of Best in Nation
- Arkansas State Parks: Crater of Diamonds State Park
- Arkansas Times: Happy cities list: No Arkansas winners but a big loser in Fort Smith
- Best Places: Arkansas Cost of Living
- CNBC: How much more expensive life is today than it was in 1960
- Investopedia: The 10 Best States for Property Taxes (And Why)
- KAIT8: FBI Report Shows Violent Crime on the Rise in Arkansas
- NETSTATE: The State of Arkansas – An Introduction to the Natural State