The Best Places to Live in Arkansas

Cave Springs, Gosnell, and Bella Vista are some of the best and most affordable places to live in Arkansas.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
has some great cities to live in – like Cave Springs, Gosnell, and Bella Vista – which offer affordable houses and great schools making it a great state for everyone from young families to retirees. 
Many people assume Arkansas is just another stuck-in-the-middle state with not much to offer. But Arkansas is called the “Natural State” for a reason—no matter where you go, there are beautiful and unique places waiting with a little something for everyone. Lakes? Check. Gorgeous hiking trails? Check. Metropolitan cities with delicious food? Absolutely.
And if Arkansas’s natural beauty or exciting city life doesn’t convince you, how about the numerous cities and towns with affordable houses to buy, excellent school choices, and low cost of living?
If you’re wanting to make the Natural State your new home,
is here to help. We’ve put together this guide on some of the best places to live in Arkansas, so you can choose a city that fits your life and needs. And while we’re at it, we’ll help you
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What makes a good place to live? 

When you’re moving to a new state (or even just to a different town) it can be hard to know the best places to settle down. There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on a move, including regular costs of living, housing prices, and what the town itself has to offer. 
To help make the choice a little easier, we’ve done our research and compiled a list of eight Arkansas towns: Cave Springs, Bentonville, Alexander, Mammoth Spring, Gosnell, Salem, Johnson, and Bella Vista. We looked at several factors when narrowing down our list including:
  • Median household income
  • Median home price
  • Cost of living
  • School quality
  • Crime rates
  • Healthcare accessibility and cost
  • Average commute times
  • FEMA risk index ratings 
We’ve sorted our seven choices into three categories: the best cities for families, the most affordable cities, and the best places to buy a house.
MORE: Arkansas electric vehicle incentives 

The best places for families to live in Arkansas

Education, crime rates, and community life top the list of factors for families to keep in mind when looking for a place to settle. With that in mind, three Arkansas towns lead our rankings. 

Cave Springs

Location: Benton County
Population: 5,737
Median household income: $134,740
Median home price: $309,600
Situated in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Cave Springs is a small town with a lot to offer. 
Cave Springs boasts crime rates well below the state and national averages, as well as excellent schools including public and private school choices.
While Cave Springs may not have everything a larger city would have to offer, anyone who wants to raise their family in a small-town setting will be right at home. Plus, Cave Springs is an active family’s paradise since it’s near Devil’s Den State Park, Lake Fayetteville, and Beaver Lake


Location: Benton County
Population: 49,467
Median household income: $80,392
Median home price: $232,600
As another city in Benton County,
is much larger than Cave Springs, but still offers a more suburban atmosphere than nearby
Bentonville has great public schools, including Bentonville High School, which was named one of the top 1,000 high schools in the nation by Newsweek. Plus, with its crime rates sitting well below the state average, Bentonville is a great place to raise a family.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Bentonville. There are several city parks including Orchards Park and Compton Gardens, and the town square is a park that hosts festivals and a regular farmer’s market. There are plenty of museums as well including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Museum of Native American History. There’s even a children's museum—the Scott Family Amazeum.

The most affordable places to live in Arkansas

With inflation on the rise in much of the US, finding a place to live that has a low cost of living is more important than ever. We’ve picked the following three cities based on how much everyday items (like groceries and gas) cost in the area. 
These cities are the cheapest places to live in Arkansas, and they still have a lot of great qualities that make them affordable and desirable.


Location: Saline County
Population: 3,168
Median household income: $42,857
Median home price: $66,400
Right in the middle of Arkansas,
is a small little suburb of
Little Rock
. It’s perfectly situated to provide a rural feel without being too far from big-city amenities. 
Housing and utilities in Alexander are 35% and 18% lower, respectively, than the national average. And healthcare and grocery costs are 18% lower than the national average. Commuting to Little Rock will only take you around 17 minutes, which means you’ll save money on fuel costs as well. 

Mammoth Spring

Location: Fulton County
Population: 1,015
Median household income: $35,556
Median home price: $70,000
If you’re looking for an affordable and beautiful place to call home, Mammoth Spring is it. Named for a massive spring that spills into a pristine 10-acre lake, Mammoth Spring is a naturalist’s paradise. With plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, and boating, you’ll have no shortage of things to explore.
Mammoth Spring is also an incredibly affordable place to live. The overall cost of living in Mammoth Spring is nearly 27% lower than the national average, making this beautiful little town a great place to live for budget-conscious individuals.


Location: Mississippi County
Population: 3,236
Median household income: $44,073
Median home price: $83,200
Gosnell is another small town in Arkansas with a low cost of living. It’s situated right near the Missouri-Arkansas border and has a major thoroughfare from northeast Arkansas to the Missouri bootheel. 
The overall cost of living in Gosnell is 29% lower than the rest of the US, with the biggest differences in housing costs (60% lower) and transportation costs (14.5% lower), two areas getting hit by inflation right now. 
Gosnell also boasts low crime rates and above-average schools. 

Best places to buy a house in Arkansas

If you’re looking for a great place to buy a house, you’ll need to consider factors like the housing market in the area and whether the city you’re considering fits your needs and lifestyle
We’ve chosen four Arkansas cities as the best places to buy a house based on these factors. We’ve listed three here, as Cave Springs also appeared in the best places for families section.


Location: Fulton County 
Population: 1,993
Median household income: $78,531
Median home price: $156,400
Just a short drive from both Mammoth Spring and Lake Norfolk, Salem is a great place to settle down for anyone who enjoys fishing or water sports. Salem is also a popular area for deer and turkey hunters.
Apart from the abundant wildlife, Salem also has low housing costs—housing is 30% lower than the US average with the median home price sitting at $156,400. Furthermore, according to FEMA’s risk index, Salem is at relatively low risk for natural disasters, which will keep
home insurance
costs low.

Bella Vista

Location: Benton County
Population: 28,539
Median household income: $67,550
Median home price: $168,000
Established in 1917 as a summer resort destination,
Bella Vista
has since seen explosive population growth without losing any of its amenities and charm. Now mostly a community made up of retirees, Bella Vista still has plenty of things to do with numerous lakes, hiking trails, golf courses, and community activities.
Bella Vista is also a great place to buy a house, with the median home price at $168,000 and housing costs 19% lower than the US average.


Location: Washington County
Population: 3,707
Median household income: $69,211
Median home price: $168,700
The first settlers to arrive in Johnson in the late 1880s chose the area for its beautiful valleys and abundant springs. The city is now situated between Fayetteville and
, providing its citizens with a small, rural feel without being too far from city amenities.
Johnson is also an incredibly affordable place to live, especially when it comes to buying a house. Housing costs are 18% lower in Johnson than the national average, and the median home price is $168,700. 

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