A quick Google search of “What is it like to live in Arkansas” will leave your head spinning. As an Arkansan, it can also leave you with a sick stomach.
I have lived in Arkansas all of my life. I went to college here and I now raise my family here.
Now, before you get the idea that I have never stepped foot out of this state, I’ll tell you more.
I have traveled all over the Western part of the United States with my grandparents when I was younger. As an adult, I have traveled to many other Southern states and out of the country.
Currently, my husband and I have been on a total of ten cruises and experienced many other cultures. When we travel, we try to get out of the tourist areas and experience the country from a more local point of view.
Just today, I ran across this comment about life in Arkansas, “In sum, if you want to talk about anything besides Razorback football, hunting or fishing, if you like to read (or at least know how), if dental hygiene is important to you, if your diet consists of anything other than fried foods and high fructose corn syrup, then Arkansas is probably not going to be much to your liking.” -source
It made my stomach turn.
My husband and I (as well as many Arkansans I know) are the complete opposite of this.
Personally, we enjoy a lot of football teams other than the Razorbacks. Actually, we don’t watch much college football at all. It’s not our thing.
We are both college graduates who love to read. We have an extensive library in our home and all three of our children are avid readers. (Our youngest is currently 4-years-old and you will find her flipping through books all of the time).
Yes, dental hygiene is important to us despite what the Quora commenter said. We rarely eat fried foods, we rarely go to fast food restaurants, and we do NOT eat high fructose corn syrup. We eat whole foods. In fact, we don’t even eat food coloring.
So, there’s that.
The Truth About Life in Arkansas
So, what is the truth? What is it like to live in Arkansas?
Our weather is diverse
For me, this is one of my favorite things about Arkansas but you will hear plenty of residents complaining about it…our weather patterns are very diverse. You will need a jacket one day and shorts the next. This is extremely true in the Spring and Fall seasons.
Summer is just hot.
Our Winters are mostly mild. 2021 was an exception with the most snowfall we have ever seen. However, there are plenty of days when we can wear short sleeves in the winter. Other times, the cold winds will nip at your nose.
But, I’ll just go ahead and say the cliché phrase, “If you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, just wait an hour and it will change.”
This can be very true some days!
We have a church on every corner
Yes, Arkansas is part of the “Bible Belt” and we basically have a church on every corner. Now, that doesn’t mean everyone attends church. No one will force you but you will most likely be invited.
Many churches have community celebrations and the public is encouraged to come. Just yesterday, we received an invitation to an Easter celebration at a local church. Many people go and it’s a lot of fun for families!
There is plenty of road work going on
You will often hear of Arkansans complaining about the road work here. It’s true. It seems like there is always road work going on yet the roads aren’t all that great.
They aren’t that bad either. Just ok.
If you just accept that driving around road work is part of life, you will be okay. I’m sure this is true in any state. We have encountered our fair share of road work in Texas too.
We eat more than just fried food.
Yes, Southerners love fried chicken but we eat more than just that. In fact, I don’t even like fried chicken!
You will find something for any palate in Arkansas.
If you like fried chicken, we have it. If you like iconic restaurants that serve BBQ, HUGE hamburgers, fresh fish, or cocktails from the same bar Babe Ruth visited, we have that too.
We also have Asian and Indian restaurants, a tiny boutique community bakery that serves the best homemade cinnamon rolls this side of the Mississippi, and a brewing company that makes a mean Philly Cheesesteak.
The people are…people.
Overall, Arkansans are friendly but the fact is, people will be people. Not everyone is friendly but that’s true anywhere.
It just depends on the person. I don’t think it has much to do with the state.
For us, we meet the best people when traveling throughout Arkansas.
We have friends all over the state that we met while camping. They quickly became like family and we see each other any time we can.
Yes, we attend school.
I mentioned before that we have a church on every corner. Well, we also have plenty of colleges. I attended the University of Arkansas and Arkansas Tech University. Both of them are fantastic colleges for different reasons.
If you want to attend college, there is a program and a price that will suit you.
Our public school system is…a system.
Any system will be flawed because it’s not designed to cater to the individual. You will hear of people all over the country praising and complaining about their school systems. Our school system is no different.
We have hard-working teachers that do their best in large classrooms.
I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and I am a former first grade teacher. I loved my students and I loved my job. Our school felt like a family. We did our best to meet the needs of each individual student but sometimes your best isn’t good enough.
In Arkansas, you will find countless teachers who pour their hearts into their students. Honestly, they should be paid more.
Homeschooling is prevalent
Even though I formerly taught in public school, I homeschool my three children now. Homeschooling just seemed to suit our views, desires, and need to travel.
Many Arkansans are the same way. We have large homeschooling groups with planned homeschooling activities. You never have to feel isolated.
However, if you’re like us and choose to spend as much time as possible traveling, homeschooling affords you that opportunity also.
Homeschooling requirements in Arkansas are quite relaxed. Each year, I simply notify the State of how many children I am homeschooling and that’s it. It’s perfect for many of us homeschoolers who work very hard to provide our children with quality education and like to keep to ourselves.
Outdoor activities are plentiful
There is outdoor adventure waiting across the entire state.
So, what is it like to live in Arkansas?
In one word, I would say, “pleasant.”
Arkansans are routinely labeled with many awful stereotypes. But, as one friend put it, “Truthfully, I’m okay that people think that about us. It means that we won’t have to worry about running into them here. I’m fine with Arkansas being a hidden jewel.”
Honestly, we’re a nice bunch of folks and we’d love to have you here.