U.S. News Puts Northwest Arkansas at No. 3 in 'Best Places' Ranking

A magazine’s annual list of “Best Places to Live” ranks Northwest Arkansas at No. 3 in the nation.

U.S. News and World Report in today's report identifies the region’s largest city — Fayetteville — as the nation’s third-best place, and it’s clear by the magazine’s descriptions that the ranking is of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area. The four-county area, which has a population that now tops 500,000 residents, includes those three cities as well as Bella Vista, Bentonville, Siloam Springs and all of the region's smaller cities.

Only top-ranked Denver and Austin finished ahead of Northwest Arkansas. Among the 100 places ranked by the magazine, no place on the list was a better overall "value" than Northwest Arkansas. The magazine describes value as "how comfortably the average resident of each metro area can afford to live within his or her means."

One of the stories about the rankings was put together by CBS News.

Among the 10 highest-ranked places, only two places — No. 6 Boise and No. 10 San Jose — had a higher quality of life than Northwest Arkansas. 

Northwest Arkansas was among the nation's top places in several categories, including lowest commute time (No. 5 overall) and lowest average rent (No. 12).

The places on the U.S. News and World Report list were ranked based on the job market, the cost of living, quality of life, a community desirability survey, and net migration. Data from the FBI, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Labor Statistics helped shape the findings.

"The Best Places to Live ranking accounts for the most important concerns people have about where to live, such as cost of living, employment opportunities and access to good schools," Miriam Weiner, product manager for Real Estate at U.S. News, said in a news release. "Top-ranked areas not only have steady job markets, but they also have attributes that contribute to a high quality of life — affordability, low crime rates, shorter commute times and quality health care."

The magazine's sections about Northwest Arkansas mention that three of the state's seven Fortune 500 companies (Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services are located in the region. There's information about the region's schools, lower than average crime rate, home prices, commute times, business climate, weather, and low unemployment rate.