NW Arkansas Sits at No. 5 on Best Places to Live

A national publication ranked Northwest Arkansas at No. 5 on its list of Best Places to Live.

Only Austin, Denver, San Jose and Washington, DC were ranked ahead of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area on the Best Places to Live list published today by U.S. News & World Report.

"When considering a move, people are concerned about finding a job in their field, earning enough to afford a home, sending their kids to good schools and feeling like a part of their community," said Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News on the publication's blog. "The Best Places to Live ranking takes all of that into account – the metro areas that do well are the ones with strong job markets and high quality of life."

Northwest Arkansas' strengths on the annual Best Places list include the region's overall affordability as it was placed at No. 3 among all the ranked MSAs in terms of overall value. Its net migration (ranked at No. 12) demonstrates that Northwest Arkansas is seeing far more people move in compared to those who are moving away.

The publication used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the FBI uniform crime report and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank the top 100 places.

The ranking published by U.S. News & World Report is among the more important lists each year. The Northwest Arkansas Council has zeroed in on a few of the rankings such as those published by Forbes, the Milken Institute and U.S. News & World Report as being among the best barometers of how Northwest Arkansas compares to other places.

Maybe the most important aspect of the annual lists of U.S. News, Forbes and the Milken Institute is they create conversations around community strengths and shortfalls and they cause people to make comparisons about cost of living, quality of life and desirability. It's not every day that Northwest Arkansas or Fayetteville get mentioned by The Seattle Times, Milwaukee Journal and The Washington Post. There was even a quick mention on a Denver television station.

The U.S. News & World Report ranking also shows the region stacks up well against peer regions identified by the Northwest Arkansas Council in early 2015. The identified benchmark communities are consistently among the top performers on the U.S. News list. Northwest Arkansas’ peers include Austin (No. 1),  Raleigh/Durham (No. 7),  Des Moines (No. 9) and Madison, Wisconsin (No. 18).

Northwest Arkansas was ranked No. 3 on the Best Places to Live list in 2016.