Northwest Arkansas Ranked In Top 5 Best Places to Live

A national publication placed Northwest Arkansas high on its list of Best Places to Live in the U.S.

No. 5 Northwest Arkansas, which is referred to as Fayetteville on the list because it’s the metropolitan area's largest city, finished in the Top 5 for the third year in row.

The new ranking was made public by U.S. News & World Report and media outlets across the U.S. earlier today.

Northwest Arkansas ranked No. 5 on the 2017 U.S. News list.

"When deciding on a place to settle down, it's important to understand that where a person lives can impact their well-being," said Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News. "U.S. News created the Best Places to Live to highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability. The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially."

Northwest Arkansas (the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan statistical area) also fared well on a second U.S. News list made public today, ranking No. 8 among the 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

To arrive at its overall Best Places to Live ranking this year, U.S. News compared metropolitan statistical areas’ job markets, giving weight to unemployment rates and average salaries.

Other factors included what U.S. News called a Value Index, combining the median household income and the cost of living.

The region’s quality of life, which took into consideration such factors as crime rate, the quality of education and health care, was a third primary factor.

Finally, U.S. News looked at how many people are moving to the region compared to those who move away (net migration) and then the publication created a Desirability Index, using an online poll to ask people where they’d most like to live and using the responses to rank desirability.

Devon Thorsby, the real estate editor for U.S. News, said the publication takes a look at many data points because "so much goes into the decision-making process of moving to a new part of the country."

"One place may rank highly for a slightly different reason than the place that ranks just above or below it," Thornsby wrote in an email.

"It’s reasonable to assume that most places in the Top 15 have strong job markets and are relatively affordable for their populations, as U.S. residents have noted those as two of the most important factors when deciding where they want to live. But changes from year to year do affect the rankings. Fayetteville, for example, maintained its spot at No. 5 this year because it manages to consistently attract new residents without increasing the cost of living disproportionately with household income, among other positive data points about the area. San Jose, on the other hand, continues to grow costlier and has also seen a drop off in population growth over a five-year period, which contributes to its fall from No. 3 last year to No. 17 this year."

The Top 10 on the 2018 U.S. News Best Places to Live ranking were Austin; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Denver; Des Moines; Northwest Arkansas; Portland, Ore.; Huntsville, Ala.; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; and Seattle.

The U.S. News information draws national attention to Northwest Arkansas because publications such as CNBC, the Orange County Register, the Arizona Republic and dozens of other media outlets publish stories about how the metropolitans areas were ranked.