13 Pros & Cons of Living In Fort Smith, AR

Fort Smith, Arkansas, is a city in the United States located on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.

With a population of around 86,000, it is one of the largest cities in Arkansas. Fort Smith is known for its rich history, including being a key player in the Wild West era and as a military outpost during the Civil War.

It is also a hub for transportation and business, with various manufacturing, healthcare, and retail industries. While Fort Smith is a great place to live and has many advantages, living there also has some drawbacks.

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Pros of Living In Fort Smith

Here are the pros of living in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to give you a better idea of why this city might be the perfect place to call home:


Fort Smith offers an 8% lower cost of living than the national average, attracting many people to the city. Housing prices are affordable, making it easier for residents to buy or rent properties without breaking the bank.

Everyday expenses like groceries, utilities, and transportation are more affordable than in many other cities in the United States.

Living in Fort Smith allows residents to stretch their budgets further and enjoy a high quality of life without sacrificing their financial security.

Scenic Beauty

Situated in a picturesque location surrounded by natural beauty, Fort Smith offers stunning scenery and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

The Ozark Mountains and the Arkansas River provide breathtaking landscapes, and residents can enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.

There are several parks and green spaces, providing residents ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Strong Sense of Community

Fort Smith has a close-knit community with a strong sense of belonging. People are generally friendly, and the city has a welcoming atmosphere that makes it easy for newcomers to feel at home.

There are numerous community events, festivals, and gatherings throughout the year that foster connections among residents and help them build relationships that last a lifetime.

Lively Arts Culture

Fort Smith has a vibrant arts culture offers residents plenty of opportunities to enjoy music, theater, dance, and visual arts.

The Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra, Fort Smith Little Theatre, and Fort Smith Regional Art Museum are just a few examples of the city’s thriving arts community.

It hosts several events throughout the year, including the Riverfront Blues Festival, the Old Fort Days Rodeo, and the Peacemaker Music and Arts Festival, that showcase the best local arts scene.

Historical Significance

Fort Smith has a rich historical background that played a pivotal role in the development of the American West.

As a frontier military post, the city was home to several significant historical figures, including Judge Isaac C. Parker, who presided over the court that sentenced many famous outlaws.

The city is home to several historical sites, including the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which provides a glimpse into the region’s history.

Cultural Diversity

Fort Smith has a rich cultural diversity that makes it a fascinating place to live. The city has a vibrant blend of different ethnicities, reflected in its food, festivals, and celebrations.

Residents can explore different cultures and traditions, experiencing the world through the eyes of people from various backgrounds.

Education and Healthcare

Fort Smith is home to several reputable educational institutions, including the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, which offers a range of programs in various fields.

The city also has several excellent public schools and private institutions that provide high-quality education for children of all ages.

Apart, the city has several hospitals and medical facilities that offer residents quality healthcare services, ensuring they have access to proper medical care when needed.

Central Location

Fort Smith’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of the state and the region.

It is located at the intersection of major highways, providing easy access to other cities and attractions, such as Little Rock, Fayetteville, and the Ozark National Forest.

Living in Fort Smith means accessing everything the region offers, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks and urban amenities.

Cons of Living In Fort Smith

Fort Smith is known for its rich history, vibrant downtown, and cultural attractions. However, like any other city, Fort Smith has its drawbacks.

High Tornado Risk

The city is located in an area prone to tornadoes, a type of severe weather that can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Arkansas, including Fort Smith, is in “Tornado Alley” and experiences some of the highest numbers of tornadoes in the country.

As a resident of Fort Smith, you would need to be prepared for severe weather and have a plan for your safety.

High Sales Tax

Arkansas’s state sales tax rate is 6.5%, and the city of Fort Smith levies an additional 2% sales tax on top of that. You would be paying an 8.5% sales tax on most purchases.

This can significantly impact your budget, especially if you are on a fixed income. The high sales tax rate is also a factor to consider if you are a business owner, as it could negatively impact your sales and profitability.


According to the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Fort Smith has a higher crime rate than the national average.

The city’s overall crime rate of 6,701 per 100,000 residents is significantly higher than the national average of 2,346.

Property crime is the most common type in Fort Smith, with a rate of 5,530 incidents per 100,000 residents. Violent crime is less frequent but still exists, with a rate of 1170 incidents per 100,000 residents.

High Poverty Rate

Fort Smith has a high poverty rate, another significant drawback of living in the city.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 19.3% of Fort Smith residents live below the poverty line.

This is significantly higher than the national average poverty rate of 10.5%. Poverty can significantly impact all aspects of life, from healthcare access to education and job opportunities.

Limited Job Opportunities

Fort Smith has a limited job market, which may be a drawback for those seeking employment.

The economy is primarily centered around healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. While job opportunities are available in these industries, the job market is relatively small compared to other cities.

The median household income of $48,033 is lower than the national average, which can impact the quality of life for residents.


Despite some drawbacks, it’s clear that Fort Smith offers many benefits for those who call it home and is a good place to live for those who value a slower pace of life, community involvement, and natural beauty.