Arkadelphia (population 11,000) sits along the Ouachita River about 30 miles from the Ouachita Mountains in southwestern Arkansas. An unassuming town with a Southern country flavor, it feels a thousand miles away from modern city life and is one of the oldest towns in Arkansas.
The town name comes from the first part of the state name, Ark, and from the Greek name for "place." And a nice place Arkadelphia seems to be, populated with friendly people willing to help a neighbor.
It is also a reasonably priced place, with a cost of living 40% below the national average. The median home price is just $125,000 (and many homes date from the 19th century). Thirty percent of residents are age 45% or better, and most locals lean to the right politically. The crime rate meets the national average, and the town is racially diverse.
Outdoor recreation is the hallmark of this area, and residents have a bounty of fun venues from which to choose, with lakes, rivers and forests close at hand in the Ouachita National Forest. Fishing, camping and boating are a way of life. Nearby 13,000-acre Lake DeGray is especially inviting and known for its crystal clear waters.
Two universities, Henderson State University (3,000 students) and Ouachita Baptist University (1,500 students), lend a youthful quality, and for retirees with a love of learning, Henderson's Ellis College of Arts and Sciences offers free classes and lectures to the public. This is thanks in part to the Ross Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that for many years has provided funds for a variety of local educational, cultural, civic and humanitarian activities. The two schools also provide residents with plenty of athletic events to attend (HSU and OBU have an intense cross town rivalry).
The Arkadelphia Arts Center is the arts hub and is partnered with the Caddo River Art Guild, the Arkadelphia Poets and Writers Guild and other groups. The Arkadelphia Little Theatre has been mounting performances for 25 years, and the Round About Artist Studio Tour is an annual event in which local artists open their studios to the public.
The Park and Recreation Department has a good menu of programs, although no classes are specifically geared to seniors. The Arkadelphia Aquatic Park is a great place to take the grandkids, and there are several well-maintained public parks and walking paths around town. Golfers enjoy one public course, the Turtle Pointe Golf Club, and one private course, the Arkadelphia Country Club course.
The Clark County Library is located in one of the oldest library buildings in the state and has public computers with internet access. The Senior Adult Center (for people age 60+) is associated with the non-profit Central Arkansas Development Council and offers a good selection of activities and programs, from book clubs and computer training to tax assistance and nutrition classes.
Baptist Health Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission. It is small with just 25 beds, but it provides emergency care and a variety of programs for seniors, including exercise classes and educational workshops about arthritis, safe driving and more. Medicare patients are accepted.
Shopping venues include a Wal-Mart and locally owned shops. For items not found in town, Hot Springs (population 38,000) is 45 miles to the northwest, and Little Rock is 60 miles to the northeast along Interstate 30. Dining options include cafes, diners, fast food places, sports bars and a few steak houses.
Summers are hot and sticky with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s, 50s and low 60s. On average, the area receives 52 inches of rain and a dusting of snow each year. The air quality and water quality are well above national averages.
Retirement in Arkadelphia has some drawbacks. The poverty rate is above the national average, but this is partly due to the student population. The chance of the town being struck by a tornado is 147% above the national average. There is no public bus transportation.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Arkansas Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Great outdoor recreation, solid senior services, friendly residents, affordable housing and educational opportunities make Arkadelphia a place to consider for retirement.
On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state to enter the Union. It was the 9th to secede from the Union and enter the Confederacy on May 6, 1861. Its name comes from a French misinterpretation of the Sioux word for "downstream place" - acansa.
Officially known the Natural State, Arkansas has an abundance of mineral, gas, and petroleum resources. After mining, agriculture ranks high in the state's economy. With the exception of citrus fruits, Arkansans grow a wide variety of crops. Broilers, rice, soybeans, cattle, and cotton are some of their best selling products.
Arkansas contains mountains, caves, lakes, and 9,700 miles of streams and rivers. The state is also home to six national parks, ten scenic byways, and 50 state parks. Although late summers can be hot and humid, Arkansas has mild climate with four distinct seasons.
Arkansan Hattie Caraway became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932. Other famous natives include Johnny Cash, Iris DeMent, and Billy Bob Thornton.
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