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Home | Arkansas | Below Average Costs | February 10, 2018

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Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of Mountain Home, Arkansas

Nestled in the rolling hills of north central Arkansas' southern Ozark Mountains (also known as the Twin Lakes Area), rural Mountain Home (population 13,000) is a peaceful town that is popular with retirees seeking a recreation oasis. Thanks to two nearby large lakes, Lake Norfork and Bull Shoals Lake, Mountain Home offers outstanding water playgrounds. Residents spend lazy days boating, swimming and fishing, all the while enjoying a slower pace, a friendly, small town atmosphere and a relatively mild climate.

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Mountain Home has been growing, too, mushrooming by 35% in the last couple of decades. Fifty-eight percent of locals are age 45 or better, and the majority of all residents are conservative. Twenty percent of people here have at least a four year college degree. The crime rate meets the national average. The cost of living is 14% below the national average. Racial diversity is minimal.

The median home price is $120,000 and will buy a brick ranch rambler with 1,500 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, a two car garage and a large yard with mature trees. Many older homes were built without much adherence to codes, so it is important to have a good Realtor when planning to buy property.

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The non-profit Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas manages a dozen apartment complexes for people age 62 or better with low to moderate incomes. Willowbrook is the complex that they manage in Mountain Home.

Both Lake Norfork (550 miles of shoreline), 15 minutes east of Mountain Home, and Bull Shoals Lake (1,000 miles of shoreline), 20 minutes to the west, are clean and blue and attract tourists and residents alike. Each boasts a resort atmosphere, and fishermen and others are on the lakes year-round because the water temperature is always 45 degrees or above. Lake Norfork is particularly clear and deep, attracting SCUBA divers from around the region. This area has been recognized as one of the top fishing spots in the country, and trout, bass, stripers, crappie, bream, walleye and catfish are in abundance.

Several full service marinas offer a wide range of recreation equipment and services, including boats rentals and sales, slip rentals and fishing guides. Some marinas have campgrounds and all have public boat launch ramps. Four nearby rivers, White River, Buffalo River, North Fork River and Crooked Creek, provide further fishing opportunities.

For people who would rather stay dry, acres and acres of public lands and wildlife management areas are open for camping and picnicking. Mountain bikers and day hikers enjoy miles of stacked loop trails that lead through several different eco systems, including both hardwood and pine forests. Levels of difficulty range from beginner to intermediate.

These trails are the place to be during the autumn months when the hillsides turn delicious shades of red, orange and maroon. The wilderness around the lakes also gives amateur naturalists and birders an excellent place to engage in their pursuits. Golfers enjoy three area courses, including the 200-acre Big Creek Golf and Country Club.

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But life in this quiet burg is not entirely about outdoor adventure. There is a bit of culture, too. The Mountain Home Symphony performs regularly. The Twin Lakes Playhouse is a community theater. Arkansas State University (1,500 students) is located here and presents lectures, concerts and more. It has a Golden Ager program, too, which lets people age 60 or better enroll in classes tuition-free (ACT or SAT scores and high school transcripts are still required). Mountain Home shopping is adequate for necessities, but high-end stores are not the norm. Dining options include fast food chains, pizza places and family-style restaurants (anyone with a gourmet palate will be disappointed).

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In addition to managing senior apartment complexes, the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas offers services that include medical supply delivery, transportation and in-home assistance, and it acts as a referral center for other providers. In cooperation with The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, Inc., it also manages the Arthur L. Van Matre Senior Services Center, a welcoming place where retirees partake in classes, hot meals, dances, workshops and more.

The North Arkansas Transportation Service (NATS) provides public transportation (vans) on a fixed schedule and has a dial-a-ride service by appointment (24 hours notice is required). The closet regional airport is in Harrison, 45 miles away. The nearest international airport is in Memphis, 165 miles away.

Baxter Regional Medical Center, with 268 beds, is the primary health care facility, and it is the largest employer in the county. It is not accredited but is award-winning for excellence in vascular surgery and cardiac surgery. Medicare patients are accepted. Three more hospitals are located within 40 miles, but the nearest accredited hospital is Skaggs Regional Medical Center in Branson, Missouri, about 50 miles away. For military retirees, the nearest VA medical center is in Little Rock, 110 miles to the south.

This area has four relatively mild seasons, although summers are usually sticky with temperatures in the mid-80s to low-90s and plenty of humidity. Winter highs are in the 40s and 50s with lows in the 20s and 30s. The area receives roughly 45 inches of rain and eight inches of snow per year.

Of course, Mountain Home has some drawbacks. It is isolated. Nightlife is practically unknown. The hospital is not accredited. The chance of a tornado striking is 145% above the national average, and tornados have come close in the past. Decent-paying employment opportunities are few.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes   |   Is Arkansas Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes

The non-accredited hospital is a concern, but Mountain Home is a place where the living is easy and the fish are always biting. What it lacks in cultural amenities and excitement, it more than makes up for with scenic lakes, affordable houses and nearly unlimited outdoor recreation.

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Arkansas:

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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Stats:

Population - 2,988,248

Persons 65 years old and over - 14%

High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 84% 

Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 21% 

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 7% 

White persons, not Hispanic - 72% 

Median household income - $41,330 

Median home value - $111,400 

Social Security taxed? No

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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