Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey Highlights
Quality of Life in Northwest Arkansas
- Quality of Life in Northwest Arkansas
- Arts and Culture Amenities Attendance
- Attendance at Crystal Bridges
- Natural and Cultural Amenities
- Education in Northwest Arkansas
- Full Report
- 95% of residents reported being “very happy” or “fairly happy,” no change since 2015.
- 67% of residents rated their overall quality of life as “excellent” or “very good,” a slight decline from 72% in 2015.
- 49% said that their overall quality of life has “significantly increased” or “increased” over the past year, no change since 2015.
- 44% of respondents said the airport provides adequate routes, which is up significantly from 39% reported in 2012.
- 52% said flights were at convenient times, a significant improvement from 43% in 2012.
Northwest Arkansas residents are generally happy and report a high quality of life.
Family, financial security and health were among the common themes with the strongest influence on quality of life, which were consistent with 2015 findings. However, the impact of family and friends increased by 16 percentage points since 2015, with 36% of respondents reporting that friends and family exert the most important influence on their quality of life in 2018, compared with 20% in 2015. The influence of health, financial security and job opportunities remains similar to 2015.
Residents reported significant increases in attendance across key arts and culture amenities including Crystal Bridges (from 63% to 71%), the Arkansas Music Pavilion (from 42% to 53%), The Jones Center (from 27% to 44%), and the Amazeum (19% to 36%).
Proximity also appeared to play a role in whether residents used a particular amenity. For example, Bentonville and Springdale residents reported visiting Crystal Bridges and The Jones Center, respectively, at higher rates than residents in other cities.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art experienced a significant overall increase in resident attendance rates compared to 2015, from 63% to 71%. Since 2012, the museum has experienced a substantial increase in attendance rates for all races, including an increase in 43 percentage points among Hispanic residents. There were also notable increases in reported attendance rates across all incomes, education levels and resident geography.
Survey respondents reported parks, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and local trails as the most used natural and cultural amenities. 81% of residents reported visiting a park in the last year. In the 2018 survey, 70% of residents reported accessing a trail, a slight increase from 69% in 2015, and a significant increase from 63% in 2012. Bentonville residents reported the highest trail use at 74%, down from a high of 81% in 2015. Fayetteville was not significantly different from 2015. Rogers and Springdale followed at 68% and 66%, respectively.
68% to 76% of respondents perceived the quality of elementary school through higher education options to be of good or very good quality. These numbers are slightly higher than 2012 and 2015. 49% perceived daycare offerings in the region as high quality.
36% of respondents reported an increase in visits to downtown areas over the past year (34% in 2015), while 49% reported no change (versus 51% in 2015). Respondents were most likely to go to downtowns to dine (69%), shop (56%), and visit the farmers’ market (45%).
Northwest Arkansas residents generally do not view crime as a problem, with about 99% reporting feeling fairly or very safe at home during the day and 96% at night. 93% of residents reported feeling safe in downtown areas during the day and 82% at night.
When residents were asked their number one preference among their top-three desired amenities, mass transit rose to the top of the list. The survey also asked questions about the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in terms of adequate routes and flights at convenient times. Residents indicated the following:
87% of residents said they felt accepted by people in the local community, same as 2015. In absolute terms, strong majorities of all races and ethnicities reported feeling accepted. However, 26% of African American residents did not feel accepted in the community, much higher than levels of non-acceptance for whites (4%) and Hispanic (3%).
64% of residents appreciated the exposure to different lifestyles and cultures, which is significantly higher when compared to 60% in 2015 and 59% in 2012. Residents agreed that increasing diversity is good for the region.
Residents raised perceptions of affordability issues in several areas.
· Daycare: Only 22% of residents considered daycare services to be affordable.
· Airfare: 28% of residents said flights at XNA are affordable. However, XNA has added new lower cost flight options since the completion of the survey.
· Health care: Nineteen percent of residents reported being unable to afford needed medical care, improved significantly from 31% in 2012. Lower income residents continued to report concerns about health care affordability, access and quality at higher rates than wealthier individuals.
There were also differences in the use of certain amenities, which wealthier individuals reported accessing more often. These include downtown dining and farmers’ markets; attendance at cultural amenities such as Crystal Bridges and the Walton Arts Center and likeliness to access a trail system, even though there were high rates of trail use among all income levels.
The 2018 Quality of Life Survey tracks progress over seven years in the foundation’s efforts to provide educational opportunities, cultural experiences, access to nature, better mobility and support for entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas. The foundation has long tracked a number of quantitative quality of life indicators in the region related to economic prosperity – such as sales tax revenue, percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree, employment rates, and poverty levels. In 2012, the foundation collected for the first time qualitative measures using the Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey. The survey was commissioned by the foundation’s Strategy, Learning, and Evaluation Department (SLED) in partnership with the Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) at Mississippi State University and was designed to gauge the extent to which residents are satisfied with life in the region and view Northwest Arkansas as “a great place to live.” In 2015, SLED again commissioned the SRL and Mississippi State University to conduct another survey to determine if the quality of life perceptions of Northwest Arkansas residents had changed over a three-year period. The third iteration of the Northwest Arkansas Quality of Life Survey was conducted in 2018. Northwest Arkansas was defined as Benton and Washington counties for this survey since this geography represents the primary area of support for the foundation’s Home Region Program investments.
Residents were asked to provide their views on areas in which the foundation invests directly and about areas commonly associated with quality of life the foundation does not currently support.
SRL surveyed a representative sample of 966 residents in Benton and Washington counties between the ages of 20 and 64; there were 109 survey questions.