Always the one to be different, Louisiana is home to diverse cultures and a unique history that separates it from the rest of the United States. Here the accents change wherever you go with a vibrant mix of Creole, Cajun, and Southern culture.
From New Orleans in the southeast to Shreveport in the northwest, you’ll find reminders of natural tragedy, French colonial architecture, ancient plantations, and welcoming cities in Louisiana. All of these combine to make Louisiana a rich human tapestry. The Bayou State may be famous for the Big Easy, but families, couples, and young professionals will find opportunities all around Louisiana.
In this post, we'll cover:
12. Bossier City
On the east bank of the Red River, Bossier City has a population of 65,000 people and a strong local economy. Combine that with affordable housing and the Barksdale Air Force Base, there are plenty of opportunities for newcomers which provide Bossier City with a burst of energy.
Once a railroad base and an old oil town, Bossier City is a diverse municipality with plenty to do within the city limits. Here you’ll find casinos, ample shopping, and a great number of restaurants per person. Kids will love the aquarium and Cypress Park, while on the other side of the river is the popular town of Shreveport.
A small town with a central location, residents in Alexandria enjoy a quiet life while being around two hours from major cities in the state. Life here is simple, with a shopping mall, local zoo, and a nice selection of restaurants. A family oriented town, Alexandria is a tight-knit community with decent schools and a great place to raise some kids.
With warm to hot year-round weather, you’ll be able to make the most of the enviable selection of outdoor activities on your time off. These include plenty of local hiking trails, boating, and fishing on the nearby lakes and rivers, along with several golf courses.
10. Lake Charles
Retirees looking for their next home should consider Lake Charles, a town consistently rated as one of the top places to retire in the state. With Louisiana’s low tax rate and great health care amenities, Lake Charles is a certified retirement community. It also offers social and recreational activities to keep everyone busy.
Lake Charles has a trio of major casinos, bringing a taste of Vegas to your doorstep. Locals can also make the most of the five public golf courses and family friendly mini-golf courses for when the grandkids come to town. The town has several quality museums and galleries, along with an exciting events calendar, which includes the town’s own Mardi Gras and the Contraband Days Festival. Both attract well over 150,000 people.
With house prices far below the national average, along with cheaper health care and living expenses, Slidell is a great place to enter the housing market or up-size. But moving to Slidell isn’t all about saving money. The diverse community of many cultures has had an indelible impact on local life, especially the food scene.
While Louisiana is home to delectable eats wherever you go, the melting pot of Slidell brings together the best flavors from across the state. On a state scale, Slidell’s livability is above average. Overall, the school system is strong, but there is a quality gap between some schools.
Slidell has the lake, beaches, and the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge nearby.
Families and young professionals enjoy Covington for the town’s proximity to New Orleans, the solid housing market, and the array of things to do after work. While only 50 minutes from all the action in New Orleans, Covington provides plenty of reasons to stick around thanks to a fun nightlife. You’ll find a great selection of restaurants and breweries that bring the small town to life.
Employment opportunities continue to grow in Covington, while the housing market is approachable for first-time buyers. Aside from work and the town’s nightlife, Covington has preserved its historic downtown streets now lined with boutique stores, art galleries and cozy cafes.
40 minutes north of New Orleans, on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, Mandeville has a population of just over 12,000 people. Alongside the small town vibes and lakeside action, the community in Mandeville has a higher than average annual income with a lovely short commute.
Life in Mandeville is peaceful, with a low crime rate and a high level of college education among the community. Families will appreciate the strength of the local school district and the array of parks and lakeside beaches to enjoy on the weekends.
From town, cross the longest overwater bridge in the world to the Big Easy or make the most of the trails nearby in the Fontainebleau State Park.
In Northern Louisiana, Monroe is a smaller city with a population of around 47,000 people. Home to the first Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, Monroe has a higher than average unemployment rate but has seen job growth over the recent years. It also has a cost of living 22 percent below the national average.
Around Monroe, residents and newcomers can enjoy the scenic Ouachita River along with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. While the summers can be stifling, the surrounding bayous, rolling hills, and pristine lakes provide an outdoor escape.
One example is the expansive Kiroli Park, with gardens, hiking trails, fishing ponds, and picnic spaces. The town also has a strong art and music scene, including the Downtown Gallery Crawl, live music, and stage productions.
A small town with a population of under 18,000, the charming town of Natchitoches, is a great option for those looking to retire in Louisiana. With a cost of living some 20% below the national average, your money will go further here than in some of Louisiana’s bigger cities.
As the first permanent European settlement in Louisiana, Natchitoches has a storied past which can be seen along the major streets with several historic buildings. While job growth has remained relatively stagnant for those that enjoy the quiet small town life, there is much to love about living here.
Locals enjoy the community culture and typical delicious Louisiana cuisine, along with several museums, outdoor activities in the nearby national park, and its famous annual Christmas lights.
Close to both Arkansas and Texas, Shreveport is a veritable mix of cultures and backgrounds. This creates a wide range of social and economic opportunities. Whether you’re a family, moving with a partner, or setting up shop by yourself, the state’s third largest city will have something to offer.
Shreveport has an overall cost of living 8.4% below the national level, with an average rent of $985 per month. From your new home you’ll be able to experience 20 local museums, dozens of public parks, while the city boasts 11 live music venues.
Some of the top industries in town include health care, construction, and retail, with a great average commute. Post work you can experience a vibrant nightlife or a delectable food scene with scrumptious crawfish.
In Louisiana’s south, Lafayette is a vibrant mix of cultures and family-friendly events. Lafayette is also minutes away from Breux Bridge, the crawfish capital of the world. Lafayette is the epicenter of the state’s Creole and Cajun communities, adding a mouthwatering layer to the town’s dining scene and packed events calendar.
An hour west of Baton Rouge, Lafayette enjoys a housing market well-suited to those looking to purchase their first home, with one of the lowest median costs in Louisiana. For this reason and the welcoming community culture, Lafayette is a youthful town with plenty of job opportunities. The town’s unemployment sits at a low 5%.
2. Baton Rouge
The capital of Louisiana and the second largest city in the state, Baton Rouge, is experiencing a burst of growth with booming employment opportunities. Here, technology, logistics, and medical industries are thriving while the city has been noted as one of the best places in the US to start a business.
This makes Baton Rouge an attractive place for recent graduates and those wanting to further their careers in a different part of the country. Despite the economic opportunities, there remains a small city vibe about Baton Rouge. Your commute will be short and there’s ample opportunity to better balance your work and life schedules.
Newcomers will have the choice of several great suburbs, including South Baton Rouge, Oak Hills Place, and Zachary.
1. New Orleans
As one of the top tourist destinations in the United States, much has been written about New Orleans’ famed nightlife and voodoo culture. But what elevates the Big Easy as a place to live in is the local community, the artistic flair, great public parks, and excellent universities.
New Orleans has a population of almost 400,000 people, making it the largest and most populous city in Louisiana. Importantly, newcomers won’t have a hard time fitting in. A part of this is because of the transient nature of New Orleans. But also because of its welcoming community, where everyone can be who they want to be.
Outside of the bustling city center are several affluent and beautiful suburbs that will come with a higher price tag, but remain inline with the median national rent. So you’ll have the chance to enjoy city life and fantastic weather for less than other major cities.