Am a retiree in the Little Rock area. Yeah, there are a lot of nice things to be said of AR. Same's true of other things too.
Have kids? This is considered one of the most backward states regarding education. There's a raging debate going on about how to meet the constitutional mandate of providing an "adequate education" for all and which has been reviewed by the courts mandating another 100(?) million towards remedies. Another review is shaping to see if the first millions adequately address educational short comings--poor teacher salaries, dilapidated structures, etc. Little Rock schools and surrounding county schools are still under federal oversight for discrimination.
Racism can be alive and well here, though probably less overt. When I PCSed in '99, the social actions folks at Little Rock AFB(LRAFB) asked us to inform them if discrimination was still on-going in Cabot, 9 miles northeast, and a hotbed for housing growth. They seem to discriminate in the loan process, realtors don't do follow-ups, your name's not given to realtors, realtors are too busy, etc. or so I've been told. The town has almost no black residents. Jacksonville, immediately outside of Little Rock AFB is about 40%(?) black. Several long-term residents tell me how Cabot in the '70s had a sign/billboard stating "don't let the sun go down on your black @$$ here" or very similiar to that. A Cabot resident and acquaintance commented how everyone in his neighborhood "knows of the local KKK muck-a-muck around the corner."
Cars are taxed yearly. I guess they're not excessive compared to the NE or CA. I don't consider the income rate tax excessive.
You're in the bible belt. Searcy, 35+ miles north or LRAFB had a book store close several years ago because it carried books dealing with homosexuality. The current governor, a Baptist minister(?) had drawn a lot of negative attention to the state for pardoning numerous murderers, rapists, etc. He seems to better know inmates than the parole board. If memory serves, he's paroled more criminals than maybe seven (more?) previous governors. Allegedly, more have been paroled than all surrounding states, maybe for several years.
A neighbor kid received many negative comments for his Mohawk haircut, even had a couple of guys try to beat up him and a friend if he would step out of the Taco Bell. He declined the invite. This "bad seed" got a mostly free 4-year ride to a state school due to ACT scores. To the state's credit, it seems to give a lot of scholarships
of varying amounts. We have among the larger number of two-year schools per capita.
Sports are a big thing here, especially the "Hogs" and football. Several progressive thinkers have tried to introduce legislative measures to more better account for money going to public athletic accounts--all failed to my knowledge. Remember my observation regarding dilapidated school structures... ?
Baptist Hospital(?) in Little Rock has/had a labor relations dispute simmering for several years. I think the nurses voted pro-union, but management used every "shuck and jive" measure, dirty trick, etc. to avoid complying with the vote/contract. A complaint was filed with the federal labor relations board. Not sure how that was all settled.
It seems we read monthly about another politician accused of crimes or about to serve jail time. We have a least one not too distant governor serving jail time, same for legislators. Remember the check bouncing scandal in Congress 15(?) years ago. I believe among the worst of'em was the fairly recently former Pulaski County sheriff Tommy Robinson.
An often heard comparison is that, whatever the category, at least Arkansas is not last... this year maybe. We're very competitive with Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
I stand by the above statements and observations. They can generally be easily verified though I may be off on some numbers, dates, etc. Not too flattering a picture of AR and likely to upset some. The truth is what it is.
Having said those things, depending on where you live in PA, $200,000 often will buy a lot of house, land, or a combo. They do wonders with catfish and bar bq pork down here. Ice tea can be sweet enough to stand a spoon. If you like hunting and fishing, there's a lot to do. They don't salt roads often, if ever. Ice storms and snow aren't common, but hot, sticky summers (100F+) are and tornados can be. People can be very friendly, if you look like them. I have a newer 1800 SF house, heated and air-conditioned., 2250-SQ total. Electricity ran me $60 (Dec), $90 (Aug), and $140 (Sep). Gas cost $132 (Jan), $72 (Feb), and $18.36 (Aug-Sep). Water runs $30-$95 depending on how much I water the lawn.