Lafayette, Louisiana, is known as the “heartbeat” of Acadiana, the French-speaking region of South Louisiana.
In 1755, the region welcomed 18,000 Acadian refugees from Canada when the British took over their land. Their French language and culture melded with the existing Spanish, African and Caribbean influences to create the rich melting pot of Cajun and Creole cultures Lafayette is known for today.
This year, Lafayette celebrates its bicentennial with a packed calendar of events. But Lafayette’s history is not just a nod to the past — it’s living.
Here, in the heart of Cajun and Creole country, a special joie de vivre becomes evident when you’re interacting with friendly residents, dancing to the distinctive blend of Cajun and zydeco music, celebrating the region’s rich culture at community festivals or experiencing the bustling culinary scene.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch named Lafayette “The Happiest City in the United States” — a designation the city embraces proudly.
Music is ubiquitous in Lafayette, and you’ll hear its signature sounds ringing out on washboards, accordions, triangles and fiddles at live music venues across town and at festivals large and small. Festival International de Lousiane draws over 300,000 people to celebrate its diverse lineup each year, making it the largest outdoor international music and arts festival in the United States.
That international presence is one of the things that drew Hannah Smith Mason, who has lived everywhere from Los Angeles to Paris, to return home and plant roots in Lafayette.
“The culture here is so different from anywhere else in the world,” she said. “It’s such a unique place. Everything revolves around food and celebrations, and if you’re an outsider moving in and start embracing our traditions—you’re in the club. To me, it’s a really incredible, special place.”
More things to put a smile on your face — an affordable cost of living, a great climate with lots of sunshine and mild winters, small-town charm with a walkable downtown, and cool outdoor adventures. Did we mention the 20-plus parades that are held during Mardi Gras?
But Lafayette isn’t just a great place to live — it’s also a great place to build a business. Companies like CGI, SchoolMint and Techneaux Technology Services have set up shop in Lafayette, bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs to the area.
The area is home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a leading research university that’s classified as a Carnegie R1 school — the same as Harvard, Duke and Princeton — which keeps the talent pipeline filled with a highly educated workforce.
UL Lafayette also is overflowing with athletic talent. It competes in NCAA Division 1, the highest level of collegiate athletics, and holds 26 championship titles across all sports. There’s no better place to be on game day than cheering on the Ragin’ Cajuns!
Read on to find out more about living, working and thriving in Lafayette, LA.
- Average Commute
- 20.8 minutes
- Median Home Value
- Median Household Income
- Total Population
- Walk Score
- Median Property Tax