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13 Reasons Lafayette, LA, Is a Great Place To Live

From its year-round festivals and live music to its title as one of the country's best food cities, discover all Lafayette has to offer.

By Emily Handy on March 1, 2023

couple picknicking in Lafayette, LA

Life on the bayou is charming, fun and full of flavor. Tucked away in the heart of Cajun Country, Lafayette, Louisiana, is both a vibrant, energetic community and one that embraces its relaxed Southern charm. The city-parish (county) of Lafayette is saturated with history and unique cultures. This community has so much going for it, including a low cost of living and unparalleled outdoor recreation — not to mention it boasts some of the best food and festivals in the country. On any given weekend, it’s not unusual to find yourself in the midst of a fais-do-do (a Cajun dance party).

Mandi Mitchell, President and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, truly believes the Lafayette Parish area has it all.

“This community is the heart of Cajun and Creole culture and is home to very warm, friendly, family oriented, creative people who work hard and play hard. The Lafayette area has a strong and diversified economy with ample job opportunities. Our community offers up great, authentic cuisine, family-friendly festivals, ample opportunities to enjoy live music or consume the arts, opportunities for outdoor recreation [and] great education options,” she said.

Read on to see why living in Lafayette, LA, is appealing to more and more families and young professionals.

Food from Pour in Lafayette, LA
Courtesy of LafayetteTravel.com

1. The Food Is the Best in the Country.

In Lafayette you’ll find the best and most authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine, and the seafood is the freshest around. In fact, Lafayette was dubbed the “Best Food City in the USA” by USA Today thanks to its impressive roster of both traditional Cajun and Creole fare as well as more modern and experimental cuisine. The Lafayette area is packed with so many incredible restaurants that it has created two trails for residents to explore some of the region’s specialties: The Cajun Boudin Trail and The Plate Lunch Trail. Both include over 50 stops, so you’ll have plenty to discover. Ready for dessert? Lafayette is also one of the best cities for baked goods in the country.

Art gallery in Lafayette, LA
Courtesy of LafayetteTravel.com

2. The Arts Scene Is Vibrant.

The Hilliard Art Museum at University of Louisiana at Lafayette connects art and education and promotes dialogue and understanding between individuals and throughout the community. Every second Saturday of the month, Lafayette residents gather in downtown Lafayette’s cultural district for Artwalk. Museums, galleries, art houses and studios all participate and showcase the city’s creative side with exhibits, performances and live music. The beloved Acadiana Center for the Arts is at the heart of the city’s art scene and features museum galleries, live performances and art education. 

3. It Has a Thriving, Diversified Economy.

Lafayette is at the center of the Gulf Coast’s oil and gas industry, but its diverse economy features a plethora of industries including advanced manufacturing, logistics, tech and hospitality and tourism. The growing community has also made itself a regional hub for health care and retail. Rooted in these industries, the Lafayette economy is somewhat recession proof, and is expected to continue to grow in employment even through the anticipated early 2023  national recession, according to leading economists.

Historical Vermilionville
Vermilionville / Courtesy of LafayetteTravel.com

4. It’s Steeped in Cajun and Creole Culture.

Lafayette Parish is rich in unique culture and history dating back to the late 18th century when Canada’s Acadians settled in the region. Cultural opportunities here are endless, and include Vermilionville, a 23-acre village depicting the historic life of the Creole, Acadian and Native American cultures, as well as other cultural centers and museums. Festivals celebrating the area’s heritage are held throughout the year, too.

Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, LA

5. There’s Live Music at Every Turn.

Good dancing shoes are a must for Lafayette residents, as music fills the streets here. The city is packed with live music venues, dance halls and restaurants where you can eat some delicious homestyle Cajun food and then hop on the dance floor. Each Friday in the spring and fall, downtown Lafayette hosts Downtown Alive!, a free, large-scale concert series and street party. The city is known as the capital of Cajun and zydeco music, and the highly-praised Blue Moon Saloon is the place to go to hear this uniquely Lafayette music.

6. You’ll Get More Bang for Your Buck.

Lafayette residents can expect a cost of living significantly less than the national average. A lot of this affordability lies in more affordable housing costs, which are 33 percent lower than the national average. The typical home here will only cost you an average of $218,049, so buying a home in Lafayette is definitely doable! You can expect to shell out less for other necessities, as well. Costs for health care, utilities and even groceries are all lower than the U.S. average.

azaleas in Lafayette, LA
Courtesy of LafayetteTravel.com

7. It’s an Outdoor Lover’s Dream.

The Lafayette area is dubbed a “Sportsman’s Paradise,” and it is easy to see why. Home to America’s largest swamp, the Atchafalaya Basin, the area is ripe for outdoor activities like fishing, paddling, bird watching and everything in between. Just 20 minutes away, Lake Martin at the Cypress Island Preserve offers visitors some of the best hiking and kayaking around in nearly 10,000 acres of cypress-tupelo swamp lands and hardwood forests. The beautiful Avery Island is home to the 170-acre Jungle Gardens, a lush botanical garden highlighting the region’s marshes and moss-draped trees.

8. Its Nickname Is the “Hub City.”

Thanks to the city’s proximity to major interstates going in all directions, many people view Lafayette as a great home base to explore Acadiana — a region of South Louisiana rich in Cajun and Creole culture. Nicknamed the “Hub City,” Lafayette is also a retail, banking, health care, logisitics and tech hub for the region. An impressive fiber network, the presence of the Carnegie R1 ranked University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a large start-up ecosystem are just some of the reasons for the nickname.

9. There’s Always Something To Celebrate.

Boredom doesn’t exist in Lafayette. The city’s packed calendar of festivals and events ensure that there is something going on every weekend of the year. Residents begin the year with a bang with Mardi Gras celebrations, a tradition filled with parties, formal balls, colorful beads and parades. In the spring, Festival International de Louisiane showcases the city’s unique ties between French and Acadian cultures and is the country’s largest outdoor Francophone festival. In the fall, Lafayette hosts Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and Gulf Brew, the “Oktoberfest of Summer” and the region’s premier craft beer festival.

UL Lafayette homecoming
Courtesy of LafayetteTravel.com

10. Sports Are a Big Deal in Lafayette.

Football season in this city means cheering on the University of Louisiana Lafayette’s NCAA Division 1 Ragin’ Cajuns. Fans pack into Cajun Field, affectionately known as “The Swamp,” after tailgating in their best Vermilion red and white. Youngsville and Broussard — suburban communities in Lafayette — are major attractions for youth sports ranging from soccer to tennis and baseball. For something a little more relaxed, Lafayette is home to two of the state’s top-notch Audubon Golf Trail courses.

11. It’s Extremely Family Oriented.

Families thrive in Lafayette Parish. The area offers ample family friendly amenities including a host of kid-approved attractions like the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, Zoosiana, the Lafayette Science Museum and plenty of parks including Moncus Park, the newest addition which opened in January 2022. The schools, both public and private, offer quality education and there is a strong youth sports presence here. You can own your own slice of heaven here as housing is affordable, and the area’s many neighborhoods are charming and quaint.

12. It’s a Top College Town.

“As the hub of the area and home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette earned its ranking as one of the best college towns in the U.S.,” Mitchell said. The presence of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette injects the city with diversity due to an international student population representing 90 countries, a great talent pool, and a fun vibe that can’t be beat. Downtown Lafayette — a magnet for UL students — is energetic and friendly, with an abundance of entertainment, bars and restaurants that earned the city its college town praises.

Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, LA

13. It’s the Happiest City in America

With all of the above going for it, it is no wonder that Lafayette has been lauded as the “Happiest City in America.” If the world-class food or live Cajun and Zydeco music doesn’t have you smiling, the area’s beautiful scenery and strong sense of community surely will.

This article was sponsored by Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission, Lafayette Economic Development Authority and One Acadiana

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