If you’re planning on moving to Lafayette, LA, you’re in for a huge variety of live entertainment options, historic attractions and serious southern hospitality.
Steeped in traditional Cajun and Creole culture, Lafayette, Louisiana, is famous for its cuisine, traditional music and world-class festivals. Lafayette, often called “the Hub City” for its central role in the Gulf Coast’s oil and gas industry, is a vibrant, growing town with tons to offer visitors and residents.
Home to more than 120,000 people, Lafayette is the fourth largest city in the state of Louisiana. Originally founded as Vermilionville, the city was renamed in 1884 after “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman,” the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who fought alongside the Americans in the Revolutionary War. More recently, thanks to its rich culture and friendly local population, Lafayette snagged the title of “America’s Happiest City” from the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you’ll soon find out what makes Lafayette such a favorable place to live. Here’s what you need to know before moving down to the Bayou. (That’s the Bayou Vermilion, to be exact, a slow-moving river that meanders through the city.)
Know The Best Neighborhoods in Lafayette, LA
There’s more to Lafayette than its rich history and spicy food. Colorful Lafayette districts range from the historic neighborhoods to upscale planned communities. The heart of Lafayette has also recently become a popular area for young and diverse urban professionals. Whether you’re looking for a traditional house in the suburbs or a vibrant scene downtown, Lafayette offers an array of diverse neighborhoods to suit the needs of everyone.
Who is living in Lafayette?
Single residents: 40%
Median age: 35
Median household income: $46,858
College educated: 32%
Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Lafayette, LA:
Being the second largest university in the state, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette gives the surrounding area a quirky, bustling college-town feel. According to The Princeton Review’s 2018 edition of “The Best 382 Colleges,” this university is among the top 15% of the nation’s four-year colleges for undergraduate education. Due to its large student population (nearly 20,000), the immediate area is mostly made up of renters and apartment complexes. A small but highly desirable subdivision called Arbolada is nestled into campus, populated largely by old-line local families and wealthy professors.
Downtown, you’ll find the cultural and economic center with every major attraction within walking distance. The city’s best selection of restaurants, downtown bars and live music venues, lots of festivals (including the city’s largest event, Festival International de Louisiane), diverse shopping, art galleries, the wonderful Acadiana Center for the Arts, and professional services can all be found downtown. Despite being packed with endless amenities, downtown doesn’t offer much in the way of housing, though the Downtown Development Authority is actively encouraging residential growth: Check out their Property Finder.
Once a neighborhood for freed slaves, Freetown-Port Rico has recently been named a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Bounded by East University Avenue, Taft Street and Lucille Avenue, the neighborhood dates all the way back to the Civil War era, when the population was under 1,000 people. Since Freetown-Port Since Freetown Port Rico has been named to the register, property owners with structures more than 50 years old can qualify for a 20 – 40 percent tax credit when making renovations. Residents love Freetown Port Rico for its eclectic, welcoming atmosphere.
Residents love Freetown Port Rico for its eclectic, welcoming atmosphere, one of the most diverse populations in the city and walkability to downtown and the university. Quirky music venues like the Blue Moon Saloon and affordable local gourmet lunch spots like Acadian Superette and Cedar Deli anchor the neighborhood, as well as the last Borden’s ice cream parlor in existence.
Mid-City, also sometimes called Central Lafayette, isn’t a specific neighborhood, but rather a very loosely defined series of subdivisions added in rapid succession to the growing city during the Gulf Coast’s oil boom. There’s no hard and fast rule about what comprises Central Lafayette, but generally speaking, it’s the corridor along Johnston and the Bayou Vermilion for a mile or two away from downtown.
Subdivisions worth looking into are Bendel Gardens, a gated virtual time machine of mid-century modern luxury; Suburban Acres, a surprisingly affordable and surprisingly quiet series of dead-end streets near the South College and Johnston intersection (it hasn’t been suburban since the 1940s but the name stuck); Greenbriar, a pretty warren of high-end houses off West Bayou Parkway; and Magnolia Park, a neighborhood of brick one-story homes with big lawns, adjacent to the excellent Woodvale Elementary School.
Traditional Neighborhood Developments
Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TNDs) incorporate a variety of land and house types as well as commercial development in a defined area. Striving to be pedestrian-friendly over vehicle-centric, this planning system offers a network of paths, streets and lanes to provide residents the option of walking or biking to destinations. It aims to create communities that accommodate residential homes, commercial buildings and educational facilities all within close proximity to each other.
Lafayette offers several TNDs with lots of personality:
Crime in Lafayette, LA
Despite quaint neighborhoods, crime in Lafayette, LA is fairly high. Crime in Lafayette is 105% higher than the national average. Much of the crime in Lafayette is property crime. This includes burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny over $50 and arson.
Here’s the good news: Despite high crime rates, the number of total year over year crimes in Lafayette has decreased by 4% over the last year, according to statistics released by the Lafayette Police Department. Homicide, robbery, assault, and theft all saw a decrease over the year period.
Downtown Lafayette remains safe for families to enjoy, especially near the museums, parks and attractions. At night it’s best to take caution since the post-hours atmosphere can get a bit rowdy.
What is the weather like?
Lafayette has an excellent year-round climate and topography for outdoor activities, which contribute to Louisiana’s reputation as a sportsman’s paradise. The weather allows residents to enjoy the region’s hiking and biking trails, golf courses, fishing and camping spots, and opportunities for boating.
If you hate the cold, we’ve got good news: It very rarely dips below freezing and snows only a few flakes at a time and exceedingly rarely (many winters go by with no snowflakes at all). It does get rather warm, though, and summers are downright steamy: hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. In general, Lafayette is a rainy place. The city receives around 61 inches of rain per year, while the rest of the country receives around 39. The wettest season lasts from May to September, with more than 40% chance of rain on any given day.
Summer is hurricane season. Lafayette is far enough inland that it rarely takes a severe hit from a hurricane, but the water table is high and major rainstorms (hurricane-related or not) can (and often do) cause flooding. When buying a home, be sure to check into whether or not the house is in a flood zone and find out whether it has flooded in the past!
Lafayette summers are hot and long while the winters are short and windy. The hot season lasts for 4.5 months while the cool season only lasts around 2.8 months. Over the course of the year, the temperature varies anywhere from an average low of 43°F (January) to an average high of 93°F (August).
You’ll Never Run Out of Things to Do in Lafayette, LA
If you’re moving to Lafayette and looking for things to do, you won’t have to look far. Take a stroll through Cajun country in the 1800s, experience hands-on fun at interactive museums, visit Avery Island in the heart of the Louisiana swamp, and see what makes Lafayette the cultural center of Louisiana.
Here are some of the top Lafayette attractions for you and your family to enjoy:
No, it’s not New Orleans, but Lafayette has a vibrant and exciting set of Mardi Gras traditions all their own. Parades roll through downtown and down Johnston Street and North College toward the fairgrounds at the Cajundome on Mardi Gras Day and several evenings in advance. Traditional “krewes” have giant masked balls throughout the season, crowning kings and queens from among the city’s wealthy elite. You’ll also find a traditional Cajun Mardi Gras celebration called a “courir” in the rural areas to the North and West of the city (with kid-friendly recreations taking place in Moncus Park and Vermilionville, if you’re not up for the full thing).
Cajun Food Tours
As the tastiest town in the South, you won’t want to miss out on Lafayette’s unique cuisine. Ranked No. 1 as Tripadvisor’s best thing to do in Lafayette, Cajun Food Tours allows guests to hop on a tour bus while learning all about the history and culture of Cajun food. With various options for pickup and boarding, the tour takes groups of up to 14 people while stopping at six different locations for unique tastings. Enjoy fresh gulf seafood, gumbo, boudin, and friendly Cajun hospitality! Tickets run $55 for adults, $35 for kids and group discounts are also available.
Established in the 1970s, Acadian Village is Lafayette’s oldest authentic vision of life in 19th century Louisiana. The 32-acre private park showcases historic homes, Acadian architecture and Acadian history. Featuring authentic building construction, a blacksmith shop and a general store, the grounds offer tours and planned event venues upon request.
Home of the world-famous McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce, Avery Island is located just outside New Iberia in the heart of the swampy marshes that make up much of the land to the south of Lafayette. Family owned and operated since 1868, McIlhenny Tabasco employs more than 200 and sells products in 165 countries around the world. On Avery Island, you’ll find Restaurant 1868, the Tabasco Museum, culinary tours, cooking classes and more. The adjacent Jungle Gardens, once the natural playground of the ultra-wealthy scions of the McIlhenny family, is a nature-lover’s dream: stroll through manicured Japanese gardens, snap photos of alligators and egrets, and view some of the most spectacular live oaks in the state.
Vermilionville Historic Village is a Cajun, Creole and indigenous cultural museum dedicated to educating the public on the history of the people who first settled the region and those who were already there when they arrived. The 23-acre park is one of the world’s largest physical representations of an early Acadian settlement using original structures dating all the way back to 1765 when the French-speaking Acadians were expelled from British Canada and made their way to resettle in Louisiana. The site features restored homes, park workshops, local performances and artisans showcasing traditional crafts and folkways: from spinning and weaving to fiddling and blacksmithing. Working to enhance life along the Bayou, the historic village tours are perfect for groups, students and families looking to travel back in time.
Lafayette, LA, offers tons of attractions for museum-goers. Acadiana Center for the Arts presents live music, rotating visual art exhibits, and presentations of film and theater. If you’re looking for something to do in Lafayette with kids, the Children’s Museum of Acadiana provides a range of hands-on, interactive exhibits designed to allow kids to learn by doing. If you’re looking for something more science-related, don’t forget to check out the Lafayette Science Museum & Planetarium. The exhibits explore paleontology, geology, marine biology, local history and pre-history, and an all-digital planetarium with daily presentations. On the UL campus, adjacent to downtown, you’ll find the excellent Hilliard University Art Museum, which rotates exhibits of regional and international artists as well as extensive showings by students and faculty of UL’s prestigious visual arts program.
While you’re strolling the city’s historic center, don’t miss the murals! Internationally renowned muralist Robert Dafford is a local resident who has, when he’s not painting murals in Paris and Vancouver and over hundreds of miles of the Ohio River, decorated a number of downtown’s biggest open-air “canvases.”
Festivals and Live Music
Lafayette’s wide variety of music festivals offer something for everyone and pack nearly every temperate weekend in the Spring and Fall. Festival International de Louisiane is the biggest festival in town, taking place annually in late April and bringing a huge variety of international music to a series of stages tucked throughout a closed-off downtown. Festivals Acadiens et Creoles is held each October in campus-adjacent Girard Park and celebrates the traditional music of the area: Cajun, zydeco and related genres, as well as favorite regional food, crafts and more. More festivals worth looking up in Lafayette and adjacent towns: Blackpot Festival and Cookoff (October), Crowley Rice Festival (October), Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival (May).
Free concert series abound throughout the city: Downtown Alive fills spring and fall Friday nights with music, and Bach Lunch offers a noontime break for downtown office workers. Rhythms on the River, Concerts at Couret and Sugar Jam at Sugar Mill Pond offer residents and visitors of their respective TNDs a fun musical evening. Big-name touring acts are often found on the calendar at the Cajundome Event Center. Folk, rock, country, Cajun, and zydeco populate the many local clubs every weekend. Student concerts in all genres are frequent on campus. The wonderful Acadiana Symphony Orchestra performs at the Heymann Performing Arts Center and offers conservatory-style training to the next generation of classical and pops musicians.
How to Get Around Lafayette
Wondering how you’ll get around your favorite neighborhoods? Lafayette transportation offers plenty of options for traveling to and from the city.
- Car – Lafayette is a car city. The city itself has an enormous footprint and getting from neighborhood to neighborhood without a car is a challenge. While Lafayette is close to a major interstate, it’s surrounded by small, outlying areas, and getting out of the city for recreation basically requires a car.
- Bike – Cycling is a viable option for getting from point A to point B within central Lafayette. With the increased amount of bike paths, bike lanes and cycling safety awareness, Lafayette is well on its way to being recognized as one of the most bike-friendly areas in the state. The flat terrain is ideal for long rides, though some of the narrow historic through streets are less desirable than others for cycling.
- Bus – For residents who rely on public transportation, there is the Lafayette Transit System and CityBus. While there are several routine bus systems in place, they are infrequent and don’t run on Sundays or holidays. The good news? Bus fare is only $1 and the buses are clean and well-air-conditioned.
- Rideshare – Uber and Lyft both operate in Lafayette and offer an ideal option for late-night post-bar trips home, rides to and from the airport, and general transport.
- Boat – While boating serves as more of a leisure event than a transportation necessity (at least in this century), you’ll find that boating is enormously popular among local residents. Surrounded by lakes, ponds, swamps and bayous, Lafayette is the perfect place for boating, fishing and kayaking.
A Look at the Lafayette, LA Real Estate Market
Home to a growing economy, convenient access to health care and several transportation routes, Lafayette serves as an affordable place to call home. Whether you’re looking for low-maintenance apartments or elegant two-story houses, Lafayette, LA offers a wide variety of real estate.
The overall cost of living in Lafayette remains 4% lower than the national average, which accounts for transportation, utilities, goods and services, groceries, health care and housing.
Owning Versus Renting
Owning Real Estate
Around 55% of the Lafayette population own homes, with the median list price running $220,000. While this is 22% higher than the average property price for Louisiana, it’s 2% lower than the national average.
Renting Real Estate
When it comes to renting in Lafayette, the median rent price is $786. This is comparatively equal to the average rent for Louisiana and 15% lower than the national average.
Moving Companies in Lafayette, LA
If you plan on moving to Lafayette, LA, chances are you’re going to be booking a moving company in the near future. Whether you’re relocating just across town or hauling your things across the country, there are plenty of moving and storage companies to assist you with your move.
Here are some of the best moving companies in Lafayette, LA:
- Two Men and a Truck. A licensed and reputable company, Two Men and a Truck is one of the most highly rated moving companies in Lafayette. With a 5-star review and guaranteed delivery date, there’s a reason this company stays busy year-round. An obvious downside here is that the company is closed on Sundays.
- Lafayette Moving Services. Lafayette Moving Services has good reviews and also offers some of the lowest rates around (they claim to beat all competitors’ pricing). On the flip side, the company advertises itself as a college student moving company, which may turn families away who have large furniture to haul cross-country.
- U-Pack. U-Pack is one of the largest moving company brands in the country. While many people know the name, reviews in the Lafayette area have been mixed. Customers have mentioned the customer service is rushed and subpar.
- Louis Moving. Louis Moving is a third-generation moving company that’s locally owned and operated. While the company offers reasonable moving rates, flexible scheduling and seven days of business operation, it’s smaller and less well-known when compared to some of the larger companies in the area.
Moving to Lafayette, LA?
Now that you know everything there is to know about Lafayette, you’re set to head down to Cajun country. After moving to Lafayette, LA, you’ll soon be part of the crowd who takes their food, art and culture very seriously. Just don’t forget to pack your Southern hospitality.
It’s no secret that the moving process can be quite overwhelming. To make your move as seamless as possible, Life Storage offers a wide range of self storage options in Lafayette in addition to free moving truck rentals.
What questions or advice do you have for people who have moved to Lafayette? Let us know in the comments below!Leave a Comment
Update: This post was originally published in August of 2017 and was revised on Nov 4, 2019 with new information from Lafayette expert, Megan Romer.