What's it like to live in Lafayette, LA?


Cheré Coen

Profile written by local expert:

Cheré Coen

In 2014, Lafayette was named the happiest city in America by MarketWatch, a financial news website, which took the country by surprise. But residents in the south Louisiana town understood. Folks here work hard, but they live well, too, thanks to their access to outstanding cuisine, great music and a calendar full of festivals.

Visitors and newcomers to the metro area often comment on how friendly people are in Lafayette. This trait may harken back to the population's Cajun and Creole roots. The Acadians (Cajuns) were expelled from the Maritime Provinces of Canada beginning in 1755 and many found refuge in Louisiana, making their living as farmers and trappers in the region now known as Acadiana, with Lafayette as its unofficial capital. Together with French-speaking African Americans called Creoles, the Cajun community created a unique, blended culture defined by good food and upbeat zydeco music. It's not uncommon for locals to invite strangers in for a meal, show visitors around town and explain the unusual French names and expressions found throughout town.

Lafayette's colorful history can be experienced throughout the metro area. Neighborhoods range from the historic Saints Street District where many of the university professionals reside to the upscale planned community of River Ranch. Meanwhile, the Downtown Development Authority has been working to attract residential development to the heart of Lafayette, a popular area for diverse, young, urban professionals.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Lafayette, Louisiana is ranked:

#96 in Best Places to Live

6.2

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.0
  • Value
    8.1
  • Job Market
    5.2
  • Quality of Life
    5.4
  • Net Migration
    5.9

Read how we rank places

Lafayette, LA Quick Stats

  • 487,633

    Metro Population

  • $39,940

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.4

    Median Age

  • $165,500

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.9%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $769

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 25.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Lafayette, LA?

The cost of living in Lafayette is slightly lower than what the average American pays. Since cuisine is high on everyone's list of priorities in this Cajun and Creole town, it's easy to find great meals for an affordable price. Lafayette and its surrounding region are known for their low-priced plate lunch specials that usually consist of Cajun and Creole specialties such as smothered pork chops, chicken over rice, turkey wings, stuffed pork chops, fried catfish and meatball stew, to name a few.

Value Index

Index Score: 8.1 /10

How we calculate this.


Lafayette offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018-12


Lafayette
$165,500

USA
$226,500

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Lafayette, LA.

What's the weather like in Lafayette, LA?

There's no denying that summers are long in Lafayette, not to mention humid. The recent biblical floods did not miss Lafayette and surrounding areas, either. For the rest of the year, however, temperatures are mild and comfortable, even for spring Mardi Gras parades. Although Lafayette lies miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, residents do have to worry about heavy rains – and subsequent floods – and strong winds that accompany hurricanes and tropical storms. Rain is a common occurrence during the winter as well, but locals break out the cast-iron pots and make gumbo, so even an occasional wet winter day can feel warm.

What's the best way to get around Lafayette, LA?

Public bus service around central Lafayette is available, but those who live outside the city proper will need to rely on a car. However, ask residents about Lafayette traffic and you'll get an earful; several of the main thoroughfares – which include Interstate 10 and 49 north of the downtown area, and Route 90 and 167, which converge at the heart of the city – can become congested during rush hour. Compared with other similarly sized metro areas, Lafayette's traffic is pretty standard. 

Biking has become popular, especially in downtown Lafayette and near the university. Local organizations host bike rides and events, and the city is working toward making Lafayette a more bike-friendly town. Designated bike trails, such as the Atakapa-Ishak Trail that connects Lafayette to neighboring towns, and bike lanes on major city thoroughfares have been installed in the last 10 years.

The Lafayette Regional Airport is serviced by American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which offer direct flights to AtlantaHouston and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Lafayette is also serviced by Amtrak and Greyhound.

Commuting in Lafayette, LA

Means of Transportation
Driving
93%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

25.3 minutes

1.1 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Lafayette, LA?

Lafayette attracts families thanks to its quality schools. The metro area also attracts a large number of young adults thanks to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which brings in 17,500 students annually, including many international students. As a result, the region has a youthful feel – complete with a vibrant nightlife scene.

Approximately a third of those living in Lafayette have a bachelor's degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Because of the area's French Cajun and Creole heritage, a significant number of Lafayette residents identify as Catholic.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Lafayette as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Lafayette, LA?

Rather than worrying about what to do in Lafayette, residents instead focus on where to eat. The town offers as many restaurants as there are days in the year; many serve Cajun and Creole-based cuisine, while others feature menus as diverse as those of New York City restaurants.

Outside of a great meal, downtown Lafayette offers several attractions, from the historical Alexandre Mouton House to the Lafayette Science Museum and Children’s Museum of Acadiana. Visitors can also step back in time at Acadian Village and Vermilionville, two living history parks that explain the region's Cajun, Creole and Native American heritage, or get back to nature at the Acadiana Park and Nature Station.

The metro area's events calendar is full throughout the year. In the spring, Festival International de Louisiane takes over downtown Lafayette, bringing in musicians and artists from all over the Francophone world. In the fall, Festivals Acadiens et Creoles celebrates the region's indigenous music and culture. In between, the region hosts a variety of food festivals such as the Boudin Cook-Off and the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, live concert series, and educational events such as the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week.