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Thursday, March 23, 2023

6 Top Places to Live in Lafayette, LA

Lafayette City, LA

6 Top Places to Live in Lafayette, LA

If you’re drawn to places with character, we have a place for you! Try on Lafayette, LA, for size. As the heart of Creole country, Lafayette positively bursts with individuality from its architecture to its people. But don’t be fooled. While steeped in decades of tradition, this is a thoroughly modern place to live. Uniting the past and present is the motto “laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll.”

So let’s explore the one-time “Happiest City in America.” What is it about Lafayette that makes people want to live here? Is it the food, music, culture, or something in between? Come read more about life in Lafayette and some of its top communities.

Where is Lafayette, LA?

map location of Lafayette LA

Louisiana’s fifth largest city is called the “heart of Creole country” because Lafayette Parish is almost geographically centered in southern Louisiana. The Atchafalaya River and the accompanying National Wildlife Refuge are minutes east, the wetlands of coastal Louisiana to the south, and other wetland preserves to the southeast. Baton Rouge awaits about an hour due east on I-10; keep going another hour for New Orleans. Lake Charles is an hour west, also on I-10.

What is the cost of living in Lafayette?

One of the perks of living in Louisiana is its low cost of living. Lafayette is no exception, as residents pay an average 12% less on their essential expenses than elsewhere in the US. Lafayette is very representative of the average cost of living in Louisiana. Housing is about 37% less expensive, while health care is 15% more expensive, which is similar to what the state reports.

What is life like in Lafayette?

French restaurants near Lafayette LA

Lafayette has a distinct culture dating back to its founding in the late 1700s by French-Canadian settlers expelled from that country’s Acadie area.

The town itself was laid out along the Vermilion River in the 1820s and carried the name Vermilionville until 1884, when the name changed to honor the American and French Revolutionary hero the Marquis de Lafayette.

Today the residents are fiercely proud of their French and Cajun heritage and seek to preserve it through programs like CODOFIL and festivals like Festivals Acadiens et Créoles.

The food culture bursts with flavor, and various media have recognized Lafayette as a top food city. This is the epicenter for all your Cajun favorites, from gumbo to the Po’Boy sandwich. Don’t be surprised to see neighbors throwing weekend crawfish or shrimp boils or if you get an invite to go catch crawdads for yourself.

While the spicy and richly flavorful dishes are ubiquitous, modern Lafayette is a true melting pot. Scratch the itch for Taco Tuesday, or grab some takeout Chinese. Find bakeries selling macarons, charming coffee shops, and craft breweries much like you would any other big city.

And you can’t miss the music. The strands of Zydeco and Cajun folk music waltz out of bars, street fairs, and front porches. Where some places have line-dancing nights, Lafayette has Cajun Jams and the Festival International de Louisiane. The Festival Acadiens et Creole is a true highlight. This three-day fall festival celebrates the region’s music, dancing, arts, and food heritage.

Surrounding Lafayette are the famous swampy bayou waters. From Cypress Island Preserve to Atchafalaya Wildlife Refuge, the abundant wildlife makes the region a sportsperson’s paradise. The fishing is second to none, but bird watchers and paddlers will be just as pleased to navigate the quiet cypress strands. And if you’d rather stay dry, there are hiking trails, some with elevated boardwalks, to experience nature on your terms.

Lafayette has other attractions, too, from the Lafayette Science Museum for families to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) Rajin’ Cajuns games at the Cajundome. The Acadiana Center for the Arts (AcA) runs over 25 exhibitions annually from its 10,000-sq ft gallery and theater space.

About Lafayette Real Estate

newly built home ready for occupancy

This part of Louisiana is growing, as the US Census data shows. From 2010 to 2020, an additional 20,000 people moved into the Parish. It grew by another 1% from 2020 to 2021.

That growth signals demand for the local real estate market. However, data from April 2020 through February 2023 shows median sales prices have been relatively stable. March 2023 reported $245,900 with 1,124 homes on the market, nearly the same as March 2022.

To give a sense of the pricing range, the most affordable listing was a vacant lot around 7,000 sq ft for $7,000. The most expensive existing single-family home (not a ranch, commercial zone, or mixed-use) was $3.8 million for a 9,500 sq ft four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home with a guest house.

Lafayette has properties to suit various needs. You can have a ranch near or just outside town, possibly with some waterfront. Or, live in an antebellum-style historic home in a well-established community. Find active adult living, downtown condos, gated communities, and other options to suit your tastes. Get started by exploring a few of these popular neighborhoods in Lafayette.

Lafayette top neighborhoods

River Ranch

The charming Village of River Ranch has completely transformed Lafayette’s south side. Built on over 300 acres around a central Town Square, this community is a shining example of New Urbanism design. Today, over 2,500 people live in one of River Ranch’s communities.

Around the Town Center, a mixed-used area with retailers and apartments above features a lush village green. When the weather gets cooler, the Town Square comes alive with the Rhythms on the River concert series every Thursday night and other special events hosted year-round. Essential clothing and groceries are available at Market at River Ranch, the pedestrian-friendly shopping area.

As you wander through the wide sidewalks, you’ll discover picturesque green spaces, calming lakes, and homes showcasing seven distinct architectural styles. For instance, the Uptown neighborhood took inspiration from New Orleans’ Garden District, while River Oaks meshes various styles among a grove of century-old oaks.

River Ranch homes were listed in their distinct communities, including condominiums, townhomes, and single-family neighborhoods. The central River Ranch market had 14 listings in March 2023 at a median $824,500 list price.

Greenbriar Estates

Want to get away from downtown but not too far? Drive down West Bayou Parkway to Greenbriar Estates. While locals call it a quiet neighborhood, there’s plenty to do in this area of town. Residents are minutes away from Moncus Park and Rotary Point Park, the movie theater, and Red Lerille’s Health & Racquet Club.

Doucet Road gives easy access to Lafayette’s amenities on Johnston Street, including places to grab a bite, like Drago’s and Social Southern Table. For families, J. Alleman Middle School is right on Bayou Parkway across Roselawn Blvd.

Greenbriar Estates had five listings at a median of $562,000 in March 2023. Some homes are along the Vermilion River.

Saint Streets

Named for the cluster of Saint-named streets (Patrick, Joseph, Mary, Louis), this historic part of Lafayette radiates Southern charm.

Situated just north of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and west of downtown, the Saint Streets neighborhood delights with quaint, colorful houses under magnificent live oak trees. Some historic homes still have the original finishes, like stained-glass windows, cathedral ceilings, and exterior decorative elements.

For sports enthusiasts, the nearby UL Lafayette football stadium and athletic complex let you cheer on the Rajin’ Cajuns all year round! Some residents can hear the excitement in the Cajundome from their backyards.

This family-friendly neighborhood is close to attractions like the Louisiana Science Center and Rock’ n’ Bowl de Lafayette. Grab a delicious po’boy from Cajun favorite Olde Tyme Grocery, or treat your taste buds to a memorable brunch at the quirky Saint Street Inn.

Bendel Gardens

Located on the Vermilion River’s banks, historic Bendel Gardens is a tranquil haven in central Lafayette. With its fascinating history and convenient proximity to the University of Louisiana-Lafyette, shopping centers, Girard Park, and Heymann Performing Arts Center, this area is a popular place to live!

The land has seen many changes over time; it started out as Walnut Grove Plantation before becoming what we now know today: an exquisite residential subdivision with 150 acres with beautiful river-facing homes. The magnolia trees along Marguerite Street are said to be from the original driveway leading to the extant plantation house. The carriage house is still present as a renovated home in the neighborhood. The community was the site of the Battle of Vermilion, and you can find historical markers as you wander the sidewalks.

Bendel Gardens had two homes for sale at a median of $1.13 million in March 2023. Some homes have waterfront or water views.

Whittington Oaks

Running south of downtown Lafayette, the narrow community of Whittington Oaks stretches from the beautiful Vermilion River almost to Johnston St. This quaint neighborhood effortlessly blends tranquility and convenience as it stands just a stone’s throw away from the city’s major connectors, like Camellia Boulevard and Johnston Street. For shopping, River Oaks and the village’s Town Square are across the river.

A mix of styles and sizes await in the homes of Whittington Oak. This is an established neighborhood, with options from cozy 1,400-square-foot mid-century-styled to 6,000-square-foot contemporary homes. The picturesque surroundings include majestic moss-draped oaks and springtime azaleas. Find the coveted riverfront views and access. Whittington Oaks had four homes for sale in March 2023 for a median of $385,000.

Freetown-Port Rico

This National Historic District is rooted in the Civil War era when it was a haven for formerly enslaved people. Modern Freetown has become a bustling and beloved neighborhood known for its eclectic yet inviting vibe.

Not only is it just a hop and a skip from downtown and the university, but it’s also packed with unique spots to explore. Check out the music scene at the Blue Moon Saloon, or treat yourself to the last Borden’s ice cream parlor on the planet. Freetown has a neighborhood association, or coterie as locals call it, working to preserve the neighborhood’s historic character and diversity of businesses and people.

Local homes come in various styles, from the Craftsman to the Tudor. Around 677 buildings contribute to the historic district designation, so if you enjoy living in homes with character or restoring old buildings, this could be the place to look.

Living in Lafayette, LA

cheerful locals having a get together

From the unique Cajun culture and its French roots to the nearby bayou country, life in the heart of the Creole country truly is distinct. Keep exploring, and you’ll find the people are as warm as the south Louisiana weather. Residents enjoy a wonderfully low cost of living while having access to events celebrating the region’s distinct heritage and culture. So if your heart is set on Lafayette, let a local real estate agent help you learn about its many neighborhoods.

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Preston Guyton

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