18 Pros and Cons of Living in Lake Charles, LA

Updated On October 18, 2023

Lake Charles is in the southwest corner of Louisiana and is famous for its food and good times.

New Orleans may get more attention, but Lake Charles is just as much the home of Creole and Cajun culture.

Winters are very mild, but summers are not for the faint of heart.

There are a lot of things that attract people to Lake Charles, and there are some things that would drive people away.

You may love it or hate it, but hardly anyone is neutral.

Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles, LA

Pros of Living in Lake Charles, LA

1. The Food

Creole (city food) and Cajun (country food) were both created by people who settled in southern Louisiana.

That food is now world-famous, starting with seafood and spices that have to be tasted to be believed.

Obesity is an issue in this part of the country, and cooking is a big part of the reason.

The food is great and there is always a lot of it.

2. Culture

Creole and Cajun cultures have a lot in common.

They are a combination of French, Hispanic, and African cultures.

The food is just the beginning, and it has its own flavor of music too.

There are always festivals and celebrations going on, and their hospitality is legendary.

If you don’t eat your fill and have a good time in Lake Charles, it will be your own fault.

3. Diversity

Creole, or Cajun, is a culture of its own, but the diversity doesn’t stop there.

Lake Charles has become more of a tourist area, so there are always people coming in from faraway places.

There are people of all races here, and many cultures are represented.

Creole or Cajun has its dialect, which some think is almost a different language.

4. Mild Winters

The winter is normally very mild in Southern Louisiana.

You may not even need a heavy coat.

Snow and freezing temperatures are rare, but they do happen every few years.

If it does the area will be very unprepared.

There is not usually a lot of precipitation in winter either, so you can count on a lot of blue-sky days and rarely get cold.

5. Cost of Living

The cost of living is lower than the national average for most categories here.

The cost of housing is below the state average, and rents are pretty low as well.

Utility food, transportation, healthcare, and so forth are all far below the national average here.

If you want the taste of New Orleans, but can’t afford it, Lake Charles would be a good option.

Some areas cost more than others even in Lake Charles, but overall the cost is lower than elsewhere.

6. Education

The South may have a poor reputation for education, but there are bright spots.

One of those is the K-12 schools in Lake Charles.

Students there score above state and national averages on reading and math, and generally have a reputation for providing a quality education.

McNeese State University is also in town, and it has a good reputation as well.

7. Casinos

Casinos have not been legal in Louisiana for a long time, and the folks in Lake Charles took advantage when they became legal.

It became legal 30 years ago but is just now coming into its own.

The three largest casinos in the state are in Lake Charles.

It is sort of a Cajun Vegas in many ways.

It also attracts tourists which boosts the local economy.

8. Beaches and Bayous

Lake Charles is in the heart of the Mississippi Delta area, and not far from the Gulf of Mexico.

Beaches are easily accessible.

The bayous are also interesting with lots of wildlife and seafood you can learn to catch yourself.

It is a great place for outdoor fun, no matter what kind of activity you like.

This has been called a sportsman’s paradise because of its fishing.

Watch out for alligators though.

9. Jobs and the Economy

The oil industry is huge here, and there are a lot of jobs for people with expertise and skills in this area.

If you possess marketable skills, you should be able to get a good job here without much trouble.

Add that to a low cost of living, and Lake Charles sounds good.

Cons of Living in Lake Charles

1. Summer

Winters are mild and fun.

Summer is not for the faint of heart.

It is very hot and very humid.

It is no joke that it can be 95 degrees, 95 percent humidity, and not a cloud in the sky.

People don’t even go outside unless they have to.

You will have to have air conditioning, or you will be very uncomfortable for a long time.

Cars get unbelievably hot inside in summer.

2. Overall Weather

Winters are mild, summers are killers.

That is just where the weather starts.

Hurricanes are known to happen, and they can cause massive destruction and deaths.

Even if the hurricane misses you by 200 miles, you will still get days of rain and local flooding.

Tornadoes are also possible.

If there is a rare winter storm, it will cause major havoc locally.

3. Poverty

As many as 18 percent of the residents of Lake Charles live in poverty.

The national average is 13 percent.

The rate is also higher than the state average.

The cost of living is relatively low, but wages are too, especially if you do not have marketable skills.

There is a large minority population, and poverty in some circles goes back several generations.

4. Crime

Lake Charles is close to the national average in crime, which is relatively high for a town this size.

The violent crime rate and the property crime rates are both slightly lower than the national average, but the total crime rate is higher than the national average.

Like many towns, there are good and bad areas.

If you stay out of the bad areas, you should be safe.

5. Pollution

There are a lot of oil refineries in and around Lake Charles.

You will probably notice, but get used to the smell after a while.

The refineries put out a lot of greenhouse gasses and other forms of air pollution.

The refineries are also fragile, as accidents happen that cause even more pollution.

It is mostly air pollution that is a concern, but the water supply is also threatened at times.

6. Opportunities

If you are a professional with skills related to technology or the oil industry, you can probably get a very good job here.

If you do not have those skills, it may be hard to get a good job.

Unemployment is not higher than anywhere else in Louisiana, but many jobs are of the unskilled labor variety and do not pay well.

There are people who are employed and still below the poverty line.

7. Tourism

Tourism brings people to town, and they spend money, which helps the local economy.

You have to try to remember this when you are a resident and are just trying to go to the grocery store.

It can get very crowded at times, and that can even cause shortages of basic goods at the store.

Having a big influx of people can be frustrating for people who live there all year long.

8. The Food

Wait, we already said food is one of the best things here.

The food truly is wonderful, and that can be a problem.

People are also very generous with their food, so you may have more opportunities to eat great food than you need.

The result is people get overweight, and that can cause a lot of health problems.

Government figures show that as many as 40 percent of Louisiana people are obese, which is the second highest in the nation.

9. Guns and Murder

Louisiana has the most murders per capita of any state, with 22.9 murders per 100,000 people.

Missouri is second with 18.

There were 11 murders in Lake Charles in 2019.

Guns were the weapon of choice.

There were 33.9 deaths per 100,000 people due to guns last year in Louisiana.

That was second only to the neighboring state of Mississippi which had 29.

Louisiana was not near the top in total deaths.

Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles, LA

Pros and Cons of Living in Lake Charles, LA – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Lake Charles, LACons of Living in Lake Charles
1. The Food1. Summer
2. Culture2. Overall Weather
3. Diversity3. Poverty
4. Mild Winters4. Crime
5. Cost of Living5. Pollution
6. Education6. Opportunities
7. Casinos7. Tourism
8. Beaches and Bayous8. The Food
9. Jobs and the Economy9. Guns and Murder

Lake Charles Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Lake Charles Safety Review

Safety Index:
Lake Charles

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Creole and Cajun?

Both are cultures that developed in South Louisiana and Lake Charles was part of that.

Creole people were from the more wealthy classes, and Cajuns were poor people who lived out in the country.

Creole cooking is “city” cooking, and Cajun cooking is “country” cooking.

Creoles used more fancy spices and sauces with a European influence.

Cajuns used a lot of spice and used whatever was available.

Does Lake Charles have its own Mardi Gras?

New Orleans gets the most attention for its larger Mardi Gras, but Lake Charles has had its own festival for more than 100 years.

Mardi Gras came from French settlers, and it developed its own tradition in South Louisiana.

Lake Charles has its own version, that includes a children’s day, and more games than the one in New Orleans has.

Mardi Gras in Lake Charles is more of a family-type event.

Why is South Louisiana called a sportsman's paradise?

Mostly because of the hunting and fishing opportunities that are here.

Lake Charles is in the heart of that hunting and fishing.

Since it is a relatively small town, it is easy to get out into the countryside for either hunting or fishing.

You may do freshwater or saltwater fishing too.

It’s also easy to learn to catch shrimp, crabs, and other seafood yourself without even fishing.

Is Lake Charles a good place to retire?

For the most part, yes.

It has pleasant enough weather, with a not too long nasty hot summer.

There are many golf courses, and other outdoor activities to get involved with.

Fishing and water sports are also plentiful and readily available.

Social security, and most other governmental benefits, are not taxed in Louisiana.

Sales tax, as well as property tax, are relatively low.

What is Lake Charles's relationship to speed traps?

Speed traps happen when the speed limit drops by a lot suddenly, without warning, and there happens to be a police officer on the other side of the sign waiting to give you a ticket.

Louisiana is the sixth-worst state in America for speed traps.

Lake Charles is the sixth-worst city in the state for speed traps.

This is likely aimed at tourists more than residents, so it won’t be so bad once you move here.

3 Comments on 18 Pros and Cons of Living in Lake Charles, LA

  1. S
    Shepered Ramirez says:

    Living in Lake Charles, Louisiana, offers the charm of a small-town atmosphere with access to the beautiful Gulf Coast. The sense of community here is incredible.

  2. K
    Kiara Harrison says:

    One of the pros of Lake Charles is the vibrant culture and fantastic local cuisine. You’ll enjoy some of the best Cajun and Creole dishes right at your doorstep.

  3. A
    Amari Green says:

    On the downside, the region can experience severe weather, including hurricanes. It’s essential to be prepared and have a plan in place.

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