So after having a bunch of wireless issues and poorly installing wicd on Linux mint I've decided to revisit using arch linux. I then spent a day fumbling around in arch until I finally had it running with xmonad and xmobar. I've also posted my dotfiles on github if anyone else wants to configure their setup with them as well. Just note that I've added some keybindings for colemak but I think most of the qwerty bindings are still there.
Having xmonad and xmobar start together actually took a long time to set up. Originally I had xmonad run xmobar itself as per the arch wiki. Which had xinitrc only need to run
exec xmonad, but because of a bug in xmonad if you change windows... or watch a video... or just use xmonad it will freeze up and become completely unusable. So instead I configured xmonad to leave a gap at the top of the screen and had xmobar run seperately. At first I tried having xinitrc do
exec xmonad | xmobar which seemed to work perfectly until I had to quit, at which point xmonad would completely freeze up and become unresponsive. In the end I figured I could run xmobar seperately in the background so the final xinitrc runs
xmobar & right before executing xmonad
Currently xmonad isn't configured all too much most of the default configs are perfect for me, but I set up the colours from a them I found on kuler, modified the layout to fit xmobar, and added some custom keyboard shortcuts.