Unique in many ways, Arizona is a popular destination to live because of its enviable location, something-for-everyone weather and rich Native American, Mexican, and Wild West culture. It’s one of the Four Corners states, where New Mexico, Utah and Colorado all meet at an intersection and Arizona also shares a border with Mexico, California and Nevada.
As the U.S.’ sixth largest state, Arizona boasts a wide climate range from the hot desert in the south to the far cooler climate in the north where there are mountains, forests and canyons. In fact, Arizona is known as The Grand Canyon State, home to the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon National Park in the northwest part of the state.
Arizona was once part of New Mexico and about one-fourth of the state is made up of Native American reservations, including the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache, among 19 others. There’s also a great Mexican heritage dating from before the days that the U.S. purchased the land that included what is modern-day Arizona from Mexico and before that, the Spanish who roamed the country looking for treasure and other resources. These influences, along with the white settlers who went west and brought the railroads, make Arizona the perfect Southwest-style state.
Whether you’re seeking a small community or a big city, hot or cool weather, and a diversity in cultural offerings, Arizona has the best of all worlds, including terrific smaller communities outside large city hubs like Phoenix and Tucson. Property taxes are comparatively low, temperatures are mild, there’s plenty to do and see, and you can choose your community to suit your cost-of-living requirements, which makes the state inviting to retirees, as well as working adults and families. So where would you like to live in Arizona? Here are some suggestions:
Phoenix is the only state capital with more than 1 million people, 1,640,641, in fact and it’s the fifth-largest city in the U.S. If you like big city amenities, a fast-paced lifestyle, and wide diversity among workers and residents. Team sports enthusiasts will enjoy
professional games featuring NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and WNBA teams. The city, especially the trendy downtown is walkable, and offers a vibrant college scene, fine dining, nightlife, and access to sun-lover activities. With 313 days of sunshine, excellent schools, low housing costs, and a comparatively low cost of living, Phoenix – the Valley of the Sun, is a well-known destination.
In 2020, the median income in Phoenix was $60,914. Zumper.com says you can live comfortably in Phoenix by spending no more than 30% of your income on rent. A one-bedroom apartment is about $1498, as Ramsey Solutions found and the median home price of $501,500. Fortunately, Phoenix is ideal for its more than 256,000 tech workers as one of five top cities for “under the radar” tech growth.
And don’t worry about that legendary heat. Phoenix has low humidity, so it’s a dry heat that cools down at night, but to make residents more comfortable, it’s installed misting systems for high temps. So enjoy the outdoors, particularly the gigantic South Mountain Park and other parks within easy driving distance including the Grand Canyon, Saguaro and Petrified Forest parks.
Located on the east side of Phoenix, Scottsdale is arguably one of the most well-known suburbs in the world. Hellolanding.com lauds Scottdale for its five-star resorts, lavish homes, pampering spas, championship golf courses and fine dining. There’s still plenty of adventure to be had, kayaking the Lower Salt River, mountain hiking and biking, and much more. Old Town Scottsdale is highly walkable and filled with boutiques, museums, art galleries, and an entertainment district with great bars and clubs. Scottsdale is home to 241,361 people with a median income of $91,042. Median rents are $2,037, while homes are selling for $501,500.
Once an agricultural area, Gilbert is a suburb southeast of Phoenix that has grown to 272,000 residents and earned a reputation as one of the most prosperous, safest, and best places to raise a family in the nation. It boasts a nationally ranked K-12 school system, a low crime rate, a high median income, and affordable housing. The median home price is $579,000 and the average one bedroom rental is $1,683. With a median household income of $102,793, median annual housing costs for homeowners less than 19% of their income.
Chandler is a highly popular and youthful suburb of southeast of Phoenix with 275,987 residents and bears the unusual distinction of having more singles than marrieds in its household makeup. Home prices are reasonable for the area; the median is $501,500 and the median monthly rent is $1,869. With a median income of $85,796, Chandler, like its next door neighbor Gilbert, is also family-oriented with lots of outdoor activities, 60 public parks, dining and entertainment, and a vibrant downtown.
Located northwest of Phoenix, Glendale is a sports-centered (State Farm Stadium, Gila River Arena, Camelback Ranch Stadium), academic-based (Midwestern University) and affordable city. The population is 248,325 and swells when visitors come to town for games. The median household income is $56,991 while the median monthly rent is $1,535 and the median home price is $501,500.
Home of Arizona State University, Tempe is a youthful city located directly south of Scottsdale on the Salt River where residents can enjoy waterfront views and activities and a vibrant downtown. Almost 20 percent of residents are college students and one of their favorite meeting places is Tempe Town Lake for kayaking, rowing, fishing, and paddle boarding. The population has leapt up from 180,587 partially for its affordability. The median income is $61,290, median rents are $1,744, and the median home price is $501,500.
To the north of Scottsdale is Paradise Valley and its stunning natural beauty and Mummy Mountain views. Multi-million dollar homes are built into the cliffs, and many are second homes for their affluent homeowners. There are plenty of golf courses, resorts, spas, and other accoutrements for discerning residents. Like Scottsdale, Paradise Valley is an expensive city to live in. The median household income is $212,773, and monthly rents are $3,151 and the median home price in the city is $1.6 million.
Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona with a population of 504,258, a family-friendly enclave with award-winning schools. Like Glendale, Mesa is a mecca for spring training for major football clubs (Oakland A’s, Chicago Cubs). The Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Mesa Arts Center are also there. Saguaro Lake and the Salt River are great for beating the heat, along with cool mountain hikes in the Superstition Mountains. Mesa is an affordable option east of Phoenix where the median income is $61,640, the median monthly rent is $1,636, and the median home price is 501,500.
An academic and cultural haven less than 60 miles from the Mexico border and a two-hour drive southeast from Phoenix, Tucson is home to the University of Arizona, the Tucson Festival of Books, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Opera, and the Arizona Theatre Company. A population of 542,629 supports numerous museums, botanical gardens, a zoo and historical sites to visit. Tucson’s beautiful Tucson Mountain District, Ricon Mountain District, and Saguaro National Park offer spectacular scenery. Tucson is affordable; the median income is $45,227, the median rent price is $1,383, and the median home price is $389,994.
The tallest mountain in Arizona is Humpreys Peak at 12,600 feet and it’s located in Flagstaff. Situated in the far north, Flagstaff is one of the few areas of the state that offers all four seasons, including snow for winter sports and it’s just a short commute to the Grand Canyon. It has nearly three times the amount of rain and cooler temperatures than the southern part of the state. One claim to fame is the city’s famous Lowell Observatory which discovered the planet Pluto in 1930. With a population of 76,831, Flagstaff residents have a median household income of $58,685 and pay monthly rents of $1,286 and home prices of $669,900.
In Prescott, the Old West is a still a part of the culture and the site of the oldest continuous annual rodeo. Located in northern Arizona, Prescott is a mountain town that offers mild year-round weather, and breathtaking scenery, from pine forests to gigantic granite boulders. Watson Lake offers rock-climbing, fishing and boating and Thumb Butte, a popular hiking area overlooks the downtown. The population is 45,827 and pays a low monthly median rent of $904 and median home prices of $622,312.