Our Guide For Those Considering A Move To Arizona
Table of Contents
- Where are the Best Places to Live in Arizona?
- How is the Job Market in Arizona?
- How is the Arizona Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does it Cost to Live in Arizona?
- Is Arizona a Good Place to Retire?
- What are the People and Culture Like?
- What Are Some of the Coolest Things to Do in Arizona?
- Pros and Cons of Living in Arizona
- Arizona Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Majestic mountains, cavernous canyons, and historic landmarks paint the landscape. Warm western culture, neighbors looking out for neighbors, and — one of the best perks — no Daylight Savings Time.
Can you believe all of the above belong to the same state?
Welcome to lovely Arizona. The Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and Montezuma’s Castle are only the tip of the iceberg of what this great state has to offer. The old state motto says it all, “Deus Ditas: God Enriches.” Even those not religious can appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty that leads to the sentiment.”
But as we all know, there is more to moving than a gorgeous landscape and pleasant weather. You have to consider things like the neighborhoods, the schools, and the jobs.
Where are the best places to live? What time of year is optimal to buy a home in the area, and are the red rocks of Sedona the best view for you to wake up to, or would you prefer a less treacherous drive in and out of town?
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the top questions people should consider when they’re considering a move.
Where are the Best Places to Live in Arizona?
Arizona is full of gorgeous landscapes and vibrant cultures. When you consider changing states, one of the first questions is where to go? Of course, many will think of Phoenix– the bustling metropolis at the center of everything. Others may want something a little closer to the Grand Canyon.
Yet all of these gorgeous landmarks shouldn’t take away from other natural beauties in the state.
Other considerations are education zones, affordability, crime rates, amenities, and employment opportunities. So where are Arizona’s Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Gems?Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (September 28, 2020)
In no particular order…
The perfect blend of family-friendly and cosmopolitan, Chandler is host to an award-winning school district and bustling downtown. Housing is affordable, and there is plenty of room to spread out.
Art and cultural hub, Fountain Hills features a community chorus and band. The town was planned with dessert beauty in mind, and the namesake fountain at the center of town is an engineering marvel. Fountain Hills boasts an 18-hole championship golf course and a park with playgrounds and walking paths.
Affordable Healthcare, good public schools, and a low crime rate are instant plusses to potential residents. But let’s not ignore the proximity to some of the best Arizona has on display– the Grand Canyon, farmland and fresh products, golf courses, wineries…the city is also fairly close to Phoenix.
If you’re looking for a strong sense of community, Litchfield Park is for you. High school graduation levels are 97%, and the school system is of higher quality. You can also find a myriad of amenities like camps and sports access, particularly through the Recreation Center.
A high standard of living, a low crime rate, and an impressive outdoor recreation-focused community mark the mid-sized city of Oro Valley. Larger than Litchfield Park but much smaller than Phoenix, Oro Valley offers a vibrant and growing tech industry.
One of the more pricey areas to live, Paradise Valley lives up to its name. The sun-lit land features a blend of modern condos and southwest-style single-family homes. Golfing is a major hobby in the area, and the landscape is especially scenic.
The heart of the state, the bustling metropolis itself, Phoenix is a physical representation of what the United States once were and what they are becoming. The natural beauty and vibrant pulse of technology merge into a city that appeals to many tastes. The college scene brings the bustle of students, and the nightlife adds a vibrant beat to the midnight hours.
This list is hardly extensive. Arizona offers several wonderful cities in which to live, learn, and explore.
Some other popular destinations include the following:
- Queen Creek
Primarily, choosing where to live must coincide with you and your family’s needs. Are you looking for a steady retirement with picturesque views and prime relaxation? Or a more family-focused environment with highly-acclaimed schools? Perhaps your job is already settled, and you are looking at the various neighborhoods surrounding certain cities. Median home value and population numbers may also influence your decision.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (September 28, 2020)
The fact is that Arizona has something for everyone, from contemporary housing to traditional southwestern flair.
As an Arizona native, I would recommend moving to Arizona for the weather, job economy and tourist business!
“We get sun nearly 350 days a year, and with the longer warm season, there are always tourists looking to do business and use commerce. This means there are always a lot of available jobs. Compared to California, to our west, the cost of living is lower. In addition to that, the real estate market is on the upswing and in places like Phoenix (where I live), money has been invested in sprucing up the downtown atmosphere. There are a many lively, walk-able things to do, such as basketball games, concerts, restaurants, bars, and much more.
I highly recommend Arizona for anyone looking to lower their cost of living and maybe seek different employment.”
Deacon Hayes – Founder and Owner – Well Kept Wallet
How is the Job Market in Arizona?
You might have guessed that tourism is pretty big in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is on many a bucket list, let alone other major landmarks, parks, and historical sites. But these hot-spot destinations aren’t all Arizona has to offer, and the economy is thriving in many areas.
Arizona added a record number of jobs in 2019. Governor Doug Ducey noted in a recent statement:
“Companies from all over the world have discovered that there’s no better place than Arizona to expand or scale a business. As a result, Arizona has become a jobs juggernaut and our economy is booming. I’d like to thank the hard-working entrepreneurs and employees for their investments and commitments to our communities, and I’d also like to thank Sandra Watson and her team at the Arizona Commerce Authority for all their efforts.”
Unemployment is down, with the state rate hovering below 4%. Many industries are rapidly expanding.
Tech jobs are especially in demand, but the below industries at the top seven currently hiring:
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Professional and Technical Services
- Information Technology
- Finance and Insurance
- Transportation and Warehousing
Representative Andy Biggs said in another recent statement.
“This latest jobs report proves that the economy remains strong. Jobs continue to be created across the country, the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low, and Americans’ paychecks are expanding, signaling real strength in the economy,”
“August was another month of economic progress and success, but there is also more work to be done to complement the pro-growth policies of this administration.”
So, who are the companies to watch? While the Arizona economy is open to several industries, some companies are making a larger impact. From benefits to perks to a positive work atmosphere, certain companies are starting to stand out from the pack.
Our community isn’t only a great place to live, but it’s a great place to do business
“Businesses continue to expand and relocate to the Arizona market because of our pro-business climate. We have ‘removed the red tape’, lowered taxes, and offer competitive incentive programs that improve a businesses’ bottom line. Over the next decade it is expected that employment growth is expected to increase by 10%, compared to the national average of 6%. Arizona is a state where you can have it all: low cost of living, plentiful job opportunities, great restaurants, night life, sporting events, and so much more.
Our business community is different than many of those across the United States because leaders in our community truly care about the greater good, and regularly share ideas on best practices for setting business up for success. Entrepreneurs feel like it’s a place they have the resources to scale a business and large corporations feel confident that our market can and will continue to meet the demands of their future workplace.“
Lindsay Moellenberndt – Business Development Director – Fennemore Craig
Here are some companies to watch:
- Better Business Bureau
- Charles Schwab
- Dignity Health
- Farmers Insurance
- Freedom Financial
- Habitat for Humanity Central AZ
- Mobile Mini Solutions
- Rocket Media
- Spear Education
- Voya Financial
How is the Arizona Real Estate Market?
Arizona’s real estate market is continuing to grow, but this does lead to continually rising prices which is hard for people who want to buy a home. Realtors are encouraging home sellers to set modest pricing, regardless, so that sales continue to grow rather than stall out. Currently, the median home value is $258,700. These values have risen up to 4.8% over the past year and are projected to continue rising. As for rent, you’re looking at a median of $1.495.
Data through August 2019 revealed that only 0.7% of mortgages on Arizona homes default and only 8% of homes hold negative equity.
Part of the reason behind the boom and the rising prices are the mortgage interest rates; Fall 2018 saw rates of 5%, while 2019 is reveling in 3.75%. Arizona is very much a seller’s market and shows no signs of crashing.
Buyers find one issue getting a home in Arizona: supply.
Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (September 28, 2020)
“On September 17, [Re/Max] published its latest ‘National Housing Report’ with data through August 2019. That report is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data in approximately 53 metropolitan areas nationwide, and includes all residential property types. [sic] According to the authors:
‘A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In August 2019 … [t]he markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory included Phoenix, AZ, and Manchester, NH, both at 1.5.’The Phoenix housing market has suffered from low supply for several years now. That’s true for many other major cities in the U.S., as well. But Phoenix, in particular, has a severe shortage of homes for sale relative to demand.”
Residential real estate isn’t the only corner of the market that is buzzing: commercial real estate is experiencing growth, as well.
Jessica Morin, director of market analytics at commercial property company CoStar Group, told Chamber Business News in July:
“We’ve seen robust employment growth in different sectors like finance and tech. Those sectors are obviously office users,” “… In terms of our under construction, we’re seeing a lot of construction happening in pretty much two submarkets, Tempe and Chandler. Those account for about 50 percent of our new construction.”
Cheryl Lombard, President, and CEO of Valley Partnership, was also quoted:
“2019 has been very successful so far for the real estate and development industry. While the summer is only beginning in the Valley, smart investors are already finalizing their plans for the rest of the year and making decisions to prepare for 2020.”
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Arizona?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Households in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, metropolitan area spent an average of $66,908 per year in 2017–18.”
They elaborated with the following graph:
The national vs state percentages look good, but what do they look like as numbers to the average consumer? The best way to factor the cost of living is to look at your current area versus the potential destination so that you know how to adjust your budget to match. However, we’ll take an overall look at some major categories to help you get started.
From the same report, BLS highlighted that “The portion of a Phoenix household’s budget spent on food, 11.7 percent, was not significantly different from the 12.9-percent U.S. average. Phoenix-area households spent $3,926, or 50.2 percent, of their food dollars on food at home and $3,890 (49.8 percent) on food away from home. In comparison, the average U.S. household spent 56.4 percent of its food budget on food at home and 43.6 percent on food away from home.”
While the national average cost of milk is approximately $3.10, people in Pheonix play closer to $2.06. For eggs in Chandler, you’re looking at $2.10 rather than the national average of $2.26. The differences throughout the state are similar, trending from a few cents to a few dollars cheaper. The small differences help explain the lack of statistical significance, but the savings do add up over time.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (September 28, 2020)
(Un)surprisingly, it’s hard to find relative costs to compare medical systems. What you can compare easily are health insurance premiums. Few people in Arizona use the ACA; instead, the state participates in the federally-facilitated exchange.
Arizona’s insurance exchange made headlines in 2017 for spiking costs and insurer exits, according to HealthInsurance.org; however, 2020 may see a reverse in that trend. The article continues:
“Although Arizona’s exchange situation heading into 2017 was used by many ACA critics as an example of a ‘death spiral,’ higher premiums in 2017 helped insurers to right their financial ships in the individual market, as rates were remaining remarkably stable in Arizona’s exchange for 2018.
And the new insurers that have joined the state’s exchange for 2019 have brought added competition and increased the options from which many enrollees can choose (although, as noted below, they’ve also brought lower benchmark plan rates in some cases, which result in smaller premium subsidies and higher net premiums for some enrollees).
For 2020, Arizona’s individual market insurers have proposed an average (unweighted) rate decrease of 2.4 percent.”
The takeaway? Right now, healthcare is more expensive than the national average, but eyes will be on Arizona’s exchange over the next few coverage periods.
Renting vs. Buying
To own or to rent? We discussed the real estate market above, but some people are perfectly comfortable renting a home or apartment. A lot of times, it comes down to cost. The trouble is that rent and homeownership costs vary by city. In Phoenix, the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $1,111/month. Meanwhile, in Tuscon, 53% of residents rent with an average of $936 for two-bedroom apartments. For comparison, the national median is $1,175 for the same.
Giving broad comparisons is a little more different–the rental and real estate markets vary by neighborhood, let alone city. If you already know which area you want to move to, you can look up local real estate agents and apartment leases to get specific information.
While Arizona has a base state sales tax of 5.6%, cities and counties add their own rates on top. Because of this, the state has an average of 8.33%, with a range of 7.6% to 11.2%. Sales tax may be high, ranking 11-highest in the nation, but it’s balanced by property and income taxes below the national average.
The average effective property tax is 0.77%, while income varies from 1.59% to 4.54% depending on your bracket— the more you make, the more you pay. Taxes on gas rank at the 5th lowest in the nation at 19¢/gal.
Arizona is ranked as the seventh-worst state for gas prices (even with the low taxes), averaging $3.15/gal in May 2019; for comparison, the national average was $2.92.
Arizona does offer public transportation, especially in Phoenix. Phoenix.gov notes,
“The one-way cost is $2.00 for local bus and an All-Day pass is $4.00. The one-way cost is $3.25 for RAPID and Express buses and $6.50 for an All-Day pass. Many employers offer discount bus passes or you can buy a monthly pass at one of the transit centers.”
The regional transit system for Phoenix is Valley Metro, which offers the following:
- Local, Express, and RAPID Commuter Bus
- Neighborhood Circulators
- Vanpool Service
- Online Carpool Matching
- Local Business Partnerships
- Valley Metro Rail
Valley Metro does offer passes that vary based on the version of transport. Local Bus and Light Rail offers a 7-Day, 15-Day, and 31-Day, while Express & Rapid offer a 31-Day pass. You can find up-to-date pricing on their Fares page. Passengers have the option of paying online, purchasing at transit centers, or paying on the bus with exact change (just no Half Dollar coins).
With an average temperature of 75.05 F, Air conditioning is a must. This helps explain why Arizona residents pay more for their electricity bills. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) lists Arizona’s average monthly electricity bill as $128.40. However, generalizing utility costs is almost impossible due to the large variance that affects them.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (September 28, 2020)
Factors that affect your utility bills include the following:
- House’s location, size, and type (e.g., single-family, townhouse, apartment, multifamily)
- House’s Age
- Insulation Type
- Roof style
- Number and size of rooms
- Sun exposure
- Ceiling fan use
- Persons living within the home
- Number and age of A/C units
- Water Heater Type and Size
- Presence of pool, attic, and/or basement
- Energy habits of residents
The above list isn’t exhaustive. Now, comparison sites like Numbeo use user-generated data to create averages for specific cities, and they are often accurate enough to be cited by media sources like Forbes and the BBC. If you know what city you are looking at or if you have a top-five or similar list, you can check out the numbers for your narrowed-down choices to get a decent point of reference.
This was the best move for my career and family!
“Moving to Arizona was a fantastic thing for us, my law firm has thrived now that we live in Arizona. The cost of living is low, housing a very affordable and economic opportunity is everywhere. The abundance of charter schools has also been a fantastic benefit for my family.”
Billie Tarascio – Founder & Attorney – Modern Law
Is Arizona a Good Place to Retire?
In a word: yes. Many retirees agree. The state’s population swells in winter with temporary residents, but others choose Arizona as their full-time destination.
Arizona offers a myriad of natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and more, but these aren’t the only draws. Residents can experience biking, boating, fishing, golf, hiking, and sightseeing The entertainment sector also offers a variety of events like concerts, movies, and more. If you’re all about the sightseeing, the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands offer a senior pass that can access all 112 national parks that charge an admission fee. Annual passes are $20 per person, and lifetime passes are $80.
While Arizona has professional sports teams like the NFL Cardinals and the MLB Diamondbacks, Baseball fans can also enjoy The MLB’s Spring Training ‘Cactus League’ consisting of 15 teams.
Golfers will gain access to over 300 courses; Arizona ranks second to Florida on Golf.com, which looks at quantity, quality, and the local golfer’s avidness.
The Arizona climate is arid to semi-arid— the dry heat is great if you know what to expect. Retirees should know that the state isn’t just one big desert: Arizona has a variety of local weather patterns to match landscapes from deserts to mountains. Rain is not unheard of, but the amount depends on where you settle.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (September 28, 2020)
What are the People and Culture Like?
Arizona has a far more eclectic blend of cultural influences than many visitors and soon-to-be residents are aware. The state benefits from the influence of its original indigenous inhabitants, Hispanic and Latinx influences, frontier and modern influences, and the influence of all 21 Native American tribes currently living within the state’s reservations.
While the bustling hubbub of Phoenix bears the more contemporary features of the state, Arizona is more well-known for the southwestern feel that comes from a mesh of desert landscapes, natural landscapes, and Hispanic cultures.
Most residents love and respect the beautiful landscapes around them. They enjoy time outside with various activities like hiking and biking, and many restaurants are designed with large viewing windows or patios for visitors to enjoy the scenery.
The people are as varied as the landscapes. While the known majority trends towards conservative Christians, you can find people of all walks of life, faiths, and passions in the 48th state, including a growing liberal population. Many tourists visiting the renowned Grand Canyon or any of Arizona’s other national or state parks often cite the warm, friendly southern demeanor of any locals they have the pleasure to meet.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (September 28, 2020)
What Are Some of the Coolest Things to Do in Arizona?
Where do we even begin? From hiking the Grand Canyon to exploring the history of Montezuma’s Castle, Arizona appeals to a myriad of people because it offers a wide range of activities and learning opportunities. From chances to appreciate other cultures to learning the rich history of the southwestern state, one is never lacking in something to do. Hiking, biking, golfing, swimming, exploring, and more call to visitors and residents alike.
The most well-known activities are, of course, those related to the more renowned monuments. Who hasn’t wanted to go trail riding and camping in the Grand Canyon or watch the setting sun add highlights to the Painted Desert? One can hike around the edge of the largest preserved meteor crater or explore rich indigenous histories by exploring museums and Native landmarks.
Part of the reason Arizona offers such varied activities is because the state itself is more than barren deserts as far as the eye can see. It’s the outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and it’s the meeting place of several vibrant cultures. Which will you explore first?
Arizona has so much to offer, it can be hard to pick.
Some of the top places to visit in Arizona include the following:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- The Painted Desert
- The Petrified Forest National Park
- Saguaro National Park
- Montezuma Castle
- Antelope Canyon
- Horseshoe Bend
- Havasu Falls
- Red Rock State Park
- Meteor Crater Natural Landmark
- Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Glen Canyon Dam
- Wupatki National Monument
- Sunset Crater
- Camelback Mountain
- Papago Park
- Phoenix Zoo
- Devil’s Bridge
- Tonto National Forest
- London Bridge
- Pima Air & Space Museum
- Mount Lemmon
- Hopi Point
- Lowell Observatory
- Arizona Science Center
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
- Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours, Inc.
- Talking Stick Resort
Pros and Cons of Living in Arizona
Every state has its ups and downs. While it’s easy to point out all of the wonderful places to live in Arizona, it’s worth noting that the state is not without its pitfalls. Some pros and cons to compare include the below lists.
- Reasonable cost of living
- Low taxes
- Strong job market
- Cultural activities
- Easy driving
- Fewer insects
- Beautiful landscapes and historic parks
- Rich and varied culture
- High transportation and healthcare costs
- Phoenix is one of the least walkable cities in the US— 29/30
- Large stretches of barren landscape
- Heat, heat, heat
- Politics– some neighborhoods are shifting to like-minded individuals
- High Tourism
Arizona Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Every state has its quirky laws— Arizona is no exception. When you read through the statutes for both the state or various municipalities, you can find some rather unique legislation. However, you also find some even stranger myths.
If you’ve ever heard that a donkey can’t sleep in your bathtub, you can rest easy knowing this is something that has not come up in legislation. Instead, you’ll find things like the state’s official neckwear (a Bola tie, per §41-857).
Strange Laws and Myths
None of the below laws are on the books, though they may have been in the past:
- It is illegal to hunt camels
- Parents can’t sing nursery rhymes to their kids after 8pm
- Denying someone a drink of water is illegal
- Riding a horse up the Prescott, AZ courthouse steps is prohibited
- Women are not allowed to wear pants in Tuscon
Extra Strange Laws
Here are the truly odd legislations:
- Goodyear, AZ has made it illegal to spit on public sidewalks and crosswalks; any public path, byway, or highway; in or on any public ground or park; and on the floor or interior of any public building. (Goodyear Code of Ordinances, §11-1-15)
- A person who knowingly or intentionally causes an equine (e.g., horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny) to trip— i.e. lose its balance or fall by use of a pole, stick, or rope or any other object or by any other means— for entertainment or sport is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, violators serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and pay a fine of at least $1,000. (§13-2910.09)
- You cannot use hunting dogs to take hunt and take down big game (minus bears or mountain lions), and you cannot take a game bird, mammal, or fish and let anything edible go to waste. (§17-309)
- Any person engaging in fortune-telling, palm-reading, or palmistry is guilty of a misdemeanor in Avondale, AZ. Hypnotism is also prohibited unless performed by an accredited doctor or dentist. (§15-2)
- In Buckeye, it is a petty offense to sell tobacco products through a vending machine or like apparatus. (Ord. No. 34-10, § 2)
- El Mirage has something against clotheslines, making it a misdemeanor to display one anywhere other than on a residential property completely hidden by a wall or other structure. (9)
- Street racing is actually legal— with official sponsorship of the property’s owner, that is. “No person may organize, promote or hold an off-highway vehicle race or other organized event on any land or highway in this state, except as authorized by the appropriate agency that has jurisdiction over the land or highway or the landowner.” (§28-1180)
Fun Facts About AZ
- Arizona contains 22 national parks and monuments
- State parks number at 35
- Arizona has more than 100 wineries and produces 22 varietals
- The state is home to 75+ licensed craft breweries, with more popping up all the time
- The iconic saguaro cactus only grows in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert; it is protected by law.
- The Arizona Trail is 800 miles long and is dedicated to cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bike riding.
- Three of the top ten destination spas in the world are in Arizona (Tucson has two, with the third in Sedona)
- Grand Canyon National Park is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the only one located within the United States.
- Arizona granted women the right to vote eight years before national suffrage
- Only 17% of the land is privately owned. The rest is forests, public lands, state trust lands, and Native American reservations.
- Arizona is home to 21 First Nation Tribes.
Ready to Make the Move to AZ?
If you like sun and southwest culture, Arizona is a great place to consider moving. From single professionals to families, the state is a wonderful place to set down roots and explore all of the opportunities Arizona has to offer.
Further Reading: Looking For More Arizona Resources? Check These Articles Out!
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.