Article Overview: Best Places to Live in Arizona, Best Cities to Live in Arizona
Looking for the best places to live in Arizona? You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve lived in Arizona for nearly 10 years now and have traveled the state extensively. I know it like the back of my hand.
Arizona is a land of contrasts and surprises, where the desert landscape surrenders to lush pine forests, and where vibrant cities coexist with quiet, small-town charm. There’s a lot more to Arizona than meets the eye.
But remember, as with any place, Arizona is as diverse as the landscape it’s nestled in. Not every city will be a perfect fit for everyone. And that’s where I come in – to guide you through the best places to live in Arizona based on my personal experience.
Let’s get started!
The Best Places to Live in Arizona
Table of Contents: The Best Places to Live in Arizona
Table of Contents: The Best Places to Live in Arizona
- 5 Best Large Cities in Arizona
- 5 Best Mid-Sized Cities in Arizona
- 5 Best Small Cities in Arizona
- Best Places to Live in Arizona (Post Summary)
- Map of the Best Cities to Live in Arizona
5 Best Large Cities in Arizona
Do you love big city life? Some of the best places to live in Arizona include towns with a population of 240,000 people or more.
- Population: 1.6 million
- Median home price: $399K
- Average age: 33
Phoenix is a stylish urbanscape with tons of old-style Southwest culture. It’s classy, it’s comfortable, and the weather is warm and sunny . . . what more could you want?
It’s the 5th largest U.S. city and is only a 2-hour drive from Flagstaff, 4 hours from Las Vegas, and 6 hours from Los Angeles. The cost of living here is actually really reasonable considering the city is so huge.
It’s about 2% lower than the state average, so groceries and household items are a lot less expensive here.
The schools are in the top 50% of the state, so it’s great for students. And job seekers are sure to find work in Phoenix too, with it being the second-largest labor market in America and all.
It’s a really good place for families with working parents who can afford it, because the houses are a little pricey. Realistically, you’ll probably pay around $400k for a moderately sized home with a few bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms.
Be sure to visit the Goldfield Ghost Town with the family in tow to see what life was like out in the west in the early 1900s.
There’s a ton of cool history tucked up in the Superstition Mountains near Canyon Lake (which is also a great camping area), making Phoenix one of the best places to live in Arizona if you’re a city slicker.
Interested in learning more about Phoenix? Check out: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
- Population: 540,000
- Median home price: $315K
- Average age: 34
Tucson is a medical haven, so if you’re ever in need of a great doctor or hospital, you’ll want to come here. Plus, it’s super sunny here and for about two months a year, there’s a gallery-worthy sunset every evening.
The city has sort of an artsy vibe that’s great for young folks and with schools in the top 50%, it’s a pretty good place for families too.
The houses here are both spectacular and affordable at $315k. You’ll see everything from Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival homes to modern ranches and pueblos throughout the city.
The University of Arizona is also a huge draw, but a lot of graduates actually leave Tucson for their careers because the job market isn’t very good.
If you love horses or the Old West, you definitely won’t want to miss the Tucson Rodeo Parade. It’s the biggest non-motorized parade in the entire world!
And when compared to other cities its size, Tucson has much cleaner air. It’s really one of the best places to live in Arizona for just about anyone.
You may enjoy reading: 20 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Tucson, Arizona
- Population: 500,000
- Median home price: $430K
- Average age: 37
Mesa, which is part of Phoenix, is a playground for the adventurous. There are tons of outdoor activities for the brave, like rock climbing and white water rafting, and the social atmosphere is awesome for people who are people-people.
Unfortunately, the crime rate is higher in Mesa than in other big cities in Arizona. But if you can find a home in one of the safe neighborhoods, like Las Sendas or Bella Via, you shouldn’t come across too many problems.
But you’re going to pay a lot for a house here, since it costs around $420k for even a pretty modest home.
Mesa’s schools are better though, landing in the top 30% of the whole state. There’s also plenty of shopping, dining, and leisure activities if you want to relax.
If you’re looking into retirement or have a family member retiring, Mesa should definitely be on your list to consider. It’s one of the best cities in Arizona for seniors, with hundreds of 55+ communities to choose from.
- Population: 280,000
- Median home price: $511K
- Average age: 38
Chandler is one of the best places to live in Arizona for families with children. There are several very highly-rated schools, like Knox Gifted Academy and Great Hearts Academies.
They’re actually in the top 10% of schools in the state. You’ll be close enough to Phoenix to take the train too, and you’ll get there in just a little over an hour.
This area is a little sleepier and has more bookstores, coffee shops, and parks than some of the other big cities in Arizona. Property values are sky-high here though.
You can expect to pay more than $500k for a reasonable — not extravagant! — home. If you’ve got the money though, you’ll love the city’s relaxed atmosphere and chill vibe.
- Population: 240,000
- Median home price: $753K
- Average age: 47
Scottsdale is one of the best places in Arizona to live if you like to shop. It’s sort of a “retail hub,” and has tons of stores, restaurants, and art galleries you can visit. It feels “happy” here and there are lots of activities for people of all ages to do.
Don’t miss the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – it’s the largest urban wilderness area in the entire U.S. and a fun place to visit with the kiddos.
Be warned though, housing prices in Scottsdale are ghastly. Currently, the average house costs around $750k — that’s three-quarters of a million dollars if you’re counting.
That said, the upscale vibe means a bigger police presence, which helps keep the area safer from violent crimes. The schools are excellent here too, and regularly rank in the top 10% in the state.
5 Best Mid-Sized Cities in Arizona
Want a good blend between city amenities and that “small town” feel? Many of the best places to live in Arizona include towns with a population of 45,000 to 100,000.
- Population: 96,000
- Median home price: $275K
- Average age: 32
Yuma holds the Guinness World Record for being the “Sunniest City on Earth,” so if you love the summer heat, this is your place to shine. Even though the city feels very hip and expensive, the housing prices are shockingly low. You’ll pay around $275k – hundreds of thousands less than cities like Chandler or Scottsdale.
Unfortunately, Yuma also has the lowest-rated schools in the country. You heard that right — not the state, the country. Families with young children may want to live in Mesa or Scottsdale for access to better public education. But if you love the sun or have seasonal depression, it’s one of the best cities in Arizona to live in, since it’s almost always sunny year-round.
- Population: 77,000
- Median home price: $727K
- Average age: 27
Flagstaff acts as a gateway to the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks mountain range, so there’s lots to do outdoors here. You’ll see plenty of natural beauty while still getting to enjoy city amenities, and you can even see Humphrey’s Peak from just about everywhere in town.
Flagstaff is surrounded by towering Ponderosa pine trees, which makes the city feel tucked away and gives it that “small town” charm people love. If you like to camp, this is the place to go for tent camping in the early spring and fall.
For being a small city, the food is really good. Flagstaff is also super dog friendly, making it one of the best places in Arizona to live for pet owners. But it’s expensive to live here and you’ll need a very good income to afford the $720k home prices.
Lake Havasu City
- Population: 57,000
- Median home price: $447K
- Average age: 55
Lake Havasu City is Arizona’s “West Coast” and is another one of the best places to live in Arizona for retirees. Mostly seniors live here and there are plenty of hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout the city for people managing different health conditions as they age.
There’s also the highly-rated Lake Havasu Senior Center, where people can get lunch or do activities with people their age.
Housing costs are average at under $500k and the schools here are in the top third of the state, so it’s a perfect place for working families with kids and average incomes.
Plus, with being near the lake, there’s always something fun to do, like boating, fishing, or sunbathing on the gorgeous white sand beaches.
- Population: 46,000
- Median home price: $575K
- Average age: 57
Did you know that Denver isn’t the only “mile high” city? Prescott is more than a mile above sea level, which means you get all four seasons of the year living here.
But be warned of altitude sickness — it takes some time to get used to the higher elevation. The city is often called “Arizona’s Christmas City,” and in December, people come from all over the state to enjoy the cooler weather and holiday lights.
It’s the best place to live in Arizona for middle-aged couples and families, and has plenty of shopping and dining options for everyone. If you love history, you can’t miss Whiskey Row.
On this street, you’ll find famous Gold Rush-era saloons and hotels with an authentic Old-West feel and tons of cowboy history to learn.
- Population: 45,000
- Median home price: $276K
- Average age: 37
As the “Hummingbird Capital,” Sierra Vista is one of the best cities in Arizona to live in if you enjoy things like bird watching, astronomy, and hiking out in nature. The city sits at the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains where the natural spring supplies the area with clean, fresh water. The mountain views are stunning and housing prices are affordable at under $300k, making it the perfect home for outdoorsy folks who are also on a budget.
There’s not much nightlife though, but that also means the crime rates are low, so it might be a better city to live in for families versus young professionals who are just starting their careers.
5 Best Small Cities in Arizona
If you love small town living, many of the best places to live in Arizona include cities with a population up to 10,000 residents.
- Population: 9,700
- Median home price: $1 million
- Average resident age: 58
Sedona is most well-known for its behemoth red rock formations like Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge. But these attractions bring lots of tourists, which might be overwhelming for locals in a small town.
It also makes the average home price unreasonably high at $1 million, so you’ll really only find affluent people here. That said, both nature enthusiasts and those interested in upscale properties without LA crowds tend to like the area the best.
If you’re into western-style outdoor activities, Sedona is one of the best places to live in Arizona for camping, hiking, horseback riding, and more.
- Population: 7,400
- Median home price: $423K
- Average age: 32
In Page, there’s the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, making it another one of the best cities in Arizona for people who love to get out and do things in nature. But if you’re looking for amenities like shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, you won’t find much of it here.
Home prices aren’t as high in Page as they are in Sedona though, and usually cost $500k or less. But with schools that are in the bottom 50% of the state, families with kids and teens may want to live in a bigger area.
- Population: 6,800
- Median home price: $522K
- Average age: 45
Litchfield is a haven for nature conservation and at Litchfield Park, you’ll find the largest collection of exotic animals in the whole state. The city sits just outside of Phoenix proper, which means you can access all the shopping and dining the town has to offer without having to live in the dead center of town.
Housing is just a little above average in Litchfield, with home prices around $520k, so it’s a good option if you have a moderate to high income. The schools are also very good, landing within the top 20% in the state. This makes it one of the best places to live in Arizona for middle-aged couples and families with kids.
- Population: 5,310
- Median home price: $370K
- Average resident age: 29
Thatcher is a tiny town northeast of Tucson where you’ll find the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area and hot springs. But that’s pretty much all there is to do activity-wise besides some dry camping, hiking, and off-roading.
Even though the schools in Thatcher are rated higher than average, and most people are in their 20s and 30s, there’s very few social opportunities.
It’s one of the best places to live in Arizona for families who are on a budget or who commute to Tucson for work with homes that are modestly priced at around $370k.
- Population: 4,000
- Median home price: $485K
- Average age: 56
Pinetop-Lakeside is another one of the best cities in Arizona for people who love the outdoors. It’s situated in the White Mountains Trail System and is lined with towering Ponderosa pines, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and biking.
However, note that the average home price is a little high for a town with such a low population. You’ll probably pay around $480k for a modest home, but it might be a fair exchange with the highly rated schools and many work opportunities in the area.
With a super small, family-style vibe throughout the whole town and good medical care, it’s also a great place for people who are considering or entering into retirement. Most of the restaurants offer home-style cuisine and comfort foods and there’s not much to choose from, but it’s a good place to live if you go out of town for your entertainment.
Best Places to Live in Arizona (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a list of the best places to live in Arizona.
- Lake Havasu City
- Sierra Vista
- Litchfield Park
Map of the Best Cities to Live in Arizona
FAQ – Most Charming Arizona Cities
What are the best cities to live in Arizona?
Arizona is home to a diverse range of cities, each with its own unique character. Phoenix, our bustling state capital, offers a vibrant city life with a growing job market.
Scottsdale, known for its upscale living and world-class golf courses, is a favorite among many. For those seeking a smaller city vibe, Flagstaff and Prescott are fantastic choices, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and community spirit.
And if you’re after unparalleled natural beauty and a thriving arts scene, Sedona should be on your radar.
How’s the cost of living in Arizona?
The cost of living in Arizona varies greatly depending on where you choose to put down roots. Cities like Scottsdale and Sedona tend to be on the higher side, while places like Tucson and Prescott offer more affordable options.
But remember, cost is just one factor to consider – quality of life, job opportunities, and community are equally important.
What’s the weather like in Arizona?
A: Ah, Arizona weather. Let’s just say it’s a subject of many a conversation. Yes, parts of Arizona can get quite hot in the summer, but it’s a “dry heat”, which many find more tolerable than humid climates.
The winter months are generally mild and sunny – perfect for outdoor activities. But remember, Arizona isn’t just desert. Places like Flagstaff enjoy all four seasons, including quite a bit of snow in winter!
Is Arizona a good place to retire?
Arizona is often rated as one of the top states for retirees. The warm climate, abundant outdoor activities, and variety of retirement communities make it a popular choice. Whether you’re interested in a bustling city like Phoenix or a quieter town like Prescott, you’re sure to find a place that suits your retirement dreams.
What are the job opportunities like in Arizona?
Job opportunities in Arizona are quite diverse. Phoenix and its surrounding cities are seeing growth in sectors such as technology, healthcare, and finance. Tourism is also a big industry throughout the state, and agriculture continues to play a significant role in Arizona’s economy. As always, do some research to ensure your chosen city aligns with