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 here for nearly 10 years now and know which are the best places to live in Arizona based on my own first hand experience.
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 this state than meets the eye.
Not every city here will be a good fit for everyone. Each city here has it’s own quirks and its own list of pros and cons. And that’s where I come in. In this article I’ll do a round up of the best cities to live in Arizona with insider tips as a local.
Let’s get started!
Note: This post is part of the Local Best Places to Live Series, in which locals share honest insights of living in a specific state through comprehensive lists based on their own experience. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
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? The following best places to live in Arizona include towns with a population of 240,000 people or more.
- Population: 1.6 million
- Median home price: $417K
- Average age: 33
Phoenix is the 5th largest U.S. city with great proximity to other southwestern destinations ( 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.
The schools in Phoenix are in the top 50% of the state making it one of best places to live in Arizona students and families. Job seekers are sure to find work in Phoenix too, with it being the second-largest labor market in America.
As far as home prices go, you’ll probably pay around $400k for a moderately sized home with a few bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms.
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 an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with exceptional hiking, biking, and bird-watching opportunities, making an active lifestyle easily attainable year-round. Affordability is a big plus here, with low living costs, and housing prices being quite affordable at just $330k.
Tucson’s diverse neighborhoods offer something for everyone, and the food scene alone is worth it being mentioned as one of the best cities to live in Arizona (there’s even a James Beard winner known for his tortillas).
The unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert is right at your doorstep with lots of recreation opportunities in Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest.
Another point of interest worth noting is that Tucson is somewhat of a medical haven, so if you’re ever in need of a great doctor or hospital, this is one of the best cities in Arizona for medical care.
The city has sort of an artsy vibe that’s great for young folks and with schools in the top 50%, it’s one of the best places in Arizona for families.
However, be prepared for the searing summer heat with triple-digit temperatures that can be quite intense. The desert landscape can become repetitive, and Tucson lags behind in the education department, with fewer college-educated residents.
Some downtown areas might feel a bit neglected, and the occasional haboob, intense dust storms, can disrupt daily life. Seasons are limited here, and winters attract a high volume of tourists. Lastly, forming new friendships can be a challenge due to local social dynamics
You may enjoy reading: 20 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Tucson, Arizona
- Population: 500,000
- Median home price: $469K
- Average age: 37
Mesa, Arizona, is honestly one of those places that still feels like a bit of a secret. Dream homes here are still attainable. And while that’s worthy of consideration for best cities in Arizona in and of itself, it’s not just about the homes; everything from your grocery bills to your commute costs less here.
It’s kind of amazing how much you can save without skimping on quality living. Have you seen any places to live similar to this in Arizona?
Now, let’s talk about feeling safe and secure. Mesa’s got a low crime rate, thanks to an active base of community members. It’s the kind of place where you can stroll around your neighborhood in the evening without a worry.
And for families, this is a really big deal. You can’t put a price tag on that feeling of security. I’d love to hear your experience regarding Mesa’s safety.
But Mesa isn’t just about the practical stuff; it’s got a soul too. The city is brimming with culture – museums, theaters, you name it. Plus, nature lovers are in for a treat with stunning spots like the Superstition Mountains just a stone’s throw away.
And for those who need a bit of city buzz, Phoenix is just a short drive away. It’s like having the best of both worlds. Are you living in a place that offers this kind of balance?
- Population: 280,000
- Median home price: $527K
- 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 much higher here than most places on this list.
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: $798K
- 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. Scottsdale feels happy 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 $800k which makes it the most expensive spot my list of the best places to live in Arizona.
That said, it’s more expensive for a reason. The schools are excellent, the landscaping is beautiful, and the area is as safe as can be.
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: $284K
- Average age: 32
Yuma holds the Guinness World Record for being the “Sunniest City on Earth,” so if you love the sun, 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 $285k for a home here – hundreds of thousands less than cities like Chandler or Scottsdale.
So what’s the catch?
Unfortunately, Yuma also has some of 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 always sunny no matter what time of year.
- 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 making it a great spot for outdoorsy types. You’ll see plenty of natural beauty while still getting to enjoy city amenities, and can 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 a healthy sprinkle of that small town charm people love.
For a city of its size, the food scene is surprisingly 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 solid income to afford the $720k home prices.
Lake Havasu City
- Population: 57,000
- Median home price: $459K
- Average age: 55
Lake Havasu City is Arizona’s “West Coast” and well-known to be one of the best places to live in Arizona for retirees. As such, the population skews heavily toward seniors with the average age being 55 years old. There are plenty of good hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout the city for people managing different health conditions.
There’s also the highly-rated Lake Havasu Senior Center, which has a very active senior community and is full of great activities.
Housing costs are average (under $500k) and the schools here are in the top third of the state, so it’s a solid place for working families with kids and folks with average incomes to live in Arizona.
Finally, being near the lake, there’s always something fun to do, like boating, fishing, or sunbathing on the gorgeous sand beaches.
- Population: 46,000
- Median home price: $575K
- Average age: 57
Did you know that Denver isn’t the only “mile high” city in the US? Prescott is another at 5,319 feet above sea level, which means you get all four seasons living here, a rarity for Arizona.
It’s often referred to as “Arizona’s Christmas City,” and in December, people come from all over the state to enjoy the cooler weather and see the holiday lights.
Prescott is one of the best places to live in Arizona for middle-aged couples and families, with 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: $283K
- Average age: 37
As the “Hummingbird Capital,” Sierra Vista is one of the best cities in Arizona to live in for nature lovers. Here you can enjoy things like bird watching, astronomy, and hiking the many trails the city has to offer.
Sierra Vista sits at the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains where a 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 and those who are 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 world-famous for its behemoth red rock formations like Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge. But these attractions bring lots of tourists, which can be (and certainly are at times) overwhelming for locals in a small town.
It also makes the average home price sky high at $1 million, so you’ll pretty much only find affluent people living here. If that’s your scene then good on you. I’d say nature enthusiasts and those interested in upscale desert living without LA crowds tend to like Sedona the best.
In my opinion, Sedona is easily the most beautiful place to live in Arizona. There’s few places in America that have more stunning scenery than Sedona. Living in Sedona feels like living in a national park.
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
Page is a bit too small of a city for my liking with only 7,400 residents but it might be just right for you.
Page is the hub for 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. It’s also world-famous for the heavily photographed Antelope Canyon.
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 pretty 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 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 – Best Cities to Live in Arizona
What are the best cities to live in Arizona?
What Are the Best Cities to Live in Arizona?
The best cities to live in Arizona are Scottsdale, known for its luxurious lifestyle and vibrant arts scene; Tucson, offering a unique blend of cultural heritage and affordability; Phoenix, the bustling state capital with abundant urban amenities and job opportunities; Sedona, a beautiful city with incredible outdoors opportunities; and Flagstaff, a picturesque mountain town with a cooler climate and a strong community focus.
How’s the cost of living in Arizona?
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.
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