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Living in Arizona: Pros & Cons + FAQs, By a Local

Beautiful sunset in Arizona

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I moved to Arizona for the same reasons many people do: a lower cost of living and no more scraping snow and ice off my car. 

Of course, many people move to Arizona to retire.

In fact, Arizona ranks #4 for relocating retirees. More than 234,000 Americans moved here to retire in 2022.

Beautiful sunset in Arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

It’s funny that the two primary reasons for my moving here, the cost of living and the weather, have changed dramatically.

Since I settled in Phoenix, the median sales price of residential real estate has grown a whopping 93.2%. 

And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about our sizzling summer. Does the relentless heat (54+ days over 110°F) outweigh the eight months of low-humidity sunshine?

Is Arizona for you? After you read the pros and cons, you can make that decision for yourself.  

Living in Arizona: Pros

There are a variety of reasons why Arizona is the 5th- fastest-growing state in the country.

From the climate, outdoor activities, economy,and more, this article will help you decide if Arizona is the right place for you.

#1 Pro: Weather

One of the pros of living in Arizona is without any doubt the weather.

Arizona is all about the sunshine and low humidity. In Phoenix, we have about 300 sunny days a year.

In Yuma, a smaller city in the southwestern part of the state, the sun shines more than anywhere else in the world.

October is one of the perfect months; it comes after a long sweltering summer when we’re ready to go hiking and biking and spend as many moments as possible outside.

Farmers Market in Arizona

Farmers’ markets are full of locally grown produce from October through May. There’s nothing like having your choice of fresh lettuce in December and January. It’s all because of the fantastic weather.

Sunshine has an influence on our disposition. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when the days are gorgeous – powder blue sky and not a cloud in sight. 

Arizona is one of the few places in the world where you can go for a swim in the morning in Phoenix, take a two-hour drive up north to Flagstaff, and go skiing -all on the same day.

A big cactus next to the road in Arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

It’s the only place I’ve lived that when it rains, people rejoice at seeing raindrops. From October through May, the weather is mostly gorgeous.

#2 Pro: Hiking

The number of outdoor activities available in Arizona is staggering. If you’re feeling bored here, there’s something wrong because there’s something for everyone in Arizona.

Hiking is one of the most popular pastimes in Arizona. If you’re not already a hiker, moving to Arizona will surely turn you into one.

There are great hiking trails within minutes of almost any city in Arizona.

The author beginning her 3-day Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike.

There are lots of choices in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, including Camelback Mountain, a popular summit for experienced hikers that sits on the border between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

There’s also Piestwa Peak in Phoenix, which while quite steep, is a better choice for inexperienced hikers.

South Mountain Park, located just south of downtown Phoenix, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. There are 58 miles of trails for hiking.

There’s a ramada at the top where you can find shade. South Mountain Park has trails to fit any hiker.

Gateway Saddle, Arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

North of Scottsdale sits the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. One of my favorite trails is Gateway, a relatively easy 4.5-mile loop.

Many of the trailheads in the McDowell Preserve have informative volunteers, maps, and even clean restrooms.

About an hour and a half south of Phoenix, in Tucson, is Saguaro National Park. It straddles the city in two parts on its east and west sides.

Named for the iconic plant found only in the Sonoran Desert, there are many hiking opportunities in the park – from beginner to expert. 

Go two hours north of Phoenix, and you’ll be in Sedona, where there are gorgeous red-rock views from most trails. Devils Bridge and Cathedral Rock Trail are both classic and very popular hiking trails. They get busy at sunrise and sunset.

An important note about hiking. Don’t do it in the summer months. Every year hikers – even experienced ones – die from heat exhaustion.

Always bring water with you – and bring more than you think you’ll need. Your brain doesn’t perceive the heat as much with low humidity. Also, invest in a pair of good hiking boots – you’ll be less likely to slip and slide on rocky terrain.

#3 Pro: Outdoor Activities & Sights

Besides hiking, there are so many things to do and explore in Arizona. 

Beginning with the Grand Canyon National Park, of course, in Northern Arizona, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Photographs cannot portray anywhere near the sense of wonder you’ll feel standing on the South Rim or, better yet, hiking down Bright Angel Trail.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Photo by Lusa Zuba

There are multiple options for lodging in the park – the key is to reserve early. The South Rim is open all year long. 

I have hiked the Grand Canyon, from North Rim-to-South Rim, and I can attest that it’s in my Top 10 life experiences.

You must train for severals months beforehand. If you expect to camp, you’ll need to enter a lottery and cross your fingers that you get picked.

Petrified Forest National Park is known for its fossils and magnificent scenery – it also holds the largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood.

Hike on the Painted Desert Rim Trail and the Blue Mesa Trail. They are short one-mile trails and are definitely worth the trip.

Besides its high mountain ranges and local breweries, Flagstaff is also worth visiting since it became the World’s First International Dark Sky City.

Flagstaff is home to astronomy enthusiasts, and it’s great fun to go out at night and name the constellations. You can even see the Milky Way.

In Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden is a fabulous place to immerse yourself in all things fauna and flora in the desert.

Do you think the desert is simply made up of brown dirt, rocks, and rattlesnakes? You’ll change your mind after spending a day at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Make sure to visit the Butterfly Pavillion while you’re there.

#4 Pro: The Economy

Compared to other states, like California and Washington on the West Coast, the Washington, DC area, and New York on the East Coast, Arizona has a low cost of living. 

According to the Economic and Business Research Center, the state has diversified its economy and is relatively sheltered from any upcoming recession.

As stated by AZ Big Media, the state is expected to outperform national growth in the next thirty years.

“Phoenix is one of the top US migration cities largely due to our hot job market, desirable location and climate, and home affordability.

Add to this a bustling downtown cultural area complete with thriving business and entertainment districts, 3 pro sports teams with stadiums, some of the best medical facilities in the nation,” says Realtor Kimberly Caruso-Fast.

Regulation and tax policy favorable to business and incentives offered to companies to move here keeps the population growing. Also, Arizona has a vibrant startup community.

Industries, such as technology and healthcare, are expanding significantly. For example, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is spending $40 Billion to open a new plant in Phoenix. 

#5 Pro: Sports

There’s no doubt about it: Phoenix is a big sports town. Obviously, the eight months of sunny, mild weather factor into it.

The Greater Phoenix area offers more than 700 miles of bike infrastructure, including bike lanes and off-street trails and paths.

Hiking is so big in Phoenix that it got its own spot on this list (see #2 Pro)! Rock climbers find spectacular spots to climb, and spelunkers find a good amount of caves to discover.

Arizona is well known for its golf. There are 472 courses in the state, and almost 200 are in Phoenix. There are a handful of public courses, and the fees to play at some of the fanciest courses go way down in the summer.

Of course, national spectator sports are very popular in Phoenix. We have the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals football team, MLB’s Diamondbacks baseball team, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

Fifteen MLB teams spend their Spring in Phoenix for Spring Training.

Watching the games is a major pastime for locals, and many tourists come to Arizona to attend Spring Training games, which includes Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Giants, and more.

Phoenix has hosted the NFL Super Bowl, along with NCAA basketball tournaments. Sports is big business – and a lot of fun – in Arizona.

#6 Pro: Social Life

If you want to impress your date, it’s easy to do so at one of the fabulous restaurants in Arizona.

Several have received James Beard awards, including FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale and one of my very favorite restaurants, Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.

In Tuscon, the chef at Tumerico, a Latin vegan restaurant, was a James Beard semifinalist, as was the chef at The Table at Junipine Resort in Sedona.

If you’re looking for nightlife, Phoenix has a renewed entertainment scene. From the  Roosevelt Row arts district to downtown, there’s always something happening.

Old Town Scottsdale has a vibrant club scene, along with nearby Tempe, home of Arizona State University. 

Flagstaff, a much smaller town and home to Northern Arizona University, has plenty to do at night – and eight home-grown breweries. 

Cultural activities abound in Arizona too. Phoenix has a symphony orchestra, opera, many theaters, and world-class museums, such as The Heard Museum.

The Heard houses one of the world’s finest collections of American Indian art, and presents compelling stories of American Indian people.

American Indian culture

Living in Arizona: Cons

For some of the same reasons you want to move here also turn it into a negative. Fast growth means traffic and higher costs.

While Arizona has lots of sunshine, the summer temperatures are increasing to scorching levels. 

Of course, only you can decide if the cons outweigh the pros.

#1 Con: Weather

But it’s a dry heat! 

Photo by Lisa Zuba

That’s a common refrain by Arizonans when people trash-talk about how hot it is in Arizona. That’s true, it is a dry heat – most of the time. 

You know the feeling when you open your oven door when it’s set to 400 degrees? That’s how it feels on a July day when you open your door to go outside on a 114° day.

If it’s windy, it feels like someone is pointing a blow dryer to your face on the highest heat .

During the summer of 2023, there were 54 days over 110° in Phoenix. With the onslaught of climate change, we’re not expected to have cool down.

To the surprise of new residents, Arizona experiences monsoons from mid-June through September. The monsoons consist of big winds sometimes coupled with heavy rain.

It can flood quickly in Arizona because there is no place for the water to go. Also, haboobs, which are giant dust storms, are common during monsoons.

Seeing your first haboob is a frightening experience – it’s like a tsunami of dark dust coming toward you.

Despite the heat and the monsoons, Arizona is not unlivable, of course, we do have air conditioning!

#2 Con: Water Scarcity

No one really knows the long-term impact of Arizona’s water scarcity and if or when it might become an everyday problem, but it is an issue today.

Recently the state of Arizona restricted future home-building in the Phoenix area due to a lack of groundwater. The Arizona Department of Water Resources says there is insufficient groundwater beneath Phoenix area to meet the projected growth.

And, water-intensive businesses such as semiconductor companies are building large microchip factories in Phoenix and tapping into this increasingly precious resource.

One thing we do know for sure is that due to scarcity, water will become more expensive.

According to a Phoenix water administrator, residents will pay 48% more for water in 2025, if they make no change in their water consumption.

#3 Con: Allergies

One of the cons of living in Arizona is the simple fact that you may develop allergies.

In the past, many people moved to Arizona because of their allergies. The desert was a great place to escape from the outdoor allergens.

The only problem with this is that these same people brought allergens with them. 

They wanted the landscape to look more like something familiar, so they planted the plants that are the primary cause of allergies.

There are some neighborhoods in Phoenix that look straight out of the midwest.

Allergy’s cousin asthma is bad in Arizona. In fact, Tuscon and Phoenix were rated worse than average in the overall national rankings by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.

I grew up in Virgina and was plagued by allergies so severe that I got allergy shots every week for years.

It was surprising to me when the sneezing started after moving to Arizona, and I was back getting allergy shots again.

beautiful spot in Arizona, trees and mountain in the background
Photo by Lisa Zuba

#4 Con: Traffic

With growth comes traffic! 

When I first moved to Phoenix in 2016, I remember being on the freeway at 6pm and noticing there were very few cars.

I was used to traffic in the DC metro area, where rush hour traffic lasted long into the night. 

That’s clearly not the case today. One thing that has remained constant is the quality of the roadways. You might be stuck in traffic, but at least the roads are good.

The average commute to work in Phoenix is 26 minutes and the cost of transportation takes almost 17% of a Phoenician’s average income.

Gas prices are high in Arizona. According to AAA, Arizona has led the country with biggest gas price increases.

Traffic is impacted by the fact that public transportation in Arizona is limited. The Phoenix metropolitan area sprawls for miles in all directions to suburban communities. 

#5 Con: Cost of Living

Compared to New York, Los Angeles, or San Franciso, Arizona’s cost of living is low. But for those us who have lived here for at least the last five years, it has gotten expensive.

According to Rentcafe, the cost of living in Arizona is 6% higher than the national average. Housing is 20% higher than the national average, and utilities are 2% lower.

Bankrate says the median price of a house in Arizona is down slightly over the national at $436,000, and  the average rental cost is $1,619, which is less than the national median.

Filling up your vehicle with gas will cost you more in Arizona. The state has unique fuel requirements to meet air quality regulations, making gasoline more expensive.

Phoenix prices even topped Los Angeles’s for the first time in years last Spring when the average price per gallon was $5.

#6 Con: Poor Walkability

While there are bike lanes on some roads, getting around Arizona cities are dangerous – whether you’re walking or on a bicycle.

In fact, a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association showed that Arizona is one of the most deadly states when it comes to pedestrians.

Since 2010, pedestrian deaths have increased 77%, compared to a 25% increase for all other traffic related deaths, according to the report.

It is tough to live in Arizona without owning a car.


Is Arizona a Good Place to Live?

Yes! It’s sunny 300 days a year, the economy continues to grow, and within five hours you can be at the beach, Las Vegas, or the Grand Canyon.

There’s something about the sun, coupled with the mountains, desert plants, and breathtaking sunsets that almost makes you feel like you’re on vacation all year around.

Eight months of fabulous weather makes up for the heat in the summer. Be like the native Arizonans, and take trips to San Diego in summertime.

Is Arizona a Safe State?

Yes! Arizona’s crime rates are consistently declining which gives it a reputation as a safe place to live.

No place is crime-free, but Arizona’s violent crime rate has had a 46% decrease year over year, while the property crime rate has had a 35% decrease.

Both of these rates are notably lower than the national averages. Arizona’s safety can be attributed to various factors, including effective law enforcement, strong community engagement, and diverse living options.

Is Arizona a Good Place to Raise Kids?

Absolutely! Eight months of good weather means kids can be involved in all kinds of outdoor activities almost all year long.

Besides public and charter schools, kids can attend private schools through several voucher programs.

Is Arizona a Good Place to Meet New People?

Yes! Since so many new people are moving to Arizona each year, it’s easy to meet new people. A common way is through groups, like Meetup, that cater to your interests.

Whether it’s hiking, a book club, or wine tasting, a group is a great way to meet people.

Of course you can meet people through work. In my first two years in Phoenix as an entrepreneur, I worked out of one of the many coworking spaces in Phoenix. I became close friends with several people I met there.

Is Arizona a Good Place to Retire?

Of course! You’ll find retired people all over the area, but most are in the suburbs or in Scottsdale.

There’s lots to do and having the time when you’re retired will allow you to choose your favorite activities. World-class medical facilities, such as Mayo, are located here. Plus, there are many volunteer opportunities if you want to give back your time and talent.

Is It Expensive to Live in Arizona?

No. Unless you’re moving here from a small town in the midwest or south, Arizona is likely to be significantly cheaper than where you currently live.

It’s not as cheap as it once was, but still remains affordable for most.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Arizona?

According to new data from SmartAsset, Phoenix ranks 14th out of the 25 largest metropolitan areas when it comes to the highest salary required to live what’s considered “comfortably.”

The data shows a single person would need an average income of about $65,670 after taxes.

Short Conclusion

I’ve lived in several cities in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as in Texas. Arizona, and Phoenix specifically, is by far the most pleasant place to live.

I never tire of the gorgeous sunsets. Hiking has made me appreciate the diversity of the desert. 

I love that you can drive two hours and be in Flagstaff, Sedona, or the Coconino National Forest which has the largest collection of ponderosa pines in the country. 

People are friendly here, and it hasn’t been difficult to meet new people and make friends.

The summers are hard. But, then again, all my winter coats are still packed up, and I only take them out when I head north to Utah or back to New York for a visit.

I do what everybody else does, and stay inside in July and August.

For me, the pros outweigh the negatives, and I remain firmly in Arizona.

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