Best Places to Live in Arizona

Arizona has a lot more to offer than just the picturesque landscape. It has 300 days of beautiful sunshine, a thriving economy, and a reasonably low cost of living, all making a move to the state a great decision for young professionals, families, and retirees alike. Deciding where to move in Arizona can be a challenge though. That’s why we’ve researched the top places to live in Arizona and what makes each of them unique.

When moving, you have a lot to consider, such as living costs, job opportunities, schools, crime rates, nightlife, and outdoor conveniences. We’re here to help you make the best choice for your needs. Check out our list of the top places to live in Arizona and why. 

best places to live in arizona

The Best Places to Live in All of Arizona

Let’s dive right in, starting with one of the most popular cities in the state.

Scottsdale

  • Population: 250,000
  • Median income: $88,213
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $475,300
  • Employment: Very good
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Very good
  • Safety: OK

Where is the nicest neighborhood in Arizona? Look no further than Scottsdale. It can get hot, but Scottsdale is considered “mild” even in the summer.

Scottsdale has a reputation as a city for retirees, but it also has an incredible city experience with a vibrant downtown bursting with nightlife, art galleries, a gorgeous riverfront, and over 200 beautiful golf courses. It is also known for job stability and a home for startups. It excels in public schools, has a high average income, and yet has a reasonable cost of living, which makes this easily one of the best places to live in the state of Arizona.

Interestingly, it isn’t the safest city on the list if that is a priority, landing about average. 

Mesa

  1. Population: 460,000
  2. Median income: $58,000
  3. Median price for single-family homes: $226,000
  4. Employment: Good
  5. Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  6. Quality of Schools: Excellent
  7. Average commute time: Very good
  8. Safety: OK

At 460,000 people, Mesa offers a big city feel without the big city fuss. This desert town is one of the hotter cities on the list, but you can cool off in pools, two rivers, and three lakes within a short 40 minute drive, such Saguaro lake – famous for its wild horses.) The city is also famous nationwide for its Christmas lights (not to compete with Prescott, aka Christmas City.) It ranks high on quality of life and often ends up on the top of the list of Arizona college towns thanks to its highly rated schools, plenty of outdoor activities like golfing and horseback riding, and good nightlife.

best places to live in arizona

Gilbert

  • Population: 243,000
  • Median income: $97,000
  • Median home price for single family homes: $328,700
  • Employment: Excellent
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Family Oriented: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety: Excellent

Gilbert is considered one of the best cities to live in countrywide thanks to its mix of low crime rate (one of the lowest in the country), home values, idyllic nature, outdoor activities, median income, a strong sense of community, and highly-rated public schools. If you like to party, it even has vibrant nightlife and amazing restaurants to rival Scottsdale.

Tempe

  • Population 188,000
  • Median income: 57,000
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $273,000
  • Employment: Good
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Very good
  • Average commute time: Excellent
  • Safety: Fair

Tempe is listed as one of the top cities in the US and is a strong choice for a college student or young professional. It is home to Arizona State University, Arizona’s largest college with over 83,000 undergraduates. It is also experiencing huge tech growth, making it a strong place for employment. In addition to having a relatively low population, this city is a strong place for finding work.

Though Tempe is a small-ish city, it has plenty of character and big-city amenities. Enjoy thriving nightlife, delicious food, outdoor activities like biking and kayaking, art galleries galore, and plenty of affordable (and many times free) things to do. When the days get hot, Tempe Town Lake sits right in the center of town

Though the benefits are large, it could rank higher in overall safety. Still, it has mostly to do with the university.

Phoenix

  • Population: 1.5 million
  • Median home income: $46,000
  • Median price for single-family homes: $215,800
  • Employment: Excellent
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety Index: fFair

The Milken Institute rates Phoenix a Tier 1 city, and this has a lot to do with job growth, but it has many other benefits. In our country’s list of capital cities, Phoenix is one of the most stunning. It is also remarkably diverse, and its culture and city nightlife are bursting at the seams.

Phoenix is an excellent location for employment, colleges, and nightlife. As the capital, it employs city officials and other city employees, but its concentration of tech firms is also among the highest in the country, with many big-name tech companies calling it home. At the same time, the cost of living is reasonable.

Phoenix is the largest city on the list and one of the biggest cities in the United States with 1.4 million residents. It has the highest concentration of colleges in the state and has a whopping four major professional sports teams.

Life can get hot here with a handful of days in the triple digits, but if you can stand the heat, it’s a strong choice. There are also endless outdoor activities like swimming, mountain biking, and trail running. It is a bike-friendly city – one of the top biking cities in the country. 

Chandler 

  • Population: 252,000
  • Median income: $83,000
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $300,000
  • Employment: Excellent
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Very good
  • Safety: Good

The blend of suburban and city living is ideal for young families and professionals. You get an award-winning school district, strong employment in the tech industry, first-class restaurants, and a highly-active downtown while also maintaining a decent safety scale.

Paradise Valley

  • Population: $14,000
  • Median income:758,132
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $1.5 million
  • Employment: Excellent
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Very good
  • Safety: Good

This suburb is home to some of the most beautiful nature in the state. If you love golf, the city is also the home of championship-level courses. The physically appealing city features architecture from modern to southwest style.

This is a scenic paradise for sure. Unfortunately, the location is priced for it. The average home price is a whopping $1.5 million and has a high cost of living, but if you have the budget, put it firmly on your list. 

Flagstaff

  • Population: $73,000
  • Median income: $50,000
  • Median home price for single family homes: $500,000
  • Employment: Under average
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools:
  • Average commute time: Excellent
  • Safety Index: Could be better

Where is the coolest city in Arizona? It’s in the same place rated as one of the top college towns in the country. https://news.nau.edu/flagstaff-named-among-best-college-towns-in-nation/ (Thank you Northern Arizona University).

On our list, Flagstaff is the coolest, literally. It experiences all four seasons, including cooler temperatures in the summer. It is also known for its pine trees, hiking trails, and skiing, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. At the same time, it is a beloved town with friendly residents and historic downtown with plenty of ambiance. It also sits just 2 hours north of Phoenix, letting you enjoy bigger shopping when the time comes.

Oro Valley

  • Population: 44,000
  • Median income: $83,000
  • Median home price for single family homes: $311,000
  • Employment: Very good
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety: Good

What is the safest community in Arizona? In our list of top cities, Oro sits at number one. It is a top suburban area with ample outdoor parks and highly rated schools. It is also known as a welcoming city. Most residents are retired, and the area is known as a quiet place to live. If you are into strong nightlife, this may not be the best choice. But if you are looking for other things to do, Tucson sits just six miles south, and you are just a 30-minute drive to the beautiful landscapes of Saguaro National Park. 

Litchfield Park

  • Population 6,000
  • Median income: $83,000
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $318,000
  • Employment: Very good
  • Outdoor recreation: Very good
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety: Excellent

Litchfield Park provides all the benefits you look for in a small town.  It is ideal for raising a family and one of the safest areas in Arizona and the country. It offers quality education and even touts an amazing school graduation rate of  97%. It is also home to numerous camps and outdoor sports.

Cave Creek

  • Population 5,122 (check this and all population figures)
  • Median income: $465,000
  • Median home price for single family homes:$870,000
  • Employment: Good
  • Outdoor recreation: Very good
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety: Good

Named after its amazing cave, this small town has some of the strongest childhood education in the country. Enjoy amazing views from home styles ranging from modern and southwest architecture, but without the high price point. You can also enjoy many art galleries, old-time shopping at Frontier Town, restaurants, and golfing to your heart’s content. It’s is known as a friendly and close-knit community

Queen Creek

  • Population: 43,000
  • Median income: $106,000
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $349,000
  • Employment: Excellent
  • Outdoor recreation: Very good
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Less than good
  • Safety: Very good

Originally an agriculture-based community, Queen Creek has a rural feel well-suited for nature lovers. It is known for its well-manicured parks, such as Desert Mountain Park and Founders’ Park. You also have many trails for exploring on foot, bike, or horseback. 

Families also benefit from solid schools and the area has a strong reputation as an excellent place to work thanks to strong employment and work/life balance. Residents often describe it as an astounding community. They simply love it.

Catalina Foothills

  • Population: 50,454
  • Median household income: $93,000
  • Median home price for single-family homes: $440,100
  • Employment: Very good
  • Crime: Unknown
  • Outdoor recreation: Excellent
  • Quality of Schools: Excellent
  • Average commute time: Good
  • Safety: Good

Catalina Foothills tops the list for the highest-rated suburbs in Arizona and is also one of the prettiest areas of the state, boasting views of the Santa Catalina mountain range. And the excellent weather comes free. For bike lovers, Catalina State Park offers 1st-class bike trails.

The city offers strong employment, ample bars, restaurants and parks, and excellent schools. It is a top community for families in the state and home to Arizona’s number one public school district. 

There you have it: the top places to live in Arizona

We hope this gives you a taste of what Arizona has to offer. As you continue to plan your move, don’t hesitate to reach out. We often coordinate local and long-distance moving services in Arizona and are here to help.

Bellhop can help make your next move to Arizona a great one! Get a free moving quote today.