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Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options—house styles and size, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, convenience of location—it can be quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve researched the best up and coming neighborhoods in Tucson for you, so you don’t have to (oh, and by way of introduction, we’re Bellhop —Tucson movers and movers throughout the country).
You’ve no doubt seen our Tucson City Guide, which includes a short section on a few of Tucson’s most popular neighborhoods. This list is a more in-depth neighborhood guide meant to examine what it’s like living in each of these highlighted areas.
A Little About Tucson’s Up and Coming Neighborhoods
These are the neighborhoods that have either been neglected over the years and are making a return to popularity, or newer areas that are just now being discovered. If you’re moving to Tucson and you’re looking for what the hot neighborhoods are right now, this guide is for you.
Located in central Tucson, Poets Square is a small, intimate, close-knit community with 550 homes. Residents include students, professionals and business owners that take great pride in their neighborhood and its unique diversity. It’s also one of the safest areas in Tucson. Bordered by Broadway to the south, North Columbus to the west, East Fifth Street to the north and North Swan Road to the east, many of the area’s streets are named after famous poets such as Poe, Burns, Walt Whitman, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Poets Square became a registered neighborhood association in 2002 when a couple of longtime residents came together to stop a late-night fast food chain that would have disrupted the neighborhood. Now, the small area has a strong voice in the greater community, and people are recognizing Poets Square as the jewel that it is.
Poets Square is close to just about everything. Two malls are less than two miles away. The neighborhood is close to Broadway Boulevard downtown and the University of Arkansas is less than 10 minutes away. Museums such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air & Space Museum and restaurants such as the Guilin Chinese Restaurant and the Broadway Pizza Cafe are also nearby. The Reid Park Zoo is also close by as well as Tucson Botanical Gardens.
Schools in the area include Academy Del Sol, Poets Square Day School, and University High School.
Most of the homes in Poets Square date back to the 1940s and ‘50s. Most of them are ranch-style homes on larger lots than most homes in some of the newer neighborhoods in Tucson. The average home’s value in the area is $189,000.
Dunbar is located just north of downtown Tucson. It’s a small, historic community that is culturally diverse, with lots of character. Dunbar Spring has had it’s ups and downs over the years, having been in decline, riddled with crime and neglected properties. But things are looking up, with revitalization efforts and residents once again moving into the area. Homes are under restoration, and shops and restaurants have moved in within walking distance.
From 1875 to 1909, almost half of what is now Dunbar Spring was the Court Street Cemetery, where thousands of people were buried. It closed in 1909, and many of the remains were relocated to the Evergreen Cemetery. The southern edge of the neighborhood was platted in 1904, as an extension of downtown. The remainder of the community was built in 1917. After 1945, Dunbar Spring suffered economic decline when suburbs began springing up on the outskirts of the city. By the ‘70s and ‘80s, many of the homes were in disrepair. Now, many of those homes have been repaired, with new residents bringing new life to the area.
Besides neighborhood meetings and events, Dunbar Springs has plenty to do nearby. There’s Trail Dust Town, a historical outdoor shopping center, Estevan Park, where you can go for a picnic, play some rugby or take a leisurely stroll, and the Leo Rich Theater, where you can see plays, ballet, concerts, and special events. Restaurants like Zinman’s Food Shop, The Tasteful Kitchen and El Charro Café.
The Idea School and John Spring Junior High School are close to the Dunbar Spring neighborhood.
Most of the houses in Dunbar Spring were built in the late teens and early 1920s and include VIctorian, Territorial and Bungalow. The average home value in this area is around $196,000.
Civano is a newer, environmentally-friendly neighborhood that’s been appealing to younger families and the socially-conscious. This area was built to be the opposite of other sprawling developments that dominate Tucson’s fast-growing south side. Civano has adopted three tenets to help guide its land use and it’s overall physical, social and economic development. They are:
- To create a sense of place that fosters community and connects people to one another and their natural environments.
- To tread lighter on the land through innovative design.
- Introduce sustainable construction material and new technologies to advance the quality of life.
Civano, which takes its name from the ancient Hohokam Indian civilization, was originally called the Arizona Solar Village Corporation, which was the result of a community vision of a new neighborhood that significantly reduced resource consumption and adverse environmental impacts compared with standard subdivisions.
Civano residents can walk to shops and cafes in the neighborhood such as the Civano Coffee House, El Molinito, Karichimaka Restaurant, and Gary Ray’s Texas BBQ. The Cerano Neighborhood Association holds regular meetings to discuss issues and events going on in the area. Civano also has its own community garden, and there’s also the Fantasy Island Mountain Bike Park nearby.
Schools within the neighborhood include Civano Community School K-8, Ocotillo Ridge Elementary, and Mesquite Elementary.
Houses in Civano are energy-efficient adobe and Sonoran-style homes in desert hues and are relatively affordable. Many residents have added power upgrades, taking advantage of Tucson’s 350 days of sun.
Barrio Historico and Barrio Viejo
One of Tucson’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods, a mix of longtime Hispanic residents and newer artists, creatives and couples have moved into the homes in this community. This historic neighborhood, which often is called Barrio Viejo, is south of Cushing St, between Main Ave. and Stone Ave. in the downtown area. It’s nearly 20 blocks of Sonoran-style houses and businesses. Barrio Historico is one of the best-preserved neighborhoods of the remaining barrios in Tucson.
In 1775, Tucson was established as a Spanish fort, or presidio, with giant walls surrounding homes and a garden. As Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, more residents began moving to Tucson and building housing communities, or barrios, to accommodate the growing population. Once the city became a U.S. territory, other parts of the area were Americanized, but the barrios remained the same, keeping the latino culture, for the most part, intact. By the 1950s, however, the barrios began to be subjected to neglect and disrepair, and the city began bulldozing them to build the nearby convention center, government buildings and skyscrapers. But community outrage kept all of the barrios from being destroyed, with Barrio Historico, among a few others, remaining.
Residents that live there are tight-knit and proud of their community. Many of the people who live there are artistic and steeped in their native Hispanic culture, which is why you’ll find places like the Lost Barrio, a historic warehouse shopping district filled with local art, handmade furniture and unique imports. You’ll also find the Barrio Brewing Company if you’re thirsty for a locally-produced beverage and Casa Vicente, a lively Spanish cafe with sangria and tapas, that also features flamenco and tango dancers on occasion.
Carillo K-5 Magnet School is located within the neighborhood, with other schools nearby.
Barrio Historico is nearly 20 blocks of Sonoran-style adobe row houses painted in yellows, reds, purples and other colors that give the area the feel of a Mexican village. There are also new, luxury homes in the area that are priced at $600,000 into the millions.
Old Fort Lowell
Situated near the Santa Catalina Mountains in northeast Tucson, Old Fort Lowell has 1,200 residents and is home to an eclectic blend of artists, families, historians and outdoor adventurers. With one of the lowest crime rates in the city, it’s a safe place for families with children.
Between 1873 to 1891, this was the home of the Fort Powell Army post. The fort also played a large part in the Apache Wars around this time, providing additional protection for the Tucson area. In the 1930s and ‘40s, a number of artists moved into the area and established a burgeoning artist colony, building homes there. Among them were modernist painter Jack Maul and photographer Hazel Larson Archer. Writer Jack Kerouac also visited there, as noted in his book, On the Road.
The Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association holds events throughout the year, including a flea market, Fort Lowell Day and an antique show. And you can see leftover ruins and other relics from the area’s early days in the Fort Lowell Park Museum. There’s also the Old Fort Lowell Live-at-Home Program, a volunteer initiative where neighbors assist other neighbors with daily activities who otherwise can’t. And then there’s Fort Lowell Park, where the museum we just mentioned is located, along with a pool, a walking path, a pecan grove, sports fields and tennis courts, playgrounds and more. Also, there’s plenty of shopping and eateries in the area.
Schools in the area include the private high school The Gregory School, Castlehill Country Day School and the Outer Limits preschool.
There you have them: The best up-and-coming neighborhoods in Tucson
Neighborhoods are about location and lifestyle, to be sure. But more importantly, they are about the people who live in them. These neighborhoods offer a variety of lifestyles to meet most anyone’s needs. We hope this guide helps you make the right choice to fit your lifestyle.
If you decide to move in or to Tucson, don’t hesitate to reach out. Need to move quickly? We also provide last minute moving services in Tucson!
Good luck on your move to Tucson!
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