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Moving to Arizona? Read This First
Arizona will surprise you. For example, it snows here – 75 inches or so in the northern regions, more at the ski resorts. Barringer Crater, one of the best preserved meteor craters in the world, is here. It’s one of the top fly fishing destinations in the country – and it’s the only place to find the Arizona trout. There are pine forests, mountains (26 mountain peaks soaring above 10,000 feet are in Arizona) and waterfalls. And it has more than its share of Hummingbirds.
Yes, even though it’s the only state that contains parts of the four major North American deserts – Great Basin, Mojave, Chihuahuan and Sonoran – Arizona is much more than a hot desert with cool cactuses and the Grand Canyon.
There’s more to love about Arizona than its beauty, the state has a great personality too. Late to statehood – Arizona is our 48th state, and didn’t join the nation until 1912 – history meets technology here, with a culture that melds the best of the west with a thriving economy and a low cost of living.
Whether you’re retired or looking to get hired, raising a family or just starting out – Arizona can be a great place to live. And we can help you get there, we’re Bellhop and we have local movers all across Arizona – Phoenix, Tucson, Glendale, Scottsdale and Flagstaff, just to name a few – and across the nation. Whether you’re moving cross country or across the street, you can count on us to deliver stress-free, trustworthy moving services.
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Getting to know Arizona
A little while back, U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States in hopes to determine the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market. Phoenix, Arizona actually ranked number 17 for the best places to retire and ranked number 19 for the best places to live. (For more information on moving to Phoenix, check out our city guide here.)
1. Let’s address the elephant in the room (a.k.a the Grand Canyon).
Okay, so one of our biggest sells on Arizona is the fact that the Grand Canyon is there… a natural wonder so wondrous that people travel not just across the United States but across the world as a whole to see it’s wondrousness in person.
How many people can say they live in a place where the Grand Canyon is practically in their backyard? Our point exactly.
2. The Grand Canyon is just the beginning of Arizona’s incredible landscape, though.
But, besides the Grand Canyon, Arizona is known for possessing a stunning landscape filled with ample opportunities to go hiking, mountain biking, trail running, camping, exploring, swimming and white water rafting.
To give you an idea of just how vast the Arizona wilderness is, the state sports two times the amount of wilderness than all of the Midwest put together. The rivers that flow through the state make it one of the top fly fishing destinations in the country. That’s unbelievable.
Arizona offers such a vast playground of fun activities to do outside we could commit an entire blog to the subject. But, for the sake of your time and ours, just know that if you’re an outdoorsmen (or outdoorswomen), Arizona is a place you should definitely consider calling home.
Pros and cons of moving to Arizona: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Like any state, Arizona comes with its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. But what one person sees as a negative may be their neighbor’s favorite thing about the state. So keep an open mind – and know that locals tend to be thrilled about living in Arizona.
First, let’s get the not-so-great stuff out of the way:
Droughts are nothing out of the ordinary in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the state has been in a drought for a whopping 29 years. If you move there, you may become one of the 438.7 thousand people impacted. That puts the demand for water higher than ever, but the supply is just not there (in most areas).
The above-average cost of living is another reason to think long and hard before moving to Arizona. We’ll admit: it’s not too crazy when you get down to the numbers (only 6.4% higher than the national average), but the costs certainly add up, especially if you’re moving with a family. Utilities and transportation are two of the areas that surpass the nation’s average. Of course, we can’t forget the biggest ticket item: the cost of buying a home. That brings us to our next point…
Housing costs are 19.7% higher in Arizona than in other parts of the U.S. Homes sell for a median rate of $349,300, which might deter you from buying if you’re moving to Arizona from another state that is at or below the national average of $291,700. Of course, where you move to in Arizona can make a big impact on the price. For example, you may find cheaper homes in a place like Tucson than in Scottsdale. All in all, the best way to find an affordable home is to spend time looking, narrow down a neighborhood (make sure it’s safe), and make an offer when something is in your price range. It may take time to find something that checks all your boxes, but the wait might be worth it to you.
Low academic ratings are another downside of raising school-aged kids in Arizona. The state ranks #48 out of all states and the District of Columbia in terms of schools. That’s not to say there aren’t great schools in Arizona (BASIS Chandler, BASIS Scottsdale, and BASIS Flagstaff–to name a few). However, the state, as a whole, rates low in terms of academics.
Traffic is yet another drawback of life in Arizona. While this doesn’t affect you in all parts of Arizona (we’re looking at you, small cities), moving to major cities like Phoenix opens you up to long commute times and potential road hazards. Phoenix has even been dubbed one of the nation’s top-10 “least safe cities to drive in.”
The Pros of living in Arizona
The University of Arizona is in–you guessed it–Arizona! And in case you haven’t heard about this top-performing school before, it comes in at #105 on the list of “Best Colleges.” The school is located in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and welcomes students from all over every year. Some famous people who have attended the school include Raul Castro, Luke Walton, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Kourtney Kardashian.
Affordable healthcare is a top reason to relocate to Arizona. Okay, you know how we said that Arizona’s cost of living surpasses the national average? Well, while it comes in more expensive to live in Arizona than other parts of the U.S. in general, it’s actually cheaper to get healthcare services there on average (2.7% cheaper, in case you’re curious). So, if you see the doctor a lot, are getting older, or have health concerns, moving to The Grand Canyon State might just be worth it.
The cost of food is also less in Arizona. Groceries are 3.9% cheaper than the national average. With inflation here, it’s no wonder why this is attractive to families. One report even shows that a family of four people could get away with an annual food budget of $9,338 in 2022, which comes to just over $778 per month. That is “the 18th lowest amount among states.” Just keep in mind that food prices might be higher in cities like Phoenix (reportedly 2.5% higher in Phoenix vs. Kingman).
Sports are just one more reason to love life in Arizona. Fun fact: did you know that Phoenix is 1 in 12 cities throughout the country with NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL teams? In terms of professional teams, the state has the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Coyotes (NHL), and Phoenix Suns (NBA). Whether you’re into football or basketball, you’re sure to find plenty to do and like-minded people to meet in beautiful Arizona. There are also numerous sports bars and restaurants to go to if you like watching a big game in that type of setting instead of a giant stadium with roaring fans. One of the best parts of Arizona is that you have both options!
Grid-style cities can be found all throughout Arizona. What does that mean exactly? Well, while the traffic in major cities like Phoenix might be horrendous, it’s not too hard to find your way around. That’s because the streets all meet at right angles, creating a grid of sorts.
Arizona’s economy and cost of living
Arizona’s economy is strong. Employment has grown at an annualized rate of 5.2% over the five years to 2022, overperforming the national average of 3.7%, according to IbisWorld. The long-run forecast calls for Arizona to continue to outpace national growth, though probably at slower rate. Teamed with the state’s low cost of living, Arizona is obviously a place where you can thrive and prosper.
The state has embraced technology startups and forward-thinking companies. Arizona was one of the first states to open their cities up to ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft, and the state government has been bullish on forming key partnerships and building stronger relationships with universities and tech companies to maintain this innovative trajectory. A lot of interesting tech research is being done here, particularly in the self-driving vehicle development.
Tucson is the place to work if you’re interested in aerospace, defense and space. Tempe is known for its business services, manufacturing, healthcare, biotech, and technology. It’s also one of the best cities for remote workers. Phoenix also has a reputation for a plethora of tech jobs, particularly in financial, education, healthcare and aerospace industries. Scottsdale is centered on tourism and hospitality. Arizona’s original export activities – agriculture and mining – remain strong outside of the metro areas.
Best Arizona cities to live in
Scottsdale is a great choice for active retirees, with a vibrant downtown, thriving arts scene, a gorgeous riverfront, and over 200 beautiful golf courses. But don’t write it off if you’re still saving for retirement, the city is also home for startups, has excellent public schools, and a reasonable cost of living. And if the idea of a spa day thrills you, you’ll have dozens to pick from here.
Hot, hot, hot – but gorgeous. Mesa is located just outside of Phoenix and is surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, so if you crave dry heat, you’ll find it here. Ditto golf courses, there are 25 in the area. Mesa is also known for its excellent pools, lively arts scene, and its extremely festive Christmas lights. You’ll also be able to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities like golfing and horseback riding, and good nightlife.
An exceptionally low crime rate, almost equally low cost of living, natural beauty, great schools, and a strong sense of community make Gilbert a great place to raise a family or retire.
Opportunity, diversity, amenities and beauty, Arizona’s state capitol has it all. An exceptionally large number of tech firms are based or have offices here, making it a great place for anyone seeking work in STEM fields. You get all the amenities of big city living – arts, music, an abundance of dining choices, shopping and four professional sports teams to root for – at a very reasonable cost of living. Heads up though, Phoenix is scorching hot, the nation’s hottest major city.
If you want to live in Arizona, but summer all-year-round really isn’t your thing, check out Flagstaff. You can enjoy all four seasons here, in a city that’s known for its friendly residents, pine forests, ski and hiking trails and other outdoor activities. As a college town, Flagstaff is both lively and affordable, and boasts a historic downtown packed with dining, shopping, art exhibits, live music and other events.
Tucson’s flourishing visual and performing arts scene complements its beautiful desert backdrop. Despite the expansive desert, mountain ranges stretch in every direction and provide opportunities for skiing. In between mountain biking and enjoying the views, Tucson is also ideal for gallery hopping, museums, and exploring Barrio Viejo’s authentic Mexican cuisine and adobe architecture. Don’t miss making a wish at El Tiradito!
Making your move to Arizona
For more information on the best places to live in Arizona, check out our complete guide to Arizona’s top places to live. If you want to go even further with your research, check out our City Guides for moving to Tucson and moving to Phoenix.
And, as always, if you need help with your move, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Like we said, we coordinate local and long-distance moving services in Arizona and we would love to help.
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