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Living in Tucson: The Lowdown on the Best Neighborhoods for You
Sure, you’re probably aware of the dry, hot weather and the landscape strewn with cacti, but Tucson also has mountain ranges in all directions, tons of resorts and spas, championship golf courses, and an impressive food scene. It also has highly-esteemed museums and galleries featuring work by world-renowned artists.
For those considering moving to Tucson, we’ve explored both the expected and unexpected, and gathered the resources necessary to help make your decision easier. (Oh, and by the way, we're Bellhop—movers in Tucson and around the country.)
Because Tucson is in the desert, it can get extremely hot during the summer, exceeding 100 degrees on many days, but the winters are mild and enjoyable. You also don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn, because, you know, landscaping isn’t really a thing there.
But Tucson isn’t just about unique scenery. Amazon, the online retailer, has consistently ranked it one of the Most Well-Read Cities in America—perhaps due to the presence of the University of Arizona and its 35,000 undergraduates. (Perhaps that’s also why it hosts the fourth-largest book festival in the country, the Tucson Festival of Books.)
According to Numbeo, it costs a four-person family around $3,000 a month to live in Tucson (excluding housing). Expenses for a single person run around $900 a month (excluding housing).
When it comes to renting, apartments tend to range from $800 to $1,300, depending, of course, on where you want to live.
Tucson Job Market
Tucson’s largest employers are the University of Arizona, defense contractor Raytheon, and the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which together employ around 34,000 people. The leisure and hospitality industries also play a considerable role in the local economy, employing more than 45,000 people. IBM, Texas Instruments, Honeywell Aerospace, Ventana Medical Systems, and Intuit Inc. also have a large presence in the city.
The average monthly income is around $2,400 after taxes.
Getting Around the City
Although owning a car is recommended because the city is so spread out, Tucson has a bike score that ranks in the top ten for large American cities. The average commute is around 24 minutes, which is just below the national average of 25 minutes.
As for public transportation, Tucson has two options:
Living in Tucson: The Lowdown on the Best Neighborhoods for You
As with many cities, Tucson’s neighborhoods are diverse and ever-changing, so we’ve tried to simplify things by briefly highlighting some of our favorites.
In a report released in November of 2018, Tucson was named the most dangerous city in Arizona, but this fact can be deceiving, given that comparing it to other cities in the state does not mean that it ranks on similar countrywide lists.
In Sam Hughes, this tree-lined area near the University of Arizona, you’ll find a mix of professors, students, artists, and young professionals living in turn-of-the-century Territorial-style houses and mission-style bungalows. Plenty of shops and restaurants are within walking distance, and it’s also easy to get downtown.
This upscale golf-course development is located at the base of the Tortolita Mountains, in the suburb of Marana, just north of the city. Over the past few years, Dove Mountain has become one of the most popular neighborhoods in Tucson because of its amenities and easy access to the freeway.
Just north of the city, at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Catalina Foothills offer some of the best views around. It has a minimalist feel, with narrow streets that wind through the hills. Its subdivisions have all been built to blend in with the desert landscape, and nearby there is in an upscale shopping center with some of the area’s finest restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
El Presidio Historic District
The city’s first neighborhood, El Presidio is named for the Spanish military garrison that once stood there. Large, historic homes from that period have been restored, and the area is full of excellent art and food. Some highlights include the Tucson Museum of Art and El Charro Café, which has truly great chimichangas and margaritas.
Part of the National Register of Historic Places, Armory Park is located downtown and features wide avenues lined with homes of a variety of different styles, including Victorian, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Territorial. If you have kids, the nearby Tucson Children’s Museum is a great place to take them on a rainy day.
Art and music in Tucson
When it comes to art, Tucson has several museums, such as The Tucson Museum of Art, The University of Arizona Museum of Art , which includes works by Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, and the Center for Creative Photography, a leading museum with works by Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, and Edward Weston.
Other museums include the iconic DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, as well as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a combined zoo, museum, and botanical garden devoted to indigenous animals and plants of the Sonoran Desert.
If you love classical music, then you’ll certainly want to visit the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera.
Shopping in Tucson
And when you need to get some shopping done, the city offers a variety of destinations to satisfy whatever you’re looking for.
The Tucson Mall and Park Place Mall offer a full range of major retailers such as Macy's, Banana Republic, Foot Locker, Charlotte Russe, and Victoria's Secret, as well as chain restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory.
For a more upscale experience, La Encantada has a curated collection of shops that include Anthropologie, J. Crew, Tiffany & Co., Brooks Brothers, St. John, Louis Vuitton, and, of course, an Apple Store—all amid manicured courtyards and buildings with Spanish-tile roofs.
Fourth Avenue, near the University of Arizona, is also a great way to spend an afternoon—whether you’re a local or just visiting. With more than 100 shops—ranging from boutiques and bookstores to jewelers and art galleries—you’ll be charmed by both the variety and vitality of this part of town.
We’ve mostly focused on the pros of moving to Tucson, and that makes sense because there are a lot them. But like any city, it has its share of drawbacks as well. Here, we’ll briefly weigh a few of those—along with the top benefits—to help you decide whether a move to the city is the right choice for you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your potential move, that’s OK. It’s all part of the process. Hopefully, what we’ve provided will help alleviate some of your anxiety and enable you to decide if Tucson is the right move for you. If you decide to take the plunge, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Tucson and we would love to help. Also, check out our moving cost calculator to get a quick estimate on your move.
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