Moving to Tucson, AZ: A Bellhop City Guide (2023)


Table Of Contents

  1. Brief Overview

    1. Tucson Job Market
    2. Getting Around the City
  2. Living in Tucson: The Lowdown on the Best Neighborhoods for You

    1. Sam Hughes
    2. Dove Mountain
    3. Catalina Foothills
    4. El Presidio Historic District
    5. Armory Park
  3. Tucson Culture, Art and Shopping

    1. Great Cultural Events in Tucson
    2. Art and Music in Tucson
    3. Shopping in Tucson
  4. The Pros and The Cons of Tucson

    1. Pros
    2. Cons

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.)


Living in Tucson: The Brief Overview

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.)

The (Reasonable) Cost of Living in Tucson

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.

In Tucson, the housing costs are relatively affordable compared to other major cities in the United States. As of 2021, the average cost of a home in Tucson is around $250,000, while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $900 per month. However, the prices vary depending on the location, style, and size of the home. The prices may also fluctuate based on market conditions, so it's important to keep that in mind while considering a move.

Tucson Job Market

The job market in Tucson, Arizona is diverse with opportunities in a variety of sectors. Tucson operates as a center for innovation and technology, with many companies having established offices or headquarters in the area. The University of Arizona is also a major employer, and industries such as healthcare, tourism, and manufacturing are also strong in Tucson.

Some major employers in the area include Raytheon, Caterpillar Inc., Tucson Medical Center, and the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In addition, the city also boasts a thriving startup scene and many small businesses.

Overall, the job market in Tucson is stable and varied, with opportunities for a range of skill sets and industries."

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:

  • Suntran: A bus service that offers stops throughout the metropolitan area. It operates from 6 a.m. to midnight every day and costs $1.75 per ride for adults, or $4 for an unlimited day pass.
  • Sun Link Streetcar: With 19 stops, this four-mile route connects five popular areas, including the University of Arizona. It runs Monday through Wednesday, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and until 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. One-way tickets cost $1.74, and 24-hour passes are $4.50.


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.

Sam Hughes

This neighborhood is perfect for families looking for a peaceful and safe space. It's home to the University of Arizona, which gives it more of a college town vibe, and there are plenty of parks, coffee shops, and restaurants within walking distance.

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.

Dove Mountain

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.

Catalina Foothills

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.

Armory Park

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.

Barrio Viejo

This historic neighborhood is located right in the heart of Tucson and offers charming adobe homes, art galleries, and artist studios. It's perfect for those looking for a unique and artsy community.


Tucson Culture, Art, and Shopping

  • The Tucson Festival of Books, which we mentioned earlier, is just one of many events that Tucson hosts each year.
  • The Fourth Avenue Street Fair: There are actually two Fourth Avenue Street Fairs, one held in December and another held in late March/early April. Staged between 9th Street and University Boulevard, they feature arts-and-crafts booths, food vendors, and various performers.
  • The Tucson Rodeo (Fiesta de los Vaqueros): Otherwise known as Rodeo Week, this event is so popular that most schools give students two days off so they can attend.
  • All Souls Procession Weekend: Held in early November, this event is modeled after the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and happens to be one of the largest festivals in the city. It combines aspects of many different cultural traditions and includes a parade featuring floats, sculptures, and memorials.
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: This museum showcases the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert through exhibits, live animal presentations, and botanical gardens.
  • The Loft Cinema: This art house theater is an iconic destination for independent and foreign films, as well as special events, such as filmmaker Q&As and sing-along screenings.
  • Center for Creative Photography: This museum has an extensive collection of photographs, including works by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Richard Avedon.

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.

The Pros and the Cons: Things You’ll Love—and Perhaps Learn to Love about Tucson

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.

Advantages of Tucson

  • Yes, Tucson is surrounded by desert, but it also has seven of the world’s nine “life zones,” including grasslands and alpine forests, making it perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities—from horseback riding and hiking to snow skiing and caving.
  • Natural beauty: Tucson is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, including the Santa Catalina Mountains, Saguaro National Park, and the Sonoran Desert.
  • Cultural diversity: Tucson is a diverse city with a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its arts, music, and cuisine.
  • Affordable cost of living: Tucson is more affordable than many major cities in the U.S., with lower housing costs, transportation costs, and a lower overall cost of living.
  • Health and wellness: Tucson is a hub for health and wellness, with many spas, fitness centers, and outdoor yoga classes available.

Disadvantages of Tucson

  • Housing prices are rising: the average home in Tucson just soared above $300,000 for the first time—and is still increasing. However, the local housing market is “still more affordable than it has been on average historically, which is counter to the national trend.”
  • The city gets above 100 degrees on a regular basis, and it rises above 90 degrees about 143 days a year.
  • Monsoon Season: During the summer months, Tucson experiences a ""monsoon"" season with heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. While this can be a relief from the heat, it can also lead to flash flooding and other weather-related hazards.
  • Limited Job Market: While there are some major employers in Tucson (such as the University of Arizona and Raytheon), the job market may be limited in certain industries. Those looking for jobs in tech or finance may find more opportunities in cities like San Francisco or New York.


Good Luck with Your Move to Tucson

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 have local movers in Tucson coordinate 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.