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8 Best Places to Live in Arizona in 2021

By: Susan Finch
September 3, 2021

Are you planning a fresh start by moving to Arizona? It’s an easy choice with the state’s scenic beauty and natural wonders like Sedona and The Grand Canyon.

With an affordable, family-friendly vibe, renters have their choice of popular spots to call home. The best places to live in Arizona give you plenty of options to choose from, depending on what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for.

1. Phoenix

Ranking as one of the best places to live in Arizona, Phoenix comprises seven distinctive areas. Locals call the neighborhoods of Ahwatukee, Downtown Phoenix, Central Avenue Corridor, Mountain Park Ranch, and Arcadia home within Phoenix’s boundaries.

Learn more about the best neighborhoods in Phoenix.

Phoenix enjoys a solid job market. Manufacturing, business services, electronics, and tourism are cornerstones of their industry.

The city is a hot spot for college grads and young professionals looking to scale their careers in a trendy city that’s still affordable with low taxes.

Phoenix is also a popular destination for seasonal retirees and snowbirds who flock to the city for its warm weather and cultural offerings in the aptly-nicknamed the Valley of the Sun.

Make sure to stop by the Musical Instrument Museum and Heard Museum. Also, check out outdoor wonders like the Desert Botanical Garden.

Of course, winters are colder anywhere you live in Arizona. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the cultural offerings balanced with a low-key vibe that’s more focused on experiences and seasonal outdoor fun than bustling city life.

Summers are blistering hot and temperatures soaring past 100 degrees are the norm. Snakes and scorpions are also common. So, make sure you’re okay with the heat and wildlife greeting you.

If you're interested in moving to Phoenix, learn more about the cost of living in Phoenix.

2. Gilbert

With over 300 days of sunshine per year, a robust job market, quality public schools, and plenty of leisure activities, Gilbert is among the best places to live in Arizona. The area attracts young professionals in their early to mid-30s. They’re typically highly educated and enjoy a higher-than-average median household income.

Chatting over a cold brew is a popular pastime in Gilbert, with the World of Beer featuring local and imported selections with oversized portions of pretzels. Locals walk off their beer and oversized pretzels along 4.5 miles of trails at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.

Families also make themselves right at home in Gilbert. They enjoy highly-regarded schools, low crime rates, and plenty to do outdoors, from hiking to golf.

It’s no wonder this tight-knit community frequently ranks among the best places in the country to live. It features vibrant downtown and eclectic restaurants and annual holiday events with hot air balloon displays.

3. Mesa

Young professionals and families flock to Mesa to launch their careers, take advantage of the rapidly growing city, and enjoy reasonable rents. Unlike other similar-sized cities, landlords can afford the low property taxes in Mesa. That gives them less reason to hike up the rents and they can pass on savings to tenants.

Situated in the middle of a desert, Mesa, Arizona is uniquely home to several lakes and rivers within a short drive from the city. Hot summer days mean tubing and boating along the water to cool off.

Locals know that their local heroes on the Cactus League are a big deal, with some of the greats like Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio playing the fields over the years. However, if little league is just too little for your tastes, you can always rub elbows with the Cubs during spring training.

For arts and culture, stop by the Mesa Arts Center of the Arizona Museum of Natural History to round out your weekend in one of the best places to live in Arizona.

4. Tucson

Tucson’s laid back, artsy vibe attracts locals and visitors to indie shops, bustling restaurants, and eclectic boutiques in this bike-friendly town. This melting pot city swells above half a million year-round residents, but still retains its tight-knit vibe where everyone seems to know each other.

A mix of University of Arizona students and grads enjoy this hip city with a variety of price points for renters. Downtown Tucson is pricier for rentals. However, it’s still doable and usually comes with all utilities. Getting those air conditioning bills paid for is especially vital during Arizona’s hot summers.

Families are still welcome in the Tucson area, including the Northeast and outer boroughs. Those locations offer a distinctive Old West vibe. You’ll find hiking trails and family-friendly amenities.

Learn more about the Best Neighborhoods in Tucson.

5. Chandler

If Phoenix's bustling core isn’t your thing or rents are just a touch too high, head to Chandler with the rest of the locals. It’s the suburb to score bigger apartments at a better price point than nearby downtown. Meanwhile, you can still enjoy what proximity to the big city has to offer.

Intel employees flood Chandler neighborhoods, along with technology manufacturing employees. The bedroom community isn't known for its culture and hopping nightlife. It was even voted as one of the most boring cities in America by Forbes. That's good news if you're looking for a quiet, easy-going place to live that's still close to Phoenix without the high rents.

Despite what Forbes says, there’s still plenty of fun in Chandler. The city has worked hard to make physical activity a priority at spots like Tumbleweed Park. There, you can take advantage of mild winters and sunny, summer days.

On weekends, try the Chandler Center for the Arts and Vision Art Gallery. And if you stick around for the long haul, Chandler is also poised for expansion with a future Metro Light Rail linking the city to the ASU campus and downtown Phoenix.

6. Tempe

Home to Arizona State University nightlife, Tempe abounds with students, nightclubs, live music, sports bars, and Casino Arizona. Graduates and career climbers also feel right at home in Tempe, as do Arizona’s usual snowbirds.

All that nightlife and young energy doesn't overshadow Tempe's beauty. You can see Camelback Mountain anywhere in the city. It’s a good orientation point, no matter which neighborhood you live in.

By day, locals hop on their bike or stroll along Mill Avenue corridor. There, you can see street performers and browse the shops.

It's for these reasons that Tempe is one of the best places for remote workers. Tempe is affordable and has beautiful natural amenities to explore.

There’s an apartment for everyone in Tempe. You just need to pick your favorite spot.

Get started apartment-hunting along North Tempe and the Mill Avenue District. There, you’ll find some of the most popular rentals in the area. They have various price points, from reasonable to luxury.

7. Glendale

With six distinct districts to choose from, Glendale offers a diverse population and spirit in every corner of the city. It's easy to see why the area ranks as one of the best places to live in Arizona. There’s plenty of shopping, history, luxury, and nightlife to choose from.

And despite the lack of sports teams, Glendale hosts NFL home games at the University Of Phoenix Stadium on its unique roll-out grass turf. It was also the home of Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

Glendale is home to people of all walks of life. It’s also popular among millennials and graduates looking for an affordable cost of living and careers in retail, sales, construction, and business services.

If you’re apartment-hunting in Glendale, here’s a breakdown of the districts, with Barrel, Yucca, Ocotillo, Cholla, Cactus, or Sahuaro designed for different lifestyles, from culture to outdoor play. Just make sure your Glendale apartment has a pool to cool off in the hot summer and a sundeck to gather with friends and neighbors.

8. Scottsdale

Mix the old with the new in Scottsdale in areas like Old Town and the Waterfront area blending residential, commercial, and newer condos and lofts.

The city is popular for young adults and families. They enjoy its reasonable cost of living, low crime rates, and quality school districts.

The job market is usually going strong in Scottsdale. There are opportunities in tourism, retail, and restaurants.

Like many of the best places to live in Arizona, Scottsdale is full of trials and desert landscapes to explore. It's also home to cultural offerings like the Scottsdale Arts Festival, Culinary Festival, International Film Festival, and historic museums and galleries.

Speaking of art, creatives are also embraced in Scottsdale. There are over 125 art galleries and studios to hang your work.

Locals have their pick of neighborhoods around Scottsdale. One of those is McCormick Ranch, with picture-perfect views of the mountains.

Gainey Ranch is perfect for families. And, of course, Downtown Scottsdale appeals to culture lovers who want the best of city living.

Finding the Best Arizona City

Interested in moving to Arizona? Learn more about the cost of living. If you're ready to start your Arizona apartment search, just get started with our quiz!

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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