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Cost of Living in Arizona, 2021

By: Davina Ward
October 1, 2021

Arizona's incredible geographical features, including petrified woods, the Grand Canyon, and towering cacti, make it the perfect home for outdoor enthusiasts everywhere.

If you prefer to avoid the notorious Arizona heat indoors, The Grand Canyon State offers a plethora of entertainment opportunities ranging from museums to professional sports games to bars to restaurants and more.

If you've checked off all your relocation must-haves, there's just one thing you'll need to do before finalizing your decision to move to Arizona.

You'll need to consider the cost of living in Arizona and your budget.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about the cost of living in Arizona to help you create your moving budget. Let's dive in!

Arizona Housing Costs

Housing costs are generally among the most significant expenses that renters have to contend with in their apartment budget, which is why they make an excellent starting point for any new moving budget.

Arizona is considered an affordable destination for renters. Of course, affordable is a relative term. You’ll need to get the hard numbers to create an accurate budget, starting with housing costs.

To help get you started, here’s a breakdown of the average rent price for Arizona's major cities, including Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson.

CityAverage 1-Bedroom RentAverage 2-Bedroom Rent
Scottsdale, AZ$1,649$1,946
Mesa, AZ$1,356$1,555
Phoenix, AZ$1,190$1,453
Tucson, AZ$940$1,257

Rent prices in Arizona are increasing across the board, as the state registers a 9.9% increase in median rent prices in a year-over-year comparison.

These rent price increases can be seen at the city level, as well. For example, Scottsdale's rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment are higher than the national average of $1,137 by a whopping $512.

These increases are not expected to abate any time soon, so it may be a good idea to make your move sooner than later. You may be able to catch a better deal on rent now instead of waiting a few months, as the market is very hot.

Arizona Transportation

Transportation is another major expense to consider when moving to Arizona.

According to data from MIT's Living Wage Calculator, the average Arizona resident spends $4,900 annually on transportation costs. For a family of four with two children and two working adults, transportation costs increase to $13,317 annually.

Arizona doesn't have public transportation at the state level. Public transportation is handled by individual agencies across the state.

As a result, Arizona follows the traditional model of public transport, where inner-city and downtown areas are well-serviced, and all other areas typically rely on a personal vehicle to get around.

If you move to an Arizona metro area, you can save big on transportation costs by getting rid of your car and relying on public transportation to get you where you need to go.

Valley Metro charges just $64 for a 31-day metro pass in the Phoenix metro area, which translates to $768 per year or savings of over $4,100 annually.

Most buses are outfitted with bike racks, so you can easily combine the power of buses and your own two legs to get you around in Arizona.

If you're working remotely from home, you may be able to save money on your commute to work. Tempe, which is a 20 drive from Phoenix and 15 minutes from Scottsdale, is one of the best cities for remote workers.

Arizona Food Costs

The average Arizona resident spends $3,792 on their grocery bill annually. This expense increases to $11,106 for a family of four.

If you're looking to save on your grocery bill, start with your grocery store. Loyalty program memberships, coupon-clipping, and shopping sales can lead to incredible savings on every trip.

The availability of delectable dishes in Arizona means that you'll likely find yourself dining out at one of the state's many restaurants. Whether you treat yourself once a week or once a month, it's important to include these food costs in your budget.

Here's a look at how much a three-course meal (plus gratuity) will cost you in Arizona's major cities.

  • Phoenix: $69.00
  • Tucson: $57.31
  • Mesa: $70.15
  • Scottsdale: $94.86

Arizona Healthcare Costs

The average Arizona resident spends $2,763 on medical costs annually, while a family of four spends $7,455.

Healthcare expenses can get costly, but they are a necessity.

If your employer provides your healthcare coverage, you should ask for specific costs and a detailed policy explanation upfront.

If you have to purchase a health insurance policy on your own, head over to Healthcare.gov to find a policy that meets your needs.

You can find state-specific resources on the Arizona Department of Health Services website. These resources include low-cost care options for women, children, families, and individuals that have specific health care needs.

Generally, moving to a new state means that you'll have a harder time finding providers within your insurance network. Be sure to check in with your current provider to determine your options.

Arizona Utilities

Utility costs are variable. They can change based on variables like weather and personal preference. In short, it can be challenging to estimate your utilities in your budget.

However, in the U.S., the average monthly cost for basic utilities is $240. These costs include gas, electricity, and water for your apartment.

Depending on where you live in Arizona, these costs will vary.

For example, Phoenix's average cost for basic utilities is $250.38, while the average monthly cost in Tucson is $229.09.

As is usually the case in hotter locales, you can expect the bulk of your utility costs to come from high electricity usage.

From air conditioning to running fans 24/7, these costs can get pretty high. You can reduce these costs by investing in energy-efficient appliances and keeping one room cool rather than your entire apartment.

Your lease agreement will also play a significant role in your utility budget line item.

Many luxury apartment buildings include the cost of internet service, water, electricity, and gas in the cost of rent. Be sure to consider this in your search for the perfect Arizona apartment.

Speaking of internet service, many people include essential services such as internet and phone service in their budget line item for utilities.

As the average U.S. resident pays $94 for their phone service and anywhere from $30-60 for their internet service monthly, it's essential to account for these items in your budget.

Arizona Fitness and Entertainment

Regardless of where you live, you'll likely set aside money for entertainment costs every so often. Whether you're funding a hobby, entertainment, or anything that makes you happy, you should include these costs in your budget.

MIT's Living Wage Calculator refers to these costs as civic expenses. The average Arizona resident spends $1,811 annually on civic expenses, while a family of four spends $4,127.

Curious as to how you'll use that money?

Here's a breakdown of some of Arizona's entertainment and fitness options and how they'll affect your budget.

Fitness Costs in Arizona

If you're looking to stay fit in Arizona, you have options. Although many residents take advantage of the warm weather throughout the year by exercising outdoors, there are many indoor options.

You’ll have to factor in the costs of a monthly gym membership. Here are the average costs of gym memberships in Arizona's major cities, according to Numbeo:

  • Phoenix: $33.39
  • Tucson: $28.94
  • Mesa: $19.62
  • Scottsdale: $32.37

Best Arizona State Parks

Arizona has the unique privilege of being home to The Grand Canyon National Park, The Petrified Forest National Park, and The Saguaro National Park.

As a result, Arizona residents have the luxury of immersing themselves in the deep, gorgeous colors of the Grand Canyon, the aged grace of massive cacti, or the beauty of petrified wood without ever leaving the state.

That said, you’ll be expected to pay $30 per vehicle to enter the Grand Canyon, $20 per vehicle to enter the Petrified Forest, and $25 per vehicle to enter Saguaro National Park.

Catch a Game in Phoenix

Arizona is home to professional sports teams in each of the four major leagues in the U.S. — a luxury that draws many sports fans to the state.

All of the major league teams are headquartered in Phoenix. If you live outside the city, you can make a weekend trip to see your favorite team play.

Be prepared to cover the cost of admission, which can range from $39 to $82 on average, depending on the team you want to see playing.

Catching games at your local sports bar can be a great way to meet new people, enjoy good eats, and, of course, cheer on your team. It's also likely to be cheaper than the cost of a single mid-tier ticket.

Hit the Slopes in Arizona

Although Arizona is known for its deserts and cities, the state's mountainous regions provide ample opportunities for those winter sports lovers looking for a cold adventure. Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff offers lodging, skiing, snowboarding, and more.

Prices start at $99 for a weekday pass where visitors can choose one day of the week to head to the slopes for the entire season. Choose your day wisely!

Other Expenses to Consider in Arizona

Creating an accurate budget means taking all the expenses of your new state. Unfortunately, these costs can be overshadowed or completely forgotten by most budgeters.

To help you avoid that problem, here are some other costs to consider when moving to Arizona.

  • Sales Tax: The state of Arizona collects a sales tax of 5.6%. In addition to the state sales tax, both counties and cities may levy additional taxes. For example, Phoenix's effective sales tax rate is 8.6%, including the state, county, and city-level tax.
  • Income Tax: The state of Arizona collects an income tax based on a sliding scale. The sliding income tax rate ranges from 2.59% to 4.50%, depending on your income.** **

Effectively budgeting for an apartment means following the golden rule of rent budgeting:

An individual's pre-tax earnings should be at least three times the cost of rent.

Using Phoenix, the average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,190 monthly.

To live comfortably in Arizona, a renter should earn at least $3,570 before taxes each month. This translates to an annual pre-tax salary of $42,840.

You can use our rent calculator to help you determine how much you can afford to spend on rent each month.

Final Thoughts - Is It Expensive to Live in Arizona?

If both you and your budget are ready to make the move to Arizona, it's time to get started on your search for the perfect apartment.

Learn about the best places to live in Arizona. and the cheapest places to live there.

Get started with the quiz to help you find the perfect apartment in Arizona.

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Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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