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Cost of Living in Phoenix, AZ 2021

By: Davina Ward
March 22, 2021

Phoenix really does have everything you need to be happy and more.

A phenomenal outdoor environment, warm weather, and tons of entertainment options make Phoenix a premier destination. That's why so many people have made the move to The Valley and contributed to Phoenix's substantial population growth over the years.

If you're ready to bask in the desert heat and enjoy all that Phoenix has to offer, it's time to get to work on your budget. That's right, before you pack your bags, you'll need to determine whether you can afford to live in the bustling metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona.

This guide will break down everything you need to know about the cost of living in Phoenix to help you budget for your move.

Phoenix Housing Costs

When it comes to affordability, Phoenix lies somewhere in the middle. It's not an exorbitantly expensive city, but it's also not wildly cheap.

Over the past year, rent prices have increased across the entire Phoenix metro area. This is in direct contrast with the rent prices across the rest of the state which have fallen by 5.7% in a year-over-year comparison.

That said, Phoenix rent prices remain reasonable. Our Phoenix rent report shows that the median price for a one-bedroom apartment sits at $967. A two-bedroom apartment will generally run about $1,181. This is well below rent prices logged in comparable cities.

If you’re looking to save on a Phoenix apartment, you might look into living with roommates and splitting rent costs. In many cases, studio apartments can be even cheaper than one-bedroom apartments. So, that’s also an option if you don’t need much space.

Ideally, making the move sooner rather than later can help you avoid the potential rent hikes expected as the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

Phoenix Transportation

One of the biggest drawbacks to living in Phoenix is the lack of a comprehensive and robust public transportation system.

While Phoenix does have a public transportation system consisting of both rails and buses, most residents rely on personal vehicles or ride-sharing to get around.

According to data collected from MIT's Living Wage Calculator, a single Phoenix resident will spend $4,900 on transportation costs annually.

If you intend to rely solely on public transportation in Phoenix, Arizona, you'll be paying reasonable fares to get around. Valley Transport, the agency responsible for Phoenix metro transportation offers bus, light rail, and paratransit services.

A one-day pass costs $4.00 for basic bus service. Express/RAPID transit options that are a bit quicker and more straightforward routes cost $6.50 for a day pass, with special rural routes coming in at $2.00.

Food Costs in Phoenix

The average single adult in Phoenix will spend $3,792 on groceries yearly, assuming that all meals and snacks are cooked at home. For a family of four, with two adults and two children, these costs rise to $11,106, annually.

If you were looking for inexpensive grocery options, Safeway and Costco are major grocers in the area that offer affordable prices on bulk buys. Membership at these stores can save you even more. Sprouts is another local grocery store that offers affordable prices on standard grocery items.

Whether you're a foodie or just like to treat yourself once in a while, you'll likely find yourself enjoying the occasional meal at one of Phoenix's many delicious restaurants. According to data from Numbeo, you'll spend about $60 on a three-course meal for two, not including tip. That can add up quickly!

Phoenix Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs are rising across the country. These high costs will follow you in your move to Phoenix. A single adult can expect to pay $2,763 for healthcare costs annually. For a four-person family, this amount rises to $7,455.

It’s important to find a healthcare plan that best meets the needs of you and your family. Luckily, you can shop for and apply online for the right healthcare plan via Healthcare.gov. You can also head to Arizona’s state health insurance resource center for valuable resources on how to choose the best healthcare plan.

That said, it’s common for employers to offer health insurance coverage. So, if you’re planning on relocating and have a job lined up, be sure to compare employer plans to other options to ensure that you get the best coverage and deals.

Phoenix Utilities

Unfortunately, making the move from another state can make it challenging to create an accurate budget line item for utilities. Famed for its extreme heat and desert location, moving to Phoenix from a cooler state can definitely cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Despite milder weather throughout the rest of the state, Phoenix summers consist of average temperatures of 100°F.

About three-quarters of the way through 2020, Phoenix had hit 100°F a record-breaking 144 times during the calendar year. Those kinds of temps translate to A/C as a requirement.

Interestingly enough, Arizona temperatures are prone to dramatic drops at night due to the desert climate. So, you may also end up raking up heating costs, as well.

What does this mean for your utility bills? Generally, it means that your average utility bill will be significantly higher than the national average of $240 per month. In Phoenix, the average utility bill consisting of electric, gas, and water, sits at $251.36 a month.

However, you should expect to pay more during the summer months. That’s when running your A/C consistently can tack on an additional $60-$70 a month. Choosing an apartment equipped with energy-efficient appliances and an HVAC system is the key to reducing your monthly utility bills.

Additional utilities include garbage collection. However, it’s rare that renters are responsible for covering garbage collection fees.

Cell phone service and WiFi are commonly lumped in with utility costs, so don’t forget to include these in your budget. These prices will vary depending on your carrier and contract. So, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deal.

Fitness and Entertainment

Have no fear, the city of Phoenix has tons to offer by way of fitness and entertainment. Fitness opportunities abound, whether you prefer to jog around the city or train with like-minded people in a gym. When it comes to entertainment in Phoenix, it’s hard to choose between the plethora of options. Here’s a breakdown of the fitness and entertainment options in Phoenix and how much they’ll cost you.


Staying fit is not only good for your health, it’s also great for boosting your quality of life in the city of Phoenix. There are tons of outdoor spaces in which to hike, bike, run, or walk. Keeping in shape means that you’ll be able to enjoy all of these amenities to their fullest.

Of course, low-cost forms of fitness such as running and biking are fun options. However, if you prefer a more structured approach to fitness, a single adult pays, on average, $31.20 a month for a gym membership.

Sports Games

The Valley is one of the best places to reside if you’re a fan of any of the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. Phoenix is home to professional basketball, baseball, football, and hockey teams.

That said, heading to a game will mean shelling out for tickets, parking, and food and drink (if you’re splurging). Being a sports fan can quickly get costly. Here’s a look at the average ticket prices for Phoenix’s major sports teams:

You can save on the cost of parking, tickets, and more by heading out to a local sports bar to catch the game. Food and drink prices are usually much more reasonable than you would find at concessions. Moreover, there’s nothing better than rooting for the team you love among other fans.

Enjoy the Arts 100

Phoenix boasts a bustling art scene that has been growing in recent years. There are tons of places in the city to see a show at a performing arts center or catch a play at a theater. Here are some of the most popular options.

  • Herberger Theater Center: Hosts many performing arts shows and competitions. It’s also a great place to start getting more involved in your community by volunteering.
  • Phoenix Suns Arena: Though named for the NBA team that plays here, Phoenix Suns Arena is also the premier venue for major artists’ concerts and other entertainment events. Previous performers include Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Ariana Grande, Fleetwood Mac, and more.
  • Phoenix Symphony Hall: Home to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arizona, and the Arizona Opera, this massive downtown venue is the perfect spot for those seeking a night out for classical entertainment.

Head Outdoors

One of the best things about Phoenix is its desert location. The mountains, forest, and desert that make up the city’s landscape are incredible to behold. They’re even more incredible to experience.

Head out to South Mountain Park to get a firsthand look at the beauty of the desert. The park boasts 16,000 acres of land and over 50 miles of trails for hiking, biking, walking, and however else you like to get around.

Dobbins Lookout, the highest publicly accessible part of the park, sits at 2,330 feet. It offers an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the entire valley.

If you’re looking to stay close to the downtown area, Papago Park is best. Home to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Park is ideal for a full day spent outdoors enjoying leisurely recreation.

Keep in mind, the zoo costs $25 for general daytime admission. The Botanical Garden costs just under $30.

Other Expenses to Consider in Phoenix

Regardless of where you move, you’re sure to be faced with hidden costs. Whether it’s abnormally high gas rates or a need for private flood insurance, knowing what hidden costs to expect when moving to a new place is crucial.

Not only will this save you from unknown expenses, but it’ll also enable you to build a more accurate budget. Here’s a breakdown of some of Phoenix’s hidden costs.

  • Taxes - Arizona uses four income tax brackets. They range from 2.59% and 4.50% depending on your income, which is among the lowest rates in the country. However, The combined state and county sales tax rate for Phoenix residents is 6.30%.
  • Car Maintenance: The Phoenix heat can do a lot of damage to your vehicle. This is especially true if you park outdoors. This can translate to higher than average car maintenance rates.
  • Childcare: Childcare can be one of the highest expenses for families. In Phoenix, childcare costs $850.88 for a single child.

Housing costs are usually the largest budget item for Phoenix residents. That's why it's crucial to use housing costs as the foundation for your budget when determining whether you can afford to live in Phoenix.

The golden rule of budgeting states that you should earn at minimum three times the price of rent. This will help to ensure that you aren’t rent-burdened and can live comfortably.

As the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix is $967, the recommended monthly salary of a Phoenix resident is $2,901 before taxes. This translates to $34,812 annually.

Final Thoughts

If moving to Phoenix is your dream, we can help make it a reality. Take a quiz above to get started on your apartment hunt in Phoenix!

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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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