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17 Things to Know Before Moving to Arizona

By: Susan Finch
December 21, 2020

Arizona is a masterpiece of desert landscape, mountain backdrops, and metropolitan cities. Its reputation for being the go-to state is rapidly growing as more people are looking to relocate to Arizona.

Why is Arizona so popular? From its affordability to natural wonders and metropolitan cities, here are 17 things to know before moving to Arizona.

1. Cost of Living in Arizona

The cost of living around Arizona is pretty reasonable, depending on where you settle. The average Arizona income is $59,000. You’ll also find affordable rents in many of the state's metro areas.

Here's what you can expect to pay in rent in Arizona's most popular cities:

Median rents in Phoenix run $945 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,154 for a two-bedroom. That figure is higher than the national average of $1,095 for a two-bedroom. And although rents are starting to rise around the Phoenix metro area, they are still affordable compared to other large metropolitan cities.

Scottsdale's median rents are higher. They’re $1,277 for a one-bedroom and $1,515 for a two-bedroom. Like Phoenix, rents there are also on the rise. Scottsdale rents are currently among the highest in the metro area.

Renters should expect to pay $1,097 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,311 for a two-bedroom in Tempe. And in Tucson, average rents cost $1,097 for a one-bedroom and $1,311 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Not all of Arizona's cities are inexpensive. However, overall, the state has a reputation for being affordable.

Best Places uses a cost of living indices based on a US average of 100. The cost of living in Arizona is 102.2. That makes it slightly more expensive than the US average.

2. Arizona Is Way More Than Just Desert

It's impossible not to fall in love with Arizona's desert landscape and colorful cacti. However, there's more to the state than just the great outdoors.

Arizona features 433 cities. They range from metropolitan, world-class cities to small urban enclaves. It’s also full of canyons, mountains, and forests, like in Tucson Mountain Park.

3. Weather in Arizona

Arizona weather is glorious if you don't mind some heat thrown into the mix. The climate is generally dry and sunny year-round.

Winters are mild, and spring and fall are warm and welcoming. Until the heat hits, you can lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails or spend the weekend outdoors.

There’s a catch, though. Summers are scorching and rise to nearly 120 degrees. Swimming pools, central air, and cold drinks are a must around Arizona.

Summers also bring monsoon season between June to September. It's rainy, wet, and things can get swampy and humid at a moment's notice. However, you'll also enjoy some cool relief before the temperatures rise again.

4. Arizona is Home to a Few Standout Cities

Arizona's cities attract newcomers from around the country looking for a lower cost of living, new career opportunities, and outdoor recreation. There are also plenty of options for art, culture, and urban amenities around Arizona.

Phoenix

Phoenix offers seven major areas and urban villages. Despite the potential for long commutes, roadways are arranged in a grid system and well-planned freeways.

The region is also known for its resorts, desert gardens, and championship golf. You're also never far from mouth-watering Southwestern cuisine. If this city is on your Arizona shortlist, get familiar with the best neighborhoods in Phoenix.

Scottsdale

Like Phoenix, Scottsdale is also known for its high-profile resorts and restaurants. There's also plenty of shopping, art galleries, and museums.

Nightlife is alive and well in Scottsdale and with upscale hotspots. You can carve out your own niche in Scottsdale or join the ritzy crowds, night club-hopping, and country club living.

Tempe

Tempe is the home of Arizona State University. However, it’s also home to some awesome year-round events.

Juried art festivals like the Tempe Festival of the Arts attract locals and tourists seeking a creative vibe. Live music and bohemian shops pepper the town to weave together an artistic spirit.

Whether you're pursuing higher education or want to explore your creative side, Tempe offers something for everyone.

Tucson

Tucson's booming visual and performing arts scene complements its beautiful desert backdrop. Despite the expansive desert, mountain ranges stretch in every direction and provide opportunities for snow skiing.

In between mountain biking and enjoying the views, Tucson is also ideal for gallery hopping, museums, and exploring the heritage shrines.

The best places to live in Arizona offer an affordable cost of living and a vibe that complements your lifestyle. Whether you want a family-friendly spot to call home or a vibrant, cultural backdrop, you can find it in Arizona.

5. Arizona's Job Market

Arizona's job market offers stability and growth for locals and transplants to the area. The state features a growing tech industry. It’s attracted companies like Lyft, Apple, and Uber to set up offices.

Smaller tech companies including Freshly and RetailMeNot are flocking to Arizona for its affordability and innovation.

There are also industries and jobs to choose from beyond tech. Arizona is home to large corporate headquarters of companies including PetSmart, Circle K, U-Haul, and Sprouts Farmers Market. Higher education is also a major employer around Arizona, with the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Phoenix has one of the most robust job markets in the country. It has high numbers of job openings and annual pay.

Phoenix has a reputation for tech jobs. However, Scottsdale offers more opportunities for tourism and hospitality.

Tucson is the place to work if you're interested in aerospace, defense and space, industrial, and warehousing. Tempe is known for its business services, manufacturing, healthcare, biotech, and technology.

Health care is also booming in Arizona. It shows low unemployment and economic gains.

It may come as a surprise that 66% of the country's copper output came from Arizona in 2018. Its mining and copper industry has a significant economic impact on the state. Head south of Flagstaff and north of Tucson to find copper production opportunities.

6. It's Impossible to Get Tired of the Grand Canyon

There's a reason Arizona is called The Grand Canyon State. As the state's most prominent attraction, locals and tourists alike can't help but feel the pull. It's completely stunning, and you can always find something new to do.

Walking and hiking are just a few ways to explore. There are also opportunities for camping and mule rides.

The Grand Canyon is a photographer's paradise. Kayaking down the Colorado River is fantastic Instagram fodder (and an even better workout).

7. You May Come Across Bizarre Bugs

Large, bizarre bugs are a staple of Arizona living. You're bound to find some incredibly creepy varieties like giant hairy scorpions and Africanized bees.

You might even see a desert tarantula or a variety of brown spider species. Beyond the exotic varieties, you'll also find mosquitoes that could carry viruses and termites. Bring the buy spray!

8. Getting Around Arizona

Traffic can be challenging when living in Arizona. Traditional rush hours are challenging in the cities. However, you'll still find congestion on glorious afternoons when locals are headed out to state parks for a hike.

You'll find public transportation and bus system options around Arizona. Scottsdale has four trolley routes to get around town with transfer points to the Valley Metro.

From there, you can access the greater Phoenix area. Tuscon's Sun Tran bus service offers 40 routes in the city and its outskirts. Tempe offers bus, light rail, and streetcar service with some free circulator routes.

9. Entertainment in Arizona

Entertainment options are plentiful around Arizona, whether you want museums and nightlife or the great outdoors. The world already knows that Arizona has laid claim to the most epic outdoor attraction in the country: The Grand Canyon.

You can also check out the Hoover Dam, Monument Valley, and the red rocks of Sedona.

Tempe celebrates the end of the summer heat with the Summer Ends Music Festival. Held in Tempe Beach Park, you'll find different genres of music and local vendors to satisfy your tastebuds.

The week-long La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros in Tucson features western-themed floats and events in bull riding, roping, and barrel racing. The Festival of the Arts in Phoenix features over 100 art vendors and cultural organizations.

Take a break from the summer heat with a stop at a museum or gallery. You can't go wrong with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art or the Phoenix Art Museum. They're both regarded as some of the state's best museums.

10. Outdoor Recreation Beyond the Grand Canyon

Now that we've covered the glory of the Grand Canyon, there's plenty more to see and do around Arizona. The Red Rocks of Sedona attract travelers looking for spectacular views and restorative relaxation. The city is a worldwide spiritual mecca that attracts healers and those interested in the metaphysical.

You can also take a dip at Verde Hot Springs and enjoy the nearby waterfalls and swimming holes. Floating in the Salt River in Phoenix is a long-standing tradition. Locals get a reprieve from the city at the Tonto National Forest and flat along the salty river in rented tubes.

11. Snowbirds Love to Flock to Arizona

Get accustomed to the snowbirds that descend upon Arizona each winter. Some 300,000 winter visitors travel to the East Valley and beyond for the warm weather, culture, and outdoor fun.

You'll find some week-long holiday visitors in the winter. However, most snowbirds stay for three to six months. They consider Arizona their home away from home.

12. Remember to Hydrate

Even on a cooler day, it's essential to hydrate when you live in Arizona. The desert climate requires more water to replenish your fluids and stay healthy. Make sure to bring extra water on hikes or any time you plan to spend the day outdoors.

13. Creative Spirits Love Arizona

Arizona draws artists looking for creative opportunities and like-minded communities. Sedona's art scene is thriving, and Tucson and Scottsdale offer galleries and art openings featuring local artists.

Beyond the museums and artist communities, you'll also find creativity in boutiques, coffee shops, and festivals. They honor the creative spirits of Arizona's locals.

14. Arizona is Seriously Dusty

Load up on Kleenex and keep your allergy medications nearby. Monsoons and hot weather aren't the only things you need to prepare for in Arizona. Dust storms are also common around the central part of the state. They usually sweep in during the summer months and often follow along with the drafts from seasonal monsoons.

15. Baseball Lovers Are Right at Home in Arizona

Arizona is home to the Diamondbacks pro baseball team. The Rockies, and Rangers also play spring training games in the state.

The teams that train in Arizona make up the Cactus League. Whether you're a Chicago Cubs fan or rooting for the Colorado Rockies, you can see them train in Arizona.

16. You Can Visit Tribal Lands

Arizona may be growing rapidly. However, it hasn't lost focus of its origins.

You can still explore the state’s native heritage at the Hard Museum of American Indian Art & History and see the ancient pueblo cliff dwellings. If you want to visit the Tribal lands, you can use these guidelines to honor and observe their regulations.

17. Cooking with Cactus is a Must

If you're a foodie at heart, learning to cook with prickly pear cactus is a must. However, you'll need a $7 permit from the Arizona State Land Department to harvest them.

Once you get a permit, you can also harvest saguaro, cholla, and agave to throw into your dinner. Get inspired by sampling from restaurants featuring prickly pear dishes in omelets, tacos and tortillas.

Final Thoughts

Ready to pack up and move to Arizona? Find your next apartment in your favorite neighborhood with Apartment List.

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AUTHOR
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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