I’m an Arizona local here to share everything I know about the absolute best places to live in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon State boasts a variety of landscapes and communities, from bustling metropolises to quiet mountain towns. This article overviews what to expect in each area as far as safety, school districts, cost of living, and things to do.
I’ll help you narrow your Arizona home search whether you’re moving for work, school, or simply a change of scenery. You won’t find a more honest, comprehensive guide anywhere else!
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Live in Arizona
- FAQs About Living in Arizona
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Best Places to Live in Arizona
A beautiful desert valley is full of outdoor adventurers, students, families, and booming businesses.
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona. This sprawling metropolis is set between five mountain ranges. The valley boasts gorgeous Sonoran Desert scenery and natural beauty.
There’s a wide range in the city’s demographics, from students to young professionals to retirees. Tucson is home to the University of Arizona and offers excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and affordable housing.
I’m a born-and-raised Tucson local and can attest that it’s one of the best places to live in Arizona if you love the great outdoors. This bike-friendly city includes hundreds of miles of paved bike paths, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, and more natural wonders.
The weather is ideal for outdoor activities most of the year, despite the summer heat. Tucson truly is a great place to grow up and grow old.
Arizona’s wealthiest municipality boasts fancy golf courses, natural beauty, and excellent schools.
Paradise Valley is one of the nicest places to live in Arizona. It’s home to gorgeous desert landscapes, high-end shopping centers, pristine golf courses, and safe neighborhoods.
Its low crime rates and award-winning school district make Paradise Valley one of the best cities in Arizona to raise a family. Do note that this is an expensive area. The median income in Paradise Valley is nearly three times larger than that of Phoenix and Tucson.
Paradise Valley is also a wonderful area to live if you’re an avid outdoorsman. Enjoy some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and desert nature in the greater Phoenix area. Check out Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Paradise Valley Country Club when you explore this lovely community.
The state capital booms with businesses, shopping centers, entertainment, and working professionals. This city never sleeps!
The state capital of Phoenix is one of the best places to live in Arizona if you crave a fast-paced metropolis. It’s the largest city in the state and a desert mecca for thriving nightlife, shopping centers, businesses, commerce, and more. Downtown Phoenix is an awesome area for some of the state’s best sporting events, bars, and restaurants.
Phoenix is a great city to raise a family. There are tons of excellent schools from elementary to university level. It’s home to the Arizona State University Sun Devils and the Grand Canyon University Antelopes, as well as thousands of students and young professionals. Job opportunities abound, as do social gatherings and fun things to do.
It’s no secret that Phoenix is spread out, as it’s one of the biggest capital cities in the United States. A higher average commute time due to heavy traffic and congestion is one of the only downsides to this big city.
If Phoenix sounds right for you, explore further with my guide to the best neighborhoods in Phoenix.
A charming mountain town designed for outdoor lovers and college students.
Prefer mountains to the desert? Flagstaff is meant for you. It’s one of the best mountain towns in Arizona, boasting unparalleled natural beauty alongside the state’s highest peak.
Mount Humphreys is a testament to the incredible hiking, biking, skiing, and camping this area provides. Explore the hiking trails throughout the San Francisco Peaks, then hit the slopes at Snowbowl after the first snowfall. Outdoor activities abound all year round in Flagstaff.
College students and outdoor lovers make up the better part of the population in Flagstaff. Northern Arizona University brings vibrant youth to the downtown area, especially on the weekends.
Flagstaff is also the closest major city to the Grand Canyon, a must-see wonder of the world and a popular day trip adventure. This lovely destination is the epitome of charm and that small-town feel that will make you never want to leave.
One of the most stunning destinations in the Southwest is perfect for lovers of the outdoors and laidback living.
There are few comparable sights to the red rock buttes of Sedona. This otherworldly town is hands down one of the most aesthetic places in Arizona and offers plenty of things to do.
Do you long to live among the mountains and spend your off days scaling rocks, taking lengthy hikes, and exploring beautiful landscapes? Sedona sets the scene for your dream life.
The only caveat here is the cost of living. The median income is similar to Tucson and Phoenix (fairly average, I’d say). But shops and restaurants do not hesitate to jack up their prices since Sedona is such a popular tourist destination.
Expect to drop a pretty penny whenever you go out for dinner or drinks. Groceries are pricier than normal, too. However, Sedona makes for a wonderful and undoubtedly gorgeous home, despite the high prices.
A vibrant college town with endless things to do just on the outskirts of Phoenix.
Tempe is one of my favorite places in the state. This bustling area is popular with college students as it is home to the ASU Sun Devils. However, there is more to this area than the university.
See a show at the Tempe Center for the Arts. Spend your time floating lazily on Tempe Town Lake, or go for a daily jog around the water’s edge. Tempe is also super close to major Phoenix attractions such as Papago Park and the Phoenix Zoo.
Enjoy the beautiful Arizona State University campus, complete with multiple sporting facilities and an award-winning performing arts center. ASU has plenty to offer, even if you’re not a student. There are endless things to do in Tempe so rest assured, you’ll never get bored if you reside here.
A quiet city with stunning mountain views, safe neighborhoods, and excellent schools.
Oro Valley is a small city of just over 35 square miles, located directly north of Tucson. This tight-knit community rests in the shadows of the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains.
It’s considered by many to be a retirement community, but the demographic spread is actually quite wide. Oro Valley is easily one of the best places to live in Arizona, young or old.
There are several renowned elementary and high schools throughout Oro Valley. This small city is an ideal place to raise a family with virtually non-existent crime rates and safe neighborhoods.
It’s also only about 25 minutes from the University of Arizona and Tucson, so you’re never too far from the action in the big city.
Luxury shopping, high-end clubs, and renowned restaurants are the name of the game in this boujee area of Phoenix.
Scottsdale is the most luxurious place to live in Arizona. This historic area boasts some of the best nightclubs, restaurants, entertainment, and more.
The area overflows with young professionals who maintain a busy work-life balance in this fast-paced city. There are tons of exciting things going on in Scottsdale all year, so you’ll never run out of ideas for your free time.
Check out Old Town Scottsdale to experience one of the busiest areas in the state. Fashion Square Mall has all of the luxury brand names you could ever imagine, and the surrounding bars and restaurants are top-notch.
Golf at championship-level courses and attend major events like the PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open. The possibilities are endless in the Beverly Hills of Arizona.
👉 Pro Tip: Check out the area in the off-season to avoid major crowds. The lines to get into restaurants and clubs are impressive during peak seasons like holidays and parents’ weekends.
A picturesque city featuring ancient history, jagged mountains, and wide-open spaces outside of the capital.
Want that small-town feel close to the big city? Mesa is a quaint area nestled between Phoenix and the Superstition Mountains — where you’ll find some of the best campgrounds in Arizona.
Centuries-old Hohokam artifacts and ruins are another draws to this area. Mesa also features the Arizona Museum of Natural History, one of the best museums in the state.
Downtown Mesa is charming, friendly, and packed with personality. Spend your days off shopping at quirky antique shops, then sip on a cold one at one of Mesa’s many breweries or cideries.
Mesa is safe, affordable, and less crowded than nearby neighborhoods. This is easily one of my favorite areas near Phoenix.
Get your sports fix in this happening area just north of Phoenix.
Arizona’s antique capital is more than a place to shop for collectibles. Glendale has a far smaller population than its capital neighbor, but the action is just as formidable.
State Farm Stadium brings thousands of football fans to Glendale to see the Arizona Cardinals. There are also several major baseball fields like Centerplate and Camelback Ranch – Glendale (hello, Spring Training!).
Downtown Phoenix is less than 15 minutes away and Sky Harbor International Airport is just beyond there. The best day trips from Phoenix abound with Glendale as your home base. And you’ll pay less than nearby high-end areas for the same quality of life. Glendale is the perfect combination of location, entertainment, and affordability.
Lake Havasu City
Your recreation and relaxation destination is created by the Colorado River.
This northwestern city is a major vacation destination. Those who desire a trip to the beach don’t have to venture all the way to the Gulf of Mexico or the California Pacific. The Colorado River creates one of the best lakes in Arizona, offering everything you need to fulfill your waterside desires.
Picnic spots, beaches, and mountain hikes abound in this city of natural beauty. There are also tons of fun bars, restaurants, and shops near the famous London Bridge section of the lake.
Lake Havasu City is one of the best places to live in the northern part of the state. This especially applies if you’re an avid outdoorsman and lover of water sports.
An ex-mining town overflowing with charming shops, restaurants, and unique local personalities.
Sick and tired of big city life and desire a simple existence in a historic town that oozes charm? Then Bisbee is your beat.
This tiny town just north of the Mexico border is one of my favorite places in Arizona. It’s a retired mining town and the streets are steep. The cliffside neighborhoods wind precariously through the rugged Mule Mountains.
Explore gorgeous historic hotels, find your favorite local bar, and get to know the quirky people who make Bisbee so special. I know tons of Tucsonans who buy vacation homes in Bisbee. It’s a great place to escape from the real world with natural beauty, a vibrant personality, and a comforting small-town feel.
👻 Pro Tip: Take a ghost tour to get a thorough background of the town’s haunted history!
Wine country and ranchland make for one of the most beautiful and peaceful places to live in Arizona.
Sonoita is a vineyard dreamland for those that have always wanted to live in wine country. The rolling hills just east of the Santa Rita Mountains make up one of the most beautiful landscapes in the state. More than 15 vineyards bring wine-os to this area from all over Arizona. The businesses are growing every year.
Sonoita is ranchland as well. Expect to own several acres if you seek to buy here. This southern Arizona gem allows you to exist in nature and go hiking and horseback riding in the quiet hills. Though, Sonoita is also one of the best day trips from Tucson and just a little over an hour away from city amenities.
FAQs About Living in Arizona
What is the nicest town to live in in Arizona?
What is the safest place to live in Arizona?
I hope this post gave you some insight into the best places to live in Arizona according to your lifestyle. Good luck with your move to or within the Grand Canyon State!
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