Surprisingly, Florida and Arizona share many similarities: they are sunny states with mild winters with many outdoor activities to choose from and are suitable for both those who like the small-town feel and those who like the big town feel.
However, many differences can either be pros or cons, depending on your situation and preferences. Whether you are a current resident of either state, are looking to move, or are just curious, we have all the information you need.
After conducting in-depth research about many aspects of both states, we’ve developed a definitive list. Here are our 15 pros and cons of living in Florida vs. Arizona!
#1 Weather and Climate: Humid Subtropical Vs. Arid
If living in a sunny state is important to you, Arizona and Florida are both excellent choices. Florida is ranked the 10th sunniest state in the U.S. while Arizona is ranked the number one sunniest state in the U.S.
All year-round, the sun shines on the beautiful beaches of Florida and the vast plains of Arizona. Winter is practically nonexistent in some parts of Arizona (where the altitude is low). However, in the northern parts of Arizona, you will find some snowbirds who only live there during the winter months. Similarly, winters are very mild in Florida.
Instead, Florida experiences high humidity levels every single day of the year. With a humid subtropical climate, summers in Florida are extremely warm and sticky. On the other hand, summers in Arizona are hot, but consist of dry heat with little to no humidity.
One benefit of living in the dry heat of Arid Arizona is that when you step into an air-conditioned building after being outside, you cool off almost instantly. Conversely, in Florida, the humidity follows you inside and leaves you feeling warm and wet for quite a bit, even after entering a cool building.
#2 Natural Disasters: From Hurricanes to Wildfires
Florida is well known for being at risk of facing hurricanes. Florida hurricanes are devastating and result in high winds, storm surges, and flooding. Each household must be prepared for a hurricane to strike, especially during June through November.
As with Arizona, apart from being subject to extreme heat, citizens may face wildfires, dust storms, and monsoons. The most serious natural disaster to threaten the population of Arizona is wildfire. But, the threat is not as extreme as the threat of hurricanes in Florida is.
#3 Coastline and Lakes
Because Georgia, Alabama, and the Atlantic Ocean border Florida, Floridians have the luxury of living by 1,350 miles of coastline. So, if tanning in a nice beach city is pleasing to you, this is a big pro if you reside in Florida.
Arizona does not have a coastline. They have areas deemed as beaches, but it is much different than the true, coastline beaches found in Florida. The bodies of water in Arizona are usually larger lakes, such as Lake Powell.
#4 Outdoor Recreation
Taking advantage of the sun available in both states is a necessity. Within Arizona, you will be able to enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, water sports, hiking, horseback riding, some winter sports in the northern regions, and off-roading.
Apart from tanning on the beaches of Florida, Floridians also enjoy fishing, diving, snorkeling, water sports, parasailing, biking, and hiking. Although many activities exist within both states, the experience will be different due to the differences in location and climate.
Water sports and recreational activities are a big part of Arizona and Florida. With that said, Arizona only consists of 0.3% water, so it has more to offer in terms of non-water-related sports and activities.
#5 Amusement Parks and Theme Parks
Whether you have a family with children or enjoy going to amusement parks yourself, Florida is most definitely the winner in the amusement park category. Arizona does not have any major theme parks or amusement parks. They do have a few smaller parks, though.
From Disney World to Universal Studios to Busch Gardens to SeaWorld and more, there is plenty of major theme and amusement park options to choose from while residing in Florida.
Although having these parks is a perk, they can cause lots of congestion within the big cities. For someone who does not like living in high-traffic and crowded areas, Arizona is a better choice.
Tourist attractions, such as theme parks and amusement parks in Florida, flock in tourists. Statistics show that in 2019 alone, Florida welcomed over 133 million visitors. With the recent pandemic, numbers are of course lower than usual.
Also in 2019, 46.8 million people visited Arizona. A resident of Arizona faces much less tourism than a resident of Florida does. This could also be because of land usage – Arizona has many open plains, while Florida is packed almost to the brim.
#7 Population Density
There are 21.9 million people who reside in Florida as of 2021. That is more than 4 times the population size of Arizona, which is currently 7.5 million people. In terms of square mileage, there are 353.4 people per square mile on average in Florida. In Arizona, the average is 63 people per square mile.
#8 Population Demographics
Racially, Arizona and Florida are both mainly composed of White or Caucasian individuals. African Americans make up 16.07% of Florida’s population, which is much higher in comparison to 4.50% in Arizona. Arizona is also home to more Native Americans, ringing in at 4.50% in comparison to only .28% in Florida.
Gender statistics reveal that in both states, there is a slightly higher population of females than males. Also, the majority of the individuals in either state identify under the Christian faith. Arizona is a slightly younger state with the median age being 37.1 years old. In Florida, the median age is 41.6 years old.
Related: Living in Vero Beach, Florida
#9 Economy and GDP Worth
Due in part to the amount of tourism mentioned above, Florida’s economy is booming. Tourism is the number one industry driving GDP growth within Florida. Florida’s GDP totaled $1.07 trillion in 2019, while Arizona’s GDP totaled $370.1 billion in 2019.
With a booming economy comes pros and cons. A pro of living in a booming economy is a faster pace of life, more housing options, and overall more to do. A con is that as more people come into the state, the more crowded it gets, which can lead to obvious downsides.
#10 Politics: Strictly Conservative Vs. Swing State
Arizona is known to be strictly conservative. In the majority of recent presidential elections, Arizona has been a red state. Conversely, Florida has historically been a swing state, meaning that sometimes it is a blue state, and sometimes it is a red state.
So, if politics are important to you, the difference in historical voting patterns between Arizona and Florida is something to consider. If you identify more with conservative beliefs, Arizona is the better option. However, if you do not care too much for politics or do not strongly associate with one side over the other, Florida may be best in the political respect.
#11 Job Market
Having a job is often high up on the list of things needed in a state to want to move there. There is a 5.1% average unemployment rate in Florida and 6.6% in Arizona. Within the booming economy of Florida, there are more than plenty of job openings and with an ever-increasing population, there are more than plenty of people to employ.
Arizona is different in that they need to employ more workers and have ample unfilled job openings. Both job markets are strong after the fall from the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona is facing a 2.9% increase in the job market over the past year and Florida follows closely behind with a 2.1% increase.
One immense benefit of living in Florida is that there is no state income tax. In Arizona, state income tax is 4.2%, which is still lower than the national average of 4.6%. However, the sales tax percentage is higher than the national average of 7.3% – Arizona has a sales tax of 8.1%. In Florida, the sales tax is 6.8%.
#13 Median Household Income
In 2019, the annual median household income in Arizona was $62,055. In Florida, the annual median household income for 2019 was slightly lower, calculated at $59,227. However, to reinforce this, Florida does not have to deal with any state income tax. In both states, roughly 6% of the population makes over $200,000 per year.
#14 Quality of Life Ranking
There is much that goes into the ranking quality of life. Quality of life is an umbrella term that accounts for factors that may cause someone to feel happy or unhappy overall. Some factors include free time, weather and climate, time spent commuting to and from places (such as work), physical and mental health, security, safety, and freedom.
Quality of life ranking (QLR) is a good indicator of the overall situation from living in one state over another. Out of 50, Arizona ranks 34th in quality of life ranking; 23rd in healthcare ranking; 40th in education ranking; and 10th in the economic ranking.
Florida ranks 13th in quality of life ranking; 29th in healthcare ranking; 3rd in education ranking; and 9th in economy ranking out of 50.
#15 Living Environment: Small Town Vs. Big Town Feel
Having an opinion is natural, so it is expected that everyone has a preference regarding wanting to live in an area with a small-town feel compared to an area with a big-town feel. Luckily, both states have small, homey towns as well as large, metropolitan towns.
Although Florida has much larger tourism statistics, there are towns you can escape to if you prefer the small-town feel. Arizona has numerous small towns as well as towns such as Phoenix and Flagstaff.
Related: Cheapest Places to Live in Florida
More Suitable for Living: Florida or Arizona?
It all boils down to your preference. There are pros and cons to living in either state, so it depends on what your non-negotiables are. The 15 pros and cons of living in Florida vs Arizona demonstrate the state’s shared features.
Florida has so much to offer, especially when it comes to ways to spend free time. On top of it all, they have no state income tax. However, it is humid and has a much higher number of people per square mile compared to Arizona.
Arizona is a great and sunny place to live with a slightly higher average annual household income and many outdoor activities available. However, it is a political state that swings hard towards one end of the spectrum and does not have coastline beaches.
Anything to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below! Happy traveling!
Related: Advantages of Living in Arizona