If you are considering moving to Arizona, there are a lot of things you should know. The state is known for its beautiful desert sites, with the Grand Canyon being the most famous (it draws 5.9 million visitors every year from all over the world).
But Arizona is much more than a single canyon. This beautiful state is home to a diverse cultural population and some of the most unique wildlife you will find anywhere in the country. Of course, you will also find some of the most extreme weather patterns here, including monsoons, dust storms, lightning storms, and temperatures that can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
All these things are worth considering when you’re thinking about moving to Arizona. Living there is a unique experience. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that this midpoint of the Southwest has a climate and culture like no other.
Here are the top 25 pros and cons of living in Arizona.
Here are the top pros of living in Arizona.
1. The Landscape Is Incredible
Arizona is known for the Grand Canyon. While that is a trip that is not to be missed, it is far from the only beautiful sight in the state. Arizona is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with tons of natural wonders like Picacho Peak, Havasu Canyon, Verde Hot Springs, and much more.
You can find amazing things to do around the local canyons, rivers, and hiking trails. The state is a popular place for hiking, kayaking, climbing, and even more extreme sports like hot air ballooning. Of course, if you’re not into sports, you can still enjoy the beautiful sights of the desert. There is a reason that the American Southwest is referred to as “painted,” with its vibrant colors and unique vistas.
2. The Sun Is Always Out
Arizona averages 300 days of sunshine every year, only making up for it during its monsoon season. While this does mean that you might have to start carrying sunblock in your bag or car, it also means that seasonal depression isn’t really a thing there. If the winter blues get you down every year, Arizona could do wonders for you.
Of course, moving to a place of eternal sun might mean some lifestyle changes. Make sure you always have sunblock and ideally a hat, too — and of course, make sure you stay hydrated as well. Those desert rays can get extremely hot.
3. The Cost Of Living Is Affordable
Believe it or not, the cost of living in Arizona is surprisingly affordable. It is roughly on par with the national average. The exception is the housing market, which is slightly more expensive. A one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix rents for $880 a month on average. However, there is also a lot of variation between cities, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a place where you can reasonably afford to live in Arizona.
In Phoenix, the average cost of living for a family of four sits at about $2,700 a month. For a single person, it is as low as $800 a month if you exclude housing costs. At 5 percent lower than the national average, this is pretty impressive. A house usually costs around $285,000.
With uber-expensive markets like Nevada and southern California not too far away, this pocket of the Southwest is a comparatively affordable place to live.
4. There Is a Good Job Market
With high unemployment rates around the country, it is important to find a place to live where you can get a job. Not only are there plenty of jobs to be had, but they also vary widely across different industries. The strong economy is bolstered by jobs in healthcare, construction, IT, and even aerospace. What is more, the Arizona economy is strong. Plenty of innovation means that new jobs and industries are being developed, which add thousands of jobs to the state.
In cities like Phoenix, the average salary is $50,000 a year. The state is also home to a growing tourism industry, catering to the regular influx of snowbirds and other visitors.
5. The Cities Are Built On a Grid
If you have ever made your way around some of the cities on the East Coast, you know firsthand how confusing and difficult to navigate they can be. However, in Arizona, you are much more likely to find cities that are built on a grid.
This newer system makes it much easier to find your way around a busy metropolitan area, which is a huge relief. Although this varies across Arizona metropolitan hubs, you’ll find it’s the case in Phoenix as well as other cities. It also means that you will spend less time caught in traffic if you do make a wrong turn.
Related: Coldest City in Arizona
6. There Are Lots Of Cultural Activities
It should come as no surprise that a state that is home to many diverse communities also has many fascinating cultural activities. You will find a huge number of cultural festivals, art exhibits, and other events throughout the year.
You can access many of these in metropolitan areas like Phoenix, helping you access many cultures and experiences that you can’t find anywhere else in the country. These include everything from museum displays to modern cultural activities put on by communities still practicing those beliefs and rituals to this day.
7. Humidity is Low
Arizona temperatures can climb into the 110s, but as the saying goes: it’s a dry heat. That means that, while the air outside feels like an oven, you can find plenty of cool spots in the shade and probably won’t find yourself getting sweaty. Desert temperatures are unique, and the lack of moisture means that there aren’t a lot of insects.
Bear in mind that living in the desert also means that temperatures can vary significantly between day and night. Depending on where you are in the state, you might find the temperature dropping 50 to 60 degrees lower once the sun sets.
8. The Insects Aren’t Bad
In most parts of the country, heat equals humidity and humidity means the mosquitos are out in full force. But because Arizona has an arid desert climate, humidity stays low even while temperatures climb. You won’t see a huge number of mosquitos, flies, or other insects here, as they are attracted to wet environments.
The exception might be during the monsoon season when the state gets the majority of its annual rainfall. During this time, Arizona is muggier than it is the rest of the year. But as a rule of thumb, the dry air means heat without moisture and much fewer insects than the rest of the country.
9. There’s Lots of Access To Other States
Arizona is the central point of access between some of the greatest locations of the American Southwest. From there, you can hop on the interstate to get to California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. This state is the road tripper’s ultimate fantasy, offering access to amazing cultural and natural destinations. That is not even to mention its proximity to the Mexican border!
Suffice it to say that Arizona is a crossing point as well as a destination. You’ll experience a lot of out-of-staters traveling through on their way to other attractions. It’s not hard to see why.
10. The Demographics Are Young
Despite the annual influx of snowbirds desperate to escape the winter temperatures, Arizona’s population skews young. Depending on where you are in the state, the median age falls between 29 and 42, making it a fairly youthful place.
As time goes on, Arizona continues to attract young people, not retirees looking to settle there permanently. This makes it a great place for young professionals, especially in cities like Phoenix and Tucson. The state is staying young, not growing older, unlike places like Florida.
11. There’s Lots of Diversity
Arizona is a highly diverse state. As much as 25 percent of residents are Native American and the Apache and Navajo languages are still widely spoken. There is also a large Hispanic population and you will hear Spanish spoken on the street regularly.
This is an important factor for many people in choosing a place to live. It ensures that you will experience a variety of backgrounds, opinions, and attitudes that impact both your community and society at large. Considering the unique position that Arizona is in across Native American territory and close to the Mexican border, it’s not surprising that the population is so diverse.
12. There Is Amazing Wildlife
Living on the edge of the desert means that wildlife is a part of your everyday routine. It is common to run into snakes of all kinds, both venomous and non-venomous. While this can be unnerving, it is also amazing.
Roadrunners are a common sight, often darting in front of cars as their name implies. In addition, you will see Gila monsters, scorpions, tarantulas, javelinas, prairie dogs, coyotes, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. Some of this depends on where in the state you are. Regardless, living alongside desert animals is a fascinating adventure as habitats collide.
13. The Crime Rate Is Lower Than Average
The crime rate in the Southwestern United States is higher than average, and the entire region has become known for that — especially when it comes to violent crime and drug-related offenses. However, Arizona itself has a crime rate that is lower than the average not just in the Southwest, but in the entire United States. Recent surveys show that in cities in Arizona, violent crime occurs at a rate of 1.7 per 1,000 people (the national average is 4.64 per 1,000).
Here are some cons of living in Arizona
1. There Are Lots of Poisonous Plants
As if venomous spiders, snakes, and scorpions weren’t enough, there is a lot of dangerous plant life in Arizona as well. Cacti are everywhere, even in developed areas. And that isn’t the only one to avoid. The general rule of thumb in Arizona is not to touch anything you see, whether it is a plant, animal, or insect. It is bound to end up being sharp or venomous.
2. You’re Likely To Get Valley Fever
Believe it or not, living in Arizona can make you sick. Almost everyone who lives there gets Valley Fever at one point or another. This unpleasant but mostly harmless illness is an infection from the fungus in the soil. It causes malaise, fever, and a cough. The good news is that it is highly treatable and rarely causes serious problems. The bad news is that you should be prepared to get it at any time, especially if you live in the southern part of the state.
3. There Are Haboobs
For most of us, the word haboob doesn’t mean much. But to Arizona residents, they are more than a silly-sounding word. Haboobs are the regular dust storms that whip up in the desert. They happen fairly frequently and can cause a lot of destruction.
But to the locals who are used to them, they are more of a nuisance than anything else. You’ll get used to seeing people drive straight through them. If a haboob ever passes over your house, however, you’ll experience firsthand how much dirt and grit they leave behind.
This can be a problem for people with allergies. As for the valley fever we mentioned in the last point? Outbreaks are often triggered by dust storms, which can transport the fungal spores that cause infections.
4. Monsoon Season Can Be Overwhelming
For the vast majority of the year, Arizona is dry as a bone, without a cloud in the sky. However, like most desert climates, it has a monsoon season. This usually runs from July to August, though the official monsoon season falls between June 15 and September 30.
During this time, the state gets an average of 12.5 inches of rain. Along with it come flash floods, dust storms that can block out the sun, and startling lightning storms. While residents eventually learn how to deal with these conditions, they can be unnerving and overwhelming, especially for people who are new to the Southwest and desert living.
Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Nevada
5. The Politics Skew in One Direction
Despite the state’s ethnic and cultural diversity, Arizona is fairly one-toned in its political spectrum. It skews heavily to the right without many exceptions. That means that it has extremely conservative policies on gun control, and gun ownership is high. In terms of law enforcement, immigration, and spending, it is similarly oriented. Whether your personal politics agree or not, the lack of diverse opinions may feel like a drawback.
Of course, this varies in intensity from area to area. Despite the state’s right-leaning politics, you can still find plenty of communities with more diverse opinions, especially on a smaller level.
6. You Need a Car
Unfortunately, Arizona is not a good place for walking or biking. Even putting aside the brutal temperature that can make commuting on foot downright dangerous, it isn’t easy to navigate without a vehicle. Phoenix was recently voted one of the least walking-friendly cities in the country, making a personal car or public transportation an absolute must for anyone living in the state.
Thankfully, most of the state’s major cities have options for public transit. But it can still be a pain to navigate metropolitan areas without a personal vehicle, especially in the large, widespread cities and suburbs.
7. The Temperatures Are Brutal
If there is one thing Arizona is famous for aside from the Grand Canyon, it is the breathtaking temperatures. It is not uncommon for the weather to climb into the 110s or even 120s in the summer, and it probably won’t drop below 80 degrees until well into November.
While some people enjoy the heat, it also means being heavily reliant on air conditioning. Remember that Arizona is a desert climate, which means temperatures can plummet wildly once the sun goes down. The good news is that residents get a brief reprieve from the heat in midsummer, thanks to the torrential rains of the monsoon season.
8. The Traffic Is Bad
Unfortunately due to its high population and position between busy interstates, Arizona traffic is usually bad. This is especially true in the biggest cities like Phoenix and Tucson, but you will also encounter regular traffic jams even in suburbs. This is compounded by the heavy reliance on cars since neighborhoods are spread out and the weather is far too hot for biking or commuting on foot.
Because of the state’s unique position between popular destinations like Los Angeles, Texas, Santa Fe, Denver, and Las Vegas, it also gets a lot of traffic from drivers traveling long distances. This is all to say that rush hour in Phoenix or Tucson is intense.
9. Desert Living Can Be Unpredictable
As we mentioned above, the desert climate can be volatile, climbing into the 120s during the day and plummeting to frigid temperatures at night. But the climate isn’t the only odd thing to get used to about living in the desert. You will also need to be prepared to encounter wildlife, dust storms, dry lightning, erratic weather, and long stretches of uninhabitable wilderness.
For residents of the Southwest, these conditions are simply a part of their regular lives. That doesn’t mean that they don’t cause disruption and, frequently, danger. Despite widespread urbanization, you can’t erase the conditions of nature. Even living in a bustling city like Phoenix, you must simply learn to live with them.
10. The Seasons Are Monotonous
There is something to be said for a place where it is sunny all year round. But that can also get a bit exhausting. People who live in Arizona often end up feeling hungry for any sort of seasonal change. The most you can expect is some slightly lower temperatures in the winter, usually in the 70s, and rainfall during the monsoon season, which runs from July to August.
More significant is the temperature change from morning to night, which can be as much as 60 degrees. In the winter, you might even experience nighttime temperatures below freezing, while days remain in the 70s.
11. There Are Snowbirds
Because of Arizona’s year-round warm temperatures and sunny skies, it also experiences an influx of winter residents known as snowbirds. Snowbirds are often retirees with more money and free time to relocate for half the year, usually from places like Colorado, Oregon, and northern California. Locals often find the winter annoying, since the visitors increase traffic and make public spaces more crowded.
Arizona’s tourism industry can also affect crowds, though not as significantly or seasonally as the retirees. However, they can cause the same issues with increased traffic and other issues. The disruption is most significant in cities and near state attractions like the Grand Canyon or Lake Havasu.
12. You Might Run Into Snakes And Scorpions
It probably comes as no surprise that you will spot desert wildlife in Arizona. But people who are new to the area aren’t always prepared for the way that the wild animals can creep into suburbs, yards, and even homes.
The state is home to venomous snakes like rattlesnakes, as well as scorpions, black widows, tarantulas, and giant lizards. Although locals treat them as a simple part of life, it can be difficult and unnerving to get used to — not to mention their presence can cause problems if they make their way into your yard, car, or home!
Should You Move To Arizona?
There are a lot of things to love about living in the Southwest. With beautiful scenery, lots of sunshine, and plenty of job opportunities, Arizona is a place where many people can thrive. It also has lesser-known opportunities, like its highly diverse population and affordable cost of living.
But there are also drawbacks, like extreme weather, dangerous wildlife, and high temperatures.
If you are considering moving to Arizona, these are all things to think about before you make a decision. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons enough to prompt a move.