17 Pros and Cons of Living in Yuma, Arizona

When you’re considering the pros and cons of living in Yuma, AZ, you have to consider all aspects that affect your quality of life. This includes the weather, the cost of living, and things to do in the area. 

If you have kids, you’ll want to know about the quality of schools and education in Yuma. You’ll also want to think about crime rates before you settle into the perfect neighborhood for your family.

Various aspects of Yuma, AZ will appeal to different people, so some of the pros for you might be cons to someone else. That being said, there are a lot of good things to like about the city if you’re considering moving to Yuma, AZ.

Pros

A photo of a colorful sign that says Greetings From Suny Yuma, Arizona. It features bold yellow and orange sun rays, cartoon images of happy people, and a cactus

Yuma is a city at the southwest corner of Arizona, right at the state’s borders between California and Mexico. That puts you in a prime location for travel, and you also get the natural beauty and benefits of being on the Colorado River. There are a lot of other good things about Yuma, so let’s start by focusing on the highlights of this desert city.

1. It’s a Mid-Sized City

Yuma, AZ is a mid-sized city that sees small but consistent population growth. The population is estimated to be about 100,000 people, making Yuma the 12th largest city in Arizona. You’ll get all of the benefits of a big city with the close-knit community of a small town.

The city itself has an area of 100 square miles, and the average commute times are just 15 minutes. The national average commute is 26 minutes, with traffic congestion often boosting that time even higher.

Yuma County is the 5th most populated county in Arizona, with over 225,000 people living there. Whether you settle within the Yuma city limits or in a nearby suburb, you’ll benefit from all that the county has to offer.

2. It Has a Young, Diverse Population

If you’re young and worried that Yuma doesn’t have anything to offer you, think again! Yuma’s largest age group is 20 to 29-year-olds, comprising over 41% of the population. This shows that Yuma is a great city for young professionals. The population of this age group is slightly higher than that of Phoenix.

Over 98,000 people in Yuma are of working age. When compared with the city’s population being just over 100,000 people, this shows that Yuma is a great place for people to live, work, and start a family.

Yuma’s population is over 55% Hispanic and 35% White. The city has moderate Black and Asian demographics at 4% and 2.4% respectively. The cultures of everyone who lives in Yuma are celebrated in various community events.

3. It’s a Livable City

Qualities that make a city livable include its crime rates, education, and healthcare. While Yuma had a spike in crime in 2017, making its crime rate 70% higher than other cities in Arizona, the crime rates have been steadily declining in recent years.

Chances of being victim to a physical crime are 1 in 261 in Yuma. Your chances of being a victim of property crime are 1 in 42, which is similar to the statewide rate in Arizona. These rates aren’t too different than those across the nation.

Yuma County has 10 public school districts that include over 40 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, and 24 high schools. There are also charter schools and private schools inside Yuma’s city limits. 

If you’re interested in high education in Yuma, you can find a variety of degree programs across three colleges campuses, including:

  • Arizona Western College
  • University of Arizona, Yuma
  • Northern Arizona University-Yuma

In terms of healthcare, Yuma Regional Medical Center is the biggest healthcare provider in the county. They have community health providers like the Regional Center for Border Health and Sunset Health for people who don’t have medical insurance.

4. It’s an Affordable City 

An image of the town of Yuma, Arizona showing a wide street with several cars. On the right side of the street are several stores and an old regency cinema

The overall cost of living in Yuma is 11.8% lower than the United States average. Expenses in Yuma are cheaper than in many areas. Groceries and transportation are much more affordable than elsewhere in the state and country.

Utilities are more expensive, possibly because you have to run your air conditioner for many months of the year. Since it’s a desert town, water will also raise your utility bills. However, when you average these expenses out with the others, especially lower home costs, then you’ll have a low cost of living overall.

Related: Best 55+ Mobile Home Retirement Communities in Arizona

5. You Can Buy a House

Over 61% of the population in Yuma is a homeowner. This is because real estate prices are affordable, so it’s beneficial to buy a house instead of rent. The average house price is $134,000 while renting an apartment would cost about $860 a month.

The average house price in the United States is $230,000, so you’re getting a good deal with real estate prices in Yuma. Each neighborhood will have different types of homes available at various costs, so you’ll have a chance to find something that best suits your needs.

Two-bedroom homes start at $50,000. You can easily find decent houses at low prices, and there are plenty of mid-sized homes at average prices. If you want an upscale home on an expanse of land, you can find something spacious for less than $1 million.

Related: Advantages and Disadvantages of Scottsdale, Arizona

6. There Are Great Places to Live

Because Yuma is on the Colorado River, many neighborhoods benefit from the cooler air that comes off the river. It’s going to be hot during Arizona summers, but living near the river will give you a slight break from that heat.

Small Desert City is one of the top neighborhoods because of how spacious it is. You’ll have a nice community around you with all the space of a rural area. Many neighborhoods surrounding schools are walkable and slower-paced, with all of the amenities you’d want close to home.

7. You Can Easily Travel

Yuma is located about halfway between Phoenix and San Diego, so you’ve got great choices for day trips. If you’re planning a road trip, you can easily get out of Yuma and head towards your destination. Yuma County has five major highways running through it:

  • Interstate 8
  • Historic U.S. Route 80
  • U.S. Route 95
  • Arizona State Route 195
  • State Route 280

Historic U.S. Route 80 is also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. It was the first vehicle Colorado River crossing in Arizona and still carries local traffic over the river. It also connects Yuma to Phoenix, which is about three hours away.

For trips that take you beyond the scope of the highways, Yuma has an international airport that has daily flights to Dallas and Phoenix. The airport is also used by the U.S. Marine Corps to serve the Air Station in Yuma.

8. It’s Surrounded by Nature

A beautiful photograph of the a natural landscape Yuma, Arizona. It features a small body of water, palm trees, grass, and a mountain range in the distance

Though it’s located in the desert, Yuma has rich greenlands due to the Colorado River. You can white water raft and fish in the river as well. Yuma has other natural attractions within city limits or nearby.

West Wetlands Park has acres of beach, including a boat launch and fishing area. The butterfly and hummingbird gardens are must-see sights when you’re in the area. If you’re interested in all-terrain driving, Imperial Sand Dunes is a gorgeous natural setting to try. 

Kofa Wildlife Refuge is an area that protects desert bighorn sheep, but you can also camp, hike, and practice nature photography on-site.

9. There Are Fun Things to Do

Yuma has various annual festivals to enjoy, like Lettuce Days, which celebrates the city’s biggest crop. The Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival is a hot air balloon event that takes place every November.

Though Yuma doesn’t have a baseball team anymore, they use the Desert Sun Stadium to host taco and tamale festivals and many concerts.

10. It Has Great Weather

Yuma is known as the Sunniest City on Earth and boasts sunshine and clear skies almost 300 days a year. While the temperatures can get hot, the heat has low humidity, so you stay drier and feel cooler than in humid climates.

Although it gets a lot of sunshine, Yuma isn’t hot year-round. You’ll experience cooler temperatures in fall and need to wear long sleeves and light jackets. Winter temperatures average 60 degrees during the day and slightly colder nights.

11. It Produces Leafy Greens

Yuma is the Winter Lettuce Capital of the World. Due to the amazing weather and booming agriculture industry, Yuma produces over 90% of the lettuce grown between November and March, when it’s too cold for produce in other areas of the country.

In peak growing season, about 18 million pounds of lettuce are processed in Yuma. Agriculture brings in about $3.2 billion a year, forming 40% of Yuma’s income foundation. Over 230,000 acres of land in Yuma County are used for various crops.

Because of its proximity to the Colorado River, Yuma has the perfect land to grow crops. In addition to lettuce, the city’s farmers also grow:

  • wheat
  • alfalfa
  • oranges
  • lemons
  • dates

12. There Are Diverse Job Industries

An image of the Arizona state flag. It shows a flag with an orange central star, blue foreground with beams of red and yellow on emitting from the star on the top half of the flag

The main industry in Yuma is agriculture. Yuma’s lettuce crops alone require almost 45,000 farm laborers to harvest, trim, and pack lettuce. Most farms are under contract with Dole, who is the largest lettuce shipper in the region.

If farming isn’t your passion, tourism and the military are Yuma’s other major industries. Because of Yuma’s beautiful year-round weather, the city is a tourism hotspot. The majority of visitors come between November and April when the temperatures are cooler but the sun shines brightly.

The military has had a presence in Yuma for over 150 years. The United States Army built Fort Yuma in 1851 as a depot that distributed supplies to soldiers throughout the west. Fly Field was established by the Army in 1928. The Marine Corps took over in 1962 and used the area as a training base until 1987. The field now serves as an academic center of military aviation.

Other industries provide a lot of jobs in Yuma, such as construction, manufacturing, retail, finance, real estate, and more.

Cons

For all of the amazing things you just learned about Yuma, there are, understandably, some cons to the area. Read on to see if the good outweighs the bad for this city.

13. It’s a Drought State

Yuma’s record for the sunniest days has a downside—the city only gets about three inches of rain annually. Arizona has been in some type of drought stage since 1994.

To have enough water for all of its crops, Yuma has to use water from the Colorado River. The Imperial Dam diverts the water to the All-American Canal, which supplies water to support Yuma’s agriculture needs.

Farmers have to submit orders to the irrigation district to ensure they have enough water for their crops. After ordering water, they have to wait two to three days for the water to reach the canals at the edges of their fields.

Droughts also affect domestic water use. If you settle in Yuma, you might have periods where you have to restrict your water usage at home. Water costs can elevate your utility bill as well.

14. It Gets Boiling Hot in Summer

Because Yuma is located in the Sonoran Desert, the city’s summer temperatures frequently hit triple digits. The hottest days are between June and September. This extreme heat can take some getting used to if you plan to live here year-round.

That being said, the humidity in Yuma is lower than in many other areas, and dry heat feels less oppressive than wet heat. These high temperatures decline by October, making fall, winter, and spring feel amazing comparatively.

15. It Has High Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Yuma is 8.4%. Arizona’s state sales tax is 5.6%, the county adds 1.11%, and the city government adds 1.7% more. The average sales tax across the United States is 7.3%, so you’re paying more when you buy in Yuma. The city also adds a 2% tax on hotels, bars, and restaurants. 

While you might pay more in sales tax, Yuma’s income tax is lower than the United States average. Yuma’s rate is 4.2%, and the country’s average is 4.6%. Taxes can factor into the overall cost of living, so you might have to do some math and compare Yuma’s rates to those in your current city.

16. It Has an Above-Average Unemployment Rate

Yuma’s unemployment rate is higher than the rest of the country, with about 8.7% unemployment compared to 6.0% in the rest of the United States. This is currently a con, but there is also slow job growth in the city, so it might not be a problem for long. 

Jobs have been increasing, with a projected growth of 30.8% in the next ten years. This is still lower than the predicted growth of 33.5% across the United States, but it’s potentially good news.

17. Its Income is Below State Average

In 2018, Yuma’s median household income was about $47,000. This is lower than the average state income of $56,000. While the median is just an average, it’s not great that the figure is so much lower than the rest of Arizona.

The poverty rate in Yuma is about 17%, which is higher than in other cities in the United States. The average across the country ranges from 10% to 13%, making Yuma’s very high in comparison.

Since the cost of living is lower in Yuma, the income difference doesn’t cause as much disparity as it could in a more expensive area.

Before you make a major move, you want to weigh the pros and cons of your potential new city. Yuma offers an affordable cost of living, beautiful year-round weather, solid employment prospects, and plenty of fun things to do.

Yuma has some amazing pros, but will they outweigh the cons of living in the desert for you? Let us know your thoughts and anything we missed in the comments below.

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