When people think of Arizona, the first image they think of is desert, and there is certainly a lot of it in the state. But believe it or not, the desert only makes up a portion of the state. The northern part of Arizona features stunning mountain ranges, pine forests and big canyons (the most famous being the Grand Canyon). Northern Arizona receives significant snowfalls, and snow has been known to fall as far south as Tucson.
Here are some things you should consider before moving to Arizona:
- Summer is the off-season. Moving to Arizona during the summer can considerably reduce your moving costs because it is the off-season. Winter is more expensive since many of the seasonal residents begin pouring into the state, making it more difficult and expensive to rent moving trucks and moving companies.
- Public transportation is widely available. Public transportation throughout the state is pretty common and easy to navigate. The system is mainly covered by buses, but in Phoenix there is a 20-mile light METRO rail that runs from north-central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe. There are plans to expand the light rail before 2030. Tucson also has a trolley available that runs from the UA to downtown.
- Beat the heat. Arizona is known for being hot, hot, hot! And rightfully so. The mountain areas tend to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but the rest of the state averages well over 100 degrees throughout most of the summer, and often reaches over 120 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest days. For this reason, most vacationers avoid the state in the peak of summer.
- Late summer months see frequent afternoon monsoons, which are powerful thunderstorms that often induce street and underpass flooding or damage from lightning strikes. If you choose to move to Arizona in the summer, try to plan your move time to early mornings and late evenings and drink plenty of water.
- Professional sports are BIG in Arizona. Phoenix is home to several professional sport teams including the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Phoenix Coyotes (NHL), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) and the Arizona Rattlers (AFL). Phoenix and the surrounding communities host Major League Baseball’s annual spring training Cactus League from mid February through opening day of the regular season.
- Arizona is also rife with college sports programs, including Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Arizona in Tucson. Both schools are part of the PAC-12 conference. Additionally, Flagstaff is home to the NAU programs that are part of the Big Sky Conference in most sports and the Western Athletic Conference in others.
- Parking can be tricky. Many Arizona streets have restricted parking requiring permits or payment, so pay special attention to street and parking signs. Even in areas with plenty of free parking, there may still be restrictions regarding days and times that spaces are available.
Change your address online. To make your move from California to Arizona easier, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, cost efficient, and will ensure that your mail arrives to your new home with you.
Cities and Metro Areas
Arizona is made up of 15 counties. The state is an eclectic mix of big cities, suburbs, quaint small towns and urban villages.
Regularly described as one of the most beautiful places in America, Sedona dazzles with its famous red rocks and hiking trails. With the 4th highest median home value in Arizona and an unemployment rate is the 8th lowest in the state, Scottsdale is a great place to call home. With an average of more than 300 sunny days per year, Tucson draws sun-seekers in droves. Yuma is popular for its many trails in the middle of the desert. Prescott is best known for its array of local and national attractions, including Courthouse Plaza, Whiskey Row, World’s Oldest Rodeo, Prescott Center for the Arts, Sharlot Hall Museum, and the Phippen Museum, as well as several colleges, ideal for those looking to further their education.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Arizona varies greatly depending on the part of the state you are moving to. Obviously, the larger cities will be much more expensive than the smaller towns.
Phoenix is Arizona’s largest market, meaning that the cost of gas, health care, and general goods and services tend to be a bit higher than the national average, but the overall cost of living is still more or less on the lower side.
Home prices in Arizona have appreciated 2.0% higher than the national level. Looking back three years at the median price in October 2019 compared to October 2022, prices have increased 52.0% in Arizona VS 35.8% nationwide.
As of October 2022, the median price for a home in the state was $428,300, which is up 5.0% above last year’s median price. Comparing prices over the last three years, we can see they have decreased -7.6% from the peak of $463,300 in May-2022.
Highways and Public Transport
During regular commute times, freeway traffic naturally increases, but in most Arizona cities, the surface streets see the biggest congestion. Tucson, for instance, lacks an extensive freeway system so the street traffic is very heavy.
Other than downtown Phoenix and downtown/shopping districts of neighboring communities (Scottsdale, Tempe), Arizona’s larger cities are spread out, and not considered to be a walkable.
Phoenix is the largest city in America without an intercity train service and has not had Amtrak rail service in over a decade (Amtrak does stop in Maricopa and Tucson, both south of Phoenix). Amtrak buses are available at Sky Harbor International Airport for direct connections to Flagstaff, Arizona. However, the Valley METRO does have a light rail that runs through Phoenix and makes it more accessible for those wishing to use public transportation.
Public transportation in Tucson is available (Sun Tran and trolley), but to get across town you have to sit in the same traffic as everyone else. There are two freeways in the area, but both tend to skirt much of the city, and therefore are not the best option for many commuters. One of the best ways to get around Tucson is by bicycle. Many streets have wide, well-marked bike lanes. There are also bike paths along many of the dry creeks and riverbeds that provide riders with shortcuts through the city.
Some of the other towns and cities in Arizona have local forms of public transportation, however, many of the smaller communities do not provide it.
Public Transportation in Arizona:
Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA)
Tucson International Airport (TUS)
Valley Metro (Phoenix)
Sun Tran (Tucson)
When moving to Arizona for a new career possibility, consider the location of your new employer when searching for housing as long distance public transportation may not be a viable or convenient option.
With so many great cities to live in, finding an Arizona home near the office should not be very difficult to do. Choosing a city or town close to work will also reduce the amount of time you have to sit in a hot car in traffic with the air conditioning on full blast.
If you are searching for Arizona jobs, be sure to consider these top ten largest employers in the state (not including government, state, county, city or public schools). Click here for a list of the 100 largest employers.
Weather is a big factor for many people when they decide to move to Arizona. Phoenix, Tucson and their surrounding areas are really hot, but that is not unlike many Southern California desert cities. Most of the state is pleasant and warm in the spring and fall, and even on the coldest days of winter, merely a jacket will keep you warm and snug. But remember that most of the year, Arizona is HOT. At least it’s a dry heat though. Even during the monsoon season months (late June/early July through early September) when it rains most afternoons, the humidity manages to stay relatively low.
The average daytime temperature of the hotter areas in the summer (May to September) is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When I say WELL OVER, I mean just that. The average spring and fall temperatures fall about 85 degrees, and the winter drops to an average of 65 degrees. The nights of all seasons cool off quite a bit from the daytime highs and range from around 45 degrees in the winter to 80+ degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime. These numbers can fluctuate by as much as 15 degrees from city to city.
Mountain areas of Arizona will have clearer, defined seasons and may get heavy snow throughout the winter, heat waves during the summer, and changing leaves in the fall. Spring, as you may have guessed, is lovely.
Finding the right school is a tough process! Sorting through all of the available schools when you learn that there are more than 30 school districts in the Phoenix area alone.
Recent changes in state funding have taken their toll on public schools, but Arizona boasts some of the most dedicated teachers and schools that provide quality education to their students. Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to Arizona.
Arizona is home to many public and private universities, including University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and more. Many of these universities offer scholarships and affordable tuition for Arizona residents.
Want to take care of important (mandatory) tasks before moving to Arizona? Many of the items required for a move to Arizona can be found online.
Arizona Government Resources
- For an Arizona government overview and information on moving to Arizona, legal requirements and helpful links, visit AZ.gov.
- Register to vote at your County Recorder’s Office. If you have an Arizona Driver’s License, you also have the option to register to vote online.
- Find your local United States Post Office online.
- Register your vehicle and obtain a new driver’s license at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).
- For tax information visit IRS.gov.