Thinking about relocating to a new home base? You might be looking to meet new people, start a family or even launch your own business. If you haven’t considered Arizona, you might be surprised to know that it’s home to some of the best living areas in the country. Those that have had the opportunity, however, know that it’s home to breathtaking vistas and beautiful communities.
Arizona has remained one of the fastest-growing states in the nation for decades. In fact, its population has grown 750% since 1950, increasing from about 750,000 residents to an impressive 6 million!
Take a look at this guide to the best cities for living in Arizona, and find out more about all the Grand Canyon State has to offer to those who need a new place to call home.
Tucson is the second largest city by population in Arizona, and it is located 108 miles northwest of Phoenix —Arizona’s largest city. Tucson is famous for its hot — but not humid — weather, its breathtaking architecture and the University of Arizona.
If you’re visiting Tucson, you’ll probably want to visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world. You might also enjoy the Fourth Avenue Street fair featuring various unique crafts, or if you are a literary type, the Tucson Festival of Books, held in March.
Family-friendly activities in Tucson include:
- The Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio and classic Western theme park
- The Arizona-Sonora Desert interactive outdoor museum, zoo and garden
- The International Wildlife Museum
Places to Eat in Tucson, AZ
Some of the best places to eat in Tucson include:
- Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
- The Flying V Bar & Grill
- The Grill at Hacienda del Sol, which features fresh American cuisine, old-world style décor, classical guitar and a selection of over 700 wines
Where to Live in Tucson, AZ
Some of the best neighborhoods in Tucson are:
- El Conquistador
- Highland Vista Cinco Via
- Sam Hughes
- Poets Square, a 550-home neighborhood in midtown
Tucson home values have gone up 8.7 percent over the past year, and the median price of a home in Tucson is $187,950.
Crime Rates in Tucson
Tucson has a crime rate that’s a bit higher than many other cities in Arizona, with 662 violent crimes for every 100,000 people annually.
We’re kicking off this list with one of the bigger cities in the state of Arizona. Gilbert has come a long way from its farming and agricultural roots, while still keeping pride in its hardworking past. The city, home to over 215,000 residents, features the historic Gilbert water tower in the center of town. Not far off are the grain silos that still stand proudly as homage to a traditional way of life.
But even though Gilbert hasn’t forgotten its past, it’s certainly a city headed into the future. All the entertainment and amenities expected by families with children, as well as those with a business bent, can be found, and all within reach of the US 60 and Loop 202 freeways. You can relax at the SanTan Village shops, or unwind outside at the many walking trails, parks and golf courses.
A truly unique Gilbert attraction is Top Golf. Despite the name, you don’t need any golf expertise to have the time of your life at this three-story, covered outdoor golf range. Scoring points is as easy as whacking balls into targets, making this a fantastic attraction for people of all ages and skill ranges!
If a family is your first priority, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better city than Gilbert to live in. The school system is a dream, with an overall high school graduation rate of 94%! And its excellent education is matched by a well-deserved reputation for safety. Despite having an incredibly high rate of population growth since 1980, Gilbert has managed to get named the second-safest city in the nation — not once, but twice — by Law Street Media.
There’s no doubt that Gilbert is one of the best family-friendly cities. Great schools, an abundance of fun, and some of the safest neighborhoods in America should put Gilbert on the map the best cities to live in.
When it comes to finding new stomping grounds, the housing market can be a central factor. If that’s the case for you, be sure to put Glendale on your list! The cost of living index in this city is 93 as opposed to the national average of 100, and the average rent here is an affordable $857 per month. That’s not bad for an area where you’ll find yourself surrounded by a vibrant community and culture!
One of this city’s most beloved annual events is the Glendale Glitters. During the month of December, the city decks out 16 blocks with over 1.5 million lights! Aside from the fantastic spectacle, the festival also features live music and the food and art of hundreds of local vendors. It’s a perfect place for kids to experience the wonder of the holiday season, and even a charming destination for date night.
You’ll find no shortage of outdoor activities in Glendale. The city has five different parks within its boundaries, including the popular Thunderbird Conservation Park. At nearly 1,200 acres, this desert land is covered with more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. As its name suggests, it isn’t just an open space for play — it’s an opportunity to learn more about the unique animals and ecosystems of the Sonoran Desert!
Though its name might sound too good to be true, Paradise Valley actually does live up to its moniker. It all started in 1889, when three surveyors were sent to the area by the Rio Verde Canal Company. Struck by the natural beauty of the desert mountainsides, they nicknamed the place Paradise Valley — and it stuck. Today, the landscape is dotted with the homes of celebrities who gravitate to the unique character of this desert gem, but it’s also one of the best places to live for families.
The median home value of $957,600 is certainly pretty steep, but it’s worth it. If education is high on your list of priorities, you’ll be very happy to hear that Paradise Valley has the highest high school graduation rate in the state, with 98% of students obtaining their diplomas. The city’s low population of just over 13,000 also means that crime is barely heard of.
As for food and fun, there’s no shortage of it in this town. It’s home to many resorts and spas, making it a great place to put down roots if you’re set on a life of luxury.
Looking for somewhere quiet to make your home? Look no further than Prescott, AZ. This secluded area has an elevation of over 5,000 feet, giving it greater climate variation than the rest of the state. That makes it an ideal destination for those who want to bike mountain trails, hike or enjoy kayaking in the area’s lakes. The city even has a Night Sky Ordinance, which puts limits on night lighting in order to protect the natural beauty of the night sky from light pollution.
Ask anyone who lives in Prescott, and they’ll tell you that one of the best parts about Prescott is the community feel. With a population of just under 40,000, the city has a small-town feel in the best of ways. The Courthouse Plaza always has an event going on, from art openings to live music. In 2008, it even won the honor of being one of the American Planning Association’s Ten Great Public Spaces! Whether you want to do some shopping at a small boutique, picnic in a grassy area, or just take a leisurely stroll, the Courthouse Plaza is the place to do it.
If you need a break from the summer heat, you also have two gorgeous lakes to choose from. Lynx Lake is a popular destination for general boating, as well as offering good fishing and campgrounds. The more well-known Goldwater Lake is operated as a day park as well, so after your day of canoeing or kayaking, you can relax with volleyball courts, a large Ramada, and a playground for the kids.
The abundance of outdoor activities makes Prescott a prime destination for retirees and those who can work from home, but it’s one of the best cities in Arizona and has something to offer to everyone.
Whereas a lot of cities seem to spring organically out of nowhere, Fountain Hills has the distinction of having been planned to perfection. It’s what’s known as a “master planned” community, designed in 1970 when the land was still a cattle ranch! This design was meant to prominently feature the beauty of the natural desert vistas, and it still does today.
In the center of the city is, of course, the fountain the area is named after. It’s one of the most impressive feats of fountain engineering, spraying water up to 560 feet high! Surrounding it is a 64-acre public park, featuring walking paths and playgrounds. Fountain Park is even home to a championship 18-hole disc golf course! And don’t forget to
visit at night, when the fountain is gorgeously illuminated.
Fountain Hills is also a great hub for culture and the arts! The city boasts an impressive art collection, made up of over 100 works publicly displayed throughout downtown and public buildings. If you’re a performance aficionado, you’ll be right at home as well. The city has a community chorus and band, and their community theater has been in operation for nearly 30 years!
Communities that have it all are hard to come by, but by all accounts Fountain Hills is one. It has three excellent schools in its Fountain Hills Unified School District, and was even named 2009’s “Best Affordable Suburb” in Arizona by Business Week.
While most of the cities on this list can be considered metropolitan hubs of one size or another, Snowflake is one of our smallest entries. With a population of just over 5,500 residents, Snowflake is a great place for those that like knowing their neighbors. It’s also a prime destination for families with children, as four of its schools have ratings of 8 or above as measured by GreatSchools.com — and, 38% of families in the city have at least one child.
But it’s not just the most family-friendly city in Arizona, it’s also the most affordable city! Homes have a median value of $131,900 — substantially lower than the statewide median of $165,100. This makes it a great destination for first-time homebuyers or those who are just interested in getting more home for their money.
Outdoorsy types will love Snowflake’s location in the Arizona White Mountains. Snowflake is the northernmost town in the region, benefitting from quite a different climate range than the rest of the state. Temperatures are pleasantly warm and dry during the summer, but you’ll also get snow sports in the winter!
If you’re looking for a low-crime neighborhood and the most affordable city in Arizona, Snowflake is a good option for you.
Surprise, Arizona, is a city that was never meant to be. It was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, and it was just a square mile of farmland at the time! The town’s name comes from the fact that old Flora Mae didn’t really have high hopes for it — she said it would be a “Surprise” if the city ever amounted to anything. Boy, would she be shocked to find out that today, Surprise is home to over 120,000 residents!
And those residents certainly love their arts and culture! Surprise’s public art collection is one of the best in the state, featuring works that are heavily influenced by native cultures and the scenic desert environment. The city is very kid-friendly in its range of public activities, as well. One of the premier community activities is Second Sundays in the Park, which provides free live music and other live entertainment during spring and fall.
If your concerns are family first, you’ll be glad to know that Surprise is home to three schools ranked 8 or above by GreatSchools.com. The overall graduation rate for high schools in the city is also 10% higher than the state average. The crime rate for the city of Surprise is also a strong incentive to live or start a business there, at a full 50% lower than the rest of the state!
Are you a sports fan? Then you should definitely add Surprise to your watchlist, since both the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers make the city their home for spring training. If you prefer to get your culture elsewhere, you can check out the Fiesta Grande. It’s a festival that takes place in the fall and celebrates Hispanic heritage — and it’s one of the most popular public events in the area.
Surprise is a city that really does have it all if you’re looking for family-friendly fun and the safest neighborhood in Arizona.
If you’re after a small-town neighborhood feel with big-city amenities, make sure to check out Litchfield Park. This little city is only home to about 5,500 people — but still manages to have a strong dedication to community. The city has only been around since 1926, when Paul Weeks Litchfield decided to purchase the land for farming cotton. Nowadays, however, Litchfield Park is a destination for high-income individuals. The median income for this area is $73,996, which is an impressive 63% higher than the statewide median.
On the other hand, that also means that home values are pretty steep, with a median of $336,100. But if you can swing it, Litchfield Park might just be the safest city in Arizona, keeping a crime rate that’s 81% lower than the rest of the state’s!
It’s also a fantastic place to raise a family. The Litchfield Park Recreation Center houses all the sports and camps you could want for your kids, and even an “Arts in the Park” live concert series during more temperate parts of the year.
Education is an attraction to Litchfield Park as well! The city’s high school graduation rate is an impressive 96%–which is 27% higher than the state average.
While the perks of Litchfield Park do come at something of a premium, it’s impossible to argue with the low crime rates and commitment to community and the arts. If you can swing it financially, it’s possibly the best place to live in Arizona.
This relatively small city lies just north of Tucson, offering a great place to live for people who love the outdoors. It’s a pretty new city, and it’s still growing rapidly. It was incorporated in 1974, but didn’t really make its way onto the map until recent years. Thanks to an impressive tech boom, Oro Valley is now one of the best places to live in Arizona, especially if you’re looking to launch a business!
In 2008, the city made the top 50 of Fortune Small Business’ “best places to live and launch” list, and its popularity has only grown since then. Today, Oro Valley claims just over 41,000 residents. Most of these individuals are employed in the rapidly-expanding tech industry — after all, the city is home to more than 10 high-tech firms. This also means that the median income here is actually 50% higher than the rest of the country!
Along with a high standard of living, Oro Valley is known for its extremely low crime rates. According to FBI statistics, Oro Valley was the #1 safest city in Arizona for rates of both violent and property crime during 2006, and it has remained near the top in the years since.
The residents of Oro Valley also take their outdoor recreation very seriously. The city doesn’t let all their gorgeous desert vistas go to waste — they have hosted multiple prestigious sporting events in the past, including a Pac-10 Women’s Golf Championship and the Tour de Tucson.
If you’re interested in an up-and-coming corner of Arizona where you can live, work and play surrounded by the gorgeous Sonoran Desert, keep your eye on Oro Valley!
Scottsdale is one of the larger Phoenix outliers, with a population of more than 230,000. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that it only had 2,000 residents when it was incorporated in 1950! Today, Scottsdale has transformed into a hub of activity, with a reputation for excellent accommodations and recreation.
The people who live there have a median income of $72,163, and median home prices approach $450,000. That’s a pretty high threshold, but there are several things that make the city worth it.
For one, Scottsdale is a huge center for the arts, which may come as a surprise to some. It’s home to more than 125 studios and art galleries, and that’s a lot when you realize the city only spans a section of land that’s 31 miles long and 11.4 miles wide at its biggest point! The city’s annual arts festival even won the title of best art walk from American Style Magazine in 2005, and has only gotten better with age.
Scottsdale’s location is also nearly ideal for those who want to feel closer to nature — but not too close! Horseback riding, hikes, and other adventures are just a few minutes away by car. One particularly excellent attraction for new visitors and long-term residents alike is the Desert Botanical Garden. Many people suffer from the misconception that there isn’t all that much plant life in the desert, but the Garden showcases more than 50,000 arid-land plants!
Between the surroundings and culture, Scottsdale already has it good. But add in the fact that the city’s high schools boast a 94% graduation rate, and it comes pretty close to perfect!
Protecting the Best Places in Arizona
While it’s important to factor in things like neighborhood and city safety when you’re choosing a new place to move, it’s no substitute for taking action to protect the home you love. Even in the safest city in Arizona, you’ll want the kind of peace of mind that only comes from expert security.
If you’re in the process of moving, or even just looking to do so in the near future, you should be thinking about how to protect your next home investment. Titan Alarm offers the maximum in home security, from fire and CO2 detectors to burglar alarms, surveillance and more. Call today to learn more about your options for securing your own little slice of the best city in Arizona.
Updated by Titan Alarm on November 5, 2018.