Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Arizona
Nestled in the southwest corner of the United States, Arizona is home to nearly 7.3 million residents. It is famous for its desert landscape and desert climate, as well as for being home to the Grand Canyon, easy access to Las Vegas, dozens of national parks and deserts, and one of the largest U.S. Indian Reservation populations.
This several-thousand square mile state is so large and full of different cultures, histories, natural wonders, and walks of life. In one area, you may find miles upon miles of orange desert sand and grand rock formations, while in another, you would find it hard to miss the unforgettable pine-filled forests.
So if you’re thinking of moving to Arizona, there’s no question as to why it’s a top contender. This state is full of history and a unique landscape that is hard to find anywhere else in the country. Whether you’re in the early planning stages of moving or are just curious about what Arizona has to offer, here’s what you need to know about the Grand Canyon State.
As with most southwestern states, Arizona has a semiarid and humid climate that varies little throughout the year. The Basin and Range region is semiarid and arid, while the Colorado Plateau is humid. The transition zone, which sits between Phoenix and Flagstaff, experiences a mix of both dry and humid.
This diverse climate makes sense in a larger perspective: Arizona is approximately 114,000 square miles wide — and that’s large enough to fit all of New England and Pennsylvania. So while visiting the Colorado Plateau, you may experience a temperature range of 30°F to 75°F, while the Basin and Range region range between 40°F and 90°F.
One of the best things about the perspective of moving to Arizona is that it offers something for almost everybody.
If you crave cooler temperatures with subtropical weather, then northern Arizona is an ideal place to live. But for those who thrive in the heat and enjoy seeing the year-round sun, southern Arizona is the place to be. And for those who like a little bit of both, the transition zone is a perfect medium.
Arizona was recently ranked #7 on Kiplinger’s Top 10 Most Tax-Friendly States list, and it’s likely because of the low-income tax rate, which ranges between 2.59% and 4.5%.
The low-end range of around 2.59% is taxable on income up to $27,272 for single filers and over $54,544 for joint filers. The higher-end range around 4.5% is taxable on income over $163,632 for single filers and over $327,263 for joint filers.
Additionally, since 2015, the average Arizona taxpayer has paid $1,800 less in combined state and federal taxes due to the state’s new mission to simplify and reduce taxes.
The average property tax rate is $617 per $100,000 of assessed home value. With home costs averaging $383,799, homeowners can expect to pay approximately $1,800 to $2,200 in taxes per year, which is a bit lower than the national average of $2,471.
Here are some other essential things to know about Arizona’s taxes:
- Social Security income is not taxed
- Wages are taxed at the 2.59% tax rate
- Public and private pension income is partially taxed
- The average combined state and local sales tax rate is 8.4%
- Arizona households pay nearly $1,000 less per year thanks to the tourism industry
Arizona’s top export-oriented industry is tourism, with nearly 32.1 million people visiting in 2020. The state relies on tourist activities, which contributed $15 billion to the local economy, supporting jobs and generating tax revenue.
In addition to tourism, Arizona has a thriving tech scene. Some of the top-performing industries in Arizona are healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, and professional, scientific, and technical services. Generally, Arizona’s job market seems to be positive with lots of opportunities in these top markets.
However, Arizona’s unemployment rate is 6.2%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 4.8%. Some neighboring states also experience lower unemployment rates, with Colorado at 6.1% and Utah at 2.6%. On the other hand, Nevada is much higher at 7.7% and New Mexico at 7.2%.
While Arizona is considered more expensive than the United States average, it is actually one of the least expensive states in the country — especially when compared to neighboring states like California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Given its prime location, Arizona is a relatively affordable state in which to live and work.
For example, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,214, while the average home cost is $383,799. However, the annual average wage is $57,091 per year, which is lower than the national average of $66,665 but higher than New Mexico and Utah.
Generally speaking, Arizona has a reputation for its low cost of living. While exact costs and prices may vary across the state, it’s usually affordable to live in most areas, including major cities and college towns. Recently, two Arizona cities, Tucson and Mesa, made a top 10 list for the lowest cost of living.
The average cost of health insurance in Arizona is around $442 per month, with the national average being $495.
Unfortunately, the healthcare landscape in Arizona could benefit from overall improvements. It currently ranks #37 in healthcare quality, with specific rankings at #27 for cost, #49 for access, and #33 for outcomes.
Arizona also has one of the lowest percentages of insured children in the country, and around 11.3% of all residents are uninsured.
Arizona residents must have health insurance and are charged a penalty for every month gone without insurance. The penalty for not having qualifying coverage is either $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or 1% of a person’s taxable income, whichever is higher, with a maximum of $285 per family.
Arizona uses the federally-run marketplace (also called the exchange) so that individuals and families can enroll in health plans through the official HealthCare.gov website.
There are currently six health insurance companies on the Arizona state exchange:
- Ambetter from Arizona Complete Health
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
- Bright Health
- Cigna HealthCare of Arizona Inc.
- Oscar Health Plan Inc.
Arizona also recently expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
Across its 666 school districts, Arizona has over a million students attending public and private schools grades PK through 12. On average, Arizona spends $7,208 per student, which ranks 49th in the nation. The state graduation rate is 75%, which is unfortunately lower than the national average of 75.2%. Unsurprisingly, Arizona ranked 49th in best to worst school systems, with Louisiana and New Mexico trailing behind.
Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized Tribes. Most Tribes have a Tribal Education Department or a Tribal Education Director, whereas smaller Tribes typically have somebody from their Tribal leadership assigned to education. Moreover, of the 317,000 Native Americans in Arizona, only 61% graduate from a four-year public high school.
Arizona is home to some high-ranking colleges and universities, such as:
- The University of Arizona in Tucson (#103)
- Arizona State University in Tempe ( #117)
- Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff (#288)
Like its healthcare system and outcomes, Arizona’s primary and secondary education systems could benefit from targeted improvement.
However, the U.S. Department of Education recently approved Arizona’s intent to use the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan. This would support K-12 students and schools, which highlights the state is definitely aware and actively invested in meeting the needs of students.
Arizona is the sixth-largest state in the United States and is best known for its unique geography and topography. Around 85% of Arizona’s land is dedicated to national forests, parks, recreation and wilderness, wildlife preserves, and Indian reservations. It is home to three national parks, six state forests, 28 state parks, and 20 reservations.
Among this natural scenery are the Verde Hot Springs, which are a grouping of thermal mineral springs of a 2 ½ mile back trail in Yavapai County. For centuries before Arizona was settled, indigenous peoples used the hot springs for warmth, healing purposes, and cleansing.
In 1920, an extensive resort called the Verde Hot Springs Hotel was built around the hot springs, but it burned down in 1962. Now, there are ruins of the foundation that attracts tourists and residents alike.
Best Places to Live in Arizona
If you’re thinking about moving to Arizona, you’re not alone.
Arizona still holds its place as one of the most popular inbound states for people to relocate to—and much of it can be attributed to the job market growth, cheaper metro living that sits well below the national average, hot weather, open space, and natural wonders.
With that being said, here are some of the best cities and suburbs in Arizona that you should consider.
As the state capital, Phoenix is one of the most famous cities in the country. More than 16 million people travel to the Phoenix metro area every year, with many tourists quickly becoming permanent residents.
The city sits near-center of the state and offers many different cultures, a few of which being Native American, Latin American, and even Wild West. There is also plenty of nightlife, awesome outdoor recreation, and of course, warm weather. However, this hot and arid city can reach uncomfortably high temperatures and is nicknamed the Valley of the Sun.
With low crime rates, plenty of suburban neighborhoods, and some of the best schools in the area, Scottsdale is one of the highest-rated cities in Arizona for raising a family. It’s also perfect for young professionals, parents, and retirees alike, with an abundance of dining, entertainment, shopping, job opportunities, and state-of-the-art golf courses.
Scottsdale also sits between mountains and beach areas, so residents get the best of both worlds in terms of outdoor recreation. Some popular neighborhoods include McCormick Ranch, Gainey Ranch, Downtown Scottsdale, and North Scottsdale.
This diverse city is a college town located in the East Valley section of the Phoenix metro area. With Arizona State University at its center, Tempe offers plenty of outdoor recreation, arts, culture, entertainment, and dining and shopping options.
It’s also an excellent location for sports lovers since there are plenty of college-level and professional sports teams, where it’s fun to watch a Phoenix Suns game downtown Phoenix. The university also hosts numerous sports like football, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. Some popular neighborhoods in Tempe are South Tempe, Maple-Ash, Tally Ho Farms, Broadmor, and University Park.
Mesa is a suburb located about 20 miles east of Phoenix and in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix. It is the largest suburban city by population in the United States, boasting 500,000 residents. There are tons of cultural attractions, archaeological sites, historic properties, and higher education facilities.
Additionally, Mesa is home to unforgettable views of the Superstition Mountains, which offer tons of wilderness areas and hiking trails. Some popular Mesa neighborhoods include Dobson Ranch, Red Mountain Ranch, Eastmark, and Alta Mesa.
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona, with nearly 543,000 residents. It is located near the southeast corner of the state near the border of Mexico and New Mexico. This bustling city offers year-round hot and sunny weather, which is why it’s a popular retirement area.
There’s an abundance of parks, entertainment, dining, and shopping options for young professionals and families. Tucson’s best neighborhoods are Broadmoor-Broadway, Highland Vista Cinco Via, Catalina Foothills, San Clemente, and Peter Howel.
Arizona, sometimes better known as the Grand Canyon State or the Copper State, encompasses all walks of life and is home to some of the most unique geography in the world. With miles of red deserts, lush green national forests, plenty of man-made lakes and beaches, and endless mountain chains and hiking opportunities, Arizona is perfect for both outdoor enthusiasts and those who enjoy a beautiful view.
But even with the exciting prospect of moving to Arizona on your horizon, your journey can still be stressful. In fact, moving is one of the most challenging exercises you’ll encounter. And while this guide can help you prepare for everyday living, Guardian Auto can simplify the relocation process.
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