The Getaway
The Best Cities and Towns in Arizona

Arizona has always been a favorite state of retirees, and it has much to offer families and young adults as well. It is a border state rich in culture, art, and history. Winters in Arizona are short and mild, while summers are hot. The low humidity mitigates high summer temperatures for many people, especially those with respiratory illnesses or similar conditions.

Property taxes in Arizona are lower than the national average. The cost of living and median income varies widely across the state, so potential new residents can choose the best city or town to fit their budget and preferences.


01 Peoria

Peoria is a small city of 171,237 residents. It is ideal for nature or outdoor recreation enthusiasts and families with children. The town has numerous community centers, museums, and libraries that host regular events for children. Two large lakes in the surrounding area let residents enjoy water sports, fishing, and boating. The Peoria Sports Complex hosts the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres during spring training, and hosts baseball tournaments, festivals, concerts, and other community events throughout the year.

02 Phoenix

Phoenix is the rapidly-growing capital of Arizona. The cost of living is below average for the state, and much lower than most metropolitan areas in the northern states. This desert oasis offers ample employment opportunities in aerospace and defense, technology, manufacturing, digital media, health care, and scientific research. Public transportation is abundant and easily accessible. Cultural events include the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Orpheum Theater, Arizona Opera, and many others. Phoenix is also the home of several professional sports teams.

03 Bisbee

Founded in 1880, the historic mining boomtown of Bisbee provides a glimpse into early twentieth-century America. Old Bisbee is the historic center, and a stroll along Main Street displays gorgeous rolling hills and historic residences. Take the historic home tour in the Warren district, then head underground to walk the same tunnels the old miners did in the 1800s. Don't leave without seeing the impressive Lavender Pit, a former open-pit copper mine that sports some stunning colors.

04 Scottsdale

Scottsdale has a population of 230,000 and very little crime. The city has repeatedly ranked in the top ten of Law Street Media's listing of safest cities in America. Old Town Scottsdale is a growing business district including large retailers and small businesses. Scottsdale is known for its specialty restaurants and bars, while museums and art galleries around found throughout the city. Many large corporations have offices or headquarters in Scottsdale, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to start their businesses through community events and grants.

05 Cave Creek

The historic town of Cave Creek maintains its old west charm despite nearby Phoenix's rapid growth. Take the family to Frontier Town, an Old West replica township famous for shopping, dining, and wild west shows. For remarkable natural surroundings, hike Black Mountain Trail or through Cave Creek Regional Park. Next, take the Desert Foothills Scenic Drive, which passes through Cave Creek, to appreciate its unique vibe. The urban route displays historic architecture with a backdrop of the magnificent untouched desert.

06 Mesa

The cost of living in Mesa is low compared to other cities of similar size. Winters are mild, although snow and ski resorts are located within a 2-hour drive. Lakes and rivers in the surrounding are large enough for tubing, boating, and fishing. Mesa is a safe city with low crime rates, and the public schools consistently rate above average. Family-friendly community events, concerts, and festivals take place throughout the year.

07 Sedona

Red rock and limestone formations, cottonwood trees, and flowering cacti surround the city of Sedona in northern Arizona. The scenery is breathtaking all year round. Sedona was the site of many old western movies and more recent independent films. Orchards and cattle ranches contribute to two large, permanent farmers' markets full of fresh foods, and local vineyards offer unique regional wines. The city is a tourist destination, which can lead to busy seasons. The trade-off is an abundance of art galleries, museums, recreational activities, specialty shops, extensive public transportation, and restaurants.

sedona Arizona DOUGBERRY / Getty Images

08 Jerome

High in the Black Hills, Jerome overlooks the picturesque Verde Valley. The scenery alone is worth visiting, with lush forests, red rock cliffs, and the San Francisco Peaks all in the distance. The historic mining town beautifully preserves its history as a thriving arts community. Stop at some art galleries and wineries, or take the family to kitschy Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. Visit Douglas Mansion at Jerome State Historic Park or the Jerome Grand Hotel for a chance to see ghosts.

09 Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a thriving city with very little violent crime. The mountainous backdrop provides a beautiful view, and the surrounding area is full of scenic trails. Museums, shopping centers, a wide variety of restaurants, and locally-owned specialty shops are found throughout the city. Flagstaff acts as an entrance to the Grand Canyon, and mountainous peaks in the surrounding area have enough snowfall for ski resorts to open over the winter.

10 Gilbert

Gilbert is a growing city in the Greater Phoenix area. Most of the population is made up of family households, and housing choices include urban condos, apartments, single-family houses, or large properties. Many residents own horses, and equestrian events and classes are very popular. The Heritage District, shopping centers, restaurants, and frequent community gatherings provide plenty of entertainment. The public school districts are nationally ranked, and several universities, community colleges, and technology institutes offer higher education opportunities.

11 Greer

In addition to vast deserts, you'll find lush mountain valleys and an abundance of woodland wildlife in Northeast Arizona. Greer is a small community tucked into the White Mountains and a year-round recreational paradise. Here you'll find reprieve from the desert heat on a hike or camping trip. Go fly fishing in the crystal clear waters of the Little Colorado River and land an Apache trout. It's the only place in the world where you can find them.

12 Chandler

Chandler is home to several technology-related employers, and the median income is higher than the state average. Residents can choose to live in town, in the rural outskirts, or gated communities. The area is filled with restaurants, movie theaters, shopping centers, golf courses, and parks. Festivals, concerts, and many other events take place throughout the year. Young adults have their choice of numerous clubs or bars, while parents can choose family-friendly events and enjoy peace of mind regarding the excellent public and private schools. Chandler public schools are known for high scores on state assessments and a high percentage of graduates pursuing higher education.

13 Catalina Foothills

Catalina Foothills is a mid-sized city with a population of 50,643. It is a popular city for retirees, while residents still in the workforce have an average commute of only 16 minutes. The Sonoran desert and Catalina Mountains frame the town in beautiful scenery. Catalina Foothills was founded and developed with the intention of preserving the desert environment, so it is a great city for nature enthusiasts. There are plenty of hiking trails in the Sabino Canyon, and the Desert Museum offers a great opportunity to learn about nature and observe wildlife. The housing options range from modern condos to adobe haciendas.

14 Sahuarita

Sahuarita is a growing city in Pima County. It has a population of 25,430 and very low crime rates. People relocating to the area can choose to live in an apartment or house in the city or buy larger properties in the surrounding rural area. Sahuarita Lake Park is home to a large lake, an amphitheater, and an extensive network of walking paths to enjoy the outdoors. Tucson is only a 20-minute drive from Sahuarita, so residents have access to restaurants, shops, and other amenities while enjoying small town ambiance at home. Sahuarita is also close to large regional employers.

15 Tombstone

From the OK Corral to the Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona is the perfect snapshot of the wild, wild west. Many of the former mining town's original establishments are still there. Stop by the Bird Cage Theater, a saloon and dance hall where Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers were regular patrons. The picturesque Tombstone Courthouse State Park is also worth a visit, and if you're in the mood for adventure, descend 100 feet into the Good Enough Mine.


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