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Cost of Living in Arizona

So you’re dreaming of moving to Arizona—home of the Phoenix Suns, Sedonan vortexes, not to mention the friggin’ Grand Canyon!

Sounds like a happening place to be, right? Well, before you get hot to trot on solar panels and trade in your snow boots for flip-flops, let’s nail down what the cost of living in Arizona is to see if you can afford it.

Despite being smack dab in the middle of the desert, Arizona compares pretty evenly with the rest of the country in affordability. While cities may range from 9% below the national average in Bullhead City to 14% above in Flagstaff, the cost of living in the state as a whole is right on par with the cost of living national average. 1

In order to find out if you can afford life in the Aztec State, you’d have to compare the cost of living in your current city with the Arizona city of your dreams. To help you make a smart decision on whether Arizona is the right move for you cost-wise, we’ll show you how much Arizona charges for all the grown-up stuff like housing, food, taxes and bills.

Let’s get started!

Housing Costs in Arizona

Okay, let’s kick things off with housing costs. In June 2020, median home prices in Arizona were more than $385,000—which is nearly 13% higher than the national median of nearly $342,000.2 Meanwhile, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was about 1% lower than the national median of $1,200.3

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With stats like those, you may be thinking that renting in the desert looks like the move for you. Well, keep in mind that not all of Arizona costs the same. In fact, when you consider the total housing factors, Arizona ranges all the way from 18% lower than the national average in Surprise (yup, that’s a real city—surprised?), to 36% higher in Flagstaff!4

Check out the cost differences between these Arizona cities:

 

City in Arizona  

Average Home Price

Average Apartment Rent

Flagstaff

$501,823

$1,371

Prescott

$456,819

$1,300

Phoenix

$334,870

$1,424

Tucson

$327,417

$929 

Surprise

$272,812

$1,1505

 

How to Handle Housing Costs in Arizona

Whether you decide to rent or buy in your new city, first make sure it fits the budget. Cross off any places on your list that don’t allow you to keep your monthly housing payment to no more than a fourth of your take-home pay.

For home buyers who are getting a mortgage, that 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance (PMI)—and don’t forget to take homeowners association (HOA) fees into consideration. Use our mortgage calculator to enter your down payment amount and try out different home prices within your means.

If you want a smart mortgage you can pay off fast, talk to Churchill Mortgage about getting a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Any other type of mortgage will drown you in interest and fees and keep you in debt for decades.

To feel confident about finding an affordable home you love in Arizona, work with the top real estate agents in the market. Good news is, we make it quick and easy for you to find the best-performing agents. It’s their mission to help you find a home that allows you to keep all of your financial goals in balance.

Utilities

On average, Arizonians pay a little higher than most U.S. cities for utilities like energy and phone use—which makes sense because not even the Human Torch would skimp on AC when it’s 112 degrees out.

Utility costs range from 14% lower than the national average in Bullhead City, to 63% higher in Lake Havasu City which sits right on the border with California. However, Flagstaff settles somewhere in the middle at about 2% lower than the national average.5  

Because utility costs vary so much from city to city, definitely do your research before you move. And remember, if the city you’re considering lands on the high end, that’s not an automatic stop sign if other cost of living factors balance it out in your budget.

 

Groceries

Don’t forget your grocery list, we’re going to Fry’s Food Stores! No, it’s not a golden grease-pit of fried food (unfortunately), but it’s the go-to supermarket for many of our desert friends. Grocery prices in Arizona don’t stray too far from the national average, ranging only from 2% higher in Flagstaff to 7% lower in Surprise.6

If you find yourself in Phoenix, Yuma or Lake Havasu, your grocery bill will actually be within 1% of the U.S. average. That means that ground beef for your chimichangas will cost you anywhere from $3.74 to $4, or in other words, fried burrito goodness is staying in the budget.7  

 

Transportation

Life in the fast lane might look a little different in Arizona. Transportation costs like gas prices or car maintenance are about 8% higher compared to the rest of the U.S., ranging from just 1% lower than the national average in Bullhead City to 22% higher in Flagstaff. Tucson drifts into the middle range for transportation costs at just 1% above the national average.8

Since Arizona is a pretty huge state (sixth largest in the nation!), you’re bound to have some long road trips if you plan on ever leaving your city. The best way to keep transportation costs low is to get the right insurance coverage. Try bundling your auto insurance for a discount by talking to one of the independent insurance agents we recommend.

 

Health Care

Arizona health care costs range from 14% lower than the national average in Surprise, to 10% higher in Flagstaff. Meanwhile, Lake Havasu City ranks in the middle range among Arizona cities, with health care costs nearly 4% lower than the national average—not too shabby.9

Here’s a breakdown of how Lake Havasu City health care costs compare to the average city in the country:

 

Health Care Type

Lake Havasu City Cost

Average U.S. City Cost

Cost Difference

General doctor

 $107

$115

7%

Dentist

$89

$98

9%

Eye doctor

$98

$106

8%

Advil

$12

$9

28%

Prescription drug

$434

$469

7%10

Taxes

Arizona isn’t the worst when it comes to taxes, but it isn’t the greatest either. The state is sitting pretty on the lower end of the spectrum for income taxes with residents paying anywhere from 2.59% to 4.5%.11

But the downside is that Arizona still has a state sales tax rate of 5.6%—or 8.4% if you include the average local taxes. That makes Arizona the 11th highest in the country for state sales tax. Womp womp.12

If all this tax talk makes you feel dizzy, don’t worry. You can find out exactly how moving to Arizona will impact your taxes by connecting with one of our trusted tax advisors.

Miscellaneous Goods and Services

Miscellaneous costs refer to a wide range of goods and services including things like common restaurant foods, clothing, entertainment, activities and personal care. In Arizona, these costs range from 10% lower than the national average in Surprise, to 6% higher in Prescott.13

Yuma represents most Arizona cities for miscellaneous costs, which is a little under 5% below the national average. In Yuma, the typical Arizonian cowboy can order a pizza for $11, get a haircut for $12, and buy a new shirt for $34. For reference, those prices are $10, $17 and $32 for the average U.S. city.14

 

Compare the Cost of Living in Arizona With Your Current City

Now you know the cost of living in Arizona—but can you afford it? If you want to be sure, try our free Cost of Living Calculator to determine how much more or less expensive it would be for you to live in the Arizona city that’s calling your name.

If Arizona has a higher cost of living than you can currently afford, not all hope is lost. Try one of these ideas:

  • Adjust your standard of living
  • Try to bump up your salary when you find a new job
  • Move to an affordable zip code that’s within range of your desired city

Ready to Move to Arizona?

If you’re able to afford living in Arizona, congrats! The next step on your relocation journey is to handle your housing. For a quick and easy way to find trusted real estate agents in Arizona and your current city, try our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We only recommend the best-performing agents who are on a mission to help you crush your relocation goals.

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Where Did We Get Our Data?

The data that drives most of these numbers and our Cost of Living Calculator comes from the Cost of Living Index published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). Since the cost of living in any area is constantly changing, you can always check our calculator to find the most recent data. If you want to learn more about C2ER, get the scoop here.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

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