If you’re thinking of making Arizona your next permanent home, you’re probably wondering where the best places to live are. Fortunately, you won’t be short of options. Despite the price of living showing an increase over the last few years, Arizona still ranks as one of the least expensive states to live, with its median home value and rental prices still significantly undercutting its neighboring states of California, Nevada, and Utah. Using the wealth of information available at the likes of Niche, Area Vibes, and The Crazy Tourist, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to live in Arizona, based on a criteria that takes in everything from ethnic and economic diversity to the state of the public school system.
20. La Madera
Just creeping onto our list in 20th place is the small neighborhood of La Madera. Despite its small population of just 2,472 residents, La Madera packs quite the punch when it comes to things like shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, presenting plenty of opportunities for the neighborhood’s residents to spend their mean household income of $47,710. La Madera is populated largely by young professionals who’ve moved into the area thanks to a booming job market, low crime rates, and low property prices. This isn’t to say it’s just an area of up and coming single folk: plenty of families also call La Madera home, attracted no doubt by the excellent school system and convenient local amenities.
19. Barrio Viejo
Up next is Barrio Viejo, a small neighborhood in Tucson that’s home to just 1,726 residents. Despite its diminutive size, Barrio Viejo is well served by an abundance of recreational and leisure facilities, as well as one of the best school systems in Tucson (University High School comes particularly recommended). Crime rates are exceptionally low, while the population enjoys a below-average cost for rental properties: just $666. Throw in some well-maintained green areas and easy access to the cultural delights of Tucson, and you’re looking at a neighbored that fully justifies its place as the 19th best place to live in Arizona.
As the capital city of Arizona, Phoenix is the state’s largest metropolis, boasting over 1.5 million residents. Median home value stands at a very reasonable $215,800, while the area’s booming job market affords its diverse population plenty of opportunities for career development. As you’d expect of a major city, there’s no shortage of amenities, while the ongoing rejuvenation of the downtown area promises even better times ahead for the capital. As Livability notes, its also a great place to leave the car at home and travel by foot, with an impressive WalkScore of 38.2843.
17. Arroyo Chico
Arroyo Chico scores highly across all key areas: its has plenty of green spaces (which are no doubt appreciated by the 19% of residents with a young family); a highly rated public school system (University High School and Sam Hughes Elementary School both make exceedingly popular options); a low incidence of violent crime; and a median household income that, while less than the average for the US, is still decent for Arizona at $50,240.
16. Cataline Foothills
Ranked by Niche as the best suburb in Arizona to live, Cataline Foothills has it all: an excellent school system (University High School, Catalina Foothills High School, and Orange Grove Middle School all enjoy an A+ rating on Niche); an above-average household median income of $82,252; a booming housing market that’s seen property value rise to $410,200; an absence of crime, and a proliferation of shops, bars, entertainment venues and dining establishments; a well educated citizenship (31% of residents hold a bachelor’s degree while a further 35% hold a masters); and a stunning location in the Santa Catalina mountain range that offers plenty by way of outdoor pursuits.
With a park, library and all the usual shops, restaurants, and bars you’d expect, Miramonte ranks as the 15th best place in Arizona to live. Its excellent nightlife attracts many young professionals into the area, while families are well served by such first-rate schools as Basis Tucson Primary School and Sam Hughes Elementary School. The ethnic and economic diversity of the neighborhood marks it out as one of Tucson’s preferred neighborhoods, while its low crime rate marks it as one of the safest.
14. Oro Valley
Oro Valley’s population explosion over the last few years can be attributed to the tech boom that’s helped put this small city of 41000 residents firmly on the map. As The Crazy Tourist notes, the high standard of living in the area is supported by a median income that’s double the U.S. average. With an impressively low crime rate and a multitude of outdoor recreations for its residents to engage in, Oro Valley is well worthy of inclusion at number 14 on our list.
13. San Clemente
Up next we have San Clemente, a pretty little neighborhood in Tucson that comes with a number of very attractive features. Crime rates are exceptionally low, with no reported incidences of violent crime in recent records. The average household income of $60351 sits just above the national average of $55,322, thanks to a booming job market and its excellent proximity to the business center of Tucson. The school system, meanwhile, is excellent, and key to why the area makes such an attractive destination for families.
12. Armory Park
With little to no episodes of crime, an educated population of 4,248 (24% of whom have a bachelors degree and 22% of whom have a masters); an abundance of local businesses, shops, and leisure facilities; a grade A education system; a property market that presents plenty of affordable housing options; and a booming local industry, Armory Park comes in as the 12th best place in Arizona to live.
As one of Tucson’s most desirable neighborhoods, Rillito misses out on a top 10 spot by a cat’s whisker. Of its 4667 residents, 54 % own their own property (with the median home value sitting almost exactly equal to the national average at $184,662). Crime in the neighborhood is extremely low, while the number of recreational facilities and leisure activities is correspondingly high. Most adult residents have enjoyed a first-class education (with 33% holding a bachelor's degree and another 29% holding a master's) while the younger generation can look forward to the same thanks to a top-rated public education system.
10. Peter Howell
Small but diverse, Peter Howell serves its population of 3866 well with an abundance of shops, local businesses, bars, and recreational activities. Residents are lucky enough to enjoy a median household income of $71,194 (well above the national average of $55,322), while most come with some serious qualifications to their name (23% have a bachelor's degree and 33% have a masters). There’s no shortage of excellent schools in the vicinity (including the highly-rated University High School and equally commendable Ida Flood Dodge Traditional Middle Magnet School), which, coupled with the low crime rate, makes the neighborhood an extremely attractive proposition to families.
9. Blenman/ Elm
Blenman/ Elm is a small neighborhood of 6,135 in Pima County that packs a lot into its small size. Restaurants, cafes, bars, and local businesses are abundant, while the job market is in fine enough form to support a median household income of $64,95, almost $10,000 above the national average. With a low crime rate and an excellent school system, it’s understandable why the neighborhood is such a draw for young families.
8. West University
West University’s population of 8,843 enjoy access to a formidable range of outdoor pursuits, some excellent local shops, bars and nightspots, and enough recreational and leisure facilities to keep even the most demanding customer happy. Most of West University’s residents are well educated (31% have a bachelor’s degree and a further 31% have a masters), while the large student population ensures a diverse and vibrant atmosphere. Crime rates are exceedingly low, and while the majority of the population consists of young singletons, the 2% of residents with children are well served by some excellent state schools, including the esteemed Paulo Freire Freedom School and equally popular University High School.
7. Catalina Vista
Catalina Vista is a small, close-knit community in Tucson, Arizona with a population of just 2,024. The safe, suburban atmosphere of the neighborhood makes it a prime spot for families, while the booming local job market does an equally good job of bringing ambitious young professionals into the area. With a median household income of $83,965, an unfeasibly low level of crime, a developed property market that allows residents to demand $367,125 for home price, a first-class education system, and a vast array of leisure and recreational amenities, it’s easy to understand why Catalina Vista ranks so highly among Arizona’s best places to live.
6. Sam Hughes
Among Sam Hughes’ chief attractions is a community that’s large and diverse enough to lend a vibrant, lively atmosphere to the neighborhood, but close-knit enough to make for a family-friendly, safe environment. The public schools serving Sam Hughes are highly rated, with the eponymous
Sam Hughes Elementary School being particularly popular among the 16% of residents with young children. Those who’ve already passed through the education system tend to be extremely well served with accredidations, with a whopping 40% of residents holding a masters and another 27% holding a bachelor's. Crime is among the lowest of all Pima Country neighborhoods, while the range of local shops and other facilities is up there with the best.
5. El Presidio
With a population of just 3,525, El Presidio is certainly not the largest of our entries, but with an abundance of first-class services and amenities, it’s one of the best, none the less. Most residents rent (which is understandable enough, considering how the volume of affordable property options brings the average cost of rent to just $778, well below the national average of $949). Schools such as University High School and Paulo Freire Freedom School Downton Campus ensure that the 11% of local residents with children have access to a first-class education, while the high number of young professionals in the area are well served with a diverse range of eating establishments, bars, coffee shops, and boutiques.
4. North University
In at number four is North University, a primly positioned neighborhood in Tucson which offers residents easy access to all the attractions of the city, while maintaining a safe, family-friendly atmosphere. Most local residents are highly educated (34% have a master's and another 36% have a bachelor’s degree) while those still going through the state education system can enjoy some fine schooling at one of the excellent establishments that serve the district. As the neighborhood is within walking distance of the University of Arizona, there’s a high proportion of students in the area, all enjoying the cheap housing (the average rent is $873, while those looking to buy can expect to part with just $86,867) the area offers. A low crime rate and an excellent selection of recreational and leisure facilities complete the picture.
3. Highland Vista Cinco Villa
If you plan on making Highland Vista Cinco Villa your next home, then congratulations on a fine choice. As a new resident of the neighborhood, you can expect a median household income that stands at $20,000 more than the national average ($79,403, to be precise), access to some first-rate schools, a low crime rate, plenty of affordable housing options (rent is well below the national average at $725, leaving you with enough disposable income to spend at some of the many shops and recreational venues in the area), and good access to the business center of Tucson.
2. Old Fort Lowell
When it comes to low crime rates, excellent state education systems, good job prospects, affordable housing, and an abundant range of local services and amenities, Old Fort Lowell has it covered. The typical resident enjoys a median household income of $59,853, holds a bachelor’s degree or higher and has a 50/50 chance of either owning their own home (which is likely to be valued at around the $200,545 mark) or renting a property for around $1055. Completing the very pretty picture is a richly diverse, well-educated community that’s noted for its close-knit, friendly vibe.
Move to Gilbert and not only will you become one of the 23,000 residents enjoying access to a first-class range of amenities, services, and facilities (as well as an exceptionally low crime rate and access to the very best Arizona has to offer, including the Grand Canyon, wineries, golf courses, and some exceptional fresh local produce), you’ll also get the distinction of living in Arizona's top-ranking neighborhood. Voted “Phoenix’s Coolest Suburb,” and a “top 5 foodie neighborhood in metro Phoenix”, the community is regularly recognized as one of the safest and best areas in the US to live, as its tourist board website is very keen to note.
Written by Liz Flynn
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