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How to Know If You’ll Regret Moving to Arizona

Choosing where to live is a potentially life-altering decision. While the right community means you can look forward to thriving physically, socially, emotionally, and financially, the wrong community can have the opposite effect. 

That’s why it’s so important to practice due diligence when evaluating where to live. 

If you’ve been thinking about moving to Arizona, it’s important to consider all the wonderful things that make it a great place to live. However, assessing something else is important: reasons you might eventually regret moving to Arizona. 

In this guide, we’ll examine the Grand Canyon State’s amazing advantages and less-than-amazing disadvantages. We’ll also highlight key considerations to consider when deciding where to live. 

The ultimate goal? To help you make the most informed choice about a potential upcoming move to Arizona. 

Why Is Arizona a Desirable Place to Live? 

There’s no denying that Arizona is breathtakingly beautiful. However, that’s far from its only allure. 

Read on for a roundup of factors that draw many people to this Southwestern state: 

Spectacular Natural Beauty

Arizona is renowned for its breathtaking natural wonders. At the top of the list? The Grand Canyon. Attracting millions of visitors every year, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly awe-inspiring. For residents, meanwhile, it’s an inimitable backdrop for everyday life. 

But the Grand Canyon is just the start of Arizona’s al fresco offerings. Arizona’s other impressive landscapes include the red rocks of Sedona, the saguaro-speckled deserts, and the massive ponderosa pine forests in Flagstaff.

Love nature and outdoor activities like hiking, golfing, and skiing? There’s no better place for exploring the great outdoors than Arizona. 

Year-Round Sunshine

With more than 300 days of sunshine annually, Arizona is an ideal destination for those who crave warm weather. 

Arizona’s consistent blue skies give residents plenty of opportunities to soak in the many benefits of exposure to nature while also cultivating a sense of well-being.

And while there’s no denying that Arizona summers can swelter, it's countered by glorious weather throughout the fall, winter, and spring months. 

A Thriving Job Market

Arizona’s economy has been growing steadily, and it’s currently ranked third in the country for its positive economic outlook

Home to diverse industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and tourism, Arizona also boasts a dynamic and flourishing tech sector with many available jobs. Meanwhile, its capital city of Phoenix has become a hub for job seekers thanks to many employment opportunities. This isn't surprising, given the influx of Fortune 500 companies establishing presences there. 

Rich Culture and Heritage

Arizona's fascinating cultural tapestry reflects its Native American heritage, Spanish influences, and modern multiculturalism. Cities like Phoenix and Tucson boast vibrant arts and culture scenes with numerous galleries, museums, and theaters. 

Arizona is also big on festivals, embracing everything from cowboy culture to indigenous traditions. These well-attended events showcase Arizona’s rich and diverse culture.

Health and Wellness Focus

As evidenced by its ranking in the top half of Hub Score’s 2023 health analysis of the 50 states, Arizona’s warm climate and abundance of outdoor activities contribute to a culture of health and wellness. Fitness facilities, hiking and biking trails, and a variety of outdoor fitness classes are readily available. 

Furthermore, factors like bustling farmers' markets and healthy restaurants underscore the state's commitment to health and wellness. 

Speaking of healthy restaurants, no discussion of Arizona’s upsides is complete without mention of its robust culinary scene. Arizona’s Southwestern cuisine is distinctive and flavorful based on diverse cultural influences. Foodies will revel in its thriving restaurant scene and the preponderance of food festivals and farmers' markets. 

Sense of Community

Despite its urbanity, Arizona maintains a community feeling often reserved for smaller towns. Welcoming neighborhoods, community events, local gatherings, and a shared appreciation for the state's natural beauty contribute to a feeling of belonging and community. 

9 Reasons You Might Regret Moving to Arizona

While Arizona has many appealing qualities, it also has its challenges and drawbacks. As with all states, it’s important that they exist before making plans to relocate.  

Here are some potential downsides of life in Arizona that may eventually lead to feelings of worry or regret while making a life there: 

9. High Cost of Living

Arizona’s high cost of living is one of the biggest disadvantages of living there. Take Phoenix, for example. Of the 304 cities in Nerdwallet’s database, it ranks #67 for cost of living and comes in significantly higher than the national average. 

With a median home price of just under $460,000, Phoenix's housing costs are especially steep. Rents aren’t much better, with the average 2-bedroom apartment going for around $2,000. At the same time, the average salary in Phoenix is $48,596. The takeaway?  If you do choose to live in Arizona, you can look forward to spending a significant portion of your paycheck on rent or to settling for less house than you might have in a location with a lower cost of living. 

You can also anticipate higher costs for everyday expenses, including groceries, transportation, and healthcare.

If Arizona remains at the top of your list but the cost of living is a deterrent, some cities are more affordable than others, including Yuma, Casa Grande, and even Tucson. 

8. Unbearable Heat

While Arizona’s warm weather and dry desert climate is an upside for some people, its scorching hot summertime temps—averaging well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August—can be intense.  

If you’re not used to them, Arizona’s brutal temperatures can not only be difficult to adjust to, but they can also be deadly. In 2023, there were 425 confirmed heat-related deaths in the Phoenix area. In addition to being an all-time high, it also represented the seventh consecutive year of record heat-related fatalities. 

In addition to staying inside and relying on air conditioning to beat the heat, staying hydrated while enduring summer in the Valley of the Sun is also important. For some people, the climate is simply unbearable. 

Other downsides of Arizona weather include wildfires, water scarcity, monsoon season, and destructive dust storms known as “haboobs.” In addition to leaving behind massive amounts of dirt and dust, haboobs also transport fungal spores, which can damage property and cause infections for people with allergies. 

7. Limited Greenery

Love all things lush and green? You’ll want to look elsewhere than Arizona. While its desert terrain is uniquely beautiful, it is devoid of natural greenery found elsewhere in the country. Factor in the need for water conservation, and the result is an absence of traditional lawns and gardens. 

6. Poor Air Quality

When it comes to reasons to regret living in Arizona, air quality is a major contender. Alongside California, it’s home to the country’s worst air quality out of all the other states. While this is largely due to the combination of high temps and vehicle emissions pollution in Maricopa County, it’s still a serious issue—especially for people who suffer from respiratory conditions. 

Also, Arizona is one of the few states where air quality has worsened since 1985. California, on the other hand, has at least improved. 

5. Natural Hazards

A breadth and depth of diverse wildlife resides in Arizona, including coyotes, snakes, spiders, and scorpions. While encounters with these potentially dangerous creatures are unusual, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. If you live in or visit rural or desert regions, it’s important to expect the worst and to take proper precautions. 

One guideline people in Arizona tend to adhere to? Don’t touch anything unless you’re sure it won’t hurt you. In fact, there are so many venomous species and prickly cacti in Arizona that the Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department released a guide overviewing what to touch and not touch while exploring the state

Take the jumping cholla cactus, which shoots spiky splines into perceived threats. Or the ominously named blister beetle, which can burn your skin. 

4. Poor Education System

Arizona ranks a middling 37th on US News & World Report’s rankings of best places to live. While its economy came in at an impressive #5, it fared much worse for education. In fact, the state’s 45th-place ranking was its lowest finish across all measures.

Inadequate funding, low teacher pay, and overcrowded classrooms are some issues plaguing Arizona schools. The result? High dropout rates for students and teachers alike. If you'll be sending kids off to school, Arizona is unlikely to provide them with the best educational opportunities. 

3. Seasonal Crowding

Arizona is a popular state for “snowbirds,” meaning that many northerners flock to metropolitan areas like Tucson and Phoenix to escape their hometowns' cold and heavy snow. This population increase can be disruptive for full-time residents as demand for goods and services escalates. 

As Arizona becomes more crowded due to snowbird migration, traffic also increases, which can also be frustrating to locals.  

2. Limited Public Transportation Infrastructure

While the Phoenix metropolitan area is home to a robust light rail system known as the Valley Metro, public transportation is limited throughout the rest of the state. If you don’t own a car or drive, getting around other Arizona areas can be challenging. 

Because so many people in Arizona drive, congestion is a problem, especially in cities at rush hour. 

Arizona is also not the most walkable state due to its extreme climate comprising everything from painfully hot daytime temperatures to frigid night weather. 

1. Valley Fever

Coccidioidomycosis, AKA “Valley Fever,” is an infection caused by exposure to Coccidioides, a fungus that lives in the soil in the southwestern United States. If you live in Arizona, there’s a big chance you’ll come down with it at some point during your time there because it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure. 

Valley Fever is treatable and rarely leads to lasting problems. In fact, most people who contract Valley Fever get better on their own, although some will require antifungal meds. However, its symptoms—which include fever, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headaches, muscle aches, and joint pain—can be unpleasant. 

If good health is your top priority when choosing a home, the ever-present threat of Valley Fever may make it a poor fit. 

How to Know if Arizona is Right for You? 

Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons of living in Arizona, you may be wondering how to weigh them against each other to decide whether or not to pursue a move. 

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of whether Arizona is the best state for you. Rather, it all comes down to your personal goals and preferences.

For example, if you are a sun-seeking retiree with disposable income and love outdoor exploration and cultural activities, Arizona may deliver on all your expectations. On the other hand, if you are strapped for cash, planning to raise children and have a family, and hate the heat, then Arizona may drop much further down on your list. 

And remember: there’s no such thing as a “perfect” destination. Instead, it comes down to determining the city or town that checks as many boxes as possible and eliminating those with deal-breaking characteristics. 

Also keep in mind that all Arizona cities aren’t created equally. The best way to get an authentic sense of the “vibe” of a particular town or city—be it in Arizona, southern California, or elsewhere? Spend some time there. As mentioned, the more upfront research you do, the more fulfillment (and less regret) you’ll likely experience in your new home. 

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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