You will find Prescott, AZ, in the middle of the Quad City area of Arizona, which is situated at the virtual center of the state. It is a community that sits north of the hot deserts that surround Phoenix, yet still provides the warm weather benefits that many people enjoy in the state. You’ll also get to experience the small-town feeling of this community, as the population overs around 40,000. If you include the entire Prescott Valley metro area, about 103,000 people live in the region in total.
You will also have access to the Yavapai-Prescott tribe reservation, as it is located adjacent to the city. Part of its borders even intersect with the city. It was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory in 1864, replacing the one at Fort Whipple, then took a second turn in 1867 after it was moved from Tucson.
If you walk through the downtown area, you will find brick buildings, old elm trees, and plenty of gathering places to enjoy. You are also surrounded by the Granite Dells, with their rocky outcroppings standing tall against the horizon.
When you want to move to Arizona and don’t want all of the desert heat, then the pros and cons of living in Prescott are worth reviewing.
List of the Pros of Living in Prescott, Arizona
1. The central location of Prescott puts everything within reach for you.
Many people love to live in the Prescott region because it is a short drive to almost everything in the state that you might want to see. You’re only an hour away from Phoenix and Lake Pleasant when living here. You can make it to the Flagstaff area in 90 minutes. Then you’re just 2.5 hours away from the river. When you add in the diversity of the communities that surround this city, you can carve out a place for yourself that feels like home immediately. That’s why it is such a popular retirement community in the United States.
2. The altitude of Prescott creates a milder summer.
If you don’t think that you could handle the oppressive heat of Phoenix when moving to Arizona, then Prescott is a viable alternative, You will be living at 5,400 feet above sea level in the mountains, which means your air temperatures will feel cooler than they do further south. The temperature difference can be as much as 20 degrees on some days. If you are moving south for the summer from the north, then it can still be a bit of a shock to the system. Most people can adjust to the weather fairly easily.
3. There are some financial benefits to consider when moving to Prescott.
If you think that Prescott might be the perfect place to live, and then there are some financial benefits to consider when you make this community your home. You will not need to worry about a state estate tax if you decide to retire here, which means your children can inherit more of your assets when the inevitable happens. There is no state income tax on your Social Security benefits either. Although there are lower rankings for the community in terms of successful aging from the Milken Institute, your financial picture can become healthier if you manage your money wisely.
4. You will have access to the Prescott National Forest.
There are portions of the Prescott National Forest which are the same now as they were back when Sam Miller was panning for gold in Lynx Creek. General Crook’s flag flew over Palace Station, supervising a landscape that looks very similar. The lower portions of this region are similar to what you could see in the Sonoran Desert, while there are also several special places that you can still visit.
There are several recreation areas for you to enjoy, three off-highway vehicle stops, and you have a handful of rentals to enjoy so that you can create your own experience with this wilderness area.
5. The downtown area can be a lot of fun to explore.
Prescott is home to a unique and historic downtown area that features several locally owned boutiques, stores, and restaurants. Two of the primary highlights are Whiskey Row and the Courtyard Plaza. You’ll find several cultural offerings to tour during your time there as well, including the Phippen Art Museum or the Sharlot Hall Museum.
There are also several festivals and local events held throughout the year in Prescott that you will enjoy. Some of the most popular activities in this category include the World’s Oldest Rodeo, Territorial Days, and Frontier Days. A folk arts festival in the community is exceptionally popular as well.
6. You can retire here to a resort-like atmosphere if you want.
You can decide to start living in Prescott by taking the traditional route of purchasing or a renting a home, and then establishing your lifestyle in your new community. With several small towns surrounding the community, there are several resort-like options that are available in Prescott Lakes, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and others. Many of the neighborhoods are age=-restricted to ensure that you can create the lifestyle you want. Some of the homes are even under $200,000 if you catch them at the right time.
You can go golfing, have a great time with friendly neighbors, or stay active by exploring the natural wonders that are present around the community.
7. The state sales taxes are more competitive than other states in the region.
If you live in California, then your state tax rate is above 9%. It’s about 50% lower when you move to Arizona. The sales tax in the state averages about one percentage point less than it does elsewhere too. Property taxes are typically lower as well, although the value of homes in Prescott might cause higher rates for a small number of families. When you add in the fact that Social Security isn’t touched, it is possible to save more money by moving here than it would be to stay where you currently are.
If you arrive in Arizona with a driver’s license that you earn from another state, then you will find that the fees and expenses to update your identification is a lot cheaper in Prescott. You might pay $500 per year for the chance to drive here when it would cost three times that much if you were to try living in California.
8. The schools in the Prescott area are excellent.
There are three schools in the Prescott area that grade in as a perfect 10 from Zillow, including Skull Valley, Owens-Whitney, and the Congress Elementary District. The Ash Fork Joint Unified District earned a score of 8. There are several schools that rank as a 9 just outside of the city borders as well. It is also a college town, which means that your kids can pursue a higher education without needing to leave home if money is tight for you.
There are several private schools that can help you to get your kids the high-quality education that you want them to have as well.
List of the Cons of Living in Prescott, Arizona
1. The cost of living in Prescott is much higher than the rest of the United States.
If you decide to move to Prescott, then expect to pay more for the experience. According to information published by Forbes, the cost of living in this community is about 17% higher than the national average in the United States. The median home price is well above $330,000. Although you will be living in a place where there are over 500 historic buildings thanks to the emphasis on using brick after multiple fires over the past century, your retirement money might not stretch as far as you hope it would after deciding to move here.
Make sure to review your unique financial situation to see if you can manage your various expenses. It is not unusual for retirees to decide that a full-time life here is too expensive, so they spend six months here and then the other half of the year in a cheaper location. If you are moving from southern California, then you can ignore this issue.
2. It will take time for you to get used to the elevation of Prescott.
Since Prescott sits 5,400 feet above sea level, the air is a little thinner than you might be used to breathing when you start living here. The first few weeks will find you feeling more winded than normal, which could make it a challenge to walk anywhere. The community is not rated as being favorable for walking anyway unless you are downtown, but you’ll want to consider your fitness plan carefully before your arrival.
The good news is that the air quality in the area is almost always good. Because you’re at a higher elevation, you won’t need to worry about the various smog and inversion problems that Phoenix can encounter throughout the year.
3. You will need to deal with some snow every year in Prescott.
Many households move to Arizona because they are looking for warmer weather. You’ll find that outcome in Prescott during the summer months, but the community can get rather cold during the winter months. Not only will you experience all four seasons when you start living here, but you will also be navigating through the occasional snowfall. If you don’t like to see blankets of white stuff around you, then you might consider a move further south so that the temperatures can meet your expectations.
4. You will need to manage your skin health wisely when living in Prescott.
Because you are living at a higher altitude in Prescott, the sun’s UVA and UVB will impact your skin health more rapidly than it does if you were to live in the desert. You will need to have a robust supply of sunscreen or suntan lotion available to protect your skin. Sunburns can even happen during the winter months because of the city’s location. If you have sensitive skin or your doctor doesn’t want you to get burned, then you might want to find a different area of Arizona to setup your home.
5. Prescott has a higher flood risk than other communities in Arizona.
Residents in the Prescott area have faced the challenges of flash flooding since the first settlers came to the area in their search for gold in the late 19th century. The original mining camp was swept away less than 12 months after it was set up along the banks of Lynx Creek. The heaviest flooding on record occurred in 1891 and 1993, creating lasting changes to the drainage of the Verde River. Most of the homes are located in FEMA-designated high-risk flooding areas, which means you may have some challenges to face when finding insurance coverage for your home.
6. It will take some time for your body to adjust to the temperature profile.
Many people get cold after living in Prescott because of the hot summer temperatures that are present. Once the lows fall into the 50s, you might find yourself hiding under a blanket in an effort to get warm. Although the climate issues are nowhere near as severe as they would be if you were living further south, this issue is one of those strange disadvantages that some people don’t consider before the start living here.
If you want to use the hose to cool off, then forget about it because you’re going to get hot water for quite some time.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in Prescott, AZ
If you enjoy living in a large city where there are numerous choices for every activity that you wish to pursue, then living in Prescott might not be right for you. This small town provides a charming personality that is warm and welcoming with its historic buildings, but there are also sacrifices to make in terms of culture, recreation, and retail access.
You will need to drive at least an hour to obtain some of the things that you need when they are not available in the Prescott area. This inconvenience is sometimes enough to drive people away from the community.
If you can manage the potential negatives of moving here, then the pros and cons of living in Prescott, AZ, are worth considering. You will receive an enhanced level of quiet, have lots of outdoor activities to explore, and the right level of healthcare access to help you manage your retirement effectively.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.