Arizona became a state in 1912, and there is an excellent chance that many citizens at the time considered retiring to the state. Even though the desert climate can be challenging for some people, the consistent weather and hundreds of days of sunshine per year make it an inviting destination.
The Initial wealth that grew the local economy came from raw materials like copper, which was first discovered in the area in the 19th century. Now people come to the state to enjoy the wealth of outdoor activities which are available here. Whether you choose to ski the slopes of Flagstaff or visit the Grand Canyon, there are hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling trails for you to enjoy throughout the state.
At the same time, retiring in Arizona gives you an opportunity to explore urban settings, enjoy modern amenities, and have easy access to travel opportunities. There is a lot of flexibility that is available with the various communities in this state, so you can create a personalized experience for yourself that fits into your overall budget.
If you are considering a variety of places to relocate now that you are no longer part of the full-time labor force, then these are the pros and cons of retiring in Arizona that you will want to consider.
List of the Pros of Retiring in Arizona
1. There is more sunshine to enjoy in Arizona than in any other state.
If you are the type of person who does not like to wake up to an overcast sky, then retiring in Arizona is the perfect opportunity to consider. This state is the only one in the country which allows you to enjoy over 300 sunny days per year in multiple communities. That means you will have more chances to get outside, stay active, and enjoy those golden years. You can even live closer to the mountains if you don’t love the desert heat so that you can be comfortable. If you love snow, then Flagstaff is an option to consider too.
2. You will experience less humidity when living in Arizona.
Because most of Arizona offers a desert-like climate to enjoy, you do not need to worry about the hot, sticky humidity that you can experience in other retirement destinations. The relative humidity in the state is usually below 60%, which is the optimal level for most people each day. No other state in the country has a lower average humidity level because of the geographical conditions, which makes it the perfect destination for those who are looking to escape the cold or mugginess.
3. There are fewer tax issues to worry about in retirement in Arizona.
Arizona allows their residence to keep more of the income that they earn each year, with Social Security checks often exempt from the reach of the government. Although there are some places in the state where you’ll need a significant nest egg to manage the cost of living, there are also some highly affordable spots where you can get by without a whole lot.
If you don’t drink alcohol, only drive one vehicle, and watch what you spend, Arizona is a very affordable state that can help you to lead a happy life.
4. The cost of living in Arizona is reasonable for most households.
The average couple in retirement can manage to live in Arizona for about $1,500 per month. When you add housing costs to that figure, then it can double if you decide to live in Flagstaff or Phoenix. If you decide to live further south or closer to the border of California, then there are some significant advantages to look at with your expenses. It is also important to remember that there are communities between Utah and Nevada on a short stretch of I-15 can provide exceptional affordability and decent transportation access to St. George, Mesquite, or Las Vegas.
5. There are still opportunities to work in Arizona if you want.
Arizona offers one of the most significant emerging industrial markets in the United States right now. That means many of the workers are transitioning to blue-collar positions. If one of the ways that you like to stay active is to remain gainfully employed, then there are plenty of suitable jobs opening up throughout the state. You can work in tourism, hospitality, or any other sector that could benefit from your life experiences.
6. If you love to go golfing, then Arizona is the perfect place to retire.
If you decide to move to the Phoenix area for your retirement, then you will have access to more than 200 different golf courses. There are hundreds more sprinkled throughout the state. You can also access unique courses in Mesquite and St. George relatively easily depending on where you decide to live. Two of the world’s best golf courses are located in the state as well, allowing you to enjoy championship quality greens while still being able to stay within your retirement budget.
7. You can catch professional sports in Arizona throughout the year.
One of the best times of year for sports in Arizona is the early spring because professional baseball teams conduct their preseason training in the state. You can also catch the Arizona Diamondbacks all year long. The Cardinals represent the NFL for the state, while the Suns take care of the NBA. You can find lacrosse, soccer, and plenty of other sports to enjoy with the University of Arizona and Arizona State competing in the Pac-10 conference. That means there really is no excuse for not getting outside to enjoy your favorite events.
8. Arizona offers plenty of cultural activities for you to enjoy.
One of the best aspects of retirement is the opportunity that the extra time provides you with to explore different cultures. Arizona offers several unique museums to enjoy, musical venues with open-air stages, a professional symphony orchestra, a ballet company, and even opera. If you enjoy going out to eat, there are world-class restaurants that could be right down the street from where you live. You can grab a drink at your favorite bar, go to a movie, or spend the evening with your family and doing whatever it is that you love.
9. It is difficult to get lost when you decide to retire in Arizona.
The cities in Arizona typically use a standard development grid for the naming of their streets. If you have a loved one who has mental challenges because of a medical diagnosis, then this advantage makes it easier for them to find their way home. You can also figure out how to get to them relatively easy if they can tell you what road they are on at that moment. Even the highways throughout the state follow this pattern, helping you to navigate toward the Mexican border or a visit to the Grand Canyon.
If you decide to take a road trip during your retirement in Arizona, then remember to fill up before you get behind the wheel. The rural nature of the desert in the state means that you can drive for more than an hour before you can find the next set of services.
10. If you hate insects, then you are going to love Arizona.
This advantage does not apply to a community like Flagstaff which is up in the mountains. It does apply for those who decide to retire to Tucson, Phoenix, or another community in the south. The hot weather and lack of moisture reduces the insect population levels naturally. That means you will be dealing with fewer mosquitoes, gnats, and flies every day. Although there are more reptiles to worry about here, and the occasional spider that could be dangerous, most people feel like there is a lack of pests to worry about when they compare their experience to their previous home.
11. There is still plenty of youth in Arizona, despite its reputation as a retirement destination.
There are communities in Arizona where retirees tend to congregate because of the access they have to healthcare, recreational opportunities, and affordable housing. Some neighborhoods in the state have an average age that is above 55. When you look at the median age of households in the state; however, the average person is under the age of 30. Even when you consider people who moved to the state later in life or were born in a different country, the average age is still less than 45.
That means you will have plenty of mentorship opportunities available if you wish to take advantage of them during your retirement. This demographic information also indicates that your family could move to the area, find employment, and stay close to you if you need help for some reason.
List of the Cons of Retiring in Arizona
1. The crime rate in Arizona is higher than average in the United States.
If you decide to retire to Arizona, then you will want to carefully research where you decide to live. The crime rate in the state is higher than the national average, but this disadvantage is due to the fact that there are pockets of crime in the major cities like Phoenix that counter the lower rates found in the rural areas. Several neighborhoods in the urban areas have low crime levels as well, so make sure that you speak to your realtor or rental agent about what the best options for your needs happen to be.
2. The weather in Arizona can get very hot during the summer months.
If you live in the mountains when you decide to retire to Arizona, then you can experience all four seasons and have a reasonably moderate temperature profile to enjoy. When you decide to live further south in Phoenix or Tucson, then there is a very different story to consider. The average temperatures of each city exceed 100° as the high from June until September. The coldest month of the year is December, when the high average is 67°. It is very rare for the southern part of the state to have a high temperature that is not higher than 90° after the month of May until you reach the first week of October.
3. You will need to know how to drive if you want to travel.
Unless you live in the Phoenix area or another metro location, you will want to own a car if you decide to retire to Arizona. The public transportation options are minimal throughout the state, and they are virtually non-existent in the rural areas. Phoenix is rated as being one of the worst cities in the country for walking opportunities. If you are not supposed to get behind the wheel, have no family in the area, and can’t afford to pay for Uber or Lyft if it is in your area, then living in this state can feel very isolating.
4. Arizona’s economy is heavily reliant on just two industries.
Arizona relies on retirees to help keep its economy moving along. It is heavily reliant on construction and real estate, which means there might be fewer opportunities to stay active for some individuals or couples. You will still have access to a diverse population or enough space to enjoy a quiet desert evening by yourself, but there could be financial challenges waiting for you in the future. Some of the state is quite affordable, but there are plenty of pockets where you will need to have more than your Social Security check to support you.
5. Constant sunshine exposure may not be good for your health.
Although the rate of melanoma in Arizona is about 50% less than what it is in the neighboring states, part of the reason for this statistic is the fact that so many retirees come here each year. When you have full-time exposure to the rays of the sun, then you are increasing the chance of developing a skin condition that could worsen your overall health over time. You will want to make sure that you wear an appropriate sunblock for your outdoor activities to minimize the risk of this disadvantage.
6. Winter rarely comes to southern Arizona.
If you enjoy having four seasons during the year, then you will not want to retire to the southern part of Arizona. Temperatures remain above 70°F throughout most of the year, including around the winter solstice. That is what people who live in this region full-time considered to be cold weather. If you like to see snow on the ground, then you will want to migrate to Flagstaff to enjoy the weather there.
Each area of the state offers a different weather profile to consider, so you can pick and choose where you want to live. They’re just tend to be more surprises in this area than there are in other popular retirement destinations.
7. Winter brings in the retirees who live further north during the summer.
If you are not a fan of hot weather, then you could join the snowbirds who visit Arizona during the winter months. These retirees then return to the other home in a cooler northerly location to avoid the 100°F heat that the state experiences from May until September. When you decide to retire here full-time, then the influx of population that occurs when the weather changes can be problematic for your cost-of-living.
The snowbirds typically rent a condo, home, or apartment for the time that they spend during the winter months in Arizona. Even timeshares are an option for some retirees. That means your access to shopping, dining, or even just running errands requires more of an effort.
8. There are some dangerous animals that you will need to manage.
You might not have much of a mosquito problem if you decide to retire to Arizona, but there are still several venomous animals that you will need to watch out for during your time in this state. One of the most dangerous options in this category are the Africanized bees that can attack in killer swarms. You will need to watch for rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and Gila monsters as well. If you like to walk through the desert, then keep your eye out for the giant desert centipede.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Arizona
The time that you have with your significant other and the status of your relationship play a significant role in your happiness during the retirement years. Deciding to retire to Arizona will not be a magical cure. Even a significant nest egg and frugal spending habits will not improve the experience.
That is why the key points in this guide deserve such a careful review. The state ranks 43rd in the nation with regards to crime from a retirement perspective, 39th for its culture, and 34th for its cost of living. The two highest scores are for weather, which was 11th, and in total well-being which was 15th.
The pros and cons of retiring in Arizona must apply to your specific situation. You’ll have access to natural wonders that people from all over the world come to see, but that doesn’t do you any good if there is no way for you to get there to enjoy them.
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.