People move to Tucson for a multitude of reasons: starting a new job, attending school, or escaping from the harsh northern winters. Whatever the case may be, once folks land in this Southwestern city and put down roots, most never look back. Celebrated for its diverse cuisine, spectacular sunsets, extraordinary desert landscapes, historic neighborhoods, and year-round outdoor recreation, Tucson is a one-of-a-kind city. With Mexico just over the border, the city’s Latin influence is evident in the art, architecture, and food for which Tucson is famous.

The climate in southern Arizona is mild enough for bicycle commuters to enjoy car-free living in all seasons, and the sweltering summers lend themselves to excursions to the many swimming holes scattered around in state and city parks. Nestled between five mountain ranges, the proximity to hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and skiing is unmatched. The cost of living is low compared to the high quality of life Tucson offers, and the city is currently growing at a healthy pace. Once you’re ready to start planning your move, click the “Get Quote” button and get up to four quotes from our vetted, licensed, and insured Tucson movers. You can also find a ranked list of the best moving companies in Tucson right here.

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Living in Tucson, AZ: What to Know Before Moving to Tucson

On a high plain of the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by five mountain ranges, Tucson is a city that evokes a sense of freedom and wonder. This city is only sixty miles north of the US-Mexico border and offers a wealth of cross-cultural traditions. The Tucson metropolitan area population is around 980,263, but the city itself is home to only 520,116 residents, making it the 28th largest city in the country. The area has been named one of the best places in the country to raise kids. With almost 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s not hard to imagine why.

Pros and Cons of Living in Tucson

Pros :

  • Sunny weather: Tucson averages 287 days of sunshine each year
  • Wide range of affordable homes available for sale or rent
  • Diverse culture/cuisine
  • Year-round outdoor recreation makes this city a mecca for outdoors enthusiasts
  • Tucson is known for its incredible sunsets
  • The city enjoys remarkably good air quality

Cons :

  • The Sonoran Desert area has extremely hot summers
  • Minimal public transportation means a car is necessary
  • No freeways running through town makes for traffic congestion
  • Housing prices are rising as the city grows each year
  • Heavy winter tourism means increased traffic
  • Very little seasonal variation in landscape and weather

Is Tucson, Arizona a Good Place to Live?

Tucson is a great place to live that offers affordable houses, plenty of sunny days to enjoy your yard or balcony, and diverse culture around every corner. The Old Pueblo City is close to the border with Mexico and thus boasts many traditional Mexican restaurants for residents looking for authentic cuisine. It doesn’t rain much here, making it easier for locals to spend time outdoors and go hiking through the many mountain parks while appreciating all the natural beauty. Most people find themselves wanting to call Tucson home because it’s such a friendly and welcoming city.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: While the 1.052% property tax in Tucson is higher than the rest of the state, it’s still far lower than the national average. The bright side of higher property taxes is that the quality of neighborhoods and schools reflect these rates.
  • Sales Tax: Arizona’s sales tax rate is 5.6%, however residents of Tucson pay a premium when it comes to sales tax. The combined sales tax rate of 8.7% is a total of state, county, and city rates.
  • Income Tax: The good news is that income taxes in Arizona are on the low end at 4.54%, which is a pittance compared to neighboring California.

Housing Market

Slightly more than half (51%) of Tucson residents own their homes. Median home values are currently $189,600, but they are rising steadily. Nonetheless, there are still many affordable homes on the market. The median rent is steadily climbing, but is currently at $940 per month, making it well below the national average. There are still some extremely affordable neighborhoods in Tucson, although they may represent a tradeoff in crime rates or convenience. Flowing Wells, Drexel Park, and Julia Keen are all areas where you can still find cheap housing.

Cost of Living

Those lucky enough to be living in Arizona can expect an overall lower cost of living than the national average. But for a little perspective, the cost of living in Tucson is less than half of what it is in Los Angeles. The median income in Tucson is $51,425, a little lower than the median income in the state and almost $9,000 less than the national average. This disparity is made up for in the lower cost of living the city offers. Based on Economic Policy Institute calculations, a couple with no children can expect to get by on $3,877 a month in income, but a couple with a child will need closer to $5,483 monthly income to live reasonably well.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Tucson enjoys almost 300 days of sunshine a year, and extremely mild winters. It’s also a desert, so the temperatures drop significantly at night. From November to February, once the sun goes down, you can expect lows in the 30s and 40s. During the summertime, highs will regularly go over 100 degrees, with long stretches of weeks or months in the 90s. Nevertheless, it’s a dry heat, which makes the high temperatures far more bearable than many humid regions in the country. Rainfall averages 12 inches a year, and you won’t be dealing with any snow, except dustings on the mountain peaks surrounding the city.

There are no natural disasters to speak of in this area. Tucson is safe from earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. There are daily “monsoons” in the summer, which are short and often dramatic storms that come and go quickly. They can cause flooding in low-lying areas, but it’s far from catastrophic and rarely causes significant damage. Just be extremely careful if you’re hiking or driving outside of town during monsoons. Flash floods can come out of nowhere and are a dangerous threat to people who aren’t familiar with them.

Economy & Job Market

The economy in Tucson primarily centers around higher education, defense, military, tourism, manufacturing, high-tech, and healthcare. Currently, there is a good deal of growth in the Tucson economy following several years of gains. The most significant employers in the city are the University of Arizona, Raytheon, Davis-Monthan Airforce Base, and Pima County.

Tucson was ranked the seventh Best Performing City out of 200 metropolitan cities due to job growth in the high-tech industry. As the population continues to grow, there will continue to be more opportunities for employment in the education and construction sectors. Job seekers would be well advised to look into some of the growing local industries to secure employment.

Traffic and Transportation

Like most cities in the Southwest, it’s necessary to own individual transportation in Tucson. However, there are several options for getting from here to there–depending entirely on where here and there happen to be. A streetcar runs along a four-mile stretch that connects the University of Arizona campus with four shopping and entertainment districts spanning the downtown area. The bus system in Tucson, Sun Tran, is reliable and can inexpensively get you to locations throughout the city.

There’s no major highway running through town, which is a frequent complaint of Tucson commuters. The only highway is the I-10, which runs along the western edge of the city. To get across town east to west, it’s necessary to use surface roads which can take quite a while during high-congestion times of the day. You can expect a good deal of traffic during rush hour in the morning and evening, but this is due primarily to the lack of major thoroughfares traversing town. The average commute in Tucson is 25 minutes, which may be long for a city of this size but is laughable when compared to any major city in neighboring California.

One upside to the lack of major thoroughfares in Tucson is that there is excellent bicycle infrastructure and the grid arrangement of town makes for easy navigation. There are some extraordinarily walkable neighborhoods in town as well, including Iron Horse, West University, and Pie Allen. All of these neighborhoods have a walk score between 83 and 86, and a bike score between 97 and 100.  Overall, Tucson has a high bike/walk scores: 64 and 43, respectively. The transit score is only 35, further reinforcing the assertion that you’ll need a vehicle to live here or must be very strategic in where you live if you plan to use public transit.

What to Do in Tucson

If there is one thing that Tucson residents have little to complain about, it’s lack of things to do. Lovers of the outdoors will find wonder in every direction, from Sabino Canyon with its multitude of trails and seasonal swimming holes to Saguaro National Park with its iconic cacti and ancient petroglyphs. For everyday recreation, there are 128 city parks spread throughout the city, so you’re never far from an outdoor escape.

Foodies and beer connoisseurs enjoy more gastronomic opportunities than you can imagine. Tucson was recently listed as the first UNESCO city of gastronomy in America, which should give you some idea of how rich the culinary offerings of this town are. From artisanal coffee roasters to over a dozen craft brewers, this is an absolute mecca of world-class food and beverages.

For arts and culture, downtown Tucson is the place to be. With live theater, opera, ballet, public art, and a plethora of art galleries, this cultural center of the city does not disappoint. A surprising number of museums provide culture-seekers of all ages an opportunity to explore art, history, and more right in the heart of Tucson. To see an exceedingly rare example of 17th century Baroque Mission architecture in the country, a visit to Mission San Xavier del Bac is in order. The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the largest aerospace museums in the world and is a fascinating and educational place for kids of all ages.

What Tucson lacks is a professional sports team, but it more than makes up for it in individual sports quests such as golf, biking, swimming, hiking, and festivals. If you have a burning desire to join thousands of people in an indoor or outdoor setting, ample opportunities are awaiting you. The world-renowned Tucson Gem and Mineral show draws people from around the globe and has taken place annually since 1955. A variety of festivals grace Tucson each year, centered around music, food, culture, and holidays such as the Tucson Mexican Food Festival, Urban Splash Music Fest, Tucson Jazz Festival, Tucson International Mariachi Conference, Agave Heritage Festival, and El Tour de Tucson, Arizona’s longest running cycling event.

Schools and Universities

While Arizona schools score below average on the national stage, ten Tucson schools made the grade and are among the best schools in the country. There are six school districts distributed around Tucson, and the quality of the schools in each one varies wildly from neighborhood to neighborhood. In addition to the public schools in each district, there are several chartered schools in town that operate independently.

Tucson is home to several higher education institutions, including medical, art, technical schools, and community college campuses. Pima Community College has six campuses, four educational centers, and multiple adult learning centers. For four-year degree programs, the University of Arizona and the Southwest University of Visual Arts offer a multitude of degrees, with the University of Arizona also offering graduate programs.


Tucson’s violent crime rate ranks at 37.5, significantly higher than the national average of 22.7. Despite relatively high crime rates, the number of violent crimes has dropped in the city over the past several years and is expected to continue its downward trend. And good news on the crime front: the rate of solved crimes in Tucson is considerably higher than the national average.  Crime levels are not consistent throughout Tucson, with some areas reporting higher levels and other areas rather safe.

Utility Providers

Tucson residents rely on several providers for their utilities:

  • Southwest Gas is the only gas provider for the area. To start an account with Southwest Gas, visit the website by clicking on the link and go through the simple online process of setting up an account.
  • WM is the sole waste management provider for Tucson, and to begin service you must visit their online account registration page to create your account.
  • Tucson Electric Power keeps the lights on in the city, while Trico Electric serves the outlying areas. To start service with Tucson Electric Power, visit their online Moving Center page to create a new account. To start an account with Trico, visit their set up a new account page.
  • For water needs, Tucson Water Department takes care of Tucson residents, Tucson Metro Water serves portions of northwest Tucson, and Oro Valley Water and Sewer services nearby Oro Valley. To start an account with the Tucson Water Department, fill out an online Residential Service Application. For new service with Tucson Metro Water, just call the office at 520-575-8100 or visit in person at 6265 N. La Cañada Drive. Oro Valley residents who need to create a new account must call  (520) 229-5000 to speak to a customer service representative.
  • For internet and cable, residents can choose between Centurylink, Comcast, or Cox Communications. To begin service with Centurylink, you’ll need to call 1-855-617-6512. For Comcast service, visit the website to choose between a vast array of bundles and options. For service with Cox Communications, visit the website to navigate the options available in your area.
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Best Neighborhoods in Tucson, AZ

Are you wondering where to put down roots? Check out these top Tucson neighborhoods!

Armory Park

Armory Park, nestled into downtown Tucson, is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic part of town was part of the original plan for Tucson and is now home to architecture representing the last 150 years. Bordered by 12th street to the north and 19th street to the south, Armory Park lies between 3rd and 6th avenues to the east and west.

This community is one of the more well-heeled neighborhoods in Tucson, with higher home values than most of the city. While the majority of homes in the area are owner-occupied, there are several apartments and homes available for rent for reasonable rates.

Despite being in the heart of downtown, Armory Park offers convenient access to services and employers, due to its proximity to I-10. The University of Arizona is within walking distance, and the small park at the center of the neighborhood is perfect for kids and dogs alike. There are four different hospitals within a 3-mile radius, each located in a different direction. The Armory Senior Center offers senior activities, including dance and fitness classes.

Thanks to its downtown location, Armory Park is close to any number of amenities, including grocery stores, bars, restaurants, and entertainment. Several galleries and museums are within walking distance of each other, just to the north toward the University.

  • Population – Under 1000
  • Home Price – Median home value over $281,000
  • Rent Prices – $600 – $950 for an apartment, $1200 – $2200 for a single-family home
  • Employers – Southern Arizona VA Healthcare Systems, The University of Arizona
  • Schools – Borton Magnet Elementary, Pueblo Gardens Elementary, Davis Bilingual Magnet School, Catalina High School, Project MORE High School, Dei Middle School

Catalina Foothills

This area just north of Tucson was developed in the early 1920s with a focus on preserving the open spaces and natural beauty of the area. Catalina Foothills is bounded to the north by the Coronado National Forest, Oracle Road to the west, Sabino Creek to the east, and River Road to the south.

This lovely neighborhood is home to some of the most affluent residents in the state and has extremely high real estate values. The median home value in this area is $410,000, and there aren’t many low-priced rental properties on the market.

At the core of Tucson’s resort corridor, this neighborhood is home to La Encantada, a large-scale high-end shopping center featuring many luxury brands. There are several grocery stores close by, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation nearby.

Catalina Foothills is a quiet neighborhood with many retirees, so there’s not much nightlife of which to speak. It is, however, dark in the evening, making for spectacular stargazing.

  • Population – Just over 50,000
  • Home Price – Median home value $410,000
  • Rent Prices – $550 – $1700 for an apartment, $1300 – $4000 for a single-family home
  • Employers – Canyon Ranch, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, Sabino Recovery
  • Schools – Ventana Vista Elementary School, Sunrise Drive Elementary School, Orange Grove Middle School, University High School,

Dunbar Spring

Just to the north of the Arts Warehouse District, you’ll find the small, culturally diverse community of Dunbar Spring. Currently experiencing revitalization, this historical community has much to offer residents. The neighborhood is bordered by Speedway Boulevard to the north, 6th Street to the south, Stone Avenue to the east, and Main Avenue to the west.

Dunbar Spring has enjoyed a proud cultural identity as the first African American neighborhood in Tucson but has also experienced ups and downs along with dips and spikes in the economy. Currently, the neighborhood is going through a renaissance thanks to a committed local community.

Access to amenities is good thanks to access to I-10 and proximity to downtown and the University of Arizona. Trail Dust Town offers shopping in a historic outdoor setting, and Estevan Park is a staple for sports and recreation. There are several churches in the neighborhood, adding to the convivial, social feel.

Residents of Dunbar Spring will not be disappointed in the dining options available close by. Plus, the Leo Rich Theater boasts ballet, musical performances, and events throughout the year.

  • Population – Under 4000
  • Home Price – Median home value $150,000
  • Rent Prices – $715 for an apartment, $900+ for a single-family home
  • Employers – the University of Arizona, Carondelet St Mary’s Hospital, Banner University Medicine
  • Schools –Bilingual Magnet School, John Spring Junior High School, Miles-Exploratory Learning Center, University High School, Tucson Magnet High School

El Presidio Historic District

Another attractive downtown Tucson neighborhood, El Presidio was once the most affluent neighborhood in the city. These days, you can enjoy raising a family in one of the signature historic homes of the area surrounded by great art, food, and culture. The neighborhood is bounded by 6th St, W. Alameda, N. Stone Avenue, and Granada Ave.

Most of the residents of El Presidio rent their homes, and it’s a hot spot for young professionals. The neighborhood is one of the oldest developments in the country, and the cultural vibe is strong. The Tucson Museum of Art is in the heart of the neighborhood, and there is thriving nightlife in the area.

  • Population – Under 4000
  • Home Price – Median home value $128,000
  • Rent Prices – $778 for an apartment, $900+ for a single-family home
  • Employers – the University of Arizona, Carondelet St Mary’s Hospital, Davis Marathon Air Force Base
  • Schools –El Presidio Day School, Museum School for the Visual Arts, City High School, Davis Bilingual Elementary Magnet School

Oro Valley

One of the most livable suburbs of Tucson, Oro Valley offers residents ample parks and a beautiful view of Pusch Ridge Peak. Oro Valley is in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, about 13 miles north of downtown Tucson. The Tortolita Mountains are just north of town, with views of the Tucson valley to the south. The town occupies the middle Cañada del Oro Valley.

This neighborhood is a well-established area with all the amenities anyone could ask for. It’s known as one of the safest areas in the Tucson metro area, has excellent schools, and is an ideal place to raise a family. Most of the residents own their homes, but it is still possible to find affordable rentals.

While there are plenty of shopping and dining options in Oro Valley, for cultural activities and lively nightlife, most residents make the trip into Tucson.

  • Population – Under 43,000
  • Home Price – Median home value $288,400
  • Rent Prices – $1,138 median rent
  • Employers – Oro Valley Hospital, Casas Church, Davis Marathon Air Force Base
  • Schools – Basis Oro Valley, Basis Oro Valley Primary School, Painted Sky Elementary School, Canyon del Oro High School

Sam Hughes

This neighborhood, named for the Welsh immigrant who founded it in the 1920s, has been a national historic district since 1994. Sam Hughes is between E. Speedway Blvd to the north and E. Broadway Blvd to the south. North Campbell and the University of Arizona are to the west, and N. Country Club Road forms the east boundary of the neighborhood.

This area is full of character and is a hub for young people who enjoy the eclectic atmosphere and families who appreciate the great schools in the district. The annual neighborhood home tour is well-loved, as folks can explore the midcentury modern homes that dot the local landscape. The Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association is active and hosts other events throughout the year.

There are a handful of grocery stores and plenty of opportunities for shopping in boutiques and interesting shops in the area. The proximity to the University of Arizona ensures a lively mix of young and old in the many cafes, shops, restaurants, and bars locates in the neighborhood.

  • Population – Under 10,000
  • Home Price – Median home value $259,735
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,016
  • Employers – Oro Valley Hospital, Casas Church, Davis Marathon Air Force Base
  • Schools – Miles-Exploratory Learning Center, Sam Hughes Elementary School, Ida Flood Dodge Traditional Middle Magnet School, Tucson Magnet High School

West University Neighborhood

This colorful college area was the first Tucson suburb north of the SW Pacific railroad when it was settled beginning in 1890. Almost one hundred years later, in 1980, West University became the largest historic district in Arizona. The neighborhood is bordered to the east by the University of Arizona, west by N. 6th Ave to the west, E. 6th to the south, and E. Speedway to the north.

The vast majority of residents in West University are renters, and the lively neighborhood atmosphere owes much to the student population. There are many affordable options for renting or buying in the area. Two shopping districts serve the community: 4th Avenue and Main Gate Square, each offering up a wide variety of quick eats, coffee shops, and other amenities. Catalina Park has a children’s area and wading pool which are necessary for beating the heat in the dog days of summer.

  • Population – Under 9,000
  • Home Price – Median home value $102,844
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $760
  • Employers – the University of Arizona, Diamond Children’s Medical Center
  • Schools – Miles-Exploratory Learning Center, Sam Hughes Elementary School, Ida Flood Dodge Traditional Middle Magnet School, Tucson Magnet High School

Broadmoor — Broadway

Rated the #1 Tucson neighborhood by with an A+ for schools, housing, quality for families, and diversity, Broadmoor-Broadway appeals to both young professionals and retirees. This neighborhood even gets an A for nightlife!

This #1 neighborhood is bordered by E. Broadway on the north, S. Tucson Blvd on the west border, E. Winsett on the south, and S. County Club Rd on the east. Residents enjoy that they can walk or bike to popular amenities such as cafes, bars, coffee houses, restaurants, and parks. In this suburban community that’s becoming popular for its sustainability efforts, the majority of residents own their homes.

Considered a bikers’ paradise, gives this neighborhood a bike score of 91/100. When you’re out pedaling around, give these popular places a try: the cocktail bar, Sidecar; top-bakery, Barrio Bread; Kimchi Time for tasty Korean food; and Falora for wood-baked pizzas

  • Population — 2,778
  • Home Price — Median home value $264,112
  • Rent Prices — Median rent $613
  • Income — Median household income $72,911
  • Employers — Local services
  • Schools — University High School, Ida Flood Dodge Traditional Middle Magnet School, Miles-Exploratory Learning Center PK-8, Tucson Magnet High School, Project More High School

No matter what kind of life you seek in Tucson, where you choose to live will have a profound effect on your day-to-day quality of life.

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Francesca Singer

Texan by birth, Francesca has lived in three states and five countries–which makes her a true expert on moving. When... Read More