A Guide to Moving to: Arizona

Everything you need to know - and more

So, you're thinking of moving to Arizona, but your decision hasn't fully finished cooking. Well, friend, just like the Arizona desert, we've got the right stuff to help you bake that choice to perfection. We've compiled a handy little guide to some of the biggest thinking points for people considering a hop, skip and jump over to a new state.

Known as The Copper State or The Grand Canyon State, Arizona has a plethora of treasures to offer potential residents beyond just the well-known and highly tourist-frequented national park. It's been said that living in Arizona "is like living in the coolest museum," thanks to its natural beauty — from the famous deserts to the lesser-known mountain and forest areas (in fact, a quarter of the state is made up of forests), and even its (gasp) snow.

Still thirsty for more? Well then crack open a cactus and read on to discover why about 107,628 people moved here in 2017 alone (according to Worldpopulationreview), and the reasons why you just may want to join them. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable homeowners insurance policy.

Arizona Job Market

Worldpopulationreview tells us that 7,123,898 people currently reside in Arizona. Well, what exactly do all of these people do? According to Zippia, some of the fastest-growing jobs in the state currently are miner, operations analyst, roofer, mason, electrician and construction worker. 

As far as the highest-paid jobs are concerned, Zippia goes on to state that those titles currently belong to orthodontists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, surgeons, CEOs, and dentists. So, pretty much those involved in the medical field will make quite a decent living out here. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that Arizona's current unemployment rate is 4.9%, which has come down considerably since 2010, when it was at 10.8%. The minimum wage is also well above the national average, at $10.50/hour, according to minimum-wage.org. So, a fairly low unemployment rate mixed with a $3.25/hour higher than national average minimum wage is already putting a few checks in the plus column for a move here, we'd say.

Housing in Arizona

It's probably not a great idea to just roll into The Grand Canyon State with only a tent, a pillow, and a dream (at least considering the state's extreme heat...not to mention the mountain lions). You'll most likely want to scout out some sort of permanent housing upon your relocation. That being said, what is the housing market like here?

Well, the average value of homes is currently $240,600 for the state, which is up 8.1% from last year. The median price of homes listed is $285,000, while the median price of homes sold is $243,200. The median home rent price is $1,450.

As far as apartments go, Rentcafe shows that apartments in Phoenix go for an average of $880/month for a one-bedroom. In Tucson, one-bedrooms are considerably cheaper at an average of $617/month. However, in Scottsdale you can expect to pay quite a bit more, with one-bedrooms averaging $1,197/month.

Overall, rent seems to be pretty affordable. Here's some further incentive, too — Zillow states that on average, most homes in The Copper State were built in the '00s (2000-2010). There's also plenty of new construction popping up through central Arizona (near Phoenix), and throughout the southern central area (around Tucson). Odds are good of finding a new or new-ish place here. So, fairly new properties for prices that are below the national average...sounds like a win to us.

Arizona's Culture and Natives

Almost a quarter of the state is made up of Indian reservations, and the largest population of Native American language speakers in the country resides here. A couple of the languages still spoken today are Navajo and Apache. Arizona is said to be a very culturally diverse state, though it does seem to have a large number of illegal immigrants, as well — especially in the Phoenix area.

Phoenix also suffers from a phenomenon known as the "urban heat island effect" — meaning its already impressively high temperatures soar even higher, due to human activity. In fact, the temperatures can reach up to as much as 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in more rural areas in Arizona. For a state that's said to have around 100 or more days with temperatures in the 100s in certain areas, that's pretty significant.

Residents on City-data and Quora say that the metropolitan area of Phoenix has no discernible vibe or specific scene, and that the people there aren't among the friendliest you'll ever meet. However, they rave that smaller cities in the state, such as Flagstaff, Prescott, and Sedona, have "friendlier vibes and vibrant and genuine feels" given off by the people there. Tucson's population is also referred to as "friendly and down-to-earth" by natives. 

Like some other states, a certain percentage of Arizona's population is made up of native Californians who relocated to find a slower pace of life. Arizonans can be resentful of these Californians taking advantage of their cheaper real estate and driving prices up. Arizonans also tend to be on the more conservative end, compared to their liberal Californian transplants. The slower pace of life sounds enticing, though, as one resident described one of her favorite pastimes as sitting on the patio to watch the sunset. Sign us up.

Arizonan Trivia

Because of the extreme heat in the desert areas, the population tends to be spread out. Residents say that the heat can make people "ornery," so you might want to be careful whom you choose to strike up polite conversation with. Certain areas of the state are said to have no sense of connectedness because people tend to walk from air conditioned buildings to their air conditioned cars, and not spend much time outside.

Residents become so accustomed to the intense heat that they can be caught wearing sweaters when it's 70 degrees outside. Those who really need a break from the heat can (and do) drive to one of the state's many ski resorts, including Flagstaff Nordic Center and Sunrise Park Resort, in the White Mountains. People looking for more temperate summers in general flock to the mountain towns to live - such as Alpine, just shy of the New Mexico border, which sees temperatures averaging only in the high 70s during the summer. Alpine residents are sure to break out the sweaters at night!

Residents of The Grand Canyon State have generally visited the national park that gave their state its nickname once or twice, but they tend to forget it's there — the park is more of a tourist trap. The Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon, which is 277 miles long, averages a mile deep, and has a maximum width of 18 miles. Seeing it can be as breathtaking and peaceful as it is overwhelming. Perhaps that's why many residents don't frequent the park. Or perhaps it's just that it's getting old...5-6 million years or so, that is.

Arizona has given this country many famous music acts over the years, such as Gin Blossoms, Jimmy Eat World, Alice Cooper, Social Distortion and Stevie Nicks. The fame doesn't stop there, though. The state also birthed Cochise, a famous Apache Indian chief; Frank Luke Jr., a WWI fighter ace; and Louie Espinoza and Michael Carbajal, two world champion boxers. Now there's some talent you won't wanna mess with. 

There's also a famous giant hole just northeast of the state's midpoint, near Winslow — the Barringer Meteorite Crater (AKA Meteor Crater Natural Landmark). It's smack dab in the middle of the Colorado Plateau, and is one of the most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. The crater is nearly one mile wide, and reports vary on its depth — but it’s between 550 and 570 feet. Now that's one big hole.


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Can't-Miss Arizona Fun + Activities

Whether you're a desert-dweller by nature or you prefer to dash from one air-conditioned location to the next, The Copper State has got plenty to offer.

Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  • Spring Training Celebration: This three-day annual event combines residents' and tourists' love of baseball with their love of music and food. Also called the "Innings Festival," patrons gather to watch their favorite Major League Baseball teams, listen to famous music acts (including such bands as Queens of the Stone Age in 2017), or gorge themselves on numerous mouth-watering food vendors' goodies. 
  • Wine Tours: Oenophiles can get their fix in this state at one of the several beloved wine tours, including Sedona Wine Adventures or Verde Valley Wine Trail.
  • Arizona State Fair: The annual state fair is a big deal in The Grand Canyon State. Beyond just rides and food, the event offers "competitive exhibits" such as cupcake decoration demonstrations, wood carving, photography contests and more. The 2018 fair also had concerts for fans of multiple decades of music, including The Wallflowers and 38 Special. We're so caught up in you, little Arizona. 
  • Scottsdale Culinary Festival: Basically, this is just a long, ginormous foodie fest — and one of the longest-running in the US at that. It's six days of food, restaurant booths, wines, micro brews, and even celebrity chefs. Come hungry. Leave hating yourself (just a little).
  • City of Jerome: This so-called "semi-ghost town" is still operating. Its former population of 10,000 has dropped dramatically, but reports differ about whether this number now is down to 400, or just 50. There was a boom in the mining industry more than a century ago, with (you guessed it) copper having been The Copper State's main harvest. But the later industry slump resulted in the rise of several ghost towns. Jerome is a great halfway point for tourists or residents who are curious about ghost towns, but not quite brave enough to venture to one of the most haunting sites.

Pros and Cons of Living in The Grand Canyon State

We know you're just itching to break out the sunblock and hightail it over to Arizona so you can bake yourself to perfection, but just hold on a beat. There might be a few additional details worth looking over (whilst sipping your tea pensively) before you decide which SPF is right for you.

Some Arizonan-consensus PROs of living there:

  • Varied weather/terrain: As we mentioned earlier, Arizona ain't just the desert. In fact, fans of many different types of terrain and weather could find themselves at home here. The state has much to offer in the way of forests, valleys, mountains, deserts and even snow.
  • The Saguaro cacti: The only place in the world that this type of cactus grows is in the Sonoran Desert. These massive and amazing plants can grow to be more than 40 feet tall! Watch where you're walking in Arizona, cause that's a lotta pricklies to get stuck with, if you're not careful.
  • The food: Residents love to boast about the authentic Mexican food found here, but another local pride is known as the Sonoran hot dog, which originated in Tucson. This dog is wrapped in bacon, served on a crispy bun, and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and condiments. It's not for the faint of heart. Locals also like to insist that they, in fact, have the country's best pizza (so take that, Chicago and NYC!).
  • National landmarks: Aside from the obvious natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon, Arizona is also home to Hoover Dam (shared with Nevada), which looks amazing when illuminated at night; Piacacho Peak, which has some of the greatest hiking trails in the state; Montezuma Castle, which was built by the Sinagua Indians; and the Mission San Xavier del Bac, which is an active Roman Catholic church dating back to the 18th century.
  • Vortexes of Sedona: There are several locations in Sedona that have been said to contain powerful spiritual energy beneath the surface. This powerful and transformational energy is concentrated at specific sites, which can sometimes be indicated by the presence of twisted trees sitting atop them. Vortexes are said to be "intersections of natural electromagnetic earth energy, also known as ley lines," by sedonaredrocktours. Many people come to Sedona to meditate at these intense energy centers, reporting a profound sense of calm and inner peace when doing so. 

Now for the hardly disputed CONs:

  • Dust storms, AKA "haboobs": This natural phenomenon happens so often in Arizona that there's even a special word for it — "haboob," which is apparently an Arabic word that either literally means "dust storm," or is short for, "you took a wrong turn and ended up in Silent Hill" — we're not sure. While these storms are disturbing for non-natives, long-term residents drive right through them with confidence (or perhaps a bit of insanity). The inside can be as pitch-black as a dark night...without streetlights. The dust also has to settle once the storm has passed...and it will. All over your stuff.
  • Crime: Phoenix has seen a spike in homicide rates over the past couple of years, and currently ranks as the 37th most deadly city in the US, according to the Major Cities Chiefs Association's Violent Crimes Survey done in 2017. The survey named three of Arizona's cities among the top 60 US cities for high murder rates. Tucson came in at number 43, and Mesa also ranked. Other than homicide, rape, aggravated assaults and robberies were among the top crimes reported in these Arizona cities.
  • Extreme heat: With about 100 days reaching temperatures in the triple digits in some parts of the state, to say it's hot here is putting it quite mildly. Residents complain of burning their hands on seat belt buckles and steering wheels after their cars have been sitting and baking in the sun. Locals also reiterate the importance of sunblock to visitors — and they mean it. Being out and about in the desert heat without sun protection is just plain crazy...maybe even crazier than driving straight through a haboob.
  • Crazy critters: As if the sun trying to kill you wasn't bad enough, you'll also need to watch your back here for mountain lions, rattlesnakes and scorpions, to name just a few native predators. Residents offer up the tip of shaking out your shoes every time before putting them on — creatures like scorpions like to crawl inside of them to escape the sun/heat. We don't know about you, but we enjoy putting our shoes on without the threat of being stung, bitten, or screaming like a little kid.
  • Monsoons: From mid-July to mid-August, the rainfall in Arizona accounts for half the national average. It's monsoon season. It's wet, and it's serious. This is the time of year you won't hear anyone bragging about their state having "dry heat."

Weird Laws

We know you came to get the lowdown on all Arizonan things, and we're here to deliver. That's why we've compiled a list of a few of the weirdest, kookiest, and biggest head-scratching laws still in existence, for your enjoyment.

Here are a few from onlyinyourstate and azcentral:

  • Don't mess with the cacti: The Saguaro cactus takes 75 years to grow its first arms! These plants also house bird nests and provide water sources for desert dwellers. So if you're caught being a jerk and destroying or removing one, you'll face a hefty fine and a Class 4 felony on your record. Plus the guilt that comes from being a jerk.
  • There's no spitting in Goodyear: You can't spit on a public sidewalk, crosswalk, highway, or in a park or public building. Outside of City Hall, however, you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor for your shenanigans, as well as a $2,500 fine and/or up to six months in prison. Don't do it.
  • You can't use a fake name at a hotel in Buckeye: And someone registering on your behalf can't provide a fake name for you. So celebs will not have an easy time remaining on the DL here.
  • You can't use searchlights without approval in Tolleson: The City Council must approve of all use, with exceptions made by public authorities in case of emergency. So basically, when they need to summon Batman, it's all good.
  • You can't buy glue if you're under 18 in Glendale: This is to try to prevent the act of huffing, which is illegal. Stick to the natural highs you'll get from visiting the Sedona Vortexes, kids.

Arizona, Here We Come

So, there it is — a brief, hopefully informative list of important factors to consider about The Copper State, for your enjoyment and wisdom-seeking needs. Sadly we can't give you enough information to address absolutely all of your concerns (or maybe we could, but we'd have to take several naps in between sessions), but here's hoping that we've given you some tasty morsels of info for you to chew on while you contemplate your life choices.

Now it's over to you, friends, to decide if The Grand Canyon State will become your next home. The beautiful landscapes, seriously cool cacti, many fun festivals, varied weather, and delicious food, not to mention perhaps the coolest flag of all the states, just might be all it takes to have you board the next train over. We sincerely hope you've enjoyed devouring our little Reader's Digest version of the state as much as we've enjoyed sharing it with you.

Good luck, and make sure you're covered with an affordable homeowners insurance policy.

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