Best Places to Live in Arizona
From the rolling hills of the Sonoran Desert; to the clear, Colorado River carving through the red earth; to the snow dusted mountains, Arizona has nearly everything to offer. So how does one pick the best place to live in Arizona? It’s not just about the landscape (though there’s no argument when it comes to the beauty of this state), but the best city to suit your lifestyle, career direction, education system needs, and more.
If you’re thinking of moving to The Grand Canyon State, Ranking Arizona has put together a list of the Top Ten Best Places to Live in Arizona. The footwork is already done for you, so grab a cup of coffee (or something a little stronger if this list is catching you during happy hour!) and dive right in to find the best place for you to live in Arizona!
The Top TEN Places to Live in Arizona
These Arizona cities have been ranked by five different aspects; affordability, schools, entertainment and traffic. Each of these factors are given a score out of five, with an overall lifestyle score rating of 20.
#10. Queen Creek, Arizona
Queen Creek is well known in the Phoenix area for offering its residents nice, new homes at affordable prices. Many homeowners can find themselves being the first owner of these homes, but as the population grows, these prices are climbing. What was once one of the most affordable areas of Phoenix might no longer be as economic as it once was.
With the growing population, the schools in Queen Creek have continued to climb the ratings ladder, giving them a 4 out of 5 rating.
While you can find plenty to do in the area, the entertainment aspect such as parks and shopping centers are still catching up with the growing population, but are expected to continue to grow.
If you work from or close to home, commute time won’t be a huge hindrance to you. However, if you work closer to the city or Scottsdale, you’ll be spending a fair amount of time in your car if you live in Queen Creek, giving it a rating of 2 out of 5.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 13/20
#9. Surprise, Arizona
Like Queen Creek, newcomers have flocked to Surprise chasing the affordable new housing, but unlike the aforementioned, it’s seemingly remained steadily affordable. Without a rise in housing prices, Ranking Arizona gives this suburb a perfect 5 out of 5 for affordability.
Arizona has some of the largest school districts in the United States, and the Phoenix area in particular is known to have great public schools, however most of those tend to be in the East Valley; Surprise lies in the West Valley. While none of the ratings on our list are “bad” when it comes to public education, Surprise ranks lower than areas like Chandler and Gilbert when it comes to their school system.
Surprise definitely offers less entertainment options than many other cities in this top ten list, however most people move to this area for the cost benefit, often meaning they are happy to go elsewhere for shopping, parks, and movie theatres to reap the benefits of affordable cost of living at home.
The new 303 freeway has greatly benefitted this hard to access part of the valley, making it easier than ever for residents of Surprise to commute in and out of the city. Even with this improvement, however, Surprise is somewhat “way out there,” so to speak. Freeway or not, if you live in Surprise you’re still going to be spending a lot of time in your car.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 13/20
#8. Mesa, Arizona
Despite being one of the most populated cities in the entire state, Mesa still ranks pretty high in affordability. Much of Mesa is older housing, which is generally more affordable, so it keeps its affordability rating despite the newer, less affordable neighborhoods popping up in the area.
You’ll find great schools in Mesa, but because it’s so populated, there are many schools in the area to accommodate the population, and with more schools to rate, the ratings often go down. You’ll find the Mesa schools are average, with some great ones dotted around here and there.
There’s plenty to do in Mesa, such as visiting the Mesa Arts Center, but compared to some of the other cities on our list, there’s not quite the magnitude of options. Much like Surprise, if you are living here for affordability, the lack of entertainment may be of little consequence to you.
Covering such a large area, it’s hard to come up with a traffic rating for Mesa as a whole. Some areas are more congested than others, but due to its proximity to the Phoenix Metro Area, you’ll still be closer than outskirt areas like Queen Creek or Surprise.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 13/20
#7. Chandler, Arizona
Another large area of the Phoenix Metro Area, prices in Chandler continue to rise as the city gets bigger and accommodations get nicer. It’s still more affordable than living in the city, but you really start to see the prices go up from here on out on our list.
The Chandler Unified School District has been rated the number one school district in Phoenix. The public schools in Chandler are exceptional, meaning if you are looking for a great fit for the whole family, this is an excellent city to consider.
With water parks, outlet malls, and museums, the entertainment in Chandler is top notch. You can even find plenty of views of the beautiful saguaro dotted Sonoran Desert from many places in the city, if the outdoors are more your scene.
With better commute accessibility, Chandler is much easier to access than the outer areas of the Phoenix making drive time lower and traffic ratings higher.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 18/20
#6. Phoenix, Arizona
The Crown Jewel herself, Phoenix is home to over a million and a half people, making it extremely difficult to rate this entire city on affordability. You’ll find master planned neighborhoods, mansions, and older run down parts of the city where you will find most doors and windows have bars on them. Because of this, the affordability rating gets a three. Like any big city, cost of living is higher than the suburban areas surrounding it, and Phoenix is no exception.
Again, so many schools in such a large area can be hard to rate. Added up across the city, Phoenix schools are pretty average in rating.
What it may lack in affordability and schools, Phoenix makes up for in lifestyle! The options for dining, shopping, outdoor activities, parks, museums and more are absolutely endless in Phoenix; an easy 5 out of 5!
If you’re already living in Phoenix, generally speaking you’ll spend less time in the car being closer to everything those in outlying cities have to drive to. No need for lengthy drives when everything you need is right in your backyard!
Overall Lifestyle Score: 16/20
Looking to move to the Phoenix area & need some help?
Schedule a zoom call with us today so we can help you get started & clarify what you need to do before moving here.
#5. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is the most expensive of all the top ten rated cities when it comes to median home prices, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable options here. Plus, with the other categories ranking so high, many find the slightly higher home prices worth it.
Schools in Scottsdale consistently rank high, making this is a great option for families still wanting to live a more “city-centric” life.
With Old Town Scottsdale overflowing with dining and nightlife options, Pinnacle Peak Park, and even a butterfly wonderland, the attractions in Scottsdale attract people from all around the Phoenix area for day trips and visits, giving it a 5 out of 5 for entertainment.
Much like Phoenix itself, there’s plenty of transportation options in Scottsdale, whether that’s driving, public transit, or ridesharing.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 18/20
Learn More: Living in Arizona vs Florida
#4. Goodyear, Arizona
A bit of a wildcard on this list, in previous years, Goodyear wasn’t even listed on the top ten, and in its first year of representation, jumps straight to number four! New housing is popping up with relatively affordable pricing, making Goodyear a hit with residents moving into Arizona from other states.
Schools in Goodyear have statistically scored average, but continue to rise in education standards as Goodyear grows. In a couple of years, we may see schools in Goodyear as highly rated as Chandler or Gilbert.
Goodyear has some great public parks, and an amphitheatre to enjoy outdoor entertainment, but as a growing community, it still doesn’t offer as much as some of the other cities on our list. Much like the education systems however, this is likely to keep improving.
Traffic ratings can be a bit lower in Goodyear, but with so many draws to the area, many feel the traffic is worth it for the affordability and lifestyle.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 12/20
#3. Peoria, Arizona
Consistently rated in top places to live in the Phoenix area, Peoria is one of the most affordable places on our list, with a 5 out of 5 rating when it comes to housing and cost of living.
Newer communities continue to pop up around Peoria, and especially in these neighborhoods, the schools are highly rated.
Peoria borders iconic Lake Pleasant, for boaters and anyone looking to enjoy some water sports within the desert landscape. Peoria is also home to the Peoria Sports Center, where spectators can enjoy watching the spring training commence for major league baseball teams. Like to get out and about? The New River Tail boasts over 18 miles of paved trails for hiking, biking and running. All of this, plus much more, makes the entertainment options in Peoria close to none.
The 303 freeway has absolutely opened up the drive time for those who reside in Peoria, but it’s still pretty far to the north of much of the Phoenix area, meaning as wonderful as it is, it’s a bit of a commute into the city.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 17/20
#2. Gilbert, Arizona
Once known as the hay shipping capital of the world for its mass agricultural production, Gilbert is consistently highly rated as one of the top places to live in the area. As the population grows, the home prices are definitely rising in Gilbert. It’s still maintained a pretty affordable cost of living, but this might not last much longer.
Much like Chandler, Gilbert is home to some of the most highly rated schools in the state, and has three different school systems to choose from within the community.
Charming farmers markets, theatre in the round, and even a range to work on your trap shot, Gilbert packs a big punch when it comes to entertainment. The downtown area, while small, has an array of dining options, and for the history buff, the Gilbert Historical Museum is a must!
Not perfect, but not too bad; the traffic in Gilbert lands at a bearable 4. Considering the high ratings in all the other categories, it’s absolutely worth sitting in the car for a while every now and then!
Overall Lifestyle Score: 18/20
#1. Tempe, Arizona
Drum roll, please! The 2020 number one best place to live in Arizona is Tempe! Well known as being home to Arizona State University, the atmosphere in Tempe is alive and thriving. Though the town is alive with “young blood” many of the housing options have been there for a while, keeping it affordable. As new high rises assemble around town, those are of course more expensive, but it’s still very easy to find an affordable home in the Tempe area.
Compared to some of the other cities on our list, school systems in Tempe are right down the middle in ratings. A little research can help you find the perfect fit for you, or which neighborhood might have a school you would be most interested in.
Dining and nightlife surround the university, but that’s not all you’ll find in this desert oasis! Countless parks and public areas are dotted around Tempe, and due to its landlocked nature, as the city grows, it’s growing up, not out! High rises and housing are popping up everywhere, giving Tempe a hip, urban vibe not common in Arizona. You’ll find zoos, aquariums, hiking paths, sightseeing tours…you name it, Tempe has it!
One of the best perks of Tempe is its central location to almost anywhere in the Phoenix metro valley, however; the new high rise style living accommodations in Tempe have brought with them some noticeable traffic increases, likely to continue with congestion.
Overall Lifestyle Score: 15/20
Thinking of moving to Arizona?
That wraps up the top ten best places to live in Arizona. If you’re thinking about moving to Arizona and need help, we know the state best. We have connections and get you into a home that is truly perfect for you.
Feel free to contact us via text, call or email, day or night. Even if you just have questions, we’re here to help you easily move to Arizona.
Pin this post for later!