Guide to Living in Tucson, AZ

Sunset in Tucson, Arizona

Tucson is typically known for its dry and extremely hot climate but there’s also a lot to love about the Sun Belt city. It’s home to impressive mountain ranges, a ton of parks and stunning golf courses, an excellent arts and music culture, delicious Mexican cuisine, good quality educational institutes, and so much more!

Living in Tucson is a great idea for those looking for a city with a low cost of living and tons of outdoor activities. It’s a city that attracts retirees as well as young professionals and families alike, which probably explains its increasingly cosmopolitan culture.

Living in Tucson, AZ - Pros and Cons

Tucson is a mid-sized city in Pima County. It has a well-developed downtown that boasts of modern infrastructure and buildings with beautiful architecture. The city is surrounded by stunning mountain ranges.

The pros of living in Tucson far outweigh the cons. But is it the right place for you? What should you know about living in Tucson? To help you get started with your research, here’s a lowdown on the pros and cons of living in Tucson, one of the best places in the sunny state of Arizona.

1. Hot Tucson Weather

Tucson has typical desert weather – dry and hot. So quite naturally, it can get excruciatingly hot in the summer months, when temperatures over 100° aren’t uncommon. However, with no humidity, the extreme heat in Tucson is more bearable as compared to other states in the more humid states that experience equally hot temperatures. Here’s some more good news: it doesn’t rain frequently here, so most days you’ll be greeted with clear skies and glittering sunshine. One of the biggest draws of living in Tucson is that you can enjoy 350[1] days of sunshine a year!

But the saving grace is definitely the mild winter. Snowfall is extremely rare with only about 1-2 days of snow per year, if at all! So, if you’re looking to flee the snowy regions elsewhere in the country, Sunny Tucson is definitely one of the best relocation options for you.

Some of the most pleasant months here are November, April, and March while the hottest months are July and August. A caveat: you wouldn’t want to leave your home without a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses – your best friends in the sweltering heat!

2. Inexpensive Housing

Tucson has relatively inexpensive housing; although, homes here have been appreciating in value over the last few years. The new home median home price in Tucson shot above $300,000 for the first time in 2018[2]. Home prices are expected to further increase in the next few years.

3. Jobs & Economy

The unemployment rate in Tucson is 4.6%, compared to the US average of 3.9%[3]. But the recent job growth has been positive – rising by 2%[4] in the last year and will increase by approximately 33%[5] over the next ten years.

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the US Army Intelligence Center (located in nearby Sierra Vista) have contributed to the high-tech industry in Tucson. In addition, a large chunk of the companies in Tucson mainly deal with the design and manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems. Another sector that has driven the economy is the tourism and hospitality industry.

Some of the largest employers in Tucson are the University of Arizona, Universal Avionics, Raytheon Missile Systems, Bombardier Aerospace, Texas Instruments, Sunquest Information Systems, IBM, Honeywell Aerospace, and Intuit Inc.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur, relocating to Tucson, AZ is a great idea as the city has friendly policies for small businesses.

4. Commuting in and Around the City

If you’re planning on moving to Tucson, it’d be a good idea to get a car as the city is quite spread out. It has two great public transportation systems as well: Suntran and Sun Link Streetcar. Suntran is a bus service with routes throughout the metropolitan area, and the Sun Link Streetcar is a 3.9 streetcar mile that connects some of the most popular parts of the city, including the University of Arizona.

The average commute time in the entire Tucson metropolitan area is only 24.4 minutes, compared to the national average of 26.1 minutes.

5. Crime in Tucson

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there was a violent crime rate of 802 per 100,000 people in 2017, as opposed to the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000 in the same year[6].

But Tucson’s high crime rate doesn’t mean that the entire city is unsafe. However, if you’re moving to Tucson and wondering where to live, it’s best to thoroughly research the different neighborhoods in the city before finalizing your home.

The neighborhoods are diverse here with some being safer than others, so finding a safe place to live in Tucson, Arizona shouldn’t be hard. Some safe parts are downtown, most of midtown, and communities to the north and east of the city.

6. Inexpensive, Fun Things to Do

Thanks to the large student population in Tucson, there’s a ton of things to do here without burning a hole in your pocket. There are numerous cafes, shops, and restaurants apart from free events to attend. Keep your eyes and ears open for discounts and cheap events so you can have fun without breaking the bank.

7. Tucson Outdoors Calling!

Mountains to the left, right, and center. And even behind you! But that’s not even half the picture. Now imagine picturesque sunsets colored in vivid shades against a backdrop of minor mountain ranges and you’ve got an Instagrammer’s dream come true!

Go hiking, running, mountain biking, trekking, horseback riding, swimming, and caving. Given the diverse terrain, there are other types of activities too like skiing or sledding. It comes as no surprise that it’s a paradise for outdoor lovers. Tucson is a bike-friendly city, with some of the best infrastructure for bicycles, prompting bikers into action not only on weekends but also on weekday mornings.

For runners, there’s plenty of action too, with the endless trail runs and half and full marathons, apart from the other running events. Hikers will find great hiking trails within the city limits and even on the outskirts, which are relatively near. Lastly, for sports lovers, the endless open spaces have made it possible to build world-class golf courses and tennis courts, so you can play to your hearts’ content.

8. A Slew of Sports

Speaking of sports, if you’re into college sports, you can catch football games at the Arizona Stadium or watch the Arizona Men’s Basketball in action. If you don’t enjoy watching football or basketball, the University of Arizona has teams competing in a ton of other sporting events like baseball, swimming, and tennis.

9. Tucson Art & Music Culture

As mentioned earlier, there are a plethora of fun events like the Tucson Rodeo, the All Souls Procession Weekend, and the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. The Tucson Rodeo is a big deal as students are given two days off just so they can attend the event!

The All Souls Procession Weekend – one of the largest festivals – is inspired by the Mexican ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ holiday. It includes varied cultural traditions and as with any procession, you can enjoy a parade, memorials, floats, and other fun and vibrant events. In the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, which is held bi-annually, you can find great performances, art booths, and a ton of good food!

Arts lovers will find interesting attractions like museums – the University of Arizona Museum of Art, Center for Creative Photography, DeGrazia Gallery, and the Tucson Museum of Art. A must-visit place is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a zoo, botanical garden, and a museum all in one, featuring indigenous flora and fauna.

Besides being a major center for Mariachi music, Tucson hosts heaps of music shows, concerts, and events. Some of these include the three-day Tucson International Mariachi Conference, Norteño Festival and Street Fair, and the Tucson Area Music Awards (TAMMIES).

Plus, there’s the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera apart from the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and The Tucson Girls Chorus, which perform locally, nationally, and internationally.

10. Mexican Food

Delicious Mexican food is one of the strong points of living in Tucson. Besides being an art and musical cultural center, it’s also a center for authentic Mexican food thanks to its shared border with Mexico. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and tortillas, you name it! You’d want to check out the trendy restaurant scene especially in downtown Tucson. The city has the honor of being the first city in the US to be designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy[7].

What makes the food here doubly delicious is perhaps the fact that it’s made from fresher than fresh produce that is sourced from Mexico, California, and Yuma County. With a variety of cheap and fresh produce, cooking at home is an affordable way to enjoy incredible, local cuisine.

11. Shoppers’ Paradise

When it comes to shopping, Tucson caters to all budgets. It has a diverse range of shopping options worth trying, such as Fourth Avenue, which has a mix of boutiques and shops. If that isn’t enough, check out the major brands at the Tucson Mall and Park Place Mall.

If you don’t mind spending big bucks, browse through more high-end brands at the stores at the elite La Encantada. It’s definitely worth the experience even if you would just like to window shop.

12. Education Options

University of Arizona

Tucson has a great range of school options that parents can choose from, be it private, public, or charter. Tucson schools also rank fairly well in terms of the student-to-teacher ratio, with 19 students per teacher[8]. It’s also one of the most well-read cities according to Amazon. It hosts the 4th largest book festival in the country where one can attend book signings and get to meet their favorite authors.

Speaking of options for education, this section would be incomplete without a mention of the University of Arizona, which attracts a huge number of graduate and undergraduate students.

13. Free of Natural Disasters

Apart from the above-mentioned advantages of living in Tucson, the cherry on top is perhaps the extremely rare occurrence of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods.

14. Laidback & Friendly

Downtown Tucson, Arizona

Lastly, if you’re planning on living in Tucson, its culture matters too. Overall, the city offers friendly vibes with a slower and more laid-back manner. People take the time to stop and smell the flowers, enjoy sunsets, admire art, and chat with others, be it their neighbors or grocery store cashiers.

Other Great Places to Move in Arizona

Tucson has its fair share of advantages if you can bear the extreme heat. But if you think living in Tucson may not work for you, consider relocating to other cities in Arizona. Moving to Arizona is a great idea if you want to take advantage of the low cost of living, outdoor beauty and activities, good public transport, and sunny days.

  • If you’re looking for a city with an awesome nightlife, outdoors, arts and culture, year-round festive spirit, and amazing coffee, moving to Phoenix is one of the best choices.
  • If you’re looking for a city with a dry desert climate and proximity to Phoenix, affordability, buzzing nightlife, and great public transportation, them moving to Tempe would be a great idea.

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