Distant sunset view of Sedona, Arizona, and the stunning mountains behind the city.

Is Retiring in Arizona the Right Choice for You?

Arizona Retirement

by Matt Lyons Posted on November 30, 2023

If you would prefer your golden years to have a warm, Southwestern persuasion, then Arizona should be at the top of your list. Whether you want to retire in a large city like Phoenix or Tucson, or would prefer a slower pace of life in one of its many charming small towns, Arizona has a lot to offer retirees. When you make the choice to retire in Arizona, you’ll be in good company, as those aged 65+ account for 17.1 percent of the population, and Arizona ranks 12th when it comes to having the most retired folks in the U.S. 

So is retiring in Arizona for you? Let’s find out!

What Are the Benefits of Retiring in Arizona?

There are countless reasons to retire in the Desert State, but one of the biggest draws is its warm weather (almost) all year round. In fact, Arizona is one of the sunniest states in the country, as well as one of the hottest. If you choose to live in a smaller city or town, you won’t miss the quality of life offered in the major metros, with the added bonus of more cash in your pocket. But if you do choose the city life, you’ll be enjoying some of the most vibrant in America, especially Phoenix. Residents have ample opportunities to get outside and stay active, and no matter where you settle down, you’ll find trails and recreational centers that are perfect for 65+ people. 

And if you want to be a part of a dedicated retirement community, you’re in luck, because some of the best are in Arizona, including:

  • Sun City
  • Del Webb at Dove Mountain
  • Saddlebrooke Tucson

Is Arizona a Good State to Retire in? – FAQ

Q: Is Arizona a retiree-friendly state?
Arizona is considered a retiree friendly state. It does not tax Social Security retirement benefits, and the property taxes are relatively low. There are also plenty of 55+ communities to get involved in, along with great hospitals and healthcare systems located around the state.

Q: Is retiring in Arizona a good idea?
Yes, retiring in sunny Arizona is a good idea — especially if you’re looking to stay active and involved in a community. With an affordable cost of living, near constant sunshine, and plenty of retirement communities to stay active in, there are a lot of great reasons to consider Arizona for your golden years.

Q: What is the best part of Arizona to retire?
Arizona offers lots of great options, but Scottsdale has been named the best city to retire in America by Niche.

Q: Is it cheaper to retire in Florida or Arizona?
“Cheaper” can be a relative term depending on your situation, income, and even lifestyle, but Florida is the objectively cheaper option here (though not by much). Florida’s overall cost of living is lower than Arizona’s, and the annual cost of a comfortable retirement, according to CNBC, is $68,100. In Arizona, that number is almost $73,400.

A woman in hiking gear is taking a photo of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim in Arizona.

Retiring in Arizona — Pros and Cons

Although it’s considered a great state for retirees, Arizona can have some drawbacks. Let’s learn a little more about what the top pros and cons of retiring in Arizona include.

Pro: Pleasant Winters

Arizona has a wonderful, warm climate that lots of retirees find pleasant. Sunny days abound, and the temperatures in December — the coldest month of the year — range between 45 and 66 degrees. Balmy!

Con: Painful Summers

The flipside of that warm winter weather is that summertime can be very hot. Since Arizona has a desert climate, Summers are scorching. Even though the heat is dry heat (as opposed to wet, humid heat like Florida) and most areas are air conditioned, the intense summer heat is still something to consider if you have a medical condition or you’re prone to heat stress.

Pro: Perfect Chances to Get Outside

When you live in Arizona, you have a lot of opportunities to get out and experience the great outdoors. Whether you want to walk the trails, take in a round of golf, or go exploring one of the many state or national parks, Arizona is full of natural beauty. Not to mention the warm sunny climate means you can spend more days outside.

Con: Extreme Weather Hits Unexpectedly

Although you might not initially think Arizona is prone to extreme weather, you should know that dust storms and monsoons can hit unexpectedly. The summer monsoon season is from June 15th to September 30th, and can include intense rain, lightning, and flooding. Dust storms known as haboobs (that’s the real name) are common and residents should remain indoors when they hit. 

Pro: Retirement-Friendly Tax Benefits

Arizona is a tax-friendly place for retirees, helping them budget their retirement savings to stretch even further. Social security benefits aren’t taxed. However, the state does tax other retirement accounts, like withdrawals from an IRA or a 401(k).

Con: You’ll Need a Car

Most places in Arizona require you to have access to a car, as public transportation is not readily available outside of major downtown areas. However if you choose to live in a retirement community, they may have their own transportation to help take retirees to healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and grocery stores. 

Split screen image showing a desert in Arizona on the left the Miami skyline at sunset on the right.

Retiring in Arizona vs. Florida

If you’re debating between retiring in Arizona or Florida, there are a lot of reasons why Arizona might be your best bet. Florida’s cost of living is 103.1 and Arizona’s is 106.4, which means you’ll definitely get more for your money’s worth in Arizona or Florida. A typical home in Arizona costs $407,400, while the average home in Florida costs $362,400.

Access to healthcare is important, and you want to make sure there are doctors and healthcare facilities that take your insurance or Medicare. Arizona has some of the best hospitals in the country, no matter if you need a specialist or a primary care physician. Top ranked hospitals include:

  • Mayo Clinic Phoenix
  • Banner Boswell Medical Center
  • Banner University Medical Center Tucson
  • Chandler Regional Medical Center

Florida has its fair share of great hospitals and healthcare systems as well. It’s best to research your own specific needs before choosing a place to live based on this, though.

The weather in Arizona is perfect if you’re looking for a place that’s sunny for most of the year, and that only experiences severe weather a few times during the summer months. In Florida you will have to deal with yearly hurricanes, flooding, and hot, humid temperatures. In Arizona, you’re dealing with haboobs, dust storms, and the occasional monsoon. While the temperatures may be more pleasant closer to the beach, those properties are also very expensive.

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in Arizona?

If you want to retire in Arizona, it’s recommended that you have around $70,390 annually in order to retire comfortably. While you can certainly get by in a smaller town with less, it’s nice to have a number so you know what to aim for. Arizona does not tax social security benefits, which is a nice plus. However, keep in mind that the state does tax other retirement accounts, such as distributions from an IRA or a 401(k).

No matter where you choose to retire in the state, chances are you’ll find that property taxes are low, but sales tax can be high at 5.6 percent. It’s important to remember that some items are not subject to sales tax such as certain groceries, prescriptions, and medical devices.

Florida has a slightly lower cost of living than Arizona, but the housing prices are relatively close with Florida’s average home price sitting at $392,900 and Arizona’s sitting at $423,600.

While the cost of living and housing is important to consider, think of where you’d feel most comfortable spending your retirement years. Both states have a lot to offer, but differ widely in climate.

The Best Places to Retire in Arizona

Wondering where to retire in Arizona? We have a list of cities and towns that should be at the top of your list.

Aerial view of residential neighborhoos in Scottsdale, Arizona, with the mountains filling the skyline in the distance.

1. Scottsdale, AZ

Not only is Scottsdale, AZ, one of thebest places to retire in Arizona, but it’s also considered the #1 city to retire in the U.S., according to Niche. Once you’re a part of this welcoming community, you’ll see why people come here to retire and enjoy their golden years. If golf is something you love, you’ll be happy to know that Scottsdale has all kinds of courses for you to try, including the Grayhawk Golf Club, Continental Golf Club, and Talking Stick Golf Club

You’ll also have easy access to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and Hunting Area, and all kinds of trails to walk or bike. Residents love how close they are to Blue Wash Trailhead, Camp Creek Falls, and the trails at Desert Mountain. And when you’re done outside why not try your luck or take a load off at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort?

Scottsdale is only around 25 minutes from Phoenix, so you’ll be able to enjoy all the sights and entertainment options you can expect in a large city. If you want to stay close to home, you’ll have plenty of great restaurant options to try such as Chompies Restaurant, Deli, and Bakery or Butters Pancakes and Cafe.

2. Catalina Foothills, AZ

Ranked by Niche as the best suburb in the state, Catalina Foothills is also a wonderful area to retire. The residents love how picturesque their community is, and the Santa Catalina Mountains offer not only stunning natural views, but ample opportunities to get out and enjoy the wonderful Arizona weather. Check out the golf courses at the Arizona National Golf Club or head out to explore Bear Canyon Trail. You’ll definitely want to check out the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area that offers lots of spots to have a picnic with family or enjoy the local wildlife and plants.

Catalina Foothills is right outside of Tucson, so you’ll find plenty of options for food and shopping right in your backyard. Head over to the La Encantada Shopping Center, or check out the Paloma Village Center. When you’re ready for a bite to eat, locals love Guadalajara Original Grill and the Barnyard Crafthouse and Eatery.

3. Sedona, AZ

More interested in the best small town to retire in Arizona in? Then you’ll want to consider Sedona, which has just under 10,000 people. This town is located about 45 minutes south of Flagstaff and is surrounded by beautiful canyons and natural rock formations. While in Sedona, you’ll have easy access to all kinds of wonderful outdoor excursion areas, such as Red Rock State Park, the Seven Sacred Pools, the Subway Cave, Bear Mountain Trail, and Munds Mountain Wilderness just to get you started!

When you’re not outside enjoying all this beautiful town has to offer, you can enjoy the thriving arts and cultural scene. Stop into local stores like the Kachina House or the Mystical Bazaar that showcase the area’s offbeat and eclectic vibe. When you’re done exploring the outdoors or enjoying the downtown district, head over to the Golden Goose American Grille for one of their famous sandwiches, or grab something sweet at Layla’s Bakery Cafe.

4. Sun City, AZ

Another fantastic place to retire in Arizona is Sun City, which is located right outside Glendale. This is the #6 best place to retire in Arizona, according to Niche, and it’s easy to see why. Sun Citya quiet community that takes pride in its friendly residents who are welcoming to folks from around the country. It’s a safe area that you’ll definitely feel comfortable in if you want to get out and explore places like Maricopa Lake Park, or the Rio Vista Community Park. 

If golfing is more your style, then you’re in luck. There are many great courses just a short drive away. Check out Lakes West Golf Course, Quail Run Golf Course, or the popular Sun City Country Club. This area is easy to get around, and you’ll find plenty of shopping options at Arrowhead Towne Center. And when you’re ready to check out the local cuisine, you can try the Greek options at Sunset Bistro or the Italian fare at Dominic’s Bistro Italiano.

The Best Places to Retire in Arizona on a Budget 

When you’re retired, chances are you’ll want to keep a close eye on your savings. It’s a smart move, and can help your money go further. If you’re in search of affordable homes or rentals, and want to retire in Arizona on a budget, consider these charming cities:

  • Douglas
  • San Luis
  • Eloy
  • Bullhead City

A retired couple is standing with their arms around eachother, looking at the fully loaded PODS portable container in their driveway. They’re preparing to move to Arizona for their retirement.

Retiring in Arizona: Making the Move

When you’re ready to retire to Arizona, let PODS make your move easy. We’ll deliver a portable moving and storage container to your current address so you can fill it up on your schedule. Need help packing and loading? Not a problem, we can direct you to local movers who can take care of everything for you. When it’s time to go, our pros will come over and pick up your container and drive it to your new home in Arizona! Don’t forget, one month of storage is always included with each move.

#1 moving and storage company of 2024
No one understands complex moves and home renovation projects like PODS.


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