Moving to Tucson, Arizona? Here’s what you need to know

Moving to Tucson, Arizona? Here’s what you need to know

by Team NextBurb 16 December 2020

Moving Guides By City

With year-round sun, laid-back culture, and a low cost of living,

Tucson is a great place to move for mountain adventures and good weather.

Check out our guides to the ins and outs of living in Tucson.

Tucson – A great place to move for mountain adventure and good weather year round

Quick facts about Tucson

  • Wild weather: Tucson residents claim to get an incredible 350 days of sun every year, but the sunniest part of the year isn’t during the summer!

    Milder temperatures and consistent sun make the winter and early spring months the best time to visit the city.

    During the summer, Tucson experiences the monsoon season, which comes with exciting thunderstorms and high winds.
  • Getting outdoors: Tucson lies in a valley on the Sonoran Desert plain.

    The city is surrounded by a national park and mountain ranges that provide unique places to explore, spot all kinds of wildlife (including the occasional jaguar), and view spectacular desert sunsets.
  • Festivals year-round: While you might not expect it,

    Tucson is home to some of the biggest festivals in the world.

    The Festival of Books attracts literary fans and writers from all over the country, and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has been held in the city for over 50 years.

Living in Tucson

Population & History

Tucson’s metro area is home to nearly 990,000 residents.

The second-largest city in Arizona, it lies only 70 miles north of the Mexican border and is a 1 hour and 40-minute drive from nearby Phoenix.

Tucson’s origins date back to 1775, when the Spanish established it as a military fort.

Today, beautiful old buildings in the Spanish colonial style crown the streets of the city. Tucson’s unique location at the center of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American history continues to influence its culture and cuisine to this day.

Weather in Tucson

We’ve already spotlighted the anomalies of Tucson weather.

The city has two major seasons: a mild winter and a hot summer with a short monsoon season.

In the summer, temperatures regularly top 100℉ but drop to as low as 60℉ in the evenings.

Although the climate is generally dry, summers become more humid towards the monsoon season.

Winter temperatures range between 64 and 75 during the day, making the area a desired vacation spot for residents from all over the country (many called “snowbirds” because of their advanced age}.

Overnight winter lows fall to 44-30℉.

Cost of Living

Tucson’s cost of living is lower than the United State’s average by about 7%, which is great news when it comes to monthly expenses.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the metro area is only $683, and the median home price is $185,800.

Utilities run just below the national average (expect to get a lot of use out of your air conditioner throughout the year).

Working in Tucson

Tucson’s job market hasn’t been considered the strongest in the past, but job growth rates are still predicted at 2%.

Some of the top employers include the University of Arizona, which employs over 1,000 faculty, and defense contractor Raytheon.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is located in southeast Tucson and is another top employer in the city.

At $47,000, Tucson’s average salary is below the United States average of $51,960 but corresponds in-part with the city’s low cost of living.

Working from home in Tucson

Tucson has several co-working spaces for remote workers who want a break from the home office.

Check out Common Workspace, which has a free coffee bar for members, or La Suprema, located in a sunny building downtown.

Top wireless internet providers for Tucson include Xfinity, CenturyLink, and Cox.

Xfinity’s base plans start at only $19.99/month, but for more reliable speeds for a home office, CenturyLink offers plans for up to 940 Mbp’s starting at $65/month.

Transportation & Commute

Tucson International Airport provides service to 15 destinations in the United States and Mexico.

Located just six miles south of downtown, it’s the second busiest airport in Arizona and offers connecting flights to larger airport hubs nearby.

Tucson’s Sun Tran bus system won an award for public transit in 2005 and provides reliable service throughout the city. If you live near the University of Arizona, there’s a streetcar that runs from near campus down to 4th street, where you’ll find the best of Tucson’s restaurants and nightlife.

Tucson also has an excellent reputation as a bike-friendly city.

Most Tucson residents own and commute by car, but many bike to work in designated bike lanes and bike paths throughout the city.

With consistent sun almost year-round, commuters can count on biking most days to get them to work.

5 Things that Make Tucson a Great Place to Live

  1. Phenomenal, award-winning food

    Never heard of good food coming from Tucson?

    It’s probably one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

    Tucson’s local food and ethnic cuisine earned it the title of “Capital of Gastronomy” from UNESCO in 2015.

    To put that in perspective, no other city in the United States has ever received that recognition.

    Tucson’s food scene is influenced by Sonoran Mexican, Native American, and colonial Spanish culture and flavors. Here are some top spots:
  • Breakfast: The B Line serves breakfast burritos and other fares to locals and the university crowd.
  • Mexican food & Mezcal: In a restored building from the 1920s, Penca serves over 30 types of Mezcal, tequila, and creative cocktails along with central Mexican cuisine on their award-winning menus.
  • The OG Mexican restaurant: El Charro Café claims to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson, and it’s believed that they also invented the chimichanga. After sitting down for a meal, you might be inclined to agree. Order traditional Sonoran cuisine along with margaritas for a must-have Tucson culinary experience.
  • Farm-to-table fusion: Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails sources local Arizona produce and meat for seasonal menus that combined traditional flavors with contemporary prestige. For just a taste, stop by in the late afternoon for their happy hour specials on food and drink.
  1. A literary past and present

    We’ve already mentioned the Festival of Books, which attracts over 120,000 visitors to the city every year, but Tucson’s flourishing relationship with literary culture goes even further.

    It’s been an inspiration to writers like Jack Kerouac, who wrote about his visit to the city in his book On The Road.

    The University of Arizona has a strong poetry program and was attended by famous writers, including David Foster Wallace and Richard Russo.

    Visit one of Tucson’s thriving independent bookstores to see the city’s literary culture in action.

    Antigone Books is a women-owned bookstore on 4th Avenue that runs entirely on solar power.

    Down the street is Book Stop, a used book store with out-of-print finds in the heart of Tucson’s bar scene.
  2. Exploring the desert

    Think deserts are dry and boring? Think again. Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges and the Saguaro National Park on the west and east sides.

    Take a weekend and hit the trails for beautiful, surprisingly green views (just don’t forget sunscreen and plenty of water!).

    For an easy hike, drive to the eastern part of Saguaro National Park and take the Douglas Springs trailhead to Bridal Wreath.

    If you’re up for a challenging trail with a fantastic lookout, try The Window, a drop-off view at the end of a difficult hike along the Ventana Canyon Trail.

    If you want a more relaxing day outdoors, take the family on a picnic to Agua Caliente Regional Park to look for turtles and other wildlife in the pools and natural hot springs.
  1. Southwestern history

    The Tucson area boasts more cultural and historic sites than any other place in Arizona. Here are some of the best:
  • A 1.5-hour drive south from Tucson, Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum showcases the long history of copper mining that drew settlers to southern Arizona and is complete with engaging tours and museum displays for kids and parents alike.
  • In 1700, a Spanish priest oversaw construction for Mission San Xavier del Bac, a stunning Spanish mission-style cathedral that still stands today. This beautiful white adobe church and surrounding gardens are a gateway to Tucson’s cultural history. Take a tour of the sanctuary inside and wander the grotto for stunning views of the city and insights into Tucson’s past.
  • We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Old Tucson, a theme park and film set where more than 400 Wild West films and commercials were filmed. The park closed due to COVID-19 but has been so integral to the area’s history and culture that the county plans to renovate and reopen it in some capacity once families can safely attend in the near future.

  1. A night out on 4th Avenue

    At the heart of Tucson’s historic downtown, bars, local stores, and restaurants line 4th Avenue. To see Tucson’s southwestern roots along with the laid-back grunge vibes of downtown shops, wander through bars, music venues, and fusion restaurants on a warm afternoon or evening.

    Twice annually, you can visit the 4th Avenue Street Fair, where artisans and vendors from all over the city sell their handmade goods and compete for prizes.

    Some of the must-see bars in Tucson include The Shelter Cocktail Lounge (full of 60’s memorabilia), the Good Oak Bar for local beer on tap, and HighWire for craft cocktails.

Best neighborhoods in Tucson, Arizona

  • For University Energy: Located next to the University of Arizona, Sam Hughes is a place where Tucson’s southwestern flare meets college town energy.

    Home to professors from the university and young families, the neighborhood’s median home price is $419,902, but property values range from $200,000 to $1.5 million.

    It’s a great neighborhood for both a family-friendly atmosphere and quick access to amenities downtown.
  • For up-and-coming charm: With quaint historical houses in bright colors, Barrio Viejo is known for its village feel and artistic energy.

    It’s a great affordable option for artists, young couples, and small families. Parts of the neighborhood might feel run down, but with iconic character and a median home price of $305,579, it’s a great place to consider.
  • For an eco-friendly lifestyle: To the south of downtown, Civano was built not only to offset the heavy carbon footprint that comes with big cities but to encourage an interactive community lifestyle.

    Residents here tend to be younger, socially conscious families who enjoy restaurants and shops within walking distance from residential areas.

    The median price of Civano’s energy-efficient adobe homes is $295,793.

Best suburbs to live in Tucson, Arizona

  • Mediterranean architecture and good schools: Sahuarita boasts some of the Tucson metro area’s lowest crime rates and has a great school district.

    Homes in the Mediterranean style run at a median price of $258,215. Hop in the car and commute north into Tucson for work in only 25 minutes.
  • For upscale style:Catalina Foothills is a neighborhood to the north of Tucson that boasts a median home price of $432,368. Catalina Foothills is home to affluent residents with sprawling homes and has the best school district in the metro area.

    You can find excellent restaurants and art galleries in Catalina Foothills or take a short ten-minute drive into the city.
  • For a peaceful lifestyle: Over 70% of Green Valley’s residents are over the age of 65, but the suburb is an affordable option for families with good schools, plenty of parks, and a median home price of $224,672.

    Green Valley has excellent shopping and dining amenities, a nearby golf course, and a weekly farmer’s market for local produce and products.

Buying a house in Tucson

With low house prices and increased national interest in Southwest cities, the Tucson housing market has become increasingly competitive. Mortgage prices run higher than rent, but the city’s median house price is $212,308, which is lower than Phoenix and much more affordable than in crowded cities in nearby California.

Crime in Tucson

Tucson has a history of crime that sometimes dampens its reputation, but in recent years the crime rate has improved and now closely matches the U.S. average. As with any city, it’s essential to exercise caution and awareness in specific neighborhoods in Tucson, but many communities are considered clean, safe places to live.

Check out crime data for each neighborhood to learn more about crime rates throughout the city.

Are you considering Tucson as your next home?

With glorious sunny weather and desert views, Tucson is a warm, laid-back city full of Southwestern charm and culture.
Whether you’re relocating for work or moving to Tucson to experience the mountains and accessible outdoors, the city’s affordable cost of living and energetic downtown make it a worthy contender for more expensive cities elsewhere.

If you’re looking for warmer temperatures, quick access to delicious food and fun cultural events downtown, come check out sunny Tucson for yourself.

Here at Nextburb, we’re committed to providing you with the facts you need to know about any area you’re considering as a future home.

Discover the best places to live in the United States to find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go.

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