It’s not as cheap to live in our desert oasis as it used to be, but the good news is that the cost of living in Phoenix is still lower than sizable cities in other states. The real estate market in Phoenix continues to make national headlines, with no slowing on the horizon. Between 2019 and 2020, the population in Maricopa County and its unincorporated areas grew 3.5%, netting 77,117 new residents.

READ ALSO: Phoenix No. 2 in U.S. for increase in home values

Phoenix is the country’s fifth most populous city and it will continue to grow as more starry-eyed hopefuls move here. Whether you’re considering calling the Valley your new home or need a good reminder of how good you have it with a Phoenix address to your name, let’s see how the city compares.

How is Cost of Living Calculated?

Trevor Halpern is the No. 1 independent agent at Phoenix-based North&Co. and the founder of the Halpern Residential real estate group.

Cost of living indexes compare the expenses of living in one town to another. This helps you gain a better picture of how much money you need to afford everyday necessities such as housing, groceries, gas, utilities, etc. The biggest factor is typically rent or mortgage as that will account for the bulk of your budget.

Scores are based on a scale where 100 is the average cost of living for the entire country. For example, a cost of living index below 100 means Phoenix is cheaper than the U.S. average while an amount above 100 means Phoenix is more expensive than the national average.

How Phoenix Ranks Compared with Other Cities

Earlier, we noted the cost of living in Phoenix is still affordable even as home values in the area rise. While it may not feel that way for those who’ve been around here for a while, it’s a stark contrast against what other cities are dealing with. 

In the chart below, we measure the cost of living in Phoenix against seven comparable cities; San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Portland, Las Vegas and Chicago. Phoenix has an average cost of living score of 104, meaning it’s slightly more expensive to live here than the national average. While that may seem high, it’s a welcome statistic when put in context with the other cities on the board, especially San Francisco, where the cost of living score is a whopping 269. It’s no wonder the majority of new Arizona residents are coming from major metropolitan areas of California. Life is more financially manageable here, which is why Phoenix is experiencing a surging 9.8% growth rate, almost three times the national average of 3.4%

How Much Income You Need to Live Comfortably in Phoenix

You can’t beat the year-round sunshine, scenic desert adventures, eclectic southwestern cuisine and the cultural arts. However, the job market is a highly-competitive, drawing some of the best minds in engineering and mathematics.

Recent data shows you need to earn at least $86,407 if you’re in the market to buy a home and $86,143 if you plan to rent. Interestingly (and indicative of the housing supply shortage in Phoenix), the median income in the area is $52,080, which is about $34,000 shy of what’s needed to put a roof over your head. If your salary leans closer to the median average, you’ll want to see where you can flex your budget to afford living in Phoenix.

Cost of Living Calculators

There are many cost of living calculators online that can help you get a sense of how far your money will go in different areas. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend:

Whether you’re considering a move to Phoenix or are a local resident looking to relocate, we can help you figure out the financial nuances that come with packing and moving your entire life to somewhere new. You want the right team who’s going to look out for your  best interests. At Halpern Residential, our close knit group of experienced realtors are part of the fabric of the community. We live, work and play here and are invested in the people who choose to call Phoenix home.


Trevor H. Halpern, J.D. is the No. 1 independent agent at Phoenix-based North&Co. and the founder of the Halpern Residential real estate group. As a Phoenix native, Halpern’s deep knowledge of both people and property has allowed him to create client success in all areas of town. As a graduate of ASU’s College of Law, Halpern prides himself on delivering high-level strategy, efficient negotiations and precise tactical execution. Since 2011, Halpern has sold over $100 million in real estate and has been in the top 1% of real estate agents in the Greater Phoenix area.