The Grand Canyon State is booming now more than ever. As both young professionals and families decide to relocate to the Sonoran desert, many are wondering: Where are the best places to live in Arizona? While there are many great cities, a few stand out among the rest.
Read on to learn more about the following best cities in Arizona and the best places to move in Arizona in 2021:
- Population: 244,410
- Average age: 39.2
- Median household income: $82,925
- Average commute time: 29.4 minutes
- Walk score: 38
- Studio average rent: $1,068
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,211
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,480
Arizona has set out to become a new Silicon Valley, so many people have set their sights on Chandler. That’s because an influx of tech companies, like Intel, have moved here, attracting new families to this innovative, growing city.
With plenty of things to do in Chandler, the city is known throughout Arizona for art festivals, beautiful golf courses, exciting nightlife and baseball.
If you’re seeking the perks of a big city but the prices and space of a suburb, Chandler is your dream destination. It’s also close to Phoenix and Scottsdale, making commuting a breeze.
- Population: 70,366
- Average age: 34.9
- Median household income: $58,748
- Average commute time: 19.8 minutes
- Walk score: 35
- Studio average rent: $1,229
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,351
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,712
Do you love pine trees and skiing? Then Flagstaff is for you. This friendly town is just about two hours north of Phoenix, making it a desirable outdoor location.
Home to Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff is quaint enough to have a small-town feel without any of the downsides. It’s also unique for its local ski resort, Snowbowl, and for being one of the only cities on this list that experiences all four seasons.
Enjoy snow in the winter and flawless, cooler conditions in the summer — perfect for hiking. Flagstaff attracts hikers from all over the area to climb the highest point in Arizona, Humphreys Peak.
The city of Flagstaff is ideal for any outdoor enthusiast or someone seeking to get away from a big city.
- Population: 231,942
- Average age: 37.1
- Median household income: $96,857
- Average commute time: 33.7 minutes
- Walk score: 32
- Studio average rent: $1,388
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,111
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,350
According to a 2020 study from Wallethub, Gilbert is the fourth safest city in America — and it’s also one of the most scenic. The area attracts families with its highly-regarded schools. Plus, a higher household income ensures beautiful infrastructure, neighborhoods and low crime rates. The community is crawling with picturesque golf courses, hiking trails and plenty of other outdoor amenities.
Not moving with a family? No worries. Downtown Gilbert is thriving with nightlife, hot new bars and a live music scene. Eclectic, trendy restaurants are as common in Gilbert as in ritzy Scottsdale.
Gilbert brings the excitement of a big city but with modern planning and brilliant new communities.
- Population: 241,261
- Average age: 39.3
- Median household income: $55,020
- Average commute time: 33.9 minutes
- Walk score: 45
- Studio average rent: $631
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,010
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,253
With some of the lowest rental prices on our list, Glendale isn’t just an economical place to live. This western city brings its own unique perks.
Originally an agricultural hub, Glendale has exploded with residential life over the past decade, attracting new shopping centers, elegant communities and businesses.
Glendale has both the State Farm Stadium, home to the National Football League’s Cardinals, and the Gila River Arena, where you can watch the National Hockey League’s Coyotes. This city’s residents don’t just get their fill of professional sports, but also some of the hottest concerts and traveling events.
Westgate Entertainment District is an open-air shopping center and nightlife hub surrounding these sporting stadiums bustling with entertainment 24/7.
- Population: 478,314
- Average age: 41.6
- Median household income: $58,181
- Average commute time: 30.0 minutes
- Walk score: 42
- Studio average rent: $862
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,030
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,215
Mesa is a city brimming with diversity and bursting with growth. With lower property taxes, many renters feel the savings trickle down to them and can enjoy reasonable rent prices and all the perks of a big city.
Mesa isn’t as suburban as other cities on our list, but it’s a sought-after destination for its notable public school system, exciting nightlife and regular events. The city of Mesa is also in the heart of the metropolitan area, making it a central and convenient place to live.
Families can enjoy attractions like multiple water parks or dinosaur bones at the Arizona Museum of Natural History. For those who love the outdoors, you can enjoy hiking or rock climbing the unique red landforms of Papago Park or take advantage of the nearby Salt River.
- Population: 1,571,331
- Average age: 38.4
- Median household income: $57,459
- Average commute time: 31.0 minutes
- Walk score: 54
- Studio average rent: $1,069
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,242
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,497
Whether you’re renting your first apartment or relocating your family, Phoenix has something for everyone.
It’s the capital of Arizona and the biggest city by far on our list. With a population of 1.6 million, Phoenix stretches to multiple well-populated neighborhoods, creating distinct, diverse pockets throughout the city. Each area has its own charm, from Arcadia to Downtown.
Phoenix’s population is exploding, and its amenities, entertainment and reputation are thriving as a result. Arizona State University also has multiple campuses across Phoenix, attracting young students and professionals.
Meanwhile, affordable but high-quality living lures in people from all over. Phoenix is at the center of all of the cities on this list, making it the heart of Arizona and a top contender to anyone moving to the state.
- Population: 41,866
- Average age: 53.4
- Median household income: $55,734
- Average commute time: 22.6 minutes
- Walk score: 33
- Studio average rent: N/A
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,300
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,083
Hate the scorching desert heat? Prescott is a cooler option just outside big city borders.
Prescott has retained its old-world charm, particularly in the Downtown Historic Area. There, you’ll find Whiskey Row, a famous street bustling with nightlife and true cowboy bars.
Surrounded by hiking trails, multiple lakes and the Prescott National Forest, it’s also the perfect place for any outdoor-lover or dog owner looking for their new home.
Simply put, Prescott is an ideal place to live. Great weather, plenty of outdoor activities and affordable living make it an attractive option to anyone relocating to Arizona.
- Population: 239,941
- Average age: 48.7
- Median household income: $88,213
- Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
- Walk score: 49
- Studio average rent: $1,462
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,636
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,153
There is no place quite like Scottsdale. One of the newer cities on our list, Scottsdale is synonymous with luxury.
The city is popular with families as the Scottsdale School District is one of the best in the state. Complement this with a low crime rate and plenty of parks and recreational facilities, and it’s a lovely place to raise a family.
From the historic Old Town area filled with fine art galleries and trendy restaurants to Fashion Square Mall, one of the largest, finest shopping centers in the state, Scottsdale is hard to beat (if you can afford it).
Some of the state’s best nightlife also resides in this city’s limits, not to mention famous events like the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament, Barrett-Jackson Auction Company shows, the Culinary Festival, the International Film Festival and more.
- Population: 532,172
- Average age: 40.4
- Median household income: $43,425
- Average commute time: 27.2 minutes
- Walk score: 51
- Studio average rent: $621
- One-bedroom average rent: $786
- Two-bedroom average rent: $987
If you’re looking for art, culture and a laid-back vibe, then Tucson is your city. The flourishing town is the most southern on our list, less than two hours from Phoenix and only one hour from the Mexico border.
Home to the University of Arizona, Tucson is continuously updating and innovating. This bike-friendly city is also known for its indie shops, hip restaurants and year-round activities like rodeos.
Despite hiked rent prices near the college campus, Tucson offers a reasonable cost of living. It’s a desirable place for any family looking for an interesting, quiet spot to settle.
- Population: 94,615
- Average age: 39.1
- Median household income: $47,998
- Average commute time: 20.1 minutes
- Walk score: 38
- Studio average rent: $607
- One-bedroom average rent: $787
- Two-bedroom average rent: $852
Yuma is the most budget-friendly city on our list, but that doesn’t mean it has any less to offer. Some attractions within this city’s borders are like time capsules.
Visit the Castle Dome Mines Museum to see a real ghost town or the Colorado River State Historic Park to experience five centuries of Arizona history. Yuma also boasts the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, a preserved Wild-West prison.
Residents of Yuma admire the small-town feel and sense of community. It’s a melting pot of diversity and has above-average public schools.
The city overlooks the Colorado River, making it a beautiful desert landscape to enjoy the outdoors and year-round sunshine. For a lovely life and low overhead cost, Yuma is a southern treasure of a town.
Find your own best place to live in Arizona
Arizona is unlike any other state with year-round sunshine, scenic landscapes and endless activities. It’s an affordable state with plenty of thriving cities and apartments to match.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.