Arizona’s current popularity may have caused home price increases and limited inventory, but homebuying is still affordable for many professionals in metropolitan areas. Tucson lets you save up for a down payment relatively quickly, while Phoenix’s healthcare practitioners are particularly well placed to buy a home in Arizona.

A recent study by StorageCafe found that workers in many trending occupations can afford to comfortably buy an average home on an average wage in the Arizonan metros, with Tucson letting more of them do so than in Phoenix. Affordability is calculated based on earning at least a ‘qualifying income’ — 30% of which is enough to make monthly mortgage payments — and the ability to save up a down payment in less than 5 years using 20% of your income.

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Despite Phoenix leading the country in terms of home price increases in recent times, salaries have not necessarily kept up. Tech and media hubs in places such as California and New York may still pay more. Consequently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2021, the average income across all the 58 trending professions considered — those that are increasing in numbers — is $62,262 in The Valley of the Sun, around 10% less than the national average. The equivalent average wage in Tucson is $56,705, about 19% less than the national figure.

Phoenix Favors Healthcare Workers and Engineers

In Metro Phoenix, 11 groups of trending professions can comfortably afford to buy a home in Arizona. These include top executives, engineers, healthcare professionals, mathematical experts and managers in fields such as advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations and sales. And this is despite their average wages generally being less than national figures.

However, the group of professions that includes many medics, nurses and therapists excels in Phoenix. With an average salary of $111,495, they earn slightly more than the national average and could save for a down payment in 3.9 years. By contrast, they cannot afford to easily buy a home in Seattle and the large Californian metros or even in up-and-coming Utah metros, Denver, Colorado, or Boise, Idaho — in all cases they would need more than five years to save a down payment.

Metro Phoenix also pays its engineers well, offering an average income of $105,980 — only marginally lower than the national figure — letting them save a down payment in 4.1 years. For engineers, the usual suspects for unaffordability are joined by the Boston and New York City metropolitan areas. Air Transportation workers are another group in PHX with salaries close to the national figure, and for these workers, Connecticut metros are added to the list of unaffordable places, while in Phoenix they would need just 3.7 years to save up a down payment.

Tucson Lets You Save a Down Payment More Quickly

No fewer than 20 groups of professions can buy a home fairly comfortably in Tucson. These include, in addition to those professionals who could buy in Phoenix, architects, financial specialists, business experts, some types of scientists and supervisors of workers in a wide variety of sectors.

Life scientists are a group that does well in Tucson, earning an average of $91,758. Although that is still about 8.6% below the national average, they can save a down payment for an average home in the area in just 3.4 years. As in Phoenix, a wide range of healthcare professionals, who earn an average of $98,340 in Tucson — which is about 10% less than the national figure — can get the down payment together quickly, in fact in just 3.2 years.

Average salaries across the trending occupations in Tucson are about 9% less than in Metro Phoenix, but the average home price in Tucson more than offsets that. According to figures from Zillow, it is $313,199, about 27% less than in the Valley of the Sun and around 15% less than the national average. Across all the trending profession groups, the average time needed to save up the down payment in Tucson is about 5.5 years, whereas in Metro Phoenix the equivalent figure is almost 7 years.

Added to all the benefits drawing people to large Arizonan cities, it is still possible for many professionals to buy a home in Arizona. If downtown areas prove too pricey, there are of course the PHX suburbs and feeder towns, and Tucson generally lets you save up more quickly. If you have to buy a place that is smaller than ideal, self storage in Tucson and Phoenix will give extra storage space nearby at reasonable cost. And if you are making career decisions right now, consider the professions that are trending and that will let you live the homeownership dream in Arizona.