Famed for its deserts and mountains, Arizona is one of the most scenic places to live in the United States. It can also be one of the least expensive – if you know where to look. In this guide, we’ll profile several of the cheapest places to live in Arizona.
Most Affordable City in Arizona: Douglas
When it comes to affordable cities in Arizona, Douglas generally qualifies as the cheapest place to live in Arizona. You can get a one-bedroom apartment for around $575 per month, which is far below the state’s average fair market value. Plus, the average sale price for a home is a mere $152,000, which is incredibly low.
While housing prices alone make Douglas worth considering, you’ll save in other areas, too. The overall cost of living is 8 percent below the national average, so you can save on groceries, gasoline, home goods, and more. In most cases, the only categories that outpace the national average are healthcare and utilities, the latter of which mainly has to do with battling the desert sun and high temps. Still, since you’re saving in other areas, it’s worth considering.
The #2 Most Affordable City in Arizona: Bullhead City
Bullhead City is nestled along the banks of the Colorado River, giving the town a picturesque quality when coupled with the desert landscape. When it comes to rental prices, Bullhead City sits a bit below the state average fair market value, coming in at $975 per month for a one-bedroom. Housing sale prices also declined during the past year, sitting near $300,000 as of September 2022.
The general cost of living is also below the average for the state. Like many cities in the area, healthcare can be a little spendy. However, utility costs are actually below the national average, which can be a surprise based on cooling needs in the area.
Most Affordable Neighborhood in Phoenix: North Mountain
When people start looking for the cheapest places to live in Arizona, they may wonder if they’ll have to sacrifice safety. Fortunately, that isn’t always the case. The North Mountain neighborhood in Phoenix isn’t just well-priced; it’s an excellent family area with great schools and a community feel.
While a typical one-bedroom in Phoenix runs $1,399 per month, you can find comparable options in North Mountain for about $1,126 per month. If you were looking to buy, the average home sale price in North Mountain is $397,125, while Phoenix as a whole averages closer to $430,000.
When it comes to the general cost of living, North Mountain also sits below the national average and many other Phoenix neighborhoods by a little bit. As a result, it can be a solid choice for anyone looking to save.
Most Affordable Place to Live in the Phoenix Area: El Mirage
If you want to be close to Phoenix without living in it, El Mirage could be a solid choice. The average rent for a one-bedroom comes in closer to $1,000, which isn’t bad if you’re within commuting distance of Phoenix. Plus, home sale prices average closer to $380,000. While that isn’t cheap, it’s far less than you might pay on Phoenix.
Plus, El Mirage offers a close-knit feel, making it seem more like a community than a traditional suburb. The overall cost of living is also pretty close to the national average, barring transportation, which is high. While Phoenix is a bit better when it comes to utility prices, the difference is small. Plus, with what you save on housing, it could be worth paying.
Most Affordable Neighborhood in Tucson: Flowing Wells
When it comes to affordability, Flowing Wells is a standout option. A one-bedroom may run you as little as $472 per month, while a two-bedroom comes in closer to $994 per month. Plus, the neighborhood is a very safe place, which can give you peace of mind.
For prospective home buyers, the median sale price in Flowing Wells is $240,000. Compare that to Tucson’s average – which sits at $325,000 – and you can see why Flowing Wells isn’t just one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Tucson; it’s one of the cheapest places to live in Arizona when it comes to housing.
The overall cost of living is also well under the state average and Phoenix as a whole. While utilities outpace the national average, the rest are far below.
Most Affordable Place to Live in the Tucson Area: Oracle
Oracle is about 35 miles northeast of Tucson and sits in the Catalina Mountains foothills. It’s one of the more affordable cities in the area, with the average one-bedroom apartment costing around $950 per month. Home prices are also lower, sitting closer to $315,000.
But where Oracle really shines is the overall cost of living, which is notably below the state average. You’ll spend less on utilities and transportation, and grocery costs are comparable. Couple that with a bit of elevation – which can lead to cooler temps – and it’s a pretty solid choice. As a result, it’s easier to live well in Oracle, all while getting the benefits of an amazing foothills location.
Most Affordable Neighborhood in Mesa: Central Mesa
For an affordable, family-oriented neighborhood in Mesa, Central is a popular choice. The downtown area is coming into its own, making it a fun option for those who appreciate historic touches. Plus, there are shopping centers, sports stadiums, and much more in this part of the city, which makes it convenient.
Overall, a one-bedroom apartment in Central Mesa typically runs $1,071 per month, while the average for Mesa as a whole is closer to $1,241 per month. Plus, the cost of living in Mesa isn’t too far above the state average, and it actually does better in areas like healthcare and utilities.
Most Affordable Town in the Arizona Mountains: Bisbee
If you prefer to live in the mountains, Bisbee is an excellent choice if affordability is also a priority. It sits in the Mule Mountains and is referred to as the “Mile High City” by locals due to its elevation. It’s also brimming with historic charm, which is one of the reasons it’s a popular tourist destination.
You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for around $845 per month in many cases, and home sale prices average near $163,000. Plus, the cost of living is well below the state average in every category aside from healthcare. You’re also close to the Coronado National Forest and the Mexico border, as well as less than two hours from Tucson.
Most Affordable Place to Live Near the Grand Canyon: Williams
For those looking for a small town near the Grand Canyon, Williams could be a winner. In town, the average rent price is about $927 per month, which is a little below the state average. Housing prices are a little higher, though, coming in near $425,000.
When it comes to the broader cost of living, you do come out a bit ahead of the state average, particularly when it comes to utilities and transportation. Groceries are comparable, too, which may be surprising in a town that’s as small as Williams.
One fun part of choosing Williams is that it’s on Historic Route 66. Since that’s the case, many restaurants and attractions have a quirky retro vibe. Plus, there’s plenty of Old West styling, too, making Williams incredibly unique.
Most Affordable Place to Live in the Verde Valley – Clarkdale
If you want to head to the Verde Valley but prefer to avoid the higher prices you find in cities like Sedona, consider Clarkdale. It’s a historic small town, giving it plenty of charm. Plus, it’s near a slew of outdoor recreation attractions, making it an excellent choice for active types.
On the cost side, you could spend about $628 per month on a one-bedroom apartment. However, home sale prices are closer to $475,000, so buying could be a challenge. While the cost of living also leans slightly above the state average, it’s well below what you find in Sedona. Plus, Sedona is a reasonable drive away, so you can usually visit with relative ease.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Arizona has a cost of living that’s generally close to the national average. However, by choosing the right cities, towns, or neighborhoods, you can potentially do a bit better, particularly when it comes to rental prices. Just make sure you factor in all of your possible costs, especially if you’ll be commuting from one town to a bigger city. That way, you can make the best financial decision based on your unique circumstances.