Women enjoying the view on Levee Trail in McDowell Sonaran Preserve near Scottsdale, Arizona,

Arizona has been a retirement destination for decades. Here's why.

There are many reasons to retire to Arizona, which is why it's one of the most popular choices in the U.S. for retirees. People are often initially attracted by its climate, with months of sunny days and mild winters, but then discover other advantages.

Here are some of the reasons to consider retiring to Arizona.

Climate

The climate is warm and sunny for much of the year, with places such as Phoenix averaging 299 sunny days a year, compared to the US average of 205. In Southern Arizona winters are mild, and if there are a few snow flurries it's regarded as a bad winter. Northern Arizona does get heavy snow in winter, but if you enjoy winter sports that could be a point in its favor.

In summer the weather does get extremely hot, which is a factor to take into account. As early as May, temperatures in Southern Arizona can start to exceed 100 degrees, and this will continue for several weeks.

The weather breaks a little with the arrival of the early summer monsoon rains, but will then continue hot until the fall. For this reason, Arizona is especially popular with snowbirds, who can escape the intensity of the summer heat.

Golf

With 300 golf courses across the state, Arizona appeals to the keen golfer. Many active adult communities have their own golf course, or have easy access to a golf course nearby. Even if they don't, there are numerous courses within reach of the major centers such as Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Cost

Arizona offers a number of financial benefits to those wishing to retire there and it is one of the most tax-friendly states in the country. Social Security is not taxed, and there is no gift tax, estate tax, or inheritance tax.

Drug prescriptions from a registered physician or dentist are exempt from state tax. Groceries are also exempt from Arizona state sales tax, though some cities do put a local tax on groceries. Property taxes are well below the national average, and Arizona has one of the lowest tax rates on gas in the county, although gas prices are still well above the national average.

Outdoor Activities

The climate makes Arizona an attractive option to those who like to pursue a healthy active outdoor lifestyle. In addition to golf, for which Arizona is one of the best destinations in the world, it is an ideal climate for other outdoor sports including tennis, swimming, and pickleball. Hiking can be enjoyed in the numerous national parks, state parks, and recreation areas, along with cycling and horse-riding, both very popular.

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, but there are 22 national parks in the state in total, along with 31 state parks. Arizona has a reputation for desert landscapes, but almost 30 percent of the state is forested, and there is a wide variety in the scenery.

Food and Drink

Tucson is one of only two US cities to be designated World Cities of Gastronomy by UNESCO, which gives an indication of its culinary attractions. Its luxury resorts attract some of the country's best chefs, which has a trickle-down effect throughout the state. The cuisine is heavily influenced by both Mexican and Spanish cooking, as well as having a touch of Native American, and a Southwestern style of its own.

Dishes to try include the chimichanga, a deep-fried burrito which was allegedly invented accidentally at the El Charro restaurant in Tucson. The Sonoran hot dog is a hot dog wrapped in bacon and grilled, which originated in Sonora, Mexico, and crossed the border into Arizona. Local produce such as cactus fruit and mesquite wood are also used to provide distinctive flavors.

The more upscale resorts around Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson, also encourage a thriving cocktail scene, which is helped by a surge in craft distilleries. There are numerous craft breweries and, to the surprise of some people, three different wine-growing regions.

Choice

The 6th-largest state in the U.S., Arizona offers a good choice of options to anyone looking to settle there. There is the large urban area of Greater Phoenix, if you enjoy city living, and within that a choice of communities from the luxurious to the more budget minded. Even within specific active adult communities you can find a good range of house prices. 

For those who want to escape the big city, there are smaller cities such as Tucson, offering the benefit of city amenities but easier access to the outdoors. There are also small towns such as Green Valley in Southern Arizona or Prescott in Northern Arizona, for those who prefer the feel of small-town life.

Health

Arizona's dry heat and healthy climate provide numerous health benefits. Allergies are less common, people with breathing problems and asthma find them eased in Arizona, and those with arthritis find the dry desert heat is preferable to damp climates. The reaction of individuals does vary, so if health is an issue for you then you might want to try renting first. Health care is generally good, with lots of choice, thanks to the number of retirees in Arizona.

So, cost, climate, and health benefits are just three of the many reasons people choose to retire to Arizona.