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Arizona vs. Nevada: Which Southwest State Is Best for Retirement?

by Mayra Rocha on 83 Comments

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Retirement in Arizona vs. Nevada 55places.com

Baby Boomers looking to retire in the Southwest should consider Arizona or Nevada.

Active adults looking to set their sights toward the Southwest should consider Nevada or Arizona as their ideal retirement destination. But which one is right for you? Well, that all depends on personal taste and what’s important to you when choosing where to retire. Both states are similar with regards to climate, low taxes, outdoor recreation, and affordable homes. They also have a lower cost of living when compared to other states for retirement like Oregon and California. Nevada and Arizona also have a variety of active adult communities that are perfect for Baby Boomers who want a vibrant and social lifestyle. So which state will it be: Nevada or Arizona?


Retirees often seek a year-round warm climate where they can forget about snow. Both Arizona and Nevada offer a favorable climate that appeals to Baby Boomers. Arizona and Southern Nevada have similar climates with desert to semi-arid weather and low humidity. Retirees love that both states get an abundant amount of sunshine each year. Nevada has a diverse geographic area from the dry Mojave Desert to the mountain valleys of the Sierra Nevada, giving retirees options for a change of scenery and weather.

Typically, most days are dry and sunny while nights are cool in both states. Nevada is the driest state in the U.S. and the weather up north gets fairly cold during the winter months while parts of the southern state experience short and mild winters. With both states having dry climates, Arizona and Nevada are perfect places to retire if you suffer from allergies or asthma.


Taxes might the biggest determining factor when choosing a location for your retirement home. Luckily, Nevada and Arizona are tax-friendly states for retirees. Arizona exempts Social Security and some pensions from state income tax and there is no inheritance tax, gift tax, or estate tax. Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax or inheritance tax. All of this makes Nevada and Arizona ideal retirement destinations for Baby Boomers living off their savings and a fixed budget.

Cost of Living

Affordability is another important factor that retirees must consider. Certain states have a higher cost of living that wouldn’t benefit Baby Boomers on a fixed retirement income. Luckily, Nevada and Arizona offer a low cost of living. Arizona’s cost of living is 5% below the national average and homes are relatively affordable. Nevada also has affordable homes and an overall lower cost of living than most parts of the country. Although there are a few places that are more expensive like Kingsbury and Gardnerville. While Arizona has Sun City, which was the first active adult community in the U.S., Nevada has also seen an influx of 55+ active adult communities pop up in the Silver State to meet the growing demands of the Baby Boomer population.


Arizona and Nevada are full of attractions, outdoor activities, and plenty of other recreational facilities. Cities like Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma, and Prescott are the four largest metropolitan areas in Arizona that offer professional sporting events, museums, restaurants, and art galleries. Arizona is home to popular sights like the Grand Canyon National Park and Red Rock State Park, both of which offer majestic views that are truly breathtaking. Arizona also has about 70 highly ranked public golf courses.

Las Vegas is Nevada’s largest city and most popular destination for entertainment and attractions. Besides casinos and nightlife entertainment, Nevada is also known for other great resort destinations and attractions like Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Laughlin. Both states also provide fun activities for white water rafting or fishing along the Colorado River. Nevada also has wineries, street festivals, golf courses, and art shows.

While Arizona and Nevada share many similarities, each state has its own unique charm and characteristics that appeal to a variety of Baby Boomers. All you have to do is choose the right place for you!

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  1. We spend winters in Arizona for the warmer weather – Northern Nevada for the summer for the cooler weather. Temperatures in the 80’s -90’s in both places. We retirees like to follow the sun but not the extremely hot temps!

  2. I’ve lived in both states so I can tell you, don’t believe the information in this article about Arizona being great tax wise. It’s not. Nevada is totally tax free (no state income tax) but Arizona DOES tax a lot of your income (a state income tax). If you have a choice choose Nevada.

    1. Ken makes a good point. But I have been researching 55+ communities for several years and looking at all of the builders. A comparable newly constructed house in AZ. is substantially less then in NV. My latest comparison should a $65,000 difference. If you consider AZ’s income tax rules for a 65 year old with an income of $80,000 annually that $65k difference will have a 25+ year payback. Meaning many time state income tax vs. housing costs is a consideration everyone should look at.

    2. We lived in TX for 3 years which is a no income tax state. Utilities and housing were higher and income for those working, was lower in the 2 different towns we lived in. I’m afraid I will have to say no income tax states are really not what they are cracked up to be price-wise overall so I’ll just stick to AZ, thank you.

      1. We researched license fees and insurance and found Nevada to be higher on both of these. While Arizona isn’t the cheapest it still beats Nevada on few things.

      2. You are right no state tax in Nevada yet but alot of other things are very expensive property tax fuel tax room tax are the highest in the state of Nevada in the rural county I live and work in been here 25 years bought a home in Arizona 4 years ago and will retire there in a few years.I do not like the fact that Las Vegas gets what Las Vegas wants and the rest of the state picks up the check !

    3. You seem to forget that Nevada residents are “taxed” very heavily with “fees” galore, which are in effect taxes! The average fee for car registration with all the fees added, is an average of over $500!!!!

  3. Moved to NV from southern CA in 1998. I couldn’t be happier. Great place to be…….I do take a break from summer heat, however. Aside from that, this place is paradise!

  4. I lived in both states and like both of them for some of the same reasons! Phoenix is a little too Hot for me Tucson is a little cooler but has a wet monsoon season in July/ August! In Nevada the weather for me is more attractive and it cools off a little more at night for sleeping! It does get colder at 3 am in Nevada until 7am in the winter time but it is nice with a fire place if you have one , use it maybe for 2 months! AZ makes seniors take a driving test every 2 years , pita Nev does not! Tax wise they are simular although you might keep a little more money in Nevada, not a big difference!

      1. They gave my Dad a license @ 90 with nothing but an eye test….Shortly afterwards we sold his car & he moved . I was hoping he would fail the test , written & driving bu the passed him on to get the license….WRONG! He should NOT have been friving at all. Many accidents prove that!

    1. Can’t speak about weather in Phoenix but Las Vegas has the worst, super hot summers. Really terrible weather! To hot most of the time to walk my German Sherpherd, to hot to hike. Unbearable summers!

    2. Az does NOT make seniors take driving test every two years! I just had my license renewed for 5 years, no driving test required!

      1. In Arizona, when you are issued a driver’s license, it is good until you turn 65, regardless of your age when you get it! At 65 you have to have your eyes tested to renew. Also, if you have a handicap parking permit, it is good for life (even if you move away and then come back to AZ). Also, no smog checks for your car unless you are in the Phoenix area. I have found the vehicle registration fees to be way less than California’s, plus, you can get your tags for 5 years at a time with even more savings. I find Arizona to be much easier to live in than some other states!

  5. We moved to Nevada 10 years ago and love it. There is plenty to see and do, the weather is hot for a couple of months, but it’s fantastic the other 10.

    1. I live in Reno and it can get a little hot in the summer. People here get out and walk their dogs early morning and it is perfect for heading to one of our nearby lakes – Tahoe or Donner.

      1. What are winters like in Reno? We’re concerned about amount of snow, shoveling driveways and sidewalks, etc in our 70s. Looking at Prescott, AZ and Reno and trying to decide which place to move to.

  6. We just bought a condo outside of Las Vegas, and couldn’t be happier. In addition to the tax laws mentioned, every monthly utility and cable bill are significantly lower than in our regular home in New York State, which is on the complete other end of the cost spectrum. There are wonderful outdoor hiking and biking opportunities, but not so muc at this point of the year. I can’t speak comparatively about Arizona, but we love everything about our Nevada property

    1. Hi Matt
      Like you, I am fed up with the high cost of living here in NY, and Long Island, where it is often cold and damp.
      What is the name of the development where you purchased?
      Thank you
      Long Island, NY

  7. Retired to northwest Las Vegas from upstate New York almost three years ago. Love it here! The climate is wonderful and the sunshine is fantastic! Clark County has a terrific parks and recreation program. There is always something to do and there are great price reductions for locals. It’s been a refreshing change from the northeast part of the country. I really don’t miss the cold and ice. Nearby Mt Charleston offers both, if needed.

  8. I’ve lived in both. Your article does not cover medicine which is important to those of retirement age, and in that category, Southern Nevada definitely loses. I can’t comment on Northern Nevada as I have never lived there.

  9. We spent 1 winter in Lake Havasu AZ and loved it, but when it was time to buy a home we went to Laughlin NV because of no state income tax, and more affordable housing. Laughlin is still rebounding from the housing crunch of 08, and it’s just across the river from Bullhead city AZ.

  10. Grandad came to California in late 1800’s Dad born in California so was I . I retired there and now I cant go back. Expensive restrictive hole. Moved to Las Vegas in 98. For me it has an Air Hub from which I can go anywhere in the world, and I do. Medical is tops and available. If you are looking for a restaurant every type and ethnicity are represented here. Shopping? If you cannot find a store you have the internet. Sales tax is the only biggie and its not a biggie but getting there 8.3/4% I believe.

    1. Your wrong about medical. It ranks almost last for healthcare and has the least amount of doctors. Get your facts straight.

  11. Lived in both. Scottsdale, Az is upscale-no 55 communities. Temperatures were too hot in late April. Moved to Reno, Nv.(northern). Cooler but armpit-like. Still there’s plenty to do. Cheaper. Calif. went whako politically so I had to leave.

  12. My daughter lives in Glendale, Az., she had a mail from her health providers co.And their raising their premiums like 51%. for year 2017. Does any one know about Nevada’s health insurance cost or affordability?

  13. I Retired To Nevada (L.V, ClarkCo.) VA. Asst. No Lack Of Home Services! Not Worried About Fascist Police and /or Neighbors!! Good Internet / telly Service !! Lived In Arizona ( TRIBAL) Lived In Utah (RELIGIOUS) California, (EXPENSIVE) Have traveled From Long Island To Mombasa Via Hong Kong ,Manila, Guam, Midway,From The Virgin Islands to The Aleutians!! Love The 9th Island ALOHA !!

  14. AZ is very cold in December and January. the sales taxes are average compared to other states. The people are more like the north east than any other area, rude and arrogant at least in our community. We retired here because of the clear and dry weather. Don’t believe everything you read. For the last month, it’s been cloudy, rainy and miserable. We should have moved to a better more temperate climate. Our community of homes is affordable, real estate taxes are average as are utility bills. When you have a house built, they nickel and dime you to death. We also had an impact fee. Our HOA fee is very low, one of the lowest around town. And we still have good amenities.

  15. I have been researching retiring to Nevada and interested in the Ardiente community in North Las Vegas. I have visited them twice and liked it very much, however, I am concerned about the North Las Vegas area which I hear is not ideal. All comment’s appreciated.

    1. Hope this is not too late. I lived in Henderson NV for over 20 years. Do not buy in North Las Vegas. Top crime area for the entire Las Vegas Valley and the first place housing prices will drop if the real estate market tanks. Henderson and southeastern Las Vegas are safer choices.

  16. We are considering the Las Vegas area or Phoenix and a realtor in LV sent me a house for sale in North LV,
    the Ardiente area and described it as a nice up and coming area….

  17. I have lived in Reno, Sun City Arizona, and now Mesquite, Nevada, (Yes, not Texas). Unlike Las Vegas, our sales tax is lower, we only have electricity, and the weather is great, except for Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb. Small town, no traffic, a few casinos (not like Vegas at all) I love it here, except for scorpions, which they also have in Arizona, so I I am thinking about staying here for 7 months and Ocala Florida for 5. Dry season there is from Oct to May, and considerably warmer. My palm trees freeze every year here, and so do I. It is extremely inexpensive for me to live here especially since I am retired and single.

    1. I, too, am a retired single and sick of CA. I have been looking to Mesquite. It is so hard to know where to go as rentals are nonexistent to ‘ try ‘ an area. Could be nice to talk further with you.

      1. Hi BobbiGirl,

        Thanks for reaching out! One of our expert partner agents will be getting in touch shortly.

        Patrick – 55places.com

      2. I have a home on the Central Coast of CA. I love where I live. BUT, the cost of living is so high and the politics are beyond disturbing. None of my adult children can afford to buy a home here. :-(.

        I recently purchased a home in Ocala, FL at a 55+ community called Marion Landing. It is a very low-key, easy living community, but not on a golf course like the Villages, Del Webb etc. However, I bought a furnished, 2000 sq ft home, 3 bedrooms, 2 fu bathrooms, living room, dining room, family room AND lanai for $135,000. My HOA fees are $115/mo and INCLUDE 30,000 gal of water per month! I love Ocala. It’s quiet lifestyle and VERY inexpensive living. No, Hurricane Irma did not hit Ocala, which in the middle of the state, directly west of Daytona Beach.

  18. Retired and plan to move from Orange County, CA to either Laughlin NV or Kingman AZ. Can no longer deal with the politics, taxes, traffic… Have visited 47/50 of the states. CA has more AH’s/Sq FT than any of the other 46 states that I have been to. Can’t wait to get out of this sewer…and take my 401-k and equity from my house with me. CA won’t get a penny of it!!!

    1. same here,hoping to retire in Kingman from California, traffic I’m sick of, hate living paycheck to paycheck, n I have a decent job..visited Kingman houses were affordable ..

  19. I agree. I am thinking of Arizona or Nevada. I have been looking at housing in Gilbert and Chandler Arizona. Anyone familiar with that area? Is it safe and retiree friendly? Not sure where in Nevada I would like to go. I am not one for the heat…but I am tired of the politics and the taxes in California. And it is just too expensive here to retire.

    1. Don’t think about retirement in Las Vegas believe me . Gilbert and Chandler are fine just avoid west and south Phoenix I lived all around Phoenix and surrounding areas for 20 years and just moved to Las Vegas 8 months ago on Social security , I was pampered in Phoenix compared Vegas . In Arizona just stay in the a/c. Good luck to you .

  20. If your on a fixed income definitely move to Arizona they have an excellent health care system and provide transportation to Doctor’s appointments also the Medical insurance companies are way better BUT Las Vegas pay’s a lot more if you work and the cost of living is close . So if your disabled or on social security Phoenix is for you.

    1. Getting ready to move to Arizona from Florida and I find your information very helpful and thank you. Florida is alright for many, including senior citizens, both with modest and big income. But with the hurricanes it can be complicated after age 80 and with health issues. The heat plus humidity is also problematic from April to end October. This brings the added problem of fungal infections for after 70 for those who want outside activities.

  21. I am also on a fixed 7nome. $900per mo. I am 54yrs old. I am single, looking to move to Arizona. I have an Aunt and cousin that I luv dearly. My health issues cannot handle the Northeast cold anymore. Also, need a healthy change in life…

    1. Hi Terri,

      Thanks for reaching out! One of our expert partner agents will be getting in touch shortly.

      Patrick – 55places.com

  22. Just relocated to retirement North Las Vegas a little over two weeks, June 16, 2017. So far avid weather wise it seems better for my overall health and is definitely more affordable for Seniors on fixed income SSDI or other retirement in comparison to DMV, particularly Montgomery County,Maryland. My health could no longer take the hot- cold humid weather as well as experiencing four seasons in 20 minutes, literally, though I miss F/Fs.
    I also detest MD’s pedestrian laws that seem to put more emphasis/importance on material things ie cars, a piece of metal, than on Human Life.
    Being that I am a minimalist, enjoy travel via train, 🚢, 🚗, ✈, out door nature loving, avid walker 3-10 miles daily in past ( though it is miracle I can still walk at all after being hit in 2013 as a walking pedestrian by approx 2000 lbs of metal aka a 🚗 and not getting one penny for permanent damages to my person, though I was not liable by police report or per rental insurance research whose headquarters was in Cali), but now it is too hot to walk ( July 2, 2017) in North LV, love reading, health conscious, non smoker of any substance, vegan. Lived in Germany and at time their laws respected pedestrians much more in comparison, as well as reading about Halifax County, Canada as well, but both places are much colder than I wish to endure as a Senior.
    Please advise on affordable safer friendly places to inhabit on this Earth for those who are MCS/EMF as well.
    Beneficial Suggestions are welcome, thanks in advance 🙂

  23. Thanks to all for your input. Many interesting comments and suggestions.
    I’m about 15 months out from retiring. Leaving NorCal for many of the same reasons stated on this thread. From what I have researched and for my personal lifestyle, it’s going to be Tucson or Northwest Vegas ( Summerlin area ). I think I’ll get a bigger bang for my buck in NV but still on the fence. Any comments welcome. Thanks!

  24. I see lots of information on AZ, but not anything on Prescott Valley.

    Anyone who has info, I would like to hear from you.

  25. I left Southern Cal When I retired in 2011, could not stand the traffic and politics. I have a residence in Mesquite NV and a summer place by Bryce canyon Utah, Best move I ever made. Yes the DMV fees are higher in NV but in total with no State tax I still come out way ahead>

  26. We moved to LV area from the Midwest 2 yrs ago, mostly for the weather. Didn’t like how the cold was making our bodies feel. It is much better here. The DMV fees are really high in LV area. Our biggest disappointment has been the healthcare, referrals taking a month or more. Same with some scheduling of appointments and fairly rude customer service. We want to stay near the Lake Mead and Mohave area. Any input on how it is in AZ would be greatly appreciated. We are retired and on a fixed retirement income. Thanks

  27. I’m looking at Yuma, Az close to CA and Mexico and a couple hours from the beaches in Ca, San Diego is close. Just wondering if anyone has any input. I have also been struggling with NV or AZ. Also have been looking at Boulder City NV and Pahrump Nv

    1. Move to Pahrump! Best move I made. Lived in a Vegas my whole life and loved it but got to expensive. I love in Mountain Falls. Beautiful view of the mountains and there is a golf course. Pahrump is an up and coming town of 40k pulse people.

      1. Mountain Falls is very nice but mostly for couples..and Im single so seriously looking to relocate in Phoenix area..I like San Tan Valley..I just need more activities..and Vegas never again..

    1. Hey Richard,

      Thanks for reaching out! One of our expert partner agents will be reaching out shortly to help answer any questions you may have.

      Patrick – 55places.com

  28. Hi. I’ve lived in both Las Vegas and Phoenix. I am 35 years old and not looking to retire anytime soon. Las Vegas is super fun, beautiful, and the people are so nice. Phoenix is huge, boring, and bland. People are not as nice in Phoenix. The drivers are horrible. Some of the neighborhoods looks like you will never make it out. If you are looking for a quiet laid back city, Phoenix is the place. If you are still active and wanting more entertainment, of course, Las Vegas.

  29. My wife and I are going to visit the Henderson,N.V. area and some areas near Phoenix, Scottsdale,Goodyear, Gilbert, Peoria etc. So we have been looking at some of the comments from 55plus communities.

  30. The Medical Care in Las Vegas, has been rated very poor. Lack of doctors, especially Specialist. Seems like many retirees do not take this fact seriously. There is plenty of info on this subject available. Do your research before moving anywhere. Especially if already under a doctor’s care for medical needs.

  31. Looking to move out of Goodyear, AZ !!!
    Retired from PNW rains to the sunshine… Goodyear has absolutely nothing to offer!
    We were told it’s the new big booming town in the West Valley, shopping malls, restaurants, etc going in, that’s been almost 4 years ago.

    If you would like to have a nice dinner out you need to go to Scottsdale, period!!! All your going to find in Goodyear are chains (Olive Garden, Black Angus, Red Lobster).
    Oh and don’t even get me started on the horrific healthcare around here, the worst!

    The summers are brutal, last summer two days hit 120, the norm is 117🙄

    Time to make the move, keep hearing about Henderson and Summerlain, NV.

    Any thoughts on NV

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