outdoor pool with palm trees at Sun City Oro Valley

The view from the pool at Sun City Oro Valley isn't too shabby.

Tucson is Arizona's second-biggest city after Phoenix and a popular destination for the active adult retiree. Some of the city’s most affordable retirement communities have homes available to buy for under $200,000 and some even under $150,000.

There are factors to take into account when looking for one of these more affordable communities. First, whether you want to be closer to the city center and to the airport or whether you want to be in a more rural location north of the city, such as Oro Valley. Also, whether you want to choose a larger or smaller retirement community.

Tucson can offer all of these options and then some. Here are the most affordable retirement communities you’ll find in and around the Old Pueblo, listed in order of size from large to small.

Sun City Oro Valley - Oro Valley

High $100s - Low $400s

Oro Valley is a small town on the northern edge of Tucson in the valley of the same name. Sun City Oro Valley is a large 45+ active adult community of 2,488 single-family and attached homes. It's a 35-minute drive due north of downtown Tucson, and 45 minutes from Tucson International Airport, which is on the south side of the city. Catalina State Park in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains is a five-minute drive away, and the area has a rugged landscape of desert and mountains.

There are several dozen different floor plans, which begin at 1,035 square feet for two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage, through to 2,665 square feet, which provides three bedrooms plus a den, three bathrooms, and a two-car garage. Mid-sized homes in the region of 1,400 square feet can be found in the high $100s - low $200s.

Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, two outdoor pools, several arts and crafts studios, a fitness center, eight tennis courts, and a dance studio. There are numerous social clubs and activity classes including hiking, biking, tennis, and other outdoor activities, as well as groups for board games, arts and crafts, and even a rock and roll club.

Continental Ranch Sunflower - Marana

Mid $200s - High $300s

Continental Ranch Sunflower is a 55+ active adult community of 967 single-family homes. It's a five-minute drive from Interstate-10, one of Arizona's main highways, in the small town of Marana, north-west of Tucson. It's a straight twenty-minute drive to downtown Tucson, thirty minutes to Tucson International Airport, or ninety minutes to the main international airport in Phoenix.

The ten different floor plans start at 1,096 square feet, which provide one bedroom plus a den, a two-car garage, and one-and-a-half bathrooms. The largest model is 1,972 square feet, which has two bedrooms plus a den, a two-car garage, and two or two-and-a-half bathrooms.

Amenities include a fitness center, aerobics and dance studio, an arts and crafts studio, an outdoor pool and spa, three tennis courts, four bocce ball courts, and a putting green. Social activities and classes range from arts and crafts to yoga, including a book club, a fitness club, groups for several games, a singles group, a veterans group, and a travel club.

La Cholla Hills - Tucson

Mid $200s - Low $400s

La Cholla Hills is a 55+ community which has 389 attached and single-family homes. It's a 25-minute drive due north of downtown Tucson and 35 minutes from Tucson International Airport. A ten-minute drive away is the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, which can be seen from parts of the development, which is surrounded by a typical Arizona desert landscape.

The smallest floor plans are 700 square feet, and the largest is 2,000 square feet, the homes being divided between one-, two-, and three-bedroom houses. Mid-sized properties can be found in the mid $100s, making this one of the more affordable Tucson communities if you want a smaller community in a non-city setting.

Amenities at La Cholla Hills include a clubhouse, two heated outdoor pools and spas, three tennis courts, and courts for shuffleboard, bocce ball, and pickleball.

Vistoso Village - Oro Valley

Mid $200s - High $300s

Vistoso Village is a 55+ active adult community of 271 attached homes. It's located in Oro Valley, a separate small town which adjoins Tucson's northern suburbs, a 35-minute drive from downtown Tucson. Tucson's airport is 45 minutes away, while the Catalina State Park and Catalina Natural Area is a ten-minute drive from the community, set in a desert landscape with mountain views.

There are five different house models which go from 1,170 square feet to 1,815 square feet. All have a minimum of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage, with larger models adding a den/third bedroom. 

Amenities at Vistoso include a clubhouse, an exercise room, a billiards room, a hobby and games room, a library, and two outdoor pools and a spa.

Casitas de Castilian - Tucson

Below $100k - High $100s

Casitas de Castilian in northern Tucson and is the closest of these more affordable communities to downtown Tucson, which is a twenty-minute drive away. It's a further ten minutes to Tucson International Airport.

There are 116 attached homes in this 55+ community with a wide range in floor sizes, going from 800 square feet to over 2,600 square feet. Smaller homes can be found in the low $100s.

Amenities here include a clubhouse, two outdoor pools, and a tennis court. The 18-hole public Quail Canyon Golf Course is less than a five-minute drive away.

Mona Lisa Village - Tucson

High $100s to Mid $200s

Mona Lisa Village is the smallest of the more affordable retirement communities in and near Tucson, with 100 attached homes in this 55+ gated community for active adults. It's slightly further north than Casitas de Castilian, but still only a twenty-minute drive to downtown Tucson and a thirty-minute drive from the airport.

The one- and two-bedroom homes range in size from 843 to 1,047 square feet and are priced in the mid $100s. Amenities include a clubhouse, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool and spa. It is across the street from the Ann Day Community Park and a 10-minute drive takes you into the foothills of the Catalina Mountains.