Moving to Tucson? Here’s Everything Retirees Need to Know

Sunset over the cacti at Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.
Here's everything retirees need to know about moving to Tucson.

Retirees are moving to the Tucson area for many reasons. Arizona has long been a popular place to retire, and it was the home of the first purpose-built 55+ community in the U.S. Tucson is the state’s second-biggest city after Phoenix. Many prefer its more manageable size, with a population of about a million in the greater metro area compared to almost five million in Phoenix.

The 350 days of sunshine each year make Tucson attractive to people with an active outdoor lifestyle, whether that be golf, tennis, pickleball, or hiking in the dramatic desert scenery. However, there are both pros and cons when moving to Tucson, and it’s important to take those into account.

Retiring in Tucson Pros and Cons

Twilight view of Sentinel Peak and the downtown skyline of Tucson, Arizona.

PROS

  • The Climate – Tucson has all those sunny days, and it’s also at a higher elevation than Phoenix, making it appealingly cooler in summer.
  • The Great Outdoors – Tucson is surrounded by mountains and desert, creating endless opportunities for hiking, biking, or horseriding in that hard-to-beat climate.
  • The Culture – Tucson is only an hour’s drive from the Mexican border, and Hispanic culture is a big part of the city’s mix, alongside Native American and Old West influences. It was also the first U.S. city to be named by UNESCO as a world-leading City of Gastronomy.

CONS

  • The Climate – The climate has its downside too. During the scorching hot summers, you’ll need to get your outdoor chores done early and then ramp up the AC.
  • The Critters – Snakes and scorpions have no respect for gated communities. Even in the city, you need to keep a watchful eye (and ear) out for these sometimes deadly neighbors.

Tucson Climate

The Loop walking, biking, and running path in Tucson, Arizona surrounded by Sonoran Desert.

Tucson is at an elevation of almost 2,400 feet, so it’s slightly cooler than Phoenix, which is just over 1,000 feet. In June and July (the hottest months), the average temperature in Tucson is 86-88 degrees, while in December/January it averages about 53 degrees.

Tucson definitely has four seasons, although the differences aren’t as noticeable as in many other parts of the country. From May to September, there can be days of well over 100 degrees. July-September/October brings the monsoon season. Rainfall averages 1-2″ per month, but it comes in short tropical-style downpours. Winter will bring a few sub-zero nights, but temperatures warm up during the day.

Those 350 sunny days make Tucson one of the sunniest cities in the U.S. This means outdoor pursuits such as golf, pickleball, tennis, swimming, hiking, biking, and horseback riding can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Tucson Taxes

Palm trees in front of the Pima County courthouse in Tucson, Arizona.

There are several tax districts within the Tucson city boundaries, and there can be considerable difference in taxes paid. The average tax rate is 8.7%, made up of 5.6% Arizona state sales tax, 2.6% Tucson sales tax, and 0.5% Pima County sales tax (by far the largest county). However, if you live in South Tucson, the total jumps to 11.1%, with most other areas being around that 8.7% figure.

Tucson Property Taxes

The average property tax in Arizona is 0.66%, which is lower than the average U.S. property tax of about 1.1%. Tucson is in Pima County, and here, the property tax is 0.81%.

Tucson Retirement Income Taxes

Social Security retirement benefits are not taxed in Tucson (or in Arizona generally) unless they come from an out-of-state government pension. Other forms of retirement income are taxed, although tax rates are lower than in other popular retirement states. There are also tax benefits for retired military personnel.

Tucson Tax Exemptions for Seniors

The state of Arizona does offer some tax benefits for seniors, if you’re thinking of moving to Tucson to retire. There is no inheritance tax, making it attractive to people with families. Also, there’s no tax on Social Security retirement benefits provided they don’t come from out-of-state. It’s therefore vital you move to Tucson before claiming any such benefits.

Tucson Health Care

Sign for Tucson Medical Center in Arizona.
Image credited to Pamela Brick / Shutterstock.com

Due to the fact that the city does attract large numbers of retirees, Tucson supports excellent medical facilities. Some health care support companies are among the city’s biggest employers. Among the best-ranked nationwide are TMC Healthcare, the Northwest Medical Center, and two Banner-University Medical Centers.

Where to Live in Tucson

View of the surrounding mountains from the outdoor dining area at SaddleBrooke Ranch in Oracle, Arizona.

Tucson is a comparatively small city, so most of its recognizable neighborhoods tend to be small too and not really relevant if you’re looking at moving to a Tucson active adult community. Here, the question to ask is whether you want to live in the city, north of the city, or south of the city.

North of Tucson

To the north of the city, check out the towns of Marana, Oro Valley, and Oracle. With the city to the south, mountains to the east, and a great deal of open land to the north, all three offer lots of variety but without the bustle and traffic of the city.

These towns offer stores, banks, and other necessities for day-to-day living while still being close to the city as well as the varying Arizona desert and mountain scenery.

At 9,159 feet, Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains (to the south and east of both Oracle and Oro Valley). Marana is closer to Interstate-10 (I-10), and it’s only a 90-minute drive from Phoenix and its international airport.

Recommended 55+ Communities in the Area

Low $400s - Low $1Ms

Saddlebrooke Ranch is an active adult gated community with a 40+ age restriction. It’s a 15-minute drive from the center of Oracle and 40 minutes from Downtown Tucson. This Robson Community comprises 1,500 single-family homes.

The community has many amenities, including the 18-hole championship Saddlebrooke Ranch Golf Club with its pro shop and driving range. Sports lovers also have the use of 24 pickleball courts and tennis courts. Other facilities include a fitness center, a billiards room, a ballroom, an indoor lap pool, and several dining options. There’s also a Creative Arts and Technology Center which has studios for many arts and crafts plus a computer lab.

If you’re moving to Tucson because you want to live an active life, Saddlebrooke Ranch has numerous clubs and activities available including basket weaving, a bicycling group, a dining out club, fitness classes, and clubs for various arts, crafts, and sports.

Models start at 1,404 square feet with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage. Beyond that, there are many different models, the largest being 2,615 square feet with four bedrooms, two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half bathrooms, and a two-and-a-half-car garage.

Mid $300s - Low $700s

Sun City Oro Valley is in Oro Valley, a 12-minute drive due north of the center of town with its many facilities. It’s a Del Webb 55+ active adult community comprised of 2,488 attached and single-family homes. Downtown Tucson is a 30-minute drive due south.

Amenities here include an 18-hole golf course with a driving range and its own cafe. There are also horseshoe pits, a basketball court, eight tennis courts, two outdoor pools, a mini golf course, and courts for bocce and racquetball. Indoor facilities include a billiards room, art studio, photography studio, dance studio, auditorium, lounge and coffee room, and a library. In addition, the Artisan Center provides studios for stained glass, sewing, woodworking, lapidary, silversmithing, and ceramics.

Residents can enjoy many lifestyle activities, from astronomy to wood carving, by way of dancing groups, arts and crafts groups, card and board games, hiking, sports groups, gardening, a singles club, and even a rock ‘n’ roll club.

Models start at 1,035 square feet, and these have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage. The largest models have 2,665 square feet with three bedrooms, a den, three bathrooms, and a three-and-a-half-car garage.

South of Tucson

There are fewer communities south of Tucson, but the area appeals to people who want to be closer to the airport or who will be driving east along I-10 heading towards Texas and beyond.

The active adult communities here are smaller and appeal more to people who are happy to do their own thing but enjoy some of the community spirit and facilities as well. The communities here are closer than the Norther Tucson communities to attractions like the Saguaro National Park East, the Rincon Mountain Wilderness, the Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and the old west town of Tombstone.

Recommended 55+ Communities in the Area

High $200s - High $400s

Del Webb at Rancho del Lago is a 55+ gated lifestyle community for the active adult in Vail. It’s a 20-minute drive from the center of Vail and a 35-minute drive southeast of Downtown Tucson. It’s comprised of 585 single-family homes.

Amenities here include an 18-hole golf course, an 18-hole putting green, two outdoor pools, and courts for pickleball, tennis, bocce, and racquetball. Indoor facilities include a fitness center, a ballroom, a library, billiards, and an aerobics and dance studio.

Residents enjoy an active lifestyle with clubs and classes for such things as cooking, dancing, exercise, gardening, hiking, movie nights, and yoga.

Models start at 1,212 square feet with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage. The largest models offer 2,571 square feet with three bedrooms, a den, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a two-car garage.

Low $300s - Low $500s

Altura is a gated 55+ lifestyle community with 240 attached and single-family homes. It’s in the attractive Rincon Valley, a 35-minute drive southeast of Downtown Tucson.

Amenities include a clubhouse, a fitness center, a restaurant, an outdoor pool, hiking trails, and a lighted tennis court. Lifestyle activities include several language groups, art classes, Monday movie nights, yoga, and weekly lectures.

Models start at 934 square feet with one bedroom, one bathroom, and a one-car garage. The largest homes are 2,675 square feet with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a two-car garage.

In the City

The closest communities to Tucson’s downtown are as little as a ten-minute drive away. Downtown Tucson has museums, theaters, cinemas, historic buildings, and a wide range of bars and restaurants.

People who choose to retire in Tucson and live in the city appreciate the fact that it’s also easy to get out into nature. Tucson hasn’t turned into a mass of urban sprawl, like many cities.

As well as the attractions of downtown, Tucson also has two national parks within its boundaries: Saguaro National Parks East and West. Other outdoor attractions include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and hikes in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Recommended 55+ Communities in the Area

Low $300s - Mid $400s

Northridge Estates is a 55+ active adult community with 84 attached homes. It’s a 10-minute drive from Downtown Tucson and a few minutes from the Tucson Mall, one of the city’s main shopping centers. Amenities include a clubhouse, an outdoor pool, and two shuffleboard courts.

Low $200s - Low $300s

Casitas de Castilian is a lifestyle community with a 55+ age restriction and made up of 116 attached homes. It’s a 10-minute drive due north of Downtown Tucson and with facilities for day-to-day needs right on the doorstep. Amenities include a clubhouse, two outdoor pools, and a tennis court. Residents join in various activities such as holiday parties, potlucks, a book club, and regular get-togethers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

Close up of a pickleball on a pickleball court.

Denver Area 55+ Communities Big on Pickleball

Pickleball continues to be America’s fastest-growing sport. If you’re looking at 55+ communities in and around Denver, Colorado, you may want to check out a community’s pickleball facilities. Despite this growing popularity, not all Denver communities have pickleball available.

Twilight view of the community clubhouse at SaddleBrooke in Tucson, Arizona.

The Best Tucson, Arizona 55+ Communities for Singles

Arizona attracts active adults from across the country, and Tuscon has its fair share of age-restricted communities to choose from. These five Tuscon communities are espeically great for single retirees looking to make lasting connections.

A senior couple sits on the porch of their condo in a 55+ land lease community.

55+ Land Lease Communities: What Seniors Should Know

Land-lease communities are great options for those who may not be 100 percent committed to purchasing a home. There are pros and cons to land-lease options and it may not be for everyone. Is a land-lease in your future?

Aerial view of the seaside in Miami, Florida on a sunny day.

Is Miami a Good Place to Live?

Miami is a beautiful, diverse city in a tropical locale with access to some of the finest beaches in the country and all of the amenities and recreation that a world-class metropolitan city has to offer. Read on to learn more and decide if this city in Southeast Florida is the right place for you.

Dodger Stadium with Los Angeles skyline in background

55+ Communities Near Los Angeles for Sports Lovers

If you are a sports fan at heart, Los Angeles – and the surrounding area – is a dream come true. You can catch home games for a variety of major league sports. Baseball fans can root for the Dodgers or the Angels. For those who can’t get enough of basketball, they can see the

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top