What It’s Like to Live in Arizona

Want to know what it\'s like to live in Arizona? We\'ve got you covered.

Arizona retirement is a popular choice for active adults, but what is it like to live in Arizona? Why is it one of the top spots for retirement communities? Is it just the warm climate?

For some people, the weather might actually be a drawback, In Central Arizona and Southern Arizona, the summer heat is relentless. Phoenix, for example, once reached 100 degrees as early as March, though the first 100-degree day usually comes in May or June. And it stays hot into August and September. During Arizona summers, snowbirds retreat to their homes in milder climates and return in the fall. Fall and spring are the ideal seasons, and winters are usually mild, only occasionally dropping below freezing at night.

Arizona Sports

A 55+ couple playing golf in Arizona.

If you enjoy golf, tennis, pickleball, or any other outdoor sports, Arizona retirement is a wonderful option. The state gets on average about 300 days of sunshine a year, and people make the most of it. Even when those temperatures are high during the day, people get out on the golf course in the early morning before retreating to air-conditioned comfort. Either that or they play in the evenings. If you’re a tennis or pickleball player, be on the lookout for communities with illuminated courts.

Arizona for Outdoor Activities

Family hiking on Bell Rock Loop just north of Oak Creek, Arizona.

If you enjoy the great outdoors, Arizona is also a good choice. The sunny climate means you can enjoy hiking, biking, horse-riding, or whatever your interest is, almost all year round. Some people who live further south rent or buy cabins in Northern Arizona to enjoy a change of scenery in the summer when the heat builds up.

Arizona isn’t actually all desert. About one-sixth of the state is forests, and Northern Arizona has a different climate from the rest of the state. Popular retirement towns like Prescott are at an elevation of well over 5,000 feet and surrounded by mountains, valleys, and trees. Higher still is the Grand Canyon, just over a 2-hour drive north of Prescott. This area sees real winters with freezing days and sometimes snowstorms.

National and State Parks

The Grand Canyon in Arizona on a sunny day.

The Grand Canyon is a national park, of course, but there are also two other well-known ones: Petrified Forest National Park and Saguaro National Park.

The state also has 31 state parks; some of them within just a few minutes of several Arizona retirement communities. So whether you want to get out and hike or simply take a scenic drive, Arizona has plenty of options and residents. As previously mentioned, the attractive climate gives people more opportunities to enjoy the wonders of Arizona’s natural landscape.

Winter Sports

Closeup on a skier on a snowy mountain in the sunshine.

Winter sports in the desert? Yes, Arizona has plenty of winter activity options. There are three ski resorts where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Two of these are in Northern Arizona, where they have real winters, and one is in Southern Arizona, just outside Tucson.

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley has 21 trails, and you enjoy winter sunshine in the heart of Tucson before going skiing on Mt. Lemmon. With a height of over 9,000 feet, it most definitely gets snow in the winter. In the summer, it also makes a cool retreat from the heat.

Cowboys and Culture

View down the street of Tombstone, Arizona at sunset.

People know about Arizona’s long association with cowboys and the Old West. John Ford filmed many of his Western movies in Monument while numerous films and TV series including “Wagon Train,” “Bonanza,” “The High Chaparral,” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales” were all filmed at Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, which is now a mix of western theme park and working studio.

In southeast Arizona, Tombstone may look like a movie set, but many of the buildings have survived from the days when this was a rambunctious mining town. It’s the location of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, a confrontation that’s re-enacted several times a day for visitors.

In Phoenix, the Heard Museum has the USA’s finest collection of Native American arts and crafts, and if your chosen retirement community is anywhere near Downtown Phoenix, you’ll be coming here more than once. Another Phoenix museum that takes longer than a day to enjoy in full is the remarkable Musical Instrument Museum. With over 15,000 instruments, it’s the world’s largest collection, but it goes beyond music to show the cultures of almost every country in the world through recordings, videos, and arts and craft artifacts. 

Wildlife

A single woodpecker perched upon a prickly pear cactus in Arizona.

If you want to retire to Arizona, you have to come to terms with its wildlife. Yes, there are snakes, scorpions, and spiders; some of which are venomous and need to be treated with respect and caution. However, it’s not as though you come across them every day, and many people employ a service to spray around the house regularly and keep the bugs at bay. Not all snakes are poisonous, and they will generally move out of your way. 

On the other hand, there are many beautiful creatures in Arizona, especially the native birds. Madeira Canyon near Green Valley in Southern Arizona is one of the state’s best places for birdwatching. One way to learn more about Arizona wildlife is to visit the wonderful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum outside Tucson. Here, native creatures live in their natural habitats, primarily animals and birds. Don’t miss the twice-daily raptor display to watch birds of prey in free flight just a few inches over your head.

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