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Which Is Better Tucson or Phoenix

Which Is Better: Tucson or Phoenix?

Phoenix and Tucson are two of the best cities in Arizona with many similarities like desert landscape, mountain ranges, indigenous communities and Spanish influence, among others. But if you want to move between the two, which is better?

If you want a faster-paced lifestyle, career advancement, and access to a broader job market, Phoenix is the city for you. But if you’re looking for a slow-paced town with a lower cost of living and outdoor activities, Tucson is a better choice. 

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into comparing these two cities and help you decide which city aligns better with your lifestyle and priorities. So, read on and let’s see which city will be your next hometown.

Cost of Living in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Cost of Living in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Tucson has a 26% lower cost of living than Phoenix. For instance, you will need about $2,030 monthly to cover basic expenses in Tucson, compared to $2,566 in Phoenix.

To understand this better, here’s a table containing data from for a detailed look at the costs attributed to living in Phoenix and Tucson. 

Expenses Phoenix Cost Tucson Cost 
Housing (Average Rent per Month) 
1-bedroom apartment  (downtown)$1579$1118
1-bedroom apartment (outside the city center) $1345$941
3-bedroom apartment (downtown)$2788$2201
3-bedroom apartment (outside the city center)$2398$1687
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill) 
Utility bill for one person $165$173
Utility bill for a family $255$265
Internet plan $81.8$74.1
Transportation (Fare)
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)$2.02$1.6
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)$63.7$43
Taxi (normal tariff)$18.7$14.7
Gasoline (1 liter)$1.16 $1.06
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Private Preschool/Kindergarten (full day)$985 per month $1013 per month 
International Primary School $20,817 per year $11,554 per year 

Tucson’s living cost is 6% lower than the national average—6% lower. This means everyday expenses, such as hospital costs, utilities and transportation costs, are more affordable in Tucson. 

Tucson offers a significantly lower cost of living than Phoenix. To visualize, you’ll need around $536 less per month to cover basic expenses in Tucson. 

For instance, housing costs, like rent or mortgage payments, are 20 to 30% lower in Tucson than in Phoenix. On the other hand, due to smaller city infrastructure, water, electricity, and gas are also slightly cheaper in Tucson.

Although gas prices between the two cities are comparable in terms of transportation, Tucson’s car insurance and public transportation costs are still lower than Phoenix’s. And, while food costs vary on your eating habits, prices still tend to be lower overall in Tucson.

Real Estate Prices in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Real Estate Prices in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Homes in Phoenix are 22% more expensive than those in Tucson. For instance, a median-priced home in Phoenix costs nearly $93,000 more than a comparable one in Tucson.

Tucson is definitely a more budget-friendly option for homebuyers than Phoenix. Some factors affecting Tucson’s lower real estate cost are lower property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance costs.

On the other hand, the Phoenix market has been experiencing steady growth, with sales prices increasing by around 5% annually. The market also remains competitive as homes gain an average of two offers and usually get sold in approximately 52 days. 

Tucson market is also experiencing positive growth, with sales prices increasing by 11% year-over-year. Its real estate market is more stable than Phoenix’s, with single-family homes seeing modest growth while condos experience price jumps in Tucson. 

Diversity and Demographics in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Diversity and Demographics in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Phoenix has a significantly larger population – 1.59 million – compared to Tucson’s 538,000. Phoenix also has a slightly higher percentage of foreign-born residents than Tucson. 

Phoenix has a larger population with a more diverse racial makeup, while Tucson holds more Hispanic and Latino presence and a slightly older population. However, due to Phoenix’s population, it still has a larger number of foreign-born citizens.

Although both showed population growth in recent years, Tucson has a slower growth rate despite being Arizona’s second most populated city. As a result, Tucson makes an excellent choice for those who want to live in a big city with a quieter lifestyle.

Phoenix boasts a larger Hispanic population, with 42.7% compared to Tucson’s 38.5%. However, Tucson scores higher in diversity indices than Phoenix, meaning Tucson has a more even distribution of ethnicities and races in the population.

Career Opportunities in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Career Opportunities in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Phoenix has a significantly larger and more diverse job market, with over 1.4 million jobs compared to Tucson’s 440,000. 

Phoenix’s job market is focused on technology, manufacturing, and finance, while Tucson excels in aerospace, healthcare, and education.

Phoenix boasts over 2.2 million jobs compared to Tucson’s 500,000. This translates to wider career options and faster job growth, projected to increase by 2.9% in 2024 compared to the 2.4% projected job growth in Tucson.  

Because of Phoenix’s large population, the city has a vibrant job market encompassing technology giants, manufacturing plants, and financial institutions. In 2022, Phoenix’s job market grew by 4.2%, compared to the national average of 3.9%.

On the other hand, Tucson’s job market is focused on healthcare, bioscience research, aerospace, and education. The University of Arizona contributes significantly to these sectors as it helps attract talent and research funding to institutions in the city.

In terms of salary, Phoenix offers higher wages than Tucson, especially in technology, finance, and management positions. Annual earnings in Phoenix are $55,760, and $49,020 in Tucson.

Crime and Safety in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Crime and Safety in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Phoenix has a slightly lower crime rate than Tucson. Although both are tied at 37.5 crime index for violent crimes, Tucson has a high 83.2 property crime index compared with 52.8 for Phoenix. 

Phoenix has a slightly lower violent crime rate (35.17) than Tucson (43.48). However, both cities have significantly higher property crime rates than the national average, with Phoenix’s rate at 63.06 while Tucson’s is at 67.02. 

Phoenix’s violent crime rate could be due to larger population size, greater economic disparity, or the presence of gang activity. Tucson’s higher property crime rate could be related to poverty, property vacancy, or other properties targeted by criminals. 

Lifestyle in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Lifestyle in Phoenix vs. Tucson
Phoenix offers a dynamic urban experience with a higher cost of living and scorching summers. At the same time, Tucson boasts a more relaxed, nature-oriented vibe with milder temperatures and a lower cost of living.

To get a closer look at both cities’ lifestyles, we compare each city in detail based on several factors, such as the weather, recreational activities, and healthcare.

Weather in Phoenix vs. Tucson

While Phoenix and Tucson enjoy Arizona’s sun, Tucson offers a cooler climate than Phoenix, thanks to its higher elevation and geographical features.

Tucson sits at 2,390 feet, significantly higher than Phoenix at 1,114 feet. This higher elevation makes Tucson generally cooler, about 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, than Phoenix, especially during the summer.

Although both cities enjoy over 300 sunny days yearly, Phoenix edges out Tucson with an annual average of 330 sunny days compared to Tucson’s 293 days.

Tucson receives more annual rainfall at 11.4 inches compared to Phoenix, which receives only 7.2 inches yearly. This is due to Tucson’s higher elevation, which leads to a greener landscape in Tucson, while Phoenix gets an arid desert look.

Things to Do in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Phoenix caters to diverse interests like theme parks, museums, and professional sports. However, Tucson shines with its unique cultural heritage, historical richness, and access to outdoor activities.

UNESCO has hailed Tucson as one of the most important culinary locations in the world. Here, you’ll try Mexican dishes inspired by the area’s indigenous history and award-winning bread, pizzas and chimichanga.

On the other hand, Phoenix has a home team representation in each professional sports league: MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. It also has more museums, 67 versus Tucson’s 32, recreational centers like the Legoland Discovery Center, OdySea Aquarium, Pangaea: Land of the Dinosaurs, and water parks. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, Tucson is the perfect place to hike or bike through Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon or to enjoy scenic drives and stargazing opportunities at the summit of Mount Lemmon, an International Dark Sky Place.

Healthcare in Phoenix vs. Tucson

Phoenix offers a broader range of healthcare options and specialists, while Tucson boasts lower healthcare costs and a more accessible primary care system.

Phoenix is home to major medical institutions like Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and Mayo Clinic. Because of their presence in the city, it’s home to more specialists, which can be crucial for complex conditions requiring specialized care.

The cost of healthcare in Phoenix is generally higher than in Tucson, with healthcare costs ranking 20% above the national average. These higher prices include hospital bills, physician visits, and prescription drugs.

On the other hand, Tucson offers a lower cost of healthcare, at around 10% below the national average, making it a more affordable option for those on a budget or with limited insurance coverage.

As to access to primacy cases, Phoenix has longer wait times and limited availability in certain areas. In contrast, Tucson has a more robust network of primary care providers, so it’s easier to find a doctor and schedule appointments.

Phoenix vs. Tucson: Which Is Better

Phoenix vs. Tucson Which Is Better

Here are our suggestions on which city is better based on each factor discussed above. 

Factors The Better City Why 
Cost of Living TucsonTucson offers a 26% lower cost of living compared to Phoenix.
Real Estate TucsonHousing costs are significantly higher in Phoenix than in Tucson.
Diversity and DemographicsPhoenixPhoenix has a larger and more diverse population with a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than Tucson.
Career Opportunities PhoenixPhoenix has a larger and more diverse job market, but Tucson has aerospace, healthcare, and education strengths.
Crime IndexPhoenixPhoenix has a slightly lower crime rate than Tucson.
Lifestyle Tied – depends on your preferred lifestylePhoenix offers a dynamic urban experience with a higher cost of living.
Tucson provides a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle with milder temperatures.
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