The Top 10 Worst Arizona Cities for Retirees

Discover which Arizona city could drain your retirement savings faster than the desert sun.
Updated April 11, 2024
Fact checked
senior couple on bench in arizona

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Arizona is an appealing option for retirees who want a warm place to live. But there are downsides to some places in the Grand Canyon State.

Whether you plan to retire early or later in life, some Arizona cities may be better suited for your golden years than others.

Here are a few cities you may want to avoid and why they might not be a great place to call home.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now


Andy/Adobe arizona phoenix skyline during day time

Phoenix can be a great option if you’re looking for a big city, but it also comes with the negatives of living in a metropolis.

The crime rate is higher in Phoenix than in other Arizona cities, and housing can be expensive.

According to the American Lung Association, the air quality in Phoenix places it among the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities. The city’s desert location also makes it prone to dust storms, so you might want to factor that in if you have breathing issues.

It also can be crowded in the winter months, as other retirees flock to Phoenix during that season.


tim/Adobe camelback mountain and downtown phoenix

Scottsdale is a beautiful town with plenty of resorts and many activities for retirees. For example, you can enjoy a round of golf or venture out into nature.

But Scottsdale also has a high cost of living that could quickly eat up your retirement savings.

The median sale price for a home in Scottsdale was $780,000 in July, according to real estate website Redfin. That makes it an expensive option.


Douglas/Adobe state farm stadium from outside

Like Scottsdale, Glendale is outside of Phoenix but still close enough that you can drive to the city to enjoy events or entertainment.

But Glendale is also home to State Farm Stadium, where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play. Traffic can be bad on normal days but even worse on game days, so make sure you have a car if you move to the city.

Glendale also has a relatively high crime rate. And you will need a car because Glendale is not very walkable.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.


Jacob/Adobe tucson cityscape with mountains during day

Tucson might be appealing because of its lower cost of housing. The median sale price for homes in July was $333,000, which was lower than the sale price for the entire state of Arizona, which was $434,300 for the same period.

However, if you move here, you will have to compete with other snowbirds during winter months, as well as students at the University of Arizona.

Green Valley

mdurson/Adobe green valley arizona with mountains

You might think a city with an inviting name like Green Valley would be a great place to call home but do your research before you go.

Green Valley has been noted for sometimes having poor air quality due to its proximity to Tucson. Dust also can sweep in from the desert.

The city’s high temperature can also hover around 100 degrees in the summer, causing you to spend a lot of your fixed income on high air conditioning bills.


Scott Griessel/Adobe couple hiking on trail in woods

Coolidge is southeast of Phoenix and has an affordable housing market. According to Redfin, homes sold for a median price of $312,495 in July.

But the city also has some knocks against it, such as its crime rate, which is higher than other places in Arizona.

The city is also prone to flash floods or desert sand storms due to its location, which may be a problem for some retirees.


tim/Adobe tempe arizona cityscape with mountains

Tempe’s housing prices are slightly above the median price for the entire state. A home in Tempe would have cost you a median of $447,450 in July, compared to $434,300 for the entire state.

Tempe is not a very walkable city. And even where you can walk, it will be scorching in the summer, a fact of life in many cities in Arizona.


Brocreative/Adobe senior woman hiking with dog

It sounds cool, but don’t be fooled: Snowflake’s temperature can still get hot during summer.

Even if you like the appeal of a small town — the population is less than 6,000 residents — be aware that Snowflake might be too isolated for what you want in a retirement community. It’s almost three hours to Phoenix, the closest big city.


nikolas_jkd/Adobe man hiking on devil's bridge trail

Sedona might be a good option if you want to live in Arizona but without the added heat. It’s a bit cooler here due to the higher elevation.

But there are other aspects of the city that work against it, with the cost of housing being one of the biggest issues. 

The median sale price for a home in Sedona was more than $1 million in July, according to Redfin. That cost represents a 6% increase compared to the median sale price a year earlier.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today


Matt Gush/Adobe historic downtown district of flagstaff arizona

Flagstaff will also set you back if you want to buy a home but live on a fixed income. The median home price in July was a hefty $675,000, marking a 3.9% increase compared to a year earlier.

But traffic can be an issue in the city, and it’s a major tourist destination throughout the year.

Flagstaff also has an elevation of almost 7,000 feet above sea level, which might make it a difficult place to live if you have breathing issues.

Like other cities on this list, you might want to grab one of the best travel credit cards and book a trip to this city before deciding whether it’s the right place to call your new home.

Bottom line

Brocreative/Adobe women hiking red rock canyon together

Arizona can be a good destination for retirees, but some cities might not be a great place to spend your golden years.

Instead, reduce your money stress by looking for places that match your lifestyle and aren't too expensive.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards


Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee



Why we like it

Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt