So you’re thinking about retiring in Arizona? Given that we have an office located in Scottsdale, we feel obligated to let you in on a couple of secrets all of the locals know. First the city that borders Phoenix is pronounced Temp-EE not TEMP-ee. Rookie mistake. Also, you might as well start practicing the following phrase "but it's a dry heat" because you'll use it endlessly with non-Arizonans who don't understand why you'd want to live in a place where you can fry an egg on a sidewalk.
It’s true, it gets warm. 120 degrees on some summer days sounds insane for someone who has not lived through it, and it’s not for everyone. However, it is also true that the dry heat makes it far more tolerable.
Here is a compilation of our top 5 retirement communities. This is based on our own experience living and frequenting these communities, feedback from many clients who live in these areas, and other factors such as awards and recognitions the places have received. Here are our top 5 retirement communities:
#5 Sun City
Sun City is by far one of the most popular places to retire in Arizona as currently 82% of the residents in this town of 38,000 are retired, and the city has a median age of 75 years old. If you are looking to retire in a town of other retirees, you’ll feel right at home here.
Sun City is located just 15 miles northwest of Phoenix, so it is a close drive to Sky Harbor airport and all of the amenities of Phoenix. It also features 11 championship golf courses and has 299 days of sunshine per year! There are plenty of shopping centers, an amphitheater and 30 churches to choose from. If retiring in a place with plenty of sunshine, golf, and activities with other retirees is something that interests you, perhaps look no further than Sun City.
#4 Fountain Hills
Having lived in Fountain Hills for 5 years I can personally vouch for this incredible town. Fountain Hills is about 30 minutes Northeast of Phoenix and is smaller at 24,000 people, but has a strong community and is just large enough to have many of the amenities you want to have in a town. There are multiple grocery stores, hiking trails, a community center with many events, and — the main draw to the town — one of the largest manmade fountains in the world which can shoot water up to 560 feet located at the center of a beautiful picturesque park with walking paths.
The town draws a lot of retirees for its slower pace, its beautiful views of the McDowell mountains and the infamous Four Peaks mountains in the distance. It also has many events including one of the largest art fairs in the state twice per year, a professional disc golf tournament and a weekly farmers market.
Prescott, pronounced Preskit (better get it right or you’ll sound like you’re not from around here!), is a beautiful town under two hours north of Phoenix. It is not quite what you may be picturing for an Arizona retirement. You’ll be trading the Saguaro Cactus for Ponderosa Pines, but for those of you who enjoy the seasons and aren’t quite ready to give that up, yet want a warmer climate, Prescott might just be the place for you.
Prescott is at 5,367 elevation, so higher than Denver. Given the fact that it is a mountain town, you’ll experience cooler air, even snow in the winter. The summers aren’t quite so hot (topping out in the high 80s in the summer), and the winters are more than tolerable (average highs in the mid 50s in the coldest months).
Another nice thing about Prescott is that it is much closer than Phoenix to some of the major landmarks in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is only 2 hours away, Phoenix is under 2 hours, Sedona and Flagstaff are only around an hour. About 1/3 of Prescott residents are seniors so there is a large retirement population.
#2 Oro Valley
Oro Valley is more of an up and coming, growing retirement community — and for a reason! Oro Valley, near Tucson, made CNNs list of top 100 places to live in the country. It did so for a number of reasons, including its unique blend of both young families and retirement communities.
Many of the retirees that live in this community snowbird here rather than full time as the summers are hot and there is not much to do in the summer months since Phoenix is a couple of hours away. Golf, tennis, hiking and beautiful mountain views are some of the main draws to this unique desert community.
#1 Paradise Valley
#1 on our list is Paradise Valley. This North Scottsdale community may be a bit pricey, but it is just about everything you could want in a retirement community. It sits nestled in the beautiful McDowell Mountain range where the hiking trails are endless and the luxury golf courses are something to behold. The fine dining and spas available give retirees the ultimate in relaxation.
It is a bit exclusive as the community has just over 12,000 people with a median income of around $180,000 and the average home sells for an average of $1.5 million. It is just north of Phoenix located in North Scottsdale.
As you look to Arizona as a place to retire, you’ll find that there are a number of options for just about every class. You must be able to withstand the heat, but you’ll find that most of Arizona is a bit of a melting pot. The people come from all over the US and have found a home in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Sonoran desert.
If you know Arizona, what do you think of our list? Would you add any communities to this list?