Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Arizona is everything the Southwest is supposed to be like. Popularly referred to as the Grand Canyon State, the southwestern region of the United States is a destination for millions of tourists each year. Even though California and Arizona are close knit neighbors, they are significantly different in many aspects. From cost of living to culture and traditions, the two states vary a great deal. Here are a few pointers to help you understand the diverse nature of both the states and what to expect when you’re moving from California to Arizona.


Things To Know Before Moving From California To Arizona

Weather

Arizona? It’s more like Arid-zona. If this is what comes to your mind when thinking about the weather in Arizona, then my friend, you aren’t wrong. For most parts of the year, Arizona is really hot. Most of it is dry heat, but the mere absence of coastal breeze and to top it, the heated desert ground, make this weather quite unbearable at times. The temperatures in summer can soar up to a high of 111°F during the day, while it can drop down to around the 80s during the nights.

If you are moving from Southern California desert cities to cities like Phoenix or Tucson, then you will be more familiar with the extreme climate. While the majority of California has a more Mediterranean like climate, most of Arizona is warm and pleasant during spring and fall months. And like you don’t need hefty coats to gear up for the winters in California, merely putting on a jacket on the coldest of days in Arizona shall keep you warm.

Apart from its extreme heat, Arizona is also prone to sudden winds, rainstorms and dust storms or haboob. California, on the other hand, experiences seismic tremors, flooding and out of control fires.

Population Profile

The Golden state has a whopping total population of 39,512,223, but no single ethnic group dominates the state. Around 37.5% inhabitants of California are whites, 5.5% are black or African American and 14.1% are Asians. With around 38.9% of Hispanic and Latino population, California is one of the four majority-minority states in the US.

With a total population of only 7,278,717 inhabitants, Arizona seems like a baby state of California whose total population is the highest in America. Arizona is a multicultural state with the Hispanic population growing the fastest. Around 55% of the total population in Arizona is white, while 4.1% are black or African American and 3.9% are American Indian and Alaska Natives. If the Hispanic population keeps growing at the same rate, (currently at around 31%), then Arizona is also predicted to become a majority-minority state soon, just like California.

Language And Culture

With English as the primary language, Spanish is the second most preferred language in both the states of California and Arizona. On one hand, around 20% of the people in the Grand Canyon State speak Spanish at home. On the other hand though, the number is over double in California at 43%, a proportion far higher than any other state in the United States.

Seen as a melting pot of cultures, California integrates food, customs and traditions from all around the globe. With roots in the cultures of Mexico, Spain and the Eastern United States, California presents a trend of a varied lifestyle with a strong essence of seasonality. On the other hand, Arizona’s culture is mainly influenced by Mexican Americans and Native Americans. From a number of galleries showcasing historical and contemporary works to the state’s name featuring in the lyrics of many country songs, Arizona’s culture has a lot to explore.

Education

Education in California has diverse options, in the sense, that it is home to many music, art and film schools, as well as some religious and special-purpose institutions. This gives the inhabitants many unique educational and entertainment opportunities to choose from. The educational system in the Golden State consists of public, NPS, and private schools as well as some well-established Universities including the public University of California, California State University, CalArts institute and California Community Colleges systems.

Arizona as a state, has a lot of youth population, who come from all around for educational and career purposes. The Copper State has the 14th largest public school system in the US and has around 66 public school districts. The state also has some of the prestigious magnet and charter schools to boast of. Where higher education is concerned, Arizona is home to several public and private universities with University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Prescott College and Chandler – Gilbert Community College being some of them.

Economy And Employment Opportunities

California’s economy incorporates an assortment of businesses, including horticulture, the travel industry, films, and government, with the tech business at its core. With Silicon Valley as its USP, the state has organizations like Apple, Google, Facebook and Tesla on its home ground. While still ahead of the national curve, the job growth rate of California ranks at the 16th place in the United States.

One of the perks of moving from the Golden State to Arizona, is the abundance of job opportunities. With mining, transport and utilities, technology and healthcare as some of its largest sectors, the state of Arizona ranks third in the country for job growth. The Arizona Republic, Banner Health, Walmart Stores, Inc and Kroger Co. are some of the largest employers in the state.
As of December 2020, the unemployment rate in Arizona is around 7.5% which is comparatively lower than California’s 9.0%.

Purchasing A House

Arizona is definitely one of the most affordable states in the US. As far as housing is concerned, a comparison by bestplaces.net, shows that LA is almost 188% more expensive than Phoenix. While the median house value in LA is around $689,500, the same in Phoenix stands at around $239,400. This is also one of the main reasons people move to the Grand Canyon State. The average median home value in Arizona is around $260,694 and that in the Golden State is around $557,388, which makes buying your own house in Arizona way more affordable.

Renting A House

While rates differ from area to area, the average rent for a house in Arizona is around $1,552, which again is reasonable when compared to the average rent of $2,220 in California. If you are moving from say San Diego to Tucson, you would be paying around 61% lower rent in Tucson, according to numbeo. Finding a house for yourself will not be so much of a burden when you are moving to the Copper State.

Also See: Moving To Arizona – Relocation Guide for 2021

Utility Bills

Almost 42% of the Arizona land is the arid desert, which makes the inhabitants of the state experience extreme summers for most parts of the year. So, it comes as no surprise that the electricity bills in Arizona are some of the highest in the nation. The average monthly electricity bill for Arizona is around $128.40 which is way higher when compared to California, which gets around $101.49 to pay as the average monthly electricity bill.

Sure, the average monthly water and internet bills for the two states is similar at $70 and $60 respectively, but a significant difference can be seen in the natural gas rates. In California, where the average monthly gas bill is around $62.51, the same in Arizona shoots up to around $87.28, which is definitely bending a lot on the higher end.

See also: States with Lowest Cost of Living in the U.S.

Taxes

One of the main reasons why the cost of living is much more affordable in Arizona when compared to California, is the huge difference in the tax rates. People living in the Golden State end up paying almost double then what the residents of the Copper State pay. While the personal income tax rate in Arizona is around 4.54%, the same in California is around 9.3%. The State sale tax rate is also lower in Arizona at around 6.60%, as compared to 7.25% (6.25% plus 1% state-wide local rate) in California. The same trend is observed for property tax as well, where $1,043 is charged per capita in Arizona and $1,449 is charged per capita in California.

See also: States With Lowest Taxes

Crime Rates

With its highly affordable standard of living, Arizona is a welcoming hub for people from all over. And just like an increase in its number of inhabitants, the crime rates seem to follow. As per data shown on neighborhoodscout, the total crime rate per 1000 residents in Arizona is around 28.96%, with around 4.55% violent crimes and 24.41% property crimes. Though on the higher side, their crime rate is not very different from that in California. A division between violent crimes and property crimes shows the breakdown of California’s crime rate to be 4.41% and 23.31% respectively, taking the total crime rate per 1000 residents to around 27.72% in the Golden State, as per Neighborhoodscout.

Getting Around

  • By Road: Roadways is the most popular mode of transportation in California. The vast terrain is extensively connected by a system of highways, freeways and expressways. If you are someone who is all about fitness, California has something in store for you in the form of bike routes. Few cities in the state like LA and San Francisco, have designated bike routes for commuters. Apart from that, local transit bus services are available in every city from LA to Alpine County.

    In Arizona, public bus transit services are available in the metropolitan areas like that of the Phoenix and Tucson. Other cities like Flagstaff and Yuma, also have their own public bus systems. Since both the states are next to each other, they also share a few common highways. For instance – Interstate 8 which starts in San Diego and is connected to Interstate 10 that connects Phoenix and Tucson.

    Most parts of the Grand Canyon State are also accessible via bikes or you could merely cover the distance by walking as well. You would probably end up saving time and spending it elsewhere rather than being stuck in the congested road traffics like that in California.
  • Railways: With its highly integrated highway system, most people in California preferred to use their own transport over a public vehicle. But a number of local and regional passenger rail systems can still be found in the Golden State. These are accessible in different cities including San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.

    A similar culture is observed in Arizona as well, where you will find many people hitting the road or even walking through the closely knit cities and neighborhoods in most parts. Rail systems are still found in a few major cities like the Valley Metro Rail. Completed in December 2008, the light rail system connects central Phoenix with the nearby cities of Tempe and Mesa.
  • Airways: In California, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are major hubs managing both international and transcontinental traffic.

    Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport is the largest airport in the state of Arizona. It is one of the airports with regularly scheduled commercial flights, along with a few others like Tucson International Airport, Yuma International Airport and Prescott Municipal Airport. You also have the Grand Canyon National Park Airport which is a small but busy, single runway airport functional mainly for the tourists who flock the destination each year.
  • Ferries: The different cities of the coastal state of California are accessible even through waterways. Especially in the Bay area, a number of ferry services take commuters across San Francisco Bay to other networks in the Bay Area. You can also access the ferry service for commuting from San Diego to Coronado. Arizona being the sprawling desert oasis that it is, has no ferries as a mode of transport for daily commuters.


Popular Cities To Live In Arizona

1. Phoenix

The largest city in the state, with all round sunshine and mild winters, Phoenix serves as a prominent financial, transportation and telecommunications hub in Arizona. If you want a southwest feel, but at the same time do not want to let go of the big city experience, then Phoenix is here to give you both. With a vibrant nightlife for singles and a diversified culture, the city will make you miss Los Angeles a little less. If that’s not all, then affordable housing, a growing job market, well developed education system and a booming economy are a few more reasons for you to consider living in this capital city of Arizona. The cost of living in this city is a little high though, with the average monthly utility bills amounting to around $170.21, according to numbeo.

  • Median home value: $259,681
  • Average market rent: $1,567/month
  • Average monthly net salary: $3,601.42 (After Taxes)

See also: Moving to Phoenix

2. Tucson

Known to be the oldest incorporated city in Arizona, Tucson is a perfect place to witness stunning sunsets. The city is also home to some of the renowned universities in the state including the University of Arizona. For all the adventure lovers, Tucson is a biking and hiking paradise. In fact, one of the best ways to get around this otherwise traffic affected city, is by bicycles. You will find many bike paths along the riverbeds and dry creeks which serve as a shortcut to navigate through the city. Mostly surrounded by mountains on all sides, this widespread desert oasis has a comparatively higher cost of living with the average monthly utility bills going up to around $210.

  • Median home value: $191,545
  • Average market rent: $1,116/month
  • Average monthly net salary: $2,690.80 (After Taxes)

3. Gilbert

If you are a die-hard fan of golf, then Gilbert is a paradise for you. Named as the safest city in Arizona, Gilbert is an extremely convenient spot for all kinds of people. Its proximity to the Grand Canyon and also to some of the main metropolises like Phoenix, makes commuting in this city very accessible. A good balance of housing costs and median income, along with a great public school system, gives this city a very family friendly vibe. With quaint shops and fantastic restaurants, Gilbert has an affordable cost of living with the average monthly utility bills being around $136.41.

  • Median home value: $365,000
  • Average market rent: $1,440/month
  • Average monthly net salary: $5,683.67 (After Taxes)

FAQs

Are Taxes Cheaper In Arizona Than California?

That’s definitely a yes. From personal income tax, sales tax to property tax, there is a significant difference in both states. You will be paying half the tax on your personal income in Arizona, at the rate of 4.54% in comparison to California’s high personal income tax rate of about 9.3%. All in all, the tax burden in Arizona is way lesser than that of the Golden State.

How Much Does It Cost To Move From California To Arizona?

With various factors like size, route and timing of the move coming into play, the approximate cost of moving from California to the Grand Canyon State would be somewhere around $2,250 – $3,900.

If you are running short on time, or if you don’t want to handle the stress of moving alone, then hiring a professional moving company would be a good choice. But yes, that again would be more expensive with around $2,000 – $5,500 being the average cost. Renting a truck on the other hand would definitely save a hole in your pocket, but will also require you to put in much more effort. The average cost for renting a truck would be around $900 – $1,500, exclusive of the food and parking costs, if any.

Is It Worth Moving To Arizona From California?

With Nevada and California as close-knit neighbours, Arizona is a state of seemingly infinite possibilities. If biking trails and desert safaris are adventures that attract you, then moving from California to the Grand Canyon State would be worth it for you. Basically, if you can tolerate a few months of heat, then moving to Arizona from California would be worth it for the low living costs, photogenic mountains and leisure drives that the Grand Canyon State has to offer.

Is It Better To Live In Arizona Or California?

Both the Golden State and the Grand Canyon State have a lot to offer, but at a cost. While California offers pleasant weather, the surging housing costs and high tax are something to take note of. On the other hand, Arizona offers affordable housing in most places and an overall reasonable cost of living, but with an extreme variation in the climate.


Conclusion

Comparing the average cost of living, California seems to be around 29% more expensive than Arizona, while the difference in the average monthly income between the two states is not so much. California offers an average monthly income of around $5,200 while Arizona offers around $4,750/month. All said and done, the choice of which state is worth living totally depends on what your personal goals and needs are.

See also: 5 Best States To Live in | Moving from California to Texas