Most Affordable Places to Live in Arizona

Kristine Cameron

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Kristine Cameron

December 13th, 2021
Updated December 13th, 2021

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Best overall | Best for families | Best for first-time home buyers | Best for retirees | Best for renters | Methodology | FAQ

Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S., and the increase in population is causing the cost of living, especially housing costs, to skyrocket. As real estate prices soar, so does PTI (price-to-income ratio), a standard calculation that reflects home affordability in an area.

🤔 What's PTI?
Financial experts use PTI (price-to-income) to calculate housing affordability.

PTI = home price ÷ household income

If the PTI of a location is over 2.6, it usually means home prices far exceed what people can afford based on the local median household income.

According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, Arizona’s median home value is $225,500 and the median household income is $58,945. This makes the PTI ratio of Arizona 3.8, far exceeding the recommended PTI ratio of 2.6 — and putting the majority of Arizona's cities out of most people's price range.

$225,500 ÷ $58,945 = 3.8

And before you ask, renting isn't much more affordable. Arizona’s median gross rent is $1,052, just $10 cheaper than the national average.

Luckily, there are some places left that are affordable and safe to live in. To find you the cheapest places in Arizona, we looked at PTI ratios, costs of living, and other factors (learn more about our methodology).

💸 Remember the 28/36 rule
Financial experts recommend spending no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing, and no more than 36% of your gross monthly income on ALL debts. This will give you a much better understanding of what YOU specifically can afford and where you should live.

» LEARN: How much house can you afford in Arizona?

Top affordable cities in Arizona

🏡 Best overall
👪 Best for families
💰 Best for first-time buyers
🌴 Best for retirees
🔑 Best for renters

Best overall: Flowing Wells

PTI
1.7
Median home value
$65,100
Median household income
$38,434
Population
15,755
Median resident age
39.6
Crime rate
42.56 per 1,000 residents

If you’re looking for the most affordable place to buy a house in Arizona, Flowing Wells should be at the top of your list. The median home is valued at $65,100 and the median household income is $38,434 a year. Additionally, most households pay less than $800 in property taxes per year.

If you plan to rent, the median cost is about $895 per month — $157 cheaper than the state average.

Located just outside of Tucson, Flowing Wells residents have easy access to several major attractions, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Pima Air and Space Museum, and Saguaro National Park. Award-winning restaurants — such as Southern fusion gastropub The Parish and authentic Tavolino Ristorante Italiano — are in the area as well.

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Honorable mention: Kingman

For those who prefer an authentic desert locale, Kingman is a great alternative to Flowing Wells — and with a comparably low PTI ratio of 1.9. The median home value is $71,200 the median household income is $36,823, and most homeowners pay less than $800 in property taxes per year.

Kingman is just a short drive away from museums, entertainment, restaurants, and other attractions throughout Mohave County. Kingman is home to the Arizona Route 66 Museum, the Kingman Railway Museum, and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. If you want to explore the outdoors, you can spend your weekends at Neal Butler Park, Lewis Kingman Park, or the Monolith Garden Trail. Then, you can wind down for the evening at the highly-rated Desert Diamond Distillery.

Best for families: Sahuarita

PTI
2.7
Median home value
$214,100
Median household income
$80,525
Population
29,905
Median resident age
38.5
Crime rate
20.87 per 1,000 residents

Located just south of Tucson, Sahuarita’s reasonable PTI ratio, low crime rate, and highly rated school system makes this city an ideal choice for families with children. The Sahuarita Unified District was ranked among the top five school districts in Arizona in 2020 and boasts a graduation rate of 88%. The population also strikes a good balance between new parents and families with older children.

Plus, the town has one of the lowest crime rates in the state, making it both safe and affordable for families.

Sahuarita residents earn a higher household income compared with other Arizonans, and home values are still very reasonable. On the other hand, residents who are not ready to be homeowners pay the most expensive rent in the state: $1,392.

Honorable mention: Sierra Vista

With a larger and slightly younger population than Sahuarita, Sierra Vista is a good option in southern Arizona for families who are looking to rent instead of buy. The median gross rent of the area is $938 (below the state average).

The Sierra Vista Unified School District consists of 8 schools — all rated Highly Performing or Performing Plus by Arizona Learns — and was ranked among the top three best districts in the state.

Best for first-time home buyers: Coolidge

PTI
2.3
Median home value
$113,100
Median household income
$49,266
Population
12,685
Median resident age
32.0
Crime rate
20.87 per 1,000 residents

Conservative home costs, a younger population, and a low cost of living make Coolidge a great option for first-time home buyers who want to start building equity. Although the median household income in Coolidge is under $50,000, the average home in the area is still highly affordable.

New homeowners who prefer smaller cities will appreciate the variety of fun local events and the opportunity to join adult sports leagues, along with the unexpected savings of living in the area.

The cost of living in Coolidge is 19% lower than the national average.

You can expect relatively low housing, utility, and transportation expenses. With all those savings, you can try out a new local restaurant every week.

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Honorable mention: Drexel Heights

Drexel Heights is a great alternative to Coolidge, with a PTI of 2.4 and proportionally low costs of living. Although slightly more expensive, the area is just west of Tucson and more densely populated if you prefer living in a bigger city.

» LEARN: 30 Mistakes Every First-Time Homebuyer Makes

Best for retirees: Apache Junction

PTI
2.3
Median home value
$105,600
Median household income
$45,653
Population
40,592
Median resident age
52.2
Crime rate
35.14 per 1,000 residents

Arizona is a well-known hotspot for retirees, yet there aren’t enough affordable retirement communities and senior living facilities to meet the rising demands. Apache Junction, just outside of the Phoenix metro area, is one exception. With a PTI ratio of just 2.3 and median gross rent of $814, residents can enjoy the warm weather, golf courses, and other activities the region has to offer.

There are several highly rated 55+ communities and senior living facilities in Apache Junction:

  • Palmas Del Sol East. Two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes start at just $65,000 here, and a full-time activities director ensures that all residents can find fun ways to fill their days.
  • Brookdale Senior Living, located just 25 miles from Phoenix, offers both independent and assisted living for seniors. It’s also close to the Banner Goldfield and Mountain Vista Medical Centers.
  • Visions Assisted Living provides residents with 24/7 care, housekeeping services, and social and activity programs.

Honorable mention: Sun City

Despite its name, Sun City isn’t actually a city — it’s an unincorporated, age-restricted community dedicated to retirees. Located in the Phoenix metro area, Sun City homes can cost from $35,000 to $350,000, giving residents plenty of housing options based on their lifestyles and budgets.

Sun City has other unexpected tax savings for residents as well: no sales tax and consistently low property taxes (ranging from just $300 to $1,300 per year).

Retirees looking for a continuing care retirement community will be pleased to know that Sun City offers options for independent living, assisted living, memory care, and rehabilitative care.

Honorable mention: Fortuna Foothills

Fortuna Foothills was ranked the No. 11 best place to retire in Arizona for 2021. With almost half of all residents aged 65 or older, the city has the highest median age (60.4) among all of the most affordable cities.

The PTI ratio is 2.5 — well within the recommended 2.6 bracket. However, renters beware: the median rent is $1,135, $83 higher than the state average.

» MORE: Buying vs. Renting in Retirement: Which Is the Better Idea?

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Best for renters: Florence

PTI
3.1
Median rent
$824
Median household income
$49,534
Population
26,420
Median resident age
39.1
Crime rate
143.45 per 1,000 residents

Located south of Phoenix, the city of Florence is a bit pricier for home buyers. However, the median gross rent is just $824, compared with the state median of $1,052.

Florence residents can also enjoy a cost of living that’s 13% below the national average.

Compared with national figures, Florence residents pay less on average for housing, health care, and groceries.

Families who plan to rent can rest easy knowing that Neighborhood Scout named Florence as one of the nation’s 100 safest cities for 2021 — a lower crime rate than 96% of Arizona’s other communities.

Honorable mention: Yuma

For younger renters who want affordable housing options in a bustling multicultural city, Yuma is a great choice. Compared with Florence, Yuma has only a slightly higher rent ($891) and a younger, larger population — nearly 100,000 residents around 30 years old.

While there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and breweries in Yuma, its top attractions are its parks and museums. History enthusiasts will love visiting the Castle Dome Mines Museum and Ghost Town, and hikers will enjoy exploring the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park and the Colorado River State Historic Park.

Methodology

We selected the most affordable cities by analyzing each city's price-to-income (PTI) ratio, which is calculated by dividing each city's median home value by its median household income (both from the latest US Census). While cities with PTI ratios close to or below 2.6 were considered, we looked beyond housing costs alone to determine each area’s affordability.

We reviewed factors such as median rent prices, costs of living, taxes, health care, and city-specific expenses using the latest US Census Bureau data, Payscale's Cost of Living Calculator, and Data USA. Crime statistics were gathered from NeighborhoodScout, CrimeGrade.org, and the FBI.

Furthermore, we included at least one honorable mention for each category to account for more individual preferences, such as school systems, transportation options, and culture and entertainment.

Finally, we narrowed our options to cities with at least 10,000 residents.

Frequently asked questions about affordable places to live in Arizona

</p><p>Based strictly on the price-to-income ratio, <a href="https://listwithclever.com/real-estate-blog/most-affordable-places-arizona/#overall">Flowing Wells</a> is the cheapest place to buy a home in Arizona. With a PTI ratio of just 1.7, residents can comfortably afford to buy a house on the local median household income of $38,434.</p><p>

</p><p><a href="https://listwithclever.com/real-estate-blog/most-affordable-places-arizona/#retirees">Apache Junction</a> is one of the most affordable places for residents age 55 and older to buy a home in Arizona. The median age in this city is 52.2, and it's home to the luxurious Palmas Del Sol East community. Other great options for retirees include Sun City and Fortuna Foothills.</p><p>

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