Arizona, often called “The Grand Canyon State,” offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and economic opportunity. For those considering a move to Arizona, it’s essential to be well-informed about the state. This article will explore 10 facts about AZ, providing insights into things to know before moving to Arizona, what to know before moving to Arizona, and tips for living in Arizona.
1. Climate and Weather
The climate and weather in Arizona have been undergoing significant changes, particularly in recent years. The 2022 Arizona State Climate Summary, which compiled data from 2017 to 2020, reveals a trend of rising temperatures and the potential for more extended droughts in the state.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, temperatures in Arizona have risen by approximately 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This increase is expected to continue throughout the century, presenting challenges to the state’s environmental, agricultural, and human systems.
In terms of specific weather patterns, the number of extremely hot days in Arizona has been above average since 1995, reaching its peak during the 2015-2020 period. The year 2020 was particularly notable, with a record number of days exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the number of nights with a minimum temperature of 80°F or higher has also been trending upward since 1995, reaching a record high in the same period. This increase in nighttime temperatures is partly attributed to the urban heat island effect, especially in metropolitan areas like Phoenix.
Regarding precipitation, the state experienced its driest monsoon season on record in 2020, with only 1.5 inches of precipitation. However, this was followed by one of the wettest years on record in 2021, indicating a “boom or bust” cycle typical of desert climates.
This variability in monsoon seasons, combined with the general trend of rising temperatures and the potential for extended droughts, underscores the importance of understanding and adapting to these climatic changes for a resilient future in Arizona.
These findings emphasize the urgency of addressing the impacts of climate change and the importance of reliable data and heat planning in the state.
The urban heat island effect, particularly in cities like Phoenix, exacerbates the impact of rising temperatures, making it crucial to develop strategies for mitigating these effects and protecting vulnerable populations.
2. Economic Opportunities
Arizona’s economy continues to evolve and grow, presenting a diverse range of opportunities. As of October 2023, the state’s unemployment rate was at 4.2%, reflecting a dynamic job market that slightly lags behind the national average.
However, this rate indicates a relatively healthy employment climate. The state’s real GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2023 was 2.7% per year, outpacing the previous quarter’s 3.2% and highlighting a robust economic growth higher than the national average.
This growth is evident across various sectors, with agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting experiencing the highest growth rate in the state at 13.4% per year.
The Arizona economy continues to demonstrate solid job, income, and sales gains. Despite a tight labor market, there are signs of softening in some sectors. The state’s economic forecast is closely tied to national and global economic trends.
After a 2.1% increase in 2022, U.S. real GDP growth is expected to slow to 1.8% in 2023, influencing Arizona’s short-run outlook. Moreover, the state has been facing challenges in housing affordability.
The percentage of homes sold in Arizona that were affordable to families earning the median income has decreased significantly, indicating a growing concern in the housing sector. This trend is consistent across several metropolitan areas in the state, including Phoenix and Tucson. Additionally, housing permit activity has seen a decline, particularly in single-family housing, reflecting broader economic shifts.
3. Cultural Diversity
Arizona’s cultural diversity has evolved significantly in recent years, reflecting a dynamic and multifaceted population. According to the 2020 Census, the state’s demographic composition has seen notable changes.
The percentage of white residents decreased from 73% in 2010 to 60% in 2020. This shift highlights the increasing diversity in the state’s racial and ethnic makeup. Maricopa County, which includes nine of the ten major cities in Arizona, is home to more than 60% of the state’s population. This county plays a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of Arizona.
The state has also experienced a rise in residents who identify as more than one race, increasing from 34% in 2010 to around 14% in 2020. This trend indicates a growing recognition and acceptance of multi-racial identities. Additionally, Arizona’s Native population is more likely than any other race to live below the poverty line, indicating ongoing socioeconomic challenges within these communities.
The increasing diversity in Arizona contributes to a rich tapestry of perspectives and experiences. It fosters a wealth of different viewpoints, enhancing creativity and problem-solving skills, particularly in the economic and educational sectors.
This multicultural environment encourages the exchange of ideas, fostering innovation and resilience in economic endeavors. Moreover, Arizona’s diverse population challenges stereotypes and promotes empathy, respect, and social cohesion, laying the foundation for a harmonious society.
4. Educational Prospects
Educational prospects in Arizona have seen mixed outcomes, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the latest updates from the Arizona Education Progress Meter for 2022, there have been modest improvements in certain areas, but challenges persist, particularly in the recovery from pandemic-related disruptions.
For example, there has been a modest improvement of 6% in Third-Grade Reading proficiency, moving towards the goal of 72% of all students reaching this level. However, outcomes for Eighth-Grade Math remained stagnant at 27%, with a goal of 69% of students being prepared to advance to high school math.
High school graduation rates have slightly decreased, while post-secondary attainment has seen a small increase.
The pandemic has had a marked impact across the entire P-20 education continuum in Arizona, affecting early education, K-12, and postsecondary education. Notably, there was a decline in access to quality early learning for Arizona’s 3- and 4-year-olds, contributing to a downward trend over the past three years.
The decrease in early learning opportunities is concerning as these are crucial for children to develop cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Additionally, there have been significant drops in key areas such as 3rd-grade reading and 8th-grade math proficiency, high school graduation rates, and post-high school enrollment due to the pandemic.
These data indicate that while there has been some progress in recovering from the pandemic-era impacts on learning, the negative impact has been significant and pronounced, especially in minority and underserved communities. Efforts to ensure excellence and equitable outcomes across the education system must continue and expand to address these challenges.
5. Cost of Living
The cost of living in Arizona has various aspects that contribute to its overall expense. As of 2023, the average annual personal consumption cost in Arizona is $44,875. This includes housing and utilities ($8,184), healthcare ($6,828), and food and beverages ($3,346). The typical home value in Arizona as of February 2023 is $409,196. Rental costs vary based on the size and location of the property, with median monthly rents ranging from $973 for a studio to $2,169 for a five-bedroom home.
Additionally, utility costs average around $408 per month. Transportation expenses in Arizona can range from $5,316 to $15,073 annually, depending on family makeup.
Arizona’s tax structure includes a flat state income tax of 2.5% starting in 2023. Despite these costs, Arizona ranks 37th in states with the lowest cost of living, indicating a relatively moderate cost of living compared to other states.
6. Outdoor Recreation
Outdoor recreation in Arizona has shown significant growth and development in recent years, becoming a vital part of the state’s economy and community well-being. In 2022, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.5% of Arizona’s state GDP, indicating its substantial contribution to the state’s economic health.
This sector has experienced a faster growth rate compared to the overall U.S. economy, with employment in outdoor recreation in Arizona increasing by 5.8% in the same year. These statistics highlight the increasing importance of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and boating, not only as leisure pursuits but also as key economic drivers in the region.
Recognizing the importance of this sector, both federal and state initiatives have been implemented to support and enhance outdoor recreation in Arizona. For instance, Arizona State Parks and Trails received a six-million-dollar investment from the Department of Interior in 2023, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This funding aims to improve park and trail facilities, including ADA accessibility upgrades, and to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for tribes and underserved communities. Additionally, Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at boosting Arizona’s outdoor recreational tourism industry.
The legislation focuses on protecting critical jobs in the sector, particularly in outfitting and guiding services, and addresses the unique working conditions in this industry. Notably, Arizona’s outdoor recreation is a $21.2 billion industry, generating significant revenue and supporting numerous jobs, especially in rural communities.
Transportation in Arizona is undergoing significant changes and facing challenges, as indicated by recent data and developments. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has released its Final 2050 Long Range Transportation Plan, which outlines a vision for the state’s transportation system over the next 25 years. This plan updated every five years with public input, forecasts $69 billion in transportation revenues from 2026 to 2050, including federal and regional funds. However, it also projects transportation needs totaling $231 billion over the same period. Arizonans have expressed a clear preference for prioritizing the repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, as well as focusing on highway projects that accommodate growth and improve highways in rural areas.
In terms of safety, Arizona has experienced a concerning increase in traffic-related incidents. The number of crashes on state highways rose by 19.4% between 2021 and 2022, reaching 36,907 collisions.
These were primarily caused by speed, distracted driving, and unsafe lane changes. Additionally, 2022 was one of the deadliest years on Arizona’s roads, with traffic fatalities continuing to rise annually since 2019.
The total number of traffic fatalities in 2022 was the second-highest ever recorded in the state, with pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorcyclist deaths all showing increases from the previous year. This alarming trend emphasizes the need for improved safety measures and responsible driving behavior to prevent crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
Arizona’s cuisine is a vibrant and diverse tapestry, reflecting the state’s rich cultural history and its natural resources. Iconic dishes like the chimichanga and prickly pear fruit dishes showcase the blend of Native American, Mexican, and American influences that define Arizona’s culinary scene.
The chimichanga, a deep-fried burrito, is a subject of local lore with multiple origin stories. Some claim it was first created in Phoenix at Macayo’s Mexican restaurant, while others trace its roots to Tucson.
The state also takes pride in its unique ingredients. Mesquite flour, derived from the pods of the mesquite tree, is a sweet, nutty ingredient used in a variety of baked goods. Prickly pear, another local staple, is incorporated into drinks, candies, and syrups, adding a distinctive sweet and tart flavor to Arizona’s culinary offerings.
Sonoran hot dogs, a local twist on the American classic, reflect the fusion of American and Mexican flavors.
Wrapped in bacon and loaded with beans, onion, tomato, mayo, mustard, and jalapeño salsa, these hot dogs have become a celebrated part of Arizona’s street food culture. They were even recognized with a James Beard Award, attesting to their iconic status.
In addition to these distinct dishes, Arizona’s culinary landscape is further enriched by its Native American heritage. Foods like piki bread, a traditional unleavened bread made by the Hopi people, and Navajo tacos, which use fry bread in place of tortillas, offer a glimpse into the state’s deep-rooted cultural traditions.
9. Safety and Healthcare
The state of health and healthcare in Arizona presents both challenges and growth opportunities. In 2021, heart disease was the top cause of death in Arizona, with an age-adjusted death rate of 158.3 per 100,000 residents, which is lower than the overall rate in the United States.
However, Arizona’s life expectancy in 2020 was slightly lower than the national average, with a newborn expected to live 76.3 years.
Arizona’s healthcare sector is a significant part of its economy, comprising between 10-20% of the state’s total economy. The sector is expected to grow about 50% faster than the overall state economy in the coming years.
This growth is driven by Arizona’s aging population, with a significant proportion of residents being 65 years and older. However, this demographic shift also presents challenges, as it requires a corresponding growth in the healthcare workforce and managing increasing healthcare demands.
Concerning mental health, Arizona faces challenges with rising rates of frequent mental health distress, especially among lower-income residents.
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 2021 showed that just over 15% of Arizonans reported frequent mental health distress. This rate is slightly higher than the national average, with a marked difference in mental health distress based on income levels.
Additionally, Arizona is facing a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially in rural areas. Expanding medical residency training programs in these areas is seen as a key strategy to address this gap. There is a tendency for physicians to practice near where they complete their residency, making it crucial to establish more residency programs, particularly in underserved rural regions.
Moreover, the state’s hospitals have room for improvement in patient safety scores. According to a report by the Leapfrog Group, Arizona ranks 44th in the nation for average patient safety scores in its hospitals. Only 10% of the state’s hospitals earned an “A” grade in the 2023 report, compared to 29% nationwide.
10. Real Estate
The real estate market in Arizona has experienced some notable fluctuations as of late. In the third quarter of 2023, home sale prices in Arizona saw a modest rise of 1.9% compared to the third quarter of 2022 but were 2.2% lower than in the second quarter of the same year. The average sale price was reported to be $596,465. These changes in sale prices varied across different counties, with Yavapai County witnessing a significant 24.3% increase, while prices in Pinal and Maricopa Counties saw declines.
This variation in prices is attributed to factors such as higher mortgage rates and decreasing affordability. It’s interesting to note that while list prices have lowered and mortgage rates have risen substantially, it’s unlikely that prices will see significant increases for the remainder of the year.
In Phoenix, a key area in the Arizona real estate market, home prices fell by 2.1% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year. This decline in home prices is a response to several market dynamics, including elevated mortgage rates and low inventory levels.
Despite the increase in mortgage rates, which are significantly higher than they were two years ago, the median single-family home price of existing homes sold was down by only 1.4% in March from the previous year. This data indicates that the rise in mortgage rates has had a more pronounced impact on the number of homes sold than on prices.
In conclusion, the decision to relocate to Arizona encapsulates a remarkable array of opportunities and experiences, appealing to diverse needs and interests.
The state, celebrated for its varied climate, robust economic landscape, and rich cultural and outdoor activities, caters to a wide spectrum of preferences. Whether the motivation behind the move is career advancement, educational opportunities, or simply a desire for a new setting, Arizona’s dynamic environment is poised to provide an enriching and fulfilling experience.
Interestingly, movers in Mesa, Arizona have observed a growing trend of families choosing Chandler as their new home. This preference is largely attributed to Chandler’s enticing culinary scene and the plethora of activities it offers, making it an especially appealing destination for family-oriented movers.
These insights, along with the ten essential facts about Arizona, barely scratch the surface of what the state has to offer, suggesting that relocating to Arizona, and particularly to a city like Chandler, is indeed an adventure worth exploring.