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Affordable Snowbird Destinations in Arizona

Arizona is a snowbird hot spot because you can find locations with warm and dry winters, natural beauty, and endless outdoor activities.

As the sixth-largest U.S. state and one of the most popular for U.S. and Canadian snowbirds, you'll have plenty of destinations to pick from in Arizona.

Depending on which “Grand Canyon State” location you choose, sunseekers can enjoy daily high temperatures in the low 60s to mid 80s during winter months.

It'll likely rain for at least a few days here and there, and some of the “white stuff” may mix in if you venture to the northern regions of Arizona.

If snowbirding on a budget is important to you, finding an affordable place to live in Arizona may be more of a challenge than in other popular snowbird destinations, including Texas, New Mexico, and Florida.

Many of the major cities in Arizona have a cost of living averages higher than the national average. Some even have a cost of living average that's 10-30% higher than other similar size cities in the U.S.

But we'll help you locate areas in Arizona where you can enjoy the snowbird lifestyle and still aim to keep your expenses in check.

Related Readings:

arizona city in foreground with mountains in background at sunset

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Using Cost of Living Data to Find Affordable Locations In Arizona

To limit what you spend as a snowbird, comparing the cost of living data from different areas in the state you are looking to travel to is helpful.

While your expenses may not double as snowbirds, you want to avoid inflating your lifestyle and taking on debt.

Using the Salary.com cost of living calculator is one way to narrow down destinations in Arizona that offer a good quality of life at an affordable price compared to national averages.

The following expense categories that are common to everyone are used to determine the Salary.com cost of living (CoL) index:

  1. housing
  2. food
  3. healthcare
  4. transportation
  5. energy

Local salary data is also used for various locations so that cost of living estimates are more precise.

The Most Affordable Cities in Arizona

When you compare the cost of living in a few of the major cities in Arizona with national averages, you'll find that they are somewhat less expensive.

There are three metropolitan areas and more than 60 smaller cities and towns with a cost of living 3-4% below national averages. Here, snowbirds can enjoy some of the most budget-friendly destinations in Arizona.

The list starts with a city with the lowest cost of living based on Salary.com data.

1. Sierra Vista

With a population of around 45,000, Sierra Vista is a smaller city that may be very attractive for snowbirds.

Located south and east of Tucson, Sierra Vista is near the Mexican border. At an elevation of over 4,600 feet, Sierra Vista is surrounded by the Dragoon, Mule, Whetstone, and Huachuca Mountains.

Some of the top attractions in the area include the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, Brown's Canyon Ranch and Trail, Coronado National Memorial, and more.

You can also enjoy strolling through the Sierra Vista Farmer's Market every Thursday near Veteran's Memorial Park.

While you may think being near the Mexico border means winters with really warm weather, the elevation keeps Sierra Vista on the cooler side from November through March. You'll enjoy highs in the low 60s to 70s and only a couple of days of rain each month.

You can learn more about this southern Arizona city and all it offers at Visit Sierra Vista.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Sierra Vista is 4.2% lower than the national average.

2. Lake Havasu City

While not a huge metropolis, Lake Havasu City's population is around 58,000.

In Lake Havasu City, you'll enjoy many of the same opportunities in a major urban area while avoiding some of what turns people off about big cities.

Located in western Arizona, Lake Havasu City is on the California border. Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Phoenix, and San Bernadino are all within a few hours' drive from Lake Havasu City.

In addition to spending time at or on Lake Havasu, some of the top attractions in the area include London Bridge, Lake Havasu Museum of History, and Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge.

You can also enjoy hiking and recreation activities in various parks, including Lake Havasu State Park, Rotary Community Park, Sara Park, and more.

For those who love the outdoors, temperatures are in the mid-60s to upper 70s, with just a few days of rain during the winter months in Lake Havasu City.

You can learn more about “Arizona's Playground” and all it offers at Go Lake Havasu.

According to Salary.com, Lake Havasu City's cost is 3.4% lower than the national average.

3. Tucson

Tucson is the largest city on our list, with a population of over 540,000.

A major metropolitan area, Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona, behind Phoenix. It's located in the southeastern region and is home to the University of Arizona.

Some of the top attractions in the area include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Saguaro National Park, and Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

You can also enjoy a show at the Gaslight Theater or the sights along the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway.

Temperatures in this popular destination are ideal during the snowbird season. Highs reach the upper 60s to mid-70s, with a couple of days of rain each month.

You can learn more about this Arizona city and all it offers at Visit Tucson.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Tucson is 3.2% lower than the national average.

Smaller Arizona Locations With Lower Than National Average Cost of Living

arizona mountain scenery

While there are only a few large cities to make the “more affordable” list in Arizona, there are dozens of places where you might find reasonably priced snowbird communities.

As you search maps of Arizona to find winter destinations, see if the location you're considering made the list.

AmadoDouglasHuachuca CityOatmanSahuarita
ArivacaDragoonHualapaiOracleSaint David
BensonDuncanKingmanPatagonia San Manuel
BisbeeEdenLittlefieldPeach Springs San Simon
Bullhead CityEloyMaranaPicacho Sells
BylasFort HuachucaMcNealPima Solomon
CatalinaFort MohaveMeadviewPirtleville Temple Bar Marina
CentralFort ThomasMohave ValleyPomereneThatcher
ChlorideGreen ValleyMorenciRed RockTombstone
CochiseHackberryMount LemmonRillitoTopawa
CortaroHaydenNacoRio RicoTopock
Dolan SpringsHerefordNogalesSaffordTumacacori

Snowbirding in Arizona Affordably

Only a few of the larger cities in Arizona made the list of cheaper snowbird destinations. But there are plenty of smaller cities and towns with lower cost-of-living data for you to consider.

Arizona is a favorite destination for snowbirds for several reasons. Mild winters and a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities are the perfect combination to allow you to continue an active lifestyle.

You'll also enjoy the beautiful scenery as you travel and experience culturally diverse settings in Arizona.

When you can save money in a lower cost of living area for the winter season, you can spend more freely on the things you enjoy.

While you may not be able to walk miles of sandy beaches, you can get out the golf clubs, play some pickleball, or simply enjoy a slower pace of life in your warmer climate.

If you are familiar with the region, what would you consider your favorite snowbird destinations in Arizona? Are there affordable snowbird hotspots we should know about? Where would you avoid going during snowbird season in the Grand Canyon State?


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