What's it like to live in Tucson, AZ?

William Brown

Profile written by local expert:

William Brown

Tucson is an example of how a place can be constantly transforming without losing sight of its roots. A sprawling metro area in southern Arizona, Tucson started small and expanded into the empty space around it, drawing new residents with its low cost of living and its nationally recognized university. Yet there are still visible reminders of the region's rich history, from a statue of Father Kino, founder of a nearby Spanish mission, to Sentinel Peak (known as A Mountain), the site of the Native American village from which Tucson derives its name.  

Although more than a million people live in the Tucson metro area, everyone seems to know – or know of – everyone else. People from all walks of life can be found here, and their cultures have left an impression on Tucson. Thanks to the large Latino community, holidays like Dia de los Muertos are observed here, which you may not see in other parts of the country.

But perhaps the best part of Tucson is its scenery. The metro area is ringed by mountain ranges that emphasize the great desert skies and sunsets that continuously impress even the most seasoned residents.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Tucson, Arizona is ranked:

#76 in Best Places to Live

#57 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Tucson, AZ Quick Stats

  • 1,007,257

    Metro Population

  • $46,140

    Average Annual Salary

  • 83.1° / 55.7°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 38.2

    Median Age

  • $203,458

    Median Home Price

  • 11.6 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.4%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $861

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Tucson, AZ?

There is much to do in Tucson. Outdoor activities range from hiking to golf to ballgames. For those more interested in indoor activities, there are malls, movie theaters and art galleries, and Tucson's dining scene is flush with authentic Mexican eateries. Hot spots in the nightclub scene include 4th Avenue and Congress Street, particularly on the weekends.

The appeal of the Tucson metro area is not limited to the city proper. North of Tucson is Mount Lemmon, where residents often ski in the winter. To the east and west are the two halves of Saguaro National Park, where hiking trails are abundant. South of central Tucson on Native American land, there are casinos for those who enjoy gambling.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Tucson, AZ

What's the cost of living in Tucson, AZ?

The median sale price for a home in Tucson is slightly below the national median. New housing developments continue to spring up in more suburban areas, which helps keep housing costs down. Daily expenses, such as groceries and transportation, are lower than what residents of other major metro areas pay. However, Tucson residents tend to earn less than the average American.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.2 /10

How we calculate this.

Tucson offer a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Tucson, AZ.

What's the weather like in Tucson, AZ?

There are those who say a dry heat is better than humid heat; if you move to Tucson, you will have a chance to decide for yourself. The summer can be punishing, with highs in the triple digits and monsoonal rain storms sweeping through the region. A boon to those who would move here are the mild winters.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

0.9 in


0.7 in


2.4 in


1.3 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Tucson, AZ?

There are a lot of ways to get around Tucson, but given the way the metro area is spread out, the fastest and most convenient form of transportation is by car. Sun Tran is Tucson's bus system and covers the city proper with a vast grid. New to Tucson is the Sun Link trolley system, which runs from the University of Arizona to downtown. Many people bike or walk around Tucson proper, either to save money or for exercise.

Tucson also has Greyhound bus and Amtrak train service, while Tucson International Airport, or TIA, connects the city to the rest of the world. TIA handles an more than 3 million passengers annually. The Arizona Shuttle transports Tucson residents to the airport as well as to other cities in the state, such as Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Commuting in Tucson, AZ

Means of Transportation
Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

24.5 minutes

1.9 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Tucson, AZ?

Tucson's population runs the spectrum from young to old, with people moving here not just from around the country, but around the world. The population feels younger thanks to the large number of students attending The University of Arizona. But the region's popularity as a retirement destination brings the average age up to 38. Tucson is also home to a large number of military members and their families, as Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is located here.

Tucson is a melting pot of cultures, with Hispanic communities lending their way of life and traditions to the metro area. A variety of places to worship, including churches and synagogues, can be found in the city. You will also find Native Americans practicing their beliefs here, with thousands living in Tucson and Native American reservations nearby.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

More single people in Tucson than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.