City Guide / Phoenix

The 12 Best Cities to Retire in Arizona

By Jill Schildhouse | Dec 21, 2022
Sedona is one of the best cities to retire in Arizona.

From its lakes, valleys, rivers, deserts, and even snow-capped mountains, Arizona has it all. It’s no wonder that retiring in Arizona is such a popular choice, because there’s literally something for everybody in the Grand Canyon State. The area’s warm weather, beautiful scenery, and lower cost of living also make it an easy option among retirees.

Whether you prefer large cities or small towns, want to enjoy the fresh mountain air or swim in the winter months, here are the 12 best cities to retire in Arizona, including:

  1. Phoenix
  2. Scottsdale
  3. Sun City
  4. Sedona
  5. Show Low
  6. Tucson
  7. Mesa
  8. Flagstaff
  9. Prescott
  10. Cottonwood
  11. Green Valley
  12. Casa Grande

Let’s get started!

1. Phoenix

The lights of downtown Phoenix office buildings are reflected in the waters of the Encanto Park lagoon.

Some of the state’s most popular retirement communities—including Sun City, Sun City West, Litchfield Park, and Cave Creek—are close to the state capital of Phoenix, making it a great place to retire if you still want to be relatively close to the action.

Phoenix is home to numerous art galleries, boutique shops, and celebrity chefs with award-winning restaurants. There are also plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy, including hiking trails and championship golf courses. Phoenix is also a short drive to the neighboring cities of Tempe, Mesa, and Scottsdale, so you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore. And finally, Phoenix is where you’ll find most of the state’s professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the MLB’s Diamondbacks, and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

2. Scottsdale

Scottsdale Arizona Waterfront Canal Scene

If you want access to a resort-style town with every amenity under the sun, then the best place to retire in Arizona is Scottsdale. This suburb of Phoenix is known for its lavish lifestyle and endless entertainment options, from five-star resorts and spas to championship golf courses and fine dining. There’s also an abundance of outdoor adventures in Scottsdale, including:

  • Kayaking the Lower Salt River
  • Hiking the iconic Camelback Mountain at sunrise
  • Exploring the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve
  • Mountain biking through desert trails

Scottsdale covers a large area, and each neighborhood offers something different—including unique landscapes, as some areas are more desert-like, while others feature mature trees and grass. Here are some popular neighborhoods in Scottsdale for retirees:

  • DC Ranch: This affluent community up north offers miles of walking paths and sits at the foot of the beautiful McDowell Mountains.
  • Old Town Scottsdale: This walkable downtown area is filled with myriad boutiques, museums, and art galleries, along with a very lively Entertainment District filled with bars and clubs.
  • The Shea Corridor: Located in Central Scottsdale, this area offers easy access to the whole city, yet you’ll feel miles from city life with its easy access to the outdoors, including its parks, dog parks, and greenbelt.

3. Sun City

arial view of sun city arizona

When it comes to retiring in Arizona, Sun City is often a top consideration. This city does a great job of fostering an active and close-knit community for its 40,000 residents (of which the average age is 73 years). This master-planned paradise began in 1960 and was dedicated to creating an enriching and leisurely lifestyle for active adults.

Within Sun City’s 14.8 square miles, you’ll find:

  • Two manmade lakes where you can kayak and fish
  • Eight golf courses
  • Multiple recreation centers with swimming pools and gyms
  • Sports amenities such as pickleball and lawn bowling
  • Miniature golf courses
  • Two bowling centers
  • Bocce, tennis, and basketball courts
  • Games like darts, billiards, and indoor shuffleboard
  • Walking tracks

With so much going on, it’s absolutely impossible to get bored here, and you’ll have plenty of options for different ways to spend your days. Sun City also makes it easy to make new friends with similar interests by joining your neighbors at one of its numerous clubs, including a garden club, a vintage vehicle club, and a sportsman club.

Sun City also hosts a seasonal farmers market for convenient shopping and is home to other essentials like grocery shops, hardware stores, clothing shops, and pharmacies. No car? No worries! Many residents use golf carts as an easy and economical mode of transportation.

4. Sedona

Sedona, Arizona, USA downtown and mountains.

Located in the northern Verde Valley region of Arizona, Sedona is a great city to consider if you’re looking for moderate temperatures, since it sits at a higher elevation than Phoenix. This small city is a popular destination among active adults, with many opportunities to go hiking, cycling, or off-roading. It also attracts those drawn to spiritual exploration and healing, from meditation tours among the vortices to crystal work.

Sedona is known for its festivals, boutiques, and New Age shops, along with its spectacular sunsets reflecting of its iconic red rocks. And, with the city’s many art galleries, and thriving arts community, it’s clear why it’s one of the best places to retire in Arizona.

5. Show Low

Aerial view of mountain terrain lake. Show Low Lake. Show Low, Arizona, USA.

Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside are two rustic and charming towns located in the White Mountains of Arizona on the eastern part of the state near the border of New Mexico. Show Low happens to hold the title of one of the fastest-growing cities in northern Arizona, making it a great place for retirees. Weather is a major factor in its popularity, as Show Low sits at 6,300 feet and experiences all four seasons.

If you want to spend your retirement outdoors, Show Low is the place to do it. There is no shortage of opportunities to go hunting, fishing, camping, cross-country skiing, hiking, and biking, with over 200 trails of interconnecting, multi-use trail loops. Love pine trees? Show Low has the largest forest of Ponderosa pine trees in the U.S., and you’ll see these glorious towering trees everywhere.

6. Tucson

Tucson, Arizona, USA downtown skyline with Sentinel Peak at dusk. (Mountaintop

Looking to spend your retirement amid spectacular mountain views? Tucson comprises the Tucson Mountain District and the Ricon Mountain District, and its proximity to these mountain ranges offers stunning scenery and picturesque sunsets. To the east and west of town, you’ll find Saguaro National Park, home to hundreds of miles of trails and the nation’s largest cacti.

Retirees love Tucson’s many museums, botanical gardens and desert museum, zoo, and historic sites. There is even a thriving nightlife scene for those who want to spend their evenings out on the town!

7. Mesa

Landscape photograph taken at sunset from Brown Mountain looking at the Superstition Mountains in Mesa, Arizona.

There’s plenty to see and do in the East Valley, so add Mesa to your list of the best places to retire in Arizona. This city boasts 330 days of sunshine a year and is close to several lakes and the Salt River. You can spend your days enjoying lake cruises or escaping the dry heat of summer at a local water park.

Mesa is also a haven for sports fans. In the spring, you’ll find over 200 Major League spring training games played in 30 days, and there are 100 golf courses within 20 miles of Mesa’s city center. If you’re an active adult who loves to golf, you’ll love having multiple options to choose from when you want to play a round.

Foodies also rejoice over Mesa’s Fresh Foodie Trail, which hosts cuisine from the area’s many farms and agritourism attractions.

8. Flagstaff

Flagstaff main square with pueblo house in Arizona

Located in northern Arizona, Flagstaff boasts Arizona’s highest mountain, Humphreys Peak. Much of the year, the top is covered in snow, a welcome sight in a state known for its desert landscape (Arizona Snowbowl is located on the western slope!). Flagstaff is the perfect spot for retirees who love the snow and want to spend their winter months pursuing outdoor activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing.

Flagstaff’s cooler temperatures also make it great for people who don’t want to retire in a hot city—summertime is beautiful, and many sweltering Arizonans from southern cities visit to escape the sweltering heat. It also offers breathtaking mountain scenery and local hiking trails that locals love.

9. Prescott

Sunset after late summer storm at Lake Watson, Prescott, Arizona with golden rocks over still blue skies with sky reflection

The Wild West is still alive and well in Prescott. This town in northern Arizona is where legendary cowboys such as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday whooped it up in the saloons on Whiskey Row and is home to the oldest annual continuously running rodeo (which started in 1888). At an elevation of 5,200 feet, this area offers scenery ranging from lakes and pine forests to granite boulders and rolling meadows. Locals also love its mild year-round weather.

Spend your free time joining the city’s monthly art walks and visiting Prescott’s microbreweries, distilleries, and restaurants, enjoying live music, line-dancing, and doing karaoke at the Whiskey Row saloons. Even though it has a small-town feel, Prescott also features all your major shopping retailers. And, when you want to venture out, you’re only two hours from Phoenix and a short drive to Sedona and Jerome.

10. Cottonwood

An overlooking landscape view of Cottonwood, Arizona

Who doesn’t want to spend their retirement enjoying good wine? Welcome to Cottonwood, a northern Arizona city in the heart of wine country. The 10 stops along the Verde Valley Wine Trail will delight wine enthusiasts interested in the history and production of Arizona wines.

In walkable Old Town Cottonwood, you’ll find seven wine-tasting rooms alongside art galleries, modern boutiques, antique shops, and tempting restaurants. There’s also plenty to keep you busy beyond Main Street, including state parks with hiking and biking trails, walking paths, and fishing holes. Overall, Cottonwood features a close community feel and mild weather every season, making it a massively popular place for retirees.

11. Green Valley

Scenic view of Green Valley Arizona during sunrise with sun rays and clouds.

Just 20 miles south of Tucson (and only 40 miles from the Mexico border) sits Green Valley, a charming town that’s known statewide as a retirement community. This area is one of the best retirement places in Arizona because of its abundant sunshine, affordable homes, and proximity to Tucson for larger-city amenities.

For retirees looking to hit the links, there are several public golf courses in town. Yearning for more culture and entertainment? Green Valley’s Community Performance & Art Center. offers concerts and live theater productions alongside art exhibitions.

Cycling is a popular pastime in the historic Santa Cruz River Valley due to its spectacular desert landscape and sparse traffic. Mountain bikers will appreciate being close to some great trails ranging from beginner to advanced. It’s also easy to find a sense of community in Green Valley at the local library, perusing the weekly farmers market, or by joining other bird-watching enthusiasts in town.

12. Casa Grande

A long slender Saguaro Cactus in Casa Grande, Arizona

Can’t decide between Phoenix and Tucson? Split the middle, literally, by retiring in Casa Grande. Located halfway between these two large cities, Casa Grande is an Arizona city that’s been growing each year. The historic downtown area is one of the state’s most charming Main Street scenes, with more than 40 buildings on the national and local historic registers. For a touch of new-world amenities, you’ll find plenty of major retailers and chain restaurants alongside local eateries and shops.

There are nearly 60,000 full-time residents who keep busy by:

  • Golfing
  • Visiting the area’s various parks and open spaces
  • Hanging out at the dog park
  • Hiking and mountain biking the Casa Grande Mountain trails system
  • Exploring the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • Participating in the many year-round events, from fairs and festivals to car shows and Cowboy Days

Looking to kick-start your retirement in Arizona?

If you’re looking for the best places to retire in Arizona, Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need to start the next stage of your life with a splash! Browse our available apartments, or contact us to learn more about how a Landing works.

Jill Schildhouse

Jill Schildhouse is an award-winning writer and editor who's been covering travel, health and wellness, and beauty, for more than 20 years. She regularly contributes to Travel + Leisure, Brides, TripSavvy, Insider, Reader's Digest and more. Jill is based in Phoenix, has traveled to 36 countries, and has 17k followers on Instagram.