Moving from California to Arizona – A Detailed Guide

Full article 15 min read

California is a pretty amazing place to live in. Tourism and the tech industry rules the economy of this state. But the high cost of living makes California bleed severely. If that’s bothering you and you’re looking out for a better/more affordable alternative, consider Arizona as one of your potential moves. It’s affordable and the opportunities are numerous.

Let us chronologically go step-by-step through all the qualities of Arizona. Review all the aspects and then make a decision.


Things You Should Know About Before Moving From California To Arizona


Arizona loses a couple of points to California on the comfort index. This is due to Arizona’s scorching summer heat. The average high temperatures in California during summer range between 82°F to 88°F. The climate is temperate and people enjoy picnicking at the Yosemite National Park area, or the Channel Islands National.

However, the average high temperature in Arizona is between 81°F to 112°F. In the southern parts of the desert (where the city of Yuma is located), temperatures can even go beyond 120°F. If you’re moving during this time, carry sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, and wear light-colored clothes. Thunderstorms usually hit Arizona in July, so check weather forecasts.

Winter is a whole different affair in Arizona. Temperatures vary between 17°F to 70°F during this period making the climate bearable. January receives immense snowfall, but it is balanced by the warm heat during the day. This makes January the most ideal month for snow lovers and for those who enjoy the sun. Northern Arizona is an ideal skiing destination as snowfall can be as much as 60 inches. On the other hand, winter is temperate in California with temperatures ranging between 54°F to 70°F.

Key Points About Arizona’s Weather

  • Summers can get pretty hot, especially in the southern part of Arizona. Invest in a good air conditioning system or get roasted! It is better not to move out during this period, but if you have to, carry sunscreen and wear light-colored clothing.
  • Winters are more moderate than summers. This is in fact the most ideal time to move to Arizona.
  • Beware of heatwaves during the peak summer season (June to August).

Cost of Living

Let’s face it: moving is an expensive affair. On top of moving costs, you’ll have to add the affordability of your new state. There’s good news for those moving from California to Arizona! Arizona is 18% cheaper than California. This all goes to the housing rates in Arizona. Due to the change in demographics and geographical location, housing in Arizona is a whopping 71% cheaper than in California. As a result, rent in Arizona is 40% less than in California.

StateMedian Home ValueAverage Market Rent Per Month


When it comes to taxes, Arizona is 13% less than California. The base sales tax in California is capped at 7.25% whereas the rate in Arizona is just 5.60%. Hence, appliances and gadgets are more expensive in California than in Arizona. You’ll have some money in your pocket as the state income tax rate in Arizona is set at 4.50% as compared to California’s 13.3%.

Property taxes in both states are below the national average, but Arizonians enjoy an even lower rate of 0.62% while in California, it is 0.73%.

Fond of long drives? Then Arizona is the place to be as the fuel tax is about 50% less than in California.


If you could get by comfortably in California, you’d be living a life of luxury in Arizona. You’ll have to spend 19% less on everyday items in Arizona than in California. A dozen eggs ($3.09), around a pound of chicken ($10.47), and a pound of apples ($4.39) would cost close to $18 totally in California whereas the same would cost $15 in Arizona (a dozen eggs= $2.34, a pound of chicken= $9.09, a pound of apples= $3.58).


Only utilities in Arizona are a bit costlier than in California. An average Arizonian pays $134.18 per month whereas a Californian spends $128.05. Roughly, this is a 5% difference in California’s favor.


The Economy

Arizona and California have huge economies, but of course California is miles ahead on that count. California’s GDP stands at $2.98 trillion while Arizona rakes in $320 billion. The stats do prove that Arizona’s economy is much smaller than that of California, but that does not mean Arizona has no job growth. Mining and manufacturing comprise a major part of Arizona’s GDP. Copper is the most mined and exported mineral from this state. When it comes to manufacturing, Arizona is the leading distributor of computer, electronic, and transportation equipment. Tourism is another facet that streams in income to Arizona especially during the winter. With such a choice, you’re bound to earn a good living. These are some of the top-paying industries in Arizona.

OccupationTypical Annual Salary
Business & Finance$64,473

Arizona’s median household income is considerably lower than that of California’s. But the lower cost of living in Arizona makes up for its rather low incomes!

StateMedian Household Income

To live in Arizona, you need to earn at least $31,077 per annum, considering you do not have children or extra members to take care of. On the other hand, if you are a family of four with both spouses working, an annual income of $81,152 would suffice.

Getting Around In Arizona

There are various modes of transport in Arizona, but they are a bit far-fetched. Instead, people prefer driving as the state is quite big and navigating through some remote parts is far more accessible. If you plan on getting around by bus in Arizona, you should know that the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas are the major hubs from where bus public transportation begins. Greyhound Line is your best bet to travel intercity. If you plan an out-of-state commute, the Navajo Transit System from Flagstaff connects to New Mexico and Window Rock.

Talking about rail transportation, Amtrak is your only viable option. The Southwest Chief and the Texas Eagle serve two routes nearly across every major city.

Also Read: Moving To Tucson, Arizona

What Makes Arizona Special?

  • Arizona’s booming economy has opened various prospects for all walks of life. You can get preferably any type of job you desire. The unemployment rate (6.6%) is lower than the rate in California (7.6%) as well.
  • Housing rates and taxes are much less in Arizona than in California as well. With affordable housing, people have fewer mortgages to pay.
  • Summers in Arizona can get harsh, but that is compensated by pleasant winters. Nevertheless, carry extra woolen clothing while heading out.

Read Also: Moving To Arizona – Relocation Guide

Top Places To Move To In Arizona


Known for its low crime rate and abundance of aesthetic beauty, Scottsdale is the perfect place for retirees or to raise a family. Residents here prefer a healthier lifestyle as you’ll see people biking and jogging along the pathways. Apart from that, Scottsdale has a variety of things to do and see like the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Butterfly Wonderland, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, and the Penske Racing Museum.

Median Home Value: $475,300

Median Rent: $1,365


Tempe has more of an outdoor scene. If camping, hiking, and kayaking are your sources of adventure, then Tempe Town Lake and Kiwanis Park will serve you best. Heading towards downtown, you’ll find a variety of eateries with ethnic foods, shopping stalls, and malls. Also, the nightlife is vibrant as well. With the influx of youngsters flooding Arizona State University, you can be sure of feeling a few years younger.

Median Home Value: $272,900

Median Rent: $1,164


By far, the third-largest city of the state, Mesa offers ample numerous opportunities for all walks of life. The employment opportunities are vast and the schools are top-notch for those who want to start their education. The proximity of stores and eat-outs makes Mesa even more appealing. If you’re an admirer of the arts, head over to the Mesa Art League, Artists Cooperative Gallery, and the Millet House Art Collective.

Median Home Value: $226,500

Median Rent: $1,044


The capital city of Arizona is voted as the most livable city for various reasons. The public transportation system is efficient, and its communities are interconnected. It can get sunny on some days, but these days can be spent hiking at Tom’s Thumb Trail or Pinnacle Peak. Downtown Phoenix has a bustling nightlife, a medical school, and a university as well.

Median Home Value: $235,400

Median Rent: $1,053


See Also: Moving To Phoenix – Relocation Guide

Some Points To Think About When Moving From California To Arizona

  • Moving interstate is a tedious affair; you need proper planning and organizing to get things done on time. Hence, prepare an inventory some months before your move. List out all the items that you need or don’t need. That way, you’ll not panic or stress at the time of the move. All the details will be at a glance and the chances of missing anything out are slim.
  • Before getting a quotation, check if the moving company is affiliated with the government; see for insurance and registration. Numerous moving scams trick people into giving a down payment. Beware of such scams!
  • Driving from California to Arizona is roughly 12 hours. Flying will just take you 2 hours. We suggest doing the latter as you’ll save time and money altogether.
  • To further reduce costs, downsize your move. Take only items that are necessary for your move. If anything is going above your budget, sell it. It’s an efficient way to earn a bit of side income to spend on your new stay. Garage sales are the best way to get rid of unwanted items.
  • Make sure you file your documents in a cabinet; that includes passports, licenses, property papers, etc. You wouldn’t want to travel back to California because you had forgotten a legal document.

How Much Will It Cost To Move From California To Arizona?

Arizona is 736 miles from California via I-10 E. A long-distance move is going to be a bit pricey; therefore, do not settle for the first quote you get. Find 2 more movers and analyze their quotes, the packages offered, and discounts. Some moving companies have special bundles as well, so avail of those services. Ideally, try to move during the off-season as you’ll be able to save quite a bit of money.

Here’s an approximate breakdown of the cost of moving from California to Arizona:

Size Of The MoveMoving CompanyMoving ContainerFreight CompanyTruck Rental
1 bedroom$1,656-$2,603$1,520-$2,040$1,047-$1,490$890-$1,200
2-3 bedrooms$2,240-$3,802$2,260-$3,050$1,190-$1,690$1,047-$1,413

However, these prices do not include fuel costs and extra packages. Prices may vary according to those factors. The size, time, and location also play an important role in determining the cost as well.

Depending on your budget, you can do the following: you can hire a professional mover who will do the packing, plus the loading and loading for an extra fee. Some companies offer free junk removal as well, you’ll just have to ask. The other viable option is hiring a truck or a moving container to reduce costs. But all the hard work will have to be done by yourself. We suggest the former option as it saves time and energy.

Summing Up

Arizona is among the best states to move to in the U.S. where the cost of living is concerned. California gets easily hit by inflation due to production costs, which is really not easy on the pocket. On the other hand, Arizona will leave a significant amount of change for you to spend on other commodities and is tax-friendly. If this is what draws you, Arizona is your best match.

Also Read: Moving from California to Hawaii


How Much Does It Cost To Move From California To Arizona?

Excluding fuel costs, packages, and bundles, moving from California to Arizona will cost you between $2,304-$3,900. The size and location of the place affect the net price as well.

Is It More Expensive To Live In Arizona Than In California?

Arizona is a much cheaper place to live in than in California. From housing to groceries, everything is less expensive than in California. Only utilities in Arizona are slightly on the higher end compared to California.

Is Arizona A Good Place To Live In?

Arizona has a strong economy and a relatively low cost of living, which are among the most important prerequisites for moving to any place. The weather might be a bit too hot here, but the winters make up for it. On top of that, the neighborhoods in Arizona are clean, the people are generally friendly, and the schools have quality. So to put it shortly, yes, Arizona is a good place to live in!

Related: Moving from California to Texas | Moving from California to Colorado | Moving from California to Nevada

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.