If you’re on the hunt for a retirement destination and considering Arizona as one of your options, you might be doing some research about what it’s like to live there. However, there are several reasons that might ultimately make you not want to retire there at all.
Some of the reasons not to retire in Arizona include the heat and dryness, pests and dangerous animals, dust storms, and monsoon season. Other reasons are the lagged development of government infrastructure, high crime rates, people who flock there during winter, and the lack of public transport.
Are you thinking of retiring in Arizona? You may want to reconsider that. While many people hail Arizona as one of the best states to retire in, there are some things that you need to know before you decide to move there, and to help you, we will be discussing the top reasons why you shouldn’t retire in Arizona.
The Summers Are Extremely Hot and Dry
The number one reason you shouldn’t retire in Arizona is that it is swelteringly hot during the summer. It has been said many times that Arizona is “hot as hell,” and while that may not be entirely accurate, it comes pretty darn close. The temperatures during the summer months often reach well over 100℉ (38℃) and rarely dip below 70℉ (21℃), even in the wintertime.
Many people also claim that Arizona has five months of summer rather than the standard three months, starting in May and lasting until the end of September, which is almost half of the year! However, this does depend on where in Arizona you are thinking of retiring. The north of Arizona has a much more temperate climate than the south.
In addition to having scorching summer months, it is also a relatively dry place to live. Make no mistake; you won’t shrivel up like a raisin, the humidity level in Arizona is actually pretty high enough for people to live in (at about 60%).
Still, it is something that you need to think about if you currently live somewhere where the air is more humid. The heat of summer can also make the air feel drier than it really is. Still, it is drier than most places.
Lastly, summer isn’t the only time of the year when Arizona is warmer than other states. The winter months are also not exactly what one might call cold. Again, this is dependent on where you live, as northern Arizona does have closer to ‘normal’ winter weather.
The temperatures in Arizona are comparable to those in California and Florida, though both of those states have a higher humidity index.
The hotter and drier climate will also require you to up your intake of water and water-containing foods to keep yourself adequately hydrated—and don’t even get us started on the air conditioning bills that come in at the end of the month. Nonetheless, if you’re not someone who likes warmer weather, Arizona is definitely not the place for you.
Pests Are Roaming Around
If you decide to retire in Arizona, you should also be prepared to have pest control services on speed dial. You may be able to escape the mosquitos that like to live in more humid climates by moving to the desert, but in their place, you’ll encounter some other equally annoying bugs.
Cockroaches, scorpions, and termites are just some of the bugs that like to frequent the desert because they like the heat and low humidity, and they can become quite a nuisance if they happen to breed near where you live. Not to mention that they could do some damage to your precious abode.
Many of the Arizona communities where retirees live have been built on land where these bugs used to live and may come back to live in the future, and when they do, they will end up using your house as a convenience store. For this reason, you’ll also need to be extra careful not to leave any food lying around outside, and make sure that you close the garbage bin’s lid properly every time.
You’ll also need to be aware of pack rats, especially if your car isn’t parked in an indoor garage, as they quite like chewing wires and could cause your car a lot of damage if they can get to its wires.
Most people who live in Arizona have to regularly hire a pest control service to keep these critters under control, and you’ll have to do the same if you decide to retire there.
Not only is it bothersome to be thinking about the pests around your house on a daily basis when you actually had moved there with the intention of relaxing, but the bills from the pest control service can start to rack up, too. If you don’t have a nest egg tucked away and live on your social security check, that extra expense is something you don’t want to have.
So, if pests aren’t your thing and you don’t have the funds to get other people to deal with them for you, Arizona shouldn’t be your chosen retirement destination.
There Are Dangerous Animals
Snakes, scorpions, and spiders—you name them, Arizona’s probably got them, and because it’s so hot outside, they’d all like to come to live in your house with you. Is that too much to ask? While you’re not going to run into any bears in the desert, there are still some dangerous animals you’ll need to watch out for.
Perhaps some of the most dangerous creatures living in Arizona are Africanized bees. These insects have been known to attack people in a “killer swarm” if they are threatened or if their habitat is invaded. Being attacked by a swarm of these bees can be detrimental (and sometimes even fatal) to humans.
Another thing you’ll find creeping around the Arizona deserts is the Gila Monster. The Gila Monster is a rather sizable venomous lizard native to the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Though it is venomous, and its bite is painful, Gila monsters have not caused any people’s deaths.
You’ll also need to be cautious of the scorpions you might find on your way to the toilet at night, several snake species, like rattlesnakes and coral snakes, and the occasional poisonous spider. If you think you’d like to go on a leisurely evening stroll once the sun has set, be on the lookout for the giant desert centipede, bobcats, and coyotes.
It May Not Be Safe if You Have Small Pets
As we just mentioned, bobcats and coyotes like to roam around the desert state of Arizona, and if you have a small pet, like a small dog breed or a cat, it may not be safe for them to roam around unattended. These predators will waste no time snatching up your beloved pet from your backyard if they are out there on their own for long enough.
Even if large dogs aren’t as likely to get dragged off by a wild animal, they might not be too jazzed about living in near-endless summer or inside an air-conditioned room for the rest of their lives.
If you can’t bear the thought of living without an animal companion, it would be best to adopt a pet that isn’t as affected by its external environment, like a goldfish or one of the hundreds of snakes that are likely to slither around your Arizona home.
Dust Storms and Monsoon Season
Monsoons in the desert? Who would’ve thought? Though it may not seem like this should be a concern for someone living in Arizona’s dry deserts, it is. The monsoon season in Arizona runs from early June through August and brings about brief but intense rainstorms with thunder and lightning. These storms can occasionally cause flash flooding and are something to get used to.
While they may provide some temporary relief from the heat of the summer, they might cause damage to your property and belongings if you aren’t prepared for them.
Because it doesn’t rain all that often in Arizona, the soil doesn’t soak up the water as readily as it does elsewhere, meaning that the roads and surrounding areas aren’t safe to drive on soon after the rain has cleared. You’ll likely be advised to stay home until the water has dissipated.
As if that’s not enough, the monsoons are often followed by a haboob, which is also known as a dust storm. These dust storms can be frightening to someone who has never experienced one. They look like a giant wall of dust and sand charging through the desert, and you definitely don’t want to be caught outside when there’s a haboob on the horizon.
These storms can also make quite an impact on your property as they bring with them high wind speeds and, not to mention, a lot of dust.
Once the monsoons and haboobs have moved on to greener pastures, guess who’ll be left behind to clean up the mess they’ve made. That’s right—you! The dust will leave no crack unfilled and might even get into your house if your doors and windows aren’t adequately sealed.
All in all, these summer storms will be adding a lot of work to your plate, and in turn, taking away from the precious time you could have spent practicing your swing on the golf course. So, if you’d rather swing than sweep, you’d be better off giving Arizona a pass, at least during storm season. If you want to come back for the not-so-cold winters, be our guest.
There Are Already a Lot of People Moving to Arizona
Arizona has been called one of the most cost-effective places to retire by more than a few people because retirees don’t pay any income tax on their social security checks. This had led to a flock of older people who live off of their social security moving to Arizona to save on taxes. Arizona is not the most populous state by a long shot, but it has its fair share of residents.
Like Phoenix or Tucson, the bigger cities have larger populations than the smaller towns surrounding them and can feel crowded to some people. However, if you don’t like living in or don’t need to live in a city, this shouldn’t be an issue for you.
Lagged Development and Sinking Pavement
As we mentioned previously, many seniors move to Arizona because of the tax exemptions they can get, but this has had a negative impact on the development of governmental infrastructure in the state. Seniors have been voting against many of these developments for years in order to avoid the increased tax rates that will come along with them.
The funds that these tax increases would have provided to the local government institutions would have helped with the development and upkeep of new and existing infrastructure across the state. This has left many industries behind the national standard, including roadways, the arts, education, and law enforcement, to name just a few.
There have been more than a few instances where these developmental hindrances have impacted the public, most notoriously the ‘sinking pavement.’ In the summer months, the pavement in a lot of the sunshine state goes soft from the sun’s heat and can lead to it ‘sinking in’ where there are heavy objects standing on it for extended periods of time.
Things like cars parked on the side of the street could cause pavement sinking, and over time this decreases the quality and strength of the road, which leads to potholes forming which can damage your vehicle if you aren’t careful in avoiding them.
The lack of funding for government infrastructure can also have long-term effects on the quality and efficiency of service delivery. It could also lead to a decrease in the quality of living throughout the state.
The economy is also heavily reliant on the construction and real estate industries for most of the state’s income and job opportunities. This means that as more buildings are built, the number of empty land decreases, and eventually, real estate prices will also increase.
If you are active and enjoy going on hikes or spending a quiet evening in nature every so often, it will become increasingly difficult to do so as time passes.
The increase in living costs could also cause you financial difficulty in the future, especially if you’re living solely off of your social security income.
High Crime Rates
Another reason you may not want to retire in Arizona is that it has quite a high crime rate. The crime rate in this state is higher than the national average. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s the same all throughout the state.
On the contrary, some parts of Arizona have very low or virtually no crime at all, but the higher crime rates in larger cities and pockets of cities contribute to a high average crime rate.
If you are considering retiring in Arizona, we’d suggest doing some research first about the crime rate in the area you are considering retiring in. You can also check which security measures are available to keep you safe, either in your neighborhood or the retirement village you want to move to.
Virtually everyone owns a gun, too, and many people carry them around everywhere they go. Not every one of those people intends to do harm with their guns. In fact, many of them carry them to be able to protect themselves from harm, but if the thought of being around people who carry weapons makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you should give Arizona a miss.
You Can’t Do Much Gardening
“Lawn” is a term that is used very loosely in Arizona, as what you’ll likely be seeing rather than lush green grass is a never-ending expanse of earth-colored rocks and dirt. So, if you were thinking of using your retirement as the perfect time to finally turn your brown thumb green, Arizona isn’t the place to do it.
The large oaks, palms, and colorful flowers you may encounter throughout the other states will be replaced by a plethora of cacti and palo verde trees in Arizona. So, unless you’re happy trading the monstera in your bedroom and the roses in your garden for cacti, cacti, and even more cacti, you might not enjoy tending to your new ‘backyard.’
Tending to plants and greenery can not only be a great new hobby to take up once you’re no longer working, but they can also help liven up the space they’re in and add a bit of freshness to the air. They also play an essential role in soil health and create ecosystems for animals and insects to live in.
Again, the north of Arizona may be more conducive to plant growth, but the variety of plants that you’ll be able to grow, even in the north, will be somewhat limited.
If you’re someone who likes to have plants in and around their home (and a variety of them, too), the plant-growing possibilities, or rather the lack thereof, of the Arizona desert may be enough to put you off from choosing this state as your retirement state.
It’s a Wintertime Escape State
We’ve already mentioned that Arizona’s weather doesn’t get much colder during winter, and while that may be an issue for some, other people love Arizona for this very reason. People from all over the country flock to Arizona during the winter months to escape their home states’ cold weather, which can lead to some overcrowding in certain areas.
These people are referred to as ‘snowbirds’ because of the fact that they all migrate away from colder weather in winter, just like most other migrating (and real) birds.
The influx of people during these months will mean that places will often be more populated, traffic will increase, and groceries and other amenities will become less available. Additionally, your favorite restaurant will be booked out, and you might not be able to get a seat in a stadium to watch the next big game.
All in all, running basic errands and trying to live your life like you usually do will become more tedious and will require more effort.
So, if you’re not up for that, you may want to opt for retiring elsewhere or going on holiday somewhere else during the winter to avoid the influx of people. However, this will increase your cost of living by quite a bit, so you might be better off retiring somewhere where this won’t be an issue.
Public Transport Is Somewhat Lacking
If you’re considering retiring in Arizona, you’ll need to be able to drive yourself to wherever you want to go. If you live in a more metropolitan area, this may not be as necessary. Still, even though public transport options are available in the more urban areas, they aren’t always reliable or convenient to use.
You may be able to use services like Uber or Lyft, but those services will end up costing you a pretty penny in the long run and may not be a sustainable mode of transport for a retiree for longer than a few months.
Without public transport, you are left to your own devices, and Phoenix specifically is rated as one of the worst cities in the U.S. in terms of walking to places. Other smaller cities and towns are more walkable, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
However, if you live in a rural area, public transport is pretty much non-existent. Buses, Ubers, Lyfts, and taxis are nowhere to be seen, except for the occasional cross-country transporter or tour bus. So, if there’s somewhere you need to go, you need to drive yourself there.
Once they reach retirement age, many people are no longer permitted to drive themselves around, whether it be due to significant vision or coordination loss, or sickness. It may also be that they just don’t want to drive anymore.
However, they still need to go to the grocery store for food or to the doctor’s office for a checkup. The lack of public transport in Arizona will only serve as a hindrance in that case.
If you don’t have any family or friends nearby to drive you to the places you want to go or the funds to pay for other means of transport for many years, Arizona is not the retirement destination for you.
The Positives to Living in Arizona
However, while there are many things that may stop you from retiring in Arizona, it isn’t all bad and has many great things to offer as well.
- Because of the number of retired people living in Arizona, the healthcare system is top-notch, retirees don’t pay income taxes on their social security, and the cost of living is relatively low compared to other states.
- There are year-round sporting opportunities, both for players and viewers. Arizona has over 200 golf courses just surrounding the Phoenix area, and there are plenty more located throughout the rest of the state.
- Many major league teams are located in Arizona, so you’ll be able to catch their games all year round. The spring baseball training season brings teams from all across the country to Arizona, which you may also be able to catch a glimpse of.
- Arizona offers a multitude of cultural experiences as well, featuring many museums, open-air stages to enjoy musical performances, an orchestra, opera, and a ballet company.
- There is no shortage of good food of all cuisines, bars, and movie theaters to choose from.
- Another great thing is that cars don’t rust since there isn’t enough moisture in the air, and for the same reason, you’re unlikely to find any mold forming in your house as it does in wetter climates.
- If you ever feel the need to work again, there are plenty of job opportunities throughout Arizona.
So, while there are reasons not to retire in Arizona, there are some great things about it, too. In the end, you’ll need to be the judge on whether or not you retire there, taking into account all of the factors that will have an influence on your lifestyle and what your specific needs are for the perfect retirement spot.
However, if you or your spouse aren’t too keen on the warmer weather, pests, and harmful animals, or you’re a bit iffy about a huge climate and lifestyle change, we would encourage you to look into retiring in the state in which you currently live, or another state where you’ll be able to live a relatively similar lifestyle.
As can be said about all things in life, it will come down to personal preference in the end. There will be both pros and cons to living anywhere in the world, so you’ll have to decide for yourself what you’re willing to give up or put up with in favor of living somewhere that could benefit you in other ways.
That said, if you are considering moving to Arizona to retire, we’d recommend going there on holiday a few times first so that you can experience different parts of the state and the climate during different seasons, too.