With the exception of San Antonio, Texas, no city in the United States has grown like Phoenix. Census data showed it added more than 13,000 people between July 2020 and July 2021. Add in mild winters and a booming housing scene at a relatively low cost of living and it’s no surprise that the people flock to the capital of Arizona.
If you’re considering joining this rapidly growing city of over 1.6 million people, you’re probably wondering: how much does it cost to live in Phoenix? Surprise, surprise – living in this metropolitan area might actually be cheaper than living elsewhere in the state. So let’s break down the cost of living in Phoenix component by component.
The good news: you have excellent timing here. Home price growth in Phoenix has outpaced just about anywhere else in the country for some time. But the market is cooling now, making it a better time to buy a home in the area. This is true nationwide, so let’s try to better understand home and rental prices in Phoenix, specifically.
In the third quarter of 2022, the most recent quarter for which the National Association of Realtors released data, the average single-family home in Phoenix was selling for $474,400. That’s over $20,000 down from the previous quarter — good news if you’re trying to buy (but less ideal if you want to sell a home in Phoenix).
If you’re considering renting, you’ll also be happy to know that National and Phoenix rental costs have started to come down. This summer, Realtor.com reported that the median rent price in the metro area was $1,647. For a studio apartment, you’re looking at around $1,300 on average. Climb into a two-bedroom and be prepared to pay around $1,800.
Ultimately, whether you want to buy a home in Arizona or rent it out, your timing isn’t bad. As the market cools, prices should continue to fall.
Phoenix labor market
Our in-depth analysis of the cost of living in Phoenix would not be complete without an assessment of the labor market. It’s fine if things are affordable, after all, but if the opportunities and wages are pitiful, even a cheap neighborhood can be a struggle.
Fortunately, the job market looks good, with unemployment falling when looking at year-over-year data. As of 2020, census data puts Phoenix’s median household income just north of $60,000.
Like everywhere in the United States, the amount you can expect to take home depends on your industry and role. To give you a good idea of what to expect, however, here are some average Phoenix salaries from MIT’s Living Wage data:
- Architecture and engineering: $87,087
- Commercial and financial operations: $69,208
- Construction and extraction: $50,322
- Education, training and library: $48,813
- Related to food preparation and serving: $28,954
- Health and technical practitioners: $80,560
- Legal: $77,104
- Personal care and services: $30,238
- Sales and others: $34,358
In other good news, compensation in Phoenix has increased over the past two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
When it comes to the local job market scene, you can expect a wide range of industries. The top five employers in the region are:
- Banner Health
- American Express
How much does living in Phoenix cost? It depends, of course, on how you eat there.
Going back to MIT’s living wage data, the average single adult in Phoenix should budget around $4,000 a year for food expenses. A household of two adults and three children should plan to spend around $14,000 on food per year. The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator offers slightly lower estimates than MIT’s.
This all assumes you’re cooking at home, though. If you like to dine out, add more to your budget here. Phoenix has a thriving restaurant scene with many exciting restaurants.
Transportation in Phoenix
While the cost of living in Phoenix is quite favorable for housing and dining, getting from A to B can eat up a good chunk of your budget. In fact, the city ranks high in terms of metropolitan areas where residents spend on transportation. In 2020, Phoenix-area households spent nearly 19% of their budget on transportation (compared to a national average of 16.2%), according to the BLS.
Phoenix has a bus system that you can ride for $4 a day, or $6.50 if you want to take express buses. But it is above all a city of automobile culture. Of Phoenix’s $11,639 annual transportation expenditure, 97% was spent on the purchase and maintenance of private vehicles, according to the BLS.
Also, while getting around Phoenix can eat up some of your budget, it shouldn’t take up too much of your day. The average Phoenix resident commutes 26 minutes to work.
Local, state, property taxes and fees
When determining how much house you can afford – or if you should move to Phoenix in general – don’t forget taxes.
Arizona property taxes are quite low, overall, averaging 0.66% statewide. However, Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, charges some of the highest (but not the highest) rates. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council says you should budget around $5,000 in property taxes if you buy a home at the median price.
When it comes to personal income tax, Arizona plans to move to a flat rate of 2.5% next year, making it one of the lowest tax tables in the country. .
Ultimately, Arizona’s low tax rates make Phoenix a particularly attractive choice.
Moving to Phoenix
Obviously, the cost of living in Phoenix has a lot to offer. As housing prices and rents fall, it should become increasingly possible to settle comfortably there. To calculate the numbers yourself, you can use our cost of living comparison calculator.
If you live elsewhere in Arizona, you might consider selling your home and moving to this thriving metropolitan area. And if you’re not yet an Arizonan, Phoenix—with its stable job market and growing food and culture scene—may offer you a great place to get started in the Grand Canyon State. Just make sure you save enough for your move.
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