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Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona | Comprehensive Comparison

Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona | Which City is Better?

Phoenix Arizona and Tucson Arizona are two cities in the state of Arizona. Phoenix is the capital, while Tucson is the second largest city in terms of population. What do these cities have to offer?

In this blog post, we will compare and contrast the two cities to see which one would be a better place for you or your family! Here, you will better understand Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona.


With a population of over 1.6 million people, Phoenix is Arizona’s most populous city. Tucson, on the other hand, is the second-largest city in Arizona with a population of around 540,000 people. Despite its smaller size, Tucson is less than half the surface area of Phoenix.

Phoenix is in the center of Arizona, approximately midway between the coast and the highest point. It’s roughly a two-hour drive from Phoenix to Tucson or 1 hour and 45 minutes away from the Mexican border.

The economy of Phoenix is based primarily on tourism, with its most popular tourist attractions being the Grand Canyon and Sedona.

Tucson’s main industries are aerospace and military technology, as well as electronic manufacturing. Additionally, it also has a large higher education sector with the University of Arizona acting as one of the city’s largest employers.

Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona | Which City is Better?

Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona: Which city do you think sounds better?

Phoenix and Tucson both offer plenty of museums, history and activities for people to enjoy. If you love the outdoors or want a lower cost of living, then Tucson might be best for you!

If you aren’t too keen on hot weather all year round like most places in Arizona have during summer months, then Phoenix might be your better choice! This is a great place to live especially if you love the desert and want short commutes from many different parts of town.

But if you want a more laid back environment with lots of outdoor activities nearby then Tucson would probably suit your needs better! Either way, these two cities are great places to live in Arizona!

What do these cities have to offer?

In Phoenix you can visit the Heard Museum for Native American art or take a trip out west to see some ancient petroglyphs. There are also plenty of museums dedicated to Science, Art and History scattered throughout Phoenix.

If you love the outdoors, then Tucson is perfect for you! There are over 300 days of sunshine every year and tons of nearby national parks like Saguaro National Park which hosts an expansive collection of cactus plants.

One popular attraction is the Phoenix Zoo, which has over 200 animals from all different parts of the world. Golf lovers will enjoy playing at one of many golf courses in the area including The Boulders Resort & Golden Spa or Desert Mountain.

Tucson offers something for everyone as well. There are over 100 different hiking trails around Tucson and it also has the University of Arizona along with many other museums to visit in Tucson!


Phoenix has a desert climate with extremely hot summers and mild winters.  Tucson is also hot during the summer months, but rarely sees temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The average high temperature in July is 97 degrees and 82 degrees in January.

Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona | Which City is Better?


Phoenix Arizona has a public school system that is made up of about 200 schools. There are also numerous private schools and colleges including Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University and more.

If you are looking for a good education Tucson might be the right choice for you! It offers three major universities which include University of Arizona, University of Arizona-South, and the Pima Community College.

Tucson also has unique museums, such as the Titan Missile Museum which is located about 20 miles south of Tucson off Interstate 19. It offers guided tours that highlight an intercontinental ballistic missile complex built in 1963 during Cold War times to house missiles aimed at potential targets around the world!

Health Care

Phoenix is the largest medical hub in Arizona, with over 100 hospitals. It’s also home to one of America’s top-ranked children’s hospitals which offers cutting edge technology and research studies for treating rare illnesses!

Tucson has three major hospitals including University Medical Center Tucson, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Oro Valley Hospital.

It’s also home to the Arizona Cancer Center and Veterans Administration Health Care.

Safety & Crime Rates

Phoenix was ranked as having America’s sixth-safest metropolitan area in a 2017 study on crime rates.  However, Phoenix was ranked as the #11 safest city overall.

Tucson has a relatively low crime rate and it’s considered to be one of America’s top ten places to live! It also offers many different educational opportunities including the University of Arizona itself which is located in Tucson.

Tucson is ranked as the seventeenth safest city to live in, according to Neighborhood Scout. Tucson has a slightly higher crime rate compared with Phoenix but still ranks above average when it comes to safety and security!

Cost of living

The cost of living in Phoenix is 12.0 percent above the national average while Tucson’s is 20.0% below it, according to Sperling’s Best Places. However, housing costs make up a big portion of this difference with median home prices being $191,000 in Phoenix and only $146,100 in Tucson!

One of the main reasons people choose to live in Tucson is because it has a lower cost of living than Phoenix. However, there are some areas where costs might be higher such as groceries and healthcare. It’s important to keep these things in mind when deciding which city you want to move to!


Phoenix has a decent public transportation system including Valley Metro Rail and Valley Metro bus which can help you get around the city.

Phoenix has the largest public transportation system of any city in Arizona. It’s also home to Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX, ICAO: KPHX). There are about 15 different airlines that provide service there and on average you can expect to take one flight per day.

Tucson’s main form of transport are buses, but there is also an Amtrak route that runs through Tucson to connect with other major cities in America. If you want to fly somewhere then Tucson International Airport (IATA: TUS, ICAO: KTUS) is your main option! Tucson also has two major airports including the Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Oro Valley’s Marana Regional Airport (AVQ).

There are many different factors you should consider when choosing between living in Phoenix or Tucson Arizona! From cost of living, safety and crime rates, education opportunities as well as transportations.

Food, Cuisine and Groceries

People in phoenix preferred spicy foods and enjoyed hot peppers, which they used liberally to spice up their food.

Another difference was that they preferred baked potatoes over boiled potatoes. Steak houses were very popular because they served baked potatoes and hot peppers together.

Tucson liked spicy food, but preferred their food milder than people in phoenix did. Therefore, few of them ate hot peppers. Tucsonans also liked boiled potatoes over baked potatoes. The local fast-food restaurant sold baked potatoes with butter on them; however, Tucson residents rarely purchased them.

Since Tucsonans preferred different foods from phoenix residents, the grocery stores stocked different food products in each town. In Phoenix, shoppers could purchase hot peppers and spicy salsa at their local supermarket.

In Tucson, shoppers had to go elsewhere to buy these items because they were not available in any of the area supermarkets. There was a Mexican food store in Tucson that sold a variety of hot peppers and salsa.

Jobs and Employment

Phoenix has a higher employment rate than Tucson with an unemployment rate at only five percent in April 2018. This means that many people are employed when looking for jobs!

Phoenix has many big companies that employ a large amount of people such as Avnet, PetSmart and Apollo Education.

Tucson has a smaller population compared with Phoenix, but it still offers a full range of employment opportunities. It’s home to the University of Arizona and Pima Community College which also have strong job placement programs that help students find employment within their field after graduation.

There are several major employers in Tucson including Raytheon Missile Systems which employs over 4000 people in missile defense research! It’s also the headquarters for several other companies as well. Tucson was ranked as one of “The Best Places for Business”.

Shopping Mall

Phoenix has many large shopping malls such as Arrowhead Towne Center, Biltmore Fashion Park and Desert Sky Mall.

Tucson also has a few popular locations for shoppers to visit such as El Con Shopping Mall, La Encantada Mall and Tucson Premium Outlets which sell luxury items at discounted prices!

The main difference in the shopping malls was that Phoenix had more upscale and luxury retailers than Tucson did. Many people in Phoenix preferred to shop at stores such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.

Tucson also has high-end retail shops including Saks Fifth Avenue which offers designer clothing for men and women!

Overall, both cities have a variety of shopping options that cater to different tastes.

Things to Do for Travelers

Phoenix has many things to do for travelers such as hiking, camping and fishing. In fact, it’s home to the famous South Mountain Park which is one of the largest cities in America!

Another major attraction that people enjoy visiting while they’re there is The Grand Canyon National Park where you can hike trails or take a scenic drive into the park.

In Tucson, there are many tourist attractions as well. Many people enjoy visiting The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum which is a zoo and natural history museum all in one location! It’s home to over 2000 animals representing more than 230 species from around the world.

Tucson also has Old Tucson Studios where you can watch western films being filmed and see sets that were used in popular movies! It’s also where many famous actors like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Burt Lancaster and more got their start.

Phoenix has a much larger population than Tucson does which means there are always new places to explore or things to do while you’re visiting the area. There is no shortage of activities, restaurants and things to see while you’re there.

Phoenix Arizona vs Tucson Arizona | Which City is Better?

Best and Affordable City to Retire

The major difference between the two cities is the cost of living which is lower in Tucson than in Phoenix. For retirees who enjoy outdoor activities like biking and hiking, Tucson is a better choice with its milder weather. And for those who love the nightlife, Tucson offers more bars and restaurants.

Phoenix is a larger city and has more restaurants, bars and things to do than Tucson does. It’s also home to the University of Arizona which adds to its college town feel that many people enjoy!

For retirees who prefer an active retirement with outdoor activities, Tucson will be your best bet. For those who love fine dining and nightlife, Phoenix might be a better choice. Either way, these two cities offer different things for everyone and provide great options to those who are looking to retire in Arizona!

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