Best Places to Live

Tucson, AZ

Population: 548,073
iStock/Sean Pavone

Tucson is a quintessential Southwestern city, with the Catalina Mountains providing a stunning backdrop, and the saguaro-studded landscape adding to the area’s majestic beauty. Plus, here in the Sonoran Desert, residents enjoy a rich arts scene influenced by Native American and Mexican artists as well as some of the best Mexican food north of the border. (Did you know Tucson earned a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy designation?) Affordable housing and a diverse economy are a perk for those relocating to Tucson, and, for the bonus round, the city gets 310 days of sunshine. 

Top Industries and Employers: Education and defense are industry leaders, and some of Tucson’s major employers are the University of Arizona, Raytheon, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Best Coffee Shop: Savaya Coffee is a beloved shop that also holds coffee classes for those who love coffee culture.

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Churros Cream Ale from Borderlands Brewing Co

Must-Have Meal: From tortilla factories to taquerias, Tucson takes Mexican food seriously and claims to have “The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food.” Your must-have meal is more like a Bingo card: A Sonoran Dog! Soft tacos! Frosty raspados! You’re a bonafide local once you order tostitos, which is a bag of corn chips that could be topped with jicama, lime, pork skins, carne asada and other house toppings. 

Best Co-Working Space: Catalyst in the Tucson Mall has a teaching kitchen, arts and crafts studio, music studio, and a robotics and engineering lab in addition to its offices, conference rooms and co-working spaces.

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Casa Film Bar, which is a bar within a video store where you and your crew can pair a craft beer with a movie.

Creative Hub: Housed in a repurposed firehouse, MOCA Tucson features contemporary art from around the world.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Slip away to Kitt Peak to watch one of Arizona’s famous sunsets and then enjoy epic stargazing with access to a telescope. 

Free Way to Have Fun: Take a hike (and a swim)! Seven Falls, a moderate 8-mile hike, is a local favorite, and the waterfalls will cool you off.

Local Dream Job: A geologist. Tucson is a known destination for rare gems and minerals.

Read More: 
Tucson is One of the Most Bicycle-Friendly Cities in the US
Love Vintage Shopping? Check Out Tucson 
The 8 Best Things To Do in Arizona

- Brittany Anas

"In bigger cities, it would have taken years for me to be promoted to a position where I could be at a place of real impact and shaping my city. Tucson is incredibly welcoming and supportive of new talent — if you are passionate about making a difference, invitations to join thought leaders on boards, panels and task forces come easily. When I started my own company, I was immediately introduced to mentors, free community supports and networking opportunities."  


Dre Thompson
Executive Vice President, Startup Tucson

Tucson, AZ Ranking Data