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Cost to Buy vs Rent in 10 Arizona Cities

Tucson AZ at night

Arizona home prices are up 30% in three years, says Redfin. While down from pandemic highs in mid-2022, prices are still posting year-over-year gains of around 5%.

The insatiable demand for Arizona homes could be a good reason to buy here even though it could cost about $1,000 more per month than renting in many areas.

A $400,000 home that appreciates at 5% per year adds $20,000 per year to your net worth – over $1,600 per month. Add to that tax benefits of owning a home, and buying may not be as expensive as it first appears.

Is it time to buy in Arizona?

Monthly Cost to Buy vs Rent

1. Phoenix +$1,036
2. Tucson +$784
3. Scottsdale +$3,816
4. Yuma +$615
5. Flagstaff +$2,084
6. Lake Havasu City +$1,593
7. Prescott Valley +$1,157
8. Sierra Vista +$691
9. Douglas +$560
10. Show Low +$1,176

1. Phoenix

Home Price

$429,645

Full Payment

$3,292

Rent

$2,256

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,036

Buying a home in Arizona’s largest city will cost you about $1,000 more per month than renting according to our study. A pandemic hot spot, Phoenix home prices are up nearly 40% since December 2020 says Redfin. Is it still worth buying here? It could be. Though off from pandemic highs, home prices have risen 8% in the past year.

2. Tucson

Home Price

$331,951

Full Payment

$2,637

Rent

$1,853

Cost Difference to Buy

+$784

This city of 500,000 comes with a lower price tag than its larger counterpart to the north. And, the premium above renting to be a homeowner is lower, too, at $784 per month.

3. Scottsdale

Home Price

$925,868

Full Payment

$6,856

Rent

$3,040

Cost Difference to Buy

+$3,816

You could buy two Pheonix homes or about three Tucson homes for the price of one home in Scottsdale. This upper-crust community doesn’t come cheap: you’ll spend almost $4,000 more per month to own a home here compared to renting.

4. Yuma

Home Price

$291,495

Full Payment

$2,245

Rent

$1,630

Cost Difference to Buy

+$615

On the more affordable side is Yuma, with home prices under $300,000. And there’s selection, too. Currently, there are 442 single-family residences for sale in the area. Those who like year-round sun and low cost of living should look into Yuma.

5. Flagstaff

Home Price

$651,461

Full Payment

$4,771

Rent

$2,687

Cost Difference to Buy

+$2,084

Another luxury community, you can expect to spend much more buying a house compared to renting. This mountain city of 76,000 lies 7,000 feet above sea level, making it a temperate escape from Phoenix heat.

6. Lake Havasu City

Home Price

$474,114

Full Payment

$3,491

Rent

$1,897

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,593

This tourist town is another popular Arizona destination and as such, is not as affordable as other areas around the state.

7. Prescott Valley

Home Price

$447,767

Full Payment

$3,339

Rent

$2,183

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,157

In between Flagstaff and Pheonix is Prescott Valley, which offers homes that are in the more expensive range for Arizona. While not on par with prices in Flagstaff or Scottsdale, it will still cost around $1,100 more per month to buy here than rent.

8. Sierra Vista

Home Price

$287,301

Full Payment

$2,216

Rent

$1,525

Cost Difference to Buy

+$691

While owning a home is affordable in Sierra Vista, it’s even more so to rent. This could be a great community for Arizonans who need to rent for a time to save up a down payment.

9. Douglas

Home Price

$155,802

Full Payment

$1,310

Rent

$750

Cost Difference to Buy

+$560

The most affordable city on our list is Douglas. WIth home prices near $150,000, an estimated full payment including taxes, insurance, and PMI is around $1,300.

10. Show Low

Home Price

$416,219

Full Payment

$3,093

Rent

$1,916

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,176

This tree-filled oasis features plenty of luxury homes, which shows up in the cost to buy: over $3,000 per month according to our estimates. Still, high prices indicate demand for housing in the area, which could continue to push prices up for years to come.

Get Pre-Approved for Your Arizona Home

Homes in Arizona offer a range of prices from affordable to luxury. There are communities across the state for just about any budget. See what home price you qualify for by requesting your pre-approval from a reputable lender.

Methodology

To compare the costs of buying versus renting in 10 Arizona cities, we started with typical home prices as reported on the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) Single-Family Home Time Series for November 2023. We assumed a 5% down payment, the typical requirement for first-time buyers. We then calculated the monthly payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage using a 6.845% rate, the average rate at the time of data collection as published on Optimal Blue Mortgage Market Indices for a buyer with less than 20% down and a 700 FICO score. We added PMI costs per rates from mortgage insurance provider MGIC. Then we added annual homeowner’s insurance premiums as reported by Policygenius and property tax data from Roofstock and the U.S. Census Bureau. We assumed zero HOA dues. We compared this total housing payment with rent data from the Zillow Observed Rent Index (ZORI) Smoothed Single Family Residence Time Series except when no data was available, in which case we searched for current rent statistics on Zillow’s site. City selection was based on the highest population except where it made sense to bypass a suburb of a major city to highlight one in a different area.

About The Author:

Tim Lucas spent 11 years in the mortgage industry and now leverages that real-world knowledge to give consumers reliable, actionable advice. Tim has been featured in national publications such as Time, U.S. News, MSN, The Mortgage Reports, My Mortgage Insider, and more.

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