Tucson is a sunny, vibrant and fast growing city. It is in the County of Pima, and is Arizona’s second largest city. It is home to the University of Arizona, the second largest employer in the city after Raytheon Missile Systems. Tucson carries the nickname Optics Valley due to the high concentration of optics and optoelectronics system research and development in the city – there are now over 150 optics businesses.
In terms of population Tucson is ranked 33rd in the USA, with around 525,000 city dwellers and almost a million inhabitants across the metro area. Because of this it has a developed a range of vibrant communities, has a rich arts and music scene with many cultural events held throughout the year. The highlights of the year include the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, Tucson Festival of Books and the Tucson Folk Festival.
Tucson is a great city for sport. The University of Arizona Wildcats teams, which include men’s basketball and women’s softball, receive strong local support. For baseball fans the Tucson Padres are a Triple-A minor league team. Its women’s soccer team also has a big following in the city.
The city boasts 120 parks, a zoo, five public golf courses and botanical gardens. Just outside the city is the Coronado National Forest which caters for a range of activities including hiking, rock climbing, fishing and camping. In the winter Mt. Lemmon becomes a ski resort.
It is this rich variety of art, culture, sport and outdoor activities that has attracted so many businesses to the region, and why it is such a great place to move to for work.
Before moving to Tucson it is important to research the area well. You may wish to live close to the areas with the best nightlife or on the best routes to the national parks, or close enough to work to cycle in.
Best places to live in Tucson
Tucson covers a large area. The region is divided into six wards, which are largely divided by the Interstates that run through the city. Interstate 10 cuts through the city from south-east to north-west, and Interstate 19 runs from north to south along the west side of the city.
It is a good idea to look for accommodation within the ward where you will be working. Travel across the city can be difficult at times – it is ranked amongst America’s worst cities for commuting. However, it has been awarded a gold rating by The League of American Bicyclists for its bicycle friendliness. Many Tucsonans commute to work by bike, so start your search for accommodation close to where you will be working. The rent may cost more, but you will save money on gas. Another option is to seek out accommodation on one of the Tucson Modern Streetcar routes that connect to your place of work. This is a new public transport network that connects the major business and retail hubs of the city with the suburbs.
Some of the best places to live are up in the mountains for excellent views over the city and easy access to the national parks and ski resort. However, expect longer commute times, especially if you need to cross town.
Try before you buy
Because of the complex layout of the city and its various commuter routes, it is a good idea to rent some temporary accommodation when you first move to Tucson. While cycling to work may appeal to you now, after a while living in the city you may decide you wish to live closer to the best nightlife, or out of town towards the national park. Also once you start work you will be able to speak to many more people from the area to learn more about the best places to live in Tucson.
Rented accommodation is in high demand, so you cannot always get a house as large as you may be used to. If you cannot find temporary accommodation large enough to fit all of your furniture you can use cheap storage to look after your possessions before you buy your first place.
Every year many people make the move to Tucson and stay permanently. Tucson is sunny all year round, has a rich cultural scene, is fantastic for outdoor pursuits and has a growing economy. Once you move you will not want to leave.