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While a large part of its terrain is rugged, mountainous and/or covered in desert, Arizona is surprisingly well-populated: its 7 million plus inhabitants make it the 14th most populous in the country. The Grand Canyon state has many excellent cities that a person would be proud to call home, so let’s take a closer look at Arizona’s five best cities to live in. Surprisingly, this doesn’t include the larger cities of Phoenix or Tucson.

1. Green Valley

Topping the list of Arizona’s best cities to live in is the pleasantly named Green Valley, a city of over 21,000 around twenty miles south of Tucson. Though the city isn’t as lush as its name may suggest, Green Valley is surrounded by natural beauty, including cycling and hiking areas around the nearby Santa Rita Mountains. Green Valley is known as a retirement community, but also has a very active mining sector providing jobs to the community.

2. Sun City West

Maricopa County’s Sun City West is Arizona’s #2 most livable city. As part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Sun City West has big city access, yet maintains a peaceful retirement community character with golf courses, tennis courts, and myriad other recreational amenities.

3. Sahuarita

We return to Pima County for Arizona’s third best city to live in Sahuarita. Much of Sahuarita’s population commutes to Tucson, contributing to the city’s peaceful residential vibe. Additionally, Sahuarita’s population is significantly more highly educated than the state at large.

4. Sierra Vista

Sierra Vista of Cochise County in the southeastern corner of the state takes the #4 spot on the list. The city is the commercial center for the county at large, with plenty of shops and large department stores, while the nearby Fort Huachuca is Sierra Vista’s major employer.

5. Tempe

Closing out the list of Arizona’s top five is the large, prosperous city of Tempe in Maricopa County.  

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We ranked a total of 2,509 qualified cities (those with populations above 25,000 and enough data for analysis) by five factors: employment (number of establishments, median earnings); housing (owner-occupied housing with a mortgage, monthly housing costs); quality of life (work commute, poverty levels); education (percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher); and health (obesity ratios).