If you’re looking for a warm place to live, Arizona and Florida are both excellent states. These states’ warm weather and gorgeous scenery make them both great places to live. But when counting pennies, is it cheaper to live in Florida or Arizona?
While it’s a close call, Arizona is a little less expensive to live in than Florida. Housing expenses, commuting costs, groceries, and utilities are all lower in Arizona. However, Florida’s general tax situation, healthcare costs, and retirement amenities are all better.
So how much exactly can Floridians and Arizonans expect to pay for things like utilities and food? Is one state better than the others in terms of taxation? Is Arizona friendlier to retirees than Florida? In this post, you will find the answers to these questions and see which is best for you.
The Grand Canyon State vs. The Sunshine State
It’s hard to think of two more different places than Arizona and Florida. Although, of course, Arizona’s red-rock desert and famous Grand Canyon are a very different vibe than Florida’s sunny beaches and beautiful greenery. But all other things being equal, which of these fine states is less expensive to live in?
To get reliable data for housing prices, I turned to the U.S. Census Bureau. I have nothing against major real estate websites, but their data is designed to sell homes and can change daily depending on market conditions. Census data tends to be thorough and reliable – so let’s get down to it. How are housing prices in Florida and Arizona?
Some areas of both Florida and Arizona are experiencing unusual market conditions, which may affect your costs. In addition, your choice of city and home will also affect your prices. Bearing that in mind, the median value of owner-occupied homes in Florida is approximately $215,300.
Arizona data shows a median home value of about $225,500. However, median ownership costs in Arizona come in at $1,434 a month, less than Florida’s $1,503.
So how about rent? Median gross rent in Arizona is $1,052, versus $1,175 for Florida. Housing costs for these states are close, but ultimately it’s cheaper to live in Arizona.
Taxes are a necessary evil. They help fund our military and infrastructure. But boy, it’s no fun to pay them! Will you pay less in taxes in Florida or Arizona?
- Gas Tax: Floridian motorists pay a hefty 43.5 cents in tax for every gallon of gasoline and 36.37 cents in tax for every gallon of diesel. On the other hand, Arizona motorists will pay only 19 cents per gallon of gas. Light vehicles in Arizona will pay 19 cents a gallon in tax for diesel, but commercial trucks will pay 27 cents per gallon of diesel.
- Sales Tax: Florida has an effective sales tax of about 7.01%: the state takes 6%, and localities may add up to 2% to that number. Arizona’s state sales tax rate is 5.6%, but local taxes bring the statewide average up to about 8.4%.
- Property Tax: Arizona’s property tax rate clocks in at about $617 per $100,000 of home value. This rate is lower even than Florida’s property tax rate of $830 per $100,000!
- Income Tax: Florida has a state income tax of $0. So you won’t pay a cent in income taxes because they don’t exist! Arizona is moving to a 2.5% flat income tax – not bad, but definitely higher than a tax rate of zero.
Winner: Florida’s nonexistent income tax and lower effective sales tax are likely to affect more people than the slightly higher property tax rate. While it’s close, we give this one to Florida.
They say time is money. Commuting is both. The average Arizona resident has a 25.7-minute commute to work, compared to the 27.8-minute commute of the average Floridian.
How about tolls? Well, Florida has a lot of toll roads. Driving in most major cities will likely require you to pay tolls or take unpleasantly long routes.
Car insurance is another commuting expense. Floridians pay about $197 a month in car insurance, a testament to how bad some of the drivers are here. Arizonans pay far less, about $129 a month.
Insurance aside, there are also mechanical and maintenance costs, plus wear-and-tear, to consider. Florida drivers should expect to pay about $6,765.22 a year to own and operate their vehicles – yikes! Arizona drivers fare slightly better but still cough up an average of $6,243.41 a year on vehicular expenses.
Winner: Arizona is a better state for commuting.
Other Posts of Interest
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- Is Lakeland, Florida A Good Place To Live?
- Is It Expensive To Live In Orlando?
Electricity is great. It powers our electronics and appliances, gives us light, and (crucially) powers our air conditioners.
Arizona residents should expect to pay 10.44 cents per kilowatt-hour, while Floridians will pay an average rate of 10.06 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Overall, however, Florida is ranked 12th-worst in the nation in terms of utility bills. Between the power, internet, water, and gas bills, the average resident will pay about $448.99 a month. Arizona residents are close, paying the 14th-worst rates overall at $441.41.
We Floridians love taking a trip to the local Publix to browse the deals and enjoy the top-tier customer service. But unfortunately, those shiny stores and great employees cost a few extra bucks.
The average monthly grocery bill in Florida clocks in at about $364.25, compared to the average Arizonan bill of about $302.80.
On the other hand, you can’t get a Pub-Sub in Arizona.
Kids are great. Most people would tell you that their kids are a source of joy and entertainment, something to be proud of. It sure is fantastic to watch them grow up! But unfortunately, it costs a fair amount to keep an eye on the kids.
Floridians can expect to pay about $9,238 a year in childcare expenses such as daycare. As steep as that bill sounds, parents in Arizona can expect to pay $10,948 a year for childcare! That’s a decent chunk of change.
The quality of healthcare is often measured and reported by Medicare, the national health insurance for senior citizens.
According to Medicare, Florida is the fifth-best state overall in terms of quality of healthcare – significantly better than Arizona’s ranking at #26.
But what about healthcare costs? According to Business Insider, healthcare costs in Florida will run about $7,827 a year versus $8,060 in Arizona. That extra $233 will treat you and your spouse to a nice fancy dinner!
Going out for a night on the town is always fun, whether you go to a museum or head out for dinner and a movie. The cost of date nights can vary depending on where you live.
In Arizona, your average date night will run a grand total of about $99.29 – almost a whole Benjamin! Floridians, however, will need to bring a Benjamin and a Washington, because the average date night in the Sunshine State runs about $101.03.
How about dining out? Floridians spend about $3,253 a year on dinner out, at an average of about $11.10 an entree. On the other hand, Arizonans spend far less – about $2,795 a year, or $10.10 an entree.
Florida does not have any kind of income tax, and it also does not charge social security taxes, which makes it quite appealing for seniors.
A primary concern for retirees is the overall cost of living. BestPlaces.net ranks both Florida and Arizona as slightly above average as compared to the rest of the nation. Florida’s cost of living is about 2.8% above the national average; Arizona’s is about 2.2% above average.
Florida also has an amazing selection of retirement communities, including The Villages, which are extremely popular among retirees of all ages. Plus, you can be close to the beach AND bring the grandkids to Disney World. There’s a reason people often associate retirement with Florida; millions of senior citizens flock here to spend their golden years basking in the sun.
Another concern for retirees is crime. While crime is not directly related to the cost of living, it’s an important factor. For example, Florida has less crime than Arizona, which may save you a few bucks on homeowners insurance, burglar alarms, and shotgun shells!
Grand Canyon and Sunshine: Two Awesome States
Arizona and Florida are very different places. One has high desert, red rocks, and famous canyons; the other has sandy beaches, major tourist attractions, and great fishing.
But both Florida and Arizona offer residents abundant sunshine, low taxes, and a generally affordable cost of living. We’re partial to Florida (of course), but you’ll find yourself in a great place to live, regardless of which state you choose.