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7 things to do and know before moving from California to Arizona

If you are thinking about moving to Arizona from California, but you are not sure if becoming a resident of the Grand Canyon State is the correct decision for you and your family, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we have covered everything you need to know before packing up your boxes and moving from California to Arizona, the state of beautiful mountains and vast deserts. Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the United States. Here are 7 things to know and do before moving from California to Arizona.

Moving to Arizona from California: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to Arizona

Finding a job 

A reason for moving to Arizona is good job opportunities. If you hold a degree in engineering, electronics, aerospace, or manufacturing and you are considering moving to Arizona, know that finding a job will be easy.

Getting there 

Transportation from Los Angeles to Phoenix

When traveling from Los Angeles, California to Phoenix, Arizona, the total driving time is approximately 5 hours and 49 minutes. The distance between Phoenix and Los Angeles is 373 miles, and there is a time difference of 1 hour, with Arizona being 1 hour ahead of California. In 2024, the cost of driving from Los Angeles to Phoenix is estimated to be $71.84, with a fuel cost of approximately $4.18 per gallon.

The best routes to take when driving 

For an efficient route from California to Arizona, we recommend starting your trip from Los Angeles and driving for 4 hours to reach Palm Springs. Take a one-hour break and then continue towards Ehrenberg. After driving for 2 hours, you’ll arrive in Phoenix. You can take a 1-2 hour rest before embarking on the final 2.5-hour drive to reach Arizona.

If you’re looking for a scenic route, consider the following itinerary:

  • Day 1: Los Angeles to Kingman, AZ (334 miles – 5 hours, 28 minutes)
  • Day 2: Kingman to Grand Canyon (170 miles – 2 hours, 47 minutes)
  • Day 3: Grand Canyon to Horseshoe Bend (133 miles – 2 hours, 32 minutes)
  • Day 4: Horseshoe Bend to Monument Valley (127 miles – 2 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Day 5: Monument Valley to Sedona (207 miles – 4 hours, 2 minutes)

The average in-air flight time from California to Arizona is 1 hour and 21 minutes. If you’re looking for the cheapest time to fly to Arizona from California, August is typically the most budget-friendly month for air travel. Plane tickets for this route are usually around $100.

If you’re planning a move from California to Arizona and need assistance with transporting your belongings, you can explore the services of the best long-distance moving companies.

Must dos before your arrival

  • Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when relocating. You can easily set up mail forwarding either online or in person before your move. Remember to update your address with various organizations, including the SSA, DMV, and home services. To ensure you don’t miss any important notifications, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist, which covers all the places you need to update when moving.
  • Weather Preparedness: Be ready for Arizona’s dry and hot weather. Check local forecasts and pack accordingly, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the region’s climate variations.
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.

2. Upon your arrival in Arizona

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers. 
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • If you’re roaming around the area for work or just simply discovering, it would be great to purchase a daily transit pass to save money.

How much does local transportation cost (Phoenix VS Los Angeles)

Public transportation in Arizona is often considered less robust compared to the well-established system in Los Angeles. Phoenix, in particular, was designed around car-centric navigation. Given the city’s sprawling layout, relying on buses for transportation can be time-consuming, with frequent stops adding to the journey’s duration. 

While the light rail system, known as Valley Metro, offers a more convenient alternative to buses, local residents commonly express concerns about its station coverage, suggesting a need for more widespread accessibility.

In Phoenix, the monthly bus pass, which also includes access to the light rail system, is priced at $64.00 per month.

Exchanging your driver’s license

Procedure for New Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration in Arizona

When moving from California to Arizona, you’ll need to get an AZ driver’s license within 10 days. You must fill out the application form on the website. According to the State law, you are required to register your vehicle with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) immediately after establishing residency. To register your vehicle, you will have to visit any AZ MVD office in person. If you live in Tucson or Phoenix, your car must clear emissions inspections throughout the years it’s registered in Arizona.

Documents Needed for Arizona Driver License and Vehicle Registration

  • Application for Change of Address Form
  • Your new and old address
  • Credit card for payments
  • License plate number
  • Last four digits of your VIN and SSN
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or, if you are not U.S. Citizen evidence of lawful presence.
  • SSN and I.D.
  • Proof of Arizona residency
  • Current vehicle registration
  • Proof of liability insurance 
  • Proof of inspection
  • Proof of ownership
  • Application for Arizona Title and/or Registration

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to Arizona from California, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. This state follows the same procedures and regulations as in other states. Chase Bank has over 200 branch locations in Arizona, and it is convenient for every local because it is accessible.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you will not have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. Healthcare is regulated by the state in the U.S. Therefore, the state of Arizona provides a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose Arizona as your state and create an account.

3.Best places to live in Arizona

  • Green Valley is a perfect destination for active retired adults. The area boasts fine dining options, senior entertainment, and convenient access to shopping and healthcare facilities.
  • Scottsdale is renowned for its appeal to retirees and offers various senior-friendly outdoor activities, including golf courses. The city provides a warm and comforting environment for active seniors.
  • Prescott is an excellent choice for retirees who enjoy outdoor activities. The city is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and offers numerous amazing hiking spots, along with quality restaurants and shops.
  • Tucson offers a diverse blend of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, art, music, and literature. It features top-rated healthcare services and a variety of dining and shopping options.
  • Phoenix, as the capital city of Arizona, combines warmth, culture, arts, outdoor attractions, and entertainment for highly active senior adults.

Why Californians are moving to Arizona

Many residents from saturated and high-cost cities such as those in California are opting to relocate to Arizona in search of a more affordable, less crowded, and improved quality of life. The primary driver behind this migration is the considerably lower cost of living in Arizona. 

Real estate and taxes in California surpass those in Arizona, and essentials like food, clothing, and childcare are more budget-friendly in the latter. Arizona also offers a respite from the notorious traffic congestion prevalent in California, making commuting and driving far more pleasant.

Moreover, Arizona experiences fewer natural disasters compared to California, where earthquakes and forest fires are common, while Arizona faces fewer hurricanes and tornadoes, making it a safer place to live. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated average of 175 people were relocating to Arizona’s metropolitan areas daily between 2017-2021. 

Los Angeles VS Phoenix

Phoenix the capital of Arizona is the most populated city with the busiest hub in the American Southwest. Located in the Sonoran Desert, it has only two climate seasons: hot summers and mild winters. On the other hand, Los Angeles, California is one of the most famous cities in the United States. The city has a population of more than 17 million people making it the second most populated city in the country.

Setting up home services 

For electricity supply, you can either contact or visit the website of Arizona Public Service or Salt River Project, both options are reliable. Many homes and most apartments are all-electric and do not use gas at all. If you are still required to set up gas at your new home, you can contact Southwest Gas. When it comes to setting up water in Arizona, visit the Arizona Department of Water Resources

The best internet providers in Arizona will have bundling options, various speeds, and multiple package options at reasonable prices.

Should you rent or buy?

In Arizona, the cost of owning a house averages around $417,088. When it comes to renting, a 1-bedroom apartment typically goes for approximately $1,541.67 in the state. In Phoenix, your property tax rate will range from 5% to 11% depending on your location. For the beauty that Arizona offers, the housing costs are relatively fair. Learn more below.

Cost of rent in Arizona


1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Phoenix (Outside of Center)



Numbeo (Oct 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Arizona


Average home price 



Zillow (Oct 2023)

Pros and Cons of Living in Arizona



  • On average, there are more sunny days a year in Arizona than California.
  • The cost of living is affordable.
  • Arizona has a good job market.
  • Arizona has many beautiful landscapes including the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Lake Mead, Havasu Falls, the Hoover Dam, Blue Canyon, and much more.
  • There are many outdoor activities for the residents as well as tours such as hiking.
  • Due to less traffic, driving is less stressful in Arizona.
  • Low crime rate average.
  • Summers are really hot (but with low humidity)
  • Lower-than-average salaries
  • The public transport system in Arizona is less established than California, so a car is essential.
  • Huge influx of snowbirds during winter

Why people regret moving to Arizona

While it is a great state for its breathtaking sights and affordable life, still, some people regret moving to Arizona for the following reasons.

Regret #1

Driving outside of the cities becomes boring for those who are not fans of the desert landscape.

Regret #2

Some people regret moving to Arizona because they always have to keep an eye out for snakes and large insects, such as scorpions. They also occasionally see them.

Regret #3

With the lack of seasons in Arizona, the four-season lovers miss “white Christmas”, as well as skiing or other winter activities.

4. Cost of living in Arizona


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($58.15 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in Arizona

Both California and Arizona are the perfect places for admirers of warm weather and sunshine. Although the ocean breeze of California helps in cooling the temperature during the day.

But the summers of Arizona are brutally hot. The temperature in summer may rise to 105 degrees. Even in winters, the temperature reaches 70°F. On average, there are 286 sunny days per year in Arizona. The highest temperature in Summers is 99 degrees and the Winter low in January is 34 degrees. Arizona averages 12 inches of rain every year.

6. What to do as a local in Arizona

Hiking and backpacking through the stunning desert landscape, including iconic destinations like Battleship Mountain and Lockett Meadow, are beloved activities among locals in Arizona, particularly the younger generation. Meanwhile, the older generations, often referred to as “snowbirds,” prefer to relish the warmth and escape the cold weather of their hometowns. 

Summertime in Arizona sees locals cooling off by visiting water parks and spending time in pools. In general, the primary pastime for Arizonans revolves around outdoor exploration through hiking, occasionally complemented by kayaking adventures on the state’s distinctive rivers.

7. Fun facts about Arizona

Fun Fact #1

Skydive Arizona is the world’s largest skydiving center.

Fun Fact #2

Arizona doesn’t observe daylight saving time.

Fun Fact #3

Arizona is the state in the United States that produces the largest amount of copper, accounting for almost sixty percent of the country’s production.


Moving from California to Arizona, consider the robust job opportunities, efficient transportation options, address updates, and preparation for the hot climate. Secure housing in advance, set up a local bank account, and obtain health insurance. Weigh the pros and cons, as many relocate for a lower cost of living and milder natural disasters. For instance, The sales tax in Arizona is 5.6%, while in California, it is 7.25%. Remember to anticipate the challenges, such as extreme heat and limited public transportation. 

Be prepared for a different landscape, wildlife, and the absence of traditional seasons. Mind the cost of living, with rent, utilities, and other expenses to consider. Enjoy the outdoor activities and unique features Arizona offers, from hiking to copper production. Moving to Arizona requires thoughtful planning and an open mindset for a new way of life.

Are you moving soon? Discover the best movers for your move to Arizona.


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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