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Tucson
  • $450   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $701   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1078   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southwest US)

64% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
car theft, heatstroke, snakes, scorpions, dust storms, monsoons with flooding, mosquitoes immediately after
cheapest rent, Sonoran spicy snacks, hiking and biking trails, Saguaros, festivals 6
real housewives of Tucson, pensionville, land of the dipshit drivers, more tweakers, affordable post-midcentury, fancy christmas lights, nice zoo, Little Mexico, taco trucks on every corner, cool planes flying, rob you not shoot you, engineers with a feeling of superiority, and fancy Christmas lights are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Tucson roommate rundown:

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona, but seems to get less than second place when it comes to Arizona's attention. Tucson deserves more attention as a roommate destination. It might deserve yours as well . . . as long as it doesn't kill you?

So what follows is a list of reasons you might want to live here, followed by instructions to hopefully avoid death while you do.

And the weather's in both.

GO! Tucson costs less than most cities on this list, rent as well as groceries and utilities.

Such a low cost of living to live near the best spicy snacks. Along with the expected fine tacos and Southwest-Mex cuisine, including mole, chile rellenos, and albondigas (Mexican meatballs), Tucson invented the Sonoran hot dog and the "Eegee." A Sonoran hot dog is a regular one wrapped with bacon, grilled, then served on a Mexican baguette with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. Mayo is optional but probably fiery too. Eegees is the name of the place and their drinks, which are frozen slushies with real fruit added. Adding tea = Teagee.

More GO! Winters are famously mild, which appeals to many. It rarely dips below 60F, staying almost always dry. The cool dry air appeals on other levels too, like lessened suffering from respiratory ailments. A lot of classic car restoration is happening as well, usually after sunset.

And then there's the snowbirds, or winter-only residents increasing the population seasonally. Some extend their stays by purchasing second homes, and some of those enjoy populating their extra rooms with new roommates.

Winter's also right for biking Tucson, including "The Loop," which is separated from traffic and circles the city. That's over 130 miles of route through parks and along river beds, that you should absolutely bike upon. In winter.

You should absolutely bike Tucson through the lovely weather of winter.

OH NO!!! is that Day One for any new cyclist should not be during summer, if you're not already extremely experienced with cardio in heat. It stays about 100F during the day all summer long . . . not a high of 100F periodically, it's just stuck there till fall. The bright sunshine and high UV coupled with low humidity bring sunburn and windburn for many, and heatstroke for some. Sunscreen won't cut it entirely, you'll need protective clothing. And if you go walking in a desert park (much less an actual desert!) take a lot of water, a couple of snacks, and a charged cell phone with location software.

In addition to dehydration, you'll need to seriously watch for snakes and scorpions. And dust storms. Please avoid driving into a dust storm, especially out on the interstate.

And if any of your roommates think the above might not apply to them? Locals know if you imagine yourself invulnerable to danger, that's just another risk factor . . .

. . . including during the monsoons. Tucson gets actual monsoons with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and flash floods frequently happen too. Never drive into a flood or a road with a barricade, even if you can't see the flood right there. Tucson passed a "stupid motorist" law. So if you drive merrily where signs said you must not, in addition to your towing expense plus possible repairs, there will be an extra fine. And another one on top of that if they have to send a rescue team?

That's four different ways a flood could cost money, all adding insult to injury, huh? So don't drive like a dumbass in Tucson, it'll get expensive fast. Or you could actually drown! (OH NO!!! don't do that either.)

And sometimes after a monsoon, the mosquitoes come out. Do not drive into a swarm. Seriously, just stay inside until the coast is really clear.

Locals have learned to let Tucson pick their outdoor moments for them. When the weather's walkable, aggressively enjoy that. When it's not, take shelter. Resistance will not end well.

More OH NO!!!: In addition to when you drive your car, you need to pay more attention to where you park. While violent crime is usually gang-related, Tucson consistently suffers from one of the highest rates of car theft in the country, mostly due to proximity to Mexico. Theft of cars left downtown or in mall or Walmart parking lots is common. If you spend the day shopping with your car left unsecured in any unmonitored location, it might end up across the border.

Maybe before you're done shopping.

So if Tucson's GO! sounds good enough to risk OH NO!!!, you could also spend a little contemplative time staring at one of the most important plants on the planet, the keystone species of the Sonoran Desert, the symbol of the American West, the Saguaro cactus. This superstar is found only here and in a small part of California, as it thrives on the shifting between wet and dry unique to the Sonoran desert.

Saguaros store 85% of their body weight or up to 200 gallons of water. This supports at least 100 other creatures. That's part of why they're conserved in their officially protected wilderness of nearby Saguaro National Park . . . which you and your roommates could visit.

Or you could just look at the Saguaros in town! No need for a mule train.

The rest of the Tucson roommate lowdown:

  • located in south-central Arizona, on the Santa Cruz river, about 60 miles north of Mexico
  • about 500,000 residents in town, greater metro around a million
  • hot summers and mild winters typical of the desert, but with the high elevation moderating the desert heat, about 340 days of sunshine per year
  • due to the desert climate and high elevation, the danger of sunburn here is greater than almost anywhere else in the country
  • home to the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, and Arizona State University's College of Public Service & Community Solutions
  • slight majority of residents are bilingual in both English and Spanish
  • hosts the Tucson Roadrunner American Hockey League (AHL), and the University of Arizona's teams are enthusiastically attended
  • The University of Arizona is the largest employer.
  • home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base - US Army Intelligence Center Fort Huachuca is also nearby
  • Public transport is mostly the metro bus system (Sun Tran), with a streetcar route from the University of Arizona through downtown.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tucson's:

  • Tucson Museum of Art: Regional contemporary art as well as a focus on Latin American and pre-Columbian art, and the museum itself is within a group of historic adobe dwellings. You and your roommates can also schedule a guided group experience with a docent.
  • Philabaum Glass Gallery: Arizona's only all glass art gallery, featuring handmade glass art in all forms including blown glass vessels, stemware, and jewelry. At this gallery since 1985.
  • All Souls Procession: One of Tucson's largest festivals based on "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead), with 3-miles of colorful parade of floats and memorials and costumes at dusk. First Sunday in November.
  • Tucson Mountain Park: Would you and your roommates like to hike or ride a horse up to the saguaro cactus stands? All the gorgeous sunrise and sunset views are free.
  • El Charro Cafe: Classic Southwestern food with Sonoran influences, served at the oldest continuously-operating locally-owned Mexican restaurant in the country, since 1922.
  • Trail Dust Town: Outdoor shopping mall built from the remains of a western movie set.
  • University of Arizona Poetry Center: Founded in 1960, now one of the largest collections of modern poetry in the country, with over 70,000 items. Many educational programs you and your roommates could attend for free, including readings, lectures, contests, and classes. Or you could just walk around and read, as the collection is non-lending (everything stays on the premises) but open to the public.
  • Tucson Symphony Orchestra: Founded in 1929, the oldest still running performing arts organization in Arizona. Now with a special focus on Arizona's cultural history, their music hall was recently renamed The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall.
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Part zoo, part botanical garden, part natural history museum. Go learn about the Sonorasaurus.


Here's the city of Tucson's official .gov for new residents, from community safety to resident resources to utilities to emergencies.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.