Disclaimer: Links and mentions of Arizona 55+ communities in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Price ranges, services, and amenities can change — please visit a community’s website for the most up-to-date information. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which community destination is best for your situation.
According to CNBC’s Make It, Arizona ranked No. 9 of the most popular states for older Americans making a move to retire or downsizing as they prepare for retirement. Kiplinger found that there’s a trend of snowbird retirees flocking to the Grand Canyon State in the winter.
Citing a study by Arizona State University, researchers found that the state gets a boost of 300,000 people in the winter. In Lake Havasu City, the usual year-round population of 57,000 nearly doubled to 100,000. This influx of mature residents plays a role in the demand for 55+ communities for seniors looking for a lifestyle that fits their golden-years goals and financial picture.
About 17% of Arizonans are aged 65 and older, which is about 1,241,577 out of the state’s approximately 7,303,398 people.
In this post, we’ve consulted with a top real estate agent in Arizona, John Billings, who has extensive experience helping seniors relocate, and researched some of the best 55+ communities in terms of lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile this list we looked at:
- Size and location of the city where the community is located
- Access to quality healthcare
- Nearby desirable amenities and services
- Established and enforced age restrictions (55+)
- Type of retirement community (active adult, independent living)
- Ratings and reviews
- Homebuyer interest
- Access to nightlife or outdoor recreation
- Top real estate agent recommendations
What is a 55+ community?
A 55+ community is not exclusively for retired individuals, and not necessarily a “retirement community.” The stigma of the term “retirement community” may not do justice to what’s available and the lifestyle and benefits of an age-restricted community.
55+ communities are typically planned housing developments for those of retirement and pre-retirement age. They are a popular choice for Americans making a move to downsize, or just to simplify their lives. This is especially relevant given the trend of people retiring for regular employment at younger ages. Such people are likely to want to be active and keep busy with hobbies or vocational pursuits, which may influence their preferences for a specific community.
A 55+ community can also give mature residents a sense of belonging and offer a low-maintenance living environment.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Arizona?
According to 55 Places, some of the most popular or best cities in Arizona for retired or older Americans include:
- Green Valley
- Sierra Vista
- Oro Valley
Why seniors choose Arizona
There are many reasons why Arizona is an appealing destination for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- Great weather compared to colder or humid climates
- Relatively low tax rates help stretch Social Security, pensions, IRAs, etc.
- Many choices for 55+ communities
- Lower cost of living than some other states
- Many outdoor recreational opportunities and sightseeing
- Cultural entertainment opportunities and attractions
- Lower seasonal allergies
- Many golf courses
- Good healthcare access in major cities
- In many areas of the state, you don’t have to shovel snow
Arizona doesn’t tax Social Security retirement benefits or military pension income. However, withdrawals from retirement accounts, such as distributions from a 401(k) or IRA, are taxed.
Our picks for some of the best 55+ communities in Arizona
There are a number of outstanding 55+ communities in Arizona. Based on the parameters we listed above, here are some we feel are worth considering:
Phone number: 520-451-4569
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Price range: high-$100K to high $900K
About: Situated at the base of the Catalina Mountains, Saddlebrooke Tucson offers outdoor adventures as well as the comforts and amenities of a popular city. Built in 1989, the community has over 5,000 single-family homes with a variety of floor plans including luxury options.
Ratings and reviews: The development received an average of 4.4 stars out of 17 reviews on 55 Places. Many noted being happy with the array of amenities, fabulous views, and non-cookie cutter architecture.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: The community offers a DesertView Performing Arts Theater, fitness center, sports facilities, a pool, and a golf club. The area also provides hiking opportunities, several churches, a market, and a dog park. Popular nearby attractions include the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Saguaro National Park, the intimate Reid Park Zoo, and the Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the largest non-government-funded aviation and space museums in the world.
Phone number: 866-818-6068
Location: Oracle, Arizona
Price range: low-$200K to low-$700K
About: Saddlebrooke Ranch is a quiet community in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by mountains. It’s geared for those over 55 seeking a peaceful setting close to nature. It’s a gated community with a roving patrol and neighbors described as friendly.
Ratings and reviews: Saddlebrooke Ranch holds a 3.8-star rating on 55 Places. Reviewers commented on being overall very happy with the community, having robust activity options, a clubhouse, and peace and quiet.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: A newer development, Saddlebrook Ranch offers a 37,000 square foot clubhouse, a pool with sundeck, and salon services. There are a couple of grocery stores nearby, a movie theater, and spiritual centers. It’s about 12 miles from Oracle State Park and 14 miles from the Oro Valley Farmers Market.
Phone number: 623-561-4600
Location: Sun City, Arizona
Price range: $100K – high-$500K
About: Sun City was the first 55+ community in Arizona and in the entire U.S. Founded in 1960, it now has over 27,000 homes, making it its own mini-city in the greater Phoenix area. It’s known for strong property values, low HOA fees, a wide variety of home designs, and ample activities.
Ratings and reviews: Sun City earned an average 5-star rating on 55 Places. People commented that they love the community and neighbors, with activities available to suit everyone. Though not a gated community, many say that it feels safe.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Sun City is a golf lovers’ paradise. It has the most golf holes per capita of any adult community in the country. Amenities include seven recreation centers, restaurants, fitness centers, pools, sports facilities, a woodworking shop and hobby rooms. It’s near a performing arts theater, grand ballroom, and has an onsite hospital. It’s about six miles from the Coyote Lakes Golf Club and 11 miles from the Wildlife World Zoo Aquarium & Safari Park.
Del Webb at Dove Mountain
Phone number: 520-253-7577
Location: Marana, Arizona
Price range: low-$200K to mid-$400K
About: Located 25 miles north of downtown Tucson, Del Webb at Dove Mountain is nestled in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains. Built in 2014, the development has about 600 single-family homes ranging in size from 1,573 square feet to 2,514 square feet.
Ratings and reviews: Reviews at 55 Places show that Dove Mountain has earned 3.3 out of 5 stars. One reviewer described the community as a “piece of heaven,” praising the golf course and modern, clean facilities. Another commented on the convenient location in proximity to the airport, Tucson VA medical center, and shopping.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Dove Mountain amenities include a 14,000-square-foot Saguaro Recreation Center, fitness center and sports facilities. Residents can also enjoy the local nightlife, Catalina State Park, and the Ritz Carlton Golf Club nearby. It’s also a little over 14 miles from the Saguaro National Park.
Phone number: 800-795-4663
Location: Goodyear, Arizona
Price range: low-$200K to low-$900K
About: Located between the White Tank Mountains, Estrella Mountain Park, and Phoenix, Pebblecreek has 6,100 single-family and attached homes and is marked by a country club lifestyle. Founded in 1993, Pebblecreek offers both new and pre-owned homes with a variety of ranch-style floor plans.
Ratings and reviews: Reviewers on 55 Places gave Pebblecreek an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Some commented on moving to the community from other states and being pleasantly surprised by the surroundings and quality construction. Some younger residents and visitors also had very positive experiences at Pebblecreek.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: The development has a 47,000-square-foot Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse amenity complex that includes a grand ballroom, library, fitness center, and auditorium. There’s also a Creative Arts Center at Eagle’s Nest and is located just 20 miles from Phoenix. It’s about 28 miles from the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall and 10 miles from Corral West Horse Adventures.
How can I find a 55+ community near me?
There are many other 55+ communities in Arizona. One way to see your options is to search the internet with phrases such as, “55 and older communities near me” or “retirement communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau site, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality 55+ or retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide you with valuable insights into community characteristics such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
15 questions to ask before you buy a home in a 55+ community
Here are 15 important questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home in an Arizona 55+ community.
1. Is the community located near amenities like grocery stores, hospitals, and shopping?
One of the most important aspects of deciding on the right 55+ community is determining if the surrounding community meets your needs. Some are located near cities of varying sizes while others are in more rural areas which might mean you’ll have to drive more to get to desired destinations. For more on this, see our “Check out the community” section below this set of questions.
2. What activities do you offer and how often?
One of the primary reasons that older adults choose 55+ communities is the social connections that come with being in proximity to their contemporaries. Though not all who live in these communities are retired, many are and have more free time to pursue hobbies and enjoyment. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the community you choose has the type of activity programming that appeals to you on a schedule that fits the lifestyle you want.
3. What are the dues and community rules?
Ask how much the HOA dues are and request to see the bylaws. Most active adult communities have specific rules that must be followed. These might include:
- Children and grandchildren restrictions
- Pets (Limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of cars, where, RVs, boats)
- Guests or visitors (numbers, length of time, etc.)
- Other rules typically associated with HOAs
4. What facilities are available and how are they staffed and maintained?
As many of the enticing activities will be held in the community’s facilities and common spaces, ask about what they’re like, the amenities offered within, their general upkeep, and how much access you’ll have. If you hope to hold private gatherings in any of the spaces, ask if this is allowed and the reservation process.
5. What will your new neighbors be like?
It’s a subjective question but important to ask. See if you can get a sense from the sales team if the general culture of the place is in line with your personality, interests, and values. You could also ask to meet or attend an activity session to see if you mesh with the residents. In general, you’ll want to know that people actually participate in the activities offered.
6. How are the homes spaced and what are the layouts like?
At the end of the day, moving into a 55+ community means settling on a home that works for you, just as it should in any other type of community. If space and privacy are important to you, find out if there are some homes on larger lots with more setbacks between neighboring properties. Additionally, ask to see floor plans. For instance, you may not want a house with areas that require stairs or extra steps, or you may need higher square footage if you expect frequent visitors.
7. What’s the policy on age restrictions?
While this might not be obvious, different over 55+ communities have different policies about what age ranges are allowed among residents. For example, you might be 56 but your spouse might be 48. For some developments, this may not be a problem, but it’s important to find out. Additionally, if you have many grandchildren who will be spending a lot of time at your house, find out if there are a maximum number of days that young people can stay per year.
8. Will I own the home or is this a lease community?
Love for a house or neighborhood can happen at first sight, but don’t go head over heels until you find out if your pick for a home in a 55+ community is for sale or lease. While you’re at it, be sure to find out all of the potential hidden costs that might come with the deal.
9. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
You may be looking at a newer 55+ community that’s not fully developed yet. As such your home might be surrounded by vacant lots or empty land. Find out what the plans are for those parcels. If you find out that a clubhouse will be constructed next door, that may or may not be an appealing revelation.
10. Is the community financially sound?
Before you buy a home in a 55+ community, ask to see financial reports to make sure that the development isn’t on shaky financial ground or headed for bankruptcy. This is important because it could affect your own property values as well as influence the quality of maintenance and amenity offerings.
11. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also known as a sinking fund, reserve funds are set aside to make sure that the development remains well-maintained such as common areas and landscaping. Again, strong property values depend on the general upkeep of the area, and if management can’t foot the bill things could deteriorate.
12. What other projects belong to this developer?
55+ communities often have other, similar developments in their portfolio. Research the other areas and see what locations, homes, and amenity offerings seem the best for your situation. The exercise will also give you a better sense of the developer’s track record.
13. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. If you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals, it may prove to be the cause of great angst and can harm the unity of the entire community. So, ask a number of different residents what their experience has been. Check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
14. What security and safety measures does the community have?
Safety is often a top-priority concern for seniors. Ask what security systems the community has in place. Do they have video surveillance and protocols for visitors? Is the entrance gated or guarded? How many emergency situations are handled each year and what are the response times?
15. What is the resale value of homes in the community?
While you may plan on making this your final lifetime move into a 55+ community, life circumstances can change unexpectedly. You may need to move closer to relatives or into an assisted living facility. Ask your real estate agent about the projected resale value of homes in the community. Review the HOA rules for restrictions on for-sale signs. Some 55+ communities have their own sales offices and prohibit hiring an outside agent.
Check out the community around the community
Vetting the 55+ community with the 15 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best 55+ community for you, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities available in the surrounding host city or town. Find out what the area has to offer that can improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away is the nearest hospital and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding city or town?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway?
- Is there a variety of conveniences nearby such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- Is there a dog park, groomer, or veterinarian nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there loud or undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
- Is there a high risk of flash flooding or wildfires in the area?
Q&A: More tips and insights about 55+ communities in Arizona
What is the largest 55+ community in Arizona?
Sun City is the largest with more than 27,000 homes.
Do retirees live in Arizona year-round?
Not necessarily. Billings, who works with over 70% more single-family homes than the average agent in his market. says that snowbirds who often live half the year in Canada or the Pacific Northwest, spend the winter months at their second home in Arizona for relative warmth.
What cities have the most 55+ communities in Arizona?
Phoenix and Tucson and surrounding areas are the top 55+ communities in the state, according to Billings.
What are the best-priced 55+ communities in Arizona?
According to 55 Places, some affordable 55+ community options in the state include The Villages at Lynx Creek, Sun Village, Fountain of the Sun, Northtown, and Sun City.
What is the 80/20 rule in some 55+ communities?
Many aren’t aware that not all residents of 55+ communities necessarily have to be at least 55. To be compliant with the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) and federal Fair Housing laws, 55+ communities generally apply the 80/20 rule that stipulates at least 80% of units must be occupied by one person who’s 55 and up. The remaining 20% of households can be available for those of other age groups, if the community chooses.
When should I visit a prospective 55+ community?
To get the clearest picture of how you might connect with a 55+ community, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. There is a specialty certification that agents can receive from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. To learn more, see our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Conclusion: Find the right 55+ community in the Grand Canyon State
Arizona may not be Florida when it comes to retirement but it certainly draws many seniors with its natural beauty and warmer winters. Home to many 55+ communities including the largest in the country, the state has ample options for your next home in a community filled with activities, amenities, and like-minded neighbors. With long stretches of empty highway weaving together Arizona’s major metros, make sure that your community of choice is located in an area that meets your needs.
As you weigh your options, check out HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform to get connected with an SRES agent or a top-performing agent who can steer you toward a great 55+ community in Arizona.
Header Image Source: (Matthew Hamilton / Unsplash)
- "The 10 best states in the U.S. to spend your retirement in 2022," CNBC (January 2022)
- "9 Things You Must Know About Retiring to Arizona," Kiplinger (July 2021)
- "Arizona Narrows Gap With Florida as Retirement Destination," AARP (May 2019)
- "The Best Places to Retire in Arizona," 55Places.com (November 2021)