20 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Arizona
The average American commutes about 25 minutes to and from work each day. But those who call the best commuter cities of Arizona home can make the trip to work in just 19 minutes, and an impressive 53 percent commute less than 15 minutes.
Commuting time is important because, in addition to increasing stress levels and negatively affecting overall well being, workers with long commutes usually are quoted higher insurance rates. On the other hand, workers who have short commutes may pay less for car insurance, and that’s why we’re spotlighting the best commuter cities in Arizona.
To determine which cities made the list, Obrella identified the cities in Arizona with a population of more than 10,000 residents at the time of the 2013 Census Survey and studied traffic data from these cities according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau survey.
How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums
When you talk with an agent about auto insurance, they will ask how far you commute. That’s because the more time you spend on the road, the greater the chance you could be involved in an accident. That makes you riskier to insure and, as a result, you’ll likely pay a higher auto insurance premium.
When you shop for car insurance, it’s important to give the agent an accurate estimate of your commute and update your provider if your commute shortens or lengthens. If you move and your commute is longer, your monthly insurance premium could increase by as much as $10. You should contact your car insurance company in Arizona to determine how a change in your commute may impact your auto insurance premium.
How Commute Time Affects Quality of Life
Take a look at these facts about how a long commute can have a negative impact on your life.
- A study by social geographer Erika Sandow found that a marriage is 40 percent more likely to end in divorce when one partner commutes longer than 45 minutes per day.
- Research from Thomas James Christian of Brown University shows that every minute a person spends commuting, they decrease the amount of time they spend involved in healthy pursuits like exercising, preparing meals, and resting.
- Research by Political Scientist Robert Putnam reveals that a person’s social connections are reduced by 10 percent for every 10 minutes a person spends commuting.
- When compared with people who have shorter commutes, workers with longer commutes are more likely to feel tired, experience greater anxiety, and less pleasure.
- The University of California Los Angeles and California State University Long Beach conducted a study that showed length of commute had a stronger correlation with obesity than any other factor analyzed.
- A Gallup Poll found that workers who commute longer than 90 minutes are at increased risk for neck problems and chronic back pain.
If you have a long commute, it’s probably having a negative impact on several areas of your life. The good news is, there are ways you can shorten your commute. From carpooling to using mass transit, relocating or changing jobs, find out how residents of the best commuter cities in Arizona spend an average of just 19 minutes getting to work each day.
The 20 Best Commuter Cities in Arizona
#1 – Sedona
The most commuter friendly city in the Grand Canyon State is also one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations. In addition to mild seasons and stunning vistas, Sedona is a haven for healers, artisans, and wellness aficionados who seek a mellow lifestyle. We weren’t surprised to discover that “Fodors” named Sedona one of the “10 Best Towns in America.”
At 14 percent, Sedona has the highest percentage of telecommuters on our list, and that may be one reason why the average commute in Sedona is just 15.3 minutes. That’s 10 minutes less than the national average.
#2 – Payson
Payson is a welcoming community where neighbors know each other by name. It’s situated in the center of Arizona, between the Sierra Ancha and the Mazatzal Mountain Ranges. Due to Payson’s rather isolated location, most residents work locally. Over 76 percent get from home to their place of employment in less than 15 minutes, which is the highest percentage of any city on our list.
Payson’s mild climate is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who take advantage of Tonto National Forest and Green Valley Park. Plus, Payson residents can get to both Phoenix and Flagstaff in about 90 minutes.
#3 – Douglas
Historic and charming describe the commuter-friendly community of Douglas. It’s also been noted as one of America’s best micropolitan areas, due to its wealth of amenities, expanding economy, and reasonable cost of living. Nearly 20 percent of Douglas’ workers share a ride to the office, which is twice the national carpooling average.
#4 – Flagstaff
The most populated city in Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is the county seat of Coconino County. As a result, many Flagstaff residents hold government jobs. But, it’s also home to Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University, so jobs in education and research are also common. Nestle Purina and Joy Cone, an ice cream cone manufacturer, are two of Flagstaff’s largest private employers.
Whether they work in the public or private sector, nine out of 10 Flagstaff residents commute 29 minutes or less.
#5 – Yuma
Yuma is a lively multicultural community located along the Colorado River, in the southwest corner of the state. It’s the third most populated city on our list, but boasts a commute time that’s roughly eight minutes faster than the national and state average.
Yuma is home to two significant military installations, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. The military is a major employer in Yuma County and, after agriculture, it’s the largest contributor to the local economy.
#6 – Sierra Vista
Nestled against the Huachuca Mountains and near the San Pedro River, Sierra Vista is scenic and full of recreational opportunities. It’s home to Fort Huachuca, the headquarters of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, which employs nearly 8,000 people. Private employers, including General Dynamics Information Technology, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Raytheon Intelligence, employ over 1,000 people in the technology, intelligence, and security sectors. Those who call Sierra Vista home spend 30 percent less time commuting than the average American.
#7 – Nogales
Quality schools, low crime rates, and affordable housing are a few reasons why Nogales is a great place to live and work. Nogales is situated along the state’s southern boundary and serves as a gateway between the U.S. and Mexico. It’s also the number one port of entry in the entire Southwestern U.S., and offers a number of incentives for businesses.
A progressive city, rich with traditions and strong sense of heritage, Nogales is an ideal place to settle if you want to spend more time with family and less time behind the wheel. In fact, five in 10 locals get from home to work in 15 minutes or less and nine out of 10 make the trip in less than 29 minutes.
#8 – Lake Havasu City
On the eastern shore of Lake Havasu is Lake Havasu City. People are drawn to the progressive community because of its calm waters, striking beaches, and abundance of recreational pursuits. They make Lake Havasu City home because it also offers a broad range of community amenities, including an airport, numerous parks, and miles of bike and pedestrian trails.
More than 14 percent of Lake Havasu City locals either carpool or use mass transit to get to work, and when they do, many find themselves employed by the Havasu City government, Havasu Regional Medical Center, or Sterilite Corporation, three of the region’s largest employers.
#9 – Florence
Located half way between Phoenix and Tucson, Florence is a historic small town with a lot to offer. In addition to having one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S., Florence residents also enjoy a commute that’s seven minutes faster than the average American’s. Plus, 71 percent of those who call Florence home spend less than 15 minutes commuting. Corrections, government, and education account for more than 90 percent of jobs in Florence, and employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector are growing.
#10 – Prescott
Prescott is an easygoing community where newcomers have no trouble making friends. It also offers low crime, excellent air quality, and short commutes. It’s no wonder Prescott saw steady population growth over the last decade, and business is booming. In fact, Prescott is currently planning the development of an 8,000 acre live, work, and play environment. Leading private employers include Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Cobham Aerospace Communications.
Over six percent of Prescott residents work from home. Among those who drive to work, 90 percent commute for less than 29 minutes.
#11 – Show Low
Show Low residents can brag they live in one of the state’s best commuter cities, and one of its fastest growing. Since 2000, Show Low’s population has increased by 40 percent, and its per capita and household incomes have improved by 22 percent and 25 percent respectively. As a result, Show Low is showered with positive press, especially spotlighting their housing, location, recreation, and health care.
Join those who have made the move to Show Low and there’s a 62 percent chance you’ll commute for 15 minutes or less and an 84 percent chance the drive to work will take less than 29 minutes.
#12 – Kingman
Excellent schools, nominal crime, and low cost of living are a few of the factors rapidly attracting new residents and businesses to Kingman. In fact, the city’s population has more than doubled over the last two decades and continues to increase.
Kingman’s already impressive commute time of 18.7 minutes may get even better once Interstate 11, a freeway that connects Las Vegas with Phoenix via Kingman, is complete. Over 17 percent of Kingman’s residents carpool to work, which is 70 percent more than the national average.
#13 – Casa Grande
Dissected by two Interstate highways and only one hour to Tucson or Phoenix, Casa Grande is located in an area known as Arizona’s Golden Corridor. With diverse business parks, a skilled workforce, and focus on innovation, Casa Grande is a business friendly community where corporations like ACO Polymer, Walmart and Frito Lay have a significant presence. Recently, Tractor Supply Company selected Casa Grande as the location of their newest distribution center.
Roughly six out of 10 Casa Grande residents enjoy a drive to the office that’s less than 15, and eight in 10 get there in less than 29 minutes.
#14 – Cottonwood
“Respectful of its past and focused on its future,” the commuter friendly community of Cottonwood is noted as the commercial hub of Verde Valley. Cottonwood’s largest employer is the Verde Valley Medical Center, which boasts a nationally recognized life-saving cardiac intervention program.
From hiking to river rafting, bird watching to bicycling, Cottonwood’s residents have a wide variety of outdoor activities to choose from. It’s a good thing they only spend an average of 20.5 minutes behind the wheel.
#15 – Bullhead City
Bullhead City is located in western Arizona, along the Colorado River. A desert paradise with nearly year-round sunshine, Bullhead City is a recreation enthusiast playground. It’s also a great place to raise a family. In addition to ideal weather, Bullhead City’s public schools are top-rated, and its violent crime rate is 40 percent lower than the national average.
Bullhead City earns our praise for having a higher percentage of carpoolers than any other best commuter city in Arizona. At 22.3 percent, the rate of carpooler in Bullhead City is more than twice the national average.
#16 – Tempe
From aerospace to solar energy research, Tempe is a hotbed for technology companies and approximately 20 percent of the jobs in Tempe are tech-related. In addition to being tech-savvy, Tempe received numerous accolades as a great place to live, including being named America’s Third Most Affordable, Fun City, the Most Walkable City in Arizona, and a Bicycle Friendly Community.
Tempe has almost 200,000 residents, but the average worker still enjoys a commute that’s three minutes faster than the typical U.S. citizen. Plus, at just 2.87 percent, Tempe’s rate of mega commuters is almost 70 percent lower than the national average.
#17 – Chino Valley
Chino Valley is located in the mountains of central Arizona, roughly 15 mile from Prescott. Mild temperatures, low crime and affordable housing are a few reasons why Chino Valley’s population has more than doubled over the last 20 years, despite its rather isolated location. As a result, jobs related to construction, service and supplies are on the increase.
Roughly 40 percent of Chino Valley workers commute for less than 15 minutes, and an impressive 15 percent carpool.
#18 – Tucson
Located in southern Arizona, Tucson is a popular tourist destination, but it’s also an ideal place to live and work. The University of Arizona, Raytheon Missile Systems, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are Tucson’s largest employers.
By far the most populated city on our list, Tucson deserves kudos for having one of the highest rate of carpoolers and the highest percentage of mass transit users among the best commuter cities in Arizona. In fact, nearly 20 percent of Tucson workers either carpool or use mass transit to get to work. Tucson also earns our respect for being a pedestrian and bike friendly city.
#19 – Paradise Valley
Paradise Valley is a small residential community of roughly 13,000 residents. Located less than 15 miles from the two much larger cities of Scottsdale and Phoenix, residents enjoy plenty of options when it comes to employment, yet nearly 11 percent of locals work from home. That’s the second highest percentage of telecommuters among the best commuter cities in Arizona, and more than twice the average.
#20 – Prescott Valley
Over the last 15 years, Prescott Valley’s population increased by almost 40 percent. Retails sales are strong, the housing market is growing, and major employers, like Yavapai Regional Medical Center, are expanding operations.
Thanks to Prescott Valley’s economic growth, residents don’t have to travel far to find work, which keeps commute times to a minimum. In fact, eight in 10 residents get from home to their place of employment in 29 minutes or less.
Which are the Worst Commuter Cities in Arizona?
From personal to professional, there are a number of reasons some Arizona workers endure lengthy commutes. And although the average commute time of a worker who lives in one of the state’s worst commuter cities is roughly eight minutes longer than the national average, 30 percent make it to work in less than 15 minutes, and almost half commute for 29 minutes or less.
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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Arizona cities whose population exceeded 10,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report.
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