Retiring in Prescott: It’s Not Just for Seniors

Is Prescott just a retirement destination for seniors? Having lived in Prescott for years, I get asked this question frequently. The answer is a hard, NO!

With its beautiful landscapes, reasonable cost of living, and tax benefits, Prescott has become an increasingly attractive destination for people of all ages who want to retire or buy a second home. 

What does retirement look like here, especially if you’re under the age of 55? We’ll take a closer look at the demographics, quality of life opportunities, and more that makeup today’s modern version of retirement in Prescott.

Table of Contents:

Demographics of Retirees Moving to Prescott

Prescott is a historic place, founded in 1864. It was twice the capital of Arizona Territory. Many residents refer to Prescott as “everybody’s hometown.” And it is.

Some have described the Prescott courthouse plaza as a “movie set.” It is truly idyllic.

The age range of retirees moving to Prescott is quite varied. The majority are between 55 and 74, but many have chosen to retire early in their 40s and 50s. They move here for the mild climate and beautiful scenery. 

Prescott is a city where the young, the middle-aged, and the seniors come together. In my circle of friends (and it’s ever-expanding), we range between 40 and 75. We draw from each other’s experiences, learn from each other, and have a great time together. This is what makes the Prescott lifestyle so unique.

It’s a multi-generational and multi-cultural city. There is a great sense of unity here, unlike other cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. It is the center of our city, the downtown courthouse plaza, that brings people together from every walk of life. 

You won’t find a courthouse plaza like ours in Prescott Valley, Sedona, or Flagstaff. Prescott is truly one-of-a-kind.

Prescott, Arizona Courthouse Plaza.
Prescott Courthouse Plaza. ©2023PrescottVoice

On any given day you can find families, retired couples, and teenagers engaging in conversation as they walk and mill around the courthouse square. Many people have dogs and you will find them being exercised every day on the plaza grounds.

Dogs are great conversation starters. I have personally met many people this way who have become lifelong friends. 

I live on the most iconic and historic street in all of Prescott, and I am always meeting and talking with people (especially first-time visitors) as they walk our beautiful tree-lined street.

Reasons for moving here vary. The cost of living is probably not at the top of the list. Prescott on average is about 20% higher than the national average for cost of living. However, the quality of life here is 99% better (in my unbiased opinion) than in many cities in the United States.

Someone coming from California, for example, may think Prescott’s cost of living is low. That would stand to reason as the cost of living is 50% to 75% higher in California than in the rest of the nation. On the other hand, someone moving to Prescott from Oklahoma may consider Prescott’s cost of living high. 

Inflation has taken a bite out of everyone’s pocketbooks in the last two years, but overall, Prescott’s cost of living is reasonable when compared to other destination cities.

Our mild climate, beautiful surroundings, cultural events, and the people that live here make this a great place to hang your hat. It’s just that simple. 

Photo of young and old enjoying time together in Prescott, Arizona.

Others move here because they want to be closer to family members already living here. Many find that Prescott offers an exceptional quality of life with plenty of outdoor activities and educational opportunities nearby.

Retirees moving to Prescott come from a variety of age ranges and backgrounds, with many citing recreational opportunities as reasons for relocating. However, retirement in Prescott is not limited to seniors, not even close. Younger generations can also take advantage of Prescott’s benefits by retiring early and they do. 

Retirement is for Younger Generations, Too

Retirement in Prescott for Younger Generations

Retiring early is becoming increasingly popular among younger generations, and Prescott has a lot to offer. Here are some benefits and opportunities available for younger retirees in this area.

Benefits of Retiring Early:

One of the most significant advantages of retiring early is having more time to pursue hobbies or activities you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance. 

With no need to worry about working long hours or commuting, there’s plenty of time for leisurely pursuits like golfing, hiking, hunting, fishing, or simply exploring all that Northern Arizona has to offer.

In our 40s and 50s, we are generally healthier and stronger and able to pursue more extreme sports, too. This makes Prescott the perfect choice for early retirement. 

There’s also an opportunity to travel more often since most people have fewer financial obligations when they retire earlier than expected.

Prescott Valley, Sedona, Jerome, Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Dewey, and Chino Valley are just some of the surrounding cities you can explore. It will take you more than a lifetime to discover all that Prescott and the entirety of Yavapai County have to offer. 

The outdoor activities in Prescott are numerous. Here are a few of my favorites:

Another extremely popular and thrilling activity here is off-roading in a side-by-side (SxS or SXV off-road vehicle) up Senator Highway, which runs between Prescott and Crown King. If you’ve never done this, you should. It’s a blast.

You will see many retirees in their 70s and 80s taking this remote dirt road, joining groups of people of all ages (30s to 60s). It’s great fun and a real treat when you arrive at the old gold mining town of Crown King. 

Theresa and Logan Franks on their way to Jerome, Arizona in ther sxs (off-road vehicle)
We couldn’t resist stopping for a photo of this beautiful landscape on our way to Jerome in our SxS (off-road vehicle). Check out that view. Theresa and Logan Franks. ©2023PrescottVoice

After you have braved the off-road trip to Crown King, you’ll want to visit Jerome, another old mining ghost town at the top of Cleopatra Hill, located between Sedona and Prescott, is a fun trip. Once there, you will want to eat a hearty lunch at my favorite restaurant, “The Haunted Hamburger.”  

Housing Costs in Prescott:

The housing market was on a tear a year ago. Prices were through the roof for any real estate remotely close to the downtown area. However, since interest rates have doubled, housing starts and the resale market has slowed. However, inventory is still relatively low in Prescott and, as a result, prices have remained elevated.

Renting is much higher in Prescott than it once was. Again, low inventory translates to higher rents. The average price of rentals in 2023 is anywhere from $1500 to $4,000 per month in the downtown area, depending on location, type of rental, and square footage.

The Airbnb market here is healthy. There are numerous short-term rentals. If you are thinking of moving to Prescott, I suggest booking a stay. It’s a great way to explore the area. I own and operate, “The Shady Victorian,” an Airbnb a few blocks from downtown Prescott. 

In the outlying areas of Prescott, such as Williamson Valley, Chino Valley, or Prescott Valley you may find housing prices and rents to be less, but not by much.

A beautiful historic home in Prescott, Arizona.
Historic home on S. Mt. Vernon, Prescott, AZ. ©2023PrescottVoice

And if you are hoping to buy vacant land, well that is at a premium, too. Much of it has been gobbled up by developers in the frenzy to meet the demand for new homes. Prescott and Prescott Valley have exploded in growth over the last 10 years.

For the 55 and older crowd, there are retirement communities everywhere. We have friends that live in the Capital Canyon Club community. If you love golf and gorgeous homes, it’s the place for you. It’s just minutes from downtown.

Talking Rock, Inscription Canyon, and American Ranch are outside of town and are beautiful communities. Prescott Lakes is another great option. 

If you are of a mind to work once you retire to Prescott (I’ll probably never retire) there are plenty of job opportunities throughout Prescott and the surrounding area, which could help supplement your income while allowing you enough free time to enjoy your newfound freedom from full-time employment.

From hospitality jobs such as hotel management positions and restaurant waitstaff roles to professional services — there is something out there for everyone. And if you are of the mind to start your own business, well, we would love to have you do just that.

Prescott and the Chamber of Commerce are supportive of small business owners.

Retiring in Prescott offers both older and younger generations the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life, with plenty of outdoor activities and recreation, healthcare options, cultural events, and attractions.

With this in mind, let’s explore the quality of life that Prescott has to offer.

Quality of Life in Prescott, Arizona

Outdoor Activities and Recreation:

As I already shared above, Prescott, Arizona, is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.

Hiking trails wind through the city’s mountains, offering stunning views of nearby lakes and forests.

Mountain biking is also a popular thing to do here. The Whiskey Row Off-Road Mountain Biking event is held here annually.

In the summer, you will see hordes of campers coming from the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix) to spend their vacations and holidays at the numerous campgrounds in the area.

Fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of several stocked lakes and hunting is also popular here. 

If you are a golfer, then the Antelope Hills Golf course is a great option. It is a public course, so no membership fee is required. 

There is no shortage of nightlife here in Prescott. Whiskey Row offers great food and great dancing. There’s always a band playing somewhere on Whiskey Row.

The 1910 "Lady Ermintrude" historic fountain at the Prescott Courthouse Plaza.
1910 “Lady Ermintrude” Historic Fountain at the Prescott Courthouse Plaza. ©2023PrescottVoice

The endless cultural events that are sponsored by the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in Prescott will have you buzzing with activity. The Sharlot Hall Museum in downtown Prescott hosts events all year long, too.

There is so much to do and see here, your social calendar will be full year-round.

Healthcare Options and Services Available:

Prescott has an excellent healthcare system with numerous hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, pharmacies, and specialty providers throughout the city, including Prescott Valley.

Yavapai Regional Medical Center is a full-service hospital that provides emergency services 24 hours a day along with primary care physicians on staff for routine checkups or treatment plans for chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Numerous walk-in clinics are available if you need immediate medical attention but don’t require an emergency room visit. 

Healthcare choices aren’t as plentiful as they are in a large city. That said, I haven’t had any trouble finding good, quality care here.

I suggest checking with local physicians in the Prescott area to see what healthcare is offered for your particular situation. 

Mayo Clinic is only an hour and a half drive to north Phoenix. 

Education Opportunities in Prescott, Arizona

Prescott offers a variety of educational opportunities for children and adults. For those looking to pursue their education in the area, there are public universities nearby and private schools and colleges located within the Prescott area.

Public Schools and Universities Nearby:

Three school districts serve Prescott; Humboldt Unified School District, Chino Valley Unified School District, and Prescott Unified School District. These districts offer K-12 education options with a wide range of courses, from core subjects to advanced placement classes.

Additionally, Yavapai College provides higher education opportunities with associate degrees in arts or science along with certificate programs available online or on campus. Northern Arizona University also has a satellite campus outside town that offers bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, nursing, psychology, and more.

Private Schools and Colleges in the Area:

Several private schools are located throughout Prescott, including Trinity Christian Academy, which serves K-8th grade students through an accredited curriculum based on biblical principles while offering small class sizes for individualized instruction.

One of my favorite schools is Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. They have a branch campus near downtown that focuses on aviation-related studies such as engineering technology management, aeronautics operations research, and aviation safety management systems.

The city of Prescott offers many continuing education courses for adults interested in learning new skills or brushing up on old ones, such as computer programming, photography, web design, cooking, and foreign languages.

Yavapai College also hosts numerous workshops, seminars, lectures, conferences, symposiums, art shows, music concerts, theater performances, dance recitals, and more all year round so there is always something interesting going on at any given time.

Prescott, Arizona, offers various educational opportunities for all ages, from public and private schools to universities and continuing education programs.

Next, we’ll explore the tax benefits of retiring in Prescott, Arizona.

Tax Benefits of Retiring in Prescott, Arizona

Retiring in Prescott, Arizona, can be an excellent decision for those looking to enjoy the beauty of Northern Arizona and take advantage of some tax benefits. Property taxes are one of the most significant expenses retirees face, but there are exemptions available that could save them money.

Property Tax Exemptions for Seniors:

Retirees over 65 may qualify for property tax exemptions from Yavapai County if they meet specific criteria. To qualify, seniors must have owned and occupied their home as their primary residence for at least two years before applying for an exemption. The exemption amount depends on the home’s assessed value; it ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 per year.

State Income Tax Breaks for Retirees:

In addition to property tax exemptions, retirees in Prescott may also benefit from state income tax breaks. For example, Social Security benefits are exempt from taxation in Arizona up to a specific limit each year depending on filing status and other factors such as age or disability status. Additionally, pension income is taxed at lower rates than earned income and can be deducted up to a certain amount each year based on filing status and age.

For the 2022 tax year, the range for state income tax is 2.55% on earned income up to $57,305 (for married couples) and $28,653 (for singles). Earners that exceed these income amounts are taxed at 2.98%.

Local and state income taxes are 8.40%. Property taxes are about $500 per $100,000 assessed value. There is no estate or inheritance tax in Arizona.

Federal taxes can also be reduced by taking advantage of deductions or credits available designed explicitly with retirees in mind, such as medical expense deductions or retirement savings contributions credits (Saver’s Credit). Furthermore, capital gains taxes may be deferred until after retirement when investments are sold, potentially resulting in lower overall taxable income during retirement years when incomes tend to decrease significantly due to no longer working full-time jobs.

FAQs About Living and Retiring in Prescott, Arizona

Why do people retire to Prescott?

People retire to Prescott for its unique combination of small-town charm and big-city amenities. It offers a relaxed outdoor lifestyle with plenty of recreation, entertainment, shopping, and dining opportunities.

The area is known for its mild climate and low taxes. With easy access to nearby national forests, lakes, and trails, retirees can enjoy the beauty of Northern Arizona without having to travel far from home.

Prescott also boasts a vibrant arts community with numerous galleries, museums, and performing arts venues that provide year-round cultural enrichment.

Is Prescott retirement friendly?

Yes, Prescott is a great place to live and retire, especially for those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. The area offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and golfing. There are also many cultural attractions like the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Phippen Museum.

The cost of living in Prescott is lower than in other parts of Arizona, making it an attractive option for retirees looking to stretch their retirement savings further.

Most of all, it’s the sense of community here where friends gather and do life together. All these factors make Prescott a desirable destination for those seeking an active retirement lifestyle in a beautiful setting.

Why are so few homes for sale in Prescott?

We are a destination city and demand is a significant factor. First, the area has seen an influx of people moving from California and other parts of the country, looking for a slower pace and more affordable housing and retirement options.

Second, the local economy has been relatively stable over the past few years, with job growth outpacing population growth.

Finally, many retirees have chosen to move to Prescott as it offers excellent quality-of-life amenities such as outdoor recreation and cultural attractions.

All these factors combined make Prescott an attractive place to live or invest in real estate.

Why do people live in Prescott?

People live in Prescott, AZ, for its unique combination of outdoor recreation and small-town charm. It is home to various activities, including hiking, biking, camping, fishing, golfing, and more.

The city has an array of historic sites and museums that showcase the area’s rich history. Prescott offers something for everyone with its vibrant downtown area filled with shops and restaurants and numerous festivals throughout the year.

Its mild climate makes it a great place to enjoy all four seasons while still being close enough to larger cities like Sedona, Flagstaff, or Scottsdale for day trips or weekend getaways. Prescott is truly a special place to call home.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a place to retire or simply want to experience Prescott’s unique lifestyle, there is something for everyone here. The city offers many benefits to retirees of all ages, from tax advantages to quality-of-life amenities.

Prescott also offers plenty of educational opportunities, making it an attractive option for those looking to start a new career, open a business, or continue their education after retirement.

Come explore what this amazing city has to offer today! Let us help you discover how living and retiring in Prescott can be just as exciting for middle-aged adults as it is for seniors.

About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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