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Moving to Vail, Arizona? Read This Guide!

Vail Arizona

Vail is an unincorporated area southeast of Tucson.

This family-friendly suburb has mountain views, spectacular sunsets, plentiful sunshine, occasional snowdrifts in the winter, and plenty of wide open spaces.

Most people move to Vail for one or more of the following four reasons.

They:

  1. want a NEW or NEWER house and can't (or don't want to) pay top dollar for homes within the city limits.
  2. own horses or are looking for a ranch/farm/homestead life.
  3. would like their children to enroll in one of the award-winning public schools in the Vail School District.
  4. work in Vail, Benson, or southeast Tucson.

Neighborhoods in Vail

Most of the neighborhoods in Vail are cookie-cutter style new developments, which range in construction date from the early 1980s to 2018. That said, you can also find ranches, farms, and horse property on acreage at good prices in this area.

You may want to begin your search in one of the following neighborhoods:

Although not in Vail proper, Rita Ranch, Civano, Sierra Morado, and Mesquite Ranch are other popular neighborhoods in the southeast Tucson area.

Most of the neighborhoods in Vail have Homeowners Associations (HOAs) due to the close proximity of the houses. HOAs typically preside over issues like weeds, illegally parked vehicles, visible trash cans, exterior paint colors, etc.

* NOTE: If you want to buy a home in Vail or southeast Tucson, we recommend realtor Tim Sheaffer. Call or text him to see available properties: 520-305-9005. Even if you want to buy/build a brand new house, it's wise to bring a realtor with you on your 1st visit to see the model homes so that you have someone to negotiate on your behalf. 

We recommend Tucson REALTOR Tim Sheaffer!

Homes/Architecture in Vail

Most of the homes in Vail are single or dual story homes between 1200-2800 square feet. You'll see miles upon miles of houses in the exact same design and colors with matching landscaping.

Schools in Vail

There is much pride in the public schools in Vail. Helmed by highly esteemed Superintendent Calvin Baker, the Vail School District has held an important role in the community since its inception in 1903. Every school in Vail that is eligible to be an A+ school is one. There are currently nineteen schools in the Vail School District, which serve 12,000 students enrolled in K to 12.

The Vail School District is known for innovation and high standards. Along with its traditional schools, Vail offers a blended learning center, an online homeschool partnership for K-5, Vail Distance Learning, and an Early College program.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS IN VAIL

  • Acacia Elementary School
  • Civano Community K-8 School
  • Copper Ridge Elementary School
  • Cottonwood Elementary School
  • Desert Willow Elementary School
  • Esmond Station K-8 School
  • Mesquite Elementary School
  • Octotillo Ridge Elementary School
  • Senita Valley Elementary School
  • Sycamore Elementary School
  • Vail Academy and High School
  • Vail Blended Learning/Vail Digital Learning

MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN VAIL

  • Civano Community K-8 School
  • Corona Foothills Middle School
  • Desert Sky Middle School
  • Esmond Station K-8 School
  • Old Vail Middle School
  • Rincon Vista Middle School
  • Vail Academy and High School
  • Vail Blended Learning/Vail Digital Learning

HIGH SCHOOLS IN TUCSON

  • Andrada Polytechnic High School
  • Cienega High School
  • Empire High School
  • Pantano High School
  • Vail Academy and High School
  • Vail Blended Learning/Vail Digital Learning

Click here for attendance boundaries for schools in the Vail District. If you are north of Irvington Road/Old Spanish Trail or west of Wilmot, you are probably outside of the Vail School District boundaries and will need to enroll your child in the Tucson Unified School District.

CHRISTIAN/PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN VAIL

There are no Christian/private schools for grades 1-12 in Vail. For early education, Christ Lutheran Vail offers Creation School for toddlers, preschool, and kindergarten.

HOMESCHOOLING IN VAIL

There is a somewhat active homeschooling community in Vail and southeast Tucson. For more information about local groups and resources, see our homeschooling in Tucson page.

Churches in Vail

Vail Christian Church Arizona
Photo Credit: Vail Christian Church

The churches in or near Vail are:

  • Authentic Life Church (meets at Vail Academy and High School)
  • Christ Lutheran Vail (meets at Cienega High School)
  • Grace Fellowship
  • Grace Lutheran Church (meets at Esmond Station K-8 School)
  • Oasis Church (meets at Desert Sky Middle School)
  • Revolution Church (meets at Empire High School)
  • St. Rita in the Desert
  • Rincon Valley Cowboy Church
  • Vail Christian Church
  • Vail Valley Baptist Church
  • Victory Baptist Church

Some families choose to drive "in to town" to attend Pantano Christian Church or Christ Community Church, two of the larger churches in east Tucson.

Restaurants in Vail

The restaurant scene in Vail is pretty dismal (it's true). The options tend to be standard fast food or chain fare: Arby's, Bruegger's, Carl's Jr., Dairy Queen, Freddy's, McDonalds, Nico's, Jerry Bob's, Panda Express, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Taco Bell.

Arizona Pizza Company, Montgomery's Grill & Saloon, and Argenziano's are three locally-owned, sit-down restaurants. If you go to Argenziano's, try the calzones! Mmmm.

Grocery Stores in Vail

Vail boasts one of the best Fry's Food & Drug grocery stores in Southern Arizona. It's expansive and has a bountiful produce section, plus sushi, a deli, a bakery, and a pharmacy.

There is also a new Safeway in Del Lago - with a fuel center, full-service Starbuck, juice bar, and premier produce department.

A Walmart Supercenter can also be found at Houghton and Mary Ann Cleveland Way.

Coffee in Vail

The two coffeehouses in this region are the Civano Coffee House and Tay's Brew House. A Starbucks can also be found in the Safeway in Del Lago (see above).

Parks in Vail

Esmond Station Regional Park Vail Arizona
Planned: Esmond Station Regional Park

Because Vail is unincorporated land in Pima County, it does not have the same advantages as towns and cities do in terms of development. This shows in its lack of parks, libraries, and community spaces.

Some (but not all) of the neighborhoods do have small community parks, but they do not offer the same amenities or appeal as larger city and regional parks.

The closest county park is Purple Heart Park in Rita Ranch, which has a playground, a dog park, a swimming pool, and a skate park.

***Exciting news! Pima County has begun development on a 274-acre Esmond Station Regional Park.

Libraries in Vail

Southeast Library Esmond Station Regional Park Vail
Preliminary Drawing: Southeast Library at Esmond Station Regional Park (coming 2020!)

See notes above. There are currently no libraries in Vail, but one is in the works! Follow the Southeast Library at Esmond Station Regional Park facebook page for updates.

Most people in Vail currently frequent the Miller-Golf Links Library, which is between 15-35 minutes away (depending on where you live in Vail).

Other Shopping

Stores you won't find in Vail include Target, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Kate Spade, Pottery Barn, and high-end retailers.

The nearest Costco is about twenty minutes away.

Things to Do With Kids in Vail, Arizona

Because the homes tend to be affordable and the school district has such a sparkling reputation, Vail attracts plenty of young and new families! On most streets, you will find lots of children of various ages.

Vail School District events tend to be the "hub" of community life in Vail - offering sports, extracurricular activities, carnivals, and family events.

You won't find a hot culture scene in Vail (no museums, libraries, bookstores, professional theatre, etc), but there are children's activities available if you look for them: Ballet Rincon, Springs Gymnastics, Vail Soccer Club, to name a few. You and your family may also enjoy hiking at the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead at Cienega creek.

Pros & Cons of Living in Vail, Arizona

CONS

You might NOT want to live in Vail if you...

  • enjoy being able to get everywhere you want to go in 10 minutes or less
  • want to be able to make quick trips to Target, Costco, or high-end retailers
  • are a foodie and love a strong restaurant scene
  • plan to send your children to private or charter schools
  • prefer homes with architectural character

PROS

You might like living in Vail if you…

  • regularly visit or are employed in Vail, Corona de Tucson, Benson, Sonoita, Elgin, St David, Sierra Vista, or southeast Tucson
  • desire quick access to I-10
  • prefer new or newer homes
  • own horses or would like to start a farm
  • have your heart set on owning land (but can't afford plots in the city limits)
  • want your children to attend schools in the Vail School District
  • don't mind long commutes to work, activities, and shopping

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Stay tuned for continued updates to this page or check out our other real estate related content! TucsonTopia is your #1 Tucson resource!

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