Moving to Arizona? Here’s Why Apache County Is Just Right for You

Located in the northeast corner of Arizona, Apache County is an area rich in culture and history. Founded on 24th February 1879, the area now has a population of 71,518 according to the last census. What the area lacks in numbers it makes up for in natural resource and beauty.

With its county seat in St. Johns, the Apache County area is home to several large organizations in the services, retail, and transportation industries. The county’s mission statement is to:

“serve our citizens through efficient allocation of resources and services, develop cooperative working relationships with communities and governments, and encourage residents and visitors to enjoy the diverse cultural heritage and abundant outdoor activities this County has to offer.”

The region experiences colder temperatures on average compared to both the state of Arizona and the United States. For example, in January the average low is 15°F, and the in July the average high is 78°F. In the US, the average figures for both periods are 22°F and 86°F respectively. There’s also more snowfall on average in area, but less rainfall over the course of the year.

What are the key benefits to living in the area?

In summary, the benefits of living in Apache County are plentiful, but we’d say the main attraction points for many current citizens of the area are:

  • Relaxed alternative housing regulations
  • Variety of recreational activities available in the surrounding area
  • A milder, but drier climate – family friendly
  • Lower cost of living compared to the rest of the US

Additionally, there are several grocery and convenience stores in the County that make getting your necessities simple.

  • Walmart – three stores within reach of the County at Snowflake, Show Low and just across the border in Gallup, New Mexico.
  • Home Depot – Between Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside
  • Walgreens – Also between Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside

Each of these are big positives for your average individual or family. We’ve broken each of the benefits down further to highlight just why Apache County, Arizona might be the ideal spot for you.

Alternative housing options in the area

If you’re considering alternative housing options in any area it’s worthwhile noting that there may be zoning requirements or restrictions on what you can, or cannot live in. As is usually the case, the purposes of these planning or zonal regulations is to encourage orderly growth whilst also protecting private property owned by residents on the wider county.

According to County sources, the planning and zoning commission was set up to:

  • Create, recommend, and amend a plan;
  • Develop the zoning ordinance;
  • Develop and adopt regulations governing the division of land; and
  • Review applications for subdivisions, zone changes, and conditional use permits.

Full details of building ordinance permits and requirements can be found here, but in short, any construction or development that takes place in the County should have:

  • Septic permits
  • Building permits
  • Manufactured home permits; and
  • Zoning compliance

It should be noted however, that in Apache County the following types of alternative housing are considered “unconventional” and “out-of-scope” for construction:

  • Earth ships
  • Rammed Earth

That said, Arizona certainly offers more flexible living regulations compared to some other states, for example, living in an RV, camper, van, tiny home, container home, etc. is allowed while in many other parts of the US it is forbidden. This is an ideal way for living for many people who like to have the option to get up and move whenever they like without being tied to a specific location

It’s also worth considering how climate and geographical designs restrictions may impact your choice of alternative housing – there are a series of factors that can impact what types of building may be more feasible than others. In the outlined regulation, it’s important to consider loads, hazards, and other criteria.

It’s always worthwhile to check directly with any region you’re intending to move to or build in before you start making decisions regarding housing. Outline your specific desires in terms of type of house, whether you’ll be on or off-grid, and if you intend to leave within a set period.

A couple of elk in Arizona

What’s it like to live in Apache County?

Arizona has vast areas of both public and private land that are ideal for people who love outdoor adventures. With that said, there are still some regulations in terms of what you can or cannot do on both public and private land. We’ve outlined some general regulation you should be aware of, plus some specific examples of when there may be things to consider.


There’s a range of wild game to hunt in Apache County, particularly in White Mountain, where you’ll find bear, elk, turkey, deer, and mountain lions. There are a series of events held throughout the year, that attract hunters from all over the state and further afield, which you can find out more about here.

If you’re a keen hunter you’ll be aware that most states have laws governing the practice of hunting on both private and public land. In the case of Apache County (and in general Arizona) you should remember that:

  • Unless there is clear signage stating, “no hunting” on private land then citizens can hunt on that land
  • You’re permitted to fire weapons within municipality limits provided it’s within the legal season. This applies mostly to undeveloped, uninhabited land that happens to be within municipal boundaries but at least a quarter of a mile from an inhabited building
  • You need a licence to hunt on private property
  • There is a landowner incentive in place to encourage landowners to make their land accessible to the public for use


If you’re considering growing your own food or farming animals in Apache County, AZ you might be interested to learn more about what some current residents have done. The county has the highest number of farms in the state with 5,591 farms. Generally, across the state the most common items farmed are:

  • Vegetables – melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Milk from cows
  • Cattle and calves
  • Crops and hay
  • Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod

What is there to do in the area?

There’s no shortage of activities to do in Apache County – as mentioned, it’s a hotspot for outdoor adventure and discovery. We’ve selected a few locations that are worth visiting if you’re in the area or are intending to move to Apache County.

Petrified wood within the Petrified National Forest

Petrified Forest National Park

Arguably the national park is best experienced on foot, especially since bicycles are not allowed on the trails, except for the half mile access trail that leads to the junction between the Long Logs and Agate House Trails. If you keep to the designated trails whilst you’re on developed hiking areas it’s probably advisable.

If you’re looking for something a little different to hiking and backpacking you could also try Geocaching- a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. There’s also horse riding options should you prefer a slow ride around the park.

White Mountain

The White Mountain region near Apache County is littered with activities and things to do should you wish to wander slightly. You might want to consider:

  • Golf – there are several courses in the area
  • Festivals and events – White mountain is a diverse region; something that is celebrated throughout the year through a variety of festivals, parades, historic celebrations and Native American ceremonials. These include:

4×4 off-road ATV adventures

One of the most popular outdoor activities in the area, with over 20 trials available throughout the county. The trials vary in length and difficulty with the longest being the 218-mile round-trip Coronado Marathon Trial. There are options for under-16-year-old users as well, provided they have supervision. It’s also recommended that you prepare for the trails based on the weather conditions:

  • Poor weather – bring rain gear and warm clothes
  • Dry weather – bring bandanas for dust and sun screen, plus lots of water

Also, just because you’re based in Apache County doesn’t mean you should limit yourself the area – Arizona has some fantastic activities including:

Apache County is a region that has filled with history and hidden charm. It’s particularly suitable for people interested in exploring the wild, soaking up nature for all it’s worth, and potentially opting for an off-grid housing to escape the urban life.


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