Adjacent Community ProfilesTwo adjacent communities in Santa Cruz County offer distinct lifestyle options. Nogales is a well-established community incorporated in 1893 with an historic city center. The unincorporated Rio Rico, on the other hand, was a planned community of 39,000 acres with a 256-acre industrial park that was started in the 1960s.
Two Distinct Lifestyles Just Eight Miles Apart
The majority of the area workforce and its managers live in Nogales and Rio Rico. The populations of Rio Rico and Nogales differ by education level, home ownership and income, as well as language and ethnicity.
With a relatively similar population by size (around 20,000), but greater density than Rio Rico, Nogales serves as the economic, educational and cultural capital and the county seat of Santa Cruz County. Nogales is situated in a mountain pass at the narrowest point in the Santa Cruz River Valley in a high Sonoran Desert setting at an elevation of 3,865 feet.
Established as a trading post in 1880 by Russian immigrant and San Francisco merchant Jacob Isaacson and incorporated as a city in 1893, Nogales continued to flourish and develop a downtown area along what are now Grand and Morley Avenues. Here, unique shopping opportunities sit alongside historic and cultural sites. In fact, Nogales historic downtown includes 200 residential and commercial buildings on the National Historic Register. Outside of downtown, nationally recognized retailers are centered in Nogales.
Two pedestrian-friendly international border crossings located in downtown lead to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. One of these, the Morley Avenue Port of Entry, is the only exclusively pedestrian crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rio Rico, on the other hand, was a planned community that experienced 10-fold growth from 1990 to 2000 as a result of NAFTA. This Sonoran desert community, at 3,800 feet above sea level, straddles the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains near the Santa Cruz River and the Sonoita Creek State Park. For an expanding workforce, Rio Rico offers alternatives for existing homes and the construction of modern custom homes, many with larger lot sizes than Nogales.