We all know that Phoenix is an attractive vacation destination. With approximately 300 days of sun annually, an abundance of outdoor activities, and a never-ending list of new restaurants to try, it’s no surprise that over 16 million visitors travel to Phoenix every year. But is Phoenix an ideal place to live?
Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data for 2019, the answer is YES! In 2019, Phoenix attracted more residents than any other city in the U.S, marking it the fourth consecutive year the city has held that title. We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Phoenix where people move to retire?” The answer to that is yes, but thanks to its growing population and strong local economy, it’s become quite the place to be for all ages. From young professionals to families to retirees, people are taking advantage of Phoenix’s affordable housing, beautiful surroundings, and virtually non-existent winters.
So, whether you’ve been considering a move to Phoenix for a while, or if it’s relatively new on your list, we’re here to help you prepare with all the things you ought to know before moving to the Phoenix area.
Life in the Phoenix Area
Where is Phoenix located?
Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix is situated in the south-central portion of Arizona. If you’re from anywhere that is somewhat flat or close to sea level, brace yourself for a little bit of elevation. Although Phoenix itself is relatively flat, it is surrounded by mountains, sitting at about 1,086 ft. That said, Phoenix has the perfect mix of mountainous and flat regions to settle down in.
Phoenix is the fifth most populous city in the U.S, right behind Houston, TX, with 1.7 million residents and counting. Phoenix is currently the most populous state capital in the U.S and is also the only state capital with over 1 million residents. Phoenix’s population has grown 20% over the last decade, an increase mainly fueled by the arrival of tech companies and people from more expensive parts of the country seeking more affordable housing.
Florida may be “The Sunshine State”, but they only get an average of 237 days of sun per year. On the other hand, Phoenix gets an average of 300 days of sun per year, hence the local nickname: “valley of the sun”. Phoenix is smack dab in the middle of the desert, so with those 300 days of sun comes a very dry, emphasis on dry, heat. The chart below shows the average highs and lows by month in Phoenix.
65.0°F / 43.4°F
69.4°F / 47.0°F
91.9°F / 66.3°F/
86.4°F / 62.9°F
73.3°F / 50.0°F
As indicated by the chart, the seasons in Phoenix are not quite as diverse as other cities. Expect hot summers, pleasant fall and spring seasons, and delightfully cool winters.
Unlike many locations, Phoenix residents get to enjoy a bonus season: monsoon season! On average, Phoenix receives around 33 days of precipitation per year, which is typically restricted to the monsoon season that occurs late July to early August. During this time, you can expect afternoon thunderstorms, and beautiful desert plants in vibrant bloom after getting a desperately needed drink of water.
If you are seeking more affordable housing but don’t want to sacrifice on location or lifestyle, then Phoenix might just be the place for you. The median income for Phoenix residents is $60,931, the median rent is about $1050/month, while the median house value is $235,400. The cost of living in Phoenix is 5% lower than the national average, making it an ideal place for businesses, young professionals, families and retirees alike. Phoenix skews relatively young compared to other large cities in the U.S, with a median age of 33.8 years, which is five years below the national average. Popular industries in the Phoenix area include corporate recruiting, finance and insurance, software development, information technology, real estate, mechanical engineering, home construction, transportation and warehousing, and skilled labor.
What You Need to Know About Phoenix Area
The Greater Phoenix Area
The Greater Phoenix Area is roughly the size of Delaware and is made up of more than 20 cities and towns. Typically, Phoenicians tend to divide up the greater Phoenix area into six main regions, which include Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix, and the Southeast, Northeast, Northwest, and Southwest valleys.
How Locals View the Weather
The desert is not for the weak! Summer in Phoenix is no joke! That said, it’s safe to say that most Phoenix locals would take hot summers over shoveling snow in the winter any day. Some people actually embrace the heat, and that summer-year-round attitude is exactly what makes the Phoenix lifestyle so appealing. So, if swimming in October and picnics in February sound like something you’d be into, Phoenix is definitely the place to be.
Pools. One of the top factors to consider when house hunting in Phoenix is whether you want a pool! Pools are abundant in Phoenix homes, as they can be enjoyed nearly year-round. While the allure of having a pool right in your own backyard may sound ideal, it’s important to consider the tradeoff between convenience and expensive upkeep. Nonetheless, you’ll never have to completely give up your dream of having a pool, as many neighborhoods in the Phoenix area offer beautifully maintained community pools.
Lawns. Like many other cities along the sunbelt, Phoenix has used local ordinances to encourage builders and homeowners to depart from lush green lawns. Many Phoenix residents are embracing this change and instead have welcomed the aesthetic of landscaping with local Sonoran Desert plants. Plus, they are saving a fortune on their water bills, and conserving water.
A Haboob (yes, you heard us right) is a giant wall of dust created from high winds rushing out of a collapsing thunderstorm. These dust storms occur during the drier months of the year (June-September). They can be a bit intense, so be sure to seek shelter if you happen to be outdoors or pull off to the side of the road if you’re driving.
Food, food, and more food
Arizona is home to some of the best Mexican food in the country, with a range of settings to enjoy it in: street taco stands, fine dining, Mexican-Asian fusion, oh, and did we mention Sonoran Hot Dogs? If Mexican cuisine isn’t your jam, there are plenty of other mouth-watering options to choose from. With Michelin-star steakhouses by celebrity chefs, authentic pizzerias, and a surplus of brunch-spots, Phoenix has something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
No matter where you’re moving, if you have children, education is important to consider. Phoenix has more than 200 public school districts and over 400 charter and private schools that accommodate students from kindergarten through 12th grade. With the area’s enormous growth over the last decade, the city has adopted several initiatives to foster educational excellence.
Arizona also offers lots of opportunities for higher education, including the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona State University in Tempe, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and several fantastic community colleges. Not to mention, the in-state-tuition that Arizona residents get to enjoy.
Sports Fans are Covered
Phoenix is home to many professional sports teams including the NFL Cardinals, MLB Diamondbacks, NHL Coyotes, NBA Suns, WNBA Mercury, MLS Rising, and the IFL Rattlers. You can also get your fill of college sports with the ASU Sun Devils , U of A Wildcats, NAU Lumberjacks, and the GCU Lopes. On top of that, the greater Phoenix area hosts major sporting events every year, including college football's Fiesta Bowl; the PGA Tour’s highest-attended event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open; and NASCAR events in the spring and fall. Baseball lovers flock to the valley of the sun. The Phoenix area is also home to 15 teams in the MLB’s Cactus League for Spring Training and six Fall League teams.
In Phoenix, having a car is more of a necessity, especially if you commute to work. Thankfully, unlike other metropolitan cities, Phoenix’s well-planned grid road system and High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes help alleviate congestion and make getting around easy. If you don’t own a car, Downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale are your best bet. Downtown offers the most public-transportation options, with 29 bus routes and one light rail line. While Scottsdale has an abundance of valley metro transit stops, and a free trolley system.
No more worrying about turning back your clocks! Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. The history behind this decision can get complicated, but the main takeaway is due to Arizona's hot climate, people prefer to do their activities in cooler evening temperatures anyway. Hence, not extending daylight hours.
Things to do in the Phoenix Area
If you’re looking for fun a night out on the town, Phoenix has your back. From nightclubs to swim-up-bars to dinner and drinks with a view, there are plenty of options to choose from. Most of the city’s clubs and dance floors are in the Scottsdale and Tempe areas, but there are plenty of other areas as well. Phoenix also offers a plethora of hidden speakeasy’s when you’re looking for quieter drinks with a hint of mystery. If you’re interested in going to concerts and listening to live music, Phoenix attracts top performers to the larger arenas such as the Gila River arena, the Footprint Center where the Phoenix Suns and Mercury play and State Farm Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play. But that only scratches the surface on concert venues in to the greater Phoenix area. There are several large and small concert venues in Phoenix including the outdoor Ak-Chin Pavilion and Mesa Amphitheater as well as the Van Buren, and the Marquee Theater, all of which are some of the top stops on tour for many major artists. Oh, and did we mention that Phoenix is home to the Country Thunder music festival every fall?
Hikers, bikers, golfers, beware, once you move to Phoenix, you may never want to leave! The Sonoran Desert is the perfect place to play, but how you choose to enjoy it is up to you! Phoenix is home to nearly 200 golf courses located in resorts, remote landscapes, and city-owned courses. Hikers and mountain-bike pros can enjoy several trails across Phoenix’s rolling foothills, including the breathtakingly beautiful trails of camelback mountain, or the dreamy draw trails of Piestewa Peak.
Speaking of foothills, the resorts nestled against the mountains in the greater Phoenix area are some of the best in the United States. Stunningly beautiful landscapes, pools, and fine-dining restaurants make for the perfect stay-cation destination.
For all the retail-therapy lovers out there, Phoenix is more than accommodating. Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons offer luxury shopping experiences. For anyone on a budget, the Phoenix Premium Outlets provide luxury items at a discounted price.
For families wanting a whole experience, two premier destinations offer a variety of shopping, dining, and indoor and outdoor entertainment options. At Desert Ridge Marketplace in North Phoenix, you’ll enjoy a variety of stores, restaurants, outdoor fireplaces, along with a rock-climbing wall, Dave & Buster's, a movie theater, and an interactive splash pad for kids. The Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale is close to sports facilities and offers shopping, dining, and lots of outdoor fun throughout the year including a skating rink in winter and the popular fitness in the district series in the fall.
If that wasn’t enough, Melrose Shopping District in central Phoenix has some of the best vintage and antique shops you can find. In the west valley, historic downtown Glendale offers more than 70 antique and specialty shops for your shopping pleasure.
With the Phoenix Zoo, Top Golf, The OdySea Aquarium, The Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and Castles N’ Coasters, you will certainly never run out of activities for your family in Phoenix. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Travel through time to Goldfield Ghost Town, or step into the future at the Arizona Science Center. If you’re looking to cool off, take a trip down the Salt River via inner tube, or head to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and fly down a waterslide! In Phoenix, the possibilities are endless.
If you want to plan a vacation, but don’t have the time or the energy for a longer trip, there are several day trips that Phoenix residents can plan to escape the city. Sedona is an easy approximately two-hour drive, with about an extra half hour to get to the Grand Canyon. Historic mining town Jerome is just about under two hours north of Phoenix as well. If you do make it up to Jerome, be sure to check out Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde for a window into Arizona’s past. If you’re into water sports, there are several lakes surrounding the Phoenix area that offer a picturesque and peaceful paradise, including Lake Pleasant, Bartlett Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Lake Roosevelt.
Where to Live in Phoenix, AZ
Nestled in the southwestern region of the Phoenix area at the base of the beautiful Estrella Mountains, Avondale is a vibrant community with something for everyone! The area primarily consists of great neighborhoods with lots of open spaces and recreational activities. Avondale also prides itself on being an area for people to live, work, and play, with a diverse mix of business, residential, and recreational areas. Check out our communities in Avondale, AZ: Visions at Verde Trails and Acclaim at Alamar.
Queen Creek, AZ
Located just east of Phoenix, Queen Creek is right at the base of San Tan Mountain. Queen Creek is a small but growing suburb, with beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails, comfortable and clean master-planned communities, and peaceful desert scenery. With a relatively low cost of living, Queen Creek offers its residents of all ages an enjoyable and comfortable lifestyle. Check out our Shea Communities in Queen Creek, AZ: Acclaim at Jorde Farms, Ascent at Jorde Farms, and Encanterra® a Trilogy® Resort Community.®.
Listed in Money Magazine as a 'Top 100 Place to Live’, Peoria is perfect for the active adventure-seekers of the world. The New River Trail runs right through town and offers multi-use trails for running, walking, horseback riding and cycling along the water. Residents can also enjoy the beautiful waters of Lake Pleasant, with kayaks and canoes available for rent. For all the sports fans out there, you can catch the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners during Spring Training at the Peoria Sports Complex. Check out our 55+ Trilogy Community in Peoria, AZ: Trilogy at Vistancia, now down to our final new home opportunities.
Paradise Valley, AZ
Home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country, Paradise Valley offers the same beauty and luxury of Scottsdale with a slower paced lifestyle. Quiet surroundings, open space and privacy are valued by Paradise valley residents and can be reflected in the area’s beautiful golf courses, delicious restaurants, and high-end real estate. Paradise Valley is home to some of Phoenix’s top-rated schools, which is something to consider if you have children. Check out our Shea Signature Communities in Paradise Valley, AZ: Azure.
With beautiful sunsets, outdoor adventure on rolling mountain foothills, acclaimed resorts, dining, shopping and nightlife, this premier vacation destination speaks for itself! Scottsdale is also the home of Scottsdale Fashion Square, a top shopping destination in the southwest. Neighborhoods here will undoubtedly be a bit pricier than surrounding areas, however, there is still a range of housing options to choose from. Check out our Shea Communities in Scottsdale, AZ: Prelude at Story Rock and Shea Signature® at The Phoenician®.
Located in the Southeast region of the phoenix area, Mesa offers reasonably priced living for families and young professionals. There are three lakes and two rivers in Mesa where residents can paddle board, kayak and water ski! The area also has excellent schools and is home to the largest school district in Arizona. What’s more, Mesa is the spring training hub for the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics.
Just south of Mesa, Chandler is a very accessible and central part of the Phoenix Metro Area. Chandler offers affordable housing, excellent schools, delicious and diverse dining and entertainment options. Plus, it’s a reasonable commute into the city if you’re looking to work in Phoenix but live in a more suburban neighborhood.
Between Mesa and Chandler is Gilbert, a modern and progressive city with a small-town feel. Gilbert offers affordable living for families with an abundance of family-friendly activities to choose from. With fifty-four miles of bike trails running parallel to the canals, Gilbert is an outdoor person’s paradise.
In the West valley, Glendale is made up of some of the oldest parts of Phoenix and the fast-growing new areas. Glendale’s neighborhoods offer their residents a unique blend of historic charm and modern curb appeal. Speaking of a mix of past and future elements, Glendale is Arizona’s self-proclaimed “Antiques Capital”. If antiquing isn’t your thing, Glendale is also home to the NFL Cardinals and the NHL Coyotes in the Gila River arena, where a number of concerts are held as well.
Buckeye, AZ (located about 45 min outside of Phoenix)
Just outside Phoenix, Buckeye is an excellent area for those looking for a slower-paced and affordable lifestyle. This fast-growing suburb offers plenty of parks and recreational areas including Buckeye Hills Regional Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, and White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Check out our Shea Community in Buckeye, AZ: Acclaim at Canyon Views.
Rio Verde, AZ (about an hour outside of Phoenix)
Rio Verde is a large community of retirees and families, offering its residents tranquil streets, peace and quiet, and proximity to open spaces and nature. It is also a very reasonable drive time to the city for weekend trips with friends or family. Check out our Shea Community in Rio Verde, AZ: Trilogy® at Verde River™.
Wickenburg, AZ (1.5 hours outside of Phoenix)
Another home to retirees and families, Wickenburg has that small-town feeling and prides itself on being the last true Western town. The area has a very upbeat and unique culture that fosters a community of friendliness and fun. Check out our Shea Community in Wickenburg, AZ: Trilogy at Wickenburg Ranch.
See the difference a Shea home can make
Are you ready to start your next chapter in Phoenix? No matter where you’re in your moving process, we would love to be a part of it! Explore all of our Shea Communities in the Phoenix Area, or contact us if you have any questions about our communities.