Sunny Phoenix, Arizona offers something for just about everyone. It’s a top golfing destination and a preferred offseason training spot for many professional athletes.
Phoenix has relatively low home prices compared to other cities in the same size range. Since Phoenix also has low prices for office leases – and plenty of room for new construction – the area has successfully attracted some of America’s top tech companies including Uber, Lyft, Shutterfly and GoDaddy.
The burgeoning tech industry in the greater Phoenix area has helped the region recover nicely from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.
Whether you’re looking for a great place to work, play or live, Phoenix can be the home of your dreams. Every place has both positive and negative elements, though, so it’s wise to consider every aspect of a city before moving there.
Are you thinking about moving to Phoenix in 2018? Here’s what you need to know.
Phoenix Has Affordable Housing Prices
Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, Phoenix has an affordable housing market that favors the buyer or tenant. While home values have increased by 10 percent over the past year to a median price of $248,900, that’s still significantly lower than the national median price of $318,700 for a new home.
The median monthly rent for a home in Phoenix is $1,300, which is also below the national average of $1,441. While Phoenix is one of the largest cities in the United States with a population of over 1.6 million within the city limits and more than 4.5 million living in the Phoenix metro area, you won’t pay big city prices to rent or buy a home there. Affordable real estate is one of the biggest reasons why so many tech companies have decided to set up shop in Phoenix.
Phoenix is warm throughout the year. During the summer months, though, the temperature routinely exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Since your home’s air conditioning system will receive plenty of use, you’ll be glad to know that the average residential power rate of 11.96 cents per kWh in Arizona doesn’t differ significantly from the national average of 11.88 cents.
Gas prices in Phoenix are also reasonable. Arizona’s state gasoline tax of 19 cents per gallon is the seventh lowest gasoline tax rate in the country. The average state gasoline tax in the United States is 31.04 cents per gallon.
Moving to Phoenix, you’ll pay less for your home and utilities than you would in many areas of the country. Having more money left in your pocket after you pay your living expenses means that you can do more on an average salary in Phoenix than you can in many other areas.
Phoenix Has a Good Job Market, but Salaries Are a Little Low
As of 2015, Arizona ranked 31st among U.S. states with a median household income of $51,492 – so while Phoenix has a low cost of living, the somewhat low salaries offset that benefit a bit.
On the bright side, you’ll find it easier to land a job in Phoenix than you would in many other areas. While the national unemployment rate is 4.1 percent at the end of 2017, the unemployment rate in Phoenix is significantly better at 3.7 percent.
Although moving to a new area before you have a job lined up is generally unwise, you can probably take your chances with a move to Phoenix because there are plenty of companies looking for talented individuals.
Where should you look first if you’re on the hunt for a job in Phoenix? The top employers in Phoenix are Banner Health, Apollo Group Inc., Honeywell, American Express and St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The health care and financial industries dominate the job market in Phoenix. If you work in either of those industries – or you’d like to get in on the ground floor with a tech startup – you’ll find no shortage of job opportunities in Phoenix.
Phoenix Is a Haven for Sports Lovers
If you love watching professional sports, Phoenix is a perfect home for you because the city has teams in all four major league sports – something that’s true of only 13 metro areas in the United States. The teams are:
- Baseball: Arizona Diamondbacks
- Basketball: Phoenix Suns
- Hockey: Arizona Coyotes
- Football: Arizona Cardinals
Phoenix also has a WNBA team along with professional soccer and indoor football teams. If you’d rather play a sport than watch it, though, you’re in luck. Since Arizona has agreeable weather conditions through much of the year, it is a haven for athletes of all types.
There are more than 400 golf courses in Arizona. The mountainous geography of the state means that skiing is possible in some areas. A short drive from Phoenix, you’ll find resorts such as Arizona Snowbowl, Sunrise Park Resort and Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley.
Fun Fact: Phoenix is the home of one of the most popular PGA tour events: the Phoenix Open. More fans attend the Phoenix Open – over 500,000 people each year – than any other PGA event. The 162-yard 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is legendary both for the crowd of over 20,000 people who gather around it and for the hole-in-one that Tiger Woods hit there in 1997 when he was just 21 years old.
Phil Mickelson – a graduate of Arizona State University – routinely draws a huge crowd when he participates in the Phoenix Open.
Arizona features a seemingly endless array of hiking trails for people of all skill levels. Some of the hiking locations that you’ll find within a comfortable drive from Phoenix include the Grand Canyon, Camelback Mountain, the Superstitions Mountains, Mount Kimball and more.
Whether you prefer low-impact hikes with plenty of scenic vistas or high-elevation mountain trails, you’ll find enough hiking trails near Phoenix to keep yourself occupied for years. If you’re in the mood for something a little more relaxing, you must try tubing down the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest.
Choose a float trip ranging from two to five hours, and prepare yourself for a beautiful journey down one of Arizona’s most lovely rivers.
Phoenix Is Great for Higher Education
Whether you’re a young student wanting to earn a first degree or an adult looking to further your career, you’ll find ample opportunities for higher education in Phoenix.
Some of the schools in and around Phoenix include Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Maricopa County Community College, Barrow Neurological Institute, Grand Canyon University, the University of Phoenix and the Arizona Summit Law School.
Many of the schools in and around Phoenix have multiple campus locations, which is perfect if you plan to commute to school. You should have no problem finding a school that’s a short drive from where you live.
Phoenix Is Close to Everything
Phoenix is one of the few places in the world in which you can live in the desert but have multiple ski resorts within driving distance. When you need a break from skiing, visiting the Grand Canyon and floating down the Salt River, though, you’re going to begin looking for a destination that’s a bit further from home.
Phoenix is the perfect gateway to destinations across the southwestern United States and Mexico. If you’re driving, Phoenix is about:
- 4.5 hours from Las Vegas
- 5 hours from San Diego
- 5.5 hours from Tijuana, Mexico
- 6.5 hours from Albuquerque
Would you like to travel a bit further? Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world with more than 110,000 passengers passing through daily.
With no shortage of flights departing from Sky Harbor each day – and no airline wanting to let seats go unsold – you’re certain to find a great price on a ticket to just about any destination if you can be flexible about your departure time.
Phoenix Is an Art Mecca and Top Concert Destination
If you enjoy rock music, you will love diving into the rich local music scene in Phoenix. Phoenix is a top concert destination, and talent scouts from record companies frequently attend local shows.
Some of the bands from the Phoenix area that have achieved major label success include the Gin Blossoms, the Meat Puppets, Jimmy Eat World, Alice Cooper and Mr. Mister.
Whenever a major label artist embarks on a tour of the United States, you can expect that artist to perform somewhere within driving distance of Phoenix.
Phoenix hosts some of the finest university bands and orchestras in the country. The city is also the home of the Phoenix Symphony, a professional orchestra that recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.
The Phoenix Symphony is the only full-time professional orchestra in the state of Arizona, and the group performs its varied repertoire of popular and traditional orchestral music for over 200,000 people each year.
When you aren’t watching the Phoenix Symphony perform at Phoenix Symphony Hall – a venue renowned for its excellent acoustics and intimate seating – you can watch the Arizona Opera or Ballet Arizona companies.
The performing arts community in Phoenix benefits from a large base of paying subscribers and several wealthy patrons. While many of America’s larger cities have struggled to keep local professional orchestras and dance companies afloat, Phoenix has no such issues.
Do you prefer art of the visual variety?
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. The 285,000-square-foot museum has grown steadily since its founding in 1959 thanks in part to a voter-approved bond that assures the facility’s continued funding.
The Phoenix Art Museum’s collection of more than 18,000 pieces includes works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Robert Henri, Georgia O’Keeffe and many, many other artists from around the world. Even if you aren’t a dedicated art lover, you owe it to yourself to visit the museum at least once if you move to Phoenix.
If you’d like to see something that exists nowhere else, visit the Musical Instrument Museum on Mayo Blvd.
The Musical Instrument Museum houses so many instruments – more than 13,000 – that only a little over half of them are on display at any given time. The museum’s collection includes instruments from around the world. Museum visitors can even play many of them.
In the collection, you can also find more modern instruments played by famous musicians including John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Carlos Santana and Taylor Swift.
If You Want to Enjoy Living in Phoenix, You Need a Reliable Car
Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert. On average, the temperature during the day will exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit more than 100 days per year.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was 122 degrees on June 26, 1990. In its natural state, Phoenix would be almost entirely inhospitable to human life.
However, the Hohokam people – a Native American tribe that disappeared for unknown reasons around the year 1450 – built an extensive canal system to divert the flows of the Salt and Gila rivers and make the land arable.
Phoenix – a city that rose from the ashes of the lost civilization – was named in honor of the Hohokam tribe. Parts of the ancient canal system are still in use today.
While the Phoenix canal system helps the area sustain human life, there will be some days on which you’ll risk getting a sunburn just from stepping out of your home to get the mail.
You do not want to drive in Phoenix if your car doesn’t have a reliable air conditioning system. Although Phoenix does have a public transportation system, it’s a work in progress. The city government plans to add more than 30 miles of track to the light rail system by 2030.
Until that happens, you’ll find that taking the train to work in Phoenix is far from ideal. The light rail system is a great way, though, to get to and from concerts and sports events.
Although it does rain in Phoenix, most of the city’s eight yearly inches comes in just a few summer storms during the monsoon season. Although eight inches of rain may not seem like much depending on where you currently live, the mountainous terrain of Arizona can focus the water and cause flash floods.
During the monsoon season, you’ll also have to look out for haboobs. A haboob is a massive blowing dust cloud that forms during the collapse of a storm system. There may be almost no warning when a haboob approaches, and the event may last for hours.
Living in Phoenix, you can expect to experience about three haboobs per year. The primary safety concerns during a haboob are high winds, poor visibility and dust inhalation.
If a haboob approaches while you are driving, get off the road immediately and park your car in a safe location. Close the windows and vents.
If you are in your home, close all the windows and turn off your air conditioning system. Stay away from windows; gusty winds can carry tree branches and other small objects that might hit your home.
The Street Layout in Phoenix Makes Perfect Sense
One of the best aspects of driving in Phoenix is that you’ll only need a few minutes of looking at a map to learn your way around the city.
Unlike the winding, confusing streets of many east coast cities, the streets of Phoenix are arranged in a grid layout in which the street names essentially tell you where you are.
The east-west streets are named, and the north-south streets are numbered. If you pass eight numbered streets, you’ve driven one mile.
The grid system of Phoenix is so exact that it actually compensates for the curvature of the Earth when calculating distances between streets. Although nothing is impossible, getting lost while driving in Phoenix is certainly very difficult.
Although the neatly organized grid layout helps Phoenix avoid much of the road congestion that plagues other large cities, you will have to contend with a bit of extra traffic during the winter when the “snowbirds” descend upon the area.
Phoenix is a popular winter holiday spot for people from colder areas all over America, which is probably one of the reasons why so few of Phoenix’s residents were born there. Some people love the area so much that they can’t bring themselves to leave.
Phoenix Is a Tourist Haven
If you find yourself cursing the visiting snowbirds who lengthen your commute during the winter, remember that the influx of tourists each year does great things for the economy of Phoenix by helping local businesses prosper.
Many professional athletes spend their off-seasons training in Phoenix; you might even meet some of them. The fact that Phoenix is so popular with tourists also means that the city has numerous world-class restaurants, bars, hotels and spas.
When the tourists leave to escape the 100-degree heat of summer, you’ll have access to those amenities at very reasonable prices.
You’ll See a Lot of Gravel Yards in Phoenix
Although Phoenix gets some water from the Salt, Gila and Verde rivers, the city’s primary water source is the Lake Mead reservoir that was created when the Hoover Dam was built.
Lake Mead supplies water to Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico. Due to climate change and the growth of cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, the Lake Mead water supply has been in steady decline for many years.
Meanwhile, Arizona is caught in the grip of one of the longest droughts in recorded history. Phoenix wouldn’t exist today if its people didn’t understand the sacrifices and planning necessary for living successfully in the desert.
Since Phoenix’s people have always embraced the desert lifestyle, the city has never needed to issue mandatory water restrictions. To help prevent water restrictions from ever becoming necessary, you’ll also have to embrace the desert lifestyle.
One major part of desert living is xeriscaping – filling one’s lawn with gravel, rocks and drought-tolerant plants such as cacti. You’ll see many gravel yards in Phoenix.
Unless you’re willing to pay a very large water bill, you’ll probably have a gravel lawn yourself. Desert landscaping has its own stately beauty, though – something that you probably already appreciate if you’re considering moving to Phoenix.
Heat Management Is a Valuable Skill in Phoenix
With daytime temperatures exceeding 100 degrees during nearly a third of the year, taking precautions to protect yourself from the sun isn’t just something you’ll need to worry about “on the hot days” – it’s going to become a major part of your life if you move to Phoenix.
Sunburn is the least of your concerns when the temperature is over 110 degrees; heat exhaustion and heat stroke become very real possibilities during the Phoenix summer.
Living in Phoenix, you’ll need to wear sunscreen daily and drink more water than you think you need. You’ll need to park your car in the shade whenever possible.
It’s wise to protect the top of your head with a hat or shield yourself with a sun-blocking umbrella when outdoors. About 2,000 people in Arizona end up in emergency rooms each year due to conditions relating to overheating and sun exposure. From 2005 to 2015, nearly 1,300 of those people died.
Take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the sun at all times, and don’t ever leave children or pets unattended in your car – even if it’s only for a few minutes.
If you’re having trouble beating the summer heat, take in a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. The home stadium of the Diamondbacks is an engineering marvel with a retractable roof and a massive air conditioning system.
While you’re watching Paul Goldschmidt hit balls out of the park, you’ll enjoy a comfortable environment with plenty of shade. Before Chase Field was built, no stadium in the United States had both a retractable roof and a natural grass playing field.
Love It or Hate It, Phoenix Has Some Unique Wildlife
Living in Phoenix means living in the desert – and that means you’re going to get up close and personal with a few creepy crawlies that aren’t common in other areas of the country.
In the Phoenix area, there are over 50 native snake species – including numerous types of rattlesnakes. If you should encounter a rattlesnake in or near your home, you’ll be glad to know that there are several companies in the area specializing in 24-hour snake removal.
Like most small creatures, though, snakes in Arizona want to avoid people just as much as we want to avoid them. Snakes generally stay in the desert and keep out of the more populated areas. If you find yourself craving vengeance against the local snake population, have dinner at Rustler’s Rooste on S. 48th St. The famous local eatery serves a dish consisting of deep-fried rattlesnake and cactus bites.
Phoenix also has its share of arachnids. The brown recluse spider lives in the area, as do 22 species of black widow and 55 different scorpion species.
The Scorpion in particular is a common pest in Arizona; when scorpion stings peak around August, hospitals treat thousands of them per month.
What can you do to minimize the chance of receiving a scorpion sting?
One of the first things you’ll learn after you move to Phoenix is that a black-light can be a valuable tool. Scorpions glow under ultraviolet light. Use your black-light before you put on clothes and shoes and before you get into bed. Don’t go outside without shoes.
The Phoenix area is also home to some larger wild mammals such as coyotes and wild pigs called javelina. If a coyote or javelina should visit your yard, you can usually frighten it away by making loud, threatening noises or spraying it with a garden hose.
If you make it clear that the animal is unwelcome on your property, it will probably leave. If you have children, you’ll need to teach them to find adults quickly if coyotes are around.
Don’t leave pet food outside. If you have a cat, keep it indoors. Don’t feed coyotes or javelina; making them feel welcome only endangers them and you. If a coyote is comfortable enough in an environment to view a pet or child as a food source, it may attack. Coyotes are dangerous predators, and they can also carry rabies.
Javelina generally eat plants, but they are large animals that travel in packs. They can be very dangerous when they become comfortable enough in an area to view it as their territory. An electric fence can help to keep coyotes and javelina off of your property.
On the bright side, falling asleep in Phoenix while listing to the songs of distant coyotes is an experience that you won’t soon forget.
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