Phoenix, Arizona has a lot of sunshine, and a little bit of everything else. The city is located in the Sonoran Desert, with the vast Grand Canyon and the legendary Las Vegas for neighbors. The city, while very much in the desert, also receives about 15 inches of rain every year, making it one of the wettest deserts in the world, and a little more bearable for the people living there.
However, Phoenix is not just the great outdoors, or the crazy party-house residing beside it. The city is home to one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. In fact, ever since the former agricultural community in the area got the canals and dams in the 1900s, the population and economy have been growing hand-in-hand.
With the advent of the tech industry, and an economic ecosystem that promotes the growth of businesses, especially the small ones, the city has managed to keep on growing. So, what would you move to Phoenix for? The jobs, the outdoors, the adventure, the culture, or a life that packs the best of all of that in a very nice, affordable package? For your better judgement, we have curated a list of everything you need to know before moving to Phoenix, Arizona. Check it out!
The economy of this city is such that it has invited huge organizations as well as start-ups to come and thrive. On one hand, many tech and software companies have either taken birth here or moved from far and wide.
Affordable Cost Of Living
While Payscale says that the overall cost of living in Arizona is about 5% lower than the national average, the effective cost of living is even lower due to the low housing costs and low property taxes. Moreover, the amenities that this city provides improve the quality of life a lot, further justifying the operational costs.
The Great Outdoors
The city of Phoenix has the Sonoran Desert for a backyard. This means that you have access to some amazing trails and summits in the McDowell, White Tank, Superstition, and Sierra Estrella Mountains. This, added with the Salt River that passes through the city, gives the residents the opportunity to go trekking, biking, climbing, rafting, or combine all of those in search of the ultimate camping spot.
The culture in Phoenix has a heavy mix of Hispanic and Native American people. Due to this, the culture of the city is a little more festive and colorful compared to the other big cities. The environment created by the cultural diversity makes Phoenix a great place to raise a kid since you’ll be exposing them to essentially a bigger world.
You might think this point is going to talk about the heat that the city faces. No, that comes later. This one is for the dangerous wildlife around the city and the dust storms. The wildlife in and around Phoenix consists of scorpions, snakes, and coyotes aplenty, while the dust storms, known as ‘Haboobs’, make the wildlife harder to see.
Haboobs pose the usual threats like zero visibility, and in some cases damage to property and belongings. They also pose a huge risk to people with respiratory issues.
During wintertime, the city of Phoenix is flooded by tourists coming from far and wide to enjoy the rather beautiful winters here. The locals have given this flock of tourists the nickname ‘snowbirds’. While the winter in Phoenix is much awaited by the locals, the heavy migration of snowbirds makes it a little less fun, considering the increase in traffic and overall crowd.
This city is situated in a desert. Hence, it sees heat all through the year, only short of the winter months. For the rest of the year, the temperature is often around 100°F. However, the city faces no humidity. So, no rust, no frizzy hair, and a huge risk of dehydration.
The landscape in and around Phoenix might take some getting used to if you come from a place with a lot of green cover. Throughout the year, the landscapes remain barren and do not change colors, like a forest in fall would. While the desert gives you a lot of room to explore, be ready for a lot of it to look the same.
Phoenix is widely known as the Valley Of The Sun. It’s no surprise that the city receives a lot of heat throughout the year. To put it in perspective, the summer season in Arizona is hot and dry, while the winter is short and mildly cold. The average temperature for the year typically varies from 45°F and 107°F.
While the summer season in Phoenix lasts from May to September, you might experience the heat from April itself. Typically, the average temperatures during summer swing between 85°F to 106°F, with a daily high temperature average of 98°F.
The winter season follows a similar theme, giving the city a ‘forever-summer’ vibe. The temperatures in the winter months, i.e. November to February, can range between a low of 46°F and a high of 66°F, making the place a haven for the ones trying to escape harsher winters.
The city of Phoenix has a rather unusual pattern for monsoon. To begin with, a bigger portion of the monsoon season happens during the summer months. The seasonal monsoons also bring in storms and flash floods. While these pass by quickly, and the city is already used to them, they can be quite scary, and in some cases dangerous, to the new resident.
Cost Of Living In Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona is a city that is home to about 1.6 million people. It’s the sixth-most populous city in the USA and has managed to become this behemoth of a city with its ever-growing economy and affordable cost of living. In fact, the average expenditure-to-income ratio is considered to be one of the best In the country.
Buying a house in Phoenix is a great investment as the market is still on a steady incline after the 2010 economic crisis. The prices, while higher than the national average, are still quite affordable. Here’s a comparison of the median home values, according to Zillow:
Median Home Value
Renting A House In Phoenix
The rental market in Phoenix lies in the middle, where it isn’t very expensive, nor dirt-cheap. While the rent prices in the area have gone up in the last few years, they still seem affordable, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment being $1,588 while the average rent for a two-bedroom would be $2,016, according to Apartmentlist.com.
Taxes In Phoenix
When it comes to taxes, Phoenix is a very friendly city in terms of property and income taxes. In fact, the income tax, which is divided into four income brackets, only charges between 2.59% – 4.50%. When it comes to property taxes, the typical resident of Phoenix is looking at an effective rate of 0.63%. These tax rates make it very easy to own a business in this city.
On the other hand, the sales tax rates are relatively high and might alter your way of life to some extent. At an effective rate of 8.6%, the combined sales tax is pretty much on par with cities like Atlanta and Chattanooga.
Utilities And Other Expenses In Phoenix
After the cost of housing, the biggest expenditure while living in any place are the expenses you face for things like utilities, food, healthcare, and the likes. When it comes to the city of Phoenix, the cost of utilities is a little higher than the national average.
Basic utilities include water, heating, garbage disposal and electricity. In Phoenix, for a typical home, all of these things add up to an average of $177. If you throw in a decent internet connection, you will add about $80: which, for an internet connection, is a little expensive.
When it comes to the cost of food and groceries, an average single individual might end up spending around $3,792 annually, just on the groceries. So, you could shop at major grocers like Safeway and Costco. Another alternative is to look for membership stores in the area as since they also have rewards for their shoppers.
If you choose to step out for a meal, you might end up spending about $60 for a proper three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant, according to Numbeo.
Another important aspect of the cost of living is healthcare. In Phoenix, the healthcare costs are about 2% lower than the national average, bringing the cost of a typical visit to the doctor to around $108, according to Payscale. For your pet, a similar visit to an appropriate doctor would cost around $48.
Being the big city that it is, Phoenix suffers from a rather high crime rate. This is not to say that the entire city is unsafe. While there are a few parts that are better avoided, the rest of the city is definitely safe.
According to NeighborhoodScout, the violent crime rate in Phoenix is 8.49 per 1,000 residents, which is more than double the national median of 4. These numbers bring the chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes in Phoenix to 1 in 118.
Property crimes are also relatively high in Phoenix. The city of Phoenix has a property crime rate of 31.77 per 1,000 residents, which again is higher than the national median of 19. To give you a scale, the chances of becoming a victim of property crimes in Phoenix is 1 in 31.
Economy And Employment Opportunities In Phoenix
The Phoenix Metropolitan Area saw a GDP of $281 billion in 2020, and it has been on a steady incline since. The biggest contributors to which are industries like healthcare, retail, hospitality, education, and retail. The biggest one, without any doubt, is tech.
The tech industry in Phoenix has invited some of the biggest players in that field like Uber, Shutterfly, and Amazon. The biggest employers, however, are:
State Of Arizona
Arizona State University
All of these factors come together to bring the average annual salary in the city of Phoenix to $50,474. According to Zippia, this lies in the middle of average and good salaries. This means that you can live in Phoenix without a lot of economic burden.
Education has been a very important aspect of the idea of relocating and Phoenix takes it very seriously. This city is home to 30 school districts that serve over 3,000 public schools and more than 200 private schools.
Every school district has its own reputation and ranking and we recommend you research the schools that serve your needs the best. To give you a head start in that matter, here is a list of the best schools in Phoenix, Arizona:
BASIS Mesa – Mesa, AZ
Great Hearts Academies – Chandler, AZ
BASIS Scottsdale – Scottsdale, AZ
BASIS Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix County Day School – Paradise Valley, AZ
BASIS Scottsdale – Scottsdale, AZ
Colleges And Universities
Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, AZ
Traffic And Transportation In Phoenix
The city of Phoenix is spread out in an approximate area of 14,600 square miles. It’s no wonder that the public transportation system cannot cover the entire city, even when all modes of transport are working in tandem. However, the two modes of public transportation, the light rail and the bus network, do a very good job in the areas they do serve.
Speaking of the light rail, it operates under the banner of Valley Metro Rail and covers a 26-mile route, connecting Downtown Phoenix to Tempe, Mesa, and the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
End-to-end, the light rail stops at 38 stations and the fares start from $2. You can also avail of passes for a day, a week, or a month from one of the stations or their website. There are also discounts available for various criteria. Make sure to check if you’re eligible and get the best deal possible!
Speaking of the buses, The Valley Metro runs the local, express, and RAPID bus services, along with the light rail system. This network of buses covers 513 square miles, consisting of Downtown Phoenix and some parts of Tempe and Scottsdale. If your commute is restricted to these areas, the buses can be a very inexpensive way to get around the Valley without a car.
The fares for the local bus system are very similar to the light rail, beginning at $2, and increasing with distance and validity. The Express and RAPID buses cost a little more at $3.25 one way. All of these buses have passes available for various validities.
Since the public transportation system does not have a lot of coverage, traveling by car makes the most sense. If you don’t own a car, it’s very easy to rent one in this city. Navigating through Arizona isn’t a task as well because the city is laid out in grids.
You might think of biking or walking as a way of commuting. But, it’s only good in very specific parts of the city, for very short distances. This is due to the sheer size of the city and the traffic it faces.
Speaking of the traffic, be ready to face some nasty traffic during the rush hours since a majority of Phoenix prefers driving over using public transport. The traffic gets even worse in winter since a lot of tourists flock to the place, making it a little more chaotic.
Places To Visit In Phoenix
Camelback Mountain has to be one of the most famous peaks in Arizona. At an elevation of 2706 feet, the summit of this mountain looks over the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. The Camelback Mountain gets its name for its resemblance to a kneeling camel.
Taliesin West is the home and school of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who loved the Sonoran Desert and set out to build this amazing place with apartments, studios, and theaters, only using local material. This 600-acre property, designed by Wright and his students, was added to the list of Heritage Sites in 2019.
Musical Instrument Museum
Located about 20 miles north of Downtown Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum allows you to gaze upon about 6,000 instruments from all over the world. One of the best exhibits in this museum has to be the headsets that sync with instrument sounds as you move through the museum. The MIM music theatre hosts a year-round concert with more than 200 international artists.
Best Places To Live In Phoenix
Ahwatukee very well might be the best neighborhood in Phoenix to raise a family. It offers close proximity to recreation spots, some top-rated schools, and a myriad of family-friendly activities in a very tight-knit community. Moreover, the housing in this neighborhood is relatively affordable, making it a sweeter deal.
Median Home Value: $273,545
Monthly Median Rent: $1,055
Annual Median Household Income: $127,385
The enormous estates, multiple golf courses, and the Camelback and Mummy Mountains as a backdrop, it’s very easy to see why Paradise Valley is named that way. This affluent neighborhood, with all its glory, has managed to keep a small-town vibe, giving the people living here a chance to live in peace and quiet. Paradise Valley is also known for its proximity to great schools and entertainment venues.
Median Home Value: $1.6 million
Monthly Median Rent: $2,001
Annual Median Household Income: $84,487
Located about 30 minutes away from the heart of Phoenix, Gilbert is known as the safest suburb in this city. It also has a rapidly growing healthcare structure and low crime rates. Moreover, this neighborhood offers a quaint way of life with a tight-knit community, making it an amazing place to retire to.
Median Home Value: $231,100
Monthly Median Rent: $1,263
Annual Median Household Income: $96,857
Coronado is one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Phoenix. However, it is always in high demand. The houses here disappear as soon as they make it to the market. This is because of the neighborhood’s close proximity to the Downtown area, making it very easy for the residents to commute to work or for leisure.
Median Home Value: $147,559
Monthly Median Rent: $836
Annual Median Household Income: $73,430
While it’s an innate want for us to tell you how amazing and beautiful every place is, the truth is that some places just aren’t that way. The city of Phoenix proves as a prime example. Like every other place, this city offers its own ups and downs. Literally, too: there are a lot of mountains around.
The point is, Phoenix has the character of a big city, but the feel of a small one. It attracts a lot of employers as well as employees, but manages to keep the housing costs affordable. The public transportation system is inefficient but that does not matter for the most part because the city loves its car culture just as much as it loves its sports teams. If all these work for you, then moving to Phoenix is definitely recommended! And if you want to Calculate the Cost of your move to Phoenix use our Moving Cost Calculator.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.