Moving to Phoenix
Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and the most populous city in the state. This sprawling metropolitan area is known for its warm temperatures and year-round sunshine. Because of this pleasant weather, the area is known for its golf courses and outdoor recreational opportunities. If you're planning to move to Phoenix, you'll want to know more about living and working in the area. This helpful guide will cover everything from the best attractions to the transportation options to make your move to Phoenix easier.
Living in Phoenix
Millions of people visit Phoenix every year to explore the desert and take in the city's culture. Some of these people eventually decide to move to Phoenix because they enjoy the conditions here so much. If you're one of these people, you need to understand a few items before you move. One aspect of Phoenix that takes some getting used to is that the city doesn't recognize daylight saving time. Instead, Phoenix stays in Mountain Standard Time throughout the year.
Every area of the country deals with animals, and Phoenix is no exception. Since the city is located in the desert, it has its own distinctive wildlife that you'll want to learn more about. You'll likely come across scorpions when you move to Phoenix. Scorpion stings are painful, and they can be deadly if you're allergic to them. Other potentially harmful animals you should learn more about include fire ants, black widow spiders, killer bees, snakes, coyotes, and bobcats.
Of course, not every animal you'll encounter is dangerous. Various birds call the desert around Phoenix home, including hummingbirds, herons, ducks, owls, and roadrunners. You'll also have a chance to see rabbits, lizards, tortoises, and prairie dogs.
One reason many people decide to move to Phoenix is that the cost of living is lower than other nearby cities. For retirees living on a fixed income, the reasonable cost of living in Phoenix is ideal. Property taxes in Phoenix are low compared to other large cities, and the median price for a home in the area is well below what you find in comparable areas in California.
Weather in Phoenix
While many people move to Phoenix because of the warm temperatures, it's important to remember that the city is known as the Valley of the Sun for a reason. Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert, the hottest desert in the country. You have to prepare yourself for the positive and negative aspects of living in the desert. While winters are warm and mild, summers are long and unbearably hot.
Phoenix gets the most sunshine of any major city on the planet, and its average high temperatures in the summer make it the hottest major city in the country. In fact, Phoenix averages 107 days every year with a high temperature of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of these hot days occur between late May and early October. Like most deserts, Phoenix doesn't see much in the way of rain. The area receives between 4 and 8 inches of rain a year, with most of the precipitation happening during the summer months.
If you're moving to Phoenix from an area that doesn't deal with extreme heat, you'll need to make some adaptations to make sure you're prepared for the conditions. If you can, try to park your car in the shade or at least use a windshield shade to keep the interior temperature down. Remember that leaving children and pets unattended inside a locked car is illegal. As always, one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself in this hot climate is to drink plenty of water.
If you can make it through the oppressive summer months, your reward is a mild winter. Average temperatures from December to February are in the upper 60s to low 70s, and temperatures rarely drop below freezing in the area. As a result, snowfall is also a rare occurrence in the city. In fact, the last reported snowfall was a dusting that occurred in February 2013.
Top Neighborhoods in Phoenix
Phoenix is an expansive city, and you'll discover a variety of places to live. When you're planning to move to Phoenix, you'll have an easier time finding the right neighborhood to live in if you first make a list of your wants and needs.
If you're interested in living near downtown Phoenix, you'll discover plenty of great neighborhoods. Roosevelt Row is an excellent neighborhood for creative people. It's a highly walkable section of the city known for its murals, locally owned boutiques, cultural events, and award-winning restaurants. It's also one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. If you choose this neighborhood, you'll be able to easily take part in popular local events and festivals, such as First Friday Art Walk, Chile Pepper Festival, and Pie Social.
Coronado is another popular neighborhood near Phoenix. The historic neighborhood is north of the downtown area and offers a mixture of Spanish Colonial Revival, bungalow, and ranch-style houses. Many people choose to live in Coronado because it offers easy access to Interstate 10 and downtown Phoenix.
If you prefer the space offered in suburban living, you have your pick of neighborhoods around Phoenix. Arcadia is a charming neighborhood that offers stunning views of Camelback Mountain. It was built on former citrus groves, and it has mature and well-irrigated landscaping. Arcadia is an up-and-coming area known for its upscale boutiques, independent businesses, antiques shops, trendy brewpubs, and cocktail bars. Many people also choose to live in Arcadia because it offers a short drive to both downtown Phoenix and downtown Scottsdale.
If you have room to stretch your housing budget, Paradise Valley is the wealthiest municipality in the state and is known for its luxury shopping, expansive golf courses, and top-notch restaurant scene. The once rural area is sometimes called the "Beverly Hills of the Southwest" because it has multimillion dollar mansions dotting its cliff sides. The area also has eight full-service resorts, which make it one of the top tourist destinations in the state.
Schools in Phoenix
Whether you're interested in schools for your children or post-secondary education for yourself, Phoenix is home to various educational opportunities to meet all needs. The Paradise Valley Unified School District is one of the top school districts in the area. This school district serves students in kindergarten through grade 12 living in northeast Phoenix. It has 29 elementary schools, one K to 8 school, seven middle schools, five high schools, a K to 12 online school, and two alternative schools. It also offers various educational programs, such as STEM studies, fine arts, and career and technical education.
Deer Valley Unified School District is another top school district in the area. Located in the northern part of the city, Deer Valley Unified School District is the fifth largest school district in the state. It provides education to more than 33,900 students through 15 elementary schools, 14 K to 8 schools, three middle schools, five high schools, and one alternative school. The school district also offers an Advanced Placement program, International Baccalaureate program, and a gifted program.
If you're interested in higher education, Arizona State University is not only the largest institution in the region, but also one of the largest public universities in the country. It has four campuses in the area, including one in northwest Phoenix, downtown Phoenix, Mesa, and Glendale. The research university has more than 250 majors and 350 degree options for undergraduates as well as more than 400 degree and certificate programs for graduate students.
You can also consider the educational opportunities offered at Phoenix College. Founded in 1920, Phoenix College is one of the oldest community colleges in the United States and is now part of the Maricopa County Community College District. The college has a main campus in Midtown Phoenix and a downtown campus in Phoenix's central business district. Here you'll find more than 200 degree and certificate programs geared toward professional, business, and community development.
Job Opportunities in Phoenix
At one time, Phoenix's economy focused primarily on natural resources and agriculture. People would say Phoenix depended on the "5 Cs," which were citrus, cattle, cotton, copper, and climate. While the Phoenix job market was hit hard by the nationwide financial crisis in 2007, in recent years the city has started to thrive as more businesses move to the area. If you'll be looking for a job when you relocate to Phoenix, technology, manufacturing, and tourism are some of the largest industries in the city.
Part of the city's growth in technology results from its push to become the next Silicon Valley. With high taxes and a higher cost of living in nearby California, many technology companies are happy to make the move to Phoenix. Technology companies such as Yelp, Uber, and Shutterfly have offices in the area. Electronics corporation Avnet has its headquarters in the city, and Intel has one of its largest sites in the country in Phoenix.
In the manufacturing industry, mining company Freeport-McMoRan maintains its corporate offices in Phoenix. Additionally, Honeywell hosts its base of operations for its aerospace division in the city. The area is also home to many of Honeywell's avionics and mechanical facilities.
Not only do visitors come to Phoenix during the winter to escape the cold, but they also travel to the city throughout the year to enjoy its history, culture, and outdoor attractions. As a result, tourism is one of the other largest industries in the area. In fact, retail sales make up the single largest occupation in the city.
Other major companies that either have headquarters or a large presence in Phoenix include retailer PetSmart, hotel company Best Western, waste hauler Republic Services, and Apollo Group, which owns several for-profit educational institutions, including the University of Phoenix.
Dining in Phoenix
No matter what type of cuisine you're in the mood to try, you're sure to find it around Phoenix. However, the city is known for its steakhouses and Mexican cuisine.
If you have a craving for Mexican, Barrio Cafe is one of the best restaurants in the city. Located north of the downtown core, Barrio Cafe is a cozy eatery serving more than 200 tequilas and creative Mexican fare. The cochinita pibil is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. This creation features pork marinated in sour orange and achiote, wrapped up in a banana leaf, slowly roasted overnight, and topped with pico de gallo and pickled red onion.
When you want to try one of the famous steakhouses, check out The Arrogant Butcher. This upscale restaurant sits in the heart of Phoenix and serves New American comfort food and an impressive selection of steaks. If you decide to stop by for dinner, consider starting your meal with the spinach and artichoke dip or smoked carnitas nachos. For your main course, you can't go wrong with the crab-stuffed chicken, filet mignon, or New York strip. You can enjoy the ideal finishing touch by ordering the peanut butter and chocolate pie for dessert.
If you're interested in locally sourced and seasonal fare, head to Ocotillo Restaurant. Located north of Phoenix, this modern restaurant has an inviting indoor and outdoor space ideal for enjoying a signature cocktail and fresh meal. If you stop by for dinner, try one of the house-made pasta dishes. Other popular options include the wood-fired beef ribs and mesquite-grilled chicken. Pasta Night, which happens every Thursday, is also a popular event at the restaurant.
Not only can you find excellent Mexican cuisine in Phoenix, but you can also discover some delicious Italian food. When you're in the mood for some of the best Italian dining in the city, go to Christo's Ristorante. Open since 1987 and featured in The New York Times as one of the best places to eat in the city, Christo's Ristorante is open for lunch and dinner. Some of the popular menu options include the chicken limone, shrimp scampi, scallops meuniere, and veal Christo.
Transportation Options in Phoenix
Phoenix is a large city that has much spread out over a large area. If you're thinking about moving here without a car, you may want to reconsider those plans. Fortunately, although many people use their cars to get around Phoenix, the area doesn't suffer the same type of congestion that other large cities face. The two major freeways in the area are Interstate 10, which runs east and west, and Interstate 17, which runs north and south. Navigating around Phoenix is relatively easy because the city is laid out in a grid pattern.
To help provide alternate transportation options to residents, the city government has a bicycle advisory committee that works to improve bicycling conditions around the city. If you're interested in using a bike to get where you need to go, you'll find it easier if you live near downtown Phoenix. The city currently has a 4.6-mile stretch of bike lane called Bicycle Boulevard.
If you're interested in taking public transportation, the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority, usually shortened to Valley Metro, is responsible for public transit in the area. The system includes the Valley Metro Bus, which operates all bus lines, and Valley Metro Rail, which runs light rail operations in the area. The bus line includes circulators, RAPID buses, suburban Express buses, and fixed routes on city streets. The 26.3-mile light rail connects the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa and is planning future extensions through the year 2030.
The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the major airport providing air transportation to and from the city. Not only is it the largest and busiest airport in Arizona, but it's also one of the busiest in the country. The airport is one of the largest operating bases for both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. In addition to offering nonstop flights to more than 100 cities in the United States, the airport also provides service to several international destinations, including Mexico, Canada, London, and Costa Rica.
Top Parks in Phoenix
When you want to get outside and enjoy the warm weather, Phoenix offers 185 parks with 41,000 acres of protected land and more than 200 miles of trails to explore. While you'll certainly be able to find your own favorite spots, you can start having fun at a few of these top parks.
Covering more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. It covers three mountain ranges — the Guadalupe, Gila, and Ma Ha Tauk — and offers 51 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Dobbins Lookout is one of the most popular spots in the park for an unobstructed view of the area. This peak sits at 2,330 feet, which makes it the highest point available to the public. It's accessible by hiking trails and Summit Road.
Papago Park is a few minutes from downtown Phoenix and offers an incredible variety of recreational opportunities. Check out some of the hiking trails to learn more about the desert flora and fauna. The park is also home to Hole-in-the-Rock, a popular scenic viewpoint. You can view a piece of history by visiting the tomb of Arizona's first governor, practice your swing at the Papago Golf Course, or see what's biting in the stocked fishing lagoons.
Located near the heart of Phoenix, Encanto Park is a 222-acre oasis with plenty of amenities to enjoy. The park has a 7 1/2-acre fishing lagoon stocked with carp, catfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, sunfish, and tilapia. If you want to do some hiking, you can explore the nature trail, and the swimming pool is the ideal place to cool down when the weather gets too hot. When you want to play some sports, the park has an 18-hole and 9-hole golf course and a sports complex that includes courts for tennis, pickleball, racquetball, volleyball, and basketball.
Things to Do in Phoenix
From exploring the desert to touring a museum, Phoenix offers something for everyone to enjoy. If you're moving to the area with children, you'll definitely want to take some time to visit the Phoenix Zoo. The zoo is home to more than 1,400 animals in four themed areas that include the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail, and Children's Trail. The Arizona Trail is designed to showcase the plants and animals of Arizona, and the Africa Trail has some of the most popular animals from Africa. The Tropics Trail houses animals from the rainforest, and the Children's Trail features a petting zoo.
If you're new to the desert and want to learn more about it, head to the Desert Botanical Garden. This 140-acre botanical garden has more than 50,000 plants, and one-third of them are native to the area. As you stroll along the trails in the garden, you'll learn more about the plants that thrive in the desert. Popular trails include the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail, Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail, Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail, and Desert Discovery Loop Trail.
Located 20 minutes from Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is an icon of the city and a popular outdoor destination for hikers. The mountain has two difficult trails — Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon Trail — that will challenge you with a steep and rocky ascent that goes 1,420 feet to the summit. However, once you reach the top, your reward is a 360-degree view of the surrounding city that's certain to take your breath away.
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest visual art museum in the Southwest United States. The museum's permanent collection includes more than 19,000 works of art from American, European, Latin American, and Asian artists. The collection also covers contemporary art, photography, and fashion design. If you get hungry during your visit, Palette is an on-site farm-to-table restaurant serving seasonal dishes using organic vegetables, local meats, and handcrafted sauces. You also don't want to miss an opportunity to browse through the museum's store, which sells apparel, jewelry, books, home decor, games, and more.
Annual Events in Phoenix
Phoenix hosts hundreds of annual events and festivals throughout the year. If you want to experience what makes the city so great, be sure to check out a few of these exciting options.
When you want to find an event the family can enjoy, check out the Arizona State Fair held every October at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. The fair was first held in 1884, which means it was actually a territory fair because Arizona wasn't a state yet. Today, it's one of the largest state fairs in the country and attracts millions of visitors to the area. When you visit the fair, you can enjoy the amusement rides, savor the unique food options, listen to concerts, see the livestock animals, watch the rodeo, and check out the fun family attractions.
The Pueblo Grande Auxiliary Indian Market is open for one weekend in December to celebrate Native American art and history. The market has more than 100 artist booths where you can shop for jewelry, art, home decor, and collectibles. As you stroll through the market, you can get to know the artists and learn more about their process. The market will also have food trucks selling fry bread, burgers, Navajo tacos, and cactus chili. Plus, you'll discover plenty of music, dancing, storytelling, hands-on activities, and live demonstrations.
You don't have to have Scottish blood in your veins to attend the Arizona Scottish Gathering and Highland Games in the beginning of March. The annual event is open to anyone who wants to enjoy all the entertainment. The two-day event is held at the Steele Indian School Park and features competitive Highland dancing, modern and traditional Scottish tunes, Highland games, historical re-enactments, and a vintage British car show. The event will also have representatives from more than 50 Scottish clans to help you trace back your Scottish roots.
Sports in Phoenix
If you enjoy watching professional sports, you'll have your pick of teams to follow in Phoenix. The area is one of only a few cities in the country to have a team in all four major professional sports leagues.
The Phoenix Suns, which play in the National Basketball Association, were the first major sports team to arrive in Phoenix. If you want to see a game, you can watch the team play at Talking Stick Resort Arena. If you like basketball, you can also check out the Phoenix Mercury, which is one of the original teams of the Women's National Basketball Association. The Mercury also plays at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Although you may not think of hockey when you picture the Phoenix desert, the city has a professional team. When the hockey team originally moved to the area, they were called the Phoenix Coyotes and played in downtown Phoenix. However, after moving to play at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, the team changed its name to the Arizona Coyotes.
While it may be hard to picture a hockey team in Arizona, you probably won't have any problems picturing a baseball team in the city. The Arizona Diamondbacks entered Major League Baseball in 1998 as an expansion team. Since that time, the team has played all of its home games at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. Not only is Chase Field known as being the second highest stadium in the country after Coors Field in Denver, but it's also famous for its signature swimming pool located to the right of center field.
If football is your sport of choice, you can check out all the gridiron action when you watch the Arizona Cardinals compete in the National Football League. When the Cardinals first moved to the area, they played their home games at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. However, in 2006, the team moved to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
Attractions to Explore Near Phoenix
After you move to Phoenix and start exploring the city, you'll also want to take some time to see all the amazing attractions located near Phoenix.
Grand Canyon National Park is situated about 3 1/2 hours north of Phoenix. This stunning park is home to the immense Grand Canyon, which showcases bands of red rock worn away by the Colorado River that reveals millions of years of history. You'll discover many activities to do at the park, and you'll need more than a few days to see everything. You can walk the Rim Trail, bicycle the South Rim, drive the scenic Hermit Road, take a South Rim mule ride, and go on a raft trip down the Colorado River.
Another national park worth exploring near Phoenix is Saguaro National Park, located less than 2 hours southeast of the city. The park was created to protect the large saguaro cactus that's synonymous with the region. You'll discover miles of hiking trails that take you through desert landscape and into the mountains. If you want to explore some ancient history of the area, Signal Hill Petroglyph Site has more than 200 prehistoric Native American petroglyphs. The park also offers monthly programs where you can learn more about the animals of the desert, how to cook cactus, and more.
When you finish exploring the beauty above ground, travel 2 1/2 hours south of Phoenix to Kartchner Caverns State Park to discover some of the beauty below ground. Kartchner Caverns is a large cave system that has incredible limestone formations that have been growing for more than 50,000 years. The cavern is still alive, meaning the dripping water is continuing to produce formations. When you visit the cavern, you can embark on the 1 1/2-hour guided tour that will take you through some of the major features, including the Throne Room, Cul-de-Sac Passage, Mud Flats, Strawberry Room, and Rotunda Room.
With many exciting activities to do and the warm weather to get out and enjoy them, you can easily see why Phoenix is a growing city. If you're thinking about becoming one of its newest residents, you now have all the information you need to get settled in this vibrant city.