Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, one of seven natural wonders of the world, and it is home to other natural beauties like rugged desserts or incredible mountain ranges. Arizona is also home to the United States’ fifth most populated city, Phoenix. Living in Phoenix allows Arizona natives to have all the perks of urban life with the opportunity to still enjoy the natural environment that makes Arizona so unique.
Many people looking for a fresh start ask themselves, “Is Phoenix a good place to live?” Those who want a warmer climate will love Phoenix, Arizona, but Phoenix has so much more to offer than nice weather. Phoenix retains Arizona’s natural environment while giving urban cultural and career opportunities. Phoenix is a booming city, and it continues to grow as more people flock to it and embrace the sports teams, sunny days, and thriving job market.
You are probably intrigued by all that Phoenix can give to you. Read on to learn more about what makes Phoenix so special and the reasons Phoenix could be the wrong fit for your personal needs.
Phoenix at a Glance
Although Arizona is known by outsiders for its remarkable wildlife and natural wonders, Arizonans predominantly live in urban areas, especially Phoenix. Sometimes called, “The Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona. It is also the most populous city in the state and is the county seat of Maricopa County, which is home to more than 60% of Arizona’s residents. The population of Phoenix is 1,552,259 within the city limits, but the metropolitan area brings that total to a large 4,579,427
People come from near and far to appreciate the Arizonan landscape, including the Grand Canyon, but they also love to stop by Phoenix to see the cultural hub of Arizona, which combines many historical and contemporary influences to create a unique cultural environment.
Phoenix was incorporated in 1881, but before that, it was home to Native Americans, such as the Hohokam people, who protected and lived off the land for hundreds of years. Accordingly, Native American influences remain prominent in Phoenix even after tribes had to leave the land because of drought and flood. The city was named after the story of the Phoenix, a bird that rose from ashes to become a beautiful and powerful force.
Not only has Phoenix been influenced by Native Americans, but it has also been influenced by people with other cultural identities. Hispanic people, many with Mexican heritage, are a significant part of Arizona’s demographic makeup, and you can see these influences in food, architecture, and shared community values. Other races and ethnicities have seen growth in recent years, such as the African-American population. As people migrate to Arizona, Phoenix becomes more diverse and embraces new cultures, which Phoenix a great hub for various cultural identities.
Pros of Moving to Phoenix
Phoenix is anticipated to grow massively within the next decade, and it’s no wonder, people continue to find the joy of Arizona and the convenience and culture that Phoenix has to offer. As one of the biggest United States cities, Phoenix has a lot of impressive opportunities while also allowing natural experiences. The following pros are what makes Phoenix so appealing and why you’ll be tempted to make Phoenix your home.
1. Urban Meets Natural Beauty
Phoenix is a highly urban area, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find natural beauty when you live in Phoenix. Phoenix is not a concrete jungle. You can see the desert and the mountains from the city, so you never feel like you’ve left the rest of Arizona just because you are in the city. There are skyscrapers in Arizona, sure, but they cannot compete with the majestic skylines that came naturally.
When you want to escape the city, it’s easy to go on a trip to nearby areas and partake in natural activities like hiking, sightseeing, or simply soaking up some much-needed sun. Though, when you’re out and about, you should always put on sunscreen to protect your skin!
2. Affordable Cost of Living
Overall phoenix is an affordable city, and it follows trends seen in Arizona at large. Especially for a city of its size, Phoenix has a reasonable cost of living. According to SoFi, the average cost of living in Arizona is $44,875 per year. Costs are slightly higher in Phoenix than the average, but they aren’t so extreme that you’ll be overwhelmed by expenses, particularly if you are moving from another city.
3. Good Job Market
The job market in Phoenix continues to grow as the city gets more populated. As the home to five Fortune 500 companies and growing, Phoenix already has a lot of positions in a range of industries. Those who move to Phoenix can grow with the city and the industries that are developing rapidly. Jobs pay fairly well, and the introduction of industries like the tech industry offers careers that have great growth predictions.
4. America’s Sunniest City
With sunshine more than 85% of the time, it’s no wonder that Phoenix has been named the sunniest city in the United States. If you’re looking for more sun, you cannot go wrong with Phoenix. However, all that sunshine can also come with immense heat.
5. Room for Growth
Arizona is already a huge spot for movers, and it’s estimated that Phoenix will become America’s 4th most populous city by 2030. There’s plenty more that Arizona can accomplish in that time, and as more people choose to live in Arizona, more opportunities for professional and personal development will present themselves.
6. Easy Navigation
Phoenix was designed so that citizens could easily navigate it. While the city is sprawling, it’s relatively easy to get from point A to point B. There is some city traffic, especially when the snowbirds are in town, but nothing that isn’t expected in a city of Phoenix’s size.
7. Perfect for Sports Fans
For all you sports fans out there, Phoenix offers plenty of opportunities to watch live sports to your heart’s content. Only thirteen cities in the United States have teams from all four major sports leagues representing their cities, and Phoenix just happens to be one of those cities. However, only one of the teams, the Diamondbacks, is within Phoenix’s city limits; the other teams have venues located outside Phoenix.
No matter where in Arizona the teams play, Phoenix residents have a lot of enthusiasm for their sports team. Some major teams in Arizona include the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Phoenix is also known for NASCAR racing and PGA golf.
8. Arts and Culture Scene
Living in Phoenix means that you get to be in the center of Arizona’s flourishing arts and culture scene. There are plenty of museums and galleries to enjoy the arts. Creative people are inspired by Arizona’s beauty and the social connections they can make in Phoenix. Whether you are an artist or just admire art from afar, Phoenix gives plenty of arts and culture joys.
Phoenix Art Museum is a great spot to start on your arts and culture tour. You can also check out the performing arts and see Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, or Arizona Opera. The Talking Stick Arean, Orpheum Theater, and Herberger Center all offer a range of performances throughout the year that residents love to support.
Cons of Moving to Phoenix
There are countless ways that living in Phoenix is a great experience, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some downsides to living in Phoenix. There are certain facts of life that Phoenix natives must get used to if they want to live in Phoenix. For some people, some of these cons can be deal breakers.
1. Stifling Summer Heat
People in Phoenix like to explain their heat “It’s a dry heat,” and that is true. The heat in Phoenix is dryer than most of the United States, but that doesn’t mean it won’t feel hot! During the summer, it’s normal for highs to go into the nineties or even over a hundred degrees. Climate change means that heat waves can feel like “hell on earth.” If you’re sensitive to heat, you may struggle during the sizzling summers in Phoenix.
2. Air Quality Issues
Sometimes, air quality is an issue in Phoenix. Dust storms can be especially bad for allergies and air quality and can make citizens suffer until the dust settles. For more than half of the year, residents breathe bad air. These issues can make people with sensitivities, illness, or allergies have an especially hard time in Phoenix.
3. Expensive Housing Costs
While Phoenix Arizona is affordable overall, the cost of a house in Phoenix is more expensive than the national average. While the average home in the United States costs $383,883, the average home in Phoenix, Arizona, is around $498,225.
You may find the costs of homes a little more expensive if you live in a place with lower home costs, but if you live in a big city like LA or NYC, the housing costs in Phoenix will seem pretty great. The home costs are more expensive, but they aren’t so outrageous that movers can’t incorporate home costs into their budget.
4. Struggling Schools
The schools in Arizona have a variety of struggles, and many schools struggle to keep their doors open. Many schools struggle to fill positions, which can cause schools to have huge educational gaps. Additionally, Arizona teens are dealing with not just struggling schools but also mental health struggles that can make it hard to promote good school outcomes. Arizona wants to improve its school systems, but for now, it’s important to make sure you choose to live in an area of Phoenix with top-rated schools if you have kids.
5. Frightening Wildlife
Even in the city, you are at risk of dealing with Phoenix wildlife. Dangerous spiders like black widows, toxic snakes, scorpions, and other creatures can appear and cause a lot of fear, especially if you aren’t used to these creatures. Most of the time, the wildlife won’t hurt you, but it is something you’ll have to be aware of when living in Phoenix.
6. Concerning Crime Rates
The crime rates in Phoenix are higher than most people would like. Across Arizona, violent and property crimes are higher than average, and you see this specifically in Phoenix as well. The violent crime rate in Phoenix per 100,000 people is 483, which is markedly higher than the national average. Property crime is also in the red zone with a rate of 2308.9 per 100,000 people. The high crime rate is certainly a concern, especially because it is higher than other urban areas of similar size. Thus, choosing a good neighborhood is vital if you choose to move to Phoenix.
7. Massive City and Urban Sprawl
Phoenix is big in size and experiences urban sprawl. As a result, it can take some time to get through the city and to your destination. It also means that Phoenix isn’t a very walkable city. You may be able to walk within your neighborhood, but if you want to venture beyond your immediate surroundings, you’ll probably have to use your car.
8. Poor Public Transportation
If you’re looking for a city with strong public transit systems, you aren’t going to find it in Phoenix. To get around, cars are a requirement because, for consistent, reliable public transportation, you’ll have to go to a different city. Chances are that as Phoenix keeps growing, it will have more need for strong public transportation infrastructure, but at the moment, you cannot rely on these systems to get around the city.
How to Decide If Phoenix is a Good Place to Live for You?
Now that you understand some of the pros and cons of living in Phoenix, it’s time to decide if living in Phoenix is the right fit for you. Each person must look at their personal situation because while Phoenix may be perfect for one person, other people might find Phoenix’s life difficult or hard to adjust to. You should be especially contemplative if Phoenix’s environment marks a huge change in your current environment because the bigger the change, the harder it can be when you aren’t mentally or physically prepared for that change.
Consider the Future You Want
It may be tempting to make the move to Phoenix because of what you want from life right now, but you also want to think about what your future may hold. You can’t know exactly what your future will be, but you can envision the kind of future that appeals to you.
There are many factors you’ll want to process when it comes to the future. Consider where you want to go with your career. If you don’t think there will be job opportunities in your industry in Phoenix, you may not be able to advance in your career like you want to. If you are close to retirement, you’ll want to consider if Phoenix will give you what you want in your retirement years. For people who plan on having kids soon, thinking about Phoenix’s schools may be important.
What is Most Important?
When you are considering the things you want from life, you don’t just want to think about things you want, but you also want to think about what you want most. There may be things you’d like, but you may be more willing to compromise on certain factors.
For example, families with kids may prioritize having good schools for their kids, and having good schools may be necessary for them to make the move. They may want to find a diverse community but are willing to compromise a little on that requirement if they can find a desirable school district.
There are no right or wrong answers to this question, so you must figure out what excites and worries you the most about moving, which can help you identify what matters most.
Weigh Your Pros and Cons
This guide has helped you identify some pros and cons about living in Phoenix, but you also have your personal pros and cons. Take your list of things that are the most important to you and weigh how Phoenix is a whole. When you put all the factors together, what does the full picture look like? Does the weight of the pros or cons win? Again, this weight isn’t about the quantity of pros and cons, but it is about the value of all the pros and all the cons when they are put together.
It’s easy to fantasize about how great a move would be, but you have to be realistic with yourself and be honest about how fitting or not fitting Phoenix will be for you. Don’t let the beautiful landscapes and promise of adventures distract you from your needs and biggest wants. It’s easy to romanticize Phoenix, but no matter how nice it seems, if you hate hot summer weather, Phoenix isn’t realistically going to fit what you want!
Come to Stay for a While
The best way to know if Phoenix is for you is to come and stay for a few weeks. You may have already taken a vacation to Phoenix, but it’s very different to experience a place as a visitor than to look at it through the lens of someone who plans to stay in the long term. Come during a time that will challenge some of your fears. For example, if you are worried you won’t be able to take the heat of the summer, come during the hottest times to see if you can endure the heat or if it really is too much. Challenge as many doubts as you can to either confirm or deny your worries about Phoenix.
Tips for Moving to Phoenix
Whether you already live in Arizona or are moving across the country, moving to Phoenix is often a huge move for people. Moving, even in the best circumstances, comes with a lot of responsibility in stress. Fortunately, with the following tips, you can move to Phoenix with enthusiasm more than fear.
- Have all your documentation for moving to Phoenix in one place. As you research, save that research so that you can find it whenever you need it. Other documents, such as career information, moving plans, and housing arrangements are also important to keep in one place.
- Prepare yourself for the Arizonan heat. Phoenix gets quite hot in the summer, so you may want to schedule your move when the weather is milder, but if you choose to move in summer, be ready to sweat a little. Make sure you have water handy so that you don’t get dehydrated, and if the heat starts to make you sick, take a break and try to cool down to avoid heatstroke.
- Research different neighborhoods to find one with vibes that fit what makes you feel at home. Phoenix has many vibrant communities, and depending on what you like, you can find one that appeals to your needs and interests.
- Don’t pack too many suits or fancy clothes. While some jobs might require dressier clothes, most of Phoenix tends to have a laid-back dress code, and a lot of people even wear shorts or tank tops around. Of course, check with your work first, but be ready to be a little more casual than usual.
- Plan the move well ahead of time to make sure you get the best prices for movers and other professionals. You’ll also want to establish housing and career arrangements with plenty of time to spare so that you aren’t scrambling to manage everything at the last minute. If you have kids, you’ll also want to consider when school starts and school arrangements.
- Get ready for unusual time shifts. While most other states choose to use daylight savings time, Arizona uses MST throughout the year, so you won’t have to change your clock back or forward based on the season. This also means that how far Arizona is behind the east or west coast will change throughout the year. This isn’t a major adjustment, but it can catch you by surprise or impact travel plans.
Staying on top of your move empowers you to move more efficiently and start your new life in Phoenix the right way.
You may still have some doubts about whether moving to Phoenix is the best choice for you. It’s a life-changing decision, so it’s important to take your time and make sure that you know as much about what it’s like in Phoenix as possible. The following FAQs are what other people like you are wondering, so they can help you clarify some of what you’re wondering and get a better sense of what living in Phoenix is like.
The living cost of Phoenix will depend on the type of lifestyle you are used to, but based on its size and status as a city, living in Phoenix comes at a reasonable price. To calculate the cost of living for you or your family, you can use Forbes’ cost of living calculator to determine if Phoenix is expensive compared to your current or desired financial situation.
There’s no easy comparison between Las Vegas and Phoenix because both have very different vibes. However, there are some considerations that can help you decide which area is best for you.
Phoenix embraces cultural influences from a range of influences, including Native American forebearers. Las Vegas tends to be more of a resort city, which focuses on entertainment but does have residential areas and hidden gems for residents.
Both cities can offer a good quality of life, but Las Vegas is more expensive than Phoenix and has higher home costs. However, Las Vegas has higher projections for job growth despite its high unemployment rate.
Phoenix and Las Vegas have similar temperatures in the summer; they both get quite hot, but Phoenix tends to be slightly warmer during the year, and it can be anywhere from five to nine degrees hotter than Las Vegas. Both cities tend to have dry heat, but Phoenix is slightly more humid, which can make its temperatures feel even hotter and more suppressive.
There’s a lot of overlap between living in Houston and Texas, but there are also a lot of differences in each city’s culture and lifestyle. Visiting each city will give you a good idea of how the people and cultures are different.
Both cities have pretty nice weather. They tend to have less intense seasonal changes and hot summers and mild winters, but Houston has fewer extremes, so the summers won’t be as hot and the winters will be a tad cooler. Phoenix has a dry heat, while Houston gets quite humid.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee