Moving to the American Southwest is a popular thing to do. People tired of winter weather are eager to live in an area where the sun shines more often than not, and it’s easy to understand why.
One city in the area that has experienced exponential growth is Surprise, Arizona. If you plan on moving there, you’ll need some information and resources to help you plan. We’re here to help.
About Surprise, Arizona
Surprise is a rapidly growing city in Maricopa County, Arizona, not far from Phoenix. It gets its name from the land’s original owner and the city’s founder, Flora Mae Statler. She said she “would be surprised if the town ever amounted to anything.”
First established in 1938, the town started small. Situated on one square mile of land, there were only a few residents and a single gas station to mark Surprise’s existence. After it incorporated in 1960, Surprise grew steadily. But, its real population boom didn’t come until the 1990s.
It was then that tens of thousands of retirees moved into the area to live at Sun City Grand, an age-restricted resort. As of the 2010 census, the population of Surprise is estimated at 117,517, making it the second-fastest growing municipality in the Phoenix area, behind Gilbert.
In 2007, a company called Prasada announced plans to build Arizona’s largest shopping complex in Surprise, something that would have brought 20,000 jobs to the area. However, the complex has not yet been built.
Education in Surprise
If you have children or plan to have them in the future, you’ll want to know something about the public schools in Surprise.
The families of Surprise are served by the Dysart Unified School District. In the Surprise city limits, there are:
- 19 elementary schools serving grades K-8
- 3 high schools
A fourth high school is located in nearby El Mirage and serves some of Surprise’s students. A charter school, the Arizona Charter Academy or ACA, is also in Surprise. It serves students in grades K-12.
There are no institutes of higher learning in Surprise. However, the city is within easy driving distance of multiple colleges and universities. These include Arizona State University, Estrella Mountain Community College, and Glendale Community College.
The Cost of Living in Surprise
It’s essential to take the cost of living into consideration any time you relocate – and especially so if there’s a big difference in prices between your current and future home.
For most people, moving to Surprise shouldn’t cause much sticker shock. The prices here are slightly higher than the national average (about 4%), which means that people moving from big coastal cities will likely find the prices a relief.
The biggest driver of living expenses is housing, and that’s the one area where Surprise’s prices are a bit on the high side, approximately 18% higher than the national average. However, most other things – including health care, utilities, and groceries – are a few percentage points lower than average here. Transportation is slightly more expensive.
Speaking of transportation, you will be most comfortable if you have a car here. Public transportation options in the area are limited unless you’re in downtown Phoenix.
The Weather in Surprise
You probably have an expectation that the weather in Surprise will be hot and dry, and that’s correct. Surprise is located only 33 miles from Phoenix, and its weather is nearly identical to that city’s.
Specifically, the climate is quite arid. The national average rainfall is 39 inches, and Surprise gets a meager nine inches of precipitation per year.
Temperatures here are mild in the winter, with a January low of 41 degrees. The heat can be intense during the summer months. The July high is 105 degrees, and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to soar above 115 degrees. You’ll learn quickly to wear sunscreen and sunglasses, and to bring water with you whenever you leave the house.
If you love sunshine, you’re in luck. Surprise gets 301 days of sunshine per year. The bulk of the rainfall occurs during the winter months.
One thing to note is that there can be dramatic swings in temperature in the Arizona desert from day to night. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to fluctuate by as much as 40 degrees or more. That can take some getting used to.
Planning Your Move to Surprise
Preparing to relocate always requires careful planning. Packing requires patience, and when you’re moving to a new state, you must also think about practical matters like registering your car and arranging utility services.
The first thing to keep in mind is the heat. Heavy lifting can be uncomfortable and even dangerous in the high heat of summer. Hiring movers will ensure you don’t have to undertake the move on your own. If you do plan to do the heavy lifting, try to plan it so that you move early in the day before the sun is at its peak.
You’ll want to arrange for electricity and other services before you arrive, especially if you’re moving in the summer. You’ll be glad to have air conditioning! Here are some links that can help you.
Arizona Public Service Electric Company (electricity)
Southwest Gas (natural gas)
City of Surprise (water and waste management)
CenturyLink (cable and internet)
Cox (cable and internet)
Rent one of our self-storage facilities in Surprise to assist you with your move. Many homes in Arizona do not have large attics or basements, so many in the valley find renting a storage unit to be essential.
You’ll also need to register your vehicle as quickly as possible if you’re moving to Arizona from another state. To do that, you will probably need to pass an emissions test and you’ll also need to secure liability insurance for your vehicle. At the same time, you should get an Arizona driver’s license and register to vote.
Entertainment and Recreation in Surprise
You might expect that a city that gets more than 300 days of sunshine per year would have its share of outdoor recreation, and you’d be right. The City of Surprise has 14 parks, and several pools and recreation centers. Park amenities include picnic areas, playgrounds, hiking trails, and skate parks, among other things.
Golf is big business in Arizona, and Surprise is no exception. There are nine golf courses within the city limits. As we mentioned earlier, Surprise is also within distance of Phoenix and its surrounding areas, which host dozens of world-class golf courses and resorts.
For those who love sports, Surprise is home to Surprise Stadium, the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. There are year-round sporting events here. Many Surprise residents are fans of the Arizona Cardinals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Phoenix Suns. Local teams play at the stadium, too.
Like many municipalities, Surprise has its share of annual events. These include the Second Sundays Food Truck Festival, and the Surprise Fine Art & Wine Festival. Other events can be found on the City of Surprise’s official website, here.
If you prefer the big city, you should remember that Surprise is a relatively short distance from Phoenix. The City of Phoenix has hundreds of parks. It’s also home to some world-class museums, including a fine children’s museum, a fine art museum, and a musical instrument museum. If you’re interested in native culture, you won’t want to miss the Heard Museum, which has an impressive collection of Native American artifacts.
It’s also worth noting that Phoenix has a world-class zoo and botanical garden. There’s plenty to do here for the whole family, including live music, fine dining, and year-round outdoor activities. Other day trips might include Sedona, home of a thriving artists’ colony and the world-famous Red Rocks, and Flagstaff.
The City of Surprise, Arizona, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the American Southwest. As you plan your move here, we hope that you’ll find the information we’ve provided to be useful. We wish you an easy and enjoyable transition, and we hope you enjoy your new home in Surprise!