There are few locations in the United States where you can live and reasonably expect to have sunshine nearly every day of the year. Phoenix is one of them – and it has become one of the most popular destinations for people who want to relocate to a warm climate.
Its desert location makes Phoenix a unique city. In fact, it’s the US leader in population growth as of the beginning of 2017. The population boom means that housing is in high demand. Fortunately, the local economy is booming after taking a hit (along with the rest of the country) back in 2008.
If you’re considering a move to Phoenix, you’ll undoubtedly have questions about what it’s like to live there and what you need to know to make a smooth transition. We’re here to help.
The Phoenix Metropolitan Area
Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States. As of 2016, Phoenix proper had a population of just over 1.6 million people.
As is the case with many cities in the western United States, Phoenix is a planned city. It’s laid out in a careful grid with easy-to-navigate streets.
You might think of Phoenix as being a single city, but the greater Phoenix area encompasses multiple suburbs and neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are known as villages and there are 15 in all.
Downtown Phoenix is the business and cultural center of the city. It’s where you can expect to find many of the city’s major employers. Museums, parks, and other attractions are also located here. Housing in this area consist mostly of apartments and condominiums.
Paradise Valley is an affluent suburb of Phoenix. It shouldn’t be confused with the Paradise Valley Village which is a city neighborhood located in Northeast Phoenix. Paradise Valley has a population of only 12,820 as of the 2010 census but it’s home to a total of eight full-service resorts. Real estate is expensive and it’s a popular tourist destination.
Deer Valley Village is in central Phoenix next to the town of Glendale. The Adobe Mountains are located here. There’s plenty of multi-family housing and business real estate in this area.
Other significant neighborhoods and suburbs that make up the Phoenix metropolitan area include Encanto Village, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, and Tempe.
Cost of Living in Phoenix
Any time you plan on relocating, you must consider the cost of living in your destination. That’s especially important if you’re moving from an inexpensive city to an expensive one. The salary that kept you comfortable in Arkansas may not be enough to live on in Arizona.
The cost of living in Phoenix is slightly below the national average. Housing and transportation are both higher than the national average, while groceries, healthcare, and utilities are below the national average.
Overall, Phoenix is less expensive than most major cities on the East and West Coasts. However, you can expect that prices will be high compared to many cities in the South and Midwest.
As of August 2017, unemployment in Phoenix is at 4.4%. That’s down from the 2016 average of 5% and in line with the national average. Despite the low unemployment numbers, there are still plenty of jobs available in Phoenix. Some of the major industries here include aerospace, defense, technology, manufacturing, biotech, and healthcare.
When you move to Phoenix, it’s important to factor transportation costs into your budget. While Phoenix does have some public transportation, the system is not commuter-friendly. Most people who live here own a car. The sprawling layout of the city makes commuting a challenge.
Weathering the Phoenix Weather
The climate in Phoenix is responsible for much of the city’s popularity. People who want to escape cold winters and snow often choose Phoenix as their destination – and with good reason.
Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert and has a typical desert climate. While the average annual temperature is only 75 degrees, that number is deceiving. Living in Phoenix, you can expect to experience more than 100 days per year with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The record high temperature of 122 degrees was set on June 26, 1990.
Because it is an arid desert, there are sometimes big temperature swings from day to night. In the winter months, temperatures can drop down to the 30s at night. Experiencing real humidity here is rare. However, when the temperature is over 100 degrees, it feels very hot even without humidity.
Rainfall in Phoenix is low, averaging just over eight inches per year. The monsoon season brings most of the city’s precipitation. It runs from mid-June through September.
As you might expect in a hot climate, most housing in Phoenix has central air conditioning. Sunglasses, water bottles, and sunscreen are all musts when you’re outdoors in Phoenix.
Planning Your Move
As you plan your move to Phoenix, you should take the heat into consideration. Moving on a hot day may be unavoidable. However, you should still try to complete your move early in the day before the worst of the heat hits.
If your move is happening with short notice, you’ll need to think about being flexible. Moving companies are easier to book mid-week than on weekends. If you must move in the summer and you’re not used to the area’s heat, it may be worth paying a bit more for professional movers instead of trying to move furniture and heavy items yourself.
Depending on where you want to live, housing can be difficult to find. Hiring an experienced Phoenix real estate agent can help. They’ll have information about schools, commuting, and other issues that you might not be able to figure out on your own.
Here are some links to help you get your utilities and services set up.
You’ll need to register your car and get an Arizona driver’s license. Arizona issues extended licenses that are good up to the age of 65, but you’ll have to update your photo and vision information every 12 years. People over the age of 65 get a 5-year license. You can find more information on the Department of Transportation’s website.
Arizona requires an emissions test, too. You can find information about emissions requirements, testing locations, and fees by clicking here.
Phoenix Culture and Living
For many people, relocating to Phoenix exposes them to a new and different culture. The American Southwest is home to many people of Native American and Latino descent. The city of Phoenix’s history is tightly entwined with these cultures. Phoenix is famous for its Winter Visitors due to the incredible “winters” where the temperatures are mild and the sun shines practically every single day.
The city is also home to plenty of the usual cultural experiences. The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arizona, and Arizona Opera all make their homes here. There are many theaters and concert venues. Phoenix’s status as one of the largest cities in the United States makes it a popular stop for touring musicians and plans.
Phoenix’s museums offer a variety of cultural experiences. The Phoenix Art Museum, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, houses an impressive collection of artwork. The Heard Museum’s exhibits include Native American artifacts and history. The city’s newest museum, the Musical Instrument Museum, has the largest collection of musical instruments in the world.
Museums offer learning experiences for adults and children alike. Phoenix also has an impressive zoo and botanical garden where kids can learn about desert animals and plants. Both attractions feature special holiday events and kid-friendly activities.
Phoenix’s warm climate and diverse culture make it a popular place to live. Retirees flock here to escape the cold winters and young people come here for college and job opportunities. The desert landscapes and laid-back atmosphere often convince visitors to relocate here. Rent a storage unit in the area to make your move easier. Whichever neighborhood you choose, you’re sure to enjoy your new life in the beautiful city of Phoenix, Arizona.