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Moving to Phoenix

Situated in the heart of Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, Phoenix is the USA’s fifth-most populous city. The city is now home to a diverse mix of cultures as Californians, Midwesterners, East-Coasters and expats make up a massive proportion of Phoenix’s population. 

Living in Phoenix as an expat

Accommodation in Phoenix is plentiful and reasonably priced. Whether a young professional relocating to the city for a lucrative job offer in the city centre, a couple looking to get the foot on the property ladder, or a family hoping to lay down roots and find themselves a family home, Phoenix boasts myriad property options.

For the career-minded, Phoenix provides some excellent employment prospects. The city’s flourishing economy means than newcomers with backgrounds and experience in a range of fields, such as healthcare, manufacturing, technology and education won’t struggle to find work in Phoenix or the wider Valley of the Sun area. 

In terms of lifestyle offerings, Phoenix has plenty to keep its residents occupied during their leisure time. The city boasts an impressive range of art galleries and museums, many of which showcase the Native American, Latin and Wild West influences that shape Phoenix’s cultural make up.

One significant downside for prospective residents moving from cities such as San Francisco, New York, Boston or Chicago is likely to be the limited nature of Phoenix’s public transport network. While some areas and suburbs are themselves fairly walkable, on the whole having a car is going to make life infinitely easier for new residents.

Cost of living in Phoenix

The city has a fairly gentle cost of living which affords its residents a better quality of life than they’d have in many other parts of the US. Most people can afford to live fairly well on an average salary. That said, wage growth tends to be a little slower than one would be accustomed to if they were moving from a city with a more dynamic economy.

Expat families and children 

Phoenix is a popular relocation destination for families as it is seen as a fantastic place to raise children, with a range of schooling options available, and, as the Southwest’s healthcare hub, it's home to some excellent medical facilities. The gorgeous weather naturally lends itself to outdoor pursuits, and the city has hundreds of hiking and biking trails to explore, not to mention major nearby attractions such as Camelback Mountain and the Grand Canyon. 

Climate in Phoenix

One of Phoenix's biggest drawcards is the city’s brilliant all-year-round weather. With 300 days of sunshine annually, Phoenix residents don’t have any reason to be cooped up indoors. Although summers can get scorching hot, winters are notably mild which calls for relaxing days by the pool or out exploring the city’s beautiful surrounds. 

Regardless for individual’s primary motivation for relocating to the Valley of the Sun, be it the good weather, low taxes, affordable cost of living or fun lifestyle offerings, a move to Phoenix is certain to be a great adventure. While settling into a somewhat slower pace of life may require a little adjustment, the rewards are likely to outshine any hardships associated with the move. 

Weather in Phoenix

As a result of its location in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a hot dry climate and is pretty much sunny all year round. In fact, Phoenix receives the most sunshine of any major city in the world. Despite being dubbed the ‘Valley of the Sun’, Phoenix does actually have four seasons, even though the transition between them is rather subtle. Most importantly though, new arrivals moving to Phoenix will need to prepare for a climate that consists of extremely hot and humid summers and mild winters.

In the summer, temperatures reach up to 110°F (43°C) with average temperatures hovering around 100°F (38°C). Unlike most desert locations that experience drastic temperature fluctuations between day and night, evening temperatures do not drop that noticeably in Phoenix because of the urban heat island effect. Although rainfall is minimal throughout the year, the North American monsoon does bring with it increased humidity levels during the summer months – this increase in humidity can also contribute to flash floods, destructive winds and dust storms. 

Phoenix is in Maricopa County which is reported to have one of the highest ozone pollution levels in the US. As ozone is formed in sunny climates, Phoenix is particularly susceptible to this problem. As the city continues to grow and car usage becomes more prevalent, vehicle emissions further contribute to increased pollution levels. Newcomers are warned that people with respiratory conditions may struggle with the poor air quality in the city.

Although the surrounding mountain tops may receive a dusting of snow, winters in Phoenix are really pleasant with temperatures averaging 54°F (12°C). Newcomers will come to relish the winter months, as not only do they bring cooler weather, but also clearer air and bright blue skies. 

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Phoenix

The decision to move to a new city, especially one in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It is important for prospective expats to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of relocating to Phoenix so they can make an informed choice as to whether the move is right for themselves and their family. 

Below are a few of our main pros and cons of life in Phoenix, which may assist anyone considering a move to the Valley of the Sun. 


Accommodation in Phoenix

+ Pro: Diverse range of options

Whether new arrivals are looking for a swanky city-centre apartment, a craftsman bungalow full of character, or a comfortable family home with a pool in the suburbs, there is sure to be a home to suit any individual's needs and preferences. What’s more, despite rising property prices, Phoenix remains more affordable than many other big US cities. 


Working in Phoenix

+ Pro: A strong local economy

Not only is the cost of living in Phoenix reasonable, the economy is strong which means there are plenty of great job opportunities for newcomers. Phoenix has one of the largest emerging industrial markets in the US, and new arrivals will find job opportunities in areas such as tourism, technology, healthcare and manufacturing. Phoenix also has great entrepreneurial spirit and there's a lot of support for people who want to run a small business here.

- Con: Salaries are low

Compared to other US cities, the salaries in Phoenix are relatively low. This doesn’t mean that residents can’t live well. Most people report having a better work-life balance in Arizona, and the fact that living expenses here are manageable means that even a small salary can go further. 


Lifestyle in Phoenix

+ Pro: A dream for outdoor enthusiasts

Active residents will find no shortage of leisure activities in and around Phoenix. The good weather also encourages residents to spend time outdoors making the most of nature. Whether it's clambering up to the peak of Camelback Mountain or taking a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s parks or green spaces, it’ll feel like time well spent. 

+ Pro: Arts and culture is flourishing

Newcomers will find that there is plenty of opportunities to get a dose of culture in Phoenix. Museums and art galleries are plentiful. From the Phoenix Art Museum to the Center for Creative Photography and the Pueblo Grande Museum, there is a lot to keep residents busy. Those who prefer the performing arts should catch the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Opera or Ballet Arizona in action at Symphony Hall. The Orpheum Theater, the Herberger Center and Talking Stick Arena also host an array of live performances. 

- Con: Phoenix can be quite conservative

On the whole, Arizona tends to have quite conservative political leanings. When it comes to spending, immigration and law enforcement, the state is certainly on the conservative end of the spectrum. Gun ownership is pretty prevalent in this part of the country too. Those with liberal leanings might need to make some adjustments to deal with these views. 

- Con: There are no easy weekend getaways

San Diego is 6 hours away, and so is Vegas, and there's not much in between. So those moving from places like California, or Europe, where there's entertainment in every direction, may well find Phoenix too remote.


Weather in Phoenix 

+ Pro: 300 days of sunshine a year

For many, the weather is a major draw for Phoenix. With 300 days of sunshine a year, this is a great place to spend time outdoors exploring the city. The great weather lends itself to fun-packed days spent on one of the many hiking trails or bicycle routes in and around the city. For those who want to enjoy the weather at a more relaxed pace, a day by the pool is always on the cards here. 

- Con: The desert heat and allergies can be intense

While the warm weather is a plus for many, it is important to remember that Phoenix is a city in the Sonoran Desert. The heat can get intense at times, which is not for everyone. For those with allergies, springtime in Phoenix can also be tough. 

- Con: Dust storms

Dust storms, or haboobs, are a common feature during the summer months in Phoenix. In fact, they are almost a daily occurrence 


Getting around in Phoenix

+ Pro: Phoenix is easy to navigate

Newcomers to Phoenix will soon realise that having a car affords them greater freedom to explore the city. Thanks to its straightforward grid layout, new arrivals really shouldn’t struggle to get their bearings. There really is no need for GPS with a layout that is so intuitive. 

- Con: Public transport is limited

New arrivals moving to Phoenix from cities with extensive public transportation networks might struggle with the limited system in place here. While there are plans to expand Phoenix’s light rail network, these are still a long way off.

Working in Phoenix

It may come as surprise to some that, despite the arid desert climate of Phoenix, the city’s economy was primarily built on agriculture and natural resources. Since the mid-20th century, though, industry in Phoenix has diversified rather dramatically. 

Today, the biggest drivers behind Phoenix’s economy are healthcare, technology and energy, while aviation, manufacturing and digital media are also major players. Intel, one of the area's prominent employers, has its second-largest operation based in Phoenix, employing around 12,000 staff. U-Haul International, a major moving company, and the regional airline Mesa Air Group both have their headquarters in Phoenix, while American Express also bases all of their digital operations in the city. 

In addition, the city is home to a handful of Fortune 500 companies including electronics corporation Avnet, mining company Freeport McMoRan and waste management company Republic Services. 


Job market in Phoenix 

Industrious newcomers will have no problem finding employment in Phoenix. The city’s economy is on an upward trajectory and job growth has been fairly consistent over the last few years. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arizona is leading the country in fostering job growth. 

While the unemployment rate in Phoenix is slightly higher than the national average, there has been a substantial improvement in recent years. The state government has also taken measures to stimulate economic momentum throughout Arizona, and as the state capital, Phoenix has benefited tremendously. Eliminating red tape, improving tax regulations to become more business friendly, and recognition of out-of-state occupational licences have all served to create new job opportunities in the city.

New arrivals with a strong academic background and experience in areas such as healthcare, technology, education and finance will do particularly well in Phoenix. There are also opportunities to be had in the fields of sales, office support and transportation. Tourism in Phoenix has also flourished in recent years, so this is another good area to find work. 


Finding a job in Phoenix

Job seekers can consult online job portals, social networks such as LinkedIn and local classifieds, or enlist the help of an agency. If already in Phoenix, new arrivals may find local newspapers useful, and it's always a good idea to ask around the neighbourhood or your network to find out if anyone knows of an opening.


Work culture in Phoenix 

Naturally, work culture differs from one company to another. With the influx of modern technology companies and digital media enterprises, many employers in Phoenix offer their employees certain perks to allow them to strike a healthier work-life balance and generally become more productive workers. Policies such as flexible working hours, working from home and job sharing are now commonplace in Phoenix. 

The general working environment in Phoenix is said to be less cut-throat and competitive than in other prominent economic hubs such as New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and employees in Phoenix report experiencing relatively high levels of job satisfaction as well as job security. Many companies across industries such as health, education and technology also offer their workers educational support and opportunities for career progression, both of which are important factors in terms of staff retention. While salaries in Phoenix may be slightly less than the national average, this seems to be a fairly minor trade-off considering the other lifestyle benefits awarded to workers. 

On the whole, Phoenix is a great place for those starting out in their careers or those looking to take a step back and enjoy a better work-life balance that affords them more quality time with family. It is also a great place for entrepreneurs thanks to the city’s business-friendly incentives.

Cost of Living in Phoenix

Anyone considering a move to Phoenix will need to draw up a budget and work out their projected monthly expenses to establish whether relocation makes financial sense for them and their family. 

The cost of living in Phoenix is slightly more than the US national average, as well as the Arizona state average. Despite this, Phoenix isn't necessarily regarded as an expensive city, and the quality of life is a major drawcard for newcomers planning a move to Phoenix. 

Most people can afford to live fairly well on an average salary. That said, wage growth tends to be a little slower than one would be accustomed to if they were moving from a city with a more dynamic economy. It's therefore quite important to consider the cost of living alongside one’s potential job opportunities in the city as well as the individual’s lifestyle preferences and family circumstances. 


Cost of accommodation in Phoenix

The cost of housing in the city is just higher than the national average, and will usually take up the largest portion of a person’s monthly budget in Phoenix. Phoenix residents tend to get good value for money in terms of the size and quality of properties, and the higher cost is therefore generally worth it for most residents.

Property investors have seen huge investment potential in Phoenix, which accounts for much of the constant development taking place throughout the city. Although the population in Phoenix is steadily increasing, this isn’t at such an intense rate that it is putting pressure on the property market. This has a positive impact on renters as it does allow them a little scope for negotiation when it comes to agreeing on a rental rate. 


Cost of entertainment and eating out

New arrivals in Phoenix will discover that the city caters for a range of tastes in terms of lifestyle, arts, culture, nightlife and eating out. The cost of a night out depends mostly on a person’s preferences, but even those who are keen to stick to a tight budget will find plenty of opportunities to have a good time in Phoenix without breaking the bank. 

Many of the city’s attractions can be experienced at little to no cost. Phoenix’s famously great weather is conducive to spending time outdoors exploring the city’s various gardens, parks, reserves and hiking trails. Most of these outdoor door activities cost next to nothing to enjoy. 

Although Phoenix’s culinary scene is beginning to flourish, it remains incredibly unpretentious. The number of fine dining restaurants is relatively small compared to cities with a stronger gastronomic tradition such as New York or Los Angeles. Phoenix residents will find that because of the movement among local chefs to promote local produce, they can eat very well for a reasonable price. 


Cost of education in Phoenix

Parents moving to Phoenix will of course need to factor in the cost of their children’s education. Much of these costs will depend on which schooling option families choose to pursue.

There are some good public schools in Phoenix, including several charter and magnet schools, that come at little to no cost. There are also a fair few private schools in the city which are said to offer a higher standard of teaching and greater opportunities in areas such as sports, art and drama. The costs associated with private school education can be exorbitant especially when one factors in all the added extras such as uniforms, textbooks, extra-curriculars and field trips.

The state of Arizona has well established systems to support students with special needs and disabilities at no extra financial cost to their families. But parents who choose to provide their children with additional academic support through private tuition services that exist outside the public education system will be required to foot the bill themselves. 


Cost of healthcare in Phoenix

As the capital of Arizona, Phoenix has become quite the healthcare hub and has some of the foremost cancer-treatment and heart-health centres in the area. 

While residents of Phoenix have access to excellent healthcare resources, it's important to note that it doesn’t come cheap. Prospective residents should spend time investigating the different health insurance plans available before relocating. Medical insurance is a complicated area so individuals will need to work out which package makes the most sense for themselves and their families. 

Those moving to Phoenix for a lucrative job offer should negotiate a medical insurance contribution into the employment contract, as this will represent a significant saving in their monthly expenses. 


Cost of transportation in Phoenix

While there are plans to extend the public transport offerings in Phoenix, at present they remain inadequate. Although public transport fares are much more reasonable than those in other US cities that have more sophisticated transport infrastructure, the networks really only cover the downtown area sufficiently and are therefore geared more towards visitors to Phoenix rather than commuting residents. 

Taxi rates in Phoenix have become increasingly competitive since e-hailing services became better established in the city. Still, using taxis on a regular basis isn’t a viable way to get around Phoenix especially with the vast distances people are expected to cover on a daily basis.

So even though owning a car is an expense that Phoenix residents can’t really avoid, new arrivals will find that purchasing a car in Phoenix is pretty affordable and petrol (gas) is also relatively cheap. That said, when one considers the amount of driving the average Phoenix resident does on a daily basis it's easy to see how car maintenance costs and petrol expenses can mount up. 


Cost of living in Phoenix chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Phoenix in February 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,200

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,370

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,830

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.20

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.80

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.10

Loaf of bread

USD 2.65

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 8.40

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 9

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.15

Cappuccino

USD 4.95

Local beer (500ml)

USD 5.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 60

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.14

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 82

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

USD 174

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.40

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 2

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.85

Accommodation in Phoenix

The real-estate market in Phoenix has thrived in recent years. With property prices constantly increasing, investors have seen huge potential in housing here. In relation to the city’s growing population, there has been a slight shortage in terms of rentals in certain sought-after parts of the city. 

On the whole, though, new arrivals shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a home in Phoenix. Not only is there a huge spectrum of choices in terms of property types and architectural styles, but prospective residents will also be pleased to learn that rentals are exceptionally reasonably priced compared to other major cities in the US. 


Types of accommodation in Phoenix

Prospective residents who haven’t yet visited Phoenix often assume that housing consists of rows upon rows of cookie-cutter homes with a distinct lack of character or room for creativity. But once people start researching the property in Phoenix and the wider ‘Valley of the Sun’ they’ll soon realise that, in fact, there is lots of diversity in terms of architecture and the city boasts a wide range of homes to suit a variety of lifestyle preferences and needs. 

Apartments

Those who wish to reside close to the downtown area will find that apartments are the main accommodation option available here. Apartments in Phoenix tend to be pretty sleek and modern. Relative to other types of housing in the city, apartments located close to the city centre tend to be more expensive as a result of their favourable location. Apartment living in Phoenix is an option that works well for single professionals and could benefit young couples finding their feet in the city.

Condos

Condos are another popular housing option in Phoenix. Generally, condos are found in areas close to Phoenix’s city centre, but there are some further afield as well. Essentially, condos are similar to apartments, and are available in various sizes. The major difference lies in the availability of communal facilities. Condos are based within complexes where residents have access to a range of shared amenities such as laundry families, fitness centres, swimming pools and gardens. They are a great option for new arrivals because the set-up features a strong sense of community and allows people to become part of a network. 

Historic bungalows

Sometimes referred to as craftsman homes, these humble bungalows are found in traditionally arty parts of Phoenix such as Roosevelt. While the bungalows are quite simple in design, they tend to be fairly spacious and are full of character featuring natural elements of wood and stone, as well as beautiful fireplaces. These homes are a great option for people drawn to the bohemian lifestyle of the Arts District and those looking for a simple but unique type of housing. 

Family homes

Moving further afield, away from downtown Phoenix, newcomers will have greater choice in terms of housing style. A big driving force that draws people to Phoenix is the affordable property prices and the broad range of comfortable family homes on offer. Here, prospective new residents, particularly those looking to buy property and settle down in Phoenix, are sure to find a housing style that meets their preferences. From Colonial Revival mansions to Tuscan-style villas and ranch homes, residents are spoilt for choice. Most family homes in Phoenix come with a pool, which is a godsend on those scorching Arizona summer days. 


Finding accommodation in Phoenix

Even before prospective residents start considering the logistics of their relocation to Phoenix, it is a good idea for them to spend some time trawling internet property portals to get an insight into the property market. Not only will this internet research allow prospective residents to gauge rental prices and figure out what they can afford, but it also provides a good opportunity for them to get some idea of areas and suburbs of Phoenix that might be suitable to their lifestyle and housing needs. 

Once new arrivals have narrowed down their requirements and established which neighbourhoods are worth exploring further, they could approach real-estate agents who work in those specific areas. These professionals have an intimate knowledge of the property market and are well placed to help those unfamiliar with the city find the perfect home. Real-estate agents often have access to properties that haven’t yet been listed publicly so they may be able to expose newcomers to a broader range of accommodation options.


Renting accommodation in Phoenix

While the population of Phoenix is increasing, the rate at which newcomers are moving to the city is not so high that demand for property has exceeded supply. This means that new arrivals shouldn’t struggle to find a suitable home in the city. That said, there are certain suburbs that are particularly popular, perhaps because of a favourable location or the presence of good public schools. Property in such places is likely to move a lot quicker, so residents looking to rent or buy in these sought-after areas may need to act a little faster than normal. 

The rental process

The rental process in Phoenix is fairly standard and in line with the rest of the US. Once prospective tenants have found a suitable property, they will need to file an application via the agent or directly approach the landlord. Then there is an applicant-screening process whereby certain reference and credit checks are carried out. It is usually expected that an individual or family unit has a combined income that is at least three times the cost of the rental rate. Non-US citizens are advised to have their social security number and US bank account set up ahead of time in order to speed up this process. Once an applicant has successfully been screened, the landlord and tenant can sign the lease. 

Leases

Generally, a standard lease in Phoenix is 12 months after which time the lease can be renewed, usually with an increase in rental attached. It is possible to negotiate a shorter term or month-to-month contract in some cases.

Deposits

Arizona law states that landlords cannot ask for a security deposit that is more than one and half times the standard monthly rental on a property. Landlords are also expected to hold the security deposit in an account that will accrue interest of at least 5 percent per year, which must be paid to the tenant at the lease period, provided they leave the property in a decent condition. Because landlords are allowed to make reasonable deductions for any damages to the property, tenants are advised to ensure that a detailed inventory is carried out at the start and end of a tenancy agreement. 

Utilities

Renters are advised to check the terms of their lease carefully before signing to determine which utilities are included within the rental price and what they are liable for. In most cases, standard utilities such as electricity, gas and water are covered by the landlord and tenants are expected to pay for optional extras such as internet, cable TV and telephone services. 

Areas and Suburbs of Phoenix

The best places to live in Phoenix

Whether new arrivals are American citizens moving from other parts of the country to experience life in the Southwest, or expats relocating to Phoenix for a US adventure, moving to a new city brings with it myriad challenges, one of which is finding a home where the individual or family is happy.

There is a lot to consider when looking for a place to live in Phoenix and we recommend narrowing the search down to a few selected areas and suburbs. Factors that influence a person’s choice of neighbourhood include the following: types of property available, safety, proximity to good schools, the convenience of location with regards to road links and public transport, as well as personal lifestyle preferences. With so many things to consider, the decision may seem pretty overwhelming to those unfamiliar with Phoenix. 

To help newcomers, we’ve drawn up a list of some of the most popular neighbourhoods in Phoenix: 


City living in Phoenix 

It's fair to say that public transport in Phoenix isn't great, so those looking for an easy commute might want to consider living close to the downtown area. Naturally, rental rates are higher in these prime city-centre locations, but the upside is that residents here have a wealth of entertainment amenities within easy reach.

Pheonix View

Downtown Phoenix

Newcomers intent on living in the heart of Phoenix with easy access to all the commercial opportunities the city has to offer, might want to consider the downtown area. With mixed-use buildings popping up all around, the shopping and dining offerings here are constantly expanding. The advantage of city living in Phoenix is that residents have all the best sporting events, concerts and nightlife offerings right on their doorstep. When one considers the distance and traffic that suburban dwellers have to contend with to get into town, it makes sense to be close to the action if city living is a lifestyle priority. Having access to the light rail also makes it easy to get around without a vehicle. 

Roosevelt Row

Not far from downtown Phoenix is the Bohemian hub of Roosevelt Row, or RoRo as it is affectionately known. Designated the city’s Arts District, Roosevelt Row links the downtown area with several residential neighbourhoods. Newcomers will find predominantly humble craftsman homes in the area. Properties are reasonably priced considering the area's proximity to the city centre. RoRo is popular with young couples finding their feet in Phoenix and creative types, as the area has a great collection of vibey bars, trendy eateries and eclectic boutiques. 


Suburban life in Phoenix

Most people moving to Phoenix are drawn to the quality of life the city affords its residents. The population sprawl means that most people live in outlying suburbs where there is considerably more choice in terms of property. There are a huge number of suburbs to choose from, some which are so extensive that they are often referred to as city-suburbs. The suburbs offer new residents much more in terms of space and value for money when it comes to renting or buying property in Phoenix. 

Scottsdale

Paradise Valley

Dubbed the ‘Beverly Hills of the Southwest’, what was once a rural outpost now boast multi-million-dollar mansions, golf courses and luxury resorts galore. Paradise Valley boasts an impressive range of restaurants and shopping facilities, most of which are based along N Scottsdale Road. It’s popular with wealthy families because of the prestigious schools that are located close by. For those with cash to splash, Paradise Valley has it all. 

Gilbert

Just a short drive from Phoenix city centre, is the family-friendly suburb of Gilbert. Families choose Gilbert because of its beautiful family homes, neighbourhood parks and, perhaps most importantly, excellent public schools. The suburb is in constant development with new housing complexes popping up as well as numerous child-friendly facilities. Gilbert’s is a bike-friendly area with loads of cycle paths and bicycle storage facilities that have been installed to encourage local residents to stay active. Gilbert’s nightlife scene is also pretty impressive, and its range of laid-back bars and fantastic eateries means there is no need to travel into town for a night out.

Scottsdale

Scottsdale is pretty much a city within itself. There is quite a buzz about the downtown area which boasts everything from great shopping facilities at Fashion Square to trendy yoga studios, coffee shops and quaint eateries. The downtown part of Scottsdale is popular with young professionals who have the disposable income to enjoy the perks of luxury-apartment living at the Scottsdale Waterfront. 

For those looking for something a little more residential, Scottsdale has some excellent options as well. The pace of life in North Scottsdale is a little bit more laid-back which makes this part popular with a slightly older crowd. It also has a fair share of high-end boutique shops, fancy wine bars and luxury spas. Residents keen to take advantage of Arizona’s good weather can head to nearby McDowell Mountain Regional Park, which provides loads of opportunities for hiking and biking.

Surprise

A 45-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, Surprise is a suburb-city that is often described as a green oasis in the Sonoran Desert. It is a great place to raise a family and many people choose to live here because of its low crime rates, parks and sports facilities. There are a number of good public schools including charter and magnet options in the neighbourhood, which is another reason it draws so many families. 

Surprise’s population has increased four-fold over the last decade and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. The area has a glut of lovely green parks, playgrounds and waterfront walkways which, combined with reasonably priced homes, make it an exceedingly popular area for young couples looking to buy.

Healthcare in Phoenix

When considering a move to a new city, it's important to consider access to good healthcare facilities. Fortunately, prospective residents of Phoenix don't have anything to worry about as far as their healthcare needs are concerned, as the city is home to some brilliant healthcare institutions. Not only does it boast the best heart health facilities in the state of Arizona, but it also has a number of good cancer hospitals too.

While good healthcare is not difficult to find in Phoenix, it doesn’t come cheap. New arrivals should ensure that they invest in a comprehensive health insurance policy that covers them for all eventualities. Those that are moving to Phoenix for a lucrative job offer should try to negotiate a healthcare contribution into their employment package as this will allow for a significant saving from the monthly expenditure. 

Here is a list of the recommended hospitals and healthcare facilities in Phoenix: 


Hospitals in Phoenix

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital

www.abrazohealth.com
Address: 1930 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center

www.honorhealth.com
Address: 19829 N 27th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85027

OASIS Hospital

www.dignityhealth.org
 Address: 750 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

www.phoenixchildrens.org
Address: 1919 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85001

Banner-University Medical Center

www.bannerhealth.com
Address: 1111 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

Valleywise Health Medical Center

www.valleywisehealth.org
2525 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Education and Schools in Phoenix

Parents considering a move to Phoenix will have to choose a school for their children. With over 300 public schools across 30 school districts as well as more than 200 charter, magnet and private schools, parents will have their work cut out for them when it comes to deciding which option is best.

A few factors to take into account when picking a school in Phoenix include the standard of teaching, the type of school, and the proximity of the school to home and the parents' place of work. Cost is also something that’ll play a part in the ultimate decision, especially when considering private schooling options.

As in the rest of the US, schools in Phoenix are split between three levels: elementary schools (pre-school to grade 5), middle school (grade 6 to 8), and high school (grade 9 to 12).


Public schools in Phoenix

While there are some excellent public schools in Phoenix, there are many more that are failing, plagued by issues of underfunding as well as safety concerns. On the whole, the state of Arizona has a long way to go before its public schools come close to the average national US or international standard. 

That said, the local government in Arizona have started to take the matter of public education more seriously in recent years. There has been a recognition that offering residents a globally competitive education is essential to boost the future economy of the area by retaining talent. Standards are gradually improving as a result of these efforts. 

Because public schooling is available to all legal residents at no cost, it is definitely an option worth considering. Parents will need to spend time investigating the standard of schools and decide whereabouts they’ll set up home according to proximity to good schools. 

Charter schools

These are semi-autonomous public schools that still receive public funds and operate under the appropriate school's district. While the governing bodies at charter schools do have some flexibility in terms of school management and assessment, they still follow the state-mandated curriculum. There are fewer catchment area restrictions when it comes to admission to charter schools. 

Magnet schools

Like charter schools, magnet schools are also partially funded by the state. But because they receive external funding too, they aren’t strictly bound by the US national curriculum and therefore have the opportunity to develop a more subject-focused curriculum. 
 
Typically, these schools focus on a particular subject area such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), the performing arts or languages. As teachers at magnet schools are required to be specialists in a given area, the standard of teaching tends to be better. 


Private schools in Phoenix

Another schooling path prospective residents may wish to choose for their children is the option to attend a private school. There are over 200 private schools in the wider Phoenix area which cover students from pre-K to 12th grade. The standards at private schools tend to be better than those at public schools. Students have access to good-quality facilities and a range of extra-curricular activities such as sports, music and the performing arts. Class sizes also tend to be smaller so students can get more attention, if necessary.

The downside of private school attendance is the cost. In addition to paying tuition fees, parents will need to factor in other expenses such as the cost of textbooks, extra-curricular activities, uniforms and field trips. 


International schools in Phoenix

There are a handful of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in Phoenix. Attending one of these schools is a good option for expats relocating to Phoenix especially if their children have previously studied at an IB school overseas. Those who plan to relocate overseas in the future might also consider this option for their children as the IB is one of the most widely recognised academic qualifications at a global level.

While some IB schools are public schools, these tend to be very oversubscribed, so parents will need to apply well ahead of time to increase the likelihood of securing a place. There are also a number of private IB schools where parents will be required to pay tuition fees so those will need to be factored into the equation when making a decision to apply. 


Special-needs education in Phoenix

The support available for students with special needs and disabilities in Pheonix is fairly good. The Arizona Department of Education offers a range of support features for students with learning difficulties and a variety of service delivery options. There is an Individualised Education Program (IEP) Team that assesses students to determine the level of support needed. Where possible, measures will be put in place to accommodate students within the mainstream public schooling system. In cases where disabilities are more severe, there are more specialist facilities available to help. 

Phoenix has a wide variety of specialised schooling options that cater for the unique needs of students with learning difficulties or those who suffer from various developmental, emotional and behavioural issues. While some of these schools are publicly funded charter schools, others are tuition-based private schools. Families who can’t afford to send their child to a private special-needs school can apply for financial assistance through various government programs. 


Tutors in Phoenix

Whether a student needs to catch up in a particular subject or they want to get ahead with some support for their college entrance exams, there are lots of private tutors on hand to help in Phoenix.

The best place to start the search for a good private tutor is by asking at the child’s school or talking to other parents in the neighbourhood. The alternative would be to utilise an established tutoring service. Upper-Class Tutoring and Parliament Tutors are examples of established tutoring companies in Phoenix. These companies offer a range of packages from one-to-one tuition in the comfort of the student's home to small group sessions held at a training centre.

The additional support provided by private tutors can allow students to address any gaps in their knowledge, progress in a certain subject area, or simply to build confidence.

Lifestyle in Phoenix

New arrivals in Phoenix will find that the city has a wide range of lifestyle offerings to keep residents entertained. Whether an individual is an art or history buff, an avid foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast who is in Phoenix for the good weather, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Valley of the Sun. 


Arts and culture in Phoenix

It may come as a surprise to those who are unfamiliar with Phoenix, but the city has a rich arts and culture scene which attracts creative minds from across the valley. New arrivals will have a whole host of galleries and museums to explore throughout the city. A stroll through the Arts District in the Phoenix suburb of Roosevelt provides a great opportunity to take in street art. The First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix is a monthly event where the city comes to life as residents come out in their droves to access special art and photography exhibits. 


Eating out in Phoenix

Phoenix is said to be a foodie oasis in the Arizona Desert. Local chefs have become champions of sustainability and work tirelessly to promote the use of fresh local produce. Restaurants in Phoenix have become truly innovative in recent years fusing diverse cuisine to create fresh twists on American classics. 

The culinary scene in Phoenix is constantly evolving but residents are sure to find an eclectic range of international food offerings here. From Korean bao buns and Mexican tacos to slow-cooked BBQ ribs and wood-fired pizza, there are endless options. 


Nightlife in Phoenix

Sure, it’s not quite Vegas but new residents will find that Phoenix is a fun place to be when the sun goes down. From ale houses and dive bars to rooftop cocktail bars and sophisticated nightclubs, Phoenix has an exciting bevy of nightlife venues. 

There are several nightlife hubs in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Downtown Phoenix is the obvious choice, but it tends to be geared towards visitors rather than locals. The Roosevelt Row Arts District with its laid-back vibe is the popular gathering spot among the Bohemian crowd who are drawn to the great live music on offer. Old town Scottsdale is home to a high density of bars and clubs, while downtown Tempe is also a top choice for revellers. 


Sports and outdoor activities in Phoenix

With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, there is no excuse not to get outdoors in Phoenix. Hikers, bikers, climbers and general outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element playing outside in the Sonoran Desert. The Valley of the Sun is home to dozens of parks and reserves, both in and around the city, that offer trails galore. From taking a leisurely wander around the red rock buttes of Papago Park to taking on the unforgettably rewarding climb up to the top of the iconic Camelback Mountain, new Phoenix residents will find outdoor activities to suit all fitness levels.

For those who prefer to watch sport rather than take part, there is plenty of action taking place on Phoenix’s sports calendar. New arrivals should check out Phoenix’s local NFL team Arizona Cardinals play at least once. Basketball fans can see the Phoenix Suns in action at the Talking Stick Arena.


See and do in Phoenix

New arrivals will be pleased to learn that there is plenty to see and do in this desert city. We list a few of those below.

Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest in the Southwest, hosting multiple national and international exhibitions alongside the museum’s permanent collection, which has grown to contain over 17,000 artefacts. In addition to historic pieces, the museum also provides a platform for contemporary artists and photographers.

Arizona Science Center

An architectural masterpiece, this landmark is set on the beautiful grounds of Heritage and Science Park. It's home to a collection of galleries, and terraces provide an environment for learning. Hands-on exhibits, a modern planetarium and a 5-storey giant-screen theatre make for a really engaging and interactive experience.

Musical Instrument Museum

For something out of the ordinary, visit the world’s only museum dedicated to musical instruments, located in downtown Phoenix. The MIM houses 6,000 musical instruments from across the globe. Through interactive exhibits, visitors can explore foreign cultures through music.

Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo is the largest non-profit zoo in the US. Set across 125 acres, the zoo is home to over 1,400 animals and contains miles of walking trails. Conservation lies at the heart of the zoo’s mission, and it famously played a significant role in the reintroduction of the once almost extinct Arabian Oryx back into the wild. 

The Grand Canyon

An attraction that needs no introduction. Although, strictly speaking, the Grand Canyon is a four-hour drive from downtown Phoenix, it remains a popular daytrip or weekend getaway for local residents. Carved by the path of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is a staggering sight. 


What's on in Phoenix

Blessed with great weather all year round, ‘The Valley of the Sun’ is the perfect place for a whole host of outdoor events. Newcomers to Phoenix will find that the array of fairs and festivals that take place in and around the city definitely keep life interesting.

Arizona Balloon Classic (January)

Thousands of spectators head to Phoenix each January to see a colourful bouquet of hot air balloons take to the East Valley skies. This three-day festival sees a number of teams showcase their aerial talents through stunning glowing balloon shows in the early evening, morning balloon launches and a fun-filled balloon race. 

Tacolandia (January)

Taco fans unite for the annual festival of this traditional Mexican snack. Festival goers delight in sampling endless varieties of the humble delicacy from over thirty of the region’s top taquerias. With live entertainment, mariachi bands and folkloric dancers, it's a fantastic cultural experience. 

Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon (January)

There is no better way for an expat to get acquainted with their new home than running through its streets. Not a runner? Well, there is a bike tour too. Those who prefer to watch from the sidelines won’t be disappointed either, and with bands along the course there is no shortage of entertainment.

Lost Dutchman Days (March)

There is nothing that conjures up the image of the Wild West more than a rodeo, and this hugely popular annual carnival draws in over 30,000 visitors who come to get a glimpse of high-octane livestock-riding. This three-day extravaganza also features rodeo dances and live music performances. 

Arizona State Fair (October)

A tradition that dates back to 1905, one of the top annual events in Phoenix is the Arizona State Fair. Attracting over a million people each year, visitors are treated to live performances by local musicians, rodeos, food stalls and various art exhibits. The kids will also certainly be in their element with all the fairground rides to keep them busy. 

Getting Around in Phoenix

Phoenix is a typical American car-centred city. Newcomers moving from places with sophisticated public transport systems such as New York, Boston, Chicago or San Francisco might be in for a shock. With the exception of Light Rail, which is only a viable option for those living in Tempe or along the downtown Phoenix corridor, public transport options in Phoenix are seriously lacking. 

As the city’s population grows, there has been mounting pressure for local authorities to improve public transit. Local residents are not only concerned by rising petrol (gas) prices, but by the impact that more cars on the road is having on the valley's air quality. Despite there being plans in the pipeline for expansion of public transport infrastructure and the introduction of streetcars, progress has been incredibly slow. New arrivals are likely to find that having a car in Phoenix brings them greater freedom, making their lives infinitely easier. 


Public transport in Phoenix

Valley Metro is the authority that oversees the public transportation networks in Phoenix. Residents can consult the Valley Metro website to plan their journey and to check on any service disruptions.

Light rail

Phoenix’s light rail system is an affordable way of getting around the city centre. It is, however, mainly useful to visitors to the city as there is just a single route that runs through the downtown area and the stops are almost all located close to points of interest.  

Trains run every 10–12 minutes during rush hour and 15–20 minutes otherwise. Even though the light rail services aren’t really extensive in terms of the area they cover, trains do run till midnight on weekdays and till around 3am over the weekend.

Buses

While Phoenix's bus network is fairly extensive, most residents report that services rarely run to schedule and are generally unreliable. That said, fares are pretty cost effective and there are discounted daily, weekly and monthly passes available for people who use buses regularly. 

The bus network runs from 5am to 12am but the frequency of services and operational hours do vary from one route to the next, so we recommend expats consult the schedule when planning a journey. 


Taxis in Phoenix

There are a handful of reputable taxi companies operating in Phoenix. Prominent taxi operators include Phoenix Cab Company and Yellow Cab Arizona. Taxis are readily available in the downtown area close to major attractions and light rail stations. If, however, one is travelling to or from the suburbs it is best to call ahead and book a vehicle. Taxi fares are reasonable but considering the vast distances between places in Phoenix, costs can easily mount up if taxis are used regularly. 


E-Hailing services in Phoenix

E-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are fairly well established in Phoenix. Using these platforms is a more cost-effective way of getting around than using conventional taxis, and they are convenient too. Users simply need to download the app onto their smartphone and register for the service using their credit card. 


Driving in Phoenix

The vast majority of Phoenix residents use a car as their primary mode of transportation. Anyone planning to relocate to Phoenix will find that having a car will give them more freedom and flexibility when it comes to getting around.

New arrivals will soon find their bearings in Phoenix as the city streets are fairly easy to navigate. The area is designed around a grid system where most roads are numbered according to their distance from the city centre. Nearly all roads also have a compass direction added to further clarify locations. Areas outside the Phoenix city limits such as Tempe, Avondale and Chandler operate on their own grid systems.

A major downside associated with driving in Phoenix is that the city’s extensive network of freeways seems to be continually expanding. Constant roadworks and road closures mean that traffic congestion can be terrible at times. 

Another fact to note is that Phoenix has some of the strictest drink-driving laws in the US. DUI laws are extremely strict and police traps are in place all over the city. Mandatory jail and massive fines make it unwise to take a risk when it comes to driving. Therefore, if one is expecting to have a big night out it is best to appoint a designated driver or arrange to use taxis or e-hailing services to get home. 


Cycling in Phoenix

Despite the great weather and flat terrain, Phoenix hasn't always been bicycle friendly, but the city authorities have made a concerted effort to reinvent the metro area so that it is more conducive to cyclists. They have created a network of dedicated cycle lanes and easy-to-navigate paths and bridges so cyclists can avoid busy roads, and safe bike storage facilities have been introduced on the streets as well as on public transport. 

Grid Bikes is the official bike-sharing scheme that operates through Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. Users simply sign up for an account using their credit card. Once registered, they are able to pick up a bike from one of the many docking stations using their pin numbers. Those who plan on using the system regularly can look into signing up for a weekly, monthly or annual package which will allow them to make significant savings. 

In addition to resources of those that commute by bike, there are also a number of scenic cycle routes and desert trails for leisure cyclists. 


Walking in Phoenix

Despite the city sprawl and soaring summer temperatures, new residents will find that there are many parts of Phoenix that are best explored on foot. Even though walking may not be a viable form of commuting, taking a pleasant stroll around neighbourhoods such as Eastlake Park, Booker T Washington, Garfield and of course downtown Phoenix is a great way to get acquainted with one’s new home.