Moving to and Living in Phoenix, AZ– 2024 Relocation Guide

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Welcome to the Valley of the Sun 

Shrouded in mystery and shaped by industry, Phoenix is a city built for business that’s steeped in desert culture.  

As the capital of Arizona, and the seat of Maricopa County, Phoenix certainly has a buttoned-up side, but this Southwestern giant knows how to let its hair down. Hiking, biking, golfing, spas, museums, monuments, restaurants and bars. Almost anything you love to do — indoors or out — can be done in Phoenix.  

But…maybe not without breaking a sweat. The heat has gotten serious in the Valley of the Sun. But that has yet to put a damper on the growth of what is now the fifth-largest city in the United States.  
 
More than two-thirds of the population of the state of Arizona live in the greater Phoenix area. 200,000 people have moved to this city of 1.6 million since 2010 — 44,000 since 2020 alone. The surrounding Maricopa County area, already home to more than 4.5 million, saw the greatest population gains in the country in 2022 and has grown by more than 730,000 in the last 12 years.  

With its moderate cost of living, strong job market and diverse industry base, new residents coming to Phoenix are confident in the career possibilities that await them. But they also come for the fun. Major cultural attractions like the Heard Museum, the Arizona Opera and the Musical Instrument Museum provide indoor relief from Phoenix’s blazing sun, and outdoor diversions like golfing, hiking and biking keep this city’s residents active and engaged with the natural landscape. And don’t forget the pro sports in town, either. Phoenix has a strong fan base for every major league, from the MLB to the WNBA.  

If you’re considering moving to Phoenix with your family, learn more about this sun-soaked gem of the Southwest below. Want to hear more about the Grand Canyon State? Check out our Moving Guide to Arizona.  

What Draws People to Phoenix

Quite Affordable Cost of Living

Despite being one of the most popular cities in the country, Phoenix still has a remarkably affordable cost of living. Residents of the Valley of the Sun can expect to pay slightly more than the national average for housing and healthcare, but they’ll spend less on expenses like food. And compared to large coastal metropolises, Phoenix residents save big.  

The median home value in Phoenix averaged $340,200 between 2018 and 2022, compared to $732,100 in NYC, $822,600 in Los Angeles, $783,300 in San Diego, $1,149,600 in San Jose and $1,348,700 in San Francisco, where owning real estate feels like the exclusive province of the gods.  

Rent is far more affordable in Phoenix, too. The median gross rent in Phoenix averaged $1,322 from 2018-2022 — not far off from the U.S. average of $1,268 — but a sizeable distance from the Big Apple ($1,714), L.A. ($1,791), SD ($2,080), SF ($2,316) and San Jose, where the median rent has reached an astronomical $2,526 per month.  

Income levels in Phoenix fall slightly below the national average, though. The median household income in the U.S. is now $75,149, while in Phoenix it stays only at $72,092. Maricopa County, on the other hand, has an average household income of $80,675.  

Resilient Economy and Job Market

By the middle of 2023, employment levels in the Valley of the Sun weren’t looking great, and the unemployment rate in Phoenix had risen above U.S. rates and broken the 4%. But by the end of the year, rates had fallen back down to 3.5%, calming fears about the city’s job market.  

While most Phoenix industries saw gains between November of 2022 and 2023, information — one of the city’s smallest sectors — took a large hit, dropping nearly 7%, as did Other Services. Another niche industry in the area, mining and logging, experienced the opposite and saw enormous growth last year — nearly 10% — but the sector still employs fewer than 3,500 Phoenix-area residents.  

The largest industry sector in the region — trade, transportation and utilities —which employs more than 465,000 residents in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area, gained just under a point over the last year. Professional and business services, the second-largest industry in the area, gained two points and now employs more than 406,000 area residents. Education and health services, with its 395,000 employees, saw 5.8% growth. Other major divisions of the nonfarm civilian workforce in this capital city include the government (252,000 employees), leisure and hospitality (247,100 employees) and financial activities (221,000).  

But which companies dominate the field in Phoenix? Well, Arizona is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Freeport-McMoRan (a mining megalith), electronics manufacturer Avnet and Carvana, based in nearby Tempe. Other major area employers include microchip manufacturer TSMC, Banner Health, GoDaddy, Intel and American Express.  

Warm and Dry Climate

Life in the Sonoran Desert is hot and dry, and anyone who fears cold weather will have no worries in sunny Phoenix. The average temperature is 75.6 F, and it only rarely drops below freezing. From December through February, you can expect an average low in the 40s F and highs in the 60s F.  

The winter months are typically the rainy season for the western United States, but don’t count on monsoons in Phoenix at any time of year. The average monthly rainfall never amounts to more than an inch, and only 7.22 inches of annual rain fall on average in the city.    

Phoenix is a city of extremes, so another thing you can’t count on is a traditional spring or fall. March and November are the in-between seasons in this arid climate, when temperatures that ideal range of 50-75 F.  

Once summer in Phoenix hits, look out. Daily highs climb into the hundreds — often cresting the 110 F mark — from June through September, and the daily lows may be even more shocking. On July 19, 2023, the city set a new record low of 97 F and the daily high was a choking 119 F. Even the rattlesnakes cranked up the AC on that scorching Wednesday night.  

In addition to the heat, Phoenix residents must be aware of the threat of dust storms, called by their Arabic name, “haboobs.” These powerful formations can build a 1,500-meter wall of dust that bulldozes the urban landscape, reducing visibility to zero often causing dangerous, even deadly, pileups on Phoenix roadways.  

Urban Living in Phoenix Area

The Phoenix metro area encompasses dozens of unique neighborhoods, from trendy, in-town enclaves to serene suburban districts with sprawling mountain views.  

Downtown Phoenix

Arizona State University may have its flagship campus in nearby Tempe, but it also has a campus in Downtown Phoenix, which is full of attractions for everyone in your family. Watch the Suns outshine everyone on the court at the Footprint Center or see the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.  

When you need a respite from the workday, the Japanese Friendship Garden has more than three tranquil acres to stroll and restorative tea tours. If you’re looking for an artsy night out on the town, make a stop at the Churchill during First Friday festivities in Roosevelt Row — the city’s art & design district. You might indulge in a plate of Hawaiian BBQ from Loco Style Grindz or a brisket burger from Stoop Kid, dripping with caramelized onions, jalapenos and melty panela. Bring your favorite gourmand to the Neighbor Market for nonpareil pantry and picnic provisions, like sardines tinned with preserved lemon and “upcycled apricots…” that’s dried fruit to us commoners.  

Downtown Scottdale

While Scottsdale is certainly a part of the greater Phoenix area, it is very much its own city with a unique vibe and plenty of attractions for its 243,000 residents. Downtown Scottsdale has a gallery-filled arts district, shopping meccas like Fashion Square and a historic district called Old Town, which is filled with cool restaurants. The Second Story Liquor Bar has decadent small plates to accompany its sinful cocktails, like the Should We Be Bad, and we found the pork belly sandwiches and the “Change Your Life” biscuits to be most welcome sops for the heady spices of our glass of Interesting Trouble.  

Real estate prices in Scottsdale are expensive by national standards, but not as out of reach as some Phoenix destinations. The median home value here is $651,800, and rent averages $1,768. 

Paradise Valley  

Lush and lavish, Paradise Valley is one of the Phoenix-Scottsdale area’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The median home value here exceeds $2 million and rent averages more than $3,500 per month. This Edenic community has easy access to the Phoenix Mountains Preserve as well as golf clubs, posh resorts and kid-friendly spots like the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, where you can ride a miniature train around the grounds or make the rounds on a vintage carousel.  

Arcadia

If you’re looking for other idylls, Arcadia is a residential district just west of Downtown Scottsdale where you’ll find well-designed modern mansions, traditional ranch houses and every type of well-appointed residence in between. Although Arcadia isn’t a cultural hot spot, there are a few destinations that are favorite local haunts, like O.H.S.O., a bike- and dog-friendly brewery and distillery that was founded in the district. The vast patio spaces at O.H.S.O. thrive on a come-as-you-are mantra that becomes easier to lean into with every sip of their Park Life Lager. Looking for a vegan-friendly spot that won’t scare off the omnivores? Flower Child’s mushroom Bolognese is a comfort food on a chilly desert night, and the green chile queso, embellished with chickpea chorizo, does such an impressive impersonation of spicy sausage, that it just might fool an actual hog.    

Glendale

On the northwest side of the city, Glendale offers more affordable living just 30 minutes away from downtown Phoenix. Housing costs in Glendale are more in line with state averages, and the median home value here was $310,000 between 2018 and 2022. The city of 250,000 is undergoing a major downtown revitalization and promises improvements to everything from City Hall (built in 1984) to Murphy Park and its amphitheater.  

Football fans will likely spend a lot of time in Glendale, as the Arizona Cardinals’ home base is here at State Farm Stadium. Amateur athletes, on the other hand, will likely spend their free hours at Glendale Heroes Regional Park, where they can practice their archery or show off their ollies and tricks on the X-Court, open to skaters, bikers, bladers and any self-proclaimed shredders. Speaking of things that take flight, some of the region’s biggest employers are based here, too, like Honeywell Aerospace and Luke Air Force Base. 

Chandler

Southeast of the city, past Tempe, Chandler is a welcoming neighborhood that was founded in 1912 by a veterinary surgeon and rancher. Most Americans are familiar with cattle, sheep and horse ranches, but the fine art of ostrich ranching is probably more esoteric. The exotic-sounding practice was quite common in the area in the early 20th century, and this foundational industry is celebrated every year in Chandler’s Ostrich Festival, which brings birds of every feather out for a weekend of carnival rides, fried food and concerts. If you’re interested in other aspects of the city’s history and culture, the Chandler Museum is a small but mighty institution that curates critical and engaging exhibits that are not afraid to tackle challenging subjects with great thought and care. Chandler also has an outsize number of aquatic centers, great for the casual recreationalists or promising Olympic hopefuls looking for a spot on the swimming and diving teams.  

Note: If you’re planning to move to Phoenix, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Outdoor Enthusiasts’ Paradise 

If anything draws the diverse interests of Phoenix residents together, it would be the great outdoors. Now, some residents prefer their outdoors tamed and maintained in impeccable golf course-green, while others prefer the spoils of the wild desert in its many-colored hues. Whatever your speed, you’ll find fun outdoor activities to bond with your friends and family over, from horseback riding to class IV whitewater rafting on the nearby Salt River.  

The biggest attraction in the region is, of course, Grand Canyon National Park, which is just a 3.5-hour unforgettable road trip away on scenic I-17. Living in Phoenix means you can see this natural wonder in all four seasons, hiking the popular Canyon Rim Trail in the summer, biking the Hermit Road in the fall or camping in the remote reaches of the North Rim in the wintertime.  

Though it’s not a household name, Saguaro National Park is an American treasure and only an hour and a half south of Phoenix — just outside of Tucson. This majestic landscape is known for its ancient petroglyphs, its javelinas and mountain lions and its namesake cactus, the saguaro. These prickly green giants can reach heights of more than 50 feet and live to be more than 150 years old.  

Closer to town, the sprawling South Mountain Park/Preserve is a natural oasis right in the center of the suburbs. This city park may be sandwiched between a Walmart, a Costco and an Ikea, but you’ll find it an easy escape from everyday life, whether you’re in the mood for a quick hike on your lunch break or a challenging mountain biking adventure.  

If you’re looking to hit the links, Phoenix’s golf courses boast some of the most challenging plays against otherworldly backdrops. There are luxurious retreats, like the Arizona Biltmore and Gold Canyon, and popular in-town outfits like Papago, a public golf club on Phoenix’s eastern edge.  

Unique Experiences for Everyone

All the destinations that make Phoenix popular as a tourist destination make it ideal for family fun. There are plenty of kid-centric sites to keep your little ones entertained, and the sophisticated cultural offerings can be inspiring for everyone.  

Aspiring artists in the family will go ape for the Crayola Experience, where you can drip, design, melt, mold, stomp and scribble your way to a more creative state of mind. That goes double at Legoland Discovery Center, where there are also rides, an indoor playground and virtual reality experiences to enhance everyone’s favorite brick-based fun.  

At the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, expect a day full of hands-on learning W-O-W. In the Grand Ballroom, dancing isn’t the central activity, but things do make their rounds — balls magically wind, drop and bounce their way through mesmerizing mechanisms, much to the delight of young Rube Goldberg protégés. Other favorite spots include the Whoosh! space, where vacuum tubes whiz scarves of many colors around the room, and the Climber, a magically eclectic jungle gym that anyone under five feet finds irresistible.  

Expect big adventures at the Arizona Science Center, which will take you on a whirlwind tour from inside the human body to the far reaches of outer space. Daredevils will want to ride the SkyCycle — a bicycle trip on a cable suspended 15 feet in the air, while promising podcasters will want to stop in the Ham shack, not for a sandwich but a chance to taste the airwaves as an amateur radio operator.  

Phoenix’s Heard Museum is an incredible venue that offers visitors a deep immersion in Indigenous art and culture. You’ll find historical works alongside exhibitions by practicing artists like Brenda Mallory, who creates affecting installations and objects from unexpected materials like firehoses, hog rings and even wasp nests. Each spring, the museum’s Indian Fair & Market (IF&M) draws crowds of thousands to see — and shop for — traditional and contemporary wares.  

If you’re looking for a small exhibition with a big impact, the Phoenix Art Museum’s Thorne Rooms delight visitors of all ages. These elaborate, scale replicas of extravagant interiors pack castle-size opulence into dollhouse-size spaces, and their attention to detail feels like a micro-miracle. But these 30 mini-rooms are far from the museum’s only wonder. The museum houses sizeable collections of Western and Latin American Art, and it also has a well-known fashion design collection. Each year, the institution brings three notable exhibitions of photography to the space from the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.  

Getting Around the City

Phoenix’s public transportation system is not as robust as you might expect for a city its size. The city’s light rail service has only one line, which runs a largely East-West route from Mesa — east of Tempe — to northwest Phoenix, past Glendale. End to end, this route could take you nearly two hours to travel by train and/or bus, but it only takes 30-40 minutes by car. The bus rapid transit system (BRT) covers more terrain and, with its enhanced platforms and dedicated bus lanes, the experience of riding the express bus can be on par with the train. 

Standard rail and bus fares for the Valley Metro are less expensive than subway fares in other cities: a one-way ticket costs just $2, and a day pass is only $4.00. The BRT is more expensive: one ride costs $3.25 and a monthly pass is $104. 

If you’re just trying to get around in your neighborhood, there are free neighborhood circulators that can get you to the nearest train station, the library or grocery store, and there is also free streetcar service in Tempe.  

Want to bike to work? You’re not alone. Many residents take advantage of the dry, sunny weather and travel on two wheels for their daily commute. You’ll find most of the major thoroughfares have dedicated bike lanes, and there are networks of recreational trails that can take you from the urban centers to popular parks and nature escapes outside the city. 

No matter how you’re traveling, navigating the metro Phoenix area is straightforward, thanks to its grid system, which extends into the surrounding cities and burbs. And despite the predictable slowdowns during rush hour, the traffic in Phoenix and Maricopa County isn’t as bad as the typical American city. Commuting in Phoenix takes less than 26 minutes, on average.   

Start Planning Your Move to Phoenix

Does Phoenix sound like a good place for your family to relocate? If so, Mayflower can help you make the move. Working with Mayflower, America’s most trusted mover, can make all the difference when you’re moving to a new city. Let us take the stress out of your move to Phoenix.   

Get a quote today on moving to Phoenix. 

When you work with our nationwide network of trusted, long-distance movers, you can eliminate a lot of the hassle of relocating. Mayflower is licensed for interstate moves; we can facilitate your move to Phoenix from anywhere in the country. We provide full-service moving solutions and can customize a moving package to your needs. Do you need help packing and unpacking? Looking for storage services or car shipping, even debris removal? Whatever you need to make your move easier, Mayflower is here to help.  

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