Tell me about: Phoenix, Arizona!

In case you didn’t read this thread I made I am seriously considering, and probably going to, move to Phoenix sometime in the next 8-10 months. Somewhere in the responses to my initial question someone suggested making a “Tell me about Phoenix” thread, and it seemed like a good idea. Since I am moving straight up, and it’s been a good couple years since I’ve been there, I am curious as to a lot of things. They are, in no particular order…

Where is a good area of town to live in?

What is the job market like? (I am trained in marketing, hate sales, want advertising)

What is there to do?

Where can I meet people?

Where else can I go to do more research about the city?

What is the cost of living? (I guess compared to national averages and such)

And finally…What else do you think I should know?
Those questions are just a start. Hopefully I can get some discussion going and gather a bunch of information over the next couple weeks. Thanks a bunch guys!

I have a couple of friends and relatives of friends who live out in that area. It was one of the hardest hit by the housing bust. Foreclosures out the wazoo, and anyone who bought a house in the last 10 years or so who hasn’t foreclosed is probably upside-down right now. I was watching one of those house reality TV shows recently that was set out there, where they had a bunch of people on a bus going around looking at various houses. Many started out on the market at $800,000 and were down to $300,000. Crazy stuff.

I moved to Phoenix from New Jersey in January of 1998. There have been many times that I’ve regretted the move (mostly during the hot months), but more recently I’ve gained a serious appreciated for Arizona.

Where is a good area of town to live in?
I live in the North Phoenix area. There are good spots & bad spots all over the Valley. The more rental properties in the area tend to be the “less desirable” areas.

What is the job market like? (I am trained in marketing, hate sales, want advertising)
The job market sucks. Check out the job postings on our local craigslist. That should give you an idea.

What is there to do?
That depends on what you like to do. There are museums, ruins, the zoo, lots of outdoor events. You can hike. There’s clubbing if you enjoy that sort of thing. You can drive up to Sedona or some of the other cities that are north of us.
Where I grew up, there were a lot of things to do that were free to incredibly inexpensive. Phoenix tends to cost quite a lot of money.

Where can I meet people?
I can’t really help you there. I’ve met people through the various odd jobs that I’ve worked (haunted houses, Renaissance Festival, etc)

Where else can I go to do more research about the city?
Google can probably help you out there.

What is the cost of living? (I guess compared to national averages and such)
About the same as most big cities, I suppose.
The housing market is…interesting right now. If you’re looking to rent for a while, you have tens of thousands of options right now. There are tons of foreclosures and people trying to sell above their house’s worth.

And finally…What else do you think I should know?
I’m going to echo campp’s comments on the legislature.
Some bad aspects:
It gets really effing hot out here. Seriously. Oppressively hot. The “dry heat” rhetoric is crap.
Illegal immigration is a very divisive topic out here, since we’re so close to the border.
Meth is a huge problem out here. Tweakers are also a huge problem, and tend to occupy some of the rental properties. To generalize, they’re nasty and unpredictable, and can be prone to theft and violence. This is speaking from my own personal experience. I’m sure there are some delightful tweakers out there, but I’ve never met them.
Some good aspects:
The desert is a beautiful place and full of life. The sunsets out here are spectacular! Night time is amazing. The monsoons are an incredible thing to witness.

I’ve lived here since 1994.

Where is a good area of town to live in?

The whole place is kind of hit and miss unless you want very high $. The area I live in in north Phoenix is very nice and reasonably priced and kind of professional/family. I pay around $1100 in rent for a 1750 sq. ft. house. However, go 4 miles west and you’re in the #2 gang area in town. In general, with the exception of Mesa, the east side is better off and safer than the west side.

What is the job market like? (I am trained in marketing, hate sales, want advertising)

The marketing market here is atrocious. I’m in the field. I lost a gig in the end of the .dot com collapse and was 2 years finding another. Competition in marketing appears to be worse here than in most other cities, and advertising is significantly harder unless you have extensive agency experience.

What is there to do?

There’s great hiking and outdoor activities 12 months a year for the hardcore, 9 months a year for those of us who can’t envision biking on a trail in 115 degree weather. There’s also a huge number of community and professional theatre companies, performing arts venues, bars and clubs, etc.

Where can I meet people?

Anywhere. Like most big cities, there are lots of groups for any interest.

Where else can I go to do more research about the city?

Local chamber of commerce sites, the state board of tourism site, azcentral.com for news, etc.

What is the cost of living? (I guess compared to national averages and such)

I already told you my rent. Gas runs around $2.75 a gallon right now. Utilities are reasonable, comparatively, as are food costs.

And finally…What else do you think I should know?

The illegal alien problem is huge here, and we’re the kidnapping capital of the US as a result. We’re also a major smuggling route for both people and drugs, However, if you’re not into anything shady, you can probably live your whole life here without running into anything criminal or overly dangerous.

Lots of people here carry guns openly. They’re just normal people going about their daily business, but if you’re not from around her, it can be a little weird at first.

The county sheriff is a corrupt lunatic who also enjoys rampant support, particularly from the very large retiree community. You DO NOT want to get a DUI or otherwise arrested here. You will end up in one of the most restrictive and oppressive jail systems in the U.S.

The sheriff and county attorney have been at war with the county supervisors for a couple of years now, cross-filing lawsuits and launching counter-investigations against each other. That’s hopefully coming to an end now that the CA has resigned to run for attorney general.

The state is in the midst of a massive budget crisis. We’re not at California levels yet, but we’re not in great shape. There have been pretty major across the board cuts in the last couple of years.

Bus service is awful. Many stops don’t have pullouts for buses, so they sit and block the right lane of traffic, adding severely to the congestion they were intended to alleviate. Schedules are also apparently shifted at random.

People here are generally very friendly, but not necessarily the type to walk right up and start chatting. We’re sociable enough, but we’re also not inclined to pester anybody without cause.

Rush hour traffic is bad, but far better than any big eastern city or anywhere in California.

The housing market continues to drop, although not as far as it did at the height of the crash. Unfortunately, when the second wave of residential and commercial collapses happen, it’s going to be rougher here than in most other places. Currently a third of residential and a slightly lower number of commercial properties are in or in danger of foreclosure.

It has its problems, but its benefits far outweigh them. I don’t want to ever live anywhere else again.

Wow…for as enthusiastic as I seemed to be about moving there, I’ve gotten nothing but negative responses it seems.

When it comes to living I am gonna apartment it…I have no money for actual housing, plus I am coming out by myself (might have another eventually…but that’s a long story). I wanted somewhere nice to live that wasn’t in a dangerous area mostly, not that I don’t trust people…but truth be told I am not an imposing guy and do get a bit weary in bad areas.

I am moving there with no real job or job experience…so am I stuck working retail again? I would greatly prefer not to since that’s a big part of the reason I want to move anyway. Thanks for the responses so far, any more help is greatly appreciated.

Flagstaff or Tuscon, if you can.

What I mean is that while Arizona is just amazing, I really don’t like Phoenix metro.

I would strongly suggest that you do not commit to a move to AZ until you have spent a week there in the summer.
I know several people that moved there in the winter and moved back before the next winter.
Seems it get warm in August.

I’ll respond with more details when I have time later tonight or tomorrow.

If you’re relatively young, I’d consider either living in central Phoenix or in Tempe. I live right in central Phoenix The rentt is about 900 or so for an average sized 2 bedroom apartment. Phoenix is the land of the large apartment complex, so any of the websites designed for large management company type apartment complexes will serve you well.

The recession has hurt here and I’ve noticed my apartment complex has gone slightly downhill over the past few months. I’m keeping an eye on the situation and might move at the end of the lease. Like any major city, you’re going to want to check out a potential complex in some detail and probably try to visit at night as well.

I live in Tucson, not Phoenix, but some things are the same all over Arizona. Our state is proud to boast that we are 50th in the nation in terms of funding public schools. And every time a bill comes up to increase money to the school system, it is voted down.

I just don’t get it, but Arizona seems oddly hostile to public education.

I’ve lived in the Phoenix Metro area my entire life, so while I’m somewhat qualified to answer your questions, I also don’t have any non-Phoenix experience to use as a comparison.

Where is a good area of town to live in?

As others have mentioned, North Phoenix is a good place to look if you can’t afford to live in Scottsdale. I love the northwest Valley (Glendale, Peoria) even though it’s spotty. If you want to move a bit outside of the city, there are rental houses in Surprise and El Mirage that likely rival what you’d pay for rent at an apartment complex in many other areas of the US. I’ve lived in Central Phoenix, North Phoenix, El Mirage, on the border of Tempe and in South Scottsdale. My favorite area so far has been where I am now… which is North Phoenix (I-17 and Cactus). It’s an older area, but my block is full of nice people and I could walk to Metrocenter mall if I had the inclination.

What is the job market like? (I am trained in marketing, hate sales, want advertising)

This I do not know. I’ve been at my current job for WAY too long. I have noticed that most people who are between jobs they like end up working for University of Phoenix or GoDaddy out here.

What is there to do?

If you’re younger and looking for a big social scene, I’d recommend Tempe. The closer to ASU you get, the more you will have to do on the weekends. :slight_smile: When I was younger, I spent most of my weekends puttering around on Mill Avenue right near the University. It’s a nice combination of urban kids spending their parents money and smelly hippies who play drums and guitars.

Hiking trails are plentiful, as others have mentioned. My friends and I like to drive around in the ghetto areas of Phoenix and people watch (See Van Buren Rd. between 40th St and 35th Ave for prime “hooker hunting”).

The best part of living in Phoenix is how close you are to everything. You can ski a few months of the year by driving 2 hours north to Flagstaff. Sedona is maybe an hour and a half away. Jerome is a spectacular little ghost town which is near Sedona. You can drive to the California coast in about 6-7 hours, you can drive to Rocky Point in Mexico (It’s like Phoenix with a coastline and no Starbucks) in about 4 hours. Las Vegas is about a 5-6 hour drive. We have a few decent casinos on the Indian Reservations to tide you over between Vegas trips too!

Where can I meet people? Anywhere mentioned above. Additionally, there are lots of singles groups I’ve seen advertised… I mostly hang out with people I’ve met from work or through friends of friends or that I’ve had since I was a teenager.

Where else can I go to do more research about the city?

Check out www.phoenixnewtimes.com, www.phoenix.gov, www.azcentral.com,

What is the cost of living? (I guess compared to national averages and such)

No clue. I pay 811/mo in mortgage but got a great deal due to the housing market downturn when I bought last August. Prior to that I’ve paid anywhere from 600-975/mo. I’d say my average rent was probably 675 for a 2 bedroom.

And finally…What else do you think I should know?

Don’t listen to the haters. :slight_smile: It is hot in the Summer, but that’s why we have A/C in our homes, offices, etc. and swimming pools!

Oh, and expect a higher utility bill than you currently have. A/C in the summer can be eeeexpensive.

If you have questions about apartment complex’s or Phoenix in general, please feel free to PM me.

You can hooker-spot in L.A. too…and we have beaches also.

Just saying.

So very true. I also love Los Angeles (my dad lived there for about 5 years), but the traffic situation is ridiculous.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re just painting the more unpleasant aspects. Like others suggested, come down in July and putter around. See if it bothers you. Summer is when we go inside, and your car had better have working AC.

Some random points:

Arizona’s a bit of an odd mix. It’s almost like a California suburb, but it’s also pretty Western, what with the desert and all. So you’ve got a strong mix of hippies, trendy kids, “cowboys,” and the like, all coexisting more or less peacefully.

The lack of a serious winter is a big draw for old-timers; between Arizona and New Mexico, we might as well be the Retirement States.

I don’t know what Indianapolis is like, but here, the Car is King. As mentioned, public transportation is shit (although if you live and work near the new light rail, that’s probably pretty nice), and since there’s a whoooooole lot of room in the desert, the cities all sprawl without a second thought. There are exceedingly few buildings with more than two stories, and no matter where you go, there’s tons of parking. As a result, there’s very few “walkable” areas; owning a car is hands-down necessary unless you’re willing to spend a few hours wrestling with the bus system each day or pick a strategic place to live where you can walk or bike easily.

Getting an apartment is wise. There’s some very good apartment buildings here (I lived in one in Chandler and miss it often) and the housing situation, as mentioned, is completely screwed. I don’t even want to know what my current place is worth (although, for a data point, I’m paying $600/month for an 850 square foot townhouse).

It’s hot in the summer. No, hotter than that. No, seriously, hotter than that. Phoenix is worse than Tucson or Flagstaff since there’s so much built-upon space; in Tucson and Flagstaff, the heat dissipates into the desert at night, but in Phoenix it all gets trapped in the concrete and blacktop. I’ve gone out before dawn in the middle of summer and started sweating. Having your AC break down in the middle of summer is quite literally an emergency situation. I had it happen a couple years ago and I had to live in a hotel for the week it took to get it fixed; my house was simply unlivable. (Speaking of which, I need to schedule a maintenance appointment soon.) The only real advantage of a “dry heat” is that real nasty buggers like mosquitos and chiggers don’t exist here (but ants do. Oh, lord, do they ever). On the flip side, winters are always very mild and pleasant for about 4 months.

I’m not going to advise moving or not. Personally, I can’t wait to leave, but I prefer living near water. Some folks absolutely adore the desert and the Arizonan aesthetic; my parents are a couple of them. You might find you really like it here too. I echo others in saying that you need to visit in July or August, though, and see what it’s like at its worst.

You might not get stuck working retail. Phoenix is the call center capital of the US. It has the advantage of a Western time zone, business friendly labor laws, and a population without a unique accent. Plenty of major companies have operations here. I know Chase bank, Discover Card, and American Express do. I think some of the airlines and hotels still run reservation centers as well. It usually isn’t great work, but beats being a retail slave.

So is it a fair consensus that I need to head out for a weekend in July and/or August? I can’t afford any more than that, a weekend, but it’ll be some time ya know?

Bring yer swimmin’ trunks.

I live in Tempe (right outside Phoenix), and I like it here. Tempe tends to be more expensive than other areas rent-wise, but it’s more liberal and generally more friendly (I think).

I moved here in August and I didn’t believe it when people said the summers get easier to endure, but indeed they do. I have gotten used to being inside all the time in the summer. In my opinion, 300+ days of sunshine, along with mild winters, more than make up for six months of sweat. Just be aware that you will be sweating a lot.

The job market here is terrible. Really. I would not move here without a job, if I were you. It’s better than California, but is that saying much?

I guess I’ll be the one to disagree. Yes, it is hot in the summer. It is also hot in the summer in most of the southern US.

The thing to get used to is how long the summer heat goes on. It starts to get hot in mid May and temperatures in the 100 degree range can run until October.

So, many people do start to get really tired of the hot temperatures because they drag on so long. I’d say it is similar to when you get a snowstorm dumped on you in April at the end of a long midwestern winter. That same, “Will this stupid winter FINALLY GO AWAY!!!” type feeling.

Of course, if you truly hate hot weather, I wouldn’t move here.