Aerial shot of Downtown Phoenix

12 Things to Know About Living in Phoenix

Are you thinking about moving to Phoenix? The nation’s sixth-most populous city is one of the most affordable cities in America, has some of the best outdoor recreation in the U.S., is home to 16 Fortune 1,000 companies, and is well-known for its incredible art and architecture. Here are 12 things to know about living in Phoenix!

Work, Work, Work

Aerial view of Phoenix from the mountains at sunset. Photo by Instagram user @abhiv_7575
Photo via @abhiv_7575

The job market in Phoenix is robust and has been on the rise in recent years, helping Phoenix to rank second nationally in job growth and earn the title as one of the best U.S. cities for jobs. Additionally, the city-wide salary average of $53,561 is 13% higher than the national average, while the cost of living in Phoenix is 5% lower than the national average. The job market is also diverse with the area’s biggest employers spread out over several sectors. Banner Health is among the largest with eight different campuses. Others at the top of the list include Wells FargoJPMorgan & Chase Co., the City of PhoenixArizona State University, and Apollo Group, Inc.

Find the Right Neighborhood

White and grey one-story house in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @amanda___be
Photo via @amanda___be

Phoenix is one the biggest cities in America, which also means a bountiful amount of suburbs and neighborhoods that can fit practically any lifestyle. Deer Valley is a great neighborhood for every lifestyle. Here, you’ll find popular hiking and biking trails, plenty of shopping and dining choices, and an amusement park, making it one of the best evolving residential neighborhoods in the city Downtown is one of the best places to live in Phoenix for singles and young professionals, thanks to its wide range of trendy bars, cool coffee shops, art galleries, and other urban amenities. Looking for family-friendly Phoenix neighborhoods? Try Desert View Village, a suburban neighborhood that offers great schools, low crime rates, and relatively affordable homes. If you’re searching for a neighborhood where you can settle down for retirement, check out Sun City. With eight golf courses, bowling leagues, clubs for nearly everyone, and not a lot of noise, it’s an optimal place to enjoy peace and quiet!

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Don’t Plan on a Walkable Commute

Aerial view of the interstate in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @famousdeescosmic8
Photo via @famousdeescosmic8

If walking is your preferred mode of transportation, you’ll want to really think through living in Phoenix. Phoenix is one of the least walkable metro areas in the U.S., coming in second-to-last out of 30 major cities. That might have something to do with how spread out Phoenix is—the metro spans more than 14,000 square miles! That said, Phoenix does have plenty of highways and interstate belts that divide the city and its suburbs into more accessible sections. In addition, the city does have a decent public transportation system, featuring both a 26-mile Light Rail and bus routes. So it’s not impossible to get around. Just think twice before ditching your car for your daily commute!

Hit the Phoenix Links

Putting green near water at the Raven Golf Club in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @_andresjimenez
Photo via @_andresjimenez

With plentiful sunshine and favorable weather year-round, Phoenix is known as a premier golf destination. Book a tee time at The Legacy Golf Club, a public golf course where you can enjoy a great 18 or even learn a few tips from the world-class golf academy. For a golf experience with incredible mountain views, try Raven Golf Club, which has been recognized as one of the top golf courses in Arizona. Challenge yourself at Grayhawk Golf Club, where you can try your hand at two separate championship courses. It’s also the site of the 2020-2022 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships! Trying to get in a quick nine? Visit Palo Verde Golf Course, a challenging executive course that features three par fours and six par threes.

Party at the Phoenix Open

Crowd cheering for golfer Phil Mickelson at the Phoenix Open. Photo by Instagram user @wmphoenixopen
Photo via @wmphoenixopen

Even if you’re not a golf lover, you can’t miss the Phoenix Open. Not only is it a fun thing to do in Phoenix, but it’s also been called the “the greatest show on grass.” This annual PGA Tour stop is the exact opposite of what you’d expect at a high-profile golf tournament. Instead of polite claps and cheers, fans are encouraged to get rowdy and create a party-like atmosphere, highlighted by the Skybox on the 16th hole, where there’s a short par three totally surrounded by stadium seating, creating an arena-like feel that can’t be found anywhere else on the tour. And if you’d like, you can skip the golf part entirely and just hang out in the Birds Nest, a concert venue featuring live music all week long.

A Sports Lover’s Paradise

Player on the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team up to bat. Photo by Instagram user @dbacks
Photo via @dbacks

Phoenix is a sports mecca, hosting everything from golf and hockey to football and basketball! Want a pro football team to cheer for? Head to State Farm Stadium to root for the Arizona Cardinals (NFL). More interested in pro baseball? Take in an Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) game at Chase Field. Or maybe you’re hoping to cool down with some hockey, in which case you can catch the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) on the ice at Gila River Arena. What about basketball? Phoenix is a great place for professional hoops lovers, as it features both the Phoenix Suns (NBA) and the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), both of which play at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Of course, the city has plenty of college sports, too, with the Division I NCAA men and women’s athletic programs at Arizona State University!

Immerse Yourself in the Arts

Art installation of multi colored twinkle lights at the Phoenix Art Museum. Photo by Instagram user @kiana_duran
Photo via @kiana_duran

While sports may get the big headlines in Phoenix, the city’s art, music, and architecture can’t be overstated. See art exhibits ranging from Asian to Latin American at the Phoenix Art Museum. Looking for performance art? Venture to the Herberger Theater Center, a three-stage venue that showcases everything from Broadway musicals to local opera performances. Want to experience one of the more unique cultural scenes in Phoenix? Pop into FilmBar, the city’s “true” Indie cinema, where you can watch old-school cult classics, documentary films, and more. Love architecture? Phoenix was the home of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and the city still features 11 of his completed and inspired works, which you can visit today.

A Garden…in the Desert?

Field of cacti and flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @dbgphx
Photo via @dbgphx

It may sound ironic considering the brutally hot climate, but one of the top Phoenix attractions is the Desert Botanical Garden. Spread out over 140 acres in Papago Park, this flora paradise is home to thousands of species of cacti, trees, and flowers from around the world. Choose from five different trails to navigate through the park, visit one of the rotating art exhibits like Wild Rising, or take part in one of the many events, such as a Flashlight Tour or Sunrise Yoga that are held each month.

Go Take a Hike!

Girl looking over the horizon at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @kaileyfox7
Photo via @kaileyfox7

If you think you’ve run out of things to do in Phoenix, think again! The metro is home to some of the best trails in the country, and hiking is one of the top free things to do in Phoenix. Start out at Piestewa Park, which features the 2,608-foot Piestewa Peak, where you can get amazing mountain views and find tranquil secluded valleys. For the more advanced hiker, get out to the Sonoran Preserve, which is home to over 36 miles of challenging trails spread out across more than 3,600 acres. Want to get out and away from everyone? Check out South Mountain Park, one of the largest municipally managed parks in the nation. Here, you’ll find the unique Fat Man’s Pass—a narrow passage on the Hidden Valley Trail. Or visit the most iconic hiking scene in Phoenix at Camelback Mountain. Named for the shadow silhouette the mountain casts on the Valley skyline, Camelback Mountain is considered one of America’s top hiking destinations!

An Odyssey at the OdySea Aquarium

Cute penguin standing at Odysea Aquarium. Photo by Instagram user @odysea.aquarium
Photo via @odysea.aquarium

Looking for things to do in Phoenix with kids? Spend a day at OdySea Aquarium. Kick off the adventure with Penguin Point, an enormous glass-front display where penguins regularly interact with guests up close. To get even more involved with the aquarium’s inhabitants, venture to one of four different Touch Pools, where you can roll up your sleeves and touch different types of fish, rays, and anemone. The newest exhibit, the OdySea Voyager, is a one-of-a-kind rotating theatre where the staff interacts with the audience and leads each group through four different displays. And you can’t miss The Otter Banks, a massive exhibit where you can see and hear cute otters chatter and play!

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Get Ready to Chow Down

Plate of crab stuffed chicken at The Arrogant Butcher in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @thearrogantbutcher
Photo via @thearrogantbutcher

If picking restaurants is a challenge for you, Phoenix will make it even harder, as the city offers one the most diverse dining scenes in the country. Try The Arrogant Butcher—considered one of the best restaurants in Phoenix—which serves upscale comfort food like beef short rib stew in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. Love Japanese cuisine? Nishikawa Ramen could become your go-to favorite. This restaurant specializes in ramen and Japanese small plates like deep fried squid legs. Craving pizza? Try Pizzeria Bianco, a cozy little spot in Downtown Phoenix that has some of the best wood-fired pies in the city. If you’re looking for one of the trendiest restaurants in Phoenix, check out Restaurant Progress, where the menu is centered around high-end American dishes and changes on a daily basis—but if it’s available, try Chef TJ’s homemade gnocchi.

Drinks, Anyone?

Icy cocktail in a coconut at Bitter and Twisted in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @kyleledeboer
Photo via @kyleledeboer

Phoenix nightlife is anything but boring! Stop by Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, a stylish craft cocktail bar that frequently makes the list for best bars in Phoenix. Here, you’ll find upscale classic drinks that are made with a bit of a “twist,” as well as delicious bar bites. Little Rituals is another excellent stop, featuring cocktails that look more like science experiments with pipettes for adding ingredients and fish pumps for piling on the fizz. Is craft beer more of your thing? Check out Mother Brunch Brewing, one of the highest-rated Phoenix breweries with over 19 microbrews on tap and a rotating seasonal selection. Venture over to North Mountain Brewing Company, a hip venue that features live music and offers beers made with locally-grown ingredients. Or head out to Huss Brewing Co., where you’ll find everything from porters to IPAs—don’t expect to find these beers anywhere else, as they’re only sold inside state lines.

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12 Things to Know About Living in Phoenix