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Aerial shot of Downtown Phoenix

16 Things to Know About Living in Phoenix

Moving to Phoenix? The nation’s fifth-most populous city is one of the best big cities to live in the U.S. due to its fantastic outdoor recreation, ample job opportunities at five Fortune 500 companies and beyond, and incredible art and architecture. Here are 16 things to know before moving to Phoenix!

Live in Phoenix Comfortably

Phoenix metro at sundown. Photo by Instagram user @kbenne21

Photo via @kbenne21

The affordable cost of living in Phoenix and incredible return on property investment makes it a great place to settle down and grow roots. In fact, the Valley of the Sun is one of the best cities for real estate and for investing in Airbnb properties, thanks to the low Phoenix property tax rate of 0.61%, compared to the U.S. average of 1.07%. Plus, with an appreciation rate of 237.84% in the past decade—and a cost of housing 4% less than the national average—it’s no wonder why the Phoenix housing market is thriving! On top of that, you’ll find that Phoenix’s cost of living is 2% lower than the national average, and the cost of goods and services is 4% less. Phoenix’s healthcare is even more affordable at 10% less than the national average!

Work in a Flourishing Job Market

Honeywell airplane in front of Phoenix mountains. Photo by Instagram user @az_airshow_nut

Photo via @az_airshow_nut

The Phoenix metro is one of the best labor markets in the U.S., with Arizona’s job growth set to outpace the nation in the next decade—bringing in 550,000 jobs in Phoenix between 2019 and 2029. Additionally, the city-wide salary average of $70,000 is 22% higher than the national average. The Phoenix job market is also diverse, with the largest companies in Phoenix spread out over several industries like aerospace, financial services, healthcare, and more. Work for the top employer in Phoenix, Banner Health, with three hospitals in the area and countless other clinics and urgent care facilities. Choose from onsite, hybrid, and virtual options at American Express. Find a career at Amazon‘s fulfillment sites, delivery stations, corporate office, and multiple other hubs and stores throughout the Phoenix metro. Discover advancements in the aerospace field at Honeywell, with Honeywell Aerospace Global Headquarters in Phoenix, as well as Honeywell Aerospace Trading facilities.

Embrace the Phoenix Metro

Overview of the Phoenix metro with warm lighting. Photo by Instagram user @droningjudah.

Photo via @droningjudah

Phoenix is the fastest-growing U.S. city with about 25,000 people moving to Phoenix every year. The current Phoenix population sits at almost 1.8 million people and the Phoenix metro population is about 5 million people. So, while there are plenty of fun things to do in Phoenix, it’s important to note that the suburbs of Phoenix offer additional attractions that Phoenix residents generally recognize as part of the city. Overall, the entire Salt River Valley is commonly regarded as the city, so don’t limit yourself to Phoenix’s city limits! In fact, the Greater Phoenix area consists of over 24 cities and towns with some of the main municipalities in Maricopa County being Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, and Glendale.

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Prepare for Phoenix Weather

Famous for its beautiful weather and year-round sun, Phoenix houses often have pools to offer comfort from the heat. Be prepared for certain aspects of the Phoenix climate, like haboobs—which are summer dust storms—and the dry heat. While dry heat feels cooler because sweat dries faster, it also means you get dehydrated faster, so make sure to drink lots of water. The Phoenix heat in summer can also easily climb into the 100s, so make sure to watch for excessive heat. On these days, it’s important to hydrate, adjust your plans so you’re not outside during the hottest parts of the day, and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Another thing to know about Phoenix is that most of Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time to ensure evenings are cool enough for activities.

Study at Phoenix Schools

Students walking on the camps of Grand Canyon University. Phot by Instagram user @gcu

Photo via @gcu

There’s an educational experience for everyone in Arizona’s capital city, with everything from specialized colleges to top-rated universities. Study at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, a top-rated Phoenix university that’s partnered with the city to bring bioresearch and education to downtown via the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Pick from degree programs like business, management, performing and digital arts, school administration, and more at Grand Canyon University. Attend Arizona State University (ASU), with campuses in Phoenix and Tempe as well as 14 graduate degree programs nationally ranked in the top 10. Explore over 150 degree and certificate programs designed to prepare students for university transfer, career training and advancement, or lifelong learning at Phoenix College. Learn at a STEM-based university with programs like game studies, cyber security, and software engineering at University of Advancing Technology. Experience smaller class sizes averaging 16 people and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio at Arizona Christian University. Get your degree faster with accelerated 8-week terms as well as online, face-to-face, and hybrid learning options in Gilbert at Park University.

Ride Public Transportation in Phoenix

Colorful above ground transportation in Phoenix. Photo by Instagram user @valleymetro

Photo via @valleymetro

Arizona’s capital has highways and interstate belts that divide the metro into more accessible sections, in addition to a well-planned grid system and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes that alleviate congestion on the roads—Phoenix also offers public transportation! Hop on the 28-mile Valley Metro Light Rail to bop around downtown, travel to nearby suburbs Tempe and Mesa, or do a pub crawl by rail. Take the Phoenix Metro Bus to get to your destination in the city or surrounding suburbs. Rent a Phoenix E-Scooter from locations around town and park it in one of the 400 designated parking areas when you’re done. Or if you prefer riding a bike, commute to Downtown Phoenix via the bike boulevard, a 4.6-mile bike lane with plans to expand into protected bike lanes. Catch a flight to your next work trip or vacation at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Or jet off to your next international adventure from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and take the PHX Sky Train to shuttle you back into the city when you return.

Explore Phoenix’s Outdoor Recreation

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

Photo via @dbgphx

The city of Phoenix is home to some of the best hiking trails, camping grounds, and desert landscapes in the country. Start out at Piestewa Peak Park, which features the 2,608-foot Piestewa Peak, where you can get amazing mountain views and find tranquil, secluded valleys. Admire over 140 acres of flora paradise in Papago Park at the Desert Botanical Garden, home to thousands of species of cacti, trees, and flowers from around the world with rotating art exhibits and many events, like a Flashlight Tour or Sunrise Yoga. Tackle some of the best hikes in Phoenix, with over 36 miles of challenging trails spread out across more than 9,600 acres of the Sonoran Preserve. Camp out and stargaze, go horseback riding, or take advantage of the 65-acre grassy picnic area at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Check out popular Fat Man’s Pass—a narrow passage on the Hidden Valley Trail—while hiking through South Mountain Park/Preserve, one of the largest municipally-managed parks in the nation. Paddle, tube, or kayak at any of the six recreation sites on the Salt River. Or visit iconic hiking destinations in Phoenix at Camelback Mountain, named for the silhouette it casts on the Arizona Valley skyline.

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 a public golf course in Phoenix where you can enjoy a great 18 or even learn a few tips from the world-class Golf Academy at the Legacy Golf Club. Tee off a game with incredible mountain views at one of the best golf courses in Arizona, Raven Golf Club Phoenix. Challenge yourself at the site of the 2020-2022 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships, Grayhawk Golf Club, where you can try your hand at two separate courses used for championship games. 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. Choose from five 18-hole championship courses or three 9-hole courses at Phoenix Golf. Or golf at some of Arizona’s best golf courses located in Phoenix’s metro while enjoying desert views at Troon Golf.

Check Out Downtown Phoenix

Arizona Center in Phoenix at mid-day. Photo by Instagram user @azcenterphx

Photo via @azcenterphx

Hang out with friends at The Grand in Phoenix and explore the speakeasy’s coffeeshop, bar, ballroom, beer garden, and outdoor stage. Catch a classic jazz or new music concert, weekly jazz jam sessions, workshops, masterclasses, and clinics at The Nash. Relax in Cityscape, Phoenix, a 50,000-square foot park with shading, a splash pad, water features, patriots’ wall of honor, and an event plaza at Patriots Park Splash Pad. Jam out in a vintage auto dealership-turned-concert venue, which has hosted artists like Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Brockhampton, and more at The Van Buren Phoenix. Stroll the 3.5-acre Japanese stroll garden’s tea house and garden, 12-foot waterfall, koi pond with over 300 koi fish, and over 50 varieties of plants at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix. Do some shopping in Downtown Phoenix for vintage men’s and women’s clothing, ranging from the 1920s to the 1990s, at Antique Sugar. Kick back at an urban park offering some of the best things to do in Downtown Phoenix, featuring a 145-foot aerial sculpture with a gradually changing light design and with events like PJs in the Park at Civic Space Park.

Find Community at Phoenix’s Festivals

Youth hoop dancer in traditional dress. Photo by Instagram user @heardmuseum

Photo via @heardmuseum

When it comes to community events, Phoenix offers residents everything from cultural celebrations to one of the best film festivals in the country. Enjoy festivities like yoga classes, drum circles, and a beer garden in addition to performances from artists like Kid Cudi, Leon Bridges, Bea Miller, and more at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3F). View new movies at the Phoenix Film Festival, an 11-day festival showcasing 300 films, filmmaking seminars, parties, and student workshops. Taste dishes from the best chefs in Arizona at the week-long celebration, Devour Phoenix. Shop a curated market of handcrafted and vintage goods, fine art, fashion, artisan food, and more at Phoenix Flea. Join in the fun of Phoenix’s free, two-day event with a lineup of live music, a hands-on community art project, local art to purchase, and food trucks at Phoenix Festival of the Arts. Celebrate with over 150 entertainment performances, food, shopping, and community options, an arts expo, dance pavilion, and more at Phoenix Pride Festival. Honor Indigenous traditions at the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, where community members showcase the art of hoop dance in stunning, choreographed performances with traditional hoops made from willow tree wood.

Cheer on Phoenix Sports

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

Photo via @dbacks

The Valley of the Sun is a sports haven, hosting Phoenix athletic events for 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. Cool down with some hockey by catching an Arizona Coyotes (NHL) game on the ice at Gila River Arena. Cheer on the Phoenix Suns (NBA) and the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), both of which play at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Support ASU athletics with Division I NCAA men’s and women’s athletic programs at Arizona State University. Don’t miss the WM Phoenix Open—also known as “the greatest show on grass”—an annual PGA Tour stop. Attend a tour spot on the LPGA with a concert on the course, the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic. Watch the final event of the season on the U.S.-based PGA Tour Champions at the Charles Schwab Championship.

Dive into Phoenix Museums

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

Photo via @kiana_duran

No matter your interests, there are sure to be museums in Phoenix to satisfy your curiosity. Visit The Heard Museum, which is dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art, with stories of American Indian people presented from a first-person perspective alongside traditional and contemporary art exhibitions. See Asian, American, European, and Latin American art collections at one of the best museums in Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum. Spend an afternoon walking an interpretive trail around the remains of the prehistoric Hohokam people’s ballcourt and platform, as well as attend the annual Indian Market, at the Pueblo Grande Museum. Observe over 8,000 instruments from more than 200 countries—and play some of them in the Experience Gallery—at the Musical Instrument Museum. Wander a vast collection of cars, including the 1963 Pontiac Catalina driven by Roger Penske and the 1985 March Ford driven by Danny Sullivan, as well as trophies and racing memorabilia at Penske Racing Museum. Dive into the history of firefighting with collections of fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire vehicles, and more at the Hall of Flame.

Find Phoenix Attractions for Families

Raising a family in Phoenix? Spend a day at OdySea Aquarium, where you can interact with and observe penguins and otters, or touch different types of fish, rays, and anemone. Play in an interactive market, Texture Cafe, Noodle Forest, climbing structures, and more at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Plan a day of family fun at the Phoenix Zoo, with animals like African lions, jaguars, orangutans, giraffes, and more. Experience children’s theatre at Valley Youth Theatre, with opportunities to watch shows, audition, or attend performing arts camps and classes. Find learning opportunities—from permanent exhibits on the human body, science of flight, money, and nature, to other rotating exhibits—at the Arizona Science Center. Have some family fun in Phoenix at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix with rides and play areas like the Bahama Blaster, Splash Island, and a white water rafting experience, Big Kahuna.

Immerse Yourself in Phoenix’s Fine Arts Scene

While sports may get the big headlines in Phoenix, the city’s art, music, and architecture can’t be overstated. Venture to a three-stage venue showcasing everything from Broadway musicals to local opera performances, the Herberger Theater Center. Love architecture? Visit 11 completed works by famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Experience a night at the ballet with shows like The Nutcracker, Romeo & Juliet, and Contemporary Moves at Ballet Arizona. Explore Phoenix’s art district’s First Friday Art Walk and 1½ Street Mural Project—featuring Phoenix murals from 12 local artists—at Roosevelt Row. Listen to movements by historic composers like Beethoven and Shostakovich, and film scores like Jurassic Park at The Phoenix Symphony. Go to the Arizona Opera, which has put on 200 fully-staged operas and concerts featuring everything from baroque and bel canto works to turn-of-the-century masterpieces and operettas. Sign up for classes in ceramics, painting, mosaics, photography, dance, writing, and more at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Chow Down at Restaurants in Phoenix

A fantastic place for foodies, Arizona’s capital offers one of the most diverse dining scenes in the country. Start your day off right with Frenchie Toast or a Parisian Omelet at Fàme Caffe. Try upscale comfort food like beef short rib stew in the heart of Downtown Phoenix at The Arrogant Butcher—considered one of the best restaurants in Phoenix. Head to Nishikawa Ramen for ramen and Japanese small plates like deep fried squid legs. Dine on some of the best wood-fired pies in the city, like the Sonny Boy or Wiseguy, at cozy Downtown Phoenix restaurant, Pizzeria Bianco. Check out a menu centered around high-end American dishes that changes on a daily basis—but if it’s available, try Chef TJ’s homemade gnocchi at trendy Restaurant Progress! Indulge in French pastries and macarons with flavors like Straciatella and Passion Fruit at Paris Rendez-Vous.

Discover Variety in Phoenix Nightlife

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! Sip on a Violet Beauregarde or a Sally from the Valley at the hidden speakeasy in Downtown Phoenix, Pigtails, with a living plant wall and a raw bar. Feeling fancy? Head to a stylish craft cocktail bar that frequently makes the list for best bars in Phoenix, where you’ll find upscale drinks made with a twist at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. Have a blast drinking cocktails that look more like science experiments, with pipettes for adding ingredients and specialized pumps for piling on the fizz, at one of the best bars in Phoenix, Little Rituals. Rock out to live music while sampling beers made with locally-grown ingredients like the Baby Belgian or Vanilla Pecan Brown Ale at North Mountain Brewing Company. Enjoy an extensive craft beer and wine selection with happy hour every day from open-7 pm at The Whining Pig. Or hang out and taste everything from a Papago Coconut Joe to a Low Lo Hazy IPA at Huss Brewing Co.—and don’t expect to find these beers anywhere else, as they’re only sold inside state lines.


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Pinterest graphic: Living in Phoenix, AZ: 16 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.