Moving to a new area is daunting, especially if you don’t know anyone. For some, it can almost feel like moving to a new country, or even planet! New grocery stores, different customs, different social norms, and a variety of other factors can make it extremely nerve-wracking. If you are moving to Arizona, don’t worry, we can help you. We are Arizona natives, and we know which burning questions you really want answered.
Overall, Arizona is a great place to live. Here are some highlights:
- Temperate winters and dry heat summers make it a great place to live if you like outdoor activities, especially if they involve water.
- Phoenix is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the nation and growing quickly. This means that just about everything is here. From your favorite chain restaurant to Ikea to Costco.
- Our freeways and road systems would win awards, if there was an award for roads. We pride ourselves on large, clean, easy to navigate roadways. With six million people and counting, our traffic isn’t as bad as you would think. That’s because we have AWESOME ROADS.
- A two hour drive gets you to the pines. Flagstaff and Payson are pretty close. Depending on where you live, a quick, cool getaway is an easy trip away.
- Cost of living is pretty low. It’s going up, but not too sharply, and homes are still affordable.
Best Area to Live in Phoenix
A lot of people look at the sprawling map of Phoenix and its suburbs and get overwhelmed by the options. Yes, it’s almost as bad as L.A. Almost. But, there are some things to consider when deciding where to live in the Valley of the Sun.
First, where will you, and if applicable, your spouse, be working? It’s likely that your office will have a Phoenix or Scottsdale address, although there are many employers in Tempe and Chandler. These locations are pretty central, and usually near the major freeways, which are the I-10, the US60, the 101, the 202, the 51 and the I-17. Again, a lot of awesome roadways in Phoenix.
So, if you will be working in Phoenix, it might not be a bad idea to look for a home in Scottsdale or Paradise Valley. If you are working in Scottsdale, you could choose a home in Tempe or South Phoenix. If your chosen home is 30 miles from your place of work, it might not seem that far. But, when it comes to commuting, it’s a good rule of thumb to double or even triple the miles to determine the amount of time it will take you to get there. While traffic in Phoenix is usually pretty light, rush hour can still be hairy and that should be taken into account.
Next, consider your activities and hobbies. Like many large cities, Phoenix is slightly segmented when it comes to types of people and their interests.
- If you like the nightlife, bars and hip restaurants, downtown Phoenix and Tempe are hot spots for young people, the arts, music, and fun Friday nights.
- If you prefer a quiet family life, Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Chandler are great choices. These cities tend to be more conservative and businesses there support the needs of parents with children. Also, the schools in these areas are great. Check out ratings to get a better idea of which district is best for you.
- You might just be looking for a place where you can enjoy the famous Arizona sunsets and take your dog on hikes in the beautiful Arizona desert. If you are comfortable with a longer commute, there are many outlying suburbs that are perfect for this lifestyle. In the north, Deer Valley and Peoria are close to preserves and incredible hiking trails. In the east, Gold Canyon or northeast Mesa are other great options for those who want to experience the desert life without being too isolated.
- If budget is a concern, there are some areas that typically have cheaper real estate. Apache Junction, San Tan Valley, Casa Grande, and Surprise are all good options because they are on the outskirts and do not have the benefit of some of the natural desert beauty of Gold Canyon and North Scottsdale. The landscapes are flatter and less colorful, so the real estate is more affordable. In some cases, homes are $125 per square foot. However, if you choose one of these locations, you may have a long commute to Phoenix or Scottsdale. In many cases these cities aren’t anywhere near a freeway. On some days, your commute could top out at 90 minutes. Also, some of these cities are known for being less desirable, so real estate values are pretty stagnant and your home’s value might not go up as quickly or as high as other areas.
Choosing an Arizona Realtor
Do some research on the housing market before you look for an agent. The housing market in Phoenix is notoriously fickle. We were hit pretty hard in the last recession, and values here are known to skyrocket, then drop. As of the date of this article, values are creeping back up and the market is more active than it has been in ten years. So, buying a home might be challenging, and having an agent would be preferable. It’s likely that you won’t get the first home you put an offer on. A good agent will guide you through this process.
When choosing a real estate agent, don’t be afraid to shop around. There are many “hobby” agents in Phoenix, which means they don’t have a lot of turnover. They may sell three homes per year or less, and that’s not great when you are looking for someone who is really experienced. But, big agents may not have a lot of time for you, depending on the market. So, find someone that has a good Google rating, and when you talk to him or her, ask about how many homes he or she sells in a typical year. Aim for 10-12 homes per year. This is a good volume for someone who knows what they are doing and isn’t swamped with clients.
Also, real estate apps can get you a long way toward buying a home without a realtor. You can save your favorite homes, keep an eye on them, and even contact an agent for the home when you are ready. This way you can shop for a home in the comfort of your bedroom or office, even when you are still far away and unable to get really serious about the search.
Finding an Arizona Mortgage Broker
If this is your first time buying a home, or if it’s been a long time and you can’t remember how the process works, it’s always best to work through a mortgage broker when applying for a mortgage.
What are the benefits of working with an Arizona mortgage broker? Brokers go into their books and find the best bank and the best loan product for you. They do collect a fee for this, but it makes them motivated to help you. Most people report that working with a broker was extremely pleasant, and the broker was helpful and attentive throughout the stressful process of buying a home.
In Arizona, there are many great brokers. Check Google ratings to start the search. This is always a good place to start, though it shouldn’t be where the search ends. Find some Facebook forums and ask about who people have used in the past. Maybe your new coworkers or boss will have a suggestion for you. But, always do your research and find the best possible broker for your needs.
We Welcome You
Arizona now is growing at a significant rate and we welcome newcomers. Our Chicago Cubs Spring Training Facility brings sold out crowds every season, largely because we have many residents from the Chicago area. We love our out-of-state transplants and the new perspective they offer. So, come to the Valley of the Sun and enjoy the friendly people, the desert sunsets, and golfing in January!