Guide to Living in Phoenix, AZ

September 22, 2014

Phoenix Relocation Guide

Moving to a new city is like starting a new adventure. There are so many unknowns you must navigate.

Where are the good school districts? What are the best shopping destinations? Which utility providers offer services in your new area? How do you find your kids a new dentist? Are there any good nearby parks?

For the answers to these questions and so many more, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to relocating to the Phoenix, AZ area.

Since we work and live in Phoenix, we are happy to help you get started on your new adventure.

Relocating to Phoenix: What’s It Like?

First, a bit about the dazzling city of Phoenix. It is located in southcentral Arizona, just a couple hours from the Mexican border. It was founded in 1867 and was largely an agricultural area during its early days. In the mid-1900s, the population boomed as World War II vets settled their families in the area. It went through another boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the real estate bubble reached its height, with cheap housing available. By population, Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the country with 1.45 million residents.

Phoenix is known for its red rock mountains and steamy weather. The temperature tops 100 degrees more than 100 days out of the year and the median temperature is 87 degrees. It doesn’t rain much here, which may be a surprise if you’re new to Phoenix’s weather patterns. The average annual rainfall is just 7 inches.

Here’s some great news for those relocating to Phoenix. The cost of living in the area is slightly lower than the national average. Actually, it’s slightly below all of Arizona, too. Many convenience items — such as gas and groceries — cost less than they do across the rest of the country. Even the pizza is 11 percent cheaper than in other big cities! If that doesn’t sell you on living in Phoenix, nothing will.

Moving to Phoenix: Finding the Right Place to Live

The first step in moving to Phoenix is identifying the area where you want to live. A number of things may influence your decision, including the reputation of the local school district if you have kids and the length of your commute to work. Here’s a little-known Phoenix fact: Property taxes in Phoenix are actually 20 percent below the national average of $1700 per year.

Here’s a quick look at some desirable neighborhoods and suburbs:

  • Glendale: This suburb is growing very quickly with more than 225,000 residents. Nearly half have children under the age of 18. The unemployment rate is well below the national average.
  • Tempe: Home to Arizona State University, Tempe is located in the East Valley. It’s a young community with an average age of just 29.
  • Mesa: Mesa is one of the larger Phoenix suburbs with a population of nearly 440,000. Banner Health Systems and Mesa Public Schools are the city’s biggest employers, and it has a thriving arts community.
  • Chandler: This town, located near Mesa, is a hub for technology companies and this has led to incredible population growth. For years, it’s been one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the country. It has a very large Native American population — 8.2 percent.
  • Queen Creek: One of the smaller suburbs in our greater Phoenix relocation guide — Queen Creek is a family-oriented community with more than half of households having kids, and more than three-quarters headed by married couples. Most residents are ages 25 to 64.

Transportation: Living and Working in Phoenix

Most public transportation in the area is provided by the Phoenix Public Transit Department. It offers a bus and light rail system, as well as alternative transportation made available to those with special needs. The options include rural routes that go from inside the city to well outside and a helpful website can alert commuters to what time the next bus or train will arrive at their specified stop.

Find Phoenix public transportation times and fares here.

If you’re new to Phoenix, also keep an eye out for a bike-sharing program called Grid that will be launching in Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe in late 2014.

Phoenix Relocation Guide: Where Are the Best Schools?

For parents relocating to Phoenix, one major concern is finding the best school systems around. The area boasts 434 public schools and 77 private schools. The student-to-teacher ratio for those schools is on the high side — 19:1  — compared to a national average of 16:1. But, despite the larger class sizes, there are many top-notch programs.

Deer Valley — covering Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Anthem and New River Arizona — ranks among the top school districts, earning raves from those moving to Phoenix for its caring teachers, involved parents, excellent preschool program and sophisticated resources at the high school level.

But there are other local systems that offer very good programs, too. For children with special needs, a virtual school — such as the Arizona Virtual Academy — might work best. Public elementary schools in Chandler and any local Montessori schools are particularly adept at dealing with kids with individualized education plans. For children with autism, Scottsdale’s Gateway Academy offers many special programs, including a post-secondary residency for older teens who are ready to move out of the house but still need some supervision.

When you gather Phoenix relocation information for your new community, also be sure to investigate Common Core — the set of teaching standards used in the state for the past four years. Common Core is a national program that’s fairly controversial, with many complaining that it requires teachers to “teach to the test.” But, there are some who say the new way of learning helps kids figure things out on their own better than older methods.

New to Phoenix? Try These Places for Shopping

Phoenix has plenty of stores for the shopper in your family. For groceries and pharmacies, several of these chains will undoubtedly be familiar to those moving to Phoenix from other locations:

  • Fry’s
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods
  • Bashas
  • AJ’s Fine Foods
  • Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market
  • WinCo Foods
  • Food City

There are also more than a dozen shopping malls in the Phoenix area. Arizona Mills in Tempe has an IMAX theater, while Scottsdale Fashion Square is an indoor mall with more than 250 high-end shops. You could spend an entire day there and not cover every store. The Tempe Marketplace is an outdoor mall that offers live entertainment. And the OfficeMax Desert Ridge Marketplace is located outdoors as well, with play areas for families with small children relocating to Phoenix. If you’re looking for bargains on luxury brands, go to the Phoenix Premium Outlets, which has stores such as Armani, Michael Kors and Coach.

The best items, though, won’t come from chains. No Phoenix relocation guide is complete without a rundown of the small shops that give the city its flavor. Get a taste of Southwest style with one-of-a-kind clothing found at local stores such as Frances and Bunky Boutique, or visit fun and funky home stores Willows Home & Garden and The French Bee. For jewelry, you’ll want to try the Purple Lizard Boutique, which specializes in Mexican art.

Living in Phoenix: Where to Get Your Utilities

One of the greatest hassles of being new to Phoenix or any city is figuring out who to contact to get your utilities turned on. If you live in an apartment or condominium, you may be lucky enough to be provided with a list that tells you who to contact to get your gas, water, cable and other utilities turned on once you are living in Phoenix. If you are moving into a house, your realtor may be able to help, or you can reach out to the people you are buying from for guidance.

Or you can consult this greater Phoenix relocation guide to utilities.

Phoenix water utilities Water: This is specific to your municipality. Most go through the City of Phoenix, which services many area towns and claims to have lower prices than most other cities in the Southwest. Scottsdale and Tempe also have their own water services. The independent Salt River Project also provides water services, as does Surprise Water Services and Arizona American Water Company.

Phoenix sewer servicesSewer: You may note upon receiving Phoenix relocation information that many of the sewer services are the same as the water services. Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale all provide waste management assistance, as does Surprise Water Services.

Phoenix electric suppliersElectricity: There are two main suppliers of electricity in the Phoenix area: Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP). APS offers a discount program for those who meet certain income requirements.

Phoenix trash serviceTrash: The Public Works Garbage Service offers regular collection — as well as bulk pickups — for those in the Phoenix and greater Phoenix areas. It also has services for disposing of toxic household waste. There are two main dumps in the Phoenix area: 27th Avenue Transfer Station and North Gateway Transfer Station.

Phoenix cable & internet providersCable, Internet and Telephone: These days, most telephone plans are bundled in with cable deals, so you may be able to find a better price by combining these services when moving to Phoenix. Qwest offers deals for phone, Internet, and DirecTV services. Cox can offer cable, phone and Internet too, but it can also give deals on just cable or the web. For those who prefer satellite services, Dish Network is available to those searching for Phoenix relocation information.

Paying Taxes in Phoenix

Taxes are admittedly one of the most unpleasant things you have to deal with when relocating to Phoenix or Tempe or Glendale. No one likes to pay them, but you do need to understand what you’ll be charged. For sales tax, there are three layers: An Arizona state tax of 5.6 percent, a Maricopa County tax of 0.7 percent, and then whatever the local municipality charges on top of that. Depending on where you go to purchase goods, you could pay up to 9 percent taxes on items you buy.

While Arizona does not have a tax on food bought from grocery stores for home consumption, Phoenix does. A controversial regulation adopted in 2010 set the food tax at 2 percent, but it was lowered to 1 percent in 2013 following massive public protests. The tax will be reexamined in 2015. There is a 9.3 percent tax levied on meals eaten at restaurants in Phoenix, sixth-highest in the country, according to The Tax Foundation.

Speaking of taxes, you could get a tax break if you move to Phoenix for business purposes or you’re coming back to the United States for retirement after working abroad. Track your moving expenses to write them off on your tax return.

As for personal property and Arizona income tax rates, those vary depending on your location and the net worth of your property. You will need to consult the Arizona tax tables to find the rates for your municipality.

Finding Parks and Recreation in Phoenix

A greater Phoenix relocation guide would be incomplete without mentioning the wonderful parks and recreation system in the area. The local parks and recreation department offers youth classes and sports programs for kids ranging from camps to soccer leagues. It has more than two dozen sparkling pools to cool off in — the perfect way to end a day that starts by exploring the more than 200 miles of trails around the city.

The department oversees 189 parks, too many to properly describe in this relocation guide to Phoenix but enough to keep anyone busy for months at a time. The department oversees dozens of local community centers, sports complexes, and artistic and cultural sites throughout the area. You can even hold a wedding at one of the parks.

TV and Radio in Phoenix, AZ


There are more than three dozen FM radio stations and two dozen FM stations counted by the greater Phoenix relocation guide. As you might expect in Southwestern United States, there are a large number of Spanish stations, including a handful of Spanish Christian stations on AM and even a fun Spanish oldies station on FM (KVVA, whose nickname is Jose).

There are a number of rock stations, too, including classic rock KSLX and hard rock KUPD. The most popular format is adult contemporary and top 40, which includes today’s hits and a mix of classic songs from the past. And there are two talk stations and an AM channel dedicated to nearby Arizona State University.


Your installer should give you a channel guide once you’ve gotten your cable TV hooked up. Here’s a quick guide to the local broadcast channels; cable channels will vary based on which provider you choose:

Channel 3: Independent

Channel 5: CBS

Channel 6: The CW

Channel 10: Fox

Channel 12: NBC

Channel 15: ABC

Score a Touchdown with Phoenix Sports

Whether you prefer baseball, basketball, or football, there’s always something to watch in the Phoenix area. The NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury plan nearby. For baseball, not only do the Arizona Diamondbacks play in Phoenix, but many teams also hold spring training in the area. From February to April, 15 Major League Baseball squads play in the Cactus League.

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, who made it to the Super Bowl in 2008, hold their games in Tempe. And the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes compete in Glendale. In addition, there are semi-pro teams in the area such as the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League and the Phoenix FC Wolves from the USL soccer league, which is a few levels below Major League Soccer.

College sports are also a big deal in the Phoenix area. ASU has nine men’s sports squads and 11 women’s, and they are in the Pac-10, a highly competitive conference in just about every sport.

The Best Phoenix Family Dentist

Another thing you will want to find when you move to Phoenix is a new dentist. You will want someone who can treat the entire family with a lot of experience with children. AZ Family Dental is the place to take care of all your dental needs. We pride ourselves on providing excellent care while treating each patient as though they are a member of our own family.

And we know Phoenix. We have a 40-year history in the area, making us a well-known presence. We offer a full array of dental services, from cleaning to crowns to wisdom teeth removal. If you’re moving to Phoenix, contact us today to set up an appointment.

Have Fun in Phoenix

With this handy Phoenix relocation guide, you can learn the ins and outs of the greater Phoenix area before you set foot here. It can be hard to get ready to move, but this Phoenix relocation information can ease the transition. Phoenix is a great place to live and a wonderful place to raise a family.

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