Thinking about living in Phoenix, Arizona? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in Arizona’s capital city for the past 6 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Phoenix.
Home to a population of 1.6 million residents, Phoenix is the most populous city in Arizona (and the 5th most populous city in the country). You’ll be in good company if you choose to call this vibrant city home.
So without further ado, let’s cover everything you need to know about living in Phoenix, based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
Plan on visiting before moving to Phoenix? I highly suggest this great hotel. It’s the one I recommend to my own family and friends when they visit.
Pros of Moving to Phoenix
#1. Beautiful scenery
Sitting pretty in the shadow of the aptly named Phoenix mountains, the city of Phoenix is a sight for sore eyes. The vibrant hues of the striking desert suffuse the “Valley of the Sun” with energetic shades of reds and oranges few can resist falling in love with.
And it’s true, having daily access to the beautiful scenery and vast landscapes is one of the biggest perks of living in Phoenix. But I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to learn to appreciate the desert landscape before moving to Phoenix — the desert always felt dusty and dead!
But within two years of living in Phoenix, I found myself enjoying the abundant cacti, imposing rock formations and strikingly colorful sunsets that intensify the beauty of the state.
Local’s Tip: If you’re new to the area, swing by the Desert Botanical Garden for an experience you won’t soon forget. It’s a massive 140-acre garden preserve with more than 4,000 species of plants native to Arizona.
#2. Access to outdoor recreation
It might seem obvious that great outdoor recreational opportunities go hand-in-hand with the beautiful scenery, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the surrounded areas are beautiful but inaccessible to the average weekend hiker, but thankfully Phoenix has something for everyone.
There’s no shortage of epic outdoor activities while living in Phoenix. You’ll find everything from hiking and biking to kayaking and tubing down the Lower Salt River — whatever your adventurous heart desires.
The best part? Phoenix doesn’t have harsh winters or wet springs, so playing outside if fair game during the months most Americans are cooped up inside. Rather, Phoenicians tend to stay indoors in the summer when the oppressive heat is a tad too much.
If you recently moved to Phoenix and would like to stretch your legs, I suggest hiking the Camelback Mountain trail. The hike is 2.5 miles long and takes you up to the summit of Camelback Mountain. The elevation gain is steep, but the unparalleled views of the city below are breathtaking.
#3. Strong job economy
Phoenix has a rapidly growing economy and well-paying jobs, due in part to the large influx of people moving to the area. Major technological companies and corporations are beginning to make up a large portion of the city’s economic presence.
The top employers in Phoenix are: Banner Health, America Express, Amazon and Walmart. The average salary is $71,000 (20% higher than the national average).
Over the next 10 years, Phoenix is projected to have a total job increase of 48.2%, which is much higher than the 33.5% US national average. It’s no surprise that so many folks end up moving to Phoenix for job opportunities.
Good to know before moving to Phoenix: Arizona’s job growth is expected to outpace the nation in the next decade.
#4. Constant sunshine and mild winters
If you’re moving to Phoenix because you’re tired of brutal winters, you’ve made the right decision. Arizona is notorious for attracting “snowbirds” from all corners of the country during fall and winter.
Everyone wants to get in on the sunny action and it’s hard to blame them, constant sunshine is a treat. If you’re planning on moving to Phoenix for sunshine, you won’t be disappointed — Phoenix is the sunniest city in America!
In terms of winters, the coldest month of the year is December, which average low temperatures clocking in at 46°F and average highs coming in at 66°F. But in keeping with the sunny theme, something most folks realize quickly after moving to Phoenix is that it doesn’t rain often.
In fact, Phoenix averages a measly 8 inches of rainfall annually. Incidentally, due to the lack of rainfall and overall dry environment, there is almost no humidity in Phoenix. This lessens the full effects of the hot weather during the summer months (fret not, we’ll cover summer weather in the cons below — this is an honest list, after all).
#5. Affordable cost of living in Phoenix
Another incentive for living in Phoenix is the relatively low cost of living that enables a higher quality of life. Median home prices clock in at $389K, which is less than the current national average.
Although the total cost of living in Arizona is 4% higher than the national average, compared to many other major cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Phoenix is very affordable for a metro area.
Although housing costs are beginning to increase due to the large numbers of people moving to the area, grocery prices are significantly lower than in many other major metropolitan areas.
#6. Phoenix is growing like a weed
With a metro growth rate of 15%, Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. As with anything, growing pains are to be expected but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the exciting opportunities that growth brings.
Things like new restaurants, exhibits, fashion trends and jobs. Not to mention the influx of new people! You can easily live in Phoenix for the next ten years and find your friend circle growing with the seasons (if you’re open to meeting new people).
At present, there’s 1.8 million people living in Phoenix, but with current growth trends that number will crest 2 million in the coming years. If you’re looking to settle down long term and buy a home, Phoenix is definitely worth a consideration.
#7. Mexican food galore
All lovers of Mexican food should make at least one pilgrimage to Phoenix to understand the hype. Phoenix is considered one of the best spots in the country for Mexican cuisine — you’ll be hard pressed to find bad local joints.
This comes as no surprise, considering Arizona borders Mexico. Phoenix is home to a plethora of delicious restaruatns, but my favorite has to be Cocina Madrigal — the tacos are life changing!
Cons of Moving to Phoenix
#1. The summer heat is a bear
Okay, let’s kick off this list of the honest cons of living in Phoenix with little fact: Phoenix has the highest summer temperatures of any US city (I weep as I type this). To many, the summer temperatures are a deal breaker.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a quick roundup of average daily high/low temps in summer: June (104° / 76°), July (106° / 82°), August (105° / 81°).
Daily averages that exceed 100° for three months in a row are no joke. When moving to Phoenix, you’re effectively paying for the privilege of avoiding cold winters and rainy weather but at the expense of pleasant summers.
A high-quality AC system is non-negotiable while living in Phoenix and most of your summer days will be spent indoors. But one of my coworkers said it best — people stay inside during winter months in most other US cities, so those living in Phoenix merely do the same thing, just during different months. Touché.
However, if you’re moving to Phoenix with school-aged kids in tow, know that their summer breaks coincide with the hottest time of the year. You’ll need to plan accordingly.
#2. Lack of public transportation
You won’t see the Valley of the Sun grace the top of any public transportation list, so don’t expect much when moving to Phoenix.
One of the major weaknesses of the inner-city infrastructure is the lack of public transportation. There’s no sense in sugarcoating it: you’ll need a car to get around because Phoenix is very car-centric.
As the population of Phoenix continues to grow the lack of public transportation will begin to result in serious traffic problems, which is not something I’m looking forward to.
#3. Phoenix isn’t very walkable
Due to the massive size of the city coupled with urban sprawl, Phoenix isn’t walkable by any stretch of the imagination. The city does a little better with a decent biking infrastructure, but overall is better suited to exclusively car travel.
The climate itself removes any desirability to walk or bike 4-6 months out of the year, as temperatures routinely reach the 100s. But even on cooler days your options for walking are limited (and typically reserved to neighborhood walks, which can feel mundane after a while).
#4. Poor air quality
I feel it my duty for you to be adequately prepared before moving to Phoenix. So know this: It’s one of the most polluted cities in the country.
Despite being located in the middle of a desert with tons of open country, Phoenix has very poor air quality. You’ll be exposed to high amounts of allergens, which can cause breathing difficulties for those with existing allergy problems.
#5. Lack of nightlife
One of the big complaints about the downtown area of Phoenix is the lack of nightlife. Much of the inner city other than the sports stadiums is comprised strictly of office buildings and complexes.
I’m hopeful that as the city continues to grow it will begin to develop a livelier nightly culture to appeal to those living in Phoenix.
#6. Wildlife is a consideration
Another problem with Phoenix is the prevalence of wildlife throughout the area, which can at times prove dangerous to residents.
If you are planning on moving to Phoenix, you should become familiar with all common poisonous insects, spiders, and snakes, as well as threatening animals. Black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, scorpions, tarantula hawks, and rattlesnakes should be avoided at all costs.
Mountain lions and the occasional bear are also potential threats, although encounters with these animals aren’t as common.
Moving to Phoenix? Learn some of the quirky laws
Although all areas of the country have quirky laws and strange ordinances, Phoenix takes this to a new level with some rules that you will need to be aware of.
If you are planning on moving to Phoenix, you must be aware of the “Stupid Motorist Law”, a state law that holds drivers 100% liable for any damages they incur if driving through barricades into a flooded area. Flash floods are a common occurrence in Arizona, and state officials have no patience for drivers taking matters into their own hands.
Also, animals are given the same protection and rights on the road as traffic vehicles, spitting on public sidewalks and crosswalks is prohibited, and all forms of fortune-telling are outlawed.
Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix (Post Summary)
Well, there you have it. A list of the pros and cons of living in Phoenix. As always, be sure to always do plenty of research before potentially moving to Phoenix to be aware of all potential benefits and challenges of residing there.
Overall, Phoenix can be a great opportunity to start a new life or career, as it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and contains many transplants from around the nation.
- Beautiful scenery
- Access to outdoor recreation
- Strong job economy
- Constant sunshine and mild winters
- Affordable cost of living in Phoenix
- Mexican food galore
- The summer heat is a bear
- Lack of public transportation
- Phoenix isn’t very walkable
- Poor air quality
- Lack of nightlife
- Wildlife is a consideration