Article Overview: Pros and Cons of Living in Phoenix, Arizona
Thinking about moving to Phoenix, Arizona? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in Phoenix for the past 6 years and let me say, this place has changed a lot in a short amount of time.
Home to 1.6 million residents, Phoenix is Arizona’s most populous city (and the 5th most populous city in the country). And, as you can imagine, with all those beautiful people come lots of different opinions.
In this article I’ll cover the pros and cons of living in Phoenix based on my firsthand experience. You should know, I’m not here to sugar coat anything and if there’s something I’m missing don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Editor’s Note: As long time readers of this website will know, the fun lives in the comments. Don’t forget to take a look below to see what the locals are saying. We update this post regularly based on feedback received. Cheers!
Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
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Table of Contents: Living in Phoenix
Table of Contents: Living in Phoenix
- Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
- Pros of Living in Phoenix
- Cons of Moving to Phoenix
- FAQ – Living in Phoenix
- Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix (Post Summary)
- Compare the Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
Pros of Living in Phoenix
#1. The Beautiful Scenery
I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to learn to appreciate the desert landscape before moving to Phoenix!
But within a year of living in Phoenix, I found myself really enjoying it all. For me it was kind of like when someone flips off the lights and you it goes completely dark but after a while you can start to see things and in no time you’re seeing it all.
Living in Phoenix it went from dead and dusty to admiring the surprising amount of desert life, imposing rock formations, and spectacular sunsets.
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
The access to outdoor recreation was one of the things that sold me on living in Phoenix back when I first moved. Here, you’ll find almost everything – hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, and more.
The best part? Phoenix doesn’t have harsh winters or wet springs, so playing outside is fair game during the months most folks are cooped up inside. The drawback, as you probably guessed, is during the summer months all the outdoor recreating has to be done early in the morning or after the sun sets to avoid the extreme heat.
Quick Tip: I recommend hiking the Camelback Mountain trail for folks new to town looking to get a great view of the city. The hike is 2.5 miles long and takes you up to the summit of Camelback Mountain. The elevation gain is steep, but the views of the city below are totally worth it.
#3. Strong Job Economy
The city has a rapidly growing economy and well-paying jobs, due in part to the large influx of people moving to the area. Major tech companies are beginning to make up a large portion of the city’s economic presence as well.
The top employers in Phoenix are: Banner Health, American 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 chosen wisely. Arizona is notorious for attracting “snowbirds” from all corners of the country during fall and winter and once you move here it makes sense why.
Everyone wants to get in on the sunny action and it’s hard to blame them, constant sunshine is a real treat. If you’re looking for lots of sun you literally can’t doing any better – Phoenix is the sunniest city in America!
In terms of winters, the coldest month of the year is December, with 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 effect of the hot weather during the summer months (fret not, we’ll cover summer weather in the cons below).
#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.
And while housing costs are on the rise due to the large numbers of people moving to Phoenix, grocery prices remain significantly lower than in most 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. Top-Notch Mexican Cuisine
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. Ok, there are some but just read some reviews and you’ll be fine.
This comes as no surprise, considering Arizona borders Mexico. Phoenix is home to a plethora of delicious authentic Mexican restaurants, but my favorite has to be Cocina Madrigal – the tacos are life changing!
Cons of Moving to Phoenix
#1. Summer Heat is a Bear
Okay, let’s kick off this list of the honest cons of living in Phoenix with this stubborn 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 (last year we set the record again with 110s). 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 a public transportation list anytime soon, so don’t expect much in that department 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 continue to result in worsening traffic problems, which is not something I’m looking forward to.
#3. Phoenix Isn’t a Walkable City
The lack of transportation is one thing but the fact that Phoenix isn’t walkable is a double whammy. Due to the massive size of the city coupled with urban sprawl, Phoenix isn’t close to being a walkable place 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. Sigh.
On top of that, 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, Phoenix is 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.
The two main culprits, however, are ozone and particle pollution. While particle pollution has been getting better in recent years the same can’t be said about the ozone issue.
Due to the warming temperatures in Phoenix, more and more ozone is building up here and there aren’t really any good short term solutions on the horizon to solve it. We get “high ozone” alerts in our weather reports regularly during the summer, something that non residents might be unfamiliar with altogether.
#5. Dowtown Phoenix is a Real Bummer
Some folks are bound to disagree with me on this but let’s call a spade a spade here, downtown Phoenix is a real bummer. It’s a literal hot mess.
Somehow we ended up with a concrete jungle of a downtown that makes no sense given the extreme temperatures that punish us every year. Our Urban planners really laid an egg.
One reason for this is that Phoenix had the misfortune of a boom in building projects during the mid-century modern phase, which seemed to be great for everything except commercial buildings (specifically the exterior facades) which are as bland and boring as can be.
And don’t even get me started on nightlife. I’m not talking about night clubs or dancing, or anything wild (not my scene). But can’t we get at least one decent restaurant that stays open for the dinner hour in the downtown core?
Finally you’d think that having all these tall buildings we’d at least be able to have some cool rooftop bars or restaurants to soak in the epic sunsets, right? Wrong. They’re all commercial buildings with no public access.
There’s so much potential for desert oasis vibes in the downtown but instead it seems we went for “little NYC” and fell far short.
#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. Personally this one doesn’t really bother me (I’m not really afraid of bugs) but I have plenty of friends who are seriously impacted by the “pests” of all shapes and sizes.
If you’re 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.
#7. Lack of Greenery
At the top of this article I wrote about the beautiful scenery and how it took a while to grow on me but now I love it. Well the scenery doesn’t grow on everyone and the primary reason for this is the lack of greenery.
One of the first friends I made after moving to Phoenix was someone who moved in from the Pacific Northwest. This drove them crazy. They said it was the number one reason why they ended up moving back home.
If you really love your big conifers or deciduous hardwoods then living in Phoenix may be difficult for you because we don’t have them here.
#8. Asthma & Seasonal Allergies
If you’ve got any sort of breathing issue then you’ll want to really strongly evaluate living in Phoenix. Asthma is very common here, and in the state of Arizona generally speaking, with over 600,000 residents having the condition.
In fact, I have asthma but had it before moving here and for me it doesn’t seemed to have gotten any worse (maybe a little?), but for some it’s life changing.
I would not have guessed that seasonal allergies would be something to watch out for in the desert prior to moving to Phoenix. Late February through June seem to be the worst times for this which is really unfortunate given that allergy season coincides with our good weather!
FAQ – Living in Phoenix
Is Phoenix a good place to live?
Is Phoenix a good place to live?
If you’re someone that enjoys constant sunshine, desert landscapes, great food, and outdoor recreation and don’t mind the hot summer temperatures then Phoenix is a good place to live.
However, the soaring summer temperatures air pollution and traffic congestion should be strongly considered before moving to Phoenix. The city’s rapid growth in the past decades has created suburban sprawl that takes away from the city’s charm.
Is Phoenix a good place to retire?
Is Phoenix a good place to retire?
Phoenix is a good place to retire because of the city’s warm climate, affordable housing, and variety of recreational and cultural activities. The city has a large retiree population and offers many retirement communities and assisted living facilities.
Additionally, Phoenix has a low cost of living compared to other major cities in the US and has a strong healthcare system. Making it ideal for those planning on retiring in Phoenix on a fixed income.
Is marijuana legal in Phoenix?
Is marijuana legal in Phoenix?
Yes, recreational marijuana is legal in Phoenix. In November 2020, Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, which legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
Is marijuana legal in Phoenix?
Is Phoenix a tax-friendly city?
Phoenix, Arizona is generally considered to be a tax-friendly city. Arizona has a relatively low state income tax rate of 4.5%, and Phoenix also has a low property tax rate. Additionally, Arizona does not have a state inheritance tax or gift tax.
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
Compare the Pros & Cons of Living in Phoenix
|Beautiful scenery||The summer heat is a bear|
|Access to outdoor recreation||Lack of public transportation|
|Strong job economy||Phoenix isn’t very walkable|
|Constant sunshine and mild winters||Poor air quality|
|Affordable cost of living in Phoenix||Lack of nightlife|
|Mexican food galore||Wildlife is a consideration|
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