Phoenix, Arizona, is starting to look like a heaven for the nation’s young professionals by all accounts. The Phoenix median age of 33.8 years indicates a population that is considerably younger than in the state of Arizona and the nation as a whole, which both have a median age of 38.2. It has earned the title of the best city in the West for millennials and the nation’s best city for wage-earning millennials. But what makes The Valley of the Sun, as the Phoenix metropolitan area is called, such a great place for young people?
As it turns out, the city has a lot of good things going for itself, from safety, job opportunities and sustainability to attractive neighborhoods and great outdoor activities. Here’s what you can expect if you’re thinking of moving to Phoenix.
Affordable and laidback, Phoenix fosters a growing population
Phoenix is now the fifth-largest city by population in the U.S. At 11.2%, its growth rate was faster than any other major city between 2010-2020, according to a study by Consumer Affairs, with job opportunities and affordability among the city’s biggest draws.
Phoenix is in fact ranked as the 10th best city to live in the country and the most liveable in Arizona. The cost of living including rent for a family of four is $4,082, somewhat lower than the national average of $4,414. Essentials are also cheaper, with food costing $469 for a single person as opposed to $505 nationwide. The average monthly salary after tax of $4,040 is more than the US average, $3,904.
Job opportunities aplenty in Phoenix, including from home, with fast internet and residential amenities
Phoenix scored sixth place as the best US city for jobs in 2021. But what about remote working? This lifestyle remains popular even when employees are told they can return to physical offices, but not everywhere is equally equipped for it. Many places in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area score highly for fast internet connectivity, with suburban Chandler and Peoria both having excellent speeds of more than 500 MBps. It’s no surprise, then, that Arizona had the joint-4th highest increase (9%) of teleworking 18-39 year-olds between August and December 2020.
Operating from a home office means keeping clutter to a minimum. Phoenix has your back, having the 5th-best home storage possibilities among the nation’s largest metros, with storage options provided in some multifamily buildings and 93.5% of single family homes having garages. In addition, the Metro Phoenix town of Gilbert recently ranked first for amenities in large-scale rental complexes, with Chandler in second place, making working from home in these locations even more comfortable.
Phoenix supports families and the environment, and its residents make fewest complaints
One indication that a city has created a good atmosphere for work and well-being is how many complaints are heard. Phoenicians made fewer calls to the 311 helpline — for example, concerning noise, traffic and trash dumping — than residents of any other large US city during 2020, just 0.12 per person.
Phoenix also steps up to the plate with environmental issues. It offers a higher proportion of HOV (high occupancy vehicles) access than any other large metro in the nation, with no less than 17.5% of its freeway lanes dedicated to electric vehicles. It also scored seventh place for the total number of electric vehicles owned.
To further encourage and support growing families, there is the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, which was recently recognized as one of the US’s top three children’s museums. There are other exciting and educational institutions here such as the Arizona Science Center in Downtown.
Outdoor fun? Yes, please! Kayaking, paragliding and hiking on your doorstep in Phoenix
In addition to healthy city living, access to the great outdoors in all seasons provides young wage-earners with vital exercise and down time. Phoenix is more than just its stunning location in the Sonoran Desert, offering the whole kit and caboodle of outdoor activities:
- Hiking: There are many great places for hiking near Metro Phoenix, not least the Superstition Mountains, with more than a hundred trails. Then there is Camelback Mountain within the metro itself, offering the Echo Canyon and Cholla trails, with some steep and exciting climbs.
- Kayaking is popular on the Lower Salt River, which extends eastwards from the city center. Not only are there scenic views and wildlife to enjoy, but summer sees quite a party atmosphere. Paddling on Saguaro Lake to the east is an alternative if the river’s water level isn’t high enough.
- Paragliding and hang gliding can be done at local locations such as South Mountain and Shaw Butte, and instruction is available. Skydiving is also a possibility near Phoenix, and it lets you see all the area’s wonderful natural features on your way down!
- Off-roading by ATV can be enjoyed near the city of Phoenix, for instance the Montana Mountain and Bulldog Canyon to the east and the Box Canyon and Broken Arrow trails to the north of town. Or you could always drive the other-worldly dunes near Yuma in western Arizona.
- Skiing/Snowboarding: Arizona may not be the first state that springs to mind for winter sports, but it offers several excellent possibilities. Arizona Snowbowl and Arizona Nordic Village, near Flagstaff, 2-3 hours’ drive to the north of Phoenix, together have 74 trails at all ability levels.
Homes may be short for space to hold the many accessories that come with these hobbies but there’s plenty of self storage space in town to make up for that. Fans of kayaking, hang gliding and snow sports could rent a small 5’x10’ storage unit for all their gear so it can be picked up on the way to the activity and doesn’t clutter up the home. A 10’x20’ storage unit would be more suitable for keeping an ATV or two and the trailer needed to transport them. Have fun!
Phoenix’s neighborhoods: affordability, access to amenities, safety and high levels of happiness
If you’re thinking of moving to Phoenix, you can check out some of the best neighborhoods for homebuyers here. The median sale price in Phoenix is currently $390K, with Deer Valley among the neighborhoods that offer the best bang for the buck, and Paradise Valley the most expensive area of Phoenix, with many homes costing millions of dollars. Compared to other large urban hubs, Phoenix’s rent prices are on the lower side, with the average rent for an apartment around $1,634, as per Yardi Matrix data.
Deer Valley, with an average rent of $1,758, is situated in the north of the metropolitan area, near Shaw Butte and on the way to top skiing resorts and ATVing routes. Peoria is located to the northwest and — together with Sun City and Youngtown — has an average rent of $1,623. Paradise Valley, superbly situated near to the Camelback Mountain, is one of the wealthiest places in town, with an average rent of $1,902, but the amenities are worth the cost.
To the east of the city center, Mesa and Scottsdale, with average residential rents of $1,431 and $2,073, have been ranked as the US’s third- and ninth-best mid-sized cities. The former is close to great kayaking opportunities, while the latter, with no fewer than 36 golf courses among its attractions, leads a group of places in Metro Phoenix with high levels of happiness.
Gilbert and Chandler are a bit further out to the southeast, having average residential rents of $1,125 and $1,803. At the far east of the metropolitan area and near to the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction has a reputation for safety and good value rents ($1,149) that make it particularly popular with snowbirds. To the west, Maryvale offers a reasonable average rent of $1,302 considering its proximity to Downtown.
Phoenix self storage offers plenty of extra space – during moving and afterwards
Renting a Phoenix storage unit increases your home space — especially useful if you live in a smaller property. The average rent across the city for a non-climate-controlled 10’x10’ storage unit is around $123 per month. The metro’s self storage sector was the nation’s second-most active self storage markets in 2020, so new units have regularly been coming on line, increasing customer choice.
Phoenix — including the suburbs and cities within its metropolitan area — clearly offers plenty for young people. Not only is it a very suitable place for the new working-from-home generation, but it also offers lots of great health- promoting activities. You can access top recreation locations a few hours’ drive away while others are situated right on your doorstep. After moving here, you could enjoy the 300 days of sunshine per year, plus the opportunities to work in a supportive environment and let off plenty of steam at the weekends.