What's it like to live in Phoenix, AZ?


Jodi O'Connell

Profile written by local expert:

Jodi O'Connell

Nicknamed the "Valley of the Sun," the Greater Phoenix area sees more sunshine than any other metro area in the country. That in and of itself is enough to entice people to lay down roots, but Arizona's capital also features a desirable combination of a thriving job market, a relatively low cost of living and plenty of ways to enjoy the nice weather.

Phoenix is the best place to get a sampling of all the state has to offer. Its downtown area may be characterized by sleek, ultramodern office buildings, but the city center is not all about work. Phoenix also contains ample opportunities to play. Recently built sports stadiums, along with updated arts and shopping districts fringe downtown, as do some of the area's finest eateries.

Within the Valley of the Sun, you can trace Arizona's history from its earliest Hohokam residents at the Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park to the latest technological developments showcased at the Arizona Science Center. Plus, Greater Phoenix's 2,000-plus square miles sprawl to the bottom of striking desert mountains crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails. 

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Phoenix, Arizona is ranked:

#19 in Best Places to Live

#17 in Best Places to Retire

7.0

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    8.2
  • Value
    6.6
  • Job Market
    6.6
  • Quality of Life
    6.8
  • Net Migration
    7.8

Read how we rank places

Phoenix, AZ Quick Stats

  • 4,486,153

    Metro Population

  • $47,540

    Average Annual Salary

  • 86.6° / 63.4°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 36.0

    Median Age

  • $235,333

    Median Home Price

  • 8.0 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.2%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $989

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 26.0 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Phoenix, AZ?

The average annual salary in Phoenix falls below the national average. But luckily for residents, living in Phoenix is more affordable than living in coastal metro areas like San Francisco or New York City. The region's booming tourism industry helps alleviate residents' costs, with visitor spending saving locals more than $1,000 a year in taxes.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.6 /10

How we calculate this.


Phoenix offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Phoenix
$235,333

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Phoenix, AZ.

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What's the weather like in Phoenix, AZ?

Residents enjoy living in Phoenix for the same reason more than 20 million visitors flock to the metro area yearly: the weather. In the winter, daytime highs are mild, and springtime hits as early as late January, with cactus blossoms and wildflowers blooming. Summertime can be tough for newcomers, however. Temperatures routinely reach triple digits, and monsoon rains can strike any time. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

57.2°F


Winter

73.3°F


Spring

93.1°F


Summer

76.4°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

0.9 in


Winter

1.0 in


Spring

1.1 in


Summer

0.7 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Phoenix, AZ?

Depending on where you choose to live, you will most likely need a car to get around Phoenix. A network of highways that circumnavigate and traverse the metro area keeps traffic moving quickly, and HOV lanes help alleviate congestion on the freeways during rush hours.

In addition, Valley Metro provides bus service throughout the entire metro area, even serving a few satellite communities such as Buckeye and Anthem. The light rail system connects downtown areas with the eastern suburbs of Tempe and Mesa. You can also rent a bike from one of the Grid Bike Share locations from your smartphone and pedal to your destination.

Two commercial airports serve the Phoenix area. Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is a hub for Southwest Airlines and offers a high volume of daily domestic and international flights. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is much smaller, offering only domestic flights via Allegiant Air. Amtrak and several intercity bus stations provide ground transit into and out of the Valley.

Commuting in Phoenix, AZ

Means of Transportation
Driving
88%
Equal to national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
2%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

26.0 minutes

0.1 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Phoenix, AZ?

Until the mid-1800s, Arizona was part of Mexico, and modern-day Phoenix's population reflects its Mexican heritage. Hispanic culture remains a strong influence in the area, evidenced in architecture, festivals and cuisine.

While Arizona is one of the go-to spots for retirees, more than a quarter of the population is under 20 years old. Greater Phoenix is also home to Arizona State University, which draws a lot of younger people to the area.

Phoenix isn't a particularly religious area; less than half the residents identify with any individual faith. Those who do practice attend a Christian church, though Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faiths are also represented. 

Roughly 22 percent of Phoenix residents live at or below the poverty line.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Phoenix as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Phoenix, AZ?

Residents will find plenty to do in the Phoenix area. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike trails in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, kayak or paddleboard on Tempe Town Lake or enjoy desert wildlife at the Desert Botanical Garden. Dozens of museums with themes like Native American history, musical instruments, toys and firetrucks provide respite from the sun.

Cheering on Phoenix's professional sports teams, including the MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks, the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, the NBA's Suns, WNBA's Mercury and the NHL's Coyotes, is another favorite pastime. And each January, more than half a million golf enthusiasts descend on the area to watch the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Meanwhile, downtown Phoenix offers a collection of concert venues and nightclubs, as do the nearby cities of Scottsdale and Tempe. 

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Phoenix, AZ