A First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Phoenix Neighborhoods
Desert landscapes, affordable housing, and plenty of sunshine make Phoenix a great choice for first-time homebuyers. But Phoenix is also quite unique when it comes to real estate and geography—Greater Phoenix serves as a catchall term for the city plus its outlying suburbs, neighborhoods and municipalities.
If you’re looking to settle down in the area, it’s helpful to understand the many areas that make up Phoenix and its surroundings. We’ve put together a guide to Phoenix’s “neighborhoods” that can help you with your search.
Median Home Sale Price: $280,000
Anthem is an anomaly. It’s technically an unincorporated master-planned community, but it’s also large—9.25 square miles, to be exact—so it qualifies as a Phoenix suburb in the mind maps of most locals
Founded in 1999, its boundaries consist of three different residential areas: Parkside, a family-friendly sprawl in the foothills of Daisy Mountain; the gated community of Country Club; and The Village Condominiums, which is definitely geared toward the retired set.
Median home values are affordable, but that’s not the only thing that makes Anthem great for first-time homebuyers. Residents love the town for its Outlets at Anthem, two championship golf courses, a slew of public parks, and easy access to outdoor escapades at the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve.
Median Home Sale Price: $296,000
What began as a small agricultural town in 1912 has since become one of Greater Phoenix’s largest suburbs, with a population of around 252,130.
These days, Chandler is known as the “Silicon Desert”–Intel, PayPal, and Infusionsoft all have major tech and operational outposts in the city. This brings not only plenty of job opportunity, but also a more diverse demographic.
Homes include a wide array of options, ranging from new builds to classic ranch properties. Plus, many of the Arizona Department of Education’s top-ranking school districts are in Chandler, including Chandler Unified and Kyrene Elementary. There’s plenty to do here, too. Chandler’s historic downtown stretch is a major draw because it’s packed with one-off bars and restaurants.
Median Home Sale Price: $258,000
A total mash-up of families and young professionals, Downtown Phoenix’s residential roadmap is a varied one.
Here, you’ll find historic homes, contemporary condos and everything in between. Recent years have brought an influx of skyrise buildings, too.
Because Downtown Phoenix is divvied up into 13 distinct neighborhoods, it’s a bit difficult to run through all of your housing options, but here’s a very quick and general breakdown: Your best bet for historic homes with charm include Encanto, Willo and Coronado Districts. Downtown Core and the Warehouse areas have plenty of modern builds, and Roosevelt is known for its passionate artsy and alternative crowd.
Every one of these Downtown Phoenix pockets is walkable and close to plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and special events.
Median Home Sale Price: $291,000
In 2014, 24/7 Wall St., a New York-based financial news and opinion website, ranked Gilbert as the 20th best city in the United States to live. Gilbert residents will tell you that there’s only one thing wrong with that title: Gilbert is a town, not a city.
People here take pride in Gilbert’s laidback, small town vibe. It’s known as an easy-going part of Greater Phoenix. People are extra friendly. They smile at strangers. They carry on conversations at the grocery checkout stand.
Gilbert also has one of the highest median household incomes in the Valley of the Sun while also maintaining some of the region’s most affordable housing options, though taxes are on the higher end.
It’s quickly growing into one of Phoenix’s most popular places to live for all of those reasons, plus great schools and plenty of homegrown dining and entertainment options.
Median Home Sale Price: $206,000
Glendale is one of the most affordable places to live in the Phoenix area. Its median home sale price clocks in at just above $200,000, and it falls 11.7 percent below the U.S. national average for cost of living.
Most non-Phoenicians recognize Glendale as the home of the Arizona Cardinals and two-time host to the NFL Super Bowl.
It’s a special events magnet, for sure, but people who live in Glendale do so for its sensible home prices, convenient access to Downtown Phoenix and local amenities like its pedestrian-friendly Old Towne, the Tolmachoff Farms market, and hiking and biking at Thunderbird Conservation Park.
The Westgate Entertainment District, home to both the University of Phoenix Stadium and Gila River Arena, also hosts some of the country’s most popular bands and musical acts.
Median Home Sale Price: $222,000
Arizona’s third-largest city, Mesa has a population of 457,587 and stretches approximately 128 square miles. It’s just 25 minutes from Downtown Phoenix but, in some ways, feels worlds away.
This is a nature-lovers haven, home to three lakes, two rivers and 3,500 acres of pure, natural Sonoran Desert space at Usery Mountain Regional Park.
It’s definitely family-friendly. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that the majority of Mesa’s residents are either families or retirees (and also Snow Birds from Canada). That gives it a very warm and welcoming vibe.
Mesa has the second-lowest property tax rates of any large metro area, which makes it a major draw for first-time homeowners. A popular vacation spot, Mesa’s Sloan Park is the spring training home to the Chicago Cubs and its 40+ golf courses are among the most notable in the Southwest.
North Central Phoenix
Median Home Sale Price: $488,000
North Central Phoenix has the same kind of charm you’ll find in popular Phoenix neighborhoods like Arcadia and Biltmore – tree-lined streets, historic homes and a real community feel – but with a more affordable price tag.
It’s a great place to be for first-time homebuyers, whether you’re a parent looking to settle your family or a single, work-and-play-around-the-clock professional.
North Central’s local hotspots (like The Womack, Joe’s Midnight Run and Crown on 7th) are always packed, and its Uptown Farmer’s Market draws both area residents and people from all across Maricopa County. Murphy Bridle Path, a paved multi-use recreational trail, is perfect for walking, biking and even horseback riding. (This is Arizona, after all!)
Median Home Sale Price: $255,000
Outdoor enthusiasts love Peoria. The city has 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, and is known for Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a 23,662-acre escape where locals go for boating, fishing, camping, kayaking and more.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the city prides itself on its eco-friendly initiatives – water conservation, pollutant protection and expanded recycling programs among them.
Peoria Eighty Three (or P83) is the city’s budding shopping, dining and entertainment district where you’ll find live music, theater and the Peoria Sports Complex, the spring training home field for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.
Peoria is home to just 160,000 residents – small by Greater Phoenix standard – and features a median home price of $245,625.
Median Home Sale Price: $214,000
ueen Creek is definitely an outlying suburb of Phoenix, but that’s part of its draw. It’s retained the best characteristics of its farming roots – a close-knit community of approximately 31,000 residents and plenty of wide open space – but has a low unemployment rate and a high percentage of residents who hold a bachelor’s degree.
If you’re looking for an affordable newly-built home, Queen Creek is your best bet. Sure, it’s 40+ minutes from Downtown Phoenix, but you’ve got plenty of reason to stay and play in your own backyard.
On weekends, locals love sipping wine in the field at Queen Creek Olive Mill or picking fresh peaches at Schnepf Farms. Of course any good old farming town should have its fair share of outdoorsy fun and Queen Creek’s got plenty, including Horseshoe Park and San Tan Mountains Regional.
Median Home Sale Price: $417,000
Scottsdale is one of the pricier places in the Valley, but for good reason: Fantastic schools, resort-level amenities and a dining and nightlife scene that’s constantly making national headlines. Its residents are a blend of families, working professionals and wealthy retirees. World-class spas, championship golf courses and plush pools – they’re all brimming with locals and visitors.
Yes, the homes are on the expensive side, but options are endless: Updated ranches, sprawling golf course estates and, in the downtown area, modern lofts and condos inspired by midcentury architecture. Scottsdale has a unique personality. Part Old West cowboy, part Beverly Hills-esque luxury and the experience you have really depends on what you’re looking for.