Maricopa County is currently the nations fastest growing county. With over 4.4 million residents, Maricopa County is home to half of the population in Arizona. Find out if living in Maricopa County is the right for you!
PhoenixPopulation: 1,445,632 City of Phoenix: 602-262-7176, www.phoenix.gov
Phoenix covers a vast geographic area and offers a wide array of housing options. Downtown Phoenix is a core employment and culture center with projected growth spurred by a new light-rail system, retail expansion and an upswing in commercial construction. Urban neighborhoods are experiencing a revival renovation and creation of upscale high-end homes and condominiums. Most of the city of Phoenix stretches north from South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the world.
South Mountain Village
South Mountain Village represents one of the “urban villages” designated by the Phoenix Planning Commission. The goal of each village in the city of Phoenix is to offer a unique choice of lifestyle in which residents may live, work and enjoy leisure activities within close proximity.
South Mountain Village extends from the Rio Salado to the South Mountain Park Preserve. Despite it’s established neighborhoods, South Mountain Village is a young, developing area. Perhaps once considered a barrier to southward development, 16,500-acre South Mountain Park is now being eyed by developers. From the ridgeline of South Mountain to farm fields and urban neighborhoods, the village offers many different living in Maricopa County environments.
Northeast ValleyCarefree, Cave Creek Populations: Carefree – 3,800; Cave Creek – 4,951 School District: Cave Creek Unified District No. 93 Town of Carefree: 480-488-3686, www.carefree.org Town of Cave Creek: 480-488-6613, www.cavecreek.org
Carefree and Cave Creek are neighboring communities that may share the same piece of the beautiful Sonoran Desert, but have distinctly different personalities.
Cave Creek was settled in the 1870s as a mining and ranching community. Incorporated in 1986 and 36 miles from downtown Phoenix, residents of Cave Creek enjoy a small town feeling. Carefree was founded in the 1950s, and was one of the earliest planned communities in Arizona. Known for its famous giant sundial (the largest in the Western Hemisphere) and unique rock topography, Carefree lives up to its name with its very laid back atmosphere.
The two communities are at an elevation of 2,500 feet, with temperatures about five to six degrees cooler than Phoenix. Low humidity and cooler temperatures lure outdoor enthusiasts to hike, bike, horseback ride, golf and jeep tours. Similarly, the serene, saguaro-studded landscape, decorated with sand-colored boulders is a huge attraction for new residents.
Golf courses are woven into the landscape, making them some of the most scenic in the state. Other nearby recreational outlets include Tonto National Forest and the Verde River. Carefree and Cave Creek offer unique shopping and dining opportunities. Not to mention, the beautiful resorts to quaint bed & breakfast inns.
Fountain HillsPopulation: 25,316 School District: Fountain Hills Unified School District No. 98 Town of Fountain Hills: 480-816-5100, www.fh.az.gov
Tucked into the McDowell Mountains at an elevation several hundred feet above Phoenix, Fountain Hills residents enjoy cooler temperatures and a more secluded feeling. Designed by Charles Woods, Jr., the same visionary who designed Disneyland, the community of Fountain Hills is loaded with small town charm.
Fountain Hills takes its name from its celebrated fountain found at the heart of the city. Woods wanted to find a way to differentiate his newly designed city. As a result, he had an idea of having the world’s tallest man-made fountain as a centerpiece. The fountain shoots water 560 feet into the air and creates a geyser five feet taller than the Washington Monument.
Named in 1997 by Parenting magazine as one of the “Ten Great Places to Raise a Family,” Fountain Hills in Maricopa County has also found a unique niche by catering to the needs of its active retiree population. The area is especially attractive to older families, young professionals and retirees.
Fountain Hills strives to support neighborhoods and development that is environmentally friendly and improves the quality of life for residents and visitors. Home sizes are as diverse as its community, with homes from 1600 square feet to 10,000 square feet. With several of the neighborhoods being gated, families are sure to find the perfect neighborhood to meet their specific needs and wants.
Part of what makes Fountain Hills so sought-after is its awe-inspiring views and higher elevation. From sunrises to sunsets and at every point in town, it’s understandable why so many weddings happen in this special community.
Housing options include the 950-acre Sun Ridge Canyon and 500-acre Community of Eagle Mountain. Both master-planned communities feature scenic golf courses and recreational facilities and a selection of custom homes. Also newly completed are the Firerock Country Club and the CopperWynd Tennis and Health resort, both offering single-family homes, condos and custom homes. The new community center features convention, banquet and wedding reception facilities. Other neighborhoods include North Heights, CrestView Estates, WestRidge Estates, StoneRidge Estates, EagleRidge and Eagles Nest.
The option for an active lifestyle is certainly available here. The McDowell Mountain Regional Park, one of the largest parks in the Maricopa Parks system, offers excellent hiking, sightseeing and camping. The park is adjacent to Fountain Hills’ northern border.
Bordered by the McDowell Mountains on the west, the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation on the east and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to the south, Fountain Hills will likely remain at its present size of 11,340 acres.
Paradise ValleyPopulation: 14,558 School District: Paradise Valley Unified School District No. 69 Town of Paradise Valley: 480-948-7411, www.ci.paradise-valley.az.us
There are actually two Paradise Valleys: one is the more secluded Town of Paradise Valley comprised of upscale homes nestled in against the sides of the Sonoran Desert hills or hidden behind oleander-covered estate walls, while the other is Greater Paradise Valley, a larger, more diverse community that includes businesses and the Paradise Valley Mall at its center.
The Town of Paradise Valley is located just north of the landmark Camelback Mountain and is almost entirely residential. Among its amenities are the Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, and the Marriott Mountain Shadows Resort, as well as the Doubletree La Posada Resort. There are also exclusive shops and restaurants located near the town’s border with Scottsdale. The neighborhood is the home of a number of celebrities, including baseball’s Joe Garagiola and rocker Alice Cooper.
The neighborhood of Greater Paradise Valley is located within Phoenix city limits, but is considered its own village. Around the edges of Paradise Valley Mall are retail shops, apartments, condos and healthcare facilities as well as Paradise Valley Hospital. Outside of this area are townhomes, single-family homes, small estates with horse privileges and a few golf courses. The area is known for its excellent housing and schools. | Continued on page 86
A new master planned community called Desert Ridge is under development in the northern area of Greater Paradise Valley. At more than 5,700 acres, it includes residential housing, an 800-room resort, two 18-hole golf courses and a 1,000-acre commerce park.
Residents here find it is easy to get around via the Pima Freeway from I-17 and the Piestiwaw Parkway that has been extended to the Pima Freeway to give better accessibility to Sky Harbor Airport and downtown Phoenix.
ScottsdalePopulation: 245,500 School District: Scottsdale Unified School District No. 48 City of Scottsdale: 480-312-3111, www.scottsdaleaz.gov
Since its founding in 1888 by United States Army Chaplain Winfield Scott, Scottsdale has grown from a collection of cattle ranches and citrus farms into a cosmopolitan community of young professionals, families and retirees. The city’s resort lifestyle extends far beyond the grounds of its expansive hotels. Many housing developments feature golf courses and recreational complexes, with shopping and other amenities just a bike ride away.
Although the days of cattle ranching in the area are long past, the names of vast multi-development neighborhoods, such as McCormick Ranch and Gainey Ranch, still pay homage to the area’s early days. These neighborhoods are often a mix of residential homes that include single-family homes, condominiums, patio homes and town homes. More than 40 percent of Scottsdale’s residents fall into the over 40-year age bracket, which has helped build a growing medical community that includes the western campus of the Mayo Clinic.
For a city in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in Maricopa County, Scottsdale is remarkably green, with nationally acclaimed golf courses and Indian Bend Wash, the centerpiece of Scottsdale’s extensive recreational amenities. This miles-long ribbon of greenbelt, which extends down the middle of the vertically drawn city, is bordered by several parks that feature bike paths, small fishing lakes and recreation complexes.
All Visitors Welcomed!
With zoning ordinances in place to protect the city’s “destination” atmosphere, commercial buildings in downtown Scottsdale were once restricted in height to four stories. This caused the city to expand outward, and increased its territory from one square mile in 1951 to 185 miles today. Because the city is bordered by Phoenix to the west, Tempe to the south and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to the east, new commercial and residential construction has expanded toward Scottsdale’s northern city limits.
The hospitality business is big here, with more than 70 hotels and award-winning luxury resorts ready to host leisure travelers and convention-goers year round. To cater to visitors and satisfy the desires of its resident, much of the city’s development is retail oriented. Central Scottsdale streets are lined with clothing boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and retail stores, many of which have been in business in the same location for decades. Just north of Fifth Avenue and Old Town Scottsdale is the modern shopping Mecca of Scottsdale Fashion Square, featuring three levels of locally owned and national chain stores.
Interest in culture and the arts is especially strong in Scottsdale. The Scottsdale Center for the Arts hosts an eclectic mix of intimate classical and modern concerts, as well as other live performances.
Northwest Valley – Maricopa County
GlendalePopulation: 246,531 School District: Glendale Elementary District #40 and Glendale Union High School District #205 City of Glendale: 623-930-2000, www.glendaleaz.com
Glendale is Arizona’s third largest city and the financial hub of the growing Northwest Valley. A friendly city with a reputation for maintaining its small town charm and character, Glendale is an important player in the area’s future.
The vibrant community located within Maricopa County embraces an active, outdoor lifestyle, complete with scenic mountain views, desert vistas and wide-open spaces. Glendale’s outdoor recreational offer 56 parks with 1,682 acres, including Thunderbird Regional Mountain Peak.
Glendale features master planned communities, luxury executive homes, older residences in quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods and affordable starter homes. Apartments, townhomes and condos are available as well.
Shopping, Shopping and more Shopping
Old Towne Glendale and Historic Catlin Court Shops District are home to more than 90 antique stores, specialty shops and eateries. Recent additions include the Bead Museum and the American Museum of Nursing. Gaslit street lamps, brick walkways, tree-lined streets and quaint specialty shops add charm to downtown’s atmosphere. With the largest concentration of antique shops in a walkable area, Glendale has earned the reputation of Antique Capital of Arizona and has been rated one of the top ten antique destinations by USA Today.
The Westgate City Center, features 6.5 million square feet of offices, theater, shops, restaurants and residential units. It is anchored by the multi-purpose sports and entertainment center, Jobing.com Arena, which serves as the home to the Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey team and the Arizona Lacrosse teams. The University of Phoenix Stadium is home to the Arizona Cardinals and popular annual college football Fiesta Bowls. Arrowhead Towne Center, a 1.3-million-square-foot super regional mall, anchors this retail corridor that has more than 700 businesses and provides entertainment, shopping and dining venues.
Arrowhead Community Hospital and Medical Center and Banner Thunderbird Medical Facility are state-of-the-art medical treatment centers that serve the Glendale community. Glendale is home to four institutes of higher learning, Thunderbird, American Graduate School of International Management, Midwestern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
PeoriaPopulation: 142,024 School District: Peoria Unified School District No. 11 City of Peoria: 623-773-7000, www.peoriaaz.gov
Peoria spans more than 162 square miles within Maricopa County, and has on of the best school districts in the state. In addition, Peoria offers affordable housing and close proximity to downtown Phoenix. Peoria’s medical services and health care facilities are among the most comprehensive in the Valley. Furthermore, the Arrowhead Towne Center and the North Valley Power Center offer excellent variety of department stores, specialty shops and restaurants.
The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres train each spring at the Peoria Sports Complex. Many beautiful hotels and numerous restaurants adjoin the Sports Complex. Peoria is home to Lake Pleasant, a 24,000-acre water wonderland surrounded by desert flora and fauna, with hiking trails, campgrounds, a lake overlook and boat ramps.
Sun City & Sun City WestPopulation: Sun City – 39,000; Sun City West – 26,344 Surprise Regional Chamber: 623-583-0692, www.surpriseregionalchamber.com
A midday traffic jam in Sun City is like a traffic jam nowhere else. First, the jam will consist of no more than five vehicles. Secondly, the participants probably know each other by first name. And finally, they’re likely to involve street-legal golf carts.
Stress-free “traffic jams” are part of the daily routine in this model retirement community by Del Webb that began in 1960. Webb picked an 8,900-acre plot in the Sonoran Desert that was just a half-hour drive from downtown Phoenix. Sun City has now grown to more than 46,000 residents. In 1978, Webb selected a site just four miles away and broke ground on Sun City West. Sun City West features homes that are just a little more upscale than the original Sun City and is slightly less crowded. To ensure its residents that the communities maintain their positions as haven for retirees, no one under 18 years of age are allowed to live in the Sun Cities for more than 90 days.
Many activities are available to Sun City and Sun City West residents, including boating, fishing, and of course golfing. Eleven area golf courses in the two communities make this a golfer’s paradise, while the activity centers offer a wide variety of clubs and activities.
SurprisePopulation: 109,672 School District: Dysart Unified School District No. 89 City of Surprise: 623-222-1000, www.surpriseaz.com
Founded in 1929, Surprise has transformed itself from the sleepy little farming community in Maricopa County into a growing city that has drawn the notice of Money magazine. Recently, Surprise was at the top of its national job growth list.
One reason for this growth is Sun City Grand, a Del Webb active adult community that has called for about 10,000 homes. A full slate of recreational facilities, including four golf courses, a fitness center, a day spa and the Rio Salado Community College Sun Cities Livelong Learning Center is also available to Sun City Grande residents.
Surprise is also experiencing growth in the business, retail and service sectors, and has annexed land north of the White Tank Mountains to link with up the city of Buckeye. It is also located within Surprise. Future economic growth is expected with the development of the Surprise Medical Center, which will include a medical campus, emergency medical facilities and medical office buildings. Surprise Point is a 290-acre complex of restaurants, shops, industrial warehouses and office space that is currently under development that will bring an estimated 6,000 additional jobs to the area.
Southeast Valley – Maricopa County
ChandlerPopulation: 246,399 School District: Chandler Unified School District No. 80 – Kyrene School District – Gilbert School District City of Chandler: 480-782-2220, www.chandleraz.gov
P.T. Barnum may have been a more well-known master of marketing, but he had nothing on A.J. Chandler. As the Arizona Territory’s first veterinary surgeon in 1887, Chandler parlayed the profits from his practice into a landholding known as the Chandler Ranch. In 1911, he divided the land into agricultural plots and advertised them for sale.
Knowing that wherever celebrities went, others were sure to follow, Chandler built the San Marcos Hotel. This lavish golf course resort became a popular getaway for such early stars as Errol Flynn, Gloria Swanson, Fred Astaire, Al Capone and Herbert Hoover.
Together, agriculture and tourism built Chandler into a thriving community. While both remain important contributors to its economic base, the open land that once drew farmers and ranchers is now a magnet for high-tech manufacturing companies, including Intel Corp, Motorola and Microchip Technology. The arrival of these companies fueled phenomenal population growth.
In 1980, Chandler had close to 30,000 residents and then skyrocketed to more than 235,500 by mid-2006. Many who move to Chandler count affordable housing and its small town appeal among the main reasons to move here. Because much of the city’s infrastructure was built to accommodate its recent population explosion, there is a sense of renewal in the air, culminating in the city’s cultural crowning glory: the Chandler Center for the Arts.
Every March the annual Ostrich Festival is celebrated as part of Chandler’s heritage. This annual event is one of the largest festivals west of the Mississippi and features live ostrich races, hundreds of great exhibits, big name entertainment, and a downtown parade.
Corporate sponsorship is also part of the community here, demonstrating the commitment of business to improving the lifestyle here. Shea Homes recently demonstrated its commitment to the school children of Chandler by partnering with the Chandler Public Libraries to roll out the Shea Homes Read Around the Home reading program in 2008, which was developed to encourage children to read. One of Shea Homes’ key initiatives has been their “Read to Your Child 15 Minutes a Day” program that encourages parents to read to their young children. This fall reading program encourages older children to continue reading as well.
GilbertPopulation: 217,521 School District: Gilbert Unified School District No. 41 and Higley Unified School District Town of Gilbert: 480-503-6871, www.gilbertaz.gov
Gilbert is one of the fastest growing communities in the nation. The town has met the many challenges of preserving the small-town atmosphere while promoting high-tech industry and progressive planning for the future. Gilbert is proud of a lifestyle that focuses on raising a family, quality education, leisure activities, and a booming business community.
The town has successfully woven its agricultural heritage into a diverse economic tapestry that includes strong retail and manufacturing sectors. Insulated from the frantic pace of Phoenix, life in Gilbert offers many advantages. A village concept of planned communities includes parks, equestrian trails, fishing, boating and local business services are all within walking distance
Gilbert Days are a celebration of the town’s roots in the Old West. Events include, a parade through downtown, the Gilbert Days 5-K Run, a 1-mile Fun Run, and the IPRA Rodeo and carnival at Rodeo Park are just some of the activities featured.
MesaPopulation: 463,552 School District: Mesa Unified District No. 4 City of Mesa: 480-644-2011, www.mesaaz.gov
Mesa’s growth has been fueled by the “Three A’s”: affordability, amenities and the annual migration of “snow birds,” the winter weary retirees from the Midwest who flock to Mesa’ sundrenched RV and mobile home parks. In the 1980’s, Mesa’s population grew by an incredible 89%, making it the third largest city in Arizona. By the year 2020, it is estimated that more than 530,000 will call Mesa home.
Mesa’s shopping, recreational, educational and cultural amenities are some of the most extensive in the Valley. More than 20 golf courses and 47 city parks are within Mesa’s expansive 122-square-mile city limits. The symphony orchestra, several cultural and historical museums and theater troupes for children and adults add to the arts scene here.
An excellent school system, a varied economic base and an active city government add to the welcoming atmosphere. Mesa is an excellent place to raise a family.
Queen CreekPopulation: 26,098 School District: Queen Creek Unified School District No. 95 Town of Queen Creek: 480-358-3000, www.queencreek.org
Queen Creek is one of the best-kept secrets in Arizona. Located in the southeast corner of Maricopa County, this small town oasis is within 10 minutes of Williams Gateway Airport and 40 minutes of Sky Harbor International Airport. Coupled with exceptional climate, natural recreational areas and rural lifestyle, Queen Creek is perfect for those who want to relocate to a small town.
Superstition Mountain trails and nearby golf courses satisfy the outdoor enthusiasts. The Town Hall, Founders’ Park Community Center and local schools offer ball fields and sports courts. The Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Queen Creek High School, offers plays, concerts, comedy shows, art exhibits and other cultural experiences for the community. The Queen Creek Unified School District #95 serves the largest portion of the students in the area.
TempePopulation: 175,523 School District: Tempe Elementary District No. 3; Kyrene Elementary District No. 28; Tempe Union High School District No. 213 City of Tempe: 480-967-2001, www.tempe.gov
Tempe offers a quality of life unparalleled to any place in the country. It is Arizona’s sixth largest city and has blended the dynamics of a high-tech business center, warmth and comfort of a residential neighborhood and the dynamic atmosphere of a college community.
Tempe is ideally located in central Maricopa County adjoining the cities of Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler and Phoenix. Tempe’s strategic location is a key. Businesses and residents have convenient access to all areas of the Valley of the Sun. Direct access to I-10, State Route 60, and the new 101 and 102 freeways put Tempe within 15 minutes of Sky Harbor International Airport. Tempe commuters find it is less than a 20-minute commute to work in downtown Phoenix.
Home to the Sun Devils
Tempe is home to Arizona State University. ASU, established in 1885. The university is one of the premier research universities in the nation. In addition to watching the action provided by the Arizona State University Sun Devils, sports fans can also watch the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as they train during the spring in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Downtown Tempe is a cultural center and is pedestrian-oriented with paths to the ASU. As the city’s principal business district, it is also considered a premier entertainment center featuring restaurants, shopping, movie theaters, hotels, corporate office and condos. Annual events include fireworks over the Mill Avenue Bridge, 5K runs, October Fest, the Ironman Triathlon and the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. The Spring and Fall Festival draws nearly 250,000 people during its three-day run.
Many housing developments are centered around Tempe’s extensive network of parks, which is anchored by Kiwanis Park. This 125-acre recreational spot includes softball and soccer fields, volleyball and tennis courts, playground and picnic ramadas, a 12-acre stocked lake with paddleboats and a recreation center with an indoor, heated wave and swimming pool.
Southwest Valley – Maricopa County
BuckeyePopulation: 52,764 School District: Buckeye Elementary School District No. 33; Buckeye Union High School District No. 201 Town of Buckeye: 623-349-6000, www.buckeyaz.gov
Named for the home state of one of its early settlers, Buckeye is proud to be one of the most rural communities in Phoenix. Residents appreciate the hometown charm. Buckeye children are actively involved in Pop Warner football, soccer, Little League Baseball, the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H clubs. As a matter of fact, those who grew up in Buckeye later return to raise their own families.
Buckeye is the third fastest growing community in Maricopa County. With the number of proposed master planned communities and industrial developments underway, the population of Buckeye is expected to explode.
Avondale,Goodyear, Litchfield Park, and TollesonPopulation: Avondale: 81,299 Goodyear: 52,864 Litchfield Park: 5,514 Tolleson: 6,812 School District: Avondale Elementary School District No. 44; Agua Fria Union High School District No. 216; Westview High School Tolleson Union High School District 214 City Information: Avondale: 623-333-1000, www.ci,avondale.az.us Goodyear: 623-932-2260, www.ci.goodyear.az.us Litchfield Park: 623-935-5033, www.litchfield-park.org Tolleson: 623-936-7117, www.tollesonaz.org
Located in one of the fastest growing areas in the Valley, the cities of Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson have undergone some major changes in recent years.
The education community offers excellent opportunities. Estrella Mountain Community college, the Southwest Valley Skill Center, and the Universal Technical Institute offer academic and vocational training. The soon to be constructed Valley Center for the Arts will expand the communities’ cultural opportunities.
Recreation is a big part of the Southwest Valley’s package. County parks offer hiking, biking and equestrian trails, picnic areas and other outdoor activities. Phoenix International Raceway draws thousands to its NASCAR events and Wildlife World Zoo has the largest collection of exotic animals in the state. A variety of golf courses ranging from public courses to championship play, allow golfers of every skill level tp emjoy the links.
Although each city has its own personality, Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson have each been a strong contributor to making life in the Southwest Valley what it is today.