Moving to Tempe

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving to Tempe, looking for places like SF

April 2008

I will be moving to Tempe AZ and midwifing in Phoenix for the next few months. Can anyone recommend neighborhoods, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, music scenes there that may be anything at all like the SFBA? Are there artsy, college town type of areas? I have never been to Phoenix before and am not sure what to expect except for hot weather, dust, and McCain supporters! Thanks! anonymous

in short it's nothing like the bay area. But a great place to start to find a liberal community is Gentle Strength natural foods co-op, in Tempe. Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe is an excellent independent bookstore. ASU is huge and while there is an artsy contigency, I think Tempe tends more to reflect the dedicated sports and drinking fans from ASU. However they have a good museum on campus and many performances, and downtown Phx. has the native american Heard museum, Phoenix art museum, and is generally being revitalized. If you can do short trips to get somewhat out of the heat northern AZ is about 80-90 degrees in the summer as I recall (and cooler at night)- I'd visit Prescott, Flagstaff, Jerome, Sedona (but avoid summer weekend traffic in Sedona.) Things are far spread out so you will need a car, but when it's not as hot it is also great for getting around by bicycle because it is so flat you can ride many miles easily. chris

Moving to Tempe

Nov 2003

We are considering moving to Tempe, Arizona and have absolutely no idea how to begin researching where to live, what school districts are good, etc. Coming from Berkeley, where I am surrounded by diversity and culture, this process scares me to death! Any recommendations about neighborhoods, schools etc. would be greatly appreciated. This is going to sound silly, but...are there neigborhoods with trees and not just desert? Help! anon

Hi I grew up in Tempe and you're right it is not nearly as diverse as Berkeley. Are you so set on Tempe? There are some older homes around the university, as well as some historic areas in central Phoenix. They have just re-done the Mill Ave. area right near ASU with the intent of making a neighborhood with lofts, a lake you can walk to and various shops. Though I'm not sure how sucessful it was. The schools have gotten better I hear, my parents sent me to an all girls school in Phoenix which I actually liked. For very small children there is a great program at ASU from toddler age to pre-kindergarten. Both of my brothers went there. you can check out for school profiles.

Tucson and Flagstaff night also be a bit closer to what you are looking for in a community.

There would definitely be trade-offs to living there, but you can find areas where it is not completely deviod of culture. But it will never be the Bay Area. Definitely go for a few visits, if you can, before you decide. Good luck I hope I'm not being too negative. J

I lived in the Phoenix area from 93-97. I was not a parent and not married at the time, so my perspective is somewhat slanted, but I think I can help a little.

I lived in the Ahwatukee/Foothills area which is just south of South Mt. and right over the freeway from Tempe. If you are looking for a family-oriented, safe community with great schools, this area is terrific. It is a bit pricier than Tempe or Chandler and you generally get less sq footage, and you will not find much diversity there, but the Kyrene school district (which spills over into Tempe as well) is one of the best around. Regarding neighborhoods with trees, you can find that a little bit in some of the downtown areas like the old Encanto district which has charming ''older''(older for Phx is 40's and 50's) homes, but the school districts are terrible and safety is not the best.

Mostly in Tempe area you are going to find tract housing built from the 70's to the 90's and if you go a little south to Chandler they are still building like crazy and you might be able to find a brand new master planned community with manmade lakes, tot lots, etc.

As far as diveristy, there isn't much except for a thriving hispanic community. Other people of color are not heavily represented anywhere which I found a bit disconcerting. It is pretty white and politically conservative.

I found Mill Ave in Tempe to be the closest thing to Berkeley/Bay area that I could find in the metro area. It has some funky shops and local eateries and lots of ASU kids hang out there, but that was about all I found that had the Bay area flavor. The rest is mostly strip malls and big box mass merchant retailers.

A few months back there was a big article in the sunday SF Chronicle Real Estate section about folks who cashed out and moved to AZ. You should hunt it down and also be sure to read the editorials that came a few weeks later from people that were all for the move and some who were vehemently opposed.

With all of that said, pls know that my husband and I are strongly considering moving back there. We LOVE the bay area and have biracial children, so we want to carefully choose where we live. We are just so tired of living in a tiny house and struggling every month on one income. We could ''cash out'', triple our sq footage, send our kids to excellent public schools and maybe work at something we love rather than a high paying job that barely pays our mortgage. Plus, it helps that we like the heat!

Hope that helps...good luck. Bay area lover but probably desert bound