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Nice Areas vs. Not as Nice Areas
One of the most unique aspects of the Valley is that almost every single city and community has nice areas and areas that are not as nice or should be avoided. It is not possible to come up with a list of nice areas, or areas to avoid, as I have been asked many times. Unlike other major cities, neighborhoods change very rapidly here. You can be in a very nice upscale neighborhood, travel a few blocks in a particular direction, and find it run down or seedy. There are certainly some areas where you can be certain that you'll have wealthy neighbors--but I can't guarantee they will be pleasant! So if you have a million dollars or more to spend on a home, Paradise Valley (between Phoenix and Scottsdale) or the Biltmore Estates (central Phoenix) or basically anywhere on a mountain or in the foothills of the mountain will be where you'll be looking. But if you had a million dollars to spend on a home, you probably wouldn't be asking me for advice! Back to the point of this paragraph: it is very difficult to judge a neighborhood without seeing it. Even Scottsdale, known as a playground for the rich and famous, has areas that are not as pleasant as others.
Here are some generalizations:
- If you can, avoid the downtown or city center of every city in the metro Phoenix area. This should not be a surprise. Unless you enjoy downtown urban living, you'll find that the suburbs are where people want to live. That's where there are restaurants and malls and movies and backyards and barbecues, etc.
- Avoid living near the main campus of Arizona State University, unless you are an undergrad. Again, if you think about it, this makes sense. No one owns, everyone rents, everyone is very young and transient. Properties may not be cared for.
- If the rent/cost of the home seems too good to be true, it is. There are no bargains here. You will not find an apartment for rent for $350/month. You will not find a home in a nice area for $70,000. Rental charges and home prices are certainly cheaper than some cities, like San Francisco or New York, but they are pretty much on the national average.
- This one is also common sense, but avoid living on a major street or a highway if you can. The farther you get from traffic, the less noise and aggravation you'll have, and the less likely you'll have strangers driving around your neighborhood.
- When selecting a neighborhood, go there during the day, and then visit at night. Look at who your neighbors will be, and the types of cars on the streets and in the driveways. Look at the neighborhood businesses. Are they pawn shops, coin operated laundries, payday loan places, thrift stores and day-labor offices? Are there strip clubs or bars? These are legitimate businesses, but having those in the neighborhood will give you clues with respect to the economics of the area.
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