A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Commonly referred to as a bedroom community, residents may work in other nearby cities, but in Mesa they live amongst beautiful scenery, a low cost of living, sun-filled days, and impressive entertainment venues. It’s no wonder that Mesa attracts young families, retirees, professionals, and those simply seeking quality of life without the hefty West Coast price tag. Rentals, retail, and restaurants are abundant in a variety of neighborhoods.
The sun (and new housing) rises in the east.
The east side of Mesa is the heart of newly developed real estate, including rental properties with amenities that make it seem more like a vacation spot than anything else. Swimming pools, clubhouses, golf courses and tennis courts are the norm here. Housing in East Mesa is filled with luxuries and modern conveniences that are surprisingly affordable.
The wicked good itch of the west.
If you like older, established neighborhoods, West Mesa will be calling out to you. While over-manicured lawns and homogenous master planned communities are not typical, the community is proud of its history, large shade trees, and historic homes. For a renter, this area offers a good value and proximity to downtown, shopping, recreational facilities and outdoor parks. Single-family homes, duplexes, and multi-unit housing are found in the eclectic neighborhoods west of the city.
Downtown culture, low cost and clean.
Downtown living areas are usually sought after or avoided. Rarely does a city center offer affordable housing and cultural attractions with such accessibility. The Mesa Arts Center provides theater, dance, comedy, and musical performances in a modern entertainment complex. The local residents are tame and living downtown will offer convenience and entertainment without big-city noise and traffic. Expect apartments to be reasonably priced in this part of the city.
Many of the neighborhoods bordering downtown Mesa are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The areas of West Second Street, Robson, and Glenwood Wilbur consist mostly of single-family homes that have been lovingly restored. Although rental properties are fewer here, they do exist, offering affordable rents within some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city.
Free Rent and Suite Deals
It’s a renter’s market. What makes Mesa such an affordable place to live? Most importantly for you, the rental market is competitive. This means that most apartment complexes are competing with the guys down the street, offering incentives to get you moved in. The “first month is free” deal is always advantageous, and it’s common in Mesa. If a property isn’t offering a deal (some will even waive a security deposit with a one year lease) don’t be afraid to mention that their competitor is—you have the edge here so you might as well use it.
Utilities included, but pay at the pump. Mesa is desert terrain with a temperate culture. The climate, however, is something to get used to. Summers are hot with average temperatures reaching 100 degrees. Fortunately, most apartments come with air conditioning and the utility bill is footed by the property owners. Nevertheless, Mesa is more of a car city than a pedestrian one so be prepared if cranking the AC when driving around town—this may cut your fuel economy by as much as 20 percent in the hot summer months. The trade off? Winter temps hover around a pleasant 70 degrees and you’re still swimming in your backyard pool.
Park for free. Let’s face it, parking in some cities is a nightmare; it’s costly, limited, and you’ve got to put a sign up advertising that you don’t have a stereo system. Save the signage for another place, this is Mesa. Even better, when renting, parking your car is part of the deal. That’s right, a parking space comes with the place. But keep in mind that if you don’t have a garage space, a dashboard sun shade will be a good idea. As for the rest of the city, there are a few metered spots downtown but free lots and spaces reign supreme.
Deals shrink at the border. While great deals are to be had in Mesa, be advised that nearby Tempe is home to Arizona State University. Rental properties on the Mesa-Tempe border may be slightly higher due to the proximity to campus. The bottom line, expect to pay more and get less in the way of amenities.
Transportation In and Out of Town
The wheels on the bus run early and late. Mesa is a large city with nearly half a million residents, but getting around town is fairly straightforward. Main Street will take you north and south, Center Street runs east and west. The bus system is known to be slightly erratic when keeping schedule, but at least Mesa, AZ buses are known to be clean and well-run.
Light and easy. The light rail within Mesa offers another solution to getting around and out of town. The city project is well underway (with plans for expansion) and passengers take advantage of the convenient mode of transportation within the city limits. The rail system also makes for a quick trip into Phoenix and Tempe; neighboring cities where many work, attend ASU, go to sporting events, shop, and dine.
The carpool community. ShareTheRide is the Metro Valley’s well-developed carpooling system that allows commuters to quickly and easily find a commuting partner. The system finds matches based on destination of travel, schedules, and personal preferences.
Finding Gold in Mesa
Superstition Mountains aren’t just for hiking and taking in breathtaking views; rumor has it there’s gold here. For years, people from all over the world have been searching for treasure in this East Valley Mountain region. For those who prefer water to trails, the Salt River flows at the base of the rugged mountains. Fishing, tubing, canoeing, and kayaking are popular activities in this beautiful area.
A mine of gold in the mountains may be folklore but this much is true: with so many affordable living options, museums, recreation, and the proximity to major cities, Mesa is a golden opportunity for any apartment hunter. Even without riches from your treasure-hunting hike, you’ll feel lucky to live here.
-By Kera Zacuto
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