"Let's pack up and catch us a slow train, and go back to Phoenix to a far brighter day. Where stars were for shining in the Arizona sky, and music meant more than fortune or fame." -- From "Hey Willie" by Waylon Jenningsplant
Life in Arizona

Arizona, a skyline painted with red sands upon mountaintops and cacti budding with sets of lovely desert rose. Rambling dust storms and creatures so vile a can of Raid will never do. It's where folks go to get lost in the Wild West without traveling all the way to California. It's different here than any other place in the world. It's a spaghetti Western film met with flashy cowboy hats and snake-skin boots. It's incredibly hot, but it is not humid. Winter doesn't truly exist for most, and at night, it's dark and quiet, and peaceful once you hear a coyote or two.

Getting Here and Getting Settled

Arizona steadily diversified its resident base. More people are moving here than ever before, including transplants from the Midwest, sick of the harsh winters. Arizona is to Chicagoans what Florida is to New Yorkers. Some folks grew up here but you'll be hard-pressed to find them.

Prepare for the heat, pack your finest tank tops and bring a reliable car. You'll need a mode of transport to get around; public options are present, but not as reliable and often take a great amount of time out of an otherwise productive day. Stores, restaurants, and look alike mini-malls are everyplace and it's easy to get lost. Try and find an out of place faade and keep it in mind to remind you where things are located. Stucco is ever-present in burnt orange and taupe and most homes and apartments look the same on the exterior. This saves you the time of nit picking over those minute details.

In terms of rental properties, apartment complexes are abundant and often recently built. It will take your finest pay stub, proof of income, references of landlords past or a handy co-signer to get set up in a unit. A simple John Hancock, and you're ready to move in. Make certain you check out the unit beforehand and mark things that aren't up to par so that security deposit put down returns unharmed. Also, make certain the complex offers critter maintenance, as the mountains are home to the bark scorpion, small in stature with a mighty sting. Professionals are able to send the pests packing and should be part of routine maintenance.

Finding solace in the state is simple; a few locations to include on your list of would-be places to call home include Sedona, Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Sedona: Fired Up Landscapes

Sedona, famous for the red sandstone, blazing fire-colored mountainsides, hiking trails, and an allure that tempts even those fond of the big city into staying for a spell. There's no denying Sedona's natural beauty. Outdoor activity is present at every outpost and word on the street is that you can even snag a taste of rattlesnake at local eateries and saloons. The seasons actually change here, unlike other cities in the state; this town sees a more intense winter. While not nearly as cold as northern terrain, it's nice to feel a cool breeze after the summer heat waves release their grip.

Living in Sedona can seem surreal, but locals are treated to the most unique and true west culture when they reside here. Tourist traps are present, but residents steer clear and head to watering holes like the Sundowner for a game of horseshoes and pub grub while fraternizing with like-minded regulars. While out-of-towners seek their inner Zen persona, new inhabitants will gain inner peace by simply looking out from their verandas on the incredible vistas in their own backyards.

Seeking rent to own homes will empty your wallet a bit more than settling on an apartment complex in town. Luxury apartments, spacious with typical amenities, are about half the price of renting a single-family home. Homeowners tend to rent their spaces to tourists and can often get a pretty penny.

Luxury apartment rentals can be found within the Sedona Sunrise complex, where the layouts are spacious and the grounds kept pristine, with basketball courts, a pool, and all other necessities that make apartment living so grand.

Phoenix: Sprawling Sophistication

World-class big city so expansive you can drive for an hour and still be within the city limits. A city littered with chain stores and major brands, local and independent establishments still thrive. Businesses like Stinkweeds Records, McAlpine's Soda Shop and Cartel Coffee Lab give big box competitors a run for their money.

The scenery is dusty and majestic. Camelback Mountain can be seen from any point in the city and is a great jaunt for the novice or advanced hike enthusiast. The arts and local music scene are thriving as well and, if at first you feel lost, talk to the locals and they'll set you up with something that suits you--they're friendly and willing to lend a hand to a newbie in need.

Apartments in Phoenix are plentiful and range in price and size accordingly. Downtown is quite affordable and nearest Scottsdale, you'll begin to feel a pinch on your pocketbook. For a rather amazing apartment that breaks the mold, look to Apartments in the Green, which have managed to offer vintage-inspired layouts that look nothing like the stucco madness of complexes down the road. The grounds house small gardens, fountains and lush green plants that are a sight for sore, sand blown eyes. The layouts are large and all utilities paid, making this a great place to call home.

Phoenix also has a fairly decent public transportation, with bus lines and a downtown train that runs through area hotspots quickly.

Tucson: Blissful Culture Haven

Tucson is a town steeped in the arts. Music performed nightly at the Rialto and Fox Theatres, art walks monthly, and local troupes of thespians ready to entertain with a moment's notice. Tucson is the hip older sibling of Phoenix and attracts a wide range of folks who move there to experience the laid-back vibe and habitual natural element.

Living in Tucson is a blast and single-family homes and 2 bedroom apartments are up for rent--both can be found on a splurge or a budget. The Catalina Foothills neighborhood is home to Pinnacle Heights, an apartment complex that offers picturesque views of the mountains, updated in-unit appliances and one to three bedroom floor plans. Residents tout the amazing management and maintenance teams for their continued efforts and enjoy a large pool and spa for those days where the heat is unbearable.

The neighborhoods are best traversed by car or on foot. Since many things are spread cross-town, its best to make use of the highway or grid-like street system in a personal vehicle, of if you make kind friends, in the carpool lane. There is no thriving public transportation system in place to ease the commutes of Tucson residents just yet.

Best Practices For Desert Living

It's hot and when they say that it's not humid, it still means that average summertime temperatures are often over 105 degrees. Sometimes, the only thing one can do is purchase an amazing sunscreen and get into the pool, or travel to an air-conditioned place of business and spend the day accordingly--museums, movies--those make or break the summer months.

New critters and wildlife are plentiful. Don't be fooled, scorpions and rattlesnakes do exist here in the desert. As do javelina, wild boar often seen prancing around desert landscapes startling the bejesus out of unsuspecting joggers. Invest in some bug spray and know to stay far from the hiking trails if you scare easily.

AZ Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter’s satisfaction with their cities and states

Here’s how AZ ranks on:

Overall satisfaction
Safety and crime rate
Jobs and career opportunities
Recreational activities
Quality of schools
Social Life
Commute time
State and local taxes
Public transit

Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released Arizona’s results from the third annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. This survey, which drew on responses from over 45,000 renters, provides insight on what states and cities must do to meet the needs of 111 million American renters nationwide.

"Arizona renters expressed general satisfaction with the state overall," according to Apartment List. "They gave most categories average scores."

Key findings in Arizona include the following:

  • Arizona renters gave their state a B overall.
  • The highest-rated categories for Arizona were weather, which received an A- grade, and pet-friendliness, which received a B+.
  • The areas of concern to Arizona renters are quality of local schools (D) and commute time (D).
  • Millennial renters are unsatisfied with their state, giving it an overall rating of C, while renters who are parents are more satisfied, giving it a B+.
  • Arizona earned higher scores than neighboring Nevada (C) and New Mexico (D), but earned lower scores than California (A-) and Utah (A-).
  • Arizona earned similar scores to other states nationwide, including Georgia (B), Maine (B) and Pennsylvania (B).
  • The top rated states nationwide for renter satisfaction include Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota. The lowest rated states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.