Before packing up your sun tan lotion and heading down to the Grand Canyon State, there are a few things you should know about life in Tempe:
No shortage of nightlife. The city has plenty to offer in the way of after-hours fun. Whether you prefer the elbow-to-elbow night club scene, live music venues featuring local acts and quasi-renowned indie rockers, or froth-friendly sports bars, you’ll find plenty of options in Tempe. There’s no shortage of theater productions or art festivals, either.
Not just fun and games. There is plenty to do before the sun goes down. Tempe is home to some of the Valley’s most scenic and walker/cyclist-friendly parks, and strolling the Mill Avenue corridor, with its plethora of street performers, is an entertaining endeavor any time of day.
The good, the bad, and the ugly: Public transit, parking, and traffic. Tempe lays claim to the Valley’s best public transportation system, although it’s a bit pricier than some commuters might be used to. One-way rides currently cost $1.75, while an all-day pass goes for $5.25 and monthly fares are available for $55. Public transit also conveniently connects Tempe to its mother city, Phoenix.
Parking, meanwhile, can be a bit of a hassle in the downtown area, although plenty of off-street garages offer complimentary one-hour parking. Downtown apartment dwellers with vehicles are well-advised to make sure their landlords provide tenant parking. Otherwise, get ready to feed the meter around the clock or watch those pretty pink parking tickets pile up.
Hot, hot, hot. Temperatures routinely climb above 105 degrees, sending all but the boldest Tempians scurrying for the cool comforts of the air-conditioned indoors. It means that if you find a landlord willing to pick up your utilities tab, don’t hesitate to seal the deal.
Now that you have a basic idea of what life in Tempe is like, it’s time for the fun part: finding you the perfect pad. Here are some obvious (and not so obvious) pointers you may want to consider before signing that dotted line.
Location is key. Much of Tempe is densely populated, but other neighborhoods (in the eastern and western sectors, mostly) are simply sprawling. Choose your location carefully, or you might find yourself severed from the thick of things.
Scout it out. The apartment buildings, lofts, and high-rises in Tempe range from archaic clunkers to modern, state-of-the-art luxury units. Often times, you will find these buildings in close proximity, so pay close attention to just what kind of bang you’re really getting for your buck.
Shop around (sort of). Tempe is a renter-friendly community, with nearly half the population opting to lease rather than buy, and renters rarely find themselves on those pesky waiting lists. Apartment seekers who wait around too long before signing a lease may be left out in the cold (heat is more like it!) and be forced to abandon their first choice of dwellings for a second-rate unit. Word to the wise renter: Be on the lookout for move-in specials that often pop up during non-peak times of the year (October through May).
Never fear, newbie. Many Tempe tenants are first-timers, just be sure to bring along a respectable co-signer and be ready to present proof of income (if available), identification, and banking info when you turn in your leasing application.
If you want to be where the action is, picking the right neighborhood in Tempe is a no-brainer:
North Tempe is also where you’ll find the most assorted selection of rentals. They range from cheap ($600 or less for a 1 BR) to steep ($1600-plus for 3 BR condo), so you can probably find something in North Tempe that fits your style and budget.
The Mill Avenue District, located downtown, currently boasts 15 medium-to-large-sized rental properties and puts tenants within stumbling distance of numerous bars (understatement alert!), bistros, bookstores, and coffeehouses. Apartment hunters will find a variety of living options on and around Mill Avenue, from basic box units (currently going in the upper $500 range) to luxury lofts costing $3,000-$4,000.
The downtown life isn’t for everyone, of course, and one person’s idea of exhilarating is another’s idea of downright exhausting. For leasers who desire more laid-back, take a peek at what the ‘hoods of southern Tempe have to offer. Just beware that luxury homes outnumber apartments by far, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a rental property for less than $1300.
We do have one last piece of advice before sending you on your merry apartment-hunting way:
You’ll find more than 50 neighborhoods in Tempe, all with their own special identities, charms, and drawbacks. So before you commit to a rental property in any of them, make sure to spend plenty of time in the Valley of the Sun exploring your options. And don’t be surprised if your 12-month lease turns into something more permanent.