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How to Find an Apartment in Phoenix

By: Emily Kho
October 8, 2021

Moving to Phoenix is exciting and brings a notably low cost of living paired with a thriving arts community. There truly is something for everyone in the Valley of the Sun. To get started in your searches, you can figure out how to find an apartment in Phoenix on your own or use our guide to simplify the process and make sure you find the best rental possible.

Here's how you can find the best neighborhood and apartment amenities in Phoenix.

How to Find the Best Phoenix Neighborhood

Of the desert cities, Phoenix is known for its relatively temperate weather. As such, it’s become an increasingly popular city to call home, with a robust job market to match. You can expect sunshine all year round to light up your desert adventures and unbeatable mountain views.

The Valley of the Sun attracts residents from all backgrounds, ranging from young millennial professionals to retirees. There are countless opportunities for work and play in Phoenix, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a change of scenery.

If you’re looking to move, you might want to start looking sooner than later. Phoenix has been ranked the fifth-largest city in the country and is expected to see continued growth into the future. We recommend looking into some of the best neighborhoods in Phoenix to get a better idea of where you’d like to call home.

Here's where to get started!

1. Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix is in the middle of all the action. At your doorstep, you will find countless art galleries and displays, pubs, and restaurants to choose from. Although historically, Downtown Phoenix was known for being spread out, today, it has condensed significantly with the rising demands of a work-play lifestyle.

One of the many perks of living downtown is the accessibility to so many different things, including your work. If you’re looking to cut down on your commute time or seek out my environmentally friendly options, downtown might be an excellent option for you. Both walking and biking have become increasingly popular in this ever-growing Phoenix neighborhood.

The downtown area boasts multiple smaller neighborhoods within it, including the Arts District, which is home to many of the beautiful murals in the area. Otherwise, finding a mix of apartment buildings and luxury high rises is easy in downtown Phoenix, depending on what you’re looking for in your new apartment.

2. Roosevelt Row Arts District

One of the smaller neighborhoods within Downtown Phoenix that is incredibly popular is the Roosevelt Row Arts District. This area is known for its walkability and convenient proximity to the downtown area.

The Roosevelt Row Arts District is young and vibrant, with many modern apartment complexes and emerging developments. As you can imagine, this area is filled with arts and culture and is also home to the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art.

For the art lovers, each Friday, you can enjoy a breathtaking art walk from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM in the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

3. Downtown Scottsdale

Old Town, or Downtown Scottsdale, is known for its beautiful weather, with nearly 330 days of sun each year. However, despite its location in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, you can anticipate a relatively temperate environment year-round with median temperatures in the low 70s.

Great weather makes Downtown Scottsdale the perfect place to call home for any outdoor enthusiasts. Here you’ll find nearly 60 miles of designated public bike paths alone with another 40 miles of horse, bike, and hiking trails in the neighborhood.

A diverse population of residents makes up Downtown Scottsdale, ranging from reasonable apartment complexes to areas notoriously known as the playground for the rich and famous.

4. Central Phoenix

Uptown, midtown, and downtown Phoenix make up Central Phoenix. The majority of residents in Central Phoenix are affluent professionals looking for great views in their home areas.

North Central Phoenix, often called CenPho, runs up Central Avenue North and past Glendale Avenue along an old bridle path. In CenPho, you can expect to find housing options ranging from adobe-style architecture to historic neighborhoods.

Not only is Central Phoenix one of the best neighborhoods in Phoenix, but it is also home to countless modern restaurants and shopping amenities. Here you’ll find the Phoenix Art Museum and weekly open-air farmers markets.

5. Paradise Valley Village

Paradise Valley Village has been nicknamed the jewel in the desert, offering residents a quiet way of life paired with comfortable, vast open spaces. The valley is in between three different mountain ranges, making the scenery unbeatable.

Another unique fact about Paradise Valley Village is that this neighborhood has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The primary industries in Paradise Valley Village are resort and hospitality, employing the majority of the residents here.

If you’re looking for a close-knit community in your new town, Paradise Valley Village is the Phoenix neighborhood for you. The government of this region is run entirely by volunteers.

How Much are Apartments in Phoenix

Considering moving to Phoenix? Before you get started packing your things, you'll want to first learn about the average rent prices in the area.

Average Rent in Phoenix

Phoenix rents have increased by 3.24% compared to last month and are up by 17.03% compared to the previous year. Here's more information to help you determine your budget:

  • 8% of apartments in Phoenix cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 73% of apartments in Phoenix cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 13% of apartments in Phoenix cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 6% of apartments in Phoenix cost over $3,000 per month.

How to Find Cheap Apartments in Phoenix

You might have already started the process by figuring out how to find an apartment in Phoenix, but you might be having a difficult time finding a cheap apartment. We're here to help you by providing you with all of the resources you’ll need to find a quality and affordable Phoenix apartment.

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how to budget for your first apartment. Your budget should be unique to your current financial situation, but some of the generalized basics you should always make sure to cover include costs associated with things like:

  • Rent
  • Moving expenses
  • Electricity
  • Cable/internet
  • Heating and gas
  • Etc.

It's an essential step to total up all of your expenses initially, despite feeling a bit overwhelming at first. If you are worried about covering all of your expenses each month, there are ways to help reduce some of your costs. For example, you might look for different move-in specials or take advantage of the seasonality in renting.

What's the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Phoenix?

Seasonality is incredibly common in the rental market across the country. In Phoenix, you’ll find that seasonality can impact rent prices significantly. Understanding the rental trends in seasonality will only help you find a more affordable apartment if you can time it right.

Generally speaking, more apartments are available during the winter months since people are less interested in moving during this time. Alternatively, movement tends to pick up again in the summertime, making the rental market more competitive. Following these trends, you can safely assume that apartments will become more expensive to rent in Phoenix in the summer versus the winter.

How to Find an Apartment?

Learn the steps to finding an apartment in Phoenix! Here's the process:

Determine Your Budget

First, you’ll want to consider your budget as you begin your apartment search. While there are several different budgeting techniques to look into, you can start with the 30% rule.

According to the 30% rule, no more than 30% of your gross income, or pre-taxed monthly take-home pay, should go towards your monthly rent. Using this theory, if you want to determine what rent you can afford based on your monthly income, just divide that figure by three. To figure it out based on your annual income, you can divide your gross annual salary by 40.

You can also use the 30% rule backward to figure out your minimum gross income when moving to Phoenix. For example, if you’re looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix with an average rent price of $1,545, you can use the 30% rule to determine your minimum gross income by multiplying this figure by three. Based on this rule, your gross income should hit right around $4,635 per month or about $55,620 annually.

Understand the Trust Cost of Renting

The 30% rule can help you get started with your budget, though keep in mind that it works best as a baseline. In addition to standard living costs, you will also have to account for hidden rental costs that may arise through the process.

You might have a better idea of your budget, but just how much apartment can you afford? We can get a better idea by taking a closer look at some of the hidden apartment expenses that are often overlooked, including:

Another determining factor in your budget should be your specific financial circumstance, including how they might change with your move. If you have any high bills that you are responsible for aside from your rent, such as student loans, medical expenses, etc., you may quickly realize that the 30% rule doesn't quite fit your budget.

We have carefully designed a Rent Calculator to help you determine the monthly rent you can genuinely afford, hidden costs and all. This helpful tool has been created just for renters and has been backed by tons of research. Using the rent calculator, you can better understand what type of rental budget you are working with as you begin your apartment hunt.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

The Phoenix housing market ranges from everything from traditional adobe-style houses to modern, downtown high rises. After establishing your budget and starting your search to find the best apartment in Phoenix, the next step is narrowing your search. A helpful hint to cut down on some of your options is to figure out your priorities regarding specific amenities.

Amenities

For your new Phoenix apartment, you’ll need to list needs versus wants in terms of amenities. Include all the amenities you love, like proximity to public transportation, covered parking, bike storage, onsite laundry, or dedicated outdoor space.

Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, you can prioritize your list, including your needs versus wants. The more time you spend on this process upfront, the less time you will have to narrow down your options later on.

Phoenix Location/Neighborhood

Since there are so many great options to choose from, when it comes to finding the best neighborhood in Phoenix, it will ultimately come down to personal preference. You’ll want to consider things like the overall vibe of the community while factoring in things like walkability and convenience. If you have a family or a pet, you might want to consider more space or outdoor options.

But if not, you might not require as much space and may prefer to be closer to work or more centralized in the city. Consider a downtown or downtown adjacent neighborhood as the ideal neighborhood for you if this is the case.

You will have to prioritize your desire for accessibility to extracurriculars to determine which environment is best for you. Measure varying factors, including what types of options you’re interested in, before signing your next lease in your ideal Phoenix neighborhood.

Consider Your Commute Time

Your next apartment in Phoenix should factor in more than just your dream location, such as things like your commute time to and from work.

Phoenix's walk score is 41, with a transit score of 36. Biking is another mode of transportation worth considering in Phoenix, as the city that has earned a bike score of 56. These specific rankings may not necessarily be as crucial to you if you have a vehicle of your own or plan to purchase one before your move.

Public Transportation in Phoenix

The Valley Metro consists of its light rail, bus, and dial-a-ride systems. You can pay Valley Metro on a per-ride basis at $2.00 for a regular bus or light rail ride, or get every day pass for $4.00, and every week pass for $20.00, an every 15-day pass for $33.00, or a monthly pass for $64.00.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

Before signing a lease to your new apartment, make sure you take part in an apartment tour. While apartment tours are an opportunity to see what you are truly getting, it’s also a time to be ready to apply on the spot.

Always prepare for your apartment tours ahead of time and even make sure you keep essential renter materials readily available, including:

  • References
  • Application fee
  • ID

Most application processes require a fee of some sort. So, when it’s your time to make a payment, make sure you know the details of what forms your landlord or property manager will allow. The most common forms of payment type include cash, credit card, or check, but they can be unique depending on their preference. Be sure to have this information ahead of time so you can have the proper form of payment to provide during your tour if it goes well.

In general, you want to make sure you understand how the application process works and gather any necessary materials you may need ahead of time, rather than after your tour.

As you go through your apartment tour, take time to check that all of the amenities are functioning correctly. If you find something isn’t working correctly or something was on the listing, and you do not see it in person, don’t be afraid to ask.

You can even jot down a list of questions you may have ahead of time, such as rules about pets, painting, and other building rules that are crucial to know as a renter. Sometimes, you can forget your essential questions in the middle of all the excitement of touring your potential new apartment.

If you're not quite sure what you should be inquiring about, check through our list of 20 questions to ask when renting an apartment and see if any apply to your situation. Make sure you make the most of your apartment tour by asking lots of questions.

Applying for Your Phoenix Apartment

You might get lucky on your first apartment tour, or it might take a few to find precisely what you’re looking for. Hopefully, you will have a successful apartment tour sooner rather than later, which means you're ready to apply for your new Phoenix apartment!

The quickest and easiest way to begin the application process is by ensuring your tour preparedness. Even still, you may find that you have additional materials to gather before applying in full.

A common application process requirement comes in the form of rental references. Always be sure to reach out to anyone you plan to use as a rental reference ahead of time so they can anticipate the call and be prepared. This strategy is yet another tip to keep you one step ahead of your competition and help boost your chances of getting into your apartment quicker.

For those prospective renters who don’t have any previous rental history at the time of your application, you don’t need to worry. Most property managers and landlords accept personal references as an alternative. However, to be sure, always ask about any required references during the apartment tour.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

According to a rental fraud report by Apartment List, 41.5% of renters in Phoenix have encountered an apartment listing they suspected was fraudulent, and 2.4% of them have lost money from these rental scams. Remember to exercise caution and follow these tips for avoiding rental scams.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Phoenix Apartment

Remember, the apartment hunting process should be an enjoyable one, albeit a bit overwhelming initially. Kicking off your apartment hunt on a positive note, we want to congratulate you on starting your search for a beautiful new apartment and life in Phoenix!

Here's how it works: First things first, we want to get to know you better. You'll start by answering a few simple questions that will help us find the best matches explicitly tailored to what you're looking for. Next, we'll mix and match your personalized results to help make it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities for you.

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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