Moving To Scottsdale Arizona? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Scottsdale, Arizona, is an incredible tourist destination that you probably have heard of before, though its larger sister-city, Phoenix, often overshadows it. This hidden gem is known for its resorts, dining, and nightlife, but is it as friendly to permanent residents? By the end of this guide, you’ll see the truth about living in Scottsdale Arizona, and hopefully, you’ll know whether you want to move here or not.

As you might expect, as with most cities in Arizona, Scottsdale is hot, dry, and desert-based. You’ll see many warm, sunny days, as well as cool and clear nights. Due to the city’s proximity to the Sonoran Desert (as well as desert nature preserves such as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve), there are many outdoor activities for residents and non-residents alike to enjoy.

Scottsdale is just minutes outside the city of Phoenix, so if you need anything that Scottsdale cannot offer, it won’t be far. That being said, Scottsdale is a reasonably large city with a population of more than 250,000, so it stands well on its own, too.

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What Are the Neighborhoods in Scottsdale?

Scottsdale is divided into three prominent neighborhoods: North Scottsdale, South Scottsdale, and Pinnacle Peak. We’ll dive into each of them in more depth below.

South west style home in Scottsdale Arizona

North Scottsdale

North Scottsdale is, overall, the “median” area of the city. The neighborhood boasts average home prices, average crime, and moderate living costs. Most wealthy individuals looking to move to Scottsdale will be drawn to the North Scottsdale neighborhood.

Overall, North Scottsdale reflects the best parts of Scottsdale and brings them together. Housing in the area is expensive, and the area is widely considered family-friendly, walkable, and safe. Median home prices sit around $530,000, which is above Scottsdale’s average of $400,000, but rental costs are on-par with the rest of the city (at about $1,200).

North Scottsdale is home to upwards of 120,000 people, and the median age of residents is just less than 50 years old, making it an attractive retirement area.

South Scottsdale

South Scottsdale is much more affordable than both North Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak, but it’s still an extremely livable area. However, South Scottsdale is night quite as desirable in other aspects. While real estate prices are much lower – around $260,000 for median values – crime in the area is also almost 70% higher than the rest of Scottsdale.

South Scottsdale is home to more than 90,000 people, and the median age of residents is slightly less than the rest of Scottsdale at about 43 years of age. As such, even though it’s not quite as posh as North Scottsdale or Pinnacle Peak, it’s still an excellent retirement and vacation area.

Pinnacle Peak

Last but not least, we have Pinnacle Peak, one of the most affluent areas of Scottsdale. Pinnacle Peak is a comparatively small neighborhood compared to North and South Scottsdale, with only just over 12,000 residents. Because it’s a smaller neighborhood, there is less to do in the area.

The cost of moving to Pinnacle Peak is noticeably higher than the rest of Scottsdale, with median home prices hitting more than $660,000. Surprisingly, though, rental prices in Pinnacle Peak are much lower than the rest of Scottsdale, coming in at around $600.

According to Area Vibes, Crime rates in Pinnacle Peak are very low – about 50% lower than the rest of the city – making it an incredibly safe, family-friendly area. The median age of residents is just over 60, making it by far the oldest neighborhood in Scottsdale.

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How is the Job Market in Scottsdale?

Because Scottsdale is an affluent city that brings in a lot of tourism, many of the area’s jobs cater to visiting tourists. Similarly, because the median age of residents is so high, the city’s health care industries are thriving, too. Because Scottsdale is a warm-weather region with luxurious housing, part-time residents who live in Arizona during the winter may contribute to the high median age.

One of the top employers in the city is Honor Health, the leading medical center in the area, with just over 6,000 employees. The next highest employer is Vanguard, a group providing financial advising services. CVS Pharmacy, the City of Scottsdale, and Scottsdale Unified School District also all employ many Scottsdale natives, each with more than 2,500 employees.

Interestingly, Scottsdale has a blossoming tech sector, despite having many older migrant residents. Both Yelp and GoDaddy have large presences in the city, employing 1,200 and just under 900 employees, respectively.

Industries

As we mentioned above, one of Scottsdale’s most prominent industries is the medical industry, but tourism is up there as one of Scottsdale’s primary moneymakers, too. Scottsdale is home to lots of luxury destinations and amenities, such as country clubs, spas, resorts, and more. As such, if you’re thinking of moving to Scottsdale Arizona, you’ll have no shortage of activities to help you unwind at the end of a long day.

As you might expect, real estate is a thriving industry in Scottsdale as well, especially with the median home value sitting comfortably around the half-million mark.

If you’re looking for a local place to unwind, consider stopping at the Inspire Day Spa in Scottsdale, where you can receive massages, enjoy facials, and relax by the facility’s beautiful lakefront.

Top Companies to Work For

If you’re looking for a high-class town with a modern feel and a relaxing atmosphere, Scottsdale is indisputably an excellent option. While there are many top-rated companies to work for in this town, one of the highest is – you guessed it – HonorHealth, in the medical industry. According to Zippia, HonorHealth is the #2 best company to work for in Scottsdale, Arizona.

HonorHealth doctor showing heart sign with hands

This isn’t all that Scottsdale has to offer, though. If you need more options, some of the other best companies to work for in Scottsdale include:

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How is the Scottsdale Real Estate Market?

If you’re considering moving to Scottsdale Arizona, you should start keeping an eye on the real estate market right away! Homes in the city sell quickly – according to Redfin’s statistics for December of 2020, homes stay on the market for about two months and usually receive an average of three offers during that time. The median home price also continues to rise in the city.

The trends in Scottsdale reflect those that we’ve seen in the rest of the USA throughout the past year. Home prices overall in the USA have risen, home buying has increased, and the number of homes for sale has plummeted.

How much homes sell for and how long they stay on the market varies depending on where you are in the city, too. The number of days on the market is lowest in South Scottsdale, where homes are often for sale for less than 40 days before leaving the market. In North Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak, homes tend to stay on the market for slightly longer – just over 50 days.

According to Redfin, home prices are growing the most in North Scottsdale, where they rose almost 30% compared to last year’s median prices. Median prices are going up in South Scottsdale at a rate of about 20%, and in Pinnacle Peak at about 10%.

Unfortunately, this means that the least expensive houses in the city of Scottsdale tend to sell the fastest, which can make the Scottsdale area hard to move into. However, if you’re willing to pay a bit more or get a bit competitive with your offers, the housing market in Scottsdale is not impossible to navigate.

picture of an excited female real estate agent that will sell your house with a negotiated discount on commission

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Scottsdale?

Moving to Scottsdale Arizona and living there is expensive, but mostly for one reason: the high cost of buying a home. Surprisingly, if you take housing costs out of the equation, the overall cost of living in Scottsdale is very average – roughly in line with the rest of the USA.

The cost of housing in Scottsdale is roughly 40% higher than the national average, which makes for a significant expense when moving to Scottsdale Arizona. However, if you can afford that initial cost, you’re more or less in the clear. We’ll explore these costs in the sections below.

Food and Groceries

The cost of food and groceries in Scottsdale is slightly higher than the national average (by about 5%). This means that most people moving to Scottsdale won’t notice much of a difference when it comes to their grocery and food costs.

picture of Family with shopping cart in Scottdale Arizona supermarket store

We can most likely attribute the low cost of groceries in Scottsdale (and Arizona in general) to the state’s proximity to California, which has thriving agricultural industries to export to the state. Surprisingly, despite being mostly arid, Arizona also has a respectable agrarian industry. Arizona agriculture mainly produces the following commodities:

  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Cotton
  • Hay
  • Wheat
  • Beef
  • Milk
  • Eggs

Utilities

The cost of utilities in Scottsdale, Arizona, falls quite a bit below the national average (by about 8%). That’s roughly in line with the rest of Arizona. When living in an arid state, water costs can be a cause for worry. However, because Arizona is so sunny, installing solar panels can help you reduce your utility bills significantly.

Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof

To clarify, the above doesn’t mean that the cost of water in Arizona (especially Scottsdale) is always high. However, it can vary from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood, and the price of water can also vary depending on abundance. In times of drought, you may find yourself paying more.

The cost of electricity for Arizona residents is high – this can likely be attributed to the necessity of power-hungry air conditioners throughout the state. However, because Scottsdale receives an average of 299 sunny days per year, you can easily defer up to 100% of your electrical costs by investing in solar panels.

Transportation

Scottsdale is relatively spacious for a large city, with a population density of 1,300 people per square mile. To help put that in perspective, the USA’s average population density as a whole is about 90 people per square mile, and New York City, the USA’s most densely populated area, has more than 28,000 people per square mile.

This probably gives you a good idea of the layout of Scottsdale, Arizona. The city itself is relatively spacious. However, it isn’t incredibly walkable, and there is little access to public transportation. Only 1% of the people in Scottsdale regularly use public transportation, whereas nearly 80% of residents drive their own car to work. The average working commute is just over 22 minutes, which is just under the national average of 26.

While those who enjoy the sunny Scottsdale weather may be tempted to go biking for leisure, it’s not a common way to get from place to place. Less than 1% of Scottsdale residents bike as part of their daily commute.

Scottsdale has a unique trolley system to help residents get around town, but it’s more of a sightseeing attraction than a speedy transportation method. If you don’t mind the trolley’s slower speed, it’s completely free, which will save you a bit of money on transportation costs.

Healthcare and Medical

Those moving to Scottsdale Arizona can expect to receive excellent medical care. Because of the prominence of the health care industry in the city, the facilities are top-notch. Not only does this make it a great place for older people to retire, but anyone concerned about their health or who needs frequent visits with a doctor could benefit from this, too.

However, because of Scottsdale’s proximity to the city of Phoenix, if you ever have a problem that Scottsdale’s facilities cannot handle, help isn’t far. Phoenix is known for some of the nation’s best medical care, after all, and Phoenix’s Mayo Clinic is rated as #16 nationwide.

Despite its high standard of care, Scottsdale’s healthcare costs are very affordable – only 3% higher than the national average.

Taxes

Taxes in Scottsdale are not bad overall. Scottsdale’s Sales Tax is 8% (as compared to the national average rate of 7.3%), Income tax is a bit more complicated, however, as Arizona income tax is variable based on how much money you make.

The following percentages are for a single individual filing only their own taxes:

  • < $26,500: 2.59%
  • $26,501 – $53,000: 3.34%
  • $53,001 – $159,000: 4.17%
  • > $159,001: 4.50%

However, keep in mind that the above rates will change if you are either the head of household or filing jointly with your spouse.

Arizona’s property taxes are also relatively low compared to other states. The average income tax statewide is just 0.62%, and no place in Arizona has a property tax rate higher than 1.01%. According to Smart Asset, even the highest property tax rate in Arizona is lower than the national average (1.06%).

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Is Scottsdale a Good Place to Retire?

Is Scottsdale a good place for older individuals to retire? Well, the answer is that it depends. If you’ve made enough money before your retirement to afford an expensive home in Scottsdale, it’s an excellent place to settle down. However, for those who saved up just enough retirement money to live comfortably, the home prices in Scottsdale may put it out of reach.

However, putting home costs aside, Scottsdale is an extremely friendly city for older people. Of course, if you don’t like hot, dry weather, it may not be the place for you. Older individuals who have suffered from skin cancer in the past, for example, may find that the sunny weather of Arizona is too much of a risk for their health.

However, for everyone else, the desirability of Scottsdale is two-fold: not only is it an excellent place to make your full-time retirement, but it’s ideal as a winter destination, too. The most beautiful and temperate times of the year in Arizona are from November to April, meaning residents of wintry states can escape to a vacation home in Arizona to wait out the snow.

The proximity of Scottsdale to the city of Phoenix is a huge draw, as well. Not only will Phoenix provide access to anything that Scottsdale lacks, but being slightly outside Phoenix means that retirees can enjoy a quieter, slower quality of life that is often missing in large, metropolitan cities.

There are hundreds of things to do in Phoenix, but that doesn’t mean that Scottsdale lacks in things for retirees to do. Like we mentioned earlier, Scottsdale is full of resorts, spas, and country clubs that retirees will love. For those who like to gamble, the Casino at Talking Stick Resort provides access to all of the above.

picture of a woman gambling in casing

For the more adventurous retirees who visit or settle in Scottsdale, there are plenty of things to do, as well. Camelback Mountain, for example, is visible from the entire city of Scottsdale. Both the mountain and the surrounding desert provide ample opportunities for those who want to get out and enjoy nature.

We’ve already talked about Scottsdale’s excellent medical care, and don’t forget that Scottsdale’s median age is relatively high, as well. Retirees will have an incredibly easy time finding individuals in their age group to enjoy the city with.

For example, Tuscany at McCormick Ranch is a luxurious, highly-rated independent living community for those who don’t want the added stress and work that comes with owning their own property, and it’s a great place to live and mingle with similarly-aged retirees.

According to Niche, Scottsdale, Arizona is the #1 best place to retire in all of America. While buying a home here is expensive, rental costs within the city are much closer to national averages.

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What Are the People and Culture Like?

Scottsdale is a rich, predominantly white community that’s mostly made up of married couples who have retired or are nearing retirement. As such, the culture in Scottsdale is slow, relaxed, and welcoming. Young people, however, may find that the town is too old-fashioned or unexciting for their tastes.

Unfortunately, Scottsdale has earned the nickname “Snottsdale” in recent years because of its reputation for being home to snobby and disingenuous individuals. As you might expect, in any rich neighborhood, there will be some individuals living here that have nothing better to do than act snobby and unfriendly. This issue could be exacerbated by the number of retirees who live here.

However, if you find the right people, the general consensus is that it’s an excellent place to live. As we said, young individuals may have trouble feeling like they “fit in” here, though – mostly because it may be harder to find companions within their age range. However, we can’t help but recommend that any prospective residents consider trying to stick it out, as the other neighborhood perks are impossible to ignore.

If you think that “snobby” individuals might be an issue for you, then consider taking a look at South Scottsdale. For a long time, South Scottsdale has been considered the “working class” portion of the city, and it’s home to more modest homes, as well. Young and older people alike may be able to find more down-to-earth individuals in their own age range there.

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What Are the Popular Things to Do in Scottsdale?

As with any large city, Scottsdale doesn’t lack in activities and things to do. The town has plenty of town-wide activities and events throughout the year, such as the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers’ Market and the Celebration of Fine Art. Scottsdale has a surprisingly large and active art scene, which can be seen throughout the city’s metropolitan areas.

Of particular note is Scottsdale’s dining scene, which caters to its wealthy residents. Many restaurants serve expensive and classy food, and there are tons of restaurants for guests to enjoy – enough that you’ll never be lacking in new places and foods to try. For example, you might consider visiting The Americano, which is run by celebrity chef Scott Conant of Chopped and Top Chef fame.

Of course, we’ve already waxed poetic about the appeal of Scottsdale’s many resorts, spas, and country clubs, but that’s far from all the city has to offer. Scottsdale has a thriving live music scene that tends to attract many of the city’s younger residents, so if you fall into this demographic, you may want to consider attending a show or two!

Some of the other popular activities for younger tourists and residents are outdoor nature activities and nightlife activities in the heart of the city.

Those who aren’t afraid to get a little dusty and dirty may want to consider some activities outside city limits, such as an offroad adventure through the desert. If you’d rather stay in and mingle, why not visit one of Scottsdale’s many craft bars and tasting establishments, such as Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row or the LDV Winery?

Row of wine glasses on barrel in winery cellar

If you prefer calmer, low-key activities, not to worry – Scottsdale has plenty of activities to cater to you, too. Visiting one of Scottsdale’s many museums and galleries, such as the Heard Museum, is a great way to get out and about without tiring yourself out by the end of the day.

Of course, no tourist destination would be complete without a way to spend the money burning a hole in your pocket. Scottsdale has no shortage of shopping destinations for you to enjoy, such as their famous Fashion Square. Not only does Fashion Square have tons of high-end stores for you to visit (or even frequent), but it’s also located next to some of Scottsdale’s best resorts, restaurants, and galleries.

Pros and Cons of Living in Scottsdale

Like any city, Scottsdale has its own list of pros and cons. We’ve found that its index of pros easily outweighs its cons (if you can afford to live here, that is). If you don’t have time to read about the rest of the city, take a look at our abbreviated list of pros and cons below to get a quick idea of what to expect.

Pros

  • Extremely high standard of living
  • Large, spacious, beautiful houses
  • Attractive, low-crime neighborhoods
  • Lots of parks, lakes, and natural spaces
  • Plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding desert
  • Lots of shopping, dining, and other activities
  • Well-suited to retirees or vacationers
  • Thriving job market
  • Low property taxes
  • Extremely safe – virtually no danger, even when walking alone at night (especially in North Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak)
  • Several excellent schools
  • Easy access to all of Phoenix’s amenities and attractions
  • A rich history, both from settlers and Native Americans

Cons

  • It may not be interesting enough for young people
  • Very pricy to purchase a house here, though rental costs are average
  • A competitive real estate market – and home prices are still rising
  • Low diversity among class and race
  • High sales tax
  • You’re more or less required to own a vehicle
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Fun Facts About Scottsdale Arizona

Do you still feel like you don’t know quite enough about Scottsdale, Arizona? Check out the fun facts we’ve compiled for this list! Even if you’re already a Scottsdale resident, you might find out some interesting facts here that you never knew before.

  • Before Scottsdale was Scottsdale, it was called Orangedale! The town’s founder, Albert G. Utley, named it as such because the city had a reputation for growing excellent citrus fruits.
  • When Scottsdale was first incorporated as its own town in 1951, it only had 2,000 people. Today, it has 125 times as many residents, and that number is growing by more than 6,000 every year.
  • Scottsdale’s slogan is “The West’s Most Western Town” because of its numerous ranches and cattle farms.
  • Believe it or not, you can get a degree in being a cowboy in Scottsdale! At the world-famous Arizona Cowboy College, you’ll learn horsemanship skills (in Western or English style), ranching techniques, and more. Don’t worry – you can go to become a cowgirl, too.
  • Scottsdale’s oldest building, the Titus house, was built in 1892. The building still stands today, and while it’s currently a private residence, it’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Scottsdale’s Para del Sol parade, which was once known as the “Sunshine Festival,” is one of the city’s biggest western events. During the parade, you’ll see everything from rodeos to calf roping and horse-drawn carriages.
  • Travelocity has named Scottsdale the best city in the USA for foodies.
  • Scottsdale only receives an average of 7.66 inches of rain per year.
  • Scottsdale fire trucks are painted bright green (or “chartreuse”) instead of the traditional red color!
  • There are more than 200 golf courses in and around the city of Scottsdale.
  • Scottdale (along with the rest of Arizona) doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time.
  • The Mogollon Monster, rumored to be the distant sibling of Bigfoot, is said to roam the Arizona desert around Scottsdale.
  • Scottsdale’s official food is chili, though no-one in the city seems to remember why it was named their city’s official food.
  • The lowest temperature ever recorded near Scottsdale was just sixteen degrees, taken in the nearby city of Phoenix.
  • The robotic trash-can-lifting arms on garbage trucks were first invented right here in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Cutting down saguaro cacti, which live only in the Sonoran desert, is considered a felony in Arizona.
  • One of Scottsdale’s most famous (and loved) desserts is prickly pear ice cream.
  • The Montezuma Castle National Monument, which is located north of the city of Scottsdale, never housed Emperor Montezuma. It’s also not a castle!
  • Scottsdale is home to the most destination spas of any city in the USA.

No matter what your reasons are for being interested in Scottsdale, we’re confident that this vibrant, rising city has something for everyone. Whether you’re a retiree looking for a peaceful place to live or a young professional looking for a safe, high-class neighborhood, you can find all that and more in this city.

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Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Arizona Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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