We're lost in the desert... looking for a place to live in Phoenix!
July 9, 2013 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Folks- because of your tips the UHaul made it to Phoenix! Now we're looking for a place to live in Phoenix and we are completely swamped. Our price range is 700-900 per month, 1 BR but we feel like it's such a big city that we don't know where the "good" parts of town are. Good being your car isn't broken into once a week or it's safe to walk alone outside at night without getting mugged. We don't want to live totally in the suburbs- is there a happy medium?

We would love to live somewhere that has a little history to it, but that's not a deal breaker. We're flexible on location as we're not tied to an office location specifically- would just like to be close to central Phoenix. Have looked at a couple places that are just adorable but the neighborhoods seemed dodgy (Garfield Historic District and Coronado).

Are there any Rental Guide Agencies that can help you narrow down options and show you places? I've used these in the past. Maybe here they are different. Just feeling overwhelmed. Craigslist is completely bonkers- 1000s of posts spread all over the valley. Any direction would be much appreciated... we're two hardworking lesbians with jobs that just want a place to lay our heads at night!

So any advice on neighborhoods, rental guides, tips and tricks, etc, would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by timpanogos to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by 1367 at 12:40 PM on July 9, 2013

I would look around Central Ave and Camelback. Or, more generally, the Central Ave Corridor and/or Camelback Corridor. So a little north of where you were looking.

The area is relatively old for Phoenix and there are many fun small shops and boutiques, several of my favorite restaurants, bars, etc. It is about 5 miles north of downtown (Symphony Hall, Roosevelt Row, etc) and close to the 51.

I had friends that lived in the area and always felt comfortable wandering around, even at night. If my job had not been in north Phoenix I would have lived in this area.

I used Apartments.com or similar when I was looking for apartments in Phoenix.
posted by mountmccabe at 12:41 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Uh, I lived in Phoenix from 1971 to 1983. I went to high school there and three years of college.

I'd live in Tempe or Scottsdale. The Central Ave corridor is nice the more north you get.

The issue is that Phoenix is mostly Sprawl, for the most part any place there are houses is probably a suburb. We lived in South Phoenix, in the desert against South Mountain. Our property abutted South Mountain Park. I DO NOT recommend this part of town! I'm no fan of snakes, scorpions, gila monsters or any critter of that ilk. That's a picture of our house! It used to be a more natural color of wood so it would blend into the mountain. Also, it wasn't paved when I lived there, nor were there any neighbors.

My recommendation is to find a nice Apartment Complex with features that you like. Move there for a year or so, and then explore around until you find a place you're comfortable.

I graduated from North High (which is close to Garfield Historical District) frankly that neighborhood is cute, but dodgy and I remember 19th Street Garfield Gang too well to ever want to live there.

Here is a website that I can't access at work that talks about Gay neighborhoods.

Here's a cute page from PFLAG.

Here's another page and they recommend Encanto, which is what popped into my mind too. I've always liked Encanto Park and the neighborhood around it.

Here's an Apartment Guide listing for the Encanto neighborhood.

Absolutely rent a place that has a pool! I wouldn't consider renting anywhere that doesn't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:17 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

mountmccabe: "I would look around Central Ave and Camelback. Or, more generally, the Central Ave Corridor and/or Camelback Corridor. So a little north of where you were looking.

The area is relatively old for Phoenix and there are many fun small shops and boutiques, several of my favorite restaurants, bars, etc. It is about 5 miles north of downtown (Symphony Hall, Roosevelt Row, etc) and close to the 51.

I had friends that lived in the area and always felt comfortable wandering around, even at night. If my job had not been in north Phoenix I would have lived in this area.

Seconding. I lived downtown for a few years, in the Roosevelt Row district, but increasingly you're forced to choose between expensive or dodgy. I love living uptown; I walk almost everywhere (including for groceries), and can take the light rail to work. One of my criteria when I was looking for a new place was that I had to feel comfortable walking home alone at 3 am, and I definitely feel that way here.

I lived in Scottsdale the first year I was out here, because everyone said to avoid central Phoenix, but frankly those days are over. I felt so isolated there; it was very pretty, but the atmosphere was cold. Central Phoenix is really coming into its own, and I wouldn't live anywhere else in the Valley.

Encanto is very nice but it'll be tough to find something in your price range these days.

Other friends live in the Pierson Place neighborhood, which is just a few blocks south of here, and also offers some good deals.
posted by Superplin at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I meant to add: I've used Craigslist most successfully when apartment hunting, with Yelp and other review sites to double check when I lived in a larger complex.
posted by Superplin at 5:08 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lots of good suggestions here. I'd agree with everything everyone has said.

Check out this incredibly crappy map I made.

I've lived in each of these areas.

1. This is "Uptown," or "North Central." Apartment complexes that might be around your price range are scattered along Central between Indian School and Camelback. The upsides to this area are the light rail, lots of cool restaurants, and being near the bridle path (a great place to jog on Central, between Bethany Home and Dunlap). This is probably my favorite area, and some day, pie in the sky, when I have money, I'll buy a house in the neighborhood north of this... easily the most pleasant neighborhood in Phoenix with tons of trees and green space. There are also some complexes south of this area that might fit your budget, down closer to Thomas and McDowell in the Clarendon area. Generally, the closer to Central and the 7s, the nicer the place, the more walkable and the more stuff to do.

2. Downtown is a lot less sketchy than it used to be. Most complexes that are well kept up can be quite expensive these days. The Roosevelt district is very artsy and is on the north end of downtown (just south of the 10). It might have some places you'd be interested in.

3. The Biltmore district has gotten more expensive so I'm not sure what apartments cost in this area these days, and some have converted to condos. Still, there are nice places to shop and eat in this area, and it's convenient for getting downtown by using the 51.

4. The Arcadia district is hipster central (other than the Roosevelt artsy district). Arcadia has many good places to eat, and it's near Phoenix's richest neighborhoods. There are lots of old school 1960s apartment complexes to live in that have since been renovated. A rule for living in Arcadia is not to live south of Indian School if you can manage it. The further south, the sketchier it gets. It actually stretches up to Camelback unlike how I drew it, and over to about 32nd street- almost bordering the Biltmore area.

5. Finally, Old Town Scottsdale is a really popular area to live in. It's easily the best part of the valley to live in if you like to walk... the whole Old Town district is extremely walkable and has tons of great places to eat and hang out. That being said, I didn't have the best experiences here. Your neighbors will be a mix of people working at the bars in this area, ASU kids who want to live near the bars, and plenty of regular people mixed in. But the ASU kids can make it challenging, some areas are really noisy at night (near the club district) and apartment complexes can take advantage of tenants. If you can live with some of the downsides, this can be a fun place to have an apartment... but it's definitely a little risky.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:02 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am moving to Arizona tomorrow. I've been checking out condomania and Twins Realty. I haven't met or spoken to anyone directly, but they have been helpful so far.
posted by jennstra at 7:04 PM on July 9, 2013

$900 for a 1br apartment is going to get you just about anywhere in the city that has apartment complexes with the exception of downtown (not a ton a life in downtown in the evenings anyways).

If you want to limit your driving as much as possible (difficult task in Phoenix). I would recommend the Roosevelt district (between 7th ave and 7th street near Roosevelt st). This would be less dodgy than Coronado and Garfield districts. It is basically the art district, and the most diverse place in Phoenix. But the area still has a good amount of empty lots, empty vacant buildings so I imagine its not a great place for someone to walk alone at night.

Living along central (south of Camelback) gives you convenient access to the light rail which would condense the city a bit. Gets you to the Roosevelt district and downtown without having to live there.

The Melrose district is probably the most Pro-LBGT area of the city. It is on 7th ave between Camelback and Indian school. It has some fun shops (tons of antique and vintage shops). The neighborhoods on both sides are charming. The area between Melrose and Central would also give quick access to the light rail too.

Arcadia is very nice and has become hip as of late. between 36th st and 48th st and between camelback and thomas (mostly around Indian school rd).

More central and similar to Arcadia is around 16th st (between 7th st and the 51) south of Glendale, north of Camelback. Near the intersection of 16th st and Bethany homes would be the best. I live here, my biased opinion is: it is the best.

There are areas in Tempe that are great (broadmor neighborhood) BUT all the apartment complexes in or near those areas are going to be full of college students.

Old Town Scottsdale. Lots of bars and restaurants very walkable. I never really gave it chance as I just think of it as a obnoxious party/club scene BUT it actually has a ton of restaurant and small shops (it also has a giant mall). Scottsdale municipal buildings and lots of offices are around so it probably does ok during the day. SMoCA (contemporary art museum) is there too. I think I just talked myself into living there, I would check it out. It gets crazy on the weekends however.

I've played around with https://www.padmapper.com/ and seems like it would work well for apartment searching. A lot of the apartments, especially in central Phoenix, will be 1950s-60s style that are courtyard motel style. I would drive around a bit just looking for complexes in areas you like. Some of these are old (smallish) complexes with old owners that might not have an online presence and thus might be hard to find online.
posted by Ommcc at 3:16 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

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