Great homes. Great companies. Plenty of tasty restaurants and luxurious resorts. Add in the affordable cost of living, vast employment opportunities and rapidly growing infrastructure, all of which make the Phoenix-Metro area a thriving hub for living, working and entertaining – and add to its appeal as a place to put down roots.
Phoenix is more than the Grand Canyon state. With abundant companies expanding or establishing roots in the Valley, numerous entertainment venues, restaurants and resorts and affordable cost of living, the Phoenix metro area has become one of the most popular and desirable locations in the country.
According to a Meyers Research report released in March 2019, Phoenix ranked as the fourth most desirable metro in the country to Millennials behind Dallas, Houston and Austin. The reasons? Phoenix’s affordable cost of living and employment opportunities.
The report evaluated responses from Millennials born between 1980 and 2000, and found nearly 60 percent of respondents said they have seriously considered moving out of their current city. In addition, 70 percent of Millennials 19-24 years old have seriously considered moving compared to 45 percent of those 35-39. The driving factors to move include job opportunities (30 percent of respondents), affordability (20 percent) and lifestyle (12 percent).
Laurie McDonnell, designated broker with HomeSmart, says the cost of living in Phoenix is incredibly good compared to other parts of the country. Affordable housing and career opportunities are also large factors that make Phoenix an attractive place to live, McDonnell says. Many companies on various industries are moving to the Phoenix metro area like Creighton University and Nationwide Insurance, or Deloitte in Gilbert and Voya Financial, Inc. in Scottsdale, which are expanding their operations.
Not only does Phoenix boast state-of-the-art entertainment and sporting venues like State Farm Stadium, Talking Stick Resort Arena and Gila River Arena, it offers an abundance of world-class dining and award-winning resorts.
In addition, Phoenix’s (mostly) temperate weather and educational institutions like ASU and GCU also contribute to Millennials’ decision to relocate. “Generally speaking, we’re seeing that Millennials want to live close to downtown areas where there’s a lot going on…that way they can be close to local restaurants, shopping and universities,” McDonnell says.
Although those factors are highly sought after by younger home buyers, McDonnell says Millennials are taking longer to buy homes, partly because of student loan commitments. “They’re a bit older in terms of purchasing a home, and I think they take their time, there’s no rush per se in purchasing a home, they’d rather be fully prepared and have everything in line and still be able to have the lifestyle they want and afford the house they want.”
McDonnell says a current trend is Millennials are living in rentals – apartments or a house – for a longer amount of time to save up for a down payment before purchasing a home.
“We are starting to see that the rental market here in Phoenix is really strong, so in many cases, it can be cheaper to purchase than it is to rent.”
Another trend that can affect Millennials’ purchasing a home is tech features. This is the case for types of buyers who want efficiency in terms of completing things quickly McDonnell says.
Some examples of those sought-after tech features in homes include “smart homes with solar power, which long-term can make a big difference,” McDonnell says. In addition to “things you can operate from your home on an app, such as doorbells, security systems and voice activated devices, I think that’s a huge trend that’s going to continue and only get bigger as the demand is there.”
Part of what McDonnell thinks makes Phoenix stand out from other cities is affordability for cost of living because the selection of housing is at a very competitive price point in the market. For Millennials to have a more attainable goal of purchasing a home, McDonnell thinks “Phoenix is going to have to seriously consider what that affordable housing looks like because it’s an issue in Phoenix…so what that means is we’re seeing all kinds of construction of $400,000-$600,000 condos or homes everywhere, but not everybody can afford that. So more affordable housing is really important.”
In addition, the close proximity of grocery stores, pharmacies, entertainment and dining to homes also contribute to Phoenix’s appeal.
“I would say the vibe, they call it the fun factor so to speak of being in those areas that are part of a sense of community and culture and lifestyle, and being able to bike to open spaces and hiking and all the things that Phoenix has to offer, I think those are things that are considered,” McDonnell says.
“It’s really exciting to see how our vibrant downtown areas are getting rejuvenated so to speak in terms of all the new fun local things that you’re seeing happening,” McDonnell says. “And I think Arcadia is a perfect example of that, they represent a little bit more of the higher end neighborhood for Millennials, but it speaks to where the draw is and what’s happening in those areas.”