Author Topic: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.  (Read 7069 times)

Travis

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Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« on: April 12, 2017, 10:15:57 PM »
So I got a call today telling me we'll be moving to Phoenix, AZ this summer for the next couple years.  My office will be in the box that I-10 and I-17 make.  I haven't had a chance to look up anything significant so I'm starting from scratch on where to live, schools, grocery shopping, etc.  Riding my bike to work would be ideal, but I'm comfortable with up to a 20 minute commute.  There's me, DW, and our 7 year old.  Any advice would be most welcome.

athomeintheworld

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 12:07:33 AM »
We lived there for almost 10 years. Not a bad place. The weather can obviously be a little rough, but there are tons of great things about AZ and the winters are gorgeous.

So - you have lots of options. You could go the downtown Phoenix route if you truly want to walk/bike to work. However, again with the weather (115+ not unusual) this may not be reasonable for going to/from work. Everyone is different, depends on your tolerance and priorities. It would be super easy to have a short commute and a reasonable neighborhood for your family though. In general I feel Phx housing is pretty affordable. Closest Trader Joe's to that area is Camelback/20th Street. That area - East Camelback Village is certainly nice and everything you could want in a close proximity. It's not going to be the cheapest/least expensive, but if you want to stay central for being close to your work, the cheapest housing probably isn't an option anyway. Commutes can be rough. Close to work is good. I don't know specifically about schools right there. I believe the metro area is all still open enrollment - so you should have a lot of choice in where to send your 7 yr old.

Hope that helps and if you have other questions I will try to offer some direction!
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 12:09:13 AM by ZsMom »

Blatant

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 06:05:01 AM »
Nothing like moving to Phx in the summer to ruin your life.

The I17/10 "box" is a huge area. Be more specific on your work cross-streets and the advice will be better.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 07:07:00 AM »
That "box" is mostly industrial to the south and downtown to the north.  Not a good place to live.  The neighborhoods to the south of the box are pretty grim until you get to the Baseline Corridor.  Lots of newer subdivisions down there with a straight commute north through the bad neighborhoods.  Watch the schools down there, as they are quite variable.  You want to avoid the two major interchanges at 10/51/202 and 10/17 during commute hours.  North and east gets expensive fast.  The Camelback area will be very pricey.  The western part of Tempe is doable, as long as you stay off 10 during commute hours.

Fly out there before you decide where to live.  The commute will make or break your quality of life.  Think LA, it's almost that bad now.

athomeintheworld

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 12:50:49 PM »
Can you rent somewhere before you buy? Much better than getting stuck somewhere you're not happy with. It's a big city. And needs to be a good fit for your family too.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 02:11:11 PM »
From downtown, going N/S is easier than E/W (imo).  7th St. and 7th Ave. are often faster than using an interstate.  If you want to bike commute, good schools, and things to do, I would take a look at everything along Central Ave from Van Buren up to Northern.  It's a good area and has a light rail.  The real estate taxes are much higher than other areas though, so factor that in.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 02:38:16 PM »
From downtown, going N/S is easier than E/W (imo).  7th St. and 7th Ave. are often faster than using an interstate.  If you want to bike commute, good schools, and things to do, I would take a look at everything along Central Ave from Van Buren up to Northern.  It's a good area and has a light rail.  The real estate taxes are much higher than other areas though, so factor that in.

A lot of that is pricey historical districts - Willo, Encanto, etc.  There are some nice older areas, and some of the schools are good. 

I do not recommend light rail.  Too many homeless, mentally ill, druggies, and alcoholics, at least on the stretch from the airport through Tempe.  Public transit in Phoenix is not used by many middle class folks.

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2017, 07:19:58 PM »
Can you rent somewhere before you buy? Much better than getting stuck somewhere you're not happy with. It's a big city. And needs to be a good fit for your family too.

With the Army moving us every 2 years, we only rent.  We've been in both apartments and houses and we're not particular.  If the price is right we may lean towards an apartment since we'll be losing amenities like the free pool and gym access we have here at Carson.  My office will be on the corner of Washington and 1st Street.  Is Washington bicycle friendly coming from the east?  Tempe looks nice, and if we live there my route would probably be to cross the river and ride straight west on that road.  Going north up Central also has some appeal.  Both areas are in our price range and have a few parks.  DW and I will dig into this more over the next month and narrow it down.  My intent is to get there a few days before I have to report in and walk some properties. 

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 09:08:52 PM »
Skip the Baseline Corridor and focus on Tempe and North Central Phoenix.  A younger guy commuting on light rail, especially in uniform, would not likely have issues and it could work well for your situation.  It goes right by your office.  Don't see many bicycle commuters, especially in the 118 degree June temperatures.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 11:14:48 PM »
From downtown, going N/S is easier than E/W (imo).  7th St. and 7th Ave. are often faster than using an interstate.  If you want to bike commute, good schools, and things to do, I would take a look at everything along Central Ave from Van Buren up to Northern.  It's a good area and has a light rail.  The real estate taxes are much higher than other areas though, so factor that in.

A lot of that is pricey historical districts - Willo, Encanto, etc.  There are some nice older areas, and some of the schools are good. 

I do not recommend light rail.  Too many homeless, mentally ill, druggies, and alcoholics, at least on the stretch from the airport through Tempe.  Public transit in Phoenix is not used by many middle class folks.

I was a security supervisor on the Phoenix light rail for nearly a year - it's not that bad...

athomeintheworld

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 12:26:41 AM »
Can you rent somewhere before you buy? Much better than getting stuck somewhere you're not happy with. It's a big city. And needs to be a good fit for your family too.

With the Army moving us every 2 years, we only rent.  We've been in both apartments and houses and we're not particular.  If the price is right we may lean towards an apartment since we'll be losing amenities like the free pool and gym access we have here at Carson.  My office will be on the corner of Washington and 1st Street.  Is Washington bicycle friendly coming from the east?  Tempe looks nice, and if we live there my route would probably be to cross the river and ride straight west on that road.  Going north up Central also has some appeal.  Both areas are in our price range and have a few parks.  DW and I will dig into this more over the next month and narrow it down.  My intent is to get there a few days before I have to report in and walk some properties.

Sounds great!

Either Tempe or North Central will have good options for you. As far as bike friendly - just keep in mind that could easily be 10 miles one way which again in the summer (the 6 month summer) can be brutal.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2017, 12:16:14 PM »
From downtown, going N/S is easier than E/W (imo).  7th St. and 7th Ave. are often faster than using an interstate.  If you want to bike commute, good schools, and things to do, I would take a look at everything along Central Ave from Van Buren up to Northern.  It's a good area and has a light rail.  The real estate taxes are much higher than other areas though, so factor that in.

A lot of that is pricey historical districts - Willo, Encanto, etc.  There are some nice older areas, and some of the schools are good. 

I do not recommend light rail.  Too many homeless, mentally ill, druggies, and alcoholics, at least on the stretch from the airport through Tempe.  Public transit in Phoenix is not used by many middle class folks.

I was a security supervisor on the Phoenix light rail for nearly a year - it's not that bad...

My last experience was very bad.  Having grown up in the Bay Area riding AC Transit to high school and later BART, I was willing to give it a chance.  The light rail/bus combo is a cheap way to get from the airport to South Tempe in theory.  The unrestrained behavior of the mentally ill ruins the idea in practice.

Private mass transit, e.g. employer buses in the Bay Area, is very successful.  Until you can exclude criminals, alcoholics, druggies, and aggressive mentally ill people from public mass transit, the private car will be the conveyance of choice for most people.

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2017, 12:47:55 PM »
There is a YMCA within a couple blocks of my new office and both potential living locations. Membership is free for DoD personnel and their families. Gym and pool problem solved!

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2017, 02:59:28 PM »
From downtown, going N/S is easier than E/W (imo).  7th St. and 7th Ave. are often faster than using an interstate.  If you want to bike commute, good schools, and things to do, I would take a look at everything along Central Ave from Van Buren up to Northern.  It's a good area and has a light rail.  The real estate taxes are much higher than other areas though, so factor that in.

A lot of that is pricey historical districts - Willo, Encanto, etc.  There are some nice older areas, and some of the schools are good. 

I do not recommend light rail.  Too many homeless, mentally ill, druggies, and alcoholics, at least on the stretch from the airport through Tempe.  Public transit in Phoenix is not used by many middle class folks.

I was a security supervisor on the Phoenix light rail for nearly a year - it's not that bad...

My last experience was very bad.  Having grown up in the Bay Area riding AC Transit to high school and later BART, I was willing to give it a chance.  The light rail/bus combo is a cheap way to get from the airport to South Tempe in theory.  The unrestrained behavior of the mentally ill ruins the idea in practice.

Private mass transit, e.g. employer buses in the Bay Area, is very successful.  Until you can exclude criminals, alcoholics, druggies, and aggressive mentally ill people from public mass transit, the private car will be the conveyance of choice for most people.


Sadly, I agree. I live in Phoenix, and I despise the light rail. I used to live closer to it, where it made all kinds of noise at all hours of the day and night, which I could hear from inside my house with the windows closed. And while driving, making a left turn on a street where the light rail runs can take forever.

As for riding it... forget it. I tried several times and had a negative experience every time. The last time, I actually got off my light rail car at a stop that wasn't mine, walked to the next car on the same train, and re-boarded, all to avoid a clearly intoxicated (smelled like a brewery) man who was hitting on me.

This is coming from someone who has happily used public transportation in plenty of other cities, from DC to Tokyo.

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2017, 09:33:51 PM »
So the search goes on. Thank you everyone for the advice to get me started. We've narrowed down the list to 15 apartments and 10 schools, generally in the North Central and western Tempe areas, but with a couple possibilities right along Baseline.  We're looking at homes in the same areas, but that'll have to wait until we're closer to moving to really see what's available.  I'm trying to avoid anything west of I-17 since the commute just balloons from there.

I talked to my new office the other day and the person I spoke with mentioned we might have subsidized public transit for the office. I'm going to call him back tomorrow to confirm.  If I read the Metro website correctly it's $4/day $64/month so I'd like to find a way to cut that cost down.  I imagine parking in downtown for a 10 hour workday would run about the same?  Looking at the map I'm comfortable with a 45 minute bike ride going mostly north/south so that gives me a pretty good radius to work with.  There are a couple nice areas along Pecos Road to the south and Tempe that we're considering, but so far I can only envision a very long bus ride or an expensive parking bill using my car.  If we can find a solid commuting plan where I can bike/public transit and my wife can take our son to school en route to wherever she's going to work we can drop back down to a single car.

This little research project is inching forward. I'll keep everyone informed in case I have new questions.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 09:50:23 PM by Travis »

JLee

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2017, 09:43:31 PM »
So the search goes on. Thank you everyone for the advice to get me started. We've narrowed down the list to 15 apartments and 10 schools, generally in the North Central and western Tempe areas, but with a couple possibilities right along Baseline.  We're looking at homes in the same areas, but that'll have to wait until we're closer to moving to really see what's available.  I'm trying to avoid anything west of I-17 since the commute just balloons from there.

I talked to my new office the other day and the person I spoke with mentioned we might have subsidized public transit for the office. I'm going to call him back tomorrow to confirm.  If I read the Metro website correctly it's $4/day so I'd like to find a way to cut that cost down.  I imagine parking in downtown for a 10 hour workday would run about the same?  Looking at the map I'm comfortable with a 45 minute bike ride going mostly north/south so that gives me a pretty good radius to work with.  There are a couple nice areas along Pecos Road to the south and Tempe that we're considering, but so far I can only envision a very long bus ride or an expensive parking bill using my car.  If we can find a solid commuting plan where I can bike/public transit and my wife can take our son to school en route to wherever she's going to work we can drop back down to a single car.

This little research project is inching forward. I'll keep everyone informed in case I have new questions.

Light rail park & rides are free. I'm not sure if there are any nearby to where you need to go, though.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2017, 05:13:18 AM »
Pecos means Ahwatukee or Chandler to me.  Not a fun commute.  There's a reason Ahwatukee is called "the world's longest cul-de-sac."  West of I-17 are marginal neighborhoods in general.  Some seem to be turning around.  I think I would start having a closer look at the schools in the neighborhoods you are considering.  Baseline corridor schools may not be what you are looking for, look at the attendance boundaries.

Where I would rent an apartment is different than where I would rent a house.  Here is a typical house rental in Tempe, near McClintock and Guadalupe.  This puts you in the Fuller Elementary school boundaries. 

https://www.zillow.com/homes/make_me_move/Tempe-AZ-85283/pmf_pt/house_type/8136082_zpid/94872_rid/33.399954,-111.889573,33.337304,-111.981841_rect/13_zm/1_fr/

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2017, 07:44:58 PM »
So we arrived on Sunday and picked up keys to a house a couple hours ago.  Thank you for your suggestions and advice.  We're living in Tempe more or less where 60 and 101 meet.  The house has a great floor plan, low maintenance yard, walking distance from a great school, and close enough for a car commute and possibly the light rail. I'll be experimenting with routes and times over the next week.  Originally I thought we would get subsidized or free membership at the YMCA. It turns out that's just for families of deployed troops. Their military family rate is $70/mo which sounds like a lot until you consider it's a gym, pool, classes for all of us, and a couple hours of child care while working out.  The nearest commercial gym would be $10/mo per person and would only be a gym.  I'll discuss this further with my unit when I report in tomorrow to see what they're doing for exercise.  The nearest grocery store is Fry's. Any opinions on this chain? It looks and feels like a King Sooper/Kroger property.  I saw on a parking website that one of the garages two blocks from the office offers monthly passes for $50/mo.  Checking this out is also on my to-do list tomorrow.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2017, 07:49:39 PM »
So we arrived on Sunday and picked up keys to a house a couple hours ago.  Thank you for your suggestions and advice.  We're living in Tempe more or less where 60 and 101 meet.  The house has a great floor plan, low maintenance yard, walking distance from a great school, and close enough for a car commute and possibly the light rail. I'll be experimenting with routes and times over the next week.  Originally I thought we would get subsidized or free membership at the YMCA. It turns out that's just for families of deployed troops. Their military family rate is $70/mo which sounds like a lot until you consider it's a gym, pool, classes for all of us, and a couple hours of child care while working out.  The nearest commercial gym would be $10/mo per person and would only be a gym.  I'll discuss this further with my unit when I report in tomorrow to see what they're doing for exercise.  The nearest grocery store is Fry's. Any opinions on this chain? It looks and feels like a King Sooper/Kroger property.  I saw on a parking website that one of the garages two blocks from the office offers monthly passes for $50/mo.  Checking this out is also on my to-do list tomorrow.

Fry's is fine.  Food City has ridiculously cheap produce. There are a few of them around.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2017, 09:15:36 PM »
Welcome to Tempe / Mesa.

Frys is owned by Kroger and the inventory varies depending on the location.
Walmart super center at Mesa Riverview close to you is good.
Almost half of Walmart revenue comes from grocery, many don't know that.

Don't underestimate the heat.
Often there are helicopters where I live, to rescue people. Last week there was a woman from U.K. Hiking in the afternoon. Dehydrated.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2017, 09:28:25 PM »
There is no shortage of grocery stores near you.  Trader Joe's is across the street from Fry's.  Safeway is at McClintock and Eliot.  Costco is at Priest and Eliot.  There is a crummy Walmart at Rural and Southern.  A better Walmart is at Eliot and I think Kyrene.  Whole Foods is at Rural and Baseline and Albertson's is at Rural and Guadalupe.  Sprouts is at Southern and McClintock.  Best prices on boneless, skinless chicken around.  Phoenix is a test market for grocery products.  Things you don't see elsewhere will occasionally pop up there.  It's also very competitive.  The loss leaders are wonderful.  You will likely get the ads in your mailbox Tuesday or Wednesday.

I don't care for Food City, and I don't see the value in driving to Winco in Chandler.  Target is at McClintock and Baseline and they carry some well-priced groceries too.


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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2017, 09:36:27 PM »
Welcome to Tempe / Mesa.

Frys is owned by Kroger and the inventory varies depending on the location.
Walmart super center at Mesa Riverview close to you is good.
Almost half of Walmart revenue comes from grocery, many don't know that.

Don't underestimate the heat.
Often there are helicopters where I live, to rescue people. Last week there was a woman from U.K. Hiking in the afternoon. Dehydrated.

No kidding about this heat. I've been running my car's A/C full blast all week to take the edge off and it's killing my fuel economy.

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2017, 09:59:04 PM »
There is no shortage of grocery stores near you.  Trader Joe's is across the street from Fry's.  Safeway is at McClintock and Eliot.  Costco is at Priest and Eliot.  There is a crummy Walmart at Rural and Southern.  A better Walmart is at Eliot and I think Kyrene.  Whole Foods is at Rural and Baseline and Albertson's is at Rural and Guadalupe.  Sprouts is at Southern and McClintock.  Best prices on boneless, skinless chicken around.  Phoenix is a test market for grocery products.  Things you don't see elsewhere will occasionally pop up there.  It's also very competitive.  The loss leaders are wonderful.  You will likely get the ads in your mailbox Tuesday or Wednesday.

I don't care for Food City, and I don't see the value in driving to Winco in Chandler.  Target is at McClintock and Baseline and they carry some well-priced groceries too.

Thanks for the tips. We'll be running around this weekend making price lists and comparing.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2017, 10:00:24 PM »
Welcome to Tempe / Mesa.

Frys is owned by Kroger and the inventory varies depending on the location.
Walmart super center at Mesa Riverview close to you is good.
Almost half of Walmart revenue comes from grocery, many don't know that.

Don't underestimate the heat.
Often there are helicopters where I live, to rescue people. Last week there was a woman from U.K. Hiking in the afternoon. Dehydrated.

No kidding about this heat. I've been running my car's A/C full blast all week to take the edge off and it's killing my fuel economy.

White towels on the seat and steering wheel help a little when you get in.  Shade where you park is essential.

JLee

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2017, 10:18:35 PM »
Welcome to Tempe / Mesa.

Frys is owned by Kroger and the inventory varies depending on the location.
Walmart super center at Mesa Riverview close to you is good.
Almost half of Walmart revenue comes from grocery, many don't know that.

Don't underestimate the heat.
Often there are helicopters where I live, to rescue people. Last week there was a woman from U.K. Hiking in the afternoon. Dehydrated.

No kidding about this heat. I've been running my car's A/C full blast all week to take the edge off and it's killing my fuel economy.

White towels on the seat and steering wheel help a little when you get in.  Shade where you park is essential.

And window tint.  Definitely worth the $150-200 it'll cost.

Travis

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2017, 10:31:09 PM »
There is no shortage of grocery stores near you.  Trader Joe's is across the street from Fry's.  Safeway is at McClintock and Eliot.  Costco is at Priest and Eliot.  There is a crummy Walmart at Rural and Southern.  A better Walmart is at Eliot and I think Kyrene.  Whole Foods is at Rural and Baseline and Albertson's is at Rural and Guadalupe.  Sprouts is at Southern and McClintock.  Best prices on boneless, skinless chicken around.  Phoenix is a test market for grocery products.  Things you don't see elsewhere will occasionally pop up there.  It's also very competitive.  The loss leaders are wonderful.  You will likely get the ads in your mailbox Tuesday or Wednesday.

I don't care for Food City, and I don't see the value in driving to Winco in Chandler.  Target is at McClintock and Baseline and they carry some well-priced groceries too.

We have a Sam's Club membership that comes up for renewal in August. It's roughly the same distance from the house as the Costco in the area. Any preference between the two?

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #26 on: July 13, 2017, 10:38:13 PM »
I live in Tucson, not Phoenix, so no really helpful advice.  However, I once rode my bike through Phoenix on a bike tour, and I was super impressed with the canal bike paths.  Once you get on them, you can really get around without having to deal with traffic much.  So there's that!

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2017, 04:53:00 AM »
For cheap produce, you could also check out the Mekong Supermarket at Dobson/Main St.  That's pretty close to where you are now.  The area around there can be a little crummy but nothing too bad.  Also a bit farther out but where I go (and live near) is Superstition Ranch Market on Main St between Greenfield and Higley.   Super cheap produce and some of the sales they have are incredible.  Grapes consistently on sale for 50-70 cents/pound, bell peppers 25 cents each, squash 25 cents/pound.  A lot of that depends on what is seasonal or they have an abundance of, but if you go in with an open mind and just pick up the cheap items, you will easily leave with a full grocery cart for 15-20 bucks.  I love that place.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2017, 05:32:11 AM »
Walk through the Costco to compare.  Tell the gatekeeper you are considering joining.  Both will have the best prices on gas. 

The canal bike paths are nice.  One of the canal access points is south of you, on McClintock between Carmen and Dava.  Lots of people use that for car-free walking and biking.

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #29 on: July 14, 2017, 05:34:24 AM »
I lived in Phoenix for 3 years in the early 90s.  It got to 122 degrees the first summer I lived there.  I tell people if I die and go to hell, I get credit for time served.  Good luck to you.  I HATED it.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Moving to Phoenix. Need advice.
« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2017, 11:13:52 AM »
For cheap produce, you could also check out the Mekong Supermarket at Dobson/Main St.  That's pretty close to where you are now.  The area around there can be a little crummy but nothing too bad. 

Good advice.
Recently there was another supermarket opened "AZ International Marketplace" at Dobson/Broadway, even cheaper for produce. Quite interesting.