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Tempe, AZ homebuyer’s guide

Discover the lively city outside of Phoenix that’s drawing in young professionals.

LC

Lindsey Chase

Author

SM

Sharon MeyerLocal Authority

Reviewer

6/1/2022 · 7 min read

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Spotlight

Phoenix, AZ homebuyer’s guide

Becca Stanek

Tempe is a 40-square mile city tucked between Phoenix and Scottsdale with a charm all its own. There is a younger crowd here than compared to other areas of Phoenix due, in part, to Arizona State University (ASU) which is situated on the west side of town. People love Tempe for its easy, walkable streets, views of Tempe Town Lake, and the lively Mill Avenue.

Arizona has the third-highest population growth in the U.S. With about 180,000 residents as of the 2020 census, Tempe is a big contributor to that growth. Thanks to an expanding job market and manufacturing companies moving in, Tempe has a lot to offer working professionals who love the sunshine.

Latest houses for sale in Tempe, Arizona 

  • Listing main image

    $279,500

    • 2 br
    • 1 ba
    • 840 sqft
    700 W University Dr #160, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Listing main image

    $505,000

    • 3 br
    • 1 ba
    • 1288 sqft
    803 W Howe St, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Listing main image

    $650,000

    • 4 br
    • 3 ba
    • 2311 sqft
    1857 E Chilton Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Listing main image

    $1,399,900

    • 5 br
    • 4 ba
    • 2918 sqft
    133 E 15th St, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Listing main image

    $679,000

    • 3 br
    • 2 ba
    • 1840 sqft
    1402 E Bayview Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Listing main image

    $590,000

    • 4 br
    • 3 ba
    • 2346 sqft
    6740 S Terrace Rd, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Listing main image

    $695,000

    • 4 br
    • 2 ba
    • 1992 sqft
    1051 E Frost Dr, Tempe, AZ 85282
  • Listing main image

    $340,000

    • 2 br
    • 1 ba
    • 1168 sqft
    5345 S Kenwood Ln, Tempe, AZ 85283
  • Listing main image

Look and Feel

The housing market

$585k

19%

Median Home Price

$341

18%

Median Price per Sq. Ft

167

-8%

Average Monthly Home Sales

Hot spot for young professionals 

In addition to ASU students, Tempe is home to young professionals who value the walkable and energizing lifestyle it has to offer. High-rise apartment buildings and condominiums with views of Tempe Town Lake are popular among this crowd. There are also desirable single-family houses in neighborhoods such as Mitchell Park West and Brentwood-Cavalier that offer a bit more space.

Cost of living

$843

Housing Median Rent

57.2%

Rent Affordability Index

You’ll spend a bit more

The cost of living in Tempe hovers around the national average, except when it comes to housing. You can expect to pay about 13% more here while median gross rent sits at $1,164 per month. Median household income in Tempe is $61,290, which comes in just below Arizona’s $61,529.

The job market

With Tempe expected to grow by about 14% in the next decade, there is an expanding workforce of young and educated professionals. Tempe is home to corporate offices of Fortune 500 companies such as State Farm Insurance and Honeywell. Additionally, Moov Technologies, an interactive platform used for purchasing manufacturing equipment, announced it will be moving its headquarters into Tempe, creating more than 100 local jobs. 

Watch out Silicon Valley

The Phoenix area is billing itself as “Silicon Desert” to tech companies and their workers seeking a growing talent pool and lower costs. Tech/car company Carvana is already headquartered in Tempe along with web domain registrar GoDaddy.

3%

Unemployment Rate

$83k

Average Salary per Year

Public transportation

Services offered in Tempe

🚍

Bus: Valley Metro

🚊

Light Rail: Valley Metro Rail

🔋

EV Charging: ChargeHub

Light rail to downtown Phoenix and back

The Valley Metro light rail has undergone an extension linking Tempe to downtown Phoenix and beyond. With fast and reliable service, riders can take the line straight to Sky Harbor airport or all the way north into North Mountain Village.

Locals can get around on foot

One of the major selling points about Tempe is its walkability. Walk Score gives the whole of Tempe an average score of 54, but highlights highly walkable neighborhoods such as Mitchell Park East, University Heights, and Riverside. Additionally, electric scooters and bikes are scattered all around Tempe and are a popular choice with locals who would rather not drive.

Demographics

195,513

Population

33.2

Median Age

95,124

Family Median Income

There’s a young crowd

The median age in Tempe is around 30, which is certainly helped by the college students who call this area home. But don’t let the young crowd scare you. South Tempe provides many neighborhoods full of single-family homes with backyards for the 20% of residents with children.

Crime & safety

The crime rates in Tempe vary dramatically depending on the neighborhood. This interactive map shows Arizona State University campus and the surrounding area of University Park to be the places with some of the lowest rates in addition to neighborhoods such as Warner Estates, Los Tesoros, and Sierra Tempe.

Tempe neighborhood guide

With just 40 square miles, there are plenty of unique neighborhoods that make up Tempe.

Kiwanis Park — Activities for everyone

Located in South Tempe between state route 101 and Interstate 10, this suburban neighborhood offers dozens of recreation activities. The Kiwanis Recreation Center on the east side of the neighborhood features a wave pool, tennis courts, a gymnasium, and batting range. Just north of the rec center is Kiwanis Lake, where residents can paddle boat, fish, or take a leisurely stroll. 

Alta Mira — Convenience around the corner

This neighborhood in South Tempe features single-family homes with palm tree lined streets. Goodwin Park stands in the middle of the neighborhood, and with amenities such as Walgreens and Starbucks just a few streets away on South McClintock Drive, it’s the perfect blend of urban and suburban.

Riverside — Walk with ease

Tucked between University Drive and Tempe Town Lake, sits the Riverside neighborhood. Jaycee Park offers locals plenty of green space, a playground, and dog run. There are dozens of older, quaint single-family homes in Riverside, along with newer condos. And for commuters, the Mill Avenue/3rd Street light rail station is just a few blocks away.

Broadmor — Homes with more space

This quaint neighborhood features some of the older homes of Tempe and is located south of the ASU campus. The homes in this area are a bit larger and more expensive than in other parts of Tempe, with homes ranging anywhere from $485,00 to upwards of $1 million, according to a recent survey of home listings. This, along with local bus stops, make it a good option for larger families with adults who commute.

3 things to know before buying a home in Tempe, according to locals

1. It’s not just a college town

Locals will be quick to inform you that there is much more to be discovered here apart from Arizona State University. While there are around 80,000 students in and around town, there are also young families, working professionals, and older residents who have spent their entire lives here. While some towns are “college towns” Tempe is a town with a college.

2. There’s more than one college

ASU snags the name recognition but there are multiple colleges in Maricopa County including Grand Canyon University and a host of two-year schools including the 10 campuses within the Maricopa Community College system. 

3. Be prepared for hot summers

The sweltering temperatures in Arizona for the majority of the year are enough to scare some people away. Tempe’s hottest month is July, with the average high reaching 106 degrees and the average low at 86. Even during the winter months of November through February, the average high is 73. Locals recommend taking up a water sport to help beat the heat during the peak summer season.

The top 4 things to do in Tempe

1. Rent a paddle boat at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake, which is actually a river, is a favorite spot of locals to cool off on a hot day. Paddle boats, paddle boarding, and kayaking are all popular activities and gear can be rented by the hour.

2. Visit the Arizona Heritage Center

The Arizona Heritage Center provides visitors with insight into the history of this great state and Phoenix in particular. With rotating exhibits such as the history of broadcast news in Arizona and a photo journey through Navajo and Hopi nations, visitors can view archival documents and photographs that will transport them through time. There is also the chance to view a World War II AT-6 training airplane.

3. Mill Ave

Known as Tempe’s entertainment district, Mill Avenue has a little something for everyone. This walkable district provides breweries, restaurants, and shopping for visitors and locals alike. Try the loaded fries at New-Orleans themed bar Fat Tuesday or the signature cocktails at Casa Tempe. Pedal Haus, Mill Ave’s one and only brewery, is definitely worth checking out. 

4. Hike the ‘A’

The notable concrete ‘A’ sits atop Tempe Butte and provides a beautiful overlook onto downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. The hike is just under three quarters of a mile and takes, on average, about 28 minutes to complete. The trail is dog friendly, however it is steep at times, but the view from the top is well worth it!

Continue exploring the Phoenix area

LC

Lindsey ChaseAuthor

A graduate of the Hubbard School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota, Lindsey has written for print and online publications as a freelancer since 2018. In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys pottery, spending time with her family, and running her A-frame house account @chaseaframe.

SM

Sharon Meyer is the writer/editor of Phoenix on the Cheap. As a veteran educator, sharing accurate, timely, and meaningful connections to community events and attractions with families on a budget is her passion. Sharon is also a freelance writer who’s covered topics ranging from antiques and collectables to shopping and travel. Sharon and her family have called the Valley of the Sun home for 34 years and currently live in the Paradise Valley Village neighborhood.