Top Five Phoenix Neighborhoods
This east Phoenix neighborhood tops the list for a simple reason: location. Arcadia offers urban dwelling with a rural feel, and it's 15 minutes or less from the airport and downtown Scottsdale. Bordered by 44th and 68th streets to the west and east, respectively, Camelback Road to the north and the Arizona Crosscut Canal to the south, Arcadia was once home to orange and grapefruit groves. Lots are relatively large and irrigated, dotted with some of those original citrus trees. Many of the Arcadia's original 1950s homes have been flattened to make way for McMansions, but some of those low-slung old ranch houses still stand. They're a good deal if you're looking to live in this pricey area and can't afford a big mortgage. Arcadia's streets are wide and the schools in this part of the Scottsdale School District are exceptionally good.
If a subdivision where all the houses look the same doesn't appeal to you, check out north Tempe, near Arizona State University. Maple-Ash, a historic Tempe neighborhood just southwest of Mill Avenue and University, is a funky, fun area with older houses on large, irrigated lots. There's also a great local bar, Casey Moore’s. Maple-Ash has the most varied architecture in the area; homes were built between 1900 and 1950 and range from farm cottage to ranch house. More manageable is University Park, east of Mill, where the homes are a little newer and the lots are larger. Several new condominium complexes have sprouted near ASU, including The Vale, an ultra-modern loft complex designed by celebrated local architect Will Bruder, and Orchidhouse, luxury lofts right on Mill Avenue, ASU’s main commercial thoroughfare. The area is served by the Tempe public school districts.
North Central Phoenix
Anything along the old bridle path that runs up Central Avenue north from about Camelback Road past Glendale Avenue is considered prime real estate. John McCain’s former mansion is here. There are several older, nice subdivisions, and good schools. The city's highly regarded Catholic high schools, Brophy and Xavier, are here, and the public schools are in the strongly ranked Phoenix school district. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon lives in Windsor Square, a historic neighborhood that winds around the northeast corner of Camelback and Central. The first homes were adobe territorial style, built in the 1930s; building continued until the 1950s. Neighbors take great pride in this 'hood, and the annual home tour is a popular event.
If you’re looking for a master planned community, and you don’t mind being on the far, far, far west end of town, Verrado’s a good option. A few years ago this spot just off the I-10 near the White Tank Mountains in Buckeye was empty desert. DMB, a Scottsdale developer, created Verrado, an instant town in the New Urbanism mold. The homes come in a variety of architectural styles and all feature porches and proximity to parks. There's also a Main Street with a retail district that includes a good pizzeria, and Mokarabia coffee, live jazz performances and other homey touches.
Agritopia perches on the city’s southeast corner in the town of Gilbert. Future residents can choose a home style -- Craftsman, Spanish Revival, Arizona Ranch or Northern European Revival -- modeled on homes built in the Phoenix area in the 1930s and '40s. All houses are available with basements. True to the development's name, there’s an emphasis here on agriculture. An urban farm sells locally grown produce and a farm grill serves food made with ingredients grown right there. The community is in the Higley School District.