People moving to a new area can look at the experience as either a great adventure or an incredibly stressful event. Relocating can be a lot of each. However, like most things in life, it’s what you make of it! To assist in your relocation plans, the following general information is available about the greater Phoenix area. Click on the individual subjects to get more information about a particular subject.

Major Employers

Scores of companies choose to locate or expand in the area every year, adding their energy to one of the nation’s most diverse regional economies and creating thousands of jobs. This drive is in large part responsible for Arizona’s ranking as the nation’s Number One economy, according to Everen Securities of Chicago.  Here is a list of Arizona’s largest employers.

Future-Oriented Growth

As a result of the region’s targeted economic development efforts and strong population and job growth, Greater Phoenix will maintain its status as a dynamic center of commerce well into the next century.

The success of Greater Phoenix is tied to its ability to attract a wide range of future-oriented companies. The region has become a magnet for companies in six key categories: High-technology, bio industry, business services, software, tourism and transportation and distribution. These industries provide the best overall fit for the region’s infrastructure, economy, geography and communities. Their presence also establishes Greater Phoenix as an economic pacesetter.

Education

Education has a high priority in the Metro Phoenix area. There are innovative special programs in the public schools, fine private schools and an extensive community college system plus four-year colleges for bachelor, master’s and doctorate degrees. In addition, vocational training is geared toward the actual needs of employers in the area.

Public Schools

Maricopa County has 57 school districts serving some 450,000 students, and with the area’s rapid growth, the numbers change yearly. Every neighborhood will be part of an Elementary School District (K-8) and a High School District(9-12).

The public school system in Arizona is divided into elementary, high school, and unified districts. The elementary school districts include kindergarten through eighth grades. The high school districts include the ninth through twelfth grades. The unified school districts include kindergarten through twelfth grades. There are some junior high schools, but most of these include just the seventh and eighth grades and are therefore in the elementary districts.

The Valley has dozens of fine elementary and secondary parochialand private schools, many with excellent regional and national reputations.

Universities & Colleges

Tempe is the site of Arizona State University’s modern 700-acre campus. Over 42,000 students seek degrees in the fourteen fully-accredited colleges that make up the university. Undergraduate programs are offered in a hundred fields of study, master’s in over seventy programs and doctorates in forty leading to degrees in arts and sciences, business, education, nursing, and others. Arizona State University has two satellite campuses; one located in Phoenix and one at Williams Air Force Base in Mesa.

Other colleges and universities include University of Phoenix, DeVry Institute of Technology, Grand Canyon University, Western International University, The American Graduate School of International Management, Ottawa University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation-School of Architecture, High-Tech Institute, Northern Arizona University.Ten colleges comprise the Maricopa Community College System and offer Assicuate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of General Studies degrees.

Residency Requirements

You will be considered a resident of Arizona if you own or rent a residence for seven months or more, or you have a permanent job, or your children are registered in public schools, or you get an Arizona driver’s license, or you maintain a business that is taxed by the state.

Property Taxes

Maricopa County property tax is based on the assessed value of the home (which is determined by the Assessor’s Office). The formula is the assessed value X 10% divided by 100 X the tax rate for the district. The average tax rate for Maricopa County is $9.68 per $1000 assessed valuation.

Arizona’s sales tax is 5%, and Maricopa County adds an additiona.50% to that. Cities and towns also add an additional tax of 1 to 2%.These taxes apply to all retail sales except grocery food and prescription medicines.

The state personal income tax rates range from 3 to 5.6% based on income.

Utilities

Salt River Project (SRP) supplies electricity for most of the Valley, including Ahwatukee, Foothills, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe. Arizona Public Service (APS) is the other main supplier. It serves parts of Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.

An average electric bill in the summer will be about $250 per month and in the winter, $95 per month. These figures will vary depending on the size of your home, the number of appliances and your lifestyle.

Department of Motor Vehicles

Maricopa County will issue your car registration, license plates and title. For personalized plates call (602) 255-0072. Registration fees are based on the make, model and year of your car. You must provide your previous registration card and license plates and the title or lien paper on your vehicle.

You must also provide proof of insurance. This must be at least $15,000/30,000for bodily injury or death and $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.

Every car (unless it is a model year 1966 or earlier) must pass emission inspection each year before it can be registered.

Do You Have To Buckle Up?

Yes. That’s the law in Arizona for the driver and front-seat passengers. Child restraints are required for children under 4 years or less than 40pounds.

You can also register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Transportation

If you reside in Arizona more than six months per calendar year, you should get an Arizona driver’s license. The Motor Vehicle Division now issues extended driver’s licenses. The license expires at age 60 and drivers are required to go in every 12 years for an eye test and a new photograph. Fees for the license vary. Five-year licenses are available to drivers 55 and older, military personnel and their families and out-of-state students. Permits and licenses may be obtained at various locations. For general information and to find out the location closest to your community, phone the Arizona Department of Transportation at (602)255-7011.

Automobile Insurance

The best way to save money on your automobile insurance is to shop around. The Arizona Dept. of Insurance brochure “Automobile Premium Comparison Survey” helps motorists find the best deals, showing a surprising range of prices for the same coverage. The biannual survey, rate comparisons for other types of insurance, and other consumer information pamphlets are available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Consumer Affairs Division, Dept. of Insurance, 2910 N. 44th St., #210,Phoenix, AZ 85018, or phone (602)912-8444.

Rush Hour

The Valley of the Sun, even with its extensive new freeway systems, still experiences rush-hour traffic. Smart motorists tune in to radio traffic reports for the latest information on how and where the traffic is flowing. Generally, rush hours run from 7 to 9am and 4 to 6pm on the major arteries around the Valley. In the morning, traffic is most congested heading towards downtown Phoenix and the reverse occurs in the afternoon. Phoenix and the Valley also have the new METRO Light Rail system which may help you get around easier.

Hints for the House Hunter

If you’ve made the decision to move to the Valley of the Sun, you’re probably in the market for a home. Here are some things you might want to consider:

Size and Price of Neighboring Homes
Purchasing the largest home on the block might not be a good idea. The home might have great curbside appeal, but the fact that it sits beside smaller homes might make its resale value lower.

Age of Neighborhood Residents
Ask your Realtor, inquire from the neighborhood association, or simply pay attention to details around the neighborhood for age clues, such as bikes in the driveways or RVs on the streets.

If your children are young, they will thank you for all the playmates on your block. If your children are all grown up, you will thank yourself for a peaceful neighborhood with the sound of Big Wheels on concrete far, far away.

For seniors, Arizona allows municipalities to make public ordinances establishing age specific community zoning districts. In some cases, whole communities are affected, and in others, just certain developments. Maricopa County’s Senior Citizen Zoning Ordinance makes it illegal for persons 18 years or younger to live in senior zones, except in hardship cases.

School District
Visit your local public school before you buy a home in the district, especially if you cannot afford a private school. There are 57 different school districts in Maricopa County. Write to the Maricopa County School Superintendent for maps at 301 W Jefferson St., Phoenix 85003, or call 506-3866.

Public Transportation
Can  you walk to the nearest bus station? How far is the airport?

Adequate Services
Can  you count on fire, police and trash removal services? And are these services included in your taxes, or will you be charged separately?

Is There a Neighborhood Association?
Do you have a large boat you’d like to park in your driveway? Some neighborhood associations might not permit this. Shoppers with unusual baggage, such as boats, RVs, antennas, or even roosters might choose to settle in a different neighborhood that is not a planned unit development with restrictions.

And for newer homes, be sure to check out the association fees and what they cover. Is there a community pool? Outside lighting?