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Reader Requested Short Review of Surprise, Arizona
Surprise, Arizona (population 130,000) is nestled next to the White Tank Mountains on the northwestern outskirts of Phoenix and is home to a significant number of retirees. In fact, 50% of residents are age 65 or better. Originally founded in 1938 as a development for agricultural workers, today Surprise is racially diverse, well kept and has plentiful recreational choices.
This is a boom town, growing by a whopping 1,700% in the last 10 to 20 years, and expectations are that Surprise's population may rival that of Phoenix's within 10 years. Eighty-five percent of Surprise's housing has been built since 1995, and the median home price is $215,000. Del Webb's 55+ Sun City Grand is here, too.
The cost of living is 4% above the national average. The crime rate is below the national average. Politics lean to the right, and 29% of locals hold at least a four year college degree.
New infrastructure is being built to accommodate the increasing population and includes a new 10,000 sq. ft. aquatics center, a state-of-the-art library, museums, movie theaters and a city center with new government offices. Chain restaurants are in good supply, and Prasada is a large retail, dining and housing development in the works.
The city has eight golf courses, four recreation centers, a small lake (Lake Surprise) and is home to Surprise Stadium where the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals hold spring practices. Residents talk about how well-maintained the city is (although some complain about the Sonoran Desert dust), and according to some surveys, nine out of 10 residents enjoy living here.
Transportation is provided by Valley Metro, but bus service is limited within Surprise. A dial-a-ride service is available Monday through Friday.
The Surprise Senior Center, open Monday through Friday, is operated by the city and is the hub of activities for citizens age 60 and better and for disabled adults. A fitness center, hot meals, classes and more are available.
Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, a 335-bed facility, is just five minutes away. Nationally recognized, it has won awards for patient safety, clinical excellence, emergency medicine and more. It is accredited by the Joint Commission, and Medicare patients are accepted. The city also has a VA outpatient clinic, and Phoenix has a VA hospital.
Summer daytime temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, but every building is air conditioned. Winter temperatures are in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Humidity is practically non-existent, and there is very little rain or wind. Just lots of heat, sunny blue skies and some amazing sunsets.
For the most part, infrastructure is keeping up with growth, except when it comes to roads. There are not many of them from Surprise to Phoenix, and commuting can be a "nightmare." Luke Air Force Base is not too far away, and noise from military jets rattles some residents. The air quality is well below the national average.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Arizona Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
The poor air quality should be considered, but a low crime rate, well maintained surroundings, new homes and new amenities make Surprise a potential spot for retirement.
The Grand Canyon State was originally part of New Mexico. After the land was ceded to the U.S. in 1848, it became a separate territory. It did not enter the union until February 14, 1912. Copper was discovered in the area in 1848, and metals mining continues to be an important part of the economy. Cattle and tourism are two of the states other vital industries.
Although Arizona can be one of the hottest states in the union, air conditioning continues to bring more and more people to the urban areas. The Colorado Plateau spreads through Arizona from the north and is interspersed with remnants of the Rocky Mountains. The land flattens into desert near Phoenix. The Colorado River forms the state's western borders and snakes through the Grand Canyon.
Arizona is stubborn when it comes to time. It observes Mountain Standard Time on a year round basis.
Population - 6,931,030
Persons 65 years old and over - 17%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 86%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 31%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $50,225
Median home value - $167,500
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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