Mesa’s population of more than 518,000 is the third-largest in Arizona. The city has grown from a bedroom community into a bona fide economic player in the region.
Things to Do in Mesa
Visit the Usery Mountain Regional Park to appreciate the Sonoran Desert’s singular beauty. The sprawling park (3,648 acres) offers the best of desert vegetation: Arizona barrel cactus, saguaro, palo verde, and cholla. The park features a nature center, 27 miles of trails, and a 73-site campground.
For family fun, the i.d.e.a. Museum is an educational, hands-on museum where you can engage in art-inspired activities. At the Arizona Museum of Natural History, you’ll find fossils of Tyrannosaurus Rex and other meat-eating dinosaurs. You can even pan for gold in the History Courtyard.
The Local Weather
Mesa’s desert climate brings scorching and dry summers. The city gets an average of only 10 inches of rainfall annually, a lot less than the national average of 38 inches. The city’s average of 301 sunny days per year compared with the U.S. average of 205 sunny days exacerbates the dry conditions. Mesa and the rest of Arizona are prone to droughts. One of the longest droughts in the state lasted 512 weeks, from August 2009 to June 2019.
The Cost of Living in Mesa
Mesa’s cost of living is 34.6% higher than the national average, which is comparable to its big neighbor, Phoenix (20.4% higher than the national average). On the positive, food and transportation costs are 42.8% and 37.2% lower than the national average, respectively. Median gross rent in Mesa is $988. The income tax rate in Arizona, at 2.59% to 4.50%, is below average. But its sales tax rate of 5.60% to 11.20% is among the highest in the U.S.
Know Your Neighborhoods
Suburbanites will love Mesa, which is considered a suburb of Phoenix, only 15 miles away. Residents praise its scenic environment, big-city amenities, and highly rated schools. A large percentage of Mesa’s residents are renters. Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert are known for their excellent schools, and they are within commuting distance of Mesa. The majority of Tempe and Chandler residents are renters. Tempe gets kudos for its parks, trails, and access to outdoor recreation.
Getting Around the City
You’re going to need a car to get around in Mesa, but when visiting downtown, you can hop onto the Valley Metro Light Rail for convenience. Valley Metro, a regional public transportation agency, provides transit services in Phoenix, Mesa, and surrounding cities. Valley Metro’s transportation network also includes bus and paratransit services. Flying in and out of Mesa is easy with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.