Love My ‘Hood: Tempe – A Suburban City


love tempeI grew up in a small suburban town outside of Chicago and I wouldn’t say I hated it, but I have definitely always preferred a more exciting living vibe.

For that reason, I chose initially to go to college at NYU and ended up in Los Angeles at USC. So, when we decided to relocate to Phoenix after having kids, I didn’t want to find myself in suburbia again. Tempe has proved to be the perfect combination of suburban and city living. Here’s why I love my ‘hood!



Young & Vibrant 

The young and active vibe in Tempe is the primary reason we love it so much! Having Arizona State University in the city means that there is a vibrant scene: sporting events, nightlife, theater, dining, shopping, and entertainment. The Planetarium at ASU has some amazing astronomy shows. And there’s always an awesome performance happening at the ASU Gammage Auditorium or the Tempe Center for the Arts for an adults only night. 

Whenever I came into town to visit my sister before we moved here, she always took us to the Mill Avenue District. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with Arizona. Acting as the “downtown” of Tempe, you can stroll and shop, while also having your pick of dining options. (We may or may not have partied there pre-kids too – haha).

Outside of the school zone, Tempe Marketplace is a great place to take in other seasonal entertainment and kids events. 

Location, Location, Location

Tempe is also great for its location. In 15-20 minutes, you can be in downtown Gilbert, downtown Chandler, downtown Phoenix or even Old Town Scottsdale. And you can even go West to Peoria or East to Queen Creek in about 30.

I have clients in the East Valley, I teach classes in North Scottsdale, my Dad lives out in Sun City and we love to hike in South Mountain. Of course, you may not have much reason to leave when Tempe has so much to offer, including the ONLY IKEA in all of Arizona!

Outdoor Living

Tempe makes it easy to live outdoors with all of the public parks and recreation areas.

In just our little neighborhood pocket, we have four public parks within walking distance, including Kiwanis which has a huge playground space with a shaded splash pad.

Tempe Beach Park also has a great splash pad and picnic area.

Our favorite outdoor spot – especially when we have visitors in town and the weather is nice – is Tempe Town Lake. You can rent kayaks, paddle boats and pontoons and go on the lake. Or a 4 person bike (which has a basket seat on front for the littles!) and cruise the paved trail around. There is even a small beach!

Public Transport 

Another benefit of living near a university? Public transport! There is a highly efficient and well designed public transportation system in Tempe. There’s the free flash route shuttles and the free neighborhood orbit circulator buses.

The light rail runs right through the center of Tempe and can take you to the airport, downtown and all the way as northwest as Glendale. Tempe also has a streetcar that runs around the school and through some of the nearby neighborhoods. When you don’t feel like hopping in a moving vehicle, biking is a great option in Tempe too.

Both the terrain and the layout are bike-friendly. With small kids, we stick close to home, so we bike to The Golden Pineapple Craft Lounge right in our neighborhood.

A Note on Schools

When you have kids, you always want to know about schools in the area. While Tempe’s public school system is above average, the Getz developmental school system is considered the best in the region.

If you child needs special attention, this is a great place to be. We also just happen to live down the street from a Montessori that is in the public school system, which my son will start next year. I think there are school gems in every city!

See why other writes love living in their “hood” here!

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Emily Carden
Emily relocated from Los Angeles in 2019 and now lives in Tempe with her husband and her two boys, Oskar & Dominik. Although it’s taken some time, Emily has finally found her village and is happy to be a permanent East Valley Mom! Emily is a laid-back, crunchy, boy-mom who loves to gather with girlfriends to drink wine and chat it up. As a yoga teacher, doula and most recently, Beautycounter consultant, she’s into all things clean and sustainable living, alternative lifestyle and health and happiness. She loves to read books, visit the spa and spend time cuddling with her furry and human babies. Although mostly a stay-at-home mom, Emily still works with a small number of clients as a prenatal yoga teacher, birth doula and most recently expanded her business as Clean Beauty Consultant with Beauty Counter in anticipation of her second son's arrival, adjusting her work to fit more with motherhood. She is passionate about clean, healthy living and supporting women in having happy and empowering lives. Emily loves to relax and steal moments of self-care after bedtime by reading good books, enjoying a great show or turning her bathroom into a spa for the night. You can almost always catch her out a park pre and post nap-time chasing after her very active toddler.


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