Natives and transplants alike sure love the East Valley. Whether we find ourselves in Tempe, Mesa, Queen Creek, or another one of our fair cities or ‘burbs, momming is made so much easier by the general family-friendly vibe of the East Valley.
I’m originally from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, but moved to Arizona when I was 14. Since moving here, I’ve lived in Scottsdale, Tempe (ASU), South Tempe, and have called Chandler home for almost 8 years.
I feel like I’ve found my happy family place here in this city-meets-small town. Read on for why we put down roots and are raising our two girls here in our favorite place in Phoenix metro.
Where I grew up, it took a solid 20 minutes to get to a grocery store, my school, a restaurant, most of my friends, or any of my after-school activities. No joke, you’d spend about a gallon of gas just getting to the gas station.
Yes, we were “close” to Chicago, but all the amazingness of that city was a good hour or more away. My little town? Think half the size of Prescott without the good weather. I don’t know how my parents functioned with logistics like that and two kids.
As an adult, I am a big fan of convenience. My little neighborhood near downtown Chandler literally has it all: I’m 5 minutes or less from both the 101 and the 202 San Tan; I can walk to two different spots for coffee; my daughter’s elementary school is 7 minutes away with traffic; there’s a thriving downtown food and fun scene just two miles away.
If I want to venture out, I can make it to a Diamondbacks baseball game or a concert (back when we had those) in downtown Phoenix in about 30 minutes.
If it took me 20 minutes to get to the Jewel when I lived in Illinois, I can now hit Fry’s, Basha’s, Albertson’s, Safeway, AJ’s, Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s driving that same amount of time.
The East Valley is known for having fabulous schools and Chandler is right up there with the best of the best. There are also tons of choices for schools that best meet your family’s needs. Whether you are a private school, charter school, or district school family, there is something for everyone here.
My about-to-be-third grade daughter attends a “Traditional Academy” within the Chandler Unified School District. This model of school is perfect for us; they have easy uniforms, advanced curriculum, and the most amazing teachers we could ever ask for. I love that we are still supporting public school while my daughter receives an education that feels tailored to her.
It has always been a goal of mine as a parent to make sure that my kids experience a wide array of cultures, beliefs, foods, music, and all the other things that make up a full and vibrant life. Chandler is the perfect place to make that goal a reality.
Within my daughter’s school, there is a healthy cross-section of friends from different backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. My daughter can share about how we as a family celebrate Christmas, observe Hanukkah, and have an ofrenda for Dia De Los Muertos.
Her friends have introduced her to Diwali, Juneteenth, and Holi, but more importantly, they have taught her that friends are friends whether they look the same or different, and that rainbows are much more interesting than the individual colors.
Chandler is a melting pot of the world and the city celebrates that fact with its annual Multicultural Festival, featuring representative foods, dance, music, and film from the Asian, Pacific Islander, Latinx, and other communities that thrive here. This is one of my favorite must-do events in the Valley and I have it in my backyard, basically.
You like restaurants? We got ‘em. Everything from mom and pop places, to de-lish date night spots, to breweries, to your favorite chains. Seriously, good eats are everywhere. You don’t have to be downtown, either – there are amazing places all over our neighborhoods and little pockets of businesses. Some of my favorites include the Brickyard Downtown for date night, Charm for authentic and classy Thai food, Phoenix Palace for amazing dim sum, and La Hacienda for delicious Mexican food. If none of those hit you, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll probably have a good Chandler spot to recommend!
Besides the food (obviously my favorite thing), there are parks for every kid, activities for the whole family, and places to just get away from the kids, too.
Our favorite parks are “the Blue Park,” per my two year old and “the park with the zip line,” preferred by my 8 year old. My husband used to be a competitive bowler (yes, he is under 65) so we sometimes venture into one of the several bowling alleys in the area and I hear tell we have an indoor mini golf spot that we still need to check out.
The Chandler Center for the Arts hosts an annual Nutcracker performance that has become a Christmastime tradition for our family, plus tons of comedians and musicians.
Chandler is small enough to feel like anyone’s hometown and big enough to sport some of the best in food, events, and all the other perks of a big city. This Illinois transplant who always thought she’d head “home” as an adult has redefined home and found it here in Chandler.