Surprise, Arizona, is a small, but growing suburb of Phoenix. The founder of the city, Flora Mae Statler, named it Surprise in 1938 because she said she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much." These days, Surprise has over 115,000 residents living in houses, apartments, and rent to own homes. Surprise has a reputation for being a town for retirees, since it's home to Sun City Grand, an age-restricted neighborhood that feels like a resort. However, the town is full of people of all ages, and it's a safe and quiet alternative to living in Phoenix proper.
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Housing in Surprise Want a rental apartment or a home to buy in Surprise? You're in luck, since there's a diverse selection of homes here. About 65% of places are owner occupied in Surprise, while 15% are rented - so it might be easier if you want a purchasable or a rental house. But if you want a rental, you might be in luck, since the vacancy rate is at 18% right now (with an annual residential turnover of 39%), so there's a good chance you'll find just what you're looking for right away. The median gross rent in Surprise is $1,097, while the median home sale is $172,000 - both of which are relatively low for such a desirable destination. There have been 2,696 homes sold in the last 6 months, so Surprise is definitely a place on the rise.
Local Events and Festivals Surprise has great weather, and that lovely desert climate all-year round. That's why they have so many events in the beautiful outdoors regularly, like the Second Sunday in the Park Concert series, which are free and feature live bands and family entertainment. Surprise hosts an annual local talent show for participants of all ages, as well as an annual Surprise Party, which is a celebration of the town. The Surprise Party takes place over the course of two days and offers tons of activities for the whole family, like a Gingerbread House Contest and a Car Show.
Transportation and Commutes Most people who live in Surprise want to be able to get into Phoenix easily. For people that drive, the cities are connected by a main road, Route 60. That will get you into Phoenix, and also into Las Vegas. There is almost no public transportation in Surprise, so you'll want to have your own set of wheels. If a car's not your thing, get a bike. The city's not really a place for walkers, but it does have some areas where commercial destinations are reachable on foot.
Local Restaurants Residents of Surprise have access to all of Phoenix's restaurants, which are some of the best in the country. But you don't actually have to leave Surprise to get something delicious to eat. There are several highly-touted Asian restaurants, including Saigon Kitchen, a Vietnamese-fusion restaurant, and Thom Yum Authentic Thai. Vogue Bistro is one of the nicer spots in town; it features both French and American food in a chic and upscale atmosphere. Babbo Italian Eatery is also a local favorite, and it's a casual place to go for your Italian favorites.
Local Shopping There's no shortage of shopping options in Surprise, Arizona. The city has a number of fantastic shopping centers that cover pretty much everything you could want. The Bell Mar Surprise Plaza is a great place to start. It has a retail incubator program called Barnaby Street that gives small businesses a place to start out and develop their business over time. It also has a number of great restaurants. The Surprise Town Center is one of the best shopping areas. Here you'll find everything from Amish Hardwood to Office Max to Wal-Mart. The Hodge-Podge Resale shop is a great place to find used and vintage goods and the Two Hearts One Love Boutique has lots of fashionable women's clothing. The city is slated to get a new mall in the near future that will be the largest regional mall in Arizona.
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