Mesa, Arizona, is a suburb of Phoenix in Maricopa County, and the third-largest city in the state with a population of 471,825 (2015 estimate). Due to its large area (stretching about 18 miles east to west and covering 133 square miles) the city is commonly considered as comprising two sections, East Mesa and West Mesa.
The Hohokam (Departed Ones) tribe first settled in the Mesa area at about the same time that Caesar was ruling the Roman Empire. The Hohokam are credited with building the original system of canals for irrigation—about 135 miles of waterway. Some of these were re-dredged 150 years ago and are in use today.
Mesa has a desert climate with total annual rainfall of 9.29 inches. Summers are hot—average high temperatures in June-July-August are 104-106-104°F. The coolest month is December, with an average low of 40°F and an average high of 67°F.
A Transit Services Department provides public transportation in the city with light rail, bus, and taxi service. The Downtown Buzz is a free, 11-passenger bus that connects to major bus routes and popular attractions in the city. Air travelers use the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, just minutes from downtown, or Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport—only 35 minutes away. Major highways in Mesa are State Roads 101 to the west and 202 to north and east, and U.S. 60 to the south.
Mesa Cost of Living
The cost of living in Mesa correlates closely with national averages, with transportation, housing, and food costing a little more, while utilities and health care cost a little less. State, county, and city sales taxes total 8.05%. How far will your salary go in Mesa? Use the links below to find out.
Mesa Public Schools, Arizona’s largest unified school district, operates K-6, 7-8, 9-12 schools as well as preschool, “choice,” and “success” schools. The Diocese of Phoenix provides Catholic education in K-8 and high schools throughout the greater Mesa area. Several local colleges and universities offer choices for higher education, including Arizona State University in Tempe, Mesa Community College, and Benedictine University at Mesa.
There are an estimated 45 hospitals within 30 miles of Mesa, including the Mountain Vista Medical Center and Banner Desert Medical Center. As part of the greater Phoenix area, Mesa is close to some of the state’s largest hospitals such as the Maricopa Medical Center and Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (600+ beds each).
Mesa Real Estate
U.S. Census data for 2010 shows 201,173 housing units in Mesa, 60.5% of these are owner-occupied. The median value of homeownership is $150,800, well below the state median of $162,900. The median monthly costs for homeowners with a mortgage is $1,357. The median gross rent is $875.
Mesa offers more than 60 motels and hotels. You can find choices under $40 a night with free breakfast and wi-fi. For more amenities, consider a stay at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel (four stars) or the Hyatt Place Phoenix/Mesa (three stars). For a stay to remember, consider a rustic cabin at the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch on the banks of the Salt River—a scenic destination popular for weddings, vacations, and corporate events.
Any trip to the southwest should include a taste of Mexican cuisine, such as you’ll find at Mango’s Mexican Cafe. Check out the homemade tamales or the fish taco with orange avocado salsa. Or stop in at Rosa’s Mexican Grill for Baja style dishes, such as Plato de Carne with beef sirloin, pork, or chicken roasted slowly over an open flame. For comfort food served to northern European and Canadian tastes, dine out at Beaver Choice. It also offers a gluten-free lunch menu.
Things to Do in Mesa
Mesa offers a wonderful array of attractions and diversions. The Dutton’s Family Dinner Theater and Barleen’s Arizona Opry Theater entertain as you dine. On a similar note, the Organ Stop Pizza sweetens the pasta with music from a grand pipe organ dating back to 1927. If you like Golf, Mesa holds a trove of courses with breathtaking vistas, such as the Las Sendas Golf Club or Toka Sticks Golf Club. To more fully appreciate the splendor of desert and mountains, consider a day trip such as the 65-mile jaunt over Apache Trail & Superstition.