I have lived here for 8 years. After a 20 year career in the military that allowed me to live in 15 different cities in 8 states, I feel that I have become an amateur authority on observing the goings on of my surroundings. So here goes:
Mesa is a slow-paced city that is very geographically spread out. The streets out here in Maricopa county are all straight, broad, and in a grid pattern. It makes getting lost darn near impossible except for only the most directionally challenged people. Of course, that makes the raods a race-track on which to speed for many. It is very easy to drive 60 mph on the "surface streets" (thats what people here call the streets that are not highways. Be careful too because this is quickly becomming the speed camera capitol of the world. The motor vehicles department and the process for getting your vehicle smog checked is THE BEST have seen anywhere! Stores: drive a mile in any direction an you will find pretty much anything you need. This whole county is strip mall heaven. Recently built shopping plazas such as the Tempe Marketplace, and the San Tan Village are unique, hip, and truly great experiences to shop, hang out, and people watch. Too bad however, they are not in Mesa, but only 20-30 minute drive. Mesa tried to be hip with their Riverview Plaza, but missed the mark entirely. It is dull, lackluster, and difficult to drive around in. It is anchored by Walmart and Home Depot, so that should give you an understanding of its "hipness". Which, I think, is exactly the way the city elders want the city to be. THe city is populated by a huge Mormon following-not exactly the partying and accepting type. I think they would outlaw all serving of alcohol if they could. (I'll get back to the Mormons later, you need to know!). Anyway, there is really no good times to be had in this city. Everyone goes to Tempe (college town, if your're still into that scene it is great when school is in session), or they go to Scottsdale. OK, Scottsdale-THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE COUGAR phenom. Great bars, great shopping, great restaurants, great art galleries...but be sure to bring your Visa Black, or you will not be taken seriously by any of the posturing Beverley Hills wannabes. Lots of celebs have homes there and may be seen hitting the bar scene on weekends (I saw Charles Barkely in bar there once...nice guy)But, back to Mesa...see the trend? Nothing much to say about Mesa. Lots and Lots of houses, and little work or anything to do. Of course, there are 10's of thousands of retirees here. Driving on the same roads with them is scary, scary, scary! IN the winter, from about October-April 15, the whole county, Mesa seriously, is invaded by an Army of snowbirds. The business owners love their money, especially the golf courses (which most people cannot afford...in the 100's to play. When they are here, do not expect to get a seat at ANY restaurant, an appoinment with a doctor,or be able to drive anywhere over 30 mph. It is an invasion like the biblical locusts. If you are old yourself, they are very active and have many functions and clubs to join. If you are young...you will do nothing in Mesa except sleep in your house. The city of Mesa is financially broke right now. They cant seem to make any good money decisions and the services here are continually cut back. Of course, they have tried to impliment small tax initiatives, but OLD PEOPLE vote, and in Mesa, there are many of them. They dont want any noise, partying, recreation for young people, or money going to schools that they have no children enrolled in. Most initiatives get whacked off the ballot very quickly. Case in point: We were in the running to build the Arizona Cardinals stadium here. It was voted down because the crusty residents ssaid it would be too noisy and cause litter and crime....ok, right. So if you move to Mesa and want to go to events help there, it is on the other side of the county...up to 60 miles away...yeah, this is a big county. Ok, this is not Mesa only, but Arizona...the heat from May to November is insane! I was in the Persian Gulg countries during the first gulf war and that is the closest I can come to comparing the heat to somewhere Ive been. It is downright dangerous here in the summer. People die from the heat here every year...residents and visitors alike. Everything you own will dry out and fade quickly (including your car). Wear a broad brimmed hat here, trust me. I could write a book on this place, but generally speaking, people move here to get away from something, and they generally dont want to be bothered making new friends. I have found that you really need to work hard at it here...the number on reason people dont socialize, people they meet, or work with live too far away. Sounds trivial, but it is a big deal...once again very spread out and big. I would like to make one last statement. There are abvious boundries in this city. The Mexicans do most of the labor out here and they live in very defined boundries within the city. There is not much diversity of socialization going on. These neighborhood have a pretty large amount of crime as well, so dont go hangin out there if you dont belong.
My recommendation: Live here if you are Mormon (There is an LDS church every 3 miles)< and oh yeah, there are neighborhoods in Mesa where you cannot be in your front yard, or taking a walk without constant assaults from white shirted, tie-wearing tennage boys on bicycles trying to preach the Mormon philosophy to you. It can be Really annoying. Come also if you are old and ready to retire, but if you are younger and want to have a hipper scene, just stay away, you will be better off