Review of Gilbert, Arizona

Thoughts from a Midwest Transplant
Star Rating - 5/27/2019
The reason I chose to write a review is because, while a few were indeed quite concise & accurate (looking at you, J.T.), some were astonishingly biased and/or isolated critiques that painted this small city with a broad brush. I, therefore, thought I would offer my perspective.

My review needs to be qualified as insight coming from a "transplant" rather than a native-born Arizonian. My bride & I have no kids, and we relocated in 2011 from the Midwest. I will only offer a review to what I have repeatedly experienced -- climate, housing/crime, roads, culture, shopping & entertainment, commute and friendliness -- and will leave out categories with little-to-no personal exposure.

With that in mind, for those readers with children, my exposure to the educational system as a resident without kids is quite limited to the same sources that any person can obtain online: beter-than-average elementary and high school (Gilbert High). Like everything else, parenting and family standards will dictate how far your own child excels more so than any teacher. Having read a couple reviews, all I can say is blaming a professional instructor all the time only makes a parent appear weak and disengaged. But I'll leave that category to your own further research.

CLIMATE: Coming from the Midwest, and having lived through 8 metro Phoenix summers, I have to give high marks to the climate. Now, I have to make it clear that everyone responds to heat differently, and many of us come with prior experience in other regions of the country. For us, we've found that we much rather deal with a few months of a 100+ degree dry heat than a few months of below-zero temps, ice & slush, shoveling snow, scraping windshields, salty roads, and the slip 'n' fall threats to loved ones. I look at it in context: as long as one is not digging ditches during the months of June - Sept, one merely needs to limit any outdoor chores to 10:00 AM, then take advantage of shaded areas or A/C for the remainder of the day. It's 2019, and every facility in GIlbert has it. As I said, this category is one that can only be based on each person's tolerance to heat.

HOUSING / CRIME: While Gilbert has plenty of socio-economic strata to meet one's individual housing standards, it ranks above the national average in real estate value. Part of that is due to the low crime rate that Gilbert continues to enjoy in many published national rankings (ranked #6 in the 10 Safest Cities in America, May 2019). This is not to say there is no crime in Gilbert. Only that the crime in GIlbert is well below the national average, and the murder rate in Gilbert is very, very low. Theft does occur, but it's on a smaller scale, and the locals sometimes act irresponsibly by leaving garage doors open or vehicles unlocked. Reviewers who complained about too many police vehicles seen on the road are likely reviews from the local youth. But I get it. Still, if you want to get crazy and break some laws in Gilbert, AZ, you may want to reconsider. The odds are not in your favor, and that's the way the parents who pay good money for their property like it. Such is life!

For housing, there are both HOA and non-HOA communities, depending on your degree of tolerance for "conformity" and structure, and prices range from mid-200's for modest 3-BR homes on very small lots, all the way up to 7-figure custom behemoths. The average is in the mid-300's. The roads in Gilbert are outstanding, multi-laned and well maintained, and the traffic lights are timed to the 45-mph speed limit on main thoroughfares.

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT: We live 5 minutes from downtown Gilbert, so access to an array of critically-acclaimed eating venues is convenient. Outside of downtown Gilbert, there are strip centers on every major intersection, and restaurants of various cuisines reside there. You're likely within 15 minutes of any well-rated ethnic restaurant. Plus, neighboring suburbs (Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Queen Creek) have a plethura of night spots from which to choose. There is also an abundance of large grocery stores as well as shopping areas and outdoor malls in Gilbert. They will likely satisfy any standards you may personally possess.

CULTURE: Gilbert is a mostly-conservative, predominantly Caucasian town of 200K. (More diversity can be found in Tempe and Central Phoenix.) The bride & I have found that people are kind to one another. Not to spend too much time on religion, but there is a fair mix of religions practiced in Gilbert. Yes, this city has a fair amount of Mormons. But, as a non-Mormon, I can honesly say that my experience with them (several on my block) has been nothing but outstanding & positive. They are truly family-oriented, and they go out of their way to be kind, helpful and friendly. Such a rapport will hinge on your own personality- whether or not you take the neighborly initiative to be friendly to them like you would anyone else. The kids here are like kids anywhere else-- they want to look and act hip & edgy. Some come from more disciplined households, while other's rules are more lax. Pretty much the same as Anytown, USA.

If I had to pick one Con...there's not enough cultural venues here, so I wouldn't recommend this town if you're single. It's more for families of any age group. Gilbert does have a live downtown theater. Plus, neighboring towns within a short drive do host art fairs, sports arenas and more theaters. Still, coming from a larger cosmopolitan city in the Midwest, one can get spoiled being used to numerous museums, concerts, theaters, comedy clubs, night clubs and sporting arenas.

COMMUTE: Gilbert is 40 minutes from downtown Phoenix, 30 minutes from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Depending on where you live in Gilbert, it's about 30 minutes from Scottsdale, and about 25 minutes from Tempe. If you work in Phoenix, the morning commute will be under 45 minutes. It's seasonal, too, as the snowbirds from the North will swell the entire Valley's population by an add'l 30% in winter months, and that may impact your drive from time to time. Nevertheless, you have the lovely San Tan or Superstition Mountains to accompany you on your commute. And there's nothing negative that can be said about that!

In summary, my 8 years of exposure to Gilbert can state that this is a great town with a lot to offer a family of any size. It lacks a diverse cultural dynamic, but you're not too far from areas that have what you seek. Apologies for its length. I was simply trying to be thorough.
Marcus | Gilbert, AZ
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7 Replies

Thank you so much for your thorough review. Much appreciated!
Yvette | Anaheim, CA | Report Abuse

Thanks for taking the time to write such a Thorough review!
Sarah | Temecula, CA | Report Abuse

Wow, such a thoughtful review. Thanks from one looking to move to Gilbert from Santa Barbara, CA. Most appreciated.
janet | Goleta, CA | Report Abuse

Thank you for this review!! Very insightful!
Jen | West Mifflin, PA | Report Abuse

I hate the heat, but I hate the humidity much much more, having lived in CT & MA most of my life. (Can't imagine southern states' humidity as CT was bad enough! Thought of moving to TN but after doing in-depth research, it was way too Conservative Christian, among others. Hated the rain, and threat of Tornadoes, or ice storms. The 9.5 sales tax is crazy. The low property taxes compare to AZ. TN does have the benefit of not taxing pensions or SSI, whereas AZ only taxes pensions but not SSI. Two things important to older retirees, like myself.) I moved to Gilbert AZ in 2011. It has expanded so much since then. I love downtown Gilbert. It's quaint, not huge. There is a Farmer's Market every Saturday morning, and in the cooler times, there is also an art walk. (Each town has their own art walks and farmer's markets, like Chandler, another gem.) Tempe is a college town and has some areas of interest. Phoenix is the major city here in AZ and with it, it has everything. I live right across the street from an organic farm that has an indoor, everyday, farmer's market where you can go in, buy your fresh Veg and pay via the iPad provided. There is a brewery pub and winery with outdoor and indoor seating. There is a fabulous Vegan restaurant that I have frequented since they moved from a food truck (The Uprooted Kitchen). Barnone was developed by Joe Johnston, who has several restaurants in Gilbert. He owns the organic farm. The Coffee Shop there has the best Americanos. There is a new development there being built with apartments and underneath, stores. It's a community. There is elderly transitional housing there (expensive and way out of my price range), and Agritopia is the original development for houses with a community. Joe's Farm Grill is there if you like burgers, milkshakes and more. Fire and Brimstone is owned by his son, and he makes artisan pizzas and sandwiches with lovely salads. Inside Barnone are a few other artisan shops. Within two miles of my house is an outdoor mall, grocery stores, and all amenities. I can literally walk to my Optician's office. I bicycle everywhere during the cooler months. During the warmer months I walk in early morning and in the evening. I hate the heat, but the dry heat is much easier to handle. I can sit in 105 degrees as long as it's in the shade. Try doing that in a humid state. You sweat profusely even in the shade. Having lived in a humid state my whole life, it gets old. I dread winters and ice. Having driven in both for my job, it was annoying. Having to shovel it off the roof, steps, driveway and make a path for the dogs, it got old. I did love the woods, but hated the ticks and black fly seasons. But New England is a beautiful area. Boston & New York were two hours way. Another reason I dreaded moving to TN was the lack of the culture I grew up with and in its place, a conservative christian culture and church around every corner. Maybe that's for you. It's not for me. I love diversity in everything. Culturally, Gilbert doesn't have what I had with Boston and New York, but it is growing and more people re moving here. there is a wonderful Mexican culture. When I first moved here though, the hatred for Mexican people was startling. The border is a few hours away and with it, all the drama of illegal crossings. It's a hot topic here. I found it quite odd, to be honest, coming from a cultural community. It really doesn't help when the local news ramps up the fear mongering. This is a Red State, with Tucson being more Blue. I won't get into the politics but that did concern me as well. As for the Mormons (LDS), I have been pestered quite a few times to convert, even though I am not religious, but was born into another faith. I stated as such, but the coercing continued. I found that a bit aggressive, and had to stop it in its tracks. But the LDS are family oriented and as such, are all about community. So there's that. They are less aggressive religious business than their Conservative Christian counterparts as I have found over the years. So, Gilbert is a wonderful place, as is Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix. Lots going on, but a lot of traffic. This is a big state. Gilbert is more a city than a town. It's pretty big. What I love though is the fact that you can drive to most amenities within minute. For retirees, this is fantastic. The property taxes are much lower here as well. Also, many older people prefer warmer climates. But don't think the heat is a joke here and it can take its toll on the best of us. I do not prefer extremes in weather, but if I had to choose, it's the dry heat over the cold, wintery New England weather or the Humid, damp TN weather. It's a trade off. Make sure you do your research of an area. You may move here and hate it if you don't. also, there is the concern about drought. Something to think about in the coming years, though Arizona has a wonderful Water management system due to this being a desert.
Elaine | Gilbert, AZ | Report Abuse

Thank you for this review!
Breanna | Omaha, NE | Report Abuse

I will agree with cultural diversity of venues and populations. But i will say Tempe and Phoenix are not the only areas. Mesa and Chandler are also like this with tons of Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean foods if you look around enough. For example in Mesa there is a place called the Asian District, and there is Mediterranean food areas in Dobson Ranch one named Green Corner which is wildly popular including Mexican Places like Fruitlandia and a nice little ice cream Raspodos called Helados Zacatecas and even Italian place called Heaven On A Spoon Gelato near Downtown Mesa.
Ray | Mesa, AZ | Report Abuse
- 4/7/2024
Small Town feel mixed with Urbanism.
Gilbert should be compared to the Midwest in the sense that despite the size of the buildi...
Kent | Chandler, AZ | No Replies

- 11/16/2023
Good Walkability, Mixed Use, Safe. Lacks Transit.
My Dad lives in Gilbert and i live nearby due to proximity of Mesa and visit Gilbert a lot...
Ray | Mesa, AZ | 1 Reply

- 6/29/2018
Lived in Gilbert for 4 years now & love it
Great community for families, couples, retirees and anyone looking for a safe, friendly, c...
J T | Gilbert, AZ | No Replies

- 4/12/2017
Gilbert AZ a wonderful place to live
A family friendly town with great schools and low crime. The people are friendly, there's...
Lori | Gilbert, AZ | No Replies

- 1/1/2014
Good area for children
Hello my husband just accepted a job offer in Tempe and I have been doing research on what...
Tamera | Las Vegas, NV | No Replies

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