Thoughts from a Midwest Transplant
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