The Authoritative Guide To The Best Neighborhoods In Scottsdale
(Updated February 2023)
We scoured the internet for a comprehensive guide on the best neighborhoods in Scottsdale and couldn’t find anything we thought would really help our clients, so we decided to make the definitive guide on Scottsdale’s top neighborhoods! So, come join me as I take you on an in-depth tour of the best of the best neighborhoods in Scottsdale.
If you are considering moving to Scottsdale, but are unsure as to which neighborhood might be the perfect fit, then this is the guide for you! Scottsdale is one of Arizona’s finest cities, consistently winning awards for being the best place to live. But it is also a huge city that can feel overwhelming for people considering a move here.
Our Criteria For The Best Neighborhoods In Scottsdale
As we begin the search we need to first define what exactly qualifies a neighborhood for a coveted spot on our best of Scottsdale list. We asked our clients what criteria they used when choosing a neighborhood and narrowed their responses down to 7 categories:
- Public Schools
- Appreciation History
- Heat of Current Market
Then, we ranked each neighborhood from first to seventh place in each of these categories and tallied those scores for an overall ranking. For a detailed explanation of the data we used to come to our rankings scroll to the bottom of the article.
Now, let’s get started and take a look at the neighborhoods that earned top honors.
#1 Old Town Scottsdale (85251)
The perfect place for people looking for an affordable neighborhood with world-class shopping and a more metropolitan, walking lifestyle.
Old Town Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 5th
🚨 Crime: 7th
🎉 Fun: 1st
🚶 Walkability: 1st
📈 Appreciation: 4th
🌡️ Market Heat: 5th
💸 Affordability: 1st
Old Town Scottsdale takes top honors with first-place ranking in the fun, affordability and walkability categories, earning it the additional distinction of being the only neighborhood with three first-place finishes. This is Scottsdale’s most happening neighborhood with more amazing restaurants and shopping than you could experience in a lifetime. If you pick the right part of Old Town you’ll be able to walk to just about anything you could need and be treated to world-class service and food while you are there.
The crime ratings are the worst of the bunch but keep in mind most of this crime is nonviolent (your chances of being a victim of violent crime are 4 in 1000 while the US average is 5 per 1000).
The market has seen a good amount of appreciation, standing at 13.8% in 2020 and the market heat ranks at 5th. This area is well established and likely to remain above average in terms of appreciation and growth, but not likely to see the kinds of break out price gains you might get in a less established area like South Scottsdale (85257).
Schools are a dim spot here and you will want to consider looking at some of the very good charter or private schools nearby before you rule the area out. There are also a few bright spots in the public schools including Pueblo Elementary and Saguaro High School.
Affordability is as good as it gets in Scottsdale with a median purchase price of $371,000.
Looking to Buy a Home in Old Town?
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#2 Mccormick Ranch / Gainey Ranch (85258)
Fantastic schools, safe neighborhoods and tons of great options for shopping and food make this a wonderful choice for up and coming Scottsdale families.
McCormick Ranch / Gainey Ranch Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 1st
🚨 Crime: 4th
🎉 Fun: 2nd
🚶 Walkability: 5th
📈 Appreciation: 5th
🌡️ Market Heat: 4th
💸 Affordability: 3rd
McCormick Ranch is a massive master-planned community bordered closely by the smaller community Gainey Ranch, so we have combined these two areas into one neighborhood. This area will have strong appeal for young or growing families looking for excellent schools and safety.
85258 scored a perfect 10 for schools, which is the only neighborhood to earn such an honor. Your likelihood of experiencing a violent crime is just 1 in 1000.
While this area is not nearly as walkable as Old Town or South Scottsdale, it does have a fantastic selection of restaurants and shopping to choose from. A quick car ride over to Scottsdale road will land you at dozens of 5-star options and you’re just a 5-15 minute drive from all that Old Town has to offer.
This area is relatively affordable by Scottsdale standards ($592,000 median purchase price) and appreciation (12% in 2020) and market heat are right near the middle of the pack.
Interested in Houses For Sale in McCormick Ranch or Gainey Ranch?
Schedule a phone consultation to learn more about properties for sale in this charming neighborhood that has the best schools and is ideal for up and coming families.
#3 South Scottsdale (85257)
Ideal for people looking to get a foot in the Scottsdale door with lots of financial upside
South Scottsdale Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 7th
🚨 Crime: 7th
🎉 Fun: 6th
🚶 Walkability: 3rd
📈 Appreciation: 1st
🌡️ Market Heat: 1st
💸 Affordability: 2nd
South Scottsdale is by far the best pick if your primary concern is the potential to see future financial gain. This area ranks first in appreciation, averaging an astonishing 15% annual appreciation in 2020 and is by far the hottest market of the 7. Much of this appreciation is due to new development and flipped homes replacing empty lots and old houses with much more expensive alternatives.
The huge redevelopment of Papago Plaza is just a symbol of what is happening all throughout this zip code, which can be summarized as “out with the old and in with the new”. To get in on all of this upside, you will have to endure the worst crime and school stats of any of our neighborhood picks. Your likelihood of experiencing violent crime is 4 in 1000, which is still lower than national averages, but small and petty crime is fairly high in this area.
As with many developing areas of town you have very nice development close to much less expensive and more crime-ridden areas. Walkability is moderate and varies greatly depending on which subdivision you choose and while there are not tons of great options for shopping and food, you are not far from Old Town and the redevelopment of the area promises more good options soon.
From an investor’s standpoint, this is our current favorite zip code, along with 85008.
Thinking About Moving to South Scottsdale?
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#4 Central Scottsdale (85254)
Large lots and houses close to everything but with a heavy price tag
Central Scottsdale Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 4th
🚨 Crime: 3rd
🎉 Fun: 4th
🚶 Walkability: 4th
📈 Appreciation: 3rd
🌡️ Market Heat: 3rd
💸 Affordability: 6th
While Central Scottsdale lands at 6th place on our affordability scale, that poor ranking is a bit deceiving. The median purchase price is indeed high at $725,000, but the average sales price per square foot is $322 – making it the cheapest of all 7 areas! What this means is that these homes are much bigger than the homes in our other top neighborhoods.
Despite its mediocre rankings in the fun and walkability department, Central Scottsdale is right in the middle of our neighborhoods and as such, is close to all of the amazing amenities those neighborhoods boast. It’s also home to Kierland Commons and The Scottsdale Quarter sits right next door. These two fantastic shopping areas offer the finest in high-end shopping and dining and are fantastic places to spend an afternoon or evening out.
Crime is very low here and the schools are good, making this the perfect place for families looking for bigger homes on bigger lots.
This desirable area has done well in the appreciation department at 14.1% in 2020 and ranks third on our market heat index, making it a good bet for long term growth. If your budget can handle it and you’re not super concerned with being able to walk everywhere, this neighborhood is hard to beat.
Learn More About the Central Scottsdale Neighborhood
Get in touch with our team to learn more about living in Central Scottsdale and they buying process. We can help find the home of your dreams based on your specific criteria and our exclusive list of homes for sale in the area.
#5 Arcadia (85018)
Large grass front yards, tree-lined streets and plenty of fun within walking distance make this a top pick for well to do young families despite it’s lackluster school rankings
Arcadia Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 6th
🚨 Crime: 6th
🎉 Fun: 3rd
🚶 Walkability: 2nd
📈 Appreciation: 6th
🌡️ Market Heat: 2nd
💸 Affordability: 5th
Arcadia is actually in a Phoenix zip code, but part of the Scottsdale school district, so we have included it in our results here.
Arcadia is a favorite for young wealthier families (its median purchase price is $760,000) and boasts a much greener feel than most of the rest of Phoenix. It’s an absolute hot spot for new restaurants and shopping and while it has not yet caught up to Old Town, it’s making gains every day. The school ranking is a bit misleading as several of the public schools are quite good and there are great private options nearby, but some of this zip code feeds into Camelback High School and Tavan Elementary which weigh down the averages. Crime is also a bit misleading and much more heavily noticed on the southern and western parts of the zip code.
The moral of the story here is to be sure to dive into the specific neighborhood within this zip code to determine its stats before making a purchase. We have all of that specific data and are happy to share it (call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info). Appreciation has been weak (relative to the insanity of some other parts of town!), at 11.7% in 2020, but the market has gotten very hot on the heels with of lots of flip activity and excitement over new development.
Of all the neighborhoods in our results, Arcadia has the most charm and is worth a drive for anyone considering the Scottsdale area.
Ready to Find Your Dream Home in Arcadia?
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#6 Paradise Valley (85253)
Land of big houses and even bigger price tags if your looking for large estates and amazing views with lots of privacy PV is for you
Paradise Valley Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 2nd
🚨 Crime: 1st
🎉 Fun: 4th
🚶 Walkability: 7th
📈 Appreciation: 2nd
🌡️ Market Heat: 7th
💸 Affordability: 7th
A whopping $1,890,000 is what it will take to get your little piece of Paradise Valley heaven. The clear loser in our affordability challenge, Paradise Valley has always been expensive and has seen a massive 14.6% appreciation rate in 2020. Things have cooled down, however, and it ranks dead last in our market heat index leading one to be hesitant jumping in just to catch the appreciation wave.
This area is nestled right up to Camelback Mountain and is home to the famous Praying Monk hike. Homes in this area are huge and sit on very large and very private lots. This area does not have a homey neighborhood feel, but instead boasts a more luxurious and secluded vibe. There are some outstanding restaurants nearby, but don’t plan on walking to any of them, as they are all situated on the outskirts of the zip code – not especially close to the homes in the center.
Unsurprisingly, crime is fantastically low and schools are excellent in this dreamland, boasting many celebrity residents including Alice Cooper and Michael Phelps.
Thinking About Upgrading Your Home?
If you’re considering upgrading your home and moving to the coveted Paradise Valley neighborhood, get in touch with our team to learn how we can help you find your new home in this dreamland.
#7 North Scottsdale – DC Ranch and Troon (85255)
A favorite for people looking for safety, good schools and a desert feel who don’t mind driving.
North Scottsdale – DC Ranch, and Troon Ranking Scores:
🏫 Schools: 3rd
🚨 Crime: 2nd
🎉 Fun: 7th
🚶 Walkability: 6th
📈 Appreciation: 7th
🌡️ Market Heat: 6th
💸 Affordability: 4th
North Scottsdale is a massive area, so we have chosen to focus on two of the more major master-planned communities in the area Troon and DC Ranch. These neighborhoods are way up North and at least a 45-minute drive from the airport downtown. Troon and DC Rank offer the quiet, luxury lifestyle you would expect from a suburb boasting a $725,000 median price tag.
Schools are excellent and crime is very low. This area is a quintessential Arizona suburb, meaning you get a great desert feel surrounded by mountains but you’ll also have to drive a bit to get to restaurants and shopping. This area has not seen as much appreciation as the rest of Scottsdale at 11.4% appreciation in 2020 and comes in at 6th in our market heat index.
The low financial marks combined with below average access to great amenities bring the overall score of this are down despite its being a beautiful place to live.
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We spent lots of time and found the best data possible for our list of the best neighborhoods in Scottsdale. Here is how we came up with our rankings for each category.
We relied on www.neighborhoodscout.com for all of our school data. Since each zip code has several schools for various age ranges, we averaged all of the rankings together to arrive at one school score. This method has its problems but gives home buyers a general place to start. If you are interested in data for specific subdivisions and don’t want to pay for the expensive reports available on Neighborhood Scout simply email us at email@example.com and we would be happy to share specific data with you.
As with schools, all of our data came from Neighborhood Scout and was averaged. We averaged all crime data together to get one number for each zip code, but again each subdivision will vary. In general, it should be noted that all of Scottsdale, even our worst performers on the crime test, have lower than average violent crime. The Southern parts of Scottsdale suffer far more petty crime than the northern areas but that is improving over time.
Here we had to get creative. We chose to focus on great dining as our key indicator of fun in a particular area, making the assumption that a prevalence of great restaurants would generally correlate to great shopping and other fun things to do. To determine which areas had the best restaurants we created yelp searches by zip codes and manually added up the number of reviews the top ten restaurants had combined. Our theory here is that a large number of reviews generally corresponds to buzz and popularity surrounding a restaurant. Our theory proved correct by our estimates as we subjectively agreed with the rankings the numbers created.
For this metric we used www.walkscore.com. Similar to our experience with yelp we found this site to be reliable and in line with our subjective opinions regarding which zip codes are most walkable. Specific subdivisions within each zip code will vary in terms of how walkable they are and for those concerned with this quality in an area we are happy to provide our opinion.
For our last three metrics, including appreciation, we were able to rely on objective and very accurate data provided by the Cromford Report. We are lucky to have Mike Orr creating this fantastic data for us, which is updated daily. Past appreciation does not necessarily equate to future appreciation but it is also not a bad place to start. Phoenix has been on an appreciation tear for nearly a decade now and does not seem to be slowing down. For those concerned with a real estate bubble you can stay up to date by keeping an eye on our blog and particularly our regular “Bubble Watch” updates.
We decided on contract ratio as our measure for market heat. This ratio is is the number of homes under contract as compared to the number of homes listed for sale. This gives a fairly accurate picture of what direction the market is heading. An area with lots of homes under contract and very few listed for sale is bound to see higher appreciation levels than an area with the opposite situation.
For this metric we chose to focus on the median sale price of homes. We could have focused on dollars per square foot but decided that the key measure of someone’s ability to afford an area was not how much a house cost relative to its size, but how much the house cost – period. For our contest this meant that while Central Scottsdale’s cost per square foot is much lower than most of its competitors, it still ranked low for affordability because the big houses selling in that area are expensive.
Get Help Finding The Best Neighborhood For You!
This guide was designed to give you, the buyer, a starting point in your search for a new home in Scottsdale. There is no shortage of options when it comes to neighborhoods, but it’s important that the area you choose to live in meets your specific lifestyle and buying criteria.
Not looking to live in Scottsdale? Check out our other guides on the best places to live in Tempe, AZ, the best places to live in Mesa, AZ, the best places to live in Chandler, AZ, or the best places to live in Phoenix, AZ.
If you’re ready to take the next step and dive deeper into neighborhood rankings as they relate to your particular circumstances, reach out to us, the Gluch Group, Scottsdale’s top real estate team.