Here it is: The definitive ranking of every single city and town in Maricopa County.
We factored in things like livability, location, attractions for visitors, and any number of X-factors in ranking all 24 cities in towns in the county from worst to first.
It's a retirement community the size of a postage stamp.
Pros: Please e-mail me if you know any. (Update: We got an e-mail from Rachel in Youngtown. Highlights include "It's fun to drink with all older grey-haired people" and "It's not as ghetto as El Mirage.") Cons: We have to make a public call for help to develop a list of "pros."
23.) Gila Bend
Home of the Best Western Space Age Lodge. (Yes, an outer space/UFO-themed Best Western.)
Pros: Home to some of the most classic roadside attractions in the state. Cons: You probably forgot Gila Bend existed until reading this list.
22.) El Mirage
El Mirage: Spanish for the mirage.
"Well, that was Tolleson."
Pros: It's a small town that prides itself on being a small town. Cons: It feels like more of an industrial park than a small town.
It's not actually Sun City.
Pros: Despite being half-surrounded by retirement communities, Surprise isn't actually a retirement community. Cons: Okay, so it's kind of, sort of like a retirement community. Also, that name -- it's awful.
You'll know it when you see it.
Pros: It's definitely unlike any other city in Maricopa County. Cons: It's kind of like traveling through a wormhole, and you suddenly arrive in a place where everything -- including the street signs -- are in Spanish, and there are no traffic signals.
The middle sibling of the West Valley.
Pros: It's home to Phoenix International Raceway. Cons: Is there any other reason to visit Avondale?
Welcome to the edge of civilization.
Pros: If you live here, you probably have a fairly new home. Cons: If you live here, you probably live closer to a nuclear power plant than you do to Phoenix.
Also known as north, north, north Scottsdale.
Pros: Home to large houses and one very large sundial. Cons: Living carefree in Carefree is contingent on having enough money to afford the mortgage payment.
15.) Fountain Hills
Kind of like Carefree, with a giant fountain instead of a sundial.
Pros: That's one impressive fountain. Cons: Home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
A lot of people live here.
Pros: It's the third-largest city in the state, behind Phoenix and Tucson, and a whole lot of people work here, too. Cons: Fourteenth might be a generous ranking. Be honest -- if you got a lifetime ban from entering the city limits of Mesa, would you even be upset? (Unless you own a house or work there.) The real city motto was mentioned in a recent news story: "As former mayor [Scott] Smith puts it, Mesa attracts those who think 'being boring is OK.'"
"We should have renamed this place."
Pros: As far as West Valley bedroom communities are concerned, it's among the best, if you're into all that development stuff. Cons: Unless you live here, there's not much to see. Also, the town is really named after the tire company.
Pros: It's kind of like a newer version of Mesa, with more of a Stepford Wives vibe. Cons: The Stepford Wives was kind of a horror story.
11.) Queen Creek
Don't hate it for the high concentration of lifted pickup trucks.
Pros: There's a word some people use to describe Queen Creek (it rhymes with shrashy), but there's too much cool stuff there to hate it, like Schnepf Farms, the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and the Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre. Cons: If you've ever been to a country music concert around Phoenix and wondered where all those people came from, now you know.
10.) Cave Creek
If Tombstone was built by wealthy people, they'd call it Cave Creek.
Pros: They do the whole Wild West theme pretty well. Cons: It's 2014.
It's like the Payson of Maricopa County.
Pros: Wickenburg is cool, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. It's got history. Cons: Really, why is Wickenburg even in Maricopa County? Who draws these things? It's an hour away from Phoenix, on a good day.
A less Glendale-y Glendale.
Pros: If you remember SAT questions . . . Scottsdale : Phoenix :: Peoria : Glendale Cons: It seems like a suburb of a suburb (Glendale).
7.) Litchfield Park
Don't mind the neighbors!
Pros: Aside from being a nice little bedroom community, it's in a nearly perfect West Valley location, with quick access to attractions like PIR, Westgate, Ak-Chin Pavilion, and Camelback Ranch. Cons: When we said "nearly perfect," we meant, except for the part about it being practically on top of an Air Force base.
The Goldilocks of Phoenix suburbs.
Pros: It's not too far from Phoenix, nor too close. It's not too expensive to live in Chandler, nor is it really cheap. It's not too big, and not too small. You get the point. Cons: What we're trying to say is, it's remarkably average.
5.) Paradise Valley
The town name is no joke.
Pros: Almost all of the houses and resorts in this town are awesome. Cons: For us common folk, there's literally nothing to do in this extremely expensive town unless we've been invited to a wedding.
The city that does the things that Phoenix gets the credit for.
Pros: There's so much stuff in Glendale, like Cardinals and Coyotes games, or concerts, that are always advertised as being in Phoenix. Glendale's like that under-appreciated guy at the office who always picks up everyone else's slack but never takes credit. Good on you, Glendale. Cons: It's Glendale.
Pros: Tempe's no slouch of a city, nor is it simply a college town. It brings in its fair share of events, in addition to everything ASU-related. If you went to ASU, then you already know Tempe holds a special place in your heart. Tempe continues to grow, with a lot of development under way. Cons: Barfin' frat bros and hippie communes.
The city of reputation.
Pros: Everything just seems a little nicer. Material things, that is. Cons: People purport to hate Scottsdale, and if we have to guess why, we'd say it's because they don't live there. Sure, a lot of people have contempt for the nouveau riche, but that's not the city's fault.
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Pros: The attractions, the history, the food, the action -- Phoenix has it all. Cons: Well, there are reasons why a whole lot of people live in the suburbs.
Note: Places in Maricopa County that aren't on the list (like Sun City, Anthem, and Ahwatukee, for example) were left off because they technically aren't towns or cities.