1. The Heat
Phoenix gets ridiculously hot with summer temperatures hitting as high as 120°F (49°C). And as the locals are quick to point out, it's a DRY heat. The air is not thick and muggy like in other parts of the country. The low relative humidity actually helps the human body cool itself more effectively (read more).
While the heat may be brutal, it must not be that unbearable if 4.2 million people are willing to live here. There are ways to adapt to the heat including air conditioning, evaporative cooling, wearing light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, drinking lots of water, and staying in the shade. Yes it gets scorchingly hot during the summer, but over 4 million people make it work and you can, too.
2. People from Phoenix are ignorant/racist/gun-toting rednecks
The news media likes to focus on the "extreme examples" such as the eccentric Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Arizona Minutemen, which unfortunately creates the image that our city is run by kooks and extremists. Many politicians from Phoenix are very conservative republicans, but that doesn't mean everyone in Phoenix shares their viewpoints.
If you think that people from Phoenix all share the same views, that is called a Sweeping Generalization and it is a type of logical fallacy. To say that people from Phoenix are all gun-toting rednecks is no more accurate than saying that everyone in California is a hippie or everyone in Texas is a cowboy. It's simply not true.
3. People here do NOT know how to drive
Traffic congestion is a complaint in every major city nationwide. You think things are bad in Phoenix? They're also bad in NYC and LA, and in Boston and Portland and Atlanta and Miami and Dallas and Denver and everywhere else that has tons of people living in close proximity (typically referred to as a "city").
I don't think that Phoenix drivers are worse than drivers in any other major city. You will find people not using their signals or traveling too slowly in the high-speed lane in any other large city. Traffic is not a problem that is unique to Phoenix - so get over it!
4. Phoenix has no public transit
First of all, that's not true. Phoenix does have public transit, with over 50 bus routes plus the 30 mile Metro Light Rail train system - which will be expanded to 57 miles by 2025.
The city is just not as dense and walkable as Portland or San Francisco or NYC. If you want to live here, you're going to have to buy a car like everyone else.
5. Phoenix is a desert wasteland
Phoenix is located in southern-central Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. The word desert means that the average annual rainfall is 6" or less. However, Phoenix is not a barren wasteland of sand dunes and tumbleweeds. In fact, because of plentiful sunlight and irrigation, many types of plants and agriculture thrive here.
The city has parks with grass, trees, and lots of plants just like you would find anywhere else. Sure, it's not a thick and dense forest like you might find in the Pacific Northwest, but again, this is the desert. Don't come here expecting the rainforest, but in my personal opinion, Phoenix looks a lot greener than other desert cities such as Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.
6. Phoenix has no culture
Tell that to the Native Americans who have been calling this land home since the 1500s. Tell that to the miners and ranchers who originally settled Arizona territory. No culture? Puh-leeze!
Phoenix is full of cultural attractions from 4 major-league sports teams to world-class museums, libraries, city parks, the Phoenix Symphony, the lovingly restored Orpheum Theatre, the First Fridays Art Walk, a thriving local music scene, and much more. Don't forget Arizona State University, one of the largest four-year universities in the nation!
The City of Phoenix has placed special markers at 31 different Points of Pride around town. These local landmarks and attractions represent the best of what our city has to offer. There are plenty of things about this city that are "uniquely Phoenix."
7. Everything looks the same
When people complain about Phoenix, they love to complain that "everything looks the same." Houses, stores, businesses are all painted the same sandy-colored brown or done up in a faux-mediterranean style with the cliche tile roof.
Believe it or not, Phoenix is more than just cookie-cutter houses and look alike shopping centers. There are more than 30 historic neighborhoods in Phoenix. Check out the map I've made highlighting them.
Downtown Phoenix is full of pre-war buildings, and the city has over 200 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are many neighborhoods in central Phoenix where grassy lawns and old-growth trees surround homes in a wide variety of architectural styles including Tudor, Spanish Revival, Bungalow, and Ranch. You just have to go out and find them!
8. There's nothing to do in Phoenix
If you're going to live in Phoenix, you've gotta stop comparing it to California. Phoenix does not have a beach or any big theme parks like Disneyland, Sea World, or Knott's Berry Farm. But that DOES NOT mean the city is "boring" and that there's "nothing to do in Phoenix."
There are plenty of things to keep a person busy no matter what type of lifestyle you enjoy. Outdoor enthusiasts will discover a city with mountains to climb, lakes to fish, and hundreds of miles of biking trails. Indoor enthusiasts will appreciate the wide variety of museums, sports stadiums, concert venues, and more.
Phoenix has a lot to offer the locavore type with plenty of locally-owned restaurants, several Farmer's Markets, music festivals, and a bustling Arts District on Roosevelt Row. For more, check out my article 101 Things to Do in Phoenix.
9. No one is "from" Phoenix
Yes, there is a huge transplant population. There are a lot of ex-Californians who come here because they are tired of the high cost of living, and there are a ton of transplants from the Midwestern states looking to escape the drudgery of freezing winter temperatures.
But there are Phoenix natives and when you meet one, you will find that they often appreciate the ruggedness and beauty of the city and what it has to offer. Above is a picture of a hospital, which among other things, means that people are born here.
10. The Desert is Not Your Friend
The media likes to sensationalize Phoenix as this wild land of rattlesnakes, scorpions, mountain lions, coyotes, javelina, and other nasty creatures that will bite, sting, and kill you. If the critters don't get you, the brutal heat or the insane haboob dust storms will.
The truth is that it is rare to encounter these animals, particularly within the city limits. People who choose to live at the edge of the city may have to deal with javelina running through their front yards, but injuries and deaths from these dangerous animals are extremely minor. That would be like avoiding California because of sharks, or Florida because of alligators.
Get over your fears of living here because of dangerous animals - it's really not that big of an issue for 99% of residents.