When people think about buying waterfront property, odds are that Arizona isn’t the first place that comes to mind. After all, it’s not by the ocean and much of the state is covered in desert. When folks think of water and Arizona - if they think of it at all - they probably conjure up images of murky desert wells or dry riverbeds awaiting the seasonal rainfalls. But you’d be surprised to know that Arizona actually has some of the most appealing and beautiful waterfront properties in the country. While the state’s waterfront communities may not have the sounds of waves crashing on the beach in Malibu, or the cool tropical breezes of Palm Beach, it has everything else and more.
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Planned waterfront communities have been around for a very long time. One of the world’s first was built in Mexico by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago. They constructed artificial islands by dumping soil into Lake Texcoco and a great city grew from there. Canals were the transportation arteries transporting people and goods in what was, at the time, one of the most amazing metropolitan areas in the world. When the Spanish took over, they drained the lake and erected what is now Mexico City. Read More...
Some famous European waterfront communities like Amsterdam and Venice were built to expedite commerce and trade, while at the same time, showcase the wealthy’s homes and palaces.
However, here in the U.S. during the Industrial Revolution, no self-respecting person of means would think of living on the waterfront - community or not. They were dirty, smelly and strictly for industry and trade.
Today, waterfront communities are built for the middle-class and affluent. Many waterfront properties, particularly in Arizona, are built around artificial lakes and canals with an eye towards aesthetics, water sports, and recreation.
There is a wide array of different water-oriented lifestyle communities, at different price points, to choose from in the state. In fact, more than most people imagine. There are even water lifestyle communities for those who like to water ski. They are called – you guessed it – water ski parks.
According to Arizona State University, the greater metropolitan Phoenix area has up to 1,400 artificial lakes. Most are devoted to recreational uses, golf courses, open space and, of course, residential developments. The source of water for these “fake lakes” is mostly from ground and surface water. Some even use reclaimed water.
Among the dozens and dozens of waterfront communities in Arizona, here are three that give you a pretty good idea what these desirable communities are like. For example, Scottsdale Ranch represents a waterfront community featuring luxury homes for those with means. The development is massive. There are 3,900 homes in the community and 5-miles of shoreline. The artificial lakes and waterways are stocked with fish of all kinds including bass, carp, catfish, and many others.
The Islands, in Gilbert, is another large waterfront community that features over 80 acres of lakes and over 2,600 homes. There’s a 272 unit apartment building in the complex too. Amenities include basketball, Bocce ball, a running track, picnic tables, and BBQ’s. What’s really nice about The Islands is that it is a short 30-minute commute to downtown Phoenix.
The Springs in Chandler is a waterfront subdivision where beautiful 3-bedroom homes can be purchased. While the entire community is not gated, many homes have gated courtyards. But what makes the community really stand out are the many large pine trees which give you the sense that you are anywhere but in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. There are 250 waterfront homes in The Islands. There’s also a community pool and tennis courts. What many people really like about The Springs is that the Chandler Fashion Center is only 5-miles away.
There are a number of “Pros” and “Cons” in buying a waterfront property. On the plus side, these properties are always in demand because living by the water is so desirable to large water from your own backyard. Some say there is a medicinal quality to living by water.
And because waterfront properties are so popular, appreciation of the property is higher than with non-waterfront homes. Moreover, if you are looking to make a little extra money by renting or using it as an Airbnb unit, you will be able to charge a premium for a waterfront home.
On the downside, buying a waterfront property is more costly than purchasing a normal home. You may also have to contend with rules and regulations. For example, depending on the type of property you buy, there may be environmental and usage regulations you’ll have to adhere to. And if the property is in a gated or age restrictive development, which many are, you’ll have to deal with the rules of that community.
Finally, you may have to pay more in insurance – flood insurance, for example – on some of these waterfront homes.
With all that said, living by the water is a wonderful thing, even if it costs more. Arizona’s waterfront communities must be special because there’s even a popular song written about them. George Strait, the well-known Country Western singer has a hit song that goes like this:
“…I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona. From my front porch you can see the sea. If you’ll buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in for free…”
Arizona may not have ocean front property and you certainly can’t see the sea from there, but you can enjoy all of the other wonderful benefits of waterfront living in the Grand Canyon State.
But before you do, find an expert local real estate broker who is familiar with Waterfront Properties and Lake Communities; otherwise, you could be stuck in a boat without a paddle.
Last updated - February 15, 2023
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