outdoor amphitheatre facing lawn next to river

The outdoor amphitheatre at Sun City Grand

On a recent tour of the active adult communities around Arizona, I had the opportunity to observe the transformation of the popular Del Webb Sun City communities that lie northwest of Phoenix. Since the grand opening of the acclaimed Sun City community in 1960, Del Webb has opened three additional Sun City communities in the same region.

Each community has unique characteristics that differentiate it from the others. With hundreds of homes for sale in the four Sun City communities in this region, it can be an overwhelming task to narrow down your search to the community and home that works best for you.

After touring the communities, talking with residents, and gathering information, I have compiled a cheat sheet to help you narrow your search. Each community has unique attractions that appeal to different home buyers. A particular characteristic might be very important to one buyer while holding little relevance to another. My goal is not to determine the “best” overall community, but rather to help you choose the community that best suits your needs.

Sun City

The first Del Webb community of 26,000 homes was built between 1960 and 1978. Sun City is the ideal community for buyers who want low priced homes, minimal taxes, low association fees, and an abundance of amenities. The director at the Sun City Visitor Center summed it up best when he said, “we offer the best value and the most amenities per home than any of the other Sun Cities.” Sun City’s major drawback is the age of the community. The homes are not looked at as favorably by today’s home buyers who seek more modern home designs and amenity centers.

Pros: Inexpensive homes, low association fees, seven recreation centers, eight golf courses

Cons: Older homes, lacks modern amenity centers, community feels older

Sun City West

The second Del Webb community constructed after the completion of Sun City is comprised of 16,900 homes and was built between 1978 and 1997. It is the ideal community for buyers who want a mix of reasonably priced homes and more modern amenities than the original Sun City. Additionally, many people enjoy the more modern floor plans offered in Sun City West. It is best suited for buyers who are willing to pay more for newer homes and more modern amenities than Sun City.

Pros: Inexpensive homes, newer floor plans, more modern amenity centers than Sun City.

Cons: Still lacks the truly “new” appeal, portions of the community are incorporated into the city of Surprise, equating to higher tax rates.

Sun City Grand

The third Del Webb community constructed between 1996 and 2004. This 9,800 home community is more intimate than the two previous Sun City communities. Residents of Sun City Grand enjoy newer amenities and newer homes than Sun City and Sun City West. Located west of the previous Sun City communities, some residents cherish the more remote location away from the congestion while other buyers are discouraged by the longer drive to shopping and restaurants. It is the perfect community for buyers who prefer newer homes and are willing to be in a location that is a few miles “further out.”

Pros: Newer homes, 45+ age-restriction, away from congestion

Cons: More expensive than Sun City and Sun City West, further from shopping.

Sun City Festival

Del Webb’s newest active adult community in Buckeye. The new construction homes and world-class amenities definitely present a “wow” factor. The community is located in a remote location 20 miles west of the original Sun City near the White Tank Mountains. The community is ideal for buyers who want the latest in home upgrades and modern, state-of-the-art amenities, with a willingness to be the pioneers in a new community far from retail and dining establishments.

Pros: Top-notch amenities, brand new homes, great mountain views

Cons: Very remote location, construction traffic, power lines run through the community

With all of the choices, there is a home and a Sun City community built to meet the needs of most 55+ aged buyers. Before buying, list your priorities to determine which factors are most important in your purchase decision. After weighing factors such as the community location, price ranges, amenities, lifestyle opportunities, and housing style, it should become evident which community ideally suits your needs and lifestyle.