PHOENIX – When deciding whether to relocate to one of several cities in the Phoenix metro area or to the city of Phoenix, the United States’ sixth largest city by population, one top consideration might be the worker’s commute time to Phoenix. Nearly 90 percent of the Phoenix metro area workforce drives a car to work, resulting in those rush hour stop-and-go traffic crawls. Accordingly, a new study released by Commercial Cafe ranks the top 10 cities near Phoenix for commuters to consider residing in. In addition to commute times, the study also examined the local housing market, crime rates and school ratings. The best 10 commuter cities chosen on the list are all 5 to 50 miles away from Phoenix.

In the study, commute times were weighted at 40 percent, and home affordability was weighted at 30. School ratings and crime rates were both weighted at 15 percent. The top total score possible per city in the study is 100. Drivers from the top 10 cities listed in the study spend an average of 29 minutes driving to their Phoenix jobs, and the longest and shortest commute times were separated by a 20-minute margin. Driving times were calculated using data from Google driving directions and were based on a Monday 8 a.m. arrival in Phoenix.

Housing values were calculated from 2013-2017 census estimates of median housing costs. Crime rates were gathered from FBI statistics on violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Only cities with a violent crime rate less than the average for the state were considered. School ratings were derived in August 2019 from average scores by town data on GreatSchools.org. Only cities in 2017 census estimates with a population of at least 10,000 residents were considered for the study’s top 10 list:

1. Scottsdale – The city had a total of 83.1 points out of 100, and had the shortest commute time of around 20 minutes to Phoenix. Scottsdale came in third place of the list’s top 10 for its schools, including its BASIS Scottsdale high school, which was recently named the nation’s third best high school by U.S. News & World Report. However, Scottsdale fell behind eight of the other nine cities when it came to house values, with $433,500 as the median home price.

2. Peoria – Earning a cumulative score of 79.4 of 100, Peoria scored 36.4 of 40 points in commute time and 26.8 of a possible 30 points in housing. It earned 6.7 for its crime rate and 9.5 for its schools out of a possible 15 points each.

3. Gilbert – Earning a total score of 76.7, Gilbert had the second-highest ratings of the top 10 cities for crime rate at 13.2 and school rating at 11.3, beaten only by Paradise Valley on those two metrics. Three Gilbert schools have a GreatSchools.org rating of 10/10: Gilbert Classical Academy, Greenfield Elementary School and Neely Traditional Academy. The city’s crime rate is also very low, and a recent study rated it Arizona’s fourth-safest city. Gilbert commuters have a 35-minute drive to Phoenix on average.

4. Goodyear – Scoring a cumulative total of 73.2 points, the city earned 32.9 for commute time points and 26.2 for housing. The crime rate was 5.7 points, while its schools rated 8.4.

5. Sun City ­– Sun City earned 72.3 points overall and is the most affordable according to the study, with its $130,000 median home value making it 90 percent less expensive than the study’s most expensive housing found in Paradise Valley. Sun City is a 28-minute drive to Phoenix on average and scored fourth in the study for school ratings.

6. Surprise – With a total score of 70.7, Surprise earned a 22.2 out of 40 for its commute times, and a 27.1 out of 30 for housing affordability. It also scored well for crime rates at 13.1, but received 8.3 of 15 points for its school ratings.

7. Avondale ­– This city earned 69.9 total points, scoring a 32.9 on commute time and 28.0 on housing, meaning its houses are very affordable. However, its crime and school ratings were the lowest of the top 10, landing at 4.4 and 4.6 out of 15 possible points each, respectively.

8. Chandler – Scoring a total of 69.0 points, Chandler’s commute time to Phoenix scored 26.7 points, while its housing affordability came in at 25.9 points. Meanwhile, its crime ranking was at 6.4 of 15 possible points, while its schools ranked 10.1 of 15 possible points.

9. Paradise Valley – This city scored a total of 68.2 of 100 points, with a near-perfect commute time score of 38.2 and a 22-minute commute to Phoenix. However, its $1,406,700 median house price tag made it earn zero points for housing affordability. But it did earn perfect scores of 15.0 each for crime rate and school ratings.

10. Mesa – Earning a total of 67.1 points, Mesa’s commute time of 28 minutes average to Phoenix resulted in 32.9 of 40 points for that metric. Its median home value of about $188,000 earned it a high score for affordability with 27.7 out of 30 possible points. Mesa earned 0 points for its crime rating, however, with the highest crime rate among the top 10 at 427 violent crimes per every 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, its schools earned a modest 6.5 out of 15.