I've lived in the rural part of Maricopa since 1983, boy has it grown! Population estimates are around 40K. (Census numbers won't be out until 2012) Excellent advice in the other post to contact PCSO and MPD for area crime statistics. Maricopa suffered with the fast growth of the boom and resulting bust. You can pick up gorgeous houses for a fraction of what they used to cost - 3000 sq ft homes for the low $100s are common.
There is a term for those who are short-selling and foreclosed on...renter. They have to live somewhere and can't buy again for a number of years. Many are staying in the same area because they like the community, friends, schools etc. Rents have remained strong compared to resale values. If you are willing to look at the overall picture on someone's credit history - they've never missed a car payment, credit card and other payments and only the mortgage is reporting as a negative, there are renters out there.
Another area that does not have quite the volume of houses on the market is Casa Grande. Casa Grande offers significantly more shopping and entertainment options, is located about 35 minutes from Phoenix and an hour from Tucson and is at the junction of I-10 and I-8. Home prices didn't fall as bad as Maricopa, but there are still great prices for rentals that cash flow, with amenities for when you move to the area.
Have a wonderful day
Rox Real Estate
The area is newer with much of the build up in the last 8 years. Has shopping, but far from the central commute area making rental more difficult. Renters want to live closer to work. This is also a reason that home prices are lower in Maricopa.
Renting in the central areas is always easier.
Regards, Jeff Masich
Arizona Homes and Land
HomeSmart Realty, Scottsdale