It looks like you received a lot of advice from people in the business so here is one from someone who just knows the areas fairly well. It appears that you may be single. For just the social aspect and convenience to everything, I would look in Scottsdale. North of Fashion Square (85251) or at least north of Indian School Road. There are lots of great places and even during the recession we had here, that area was hit with less of a decline. Granted you may pay more for less of a place however always a market. Or anywhere around the Biltmore area (85016), once again, pay more. Both of these areas are great for walking or biking, shopping, stores, night life and restaurants. Otherwise you will find yourself in a community that closes up (except around universities such as in Tempe) around 7:30PM. Safety always an issue so that would be one of my greatest concerns too. Rent FIRST somewhere while you get use to the different areas, even if it is for just a few months.
Hope this helps.....Lynette