Hello Lee Ann. What an exciting move! My guess is that you and your family will really like Arizona once you get settled in your new home.
Are you familiar with the greater Phoenix area? It's VERY large, with several smaller communities located within the 'Valley' - Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler on the East side and Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye on the West side.
We have an extensive freeway system that enables you to get across the Valley in a reasonable amount of time as well as a light rail train that travels into Phoenix metro from various locations.
You can read more about them here:
Depending on where you'll be working, you'll want to look at the drive time to get from home to work. It's completely up to you, but I think you'll be able to find a nice home within 20-30 minutes of your work IF it's in Phoenix (which is centrally located). If you'll be working in one of the other communities that I mentioned above, you're better off sticking to the East or West side of the Valley unless you don't mind a longer drive time.
If schools are important to you, as I'm sure they are, you can do some research on the following websites:
This is an excellent link that has provided a summary of AIMS test scores for every school in Arizona:
To give you an idea of what type/size of homes are available to rent here in the Valley, I did a search of the following communities for ALL 'Active' rental listings that were under $1500 per month. Each of these homes will have at least 3bedrooms / 1.5bathrooms / 2-car garage and are at least 1500 sq/ft. Some of them will have a private pool as well! (I didn't specify 'Pets' or 'No Pets')
Phoenix - 283 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8aokmojb,12,1
Mesa - 90 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8ahic2g4,12,1
Gilbert - 127 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8al8i3kc,12,1
Chandler - 76 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8amq9ifi,12,1
Tempe - 15 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8aq7nalw,12,1
Scottsdale - 4 homes: http://www.flexmls.com/link.html?zry8arkt6wg,12,1
I'd love to help you find a great rental home here in Phoenix. I've helped several families locate nice rental homes in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Phoenix over the past several months, so don't hesitate to call or email if you're not already working with someone.
You can check out my Trulia profile here: http://www.trulia.com/profile/jimmitchell/
(FYI...my fee to help you find a rental home is paid by the OWNER, not YOU, the potential tenant. The fees that you'll incur while renting a home are things like security/damage deposit, pet deposit (if applicable), background/credit check fee, cleaning deposit, etc.).
If you'd like to expand those searches to include other areas or change them to reflect a different price range or simply eliminate or add certain things, just let me know.
Thanks for the question!
Realty ONE Group