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Diane Arthur, Deputy City Manager

For Immediate Release

Residents love their city; focused on economy in National Community Survey

Surprise, AZ (May 17, 2021) The 2021 National Community Survey (NCS) results reveal at least 9 in 10 residents gave excellent or good ratings to the overall quality of life in Surprise and the city as a place to live. 

About 90% of the residents reported they would recommend living in Surprise to someone who asks; and planned to remain in the city for the next five years. These ratings were all on par with the performance of Surprise’s previous surveys, along with ratings from other communities across the nation.

The NCS is typically conducted every 2-3 years and serves as the city’s service report card. The collected data assists in setting future city priorities. 

Roughly 8 in 10 respondents rated the quality of services provided by the City of Surprise; the city treating residents with respect; and the overall customer service provided by city employees, as excellent or good.

The NCS captures residents’ opinions considering 10 central facets of a community. Across the 10 categories, a majority of the city’s results were similar to over 600 communities across the United States whose residents evaluated the same topics. 

Here are overall ratings in each category (% selected excellent/good) and how we compared to the national benchmark:

  • Economy– 88% Overall economic health of Surprise (Higher than national benchmark).
    • Cost of living (68%) and economic development services (71%) were rated higher than the national benchmark.
  • Mobility / Transportation– 41% Overall quality of the transportation system (auto, bicycle, foot, bus) in Surprise (Lower than national benchmark).
    • Residents also rated Surprise lower than the national benchmark for ease of travel by public transportation (12%), and bus or transit services (22%)
    • However, residents were pleased with most mobility-related aspects and services. Respondents’ evaluations of street cleaning (83%), sidewalk maintenance (82%), street lighting (78%), ease of public parking (78%), and street repair (70%) were outstanding and higher than the national benchmarks.
  • Community Design– 79% Overall design or layout of Surprise's residential and commercial areas (Higher than national benchmark).
    • Surprise also scored higher than the benchmark in these areas: Well-planned residential growth (68%), well-designed neighborhoods (80%), variety of housing options (67%), availability of affordable quality housing (55%), overall quality of new development in Surprise (73%).
  • Utilities– 83% Overall quality of the utility infrastructure in Surprise, such as water, sewer, storm water, electric, gas. (Similar to national benchmark). 
    • Quality of all utility services were rated similar to the national benchmark, with the exception of stormwater management, which was rated higher. 
  • Safety– 85% Overall feeling of safety in Surprise (Similar to national benchmark). 
    • Quality of all safety services were rated similar to the national benchmark.
  • Natural Environment– 79% Overall quality of natural environment in Surprise (Similar to national benchmark). 
    • The cleanliness of Surprise was rated above the national benchmark at 91%.
  • Park and Recreation– 79% Overall quality of parks and recreation opportunities (Similar to national benchmark).
    • Quality of all Parks and Recreation services were rated similar to the national benchmark.
    • When asked what single most important recreation amenity is missing from Surprise, residents’ top two responses were: Sports Facilities/Rec Centers (31%), and Parks/Trails (25%).
  • Health and Wellness– 80% Overall health and wellness opportunities in Surprise and 80% Quality of health services (Similar to national benchmark).
    • We were rated above the benchmark for availability of affordable quality health care (75%) and availability of preventive health services (74%).
  • Education, Arts and Culture– 62% Overall opportunities for education, culture, and the arts (Similar to national benchmark).
    • We were rated below the benchmark for opportunities to attend cultural/arts/music activities (47%) and community support for the arts (39%).
  • Inclusivity and Engagement– 64% Sense of community and 81% making all residents feel welcome (Similar to national benchmark).
    • Surprise, as a place to retire, was much higher than the benchmark at 92%; it was similar as a place to raise children at 89%.
    • Resident participation with government was similar to the benchmark across all areas, except volunteering time to a group/activity, which was lower.


Economic Health

Residents indicated that the city’s economic health was one of the most important areas to focus on in the next two years, with 96% rating this as essential or very important. 

Related to the city’s economic health, residents were asked how much they would support or oppose a new dedicated fee to fund Public Safety that would add capacity to the General Fund to pay for other city services/operations. 65% strongly or somewhat supported this, while 35% strongly or somewhat opposed. 

Residents were also asked to indicate their support or opposition to various city funding strategies. Residents strongly or somewhat supported the following:

  • 58% General Obligation Bonds
  • 37% Primary Property Tax Increase
  • 37% Sales Tax Increase
  • 37% New Dedicated Tax

Priority Projects

When asked about which projects should be addressed by the city in the coming three years, 97% of residents believed increasing the city’s assured water supply was either a high or medium priority. About 8 in 10 respondents indicated that protecting White Tank Mountain Regional Park and preserving open space were a priority for the community. In addition to the priority placed on natural areas, about 8 in 10 residents felt that widening streets to eliminate forced merges and adding sidewalks, bike lanes, and landscaping were a high or medium priority.

Projects that were less of a priority for community members included creating a public city-only bus/van service (54%), building more parks/sports fields (51%), developing a connected trail system (44%), and adding a new community pool (32%).


The 2021 NCS was conducted by the National Research Center at POLCO from February - March 2021. The survey was sent to 2,700 randomly-selected Surprise households. The overall response rate was 16%. Survey results were weighted so that the demographic profile of respondents was representative of the demographic profile of adults in Surprise. The margin of error is +/- 5%.

The NCS was also offered online for all city residents to participate March 12 – 26. A total of 469 online surveys were received. The paper and online datasets were not combined. The online results were similar in that more than 8 in 10 residents rate the quality of life in Surprise as excellent or good and they recommend living here.

The City of Surprise would like to thank all of our residents who participated in the survey.

To see the complete results for the paper and online survey; or to view previous surveys visit

City of Surprise 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza Surprise, AZ 85374 | Phone: 623-222-1000