Surprise is a city located in Maricopa County Arizona. With a 2020 population of 148,274, it is the 10th largest city in Arizona and the 192nd largest city in the United States. Surprise is currently growing at a rate of 1.76% annually and its population has increased by 3.58% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 143,148 in 2020. Spanning over 108 miles, Surprise has a population density of 1,372 people per square mile.
The average household income in Surprise is $82,212 with a poverty rate of 7.60%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,443 per month, and the median house value is $258,700. The median age in Surprise is 41.4 years, 40.8 years for males, and 42.1 years for females.
Surprise is located in Maricopa County, Arizona about 30 miles northwest of Phoenix and part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Metro Phoenix has an estimated population of 4.7 million and Surprise is the 9th largest city in the area. Surprise is the second-fastest growing municipality in the metro area after Gilbert and was the 6th fastest growing city or town in the U.S. in the 1990s.
Diversity and Population Statistics
Just under 9% of the population of Surprise is foreign-born. Surprise is considered a fairly old city with an average age among residents of 46 years compared to 38 for the United States (https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/us-median-age-hits-all-time-high-38-record-86248-are-100-or-older) as a whole.
In 2016, Surprise was named one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. In 2019, the state was also ranked as the 3rd fastest growing in part due to shrinking wages and affordability in the area. Maricopa County has led Arizona's population growth, reporting eight straight years of population gains since 2011 (https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2019/04/18/census-maricopa-population-gains/) and adding 81,000 new residents among the 122,000 new people who moved to Arizona. While Surprise remains popular among retirees, it's also gaining attention from people in the labor force, especially those struggling to keep up with California's rising housing costs and stagnant wages.
Surprise, Arizona is a young city founded by Flora Statler in 1938. She named the city because she would be "surprised if the town ever amounted to much." The town was believed to have been founded by her husband, a real estate developer named Homer Ludden, but property records in 2010 showed Statler was the owner before she met Ludden.
In the early years, Surprise was nothing more than a gas station and affordable homes for agricultural workers but it has grown rapidly since. Surprise was incorporated in 1960 and became a popular destination for retirees beginning in the 1990s and 2000s. This led to the development of Sun City Grand, an age-restricted community which has grown from 10,000 residents to 75,000 residents in 2004.