Arizona Homes & Horse Property

Maricopa County Island - what is it?

Arizona Horse Property for sale on a Maricopa County Island – CLICK Here to Browse

County Island… may sound somewhat exotic, yet, it really isn’t. In Maricopa County, it is possible there may be some palm trees, it is not likely there will be clear blue water lapping up on the sand. After all, this is the desert! So how is it we have islands?

What is a County Island in the Phoenix area?

In the last 100 years, Phoenix has had phenomenal growth and the Phoenix area has had a plethora of farmland and open desert ready to be developed. These large areas of land often included areas of exclusion. As the city completely surrounded these unincorporated, excluded areas they became known as a county island. Many of these county islands have a farm feel to them but not all of them. Sun City and Sun City West are known to be a county island as well as Sun Lakes.

The county islands are still under county jurisdiction and receive police protection from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. So if you live in a county island in Gilbert for example and you called the Gilbert police, they would not respond because you live in a county island. You would be asked to call the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office. The same thing holds true for fire service in a county island. Using the same scenario, if you live in a county island in Gilbert and your home catches on fire, the Gilbert fire department would not respond unless you were close to a home in Gilbert that might be threatened. You may have a Gilbert address but if you live in a county island you are NOT part of Gilbert.

If a home owner lives in an unincorporated area or a county island, they are often responsible to pay separately for their city services such as trash, septic, fire protection and water. In other words, these items are not supplied by the surrounding city. Homeowners often have to pay a subscription fee to Rural Metro Fire Department in order to have fire coverage.

As I said, my personal home was annexed and it is much easier to annex the desert when there are no existing homes. It can cause problems and take a lot of time to annex a county island after the fact.


Maricopa County Island and Arizona Horse Property

The good news is, a county island in Arizona can be a great thing for horse property owners! In Arizona there are a lot of different areas that have horse properties available to home buyers. These horse properties are scattered all over the Valley and many are considered to be located in County Islands.

Often a County Island is something people have heard of, except they really don’t know what it is. We hope to address that here so you know exactly what a County Island is and you understand what it means to you as an Arizona Horse property buyer.

Most of Phoenix is located in Maricopa County. It is one of the largest counties in the United States. Many times a home can be located in “Gilbert” or “Chandler” by address and not really be part of the city. My personal residence is in Gilbert and used to be considered a county island and a few years later, the Town of Gilbert annexed us. Now we enjoy Gilbert city services such as bulk trash and regular trash pickup.

Why wouldn’t a property owner of a county island want to be annexed?

My home was personally annexed into Gilbert a few years ago and many of our neighbors fought the annexation. Personally, I am happy about it as we now have greater services such as bulk trash and regular trash pickup. Gilbert also has a recycling program and will bring a free recycling bin to your home for you to use. Some of the homeowners have been forced to clean up their properties a bit. The rural life is still at it’s best and for the most part there are very few restrictions on homeowners…only severe violations were forced to clean up. I see this as a good things. Another reason property owners may not want to be annexed from a county island is they would have to pay higher real estate taxes. Lastly, some homeowners were concerned about more government control in the neighborhood. As I stated, there has been some neighbors who were made to clean up….for the most part, it still has the county island feel to it.

Where are the County Islands in Maricopa County?

There are many county islands in Maricopa County. These county islands are scattered throughout the city and some even have names such as Tonopah, Sun Lakes, Rio Verde, New River and Sun City. Some of these areas are rural and some are not.

Do County Islands have Home Owners Associations?

No. County Islands are not governed by Home Owners Associations.
Can we Search for homes in County Islands or exclude homes in a County Island?

Yes. You can log in to the Arizona MLS and search by any criteria. Including the county island.

Is my County Island part of a School District?

Most county islands are located within a school district and your children may attend schools in the surrounding city. When we were county island, our children were bused to our school district which was Mesquite High School. It was over 13 miles from our home. Once we were annexed, our children could attend Gilbert Public Schools. Sun City residents are not part of any school district yet most county island home owners are and therefore will still pay taxes.

For more information on the county island in Maricopa County, you can contact the city or county.

City of Mesa and County Islands

Here are some helpful maps that also show county islands in Maricopa. The county islands are in light gray background and you will see that there are many areas of East Mesa that have not been annexed. You can type any address in the box on the top right to see if your home is in a county island or not. If it is in the county island, it will show Maricopa County and say no city services.

City of Mesa and County Island Map

Queen Creek has a similar map for county islands. The Unincorporated areas of Queen Creek are in light gray.
City of Queen Creek and County Island Map

Gilbert County Island Map

You can visit our AZ horse property Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about Arizona horse property.Some of the information you will find is information about septic systems and septic transfer when buying and selling an AZ horse property and also information about feed, housing and riding your horse while living in Arizona. Trust the best realtors in Arizona to get you the information you need to make informed property decisions!

About Michelle


Michelle Shelton

Michelle Shelton is the owner and Designated Broker of Life Real Estate. She is the 2020 Vice-Chair and 2019 Treasurer of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) and serves on the Board of Directors with Arizona Association of REALTORS® as well as West and Southeast REALTORS® of the Valley. Michelle is also on the Rules Committee at ARMLS and serves on various task forces for ARMLS. As treasurer, she was the 2019 Chair of the Audit Committee. Michelle is active in raising the bar in the real estate industry as a whole. She has a passion for people and the rights of homeowners.
Michelle is a top producing REALTOR® in the state of Arizona.

As a Public Speaker and Writer, she has written for various magazine and trade publications and speaks Nationwide regarding the loss of her son, grief, and emotional health.

She is a Certified Negotiations Expert, Master Practitioner of NLP, and has attended Accredited Buyer classes and is a real estate instructor with Internal Dynamics Real Estate School.

Michelle enjoys time with her husband and family, Farm animals, writing, gardening, reading, and is a huge fan of personal growth.

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