I lived in the central Phoenix area of Osborne and 28th street for several years in my early 20's. Though the crime rate is a little bit high, for a lower income family with young children, it was a fun place to live. We used to take our kids to Encanto Park which has a children's amusement park area, a lagoon where you can rent paddle boats and a swimming area. We used to go hiking at Pike's Peak which was renamed Piestewa Peak in honor of a fallen local servicewoman. There was a bowling alley on Indian School and 30th street that my kids loved and a large grassy park across the street. Fun things to do were never very far away.
The community was mostly spanish speaking but we met several wonderful families that made up a very family-friendly environment. We lived in a three bedroom house with a big backyard and a kid friendly, grassy front yard. It was fairly inexpensive for the size and was walking distance from my kids' elementary school.
We didn't have to go very far to go shopping either. There was a grocery store a few blocks away, and just one street north on Camelback Ave., was a ton of clothing stores, restaurants and strip malls. Just a few block south and west, central Phoenix has the mecca of entertainment. We enjoyed The Chase Ball field, where we'd catch a Diamondbacks ball game, US Airways Center has concerts and shows like Disney on Ice, and The Arizona Center, is home to art exhibits, artisan stores, bars and restaurants and an AMC 24 that allows you to take food and drinks from the center's establishments into the theater!
Overall I had a blast living in Central Phoenix but because I'm not sure it's where I'd want to live as my kids got older due to the amount of the crime. As for Community, the Osborne and 28th Street Neighborhood was beautiful and friendly. Attractions, Nightlife, Shopping and Restaurants can easily be described as amazing. If I were a single person or a couple with no kids, I would move back to the Central Phoenix area in a heartbeat.