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retiring to Arizona or Utah, pros and cons?

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Replies to: retiring to Arizona or Utah, pros and cons?

  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 29,231 Senior Member
    Do not discount the importance of quality medical care, especially as we age. When young and healthy, not as important as when we are aging and retiring. I'd strongly suggest taking a prolonged visit/vacation wherever you're seriously considering and try living like a resident. Find healthcare, SR living communities, social services, etc., and be sure you would enjoy it long term. If you can, try visit during their "worst" times of the year to see how you would/will do.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,043 Senior Member
    We actually like the Phoenix area...and are hoping to buy something there at some point. So much to do...we would NOT stay there from June 1 to September 1. It's just too hot for too long!

    Phoenix, in my opinion, has a more diverse and liberal population than say...Salt Lake City. We found Utah to be a very homogenous state...it's pretty, but we just wouldn't fit in there. More different types of people to our eyes in the greater Phoenix area.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 1,739 Senior Member
    I am thinking about Arizona, but my goal is to be a snowbird. I love spring through fall in NY but I am so done with snow. Being out of NY from November/December through April/May is my dream so I am not really concerned about how hot Az is in the summer.

    @Thumper1's points about diversity also apply to me. I am not really an observant Jew but I need to retire to a place that at least has a synagogue and some cultural Jewishness. I know that one of my uncles, a rabbi, lived in Arizona for most of his adult life, although he is deceased now.
  • TatinGTatinG Registered User Posts: 5,303 Senior Member
    Sedona is a beautiful place to visit, but the woo-woo culture would drive me crazy as a place to live. People who think that the vortexes there somehow channel the forces of the universe or that crystals change electron charges in a room and make it healthier. It's also very touristy which would detract from it's livability.
  • IgloooIglooo Registered User Posts: 7,046 Senior Member
    Not sure how to sample the area. Would living there a couple of weeks in January and agin in July do the trick?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,043 Senior Member
    @Iglooo

    Are you able to go for say...a month? Rent a VRBO or Airbnb for a month. i think a couple of weeks is too much like a vacation. I think 4-6 weeks would give you a better sense of living there. A house or condo...where you cook, etc...would be more like living there than a hotel.

  • tucsonmomtucsonmom Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    I forgot to add:

    About Tucson....
    The road system here in Tucson is impossible. The county & local government has not maintained the roads very well at all. There's only 1 freeway and most of Tucson is to the east of I-10. As a result, it can take 45 min on surface streets to get across town.

    About Phoenix....
    It has a good network of freeways with no toll roads and yes, you do not need a special HOV lane transponder for your car in order to use the HOV lane. BUT drivers in Phoenix tailgate something fierce. And, generally speaking, they drive like bats out of hell. 15 mph over the speed limit and still tailgating you. Roads all over Phoenix area well maintained. There is regular freeway maintenance, but it involves them shutting down sections of the freeway for the whole weekend and that is a pain in the neck sometimes....but I'd take that over the Tucson roads any day of the week.
  • IgloooIglooo Registered User Posts: 7,046 Senior Member
    I could try a month in July. Right now the only time I see a doctor is when I get annual checkup although it may change in the future.
  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 Registered User Posts: 1,455 Senior Member
    A month is enough to get an idea. It really doesn't bother me on any given day but by September I'm ready for cooler weather. But, cooler weather has a different definition. 90 degrees in AZ is comparable to 80 in the East with humidity. I've lived with both. And there is a 20-30 degree temperature swing daily so a high of 90 is usually a low of 60-65 for nice mornings.

    Evenings are still hot in the summer, often over 100 until near midnight but that is not northern AZ. Elevation matters.
  • CottonTalesCottonTales Registered User Posts: 504 Member
    Some snowbirds will rent their homes in the summer, many in 50 and up communities with all the bells and whistles as far as activities go. In Phoenix, personally I prefer the West Valley, you may look to rent something in the Surprise area. There are several Del Webb communities there, the Sun City Grand being just one of them with about 10,000 homes in that development alone. Plenty of health care in the area due to the % of retirees. Personally, the summer temps don't bother me much, I can tolerate 110 degrees much better than 90 with humidity. Tusconmom is correct about the drivers, they can give Massholes a run for their money for tailgating.
  • greenwitchgreenwitch Registered User Posts: 6,985 Senior Member
    Igloo, my D3 is in Prescott. She says it's about 10 degrees cooler in Flagstaff which is about an hour away. Prescott is at 5000 ft or so and many places don't have air conditioning. It will hit 90 in the summer but cool off considerably at night. Which means it's cold at night by October. She went to a pumpkin patch and corn maze today so they still manage to have those.

    I met a woman on the airport shuttle once who visited Embry Riddle there with her son and came back and bought a house in Chino Valley (kid went somewhere else). She kept her house in San Diego and goes back every 3 months or so, including doctor visits, because it is so easy. Her husband's asthma disappeared in northern Arizona.
  • tucsonmomtucsonmom Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    And then there's....

    YUMA!
    Our next door neighbors retired to Tucson after living in Yuma for 25-30 years. The husband next door was in the Marines for ages. He said that the summers in Yuma are brutal. I believe him especially after driving through Yuma on many a summer's day on drives out to San Diego. It has the high temps of Tucson and Phoenix but because of all of the agriculture in the area, the humidity is much higher. This means that when it's 108, it will feel hotter than 108. It's pretty awful.

    Yuma is very popular for snowbirds with RVs. There are miles upon miles of RV parks in Yuma which are packed in the cooler months of the year. There's not much to do in Yuma. A lot of retirees in Yuma cross the border into Mexico for dental care and sometimes medical care as well. In the last 10 years, there is a ton more shopping in Yuma than there used to be. Starting around mid-November through Christmas, the local shopping areas in Yuma are full of upper middle class citizens from Mexico doing their annual Christmas shopping. This also happens a lot in Tucson. Mexican citizens are allowed to travel in the US within a certain # of miles of the US-Mexico border and they can do so without a visa or passport (I can't remember which). They literally spend millions of dollars in the US and the Yuma and Tucson economies get a lot of tax revenue from it because sometimes, the families will stay for a week, stay in local hotels, etc., etc. sometimes you'll see big tour buses from Mexico full of people shopping at the local outlet malls. So if you see a lot of Mexican license plates from Sonora Mexico around that time of year, that's why. It's far cheaper for them to come to the US to buy American goods than to buy them in Mexico (because the Mexican government adds a lot of taxes to products imported from the US).

    There's also....

    QUARTZSITE!
    It's a miserable stretch of ugly desert on I-10 between Phoenix and LA. For 3 months in the winter, its local population soars into the tens of thousands and a gazzillion RVs and trailers show up. Quartzsite has a rock & mineral show there that lasts for almost a month in something like January/February. Lots of retirees go there every year and they love it because they meet up with friends and basically camp out in the desert for a couple of months. The local McDonald's turns into the community center and it's not unusual to have retirees hanging out and playing guitars and singing in McDonald's. Lines at the post office to get your mail can be an hour long in the winter. There was a whole episode once of "The Desert Speaks" on PBS about it. It was fascinating. But I wouldn't recommend living there. It's an ok place to stop for a few min to get gas, go to the bathroom, grab a soda, but that's about it.
  • tucsonmomtucsonmom Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    if you're serious about wanting to move to Arizona and you are considering Phoenix or Tucson, I would recommend to spend a week in the hottest part of the summer in either of those cities. After living here for about 15 yr, I'd say that the most miserable month is June. Monsoon season hasn't started yet and usually June is full of days above 105 degrees. And often 5-6 days in a row about 110. Seriously, it sometimes seems like the 7th circle of hell in June.

    Of course, it would be best to stay for a month, but most people can't take a whole month off of work, so settle on a week.

    What you will notice in the summer in Phoenix and Tucson is that people hibernate. In cold weather climates, people hibernate in the winter. In the hot parts of Arizona, we hibernate in the summer. Everybody exercises at 5:00 am or at 8:00 pm when it's not absolutely horrible.

    It is normal in the summer, especially in Phoenix, for it to be 90 degrees by 8 am. Between 5-6:30 am, it's tolerable and actually pleasant. That's when people do stuff outside. That's when retirees go to the grocery store. Once the sun goes down, the temp usually goes down, too. Well, in Tucson it does...not so much in Phoenix. In Phoenix, you easily could see it still 95 degrees at 11 pm.

    But I'll tell you something....90 degrees at 15% humidity feels like 80 degrees. When it gets to 80 degrees, people start putting on sweatshirts here. But we still have our flip flops on.

    Local customs in the church-going crowd in Phoenix and Tucson include wearing nice shorts or capri pants to church with nicer flip flops or sandals. You can forget about wearing a suit and tie to church. Men will tend to wear khaki pants or dress shorts and a nice polo shirt in the summer.

    Winter here lasts about 6 weeks. Tucson usually gets a dusting of snow about every other year. Snow hardly ever happens in Phoenix. Tucsonans do have to worry about pipes freezing in the winter, especially if there are 2 or more days in a row of a hard freeze warning. Older homes in Tucson tend to have more problems with frozen pipes than newer construction. In Phoenix, you don't really ever have to worry about that.

    Pima County (where Tucson is located) has a city ordinance which prohibits street lights because of the solar observatory on the top of Mt. Lemmon. By the way, it's open to the public for tours. Tours cost about $65 a person. So at night, it's REALLY DARK! But the skies are so beautiful and amazing.
  • tucsonmomtucsonmom Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    If you are an avid golfer, than Phoenix would probably be preferable to Tucson. Phoenix has way more golf courses than Tucson.

    Tucson is really big with bicyclists...road bikers and mountain bikers. There are some really great mountain biking trails around the Tucson metro area.

    Both Phoenix and Tucson have really great hiking close by.

    In Tucson, you are more likely to have close encounters with wildlife than in Phoenix. Javelinas, coyotes, huge lizards, deer, bobcats have all been observed in our neighborhood.

    If you decide to spend a week in Phoenix, you should go visit their desert botanical garden. It's a wonderful place and it will give you some great examples of how gorgeous and wonderful your desert oasis backyard could be. Tucson has a couple as well...there's the Desert Museum and Tohono Chul Park (which is on the northwest side of town).

    If you go visit Tucson, you should check out the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley (it's about 30 min from the Tucson airport). One of the Star Trek movies was filmed there. Green Valley is a huge retirement community in Tucson that's near Sahuarita. Green Valley has a really great community center and a vibrant & very active social scene for retirees.
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