Why We Retired to Tucson

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Editor’s note: This is an unusual post from one of our Members, Harv. He originally posted it as a Comment to our “Dueling Retirements: AZ vs. FL” Blog article. But due to its length we thought it might be good to break it out as its own article. Please forgive the spelling and punctuation as this was originally meant to be a Comment, not an article, so there are some errors. It is also quite conversational. Hope you enjoy it. PS – Here in 2016 we have had quite a few comments about retiring to Arizona. So we added those Comments to the bottom of this article – not to mention the many Comments made to the original 2015 article!

January 28, 2015 — We retired to Tucson for very specific reasons. Many people here say “I’ll never again live where I need to own a snow shovel!” I totally agree with that sentiment, and I add that “I’ll never again live where I need to own a lawn mower!” No snow shovel … no lawn mower … life in Tucson is good!

In our view, 32 degrees is a “deal-breaker” when it comes to deciding where to retire. Bad things start to happen at 32 degrees! Water freezes! So the average number of days that temps get below 32 is very important to us. It affects safety in driving and walking. Increasingly as we age, our reactions slow, so driving or walking on snow or ice is dangerous! I find I’m less able to catch myself when I slip or stumble, and it’s not going to get any better with advancing age!

Tucson averages few days below 32 degrees … and when it happens, it usually gets only a few degrees under 32 … and it doesn’t reach 32 until the wee hours just before dawn … and it’s back above 32 again shortly after dawn. I can live with that. Phoenix has even fewer days under 32.

Second, humidity matters! It matters enormously! Humidity is our second “deal-breaker” … which is why Florida didn’t attract us. Humidity makes it so uncomfortable if one perspires (and I sweat a lot!). After being in Tucson for nine months, we returned to Wisconsin at 10 pm on a June evening; I carried 3 light boxes into the house and my hair was wringing wet from sweat! I told Carol, “We were in Tucson for 9 months and have been back in Wisconsin for only 10 minutes, and I’ve sweat more in these 10 minutes than I did during 9 months in Tucson!” Of course I actually did perspire in Tucson, but I wasn’t aware of (or frustrated by) it because sweat evaporates immediately and helps cool your body.

People like me from the North Country often wonder if they could survive the heat of summer in Southern Arizona. Is it humanly possible to survive 105 degrees? Well, Carol and I have now survived three summers in Tucson … and we lived to tell about it! Actually, it’s really not as bad as my imagination had conjured up. As they say, “It’s a dry heat.” When we started snowbirding to Tucson in 2006, I asked a question to several people from the Midwest who had lived here for years: “So what does it feel like here in the summer? When it’s over a hundred degrees here in Tucson, what temperature would you equate that to in the Midwest?” Almost everyone said they thought it was equivalent to a 10-15 degree difference … that 100 degrees in Tucson feels like 85-90 in Wisconsin of Minnesota. After 3 summers here, I can’t disagree. 10-15 degrees sounds about right.

So doesn’t 100 or 105 feel hot? Absolutely! It feels VERY hot, BUT … it’s much more livable that we Northerners often imagine. During the heat of the day during hot months, you’re typically either comfortably inside an air conditioned house, an air conditioned car, or an air conditioned store or office … or you’re walking briefly from one to the other. Aside from the walk and getting into a hot car before the AC kicks in, it’s not an issue. And if you want, you can even install a remote start on your car so you can start the motor and AC to get the car cooled off before you walk to the car. And even though it does get hot, there is some time basically 365 days a year when you can feel comfortable being outside. Even when it gets to 105, it’s usually in the 70s in early morning … until 9 or 10 … and usually comfortable outside after 9 or 10 at night. And the weather during the other 9 months is so awesome that it’s worthwhile. And the 360 days of sun are so psychologically uplifting. It’s hard to be depressed when you have so much amazing weather and sunlight. While Florida claims to be the Sunshine State, according to “20 things you didn’t know about Arizona” at matadornetwork.com:

‘Sunshine State’ is a more accurate nickname for Arizona than Florida. Meteorological statistics don’t lie. Arizona is the sunniest state in the country. (Florida comes in fifth.) Yuma is sunny 90% of the time, and Phoenix and Tucson tie at 85%. No city in Florida even makes the top ten.” …

Interesting, huh? And surprising, right?
I’ve talked to several people who moved from Florida to where we live (at the Voyager RV Resort just outside the Tucson city limits). Almost every person has said that Florida humidity was what they were escaping, often complaining about the mildew, mold and bugs in Florida. In fact, the house next door was just purchased by a couple from Florida.
Speaking of bugs, I figure I average seeing only about one fly per month in Tucson. And mosquitoes are even rarer. We usually leave our doors wide open with no screen door … because there are almost no flying bugs! Awesome! No screen door? In Wisconsin, we needed a screen porch on our house if we wanted to enjoy being outside (unless we bathed in insect repellent!). It may seem like a small thing, but it matters.
Plus, the low humidity in Tucson makes it so much easier for each of us to breathe. In Wisconsin, we felt like the commercial with the elephant following us from room to room, sitting on our chests. In Tucson, the elephant is dead!

Speaking of avoiding driving on “frozen water”, driving safety becomes increasingly important as we age. Allstate Insurance annually compiles the “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report”. Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa each led the nation in their category of city size for having the safest driving. (source: blog.allstate.com, August 27, 2013) Phoenix topped the nation 9 years in a row among large cities (pop’n over a millon). Tucson and Mesa had best in the nation among similar sized cities (pop’n 500-750k and 250-500k respectively). Not losing our driver license is critical to our independence, so living in a community with a low accident rate like Tucson is a plus to us.

Many people incorrectly assume that Tucson must be warmer than Phoenix since Tucson’s farther south. In fact, Tucson averages 4 degrees cooler than Phoenix (about 5 degrees cooler during summer & 3 degrees cooler during winter). Tucson’s cooler than Phoenix because it’s at a higher elevation. Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport’s at 1141 feet while Tucson International Airport’s at 2654 feet.

Snow is rare in Tucson and almost unheard of in Phoenix. Some mentioned the skiing two hours from Phoenix. Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is just outside Tucson, less than an hour drive up the mountain from metro Tucson. It’s the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S. While Tucson averages less than an inch of snow per year, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley gets 180 inches (15 feet).

Tucson is highly rated for bicycling, almost always ranked in the top ten cities in the U.S.

Tucson (and Phoenix) is considered one of the best areas in the United States for those who have arthritis because Southern Arizona, Southern California and Hawaii have the least changes in barometric pressure in the U.S. It’s the change in atmospheric pressure that aggravates arthritis and leads people to say “I can feel it in my bones that the weather’s going to change because my joints hurt.” Many people find that barometric pressure changes trigger migraines, congestion and sinus headaches. Stable weather patterns in Southern Arizona make a huge difference … my wife & I both experience noticeably fewer aches & pains in Tucson than in the Midwest.

In my view, the best way to compare the two cities is by how they “feel”. As a real estate person said, Phoenix feels like a city while Tucson feels like a sprawling town. When walking in downtown Tucson, even though Tucson has 500,000 residents with one million in the metro area, I don’t at all “feel” like I’m in the center of “a big city”. Phoenix is more “upscale” and has a higher cost of living than Tucson. Tucson is very informal and laid back. We never feel the need to dress up to go anywhere (and we don’t!).”>

Someone earlier posted that the Mayo Clinic has a Florida campus in Jacksonville. The Mayo Clinic also has an Arizona campus. It’s located in Scottsdale, a Phoenix suburb that’s a reasonable 2-hour drive from Tucson. Mayo’s Florida campus in the far northeast corner of Florida, 25 miles from the Georgia state line and far from many of Florida’s most popular retirement areas.

The Administrator in the intro addressed political attitudes. Tucson metro is a blue island in a sea of red. Phoenix metro is very red.

Harv

(Editor’s note: Thanks Harv – we appreciate hearing your point of view!)

More thoughts about Arizona from other visitors
PS – Here are some other visitor Comments about retiring to Arizona made to some of our other posts – we hope that by putting them in one place and adding them to this article you will find that useful. And don’t forget the 191 Comments made to the original Dueling Retirements: AZ vs. FL article.

Dave M: We moved to Mesa, Arizona, in 2007 from Minnesota. We thought we received excellent healthcare in Minnesota, but the quality of medical care here in Arizona is well above what we received there. I have the best set of doctors that I have ever had. I have been able to get into to see my primary care provider on a same day basis a number of times and almost always within two – three days. My dentist is heads and shoulders above what we had previously. I have a lot of issues with living in Arizona but medical care is not one of those.

Louise: Dave M, can you tell us your ‘issues’ living in AZ? I have never been to AZ and find the State intriguing. I have been to Aruba and I can imagine the terrain being similar, however no ocean! How did you choose what city to live in? How did you narrow your choices? Good to hear there is good medical care there.

Dave M: Arizona is not a very good place for people with allergies. Since there is something growing/blooming almost every day of the year, there is no down time to let your immune system rest up as the cold weather does in the north. Compounding that problem is the frequency of dust storms during the monsoon season. I have to take monthly allergy shots to be able to stay here and, in fact, my doctor has advised me to move. But all places have some allergy problems. Urban air pollution and ozone also play a factor for those with respiratory diseases.

More problematic for me is legislation being passed in Arizona. The state is becoming too red politically for me.

Dave Hughes: I have lived in the Phoenix area (east valley: Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Ahwatukee) for over 20 years, and I have NEVER had a problem with roaches. In my experience, roaches come when there is food waste to eat. As long as you keep your kitchen clean, you shouldn’t have a problem. I was born and raised in Ohio and lived in the Washington, DC suburbs before moving to Arizona, and we have far fewer bugs of all types here than anywhere else I have lived or visited.

Kathy: checkout the Fountain Hills AZ area – it’s safe, quiet and a small walking community where your rental dollar goes a lot further.

Ginger: I’m in Tucson, and yes we have hot summers, but the rest of the year is beautiful. I lived in Tacoma WA for 3 years and you have to like it pretty cold and very gloomy to like that climate. Not my cup of tea. I like upstate NY better. Summers not too hot, and winter is snowy but sunny. I don’t like gloom.

Norm (referring to a list provided by Larry – Check it out for yourselves: http://lpl-research.com/~rss/Thought_Leadership/TL_Retirement_Index.pdf): One comment I have is that Arizona which got low marks for health yet my brother who recently moved to Tucson said he disagrees with that.

Joann: Very interesting list. I question how they ranked Healthcare score for AZ= score F and WV=score B? I mention this after viewing a tv show discussing how NPs were working out of an old RV visiting communities to offer healthcare. AZ with it’s huge population of retirees is where I would expect to have numerous doctors and better medical facilities. We have to do so much research to get through these misleading articles….

Loral: I live in Phoenix, and we have some of the best hospitals, including Mayo Clinic , Banner Hospital, St Josephs, which does research and has received many awards…and lot’s others here. Excellent doctors here! That article is way off. S


For further reading:
Dueling Retirement States: Arizona vs. Florida
Retirement 101: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah
What Sandy and Roger Learned in 8 Years of Looking at Retirement Communities
One Year Later: Why Artie Moved to Carolina from New York
9 Things Betty and Jim Learned While Looking for Their Best Place to Retire
Morris and Carol Explore Florida and Texas
Hop on Jay Michael’s Retirement Tour Bus (2 part series)



Posted by Admin on January 28th, 2015

58 Comments »

  1. I tend to agree with the article,somewhat. Some 20 years ago we wintered in Apache Junction,which is East of Phoenix a ways,and being from the Northern states,Wyoming,we were looking for a better climate.However,the smog around Phoenix,and the constant sirens all night long,made us decide the area was not for us.Now that we are both retired we are looking at a possible relocate to Southern AZ again,and articles like this helps a lot.However,I have an old Army buddy who lives in Sierra Vista and on occasion has to travel to the Tucson VA,he tells me he cannot wait to get out of Tucson.Makes one wonder.

    by JB — January 29, 2015

  2. Thanks Harv. We also relocated from Wisconsin to Tucson (actually NW in Marana) in 1997. We never looked back and love it here. I could not take high humidity with breathing issues and the “dry heat” is survivable…we are here year round. We really love the geographic diversity in Arizona and the Sonoran Desert is not what some people imagine a desert to be. We take short couple day trips to the ocean in San Diego, mountains in Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon easy trips to Santa Fe,…these help break up the hot summer. We also love the University of AZ here, go to sports events, Jan 31 the Gem Show comes to town for 2 weeks and we love that – it is the biggest Gem Show in the WORLD. We live in the Tucson Mountain foothills at Dove Mountain with 32 miles of hiking trails which is a bonus for us. Phoenix is a bit busy so we rarely go there, sometimes shuttle up to fly out of Sky Harbor. We love it here!!!

    by LJ — January 29, 2015

  3. Couple of questions to Harv. What is water situation out there? Have heard a lot about drought and AZ is running out of water. Had thought about Oro Valley area or Marana.
    Question for LJ, where around Dove Mountain are you? Are shopping and restaurants far? Looking for active age restricted communities.
    Thanks

    by Lee S — February 1, 2015

  4. We are at The HIghlands at Dove Mountain a 55+ age restricted community which is gated, 1200+ homes and has full amenities including golf. Groceries (huge FRYS) are like 5 miles, Walgreens/Gas/Bank at Dove Mountain entrance, we have a restaurant on site but there are 5 others at DM (but 3 are at The Ritz-Carlton DM). They are building a pretty big shopping area right off the interstate about 5 miles from us too. When I moved here there was NOTHING!

    by LJ — February 2, 2015

  5. Sorry guys. I can’t get excited about a state where you can’t walk a dog May-Sep nor can you enjoy the “great outdoors” unless you rise at “zero dark 30” or wait until past sundown. I’ve heard that cheap shoes melt on the asphalt. Hiding from the heat or risk sunstroke is not the way I want to spend my active years. I know there are higher and cooler elevations but those areas seem to also be pricier. Great homes and wonderful prices can be found on the outskirts of Phoenix and Tucson but, spending 6 months sitting in the local mall, my home, or local recreation center waiting for the sun to set is not my cup of tea.

    by Veloris — February 2, 2015

  6. V

    Been living in AZ since 1972, I will agree it gets hot here but it’s not the center of the earth or the Sun. OMG! ….That’s the craziest thing I ever heard, most of us adapt to our environment. I suppose you could say the same thing about walking your dog in the snow. Your statement is quite ridiculous and extreme.

    by Wayne — February 3, 2015

  7. V
    How many states right now are people indoors due to extreme cold and snow. I enjoy the outdoors 365 days a year in Arizona. Granted there are a few months where I don’t hike or golf 1pm-5pm, but I still do in the am or late afternoon. Rather than think we are indoors for 6 months, I think there might be 7-9 days a summer that are just outrageously hot like 112 at peak of day…I’m still out and about or that is when we drive up to Flagstaff for a getaway. My dog gets walked everyday around 7am in the summer – we don’t mind. We are at 3200 elevation so really not Death Valley here. I never have to worry about slipping on ice or being stuck in snow or below zero temps which I think is more dangerous for the aging people. Also, I can’t breath at 85+ humidity so I can enjoy more outdoor days than I ever could in midwest. After 17 years, still love Arizona…supposed to be 78 today in Tucson!

    by LJ — February 3, 2015

  8. V
    What you said is ridiculous! We have 7 lovely months of great weather, beautiful sunshine, glorious sunsets, and beautiful scenery. Soooo much to do here. Look at all the horrible weather back East now! Yes we have a few months of heat, but we get breaks when days aren’t bad, and people walk their dogs all year round here!! I LOVE ARIZONA!!!!

    by Loralee — February 3, 2015

  9. Can someone shed light on effect of dry weather on Psoriasis (skin disorder)? I would like to retire in Arizona, but I am concerned about this skin condition-whether it will get worse with dry weather. I live in California, but would like get away from all the hustle and bustle environment. I will appreciate any response from someone who may have this condition and lives in AZ.

    by Raman — February 3, 2015

  10. Phoenix has a population of 1.6 million people, and the metro area has around 4.3 million people. Phoenix is also the 5th most populous city in the United States. Phoenix would not have this spectacular growth if people were melting away on the sidewalks. Right now in the United States, Phoenix is one of the greatest population draws for all age groups: the very young to the very elderly. As humans we do adapt. Fly into Sky Harbor in August. Yes, it is very hot, but by all means not unbearable.

    by Bubbajog — February 3, 2015

  11. Anyone living in general Tucson or Marana area. What is long term water situation. Our concern is reports that area will not have an adequate supply of potable water in the future.

    by Lee S — February 4, 2015

  12. I see that you’re living in an RV community. Can you recommend an affordable 55+ community near Tuscon? Other than Mayo, have you found good health care nearby?

    by Peg — February 4, 2015

  13. Lee
    http://www.tucsonaz.gov/water/waterplan
    http://www.marana.com/1244/The-Future-of-Our-Water
    http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2014/08/11/arizona-water-supply-drought/13883605/

    Peg….55+ communities – affordable – what price range ? You are looking for houses or RV parks? Golf or No?

    by LJ — February 4, 2015

  14. Last May we vacationed near Cottonwood, AZ, about an hour or so north of Phoenix. This was a check on whether AZ might be a permanent destination for us — we decided no. The near constant wind, dust and dryness were the big issues (we are from central NC). Potential water issues are also a big concern.

    I’m not seeing answers here to most of the questions asked — especially the water issue (there may be no answer for that). But I’ll add my questions: What about wind and dust? Seeing the news videos of the dust storms this year in Phoenix have forever dispelled that city as an option. The dryness remains an issue — both my wife and I had sinus and skin issues even in the few weeks in Verde Valley. Is that typical and do you acclimate to it? In NC, we live in a politically blue area of a predominantly red state. We very much oppose the AZ governor and the state policies in many areas. A question only we (and my wife is a Democratic activist) can answer is whether we could deal with that living in a blue city in a red state.

    We loved our visit to AZ this year and in the past. Frankly, it’s difficult to completely dismiss the state as an option despite our experience. The dryness is a concern (humidity we can live with). I’ve visited Tuscon briefly a couple of times in the past 20 years and can only say good things about my visits. It tops my list other than where we are in NC and, more recently, FL. I hope some of you will help with my questions.

    Thanks, Rich

    by Rich — February 4, 2015

  15. We vacationed (before and after starting a family) in Phoenix and always loved it. Always went in warmer months and we DID survive. It felt hot though, even though it is certainly dry. Our most recent trip was September 2014. Didn’t see any posts yet on the summer monsoon rains, which can be intense and will cause highway flooding, but the flooded spots are usually gone within a day. Also didn’t see any posts on the crime rate, which I have been led to believe is a serious consideration due to proximity with the border. While I am attracted to AZ, and will likely vacation there again, the crime rate for me is the deal breaker. The scenery and climate advantage over NJ is significant! Had the BEST BBQ in Phoenix, too.

    by Dan — February 4, 2015

  16. We live about 25 miles north of Tucson along the Santa Catalina mountains at an elevation of 3200 feet in a retirement community called Saddlebrooke. Our summer temps are about 5 degrees cooler than Tucson (city) and about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix. Our community has over 5000 homes, 81 holes of golf, lots of tennis and pickleball courts, 6 swimming pools (1 indoor), 4 clubhouses, 4 restaurants and over 100 clubs and organizations of every kind. We tried living in Florida for about 5 years, but the bugs, humidity, hurricanes and tornadoes were too much for us. Saddlebrooke has it ALL and I consistently rated in the TOP retirement communities in the USA. Saddlebrooke Ranch is just a few miles further north and much higher in elevation (near Oracle), so if you want cooler temps, there is another option that gives you full access to all the Saddlebrooke amenities.

    by Robert — February 4, 2015

  17. I’ve lived in the east valley suburbs of Phoenix (Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert) for 19 years, and I still love it. I’ll be the first to admit that “dry heat” isn’t for everybody, but living conditions here aren’t anywhere near as bad as some of the hype you hear. I’ve never heard of anyone’s soles melting on asphalt, for example.

    We really do acclimate to the warmer temperatures and drier air. I moved here from the DC area, and I suffered terribly from allergies every spring. That’s no longer a problem here. I don’t have skin issues, so I can’t really speak for whether someone with skin issues would adjust to living here or be miserable. I put moisturizer on my face every day, and that’s it.

    Haboobs (dust storms) only happen about 3-4 times a year. Most of them aren’t anything to worry about. They last about an hour and when they’re over, you sweep off your patio, backwash your pool, and maybe pick up a couple fallen tree branches. That big one that happened in July, 2011 that made the news everywhere was a freak, and even it wasn’t very destructive.

    Haboobs are the worst thing we have to deal with. No tornadoes, no hurricanes, no earthquakes, and certainly no blizzards. Yes, we had a flood last October, but that’s the only one I’ve experienced in my 19 years here. In terms of natural disasters, this is a pretty safe place.

    Regarding the water, Phoenix still has an adequate supply. We’re sitting on a large underground aquafer, the Salt River is dammed up in four places upstream to the east which feeds our canal system, and we get water from the Colorado River. That said, as the area continues to grow we will need to start conserving more. People water lawns and shrubs a lot, and we should transition to more desert landscaping. But I don’t foresee a day when we will turn on the spigot and nothing comes out.

    Tuscon doesn’t have as much water as Phoenix, but that city is much better about using desert landscaping and therefore it’s not using water on grass and plants. Again, I don’t see a water crisis looming on the horizon.

    Again, Arizona isn’t for everyone. And that’s a good thing – if everybody moved here, that would create a lot of problems to deal with. But it’s not as extreme as some people make it out to be, and many of us think it’s quite nice. When it’s 115 degrees and I’m sitting out in my pool sipping a cocktail, I think about the people in the northeast digging out from 2-3 feet of snow, and that sunshine feels just fine.

    Dave Hughes
    RetireFabulously.com

    by Dave Hughes — February 4, 2015

  18. Great information for a couple like us who can’t quite decide which warm weather state will be “The One.” From where I’m sitting (Boston) they all look good right now!

    by Jane — February 4, 2015

  19. I’m now living in Georgia, however, I lived in Arizona for 18 years. I spent several years in the Phoenix area, some in the Cottonwood area, and the remainder in Tucson. Of the 3, the Phoenix area is the hottest (due in part to all of the heat-retaining concrete). It doesn’t cool down much at night and is the most affected by dust and wind. Cottonwood provides nothing in culture, though it’s a great place for hiking and camping and has a real 4 season climate. Nearby Sedona is very expensive, but lovely to visit. Oak Creek Canyon (on the road from Sedona to Flagstaff) is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the states. Tucson, my favorite, has culture (much provided by Arizona Sate University) and the wonderful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The city can feel a little overcrowded when the university is in session, but it almost has a small town atmosphere when it isn’t. It’s a wonderful place to walk or ride a bike. I never felt afraid in the neighborhood where I lived, but I was aware of the high crime in the city and there were areas that I avoided. I loved living in Arizona and I do recommend it, however, it is very brown and I really missed the green of the east.

    by Georgia — February 4, 2015

  20. For me Tucson is:
    Dirty, unless you are rich and can live in the nicer places.

    Medically poor despite the ads the hospitals and doctors always run. Thank God Mayo is close.

    Traffic is bad, the roads are terrible, crime is high, and the airport is a regional, meaning you have to go to Phoenix to get most anywhere.

    UA basketball is great!

    by Chuck — February 4, 2015

  21. It’s great hearing all about AZ. We used to live there, but husbands job brought us to OH, but it will be short term, 2 more years to go. My husband will be retiring in 2 more years. One of the things that we are missing is the Astro Photography, He gets very little time in doing this here in OH. Weather just isn’t good for it. As one can imagined being from Midwest. Always cloudy it seems.

    But the skies in AZ, are just too perfect! So please keep sending the info. Let me ask you this, if you had too choose between Tucson and Gold Canyon, AZ…which would you prefer?

    Thank You for any information you can send us. We moved to OH from Gilbert.

    Sandra

    by Sandra — February 4, 2015

  22. Answering a few more questions….
    There are some very nasty windy areas between Phoenix and Tucson around Casa Grande where you have “flat lands” but that is a few times a year. Another bad wind area is down near Wilcox I-10 East. We have a few windy days in Tucson but nothing extreme, we don’t get Haboobs in Tucson.
    Some people require a humidifier in the home either always or at night, I don’t. In the driest winter months the humidity can be as low as 8% so you need to be conscious of fluid intake,when no sweating occurs. Yup, lots of moisturizer…. in the summer, especially monsoon you can get rapidly developing storms that last a short time and it really rains but again that is not every day and not for a long time period…a juicy monsoon can produce flash flooding and stupid people often try to drive thru flooded roads! Humidity in the summer can be in the 30-50% range around monsoon time (mid June – mid Sept). When I compare midwest tornadoes, thunder storms, blizzards and coastal hurricanes I think our whether is pretty boring – sunny and maybe sunny & hot. If you don’t like blue skies, stay away. I agree…it’s not for everyone and we don’t want everyone:)
    Tucson is closer to the border but generally all of the crime stuff is over stated. Crime rate in South Tucson not like in the N & NW communities. Have lived here almost 18 years and I wouldn’t even give it a 2nd thought. Downtown renovations and new streetcar and new trendy dining options is making Tucson downtown come alive which was really needed. Streetcar connects UofA to downtown. We love our college sports here and do not miss major league anything.
    The politics in AZ are definitely whacky Rich….Tucson is a progressive blue city in a red state. I’m not certain I would have put AZ high on my list if I really understood the political situation here but there is some solace in Tucson being a university town with more moderate thinking.
    If you have not been exposed to the Sonoran Desert you need to understand that it is a very vegetated environment…it is not flat, barren desert. Loads of wildlife, even deer.

    by LJ — February 4, 2015

  23. I would be interested in seeing a side-by-side comparison of taxes and utility costs. Anybody have any?

    by Ron — February 4, 2015

  24. I just can’t believe some of the ridiculous comments about Tucson.

    1. Who is propagating all this nonsense about it being unsafe? I’ve just lived here a year, but I have yet to see one news story about people being attacked by wild border crossing immigrants. I regularly visit south Tucson…a very Mexican area…no problems. I leave the door to my house unlocked at all times because when I had my stroke I was so happy the emergency people could get in to help me. No problems. Nothing stolen. As far as I can tell, it is very safe here, certainly much safer than upstate N.Y wher I lived previously.
    2. Shoes melt? Can’t walk dogs? Are you people nuts? In summer I walked my dog early, like before 9am, and late, like 8 pm, to avoid burned foot pads. She did just fine and we’re both comfy walking at those times. Yes, for 4 months (not 5 or 6 for Christ sake) from mid-May to mid- to late September it was hot. The rest of the year is gorgeous. In the hot months I spent most of my time: in my air conditioned house or car, in the pool, or the air conditioned gym. It wasn’t difficult at all. I sat out in my carport at night all summer…at night the air is fabulous. And, as mentioned, it is a good time for short trips….San Diego, Santa Fe, Prescott..all just a few hours away.
    3. Tucson is blue. Very hip area around the University with small shops, restaurants, etc. lots of good live music venues. Lots of things to see and do. Lots of writers and artists in area. Politically you get everything here.
    4. Tucson is affordable…much more than Phoenix. I looked at Voyager, where the writer of this article lives. But I prefer the north side of Tucson, so I live in Marana. If I pay by the year my mobile home park lot lease is $3600. That’s cheap!
    5. For those who have followed my exploits I have been beset with illness since I got here. I spent more than 13 weeks in hospital. As far as I can tell I have gotten very good care here. There are a number of good hospitals here that cover every specialty. And, if there is something not available here, it is available in Phoenix, less than 2 hours away.
    6. Traffic. I lived in SF Bay Area for many years, Seattle for 3 years and New York for 7 years. Traffic in Tucson is NOTHING like any of those places. I don’t think I’ve ever even had traffic slow to a stop, even during rush hour. In my opinion the traffic here is very mild and, as mentioned in the article, the excellent weather produces excellent driving conditions which I think makes it much safer.
    7. Allergies, sinus, skin…all my stuff is better. I breathe better. Less allergies, by far. No sinus issues like I have in damp, mildewy places. Yes, lots of sun screen and lotion, but my skin was already old before I got here.

    So…I am very happy with my choice. I think some of you just like to make stuff up as an excuse to stay put. Great! Stay where you are with humidity, snow, tornadoes, traffic…we are just fine with that! We’ll just be enjoying another sunny, blue sky day down here.

    by Ginger — February 4, 2015

  25. My wife and I are in the process of moving to the Tucson area; the small town of Vail, AZ about 20 minutes southeast of Tucson. We just purchased a home in Rancho Del Lago, a Del Webb 55+ community. We are moving from cold, snowy, and heavily-populated northeast Ohio. To repeat an earlier comment, I never want to mow grass or shovel snow again!

    We looked extensively in New Mexico (a lovely state). But we found what we wanted in a very nice and affordable home near Tucson, close enough to medical and cultural resources. We have a community of friendly people, with plenty of activities to keep us young. We simply cannot wait to complete our transition to the southwest.

    by David — February 4, 2015

  26. We’ve lived in Tempe, a southeast suburb of Phoenix, for eight years now. I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the Phoenix area, for a variety of reasons. But when I retire in another year (assuming all stays okay with health, etc.), we’re moving to Florida. The principal reason is that if I am going to retire and actually enjoy it, I will retire somewhere near the ocean. Here in Arizona, we have two choices: We could drive to Mexico, but I don’t want to go to a place where you have to travel in a convoy to feel safe. We have friends who vacation there, but the safety issues are more than we can deal with, and the thought of coping with the crime as residents is impossible. Or we could go to California, which I’ve calculated costs at least twice as much as Florida for equivalent housing. Sorry, but we just cannot afford it.

    So we’re moving back east. We’re New Englanders, so the concept of a Florida retirement is familiar. I don’t like humidity, but you have to put up with something no matter where you live, so I’ll deal with it.

    By the way, we are fans of Tucson. In addition to having much more moderate politics, it’s kind of a funky town with really interesting areas surrounding it, Lots to do and an interesting social scene near the University of Arizona.,

    Two things to watch, though — and these apply to Phoenix, not nessarily Tucson. Allergies are alive and well. As the area grew, people brought their favorite plants, and if they survived (and a lot of them did), they caused allergies. Phoenix has gone from a place where people went to cure allergies to a place where allergies can be really bad. I’m just sayin’. And as for bugs, we have mosquitos that are as bad as anywhere we have lived. Another thing to watch for is termites. There is a common saying here that we all have termites, it’s just that some of us have noticed them. Termites are everywhere here. It’s just a question of whether they can figure out a way through or around your foundation slab get into the house. At least treating them is pretty commonplace here, and people don’t panic over them anywhere near as much as they do back where we are from.

    by Tom — February 4, 2015

  27. I just finished reading all the comments about Tucson, both positive and negative. I live in Prescott, about 4 hours north of Tucson and up here we do get a slight bit of snow and cold. Otherwise the climate is very good. I run two humidifiers because Arizona’s climate is very dry. I have only been in Tucson a few times and I’ve been in the Voyager RV Park and in Saddlebrooke. Both places are way too expensive for my blood, so to say, although they are very nice and have lots of amenities. I have heard that Dell Webb also has built a community between Tucson and Benson and if I were to live in the area, I would like that area better because to me the scenery is nicer and it’s not so crowded. As one or more of the commenters wrote, Tucson is nice if you are rich and can live in the rich areas, and I would agree with that. Up around Mt. Lemon is very nice. Marana, just north of Tucson, did not have much there the last time I saw it, but apparently it has grown quite a lot. I have heard that Tucson is dangerous, probably because it is closer to the border. Many of their signs are printed first in Spanish and then in English, which I do not agree with. I am sure the reason I feel so strongly about that is because I immigrated from Germany many years ago and nobody printed anything in German for me, or hired a translator before I learned English well enough to communicate. Back to the Tucson area …. I had a home in the Casa Grande area, north of Tucson, which I heard has been built up a lot since I lived there, with shopping centers, movie houses, restaurants, etc. We used to have those Haboobs, the horrible sandstorms where it looks as though a wall of sand is coming toward you and my house often had layers of sand on the inside window sills. I got caught in one of those one time and tried to outrun it with my car, which did not work. You could not see anything around you and even some palm trees were ripped out of the ground. There are some very bad accidents with multiple cars and 18-wheeler trucks on the highways around that flat area, especially on the I-10. Monsoon season, which is rather short, can also become frightening because many homes can get flooded and streams of rushing water run across some streets. Some people are dumb enough to try to drive across those rushing streams and then they get stranded, often on top of their car roofs, and have to be rescued by helicopters, etc. I once watched the water come within a couple of inches of my front door, although my home was situated on a small hill. There was a small mountain near me and water came rushing down it like a river. All in all, Tucson no doubt would be better than living in a state that has bad snow and ice in winter and is extremely humid (with bugs) in the summer, but I, personally would not choose Tucson. I love Sedona, but it is extremely expensive. I miss “green” and water and when I am able to do so, I may try to move to Oregon or Idaho. I’ve lived in Montana twice and loved it, til thousands of Californians moved there and pretty much ruined that state, such as what is now happening here in Prescott. Any “normal” person can no longer buy a home here; greedy developers are building subdivisions on every open piece of land, running the beautiful pronghorns off, and prices start around $300,000, which is a bargain to the many Californians moving here, but not for the rest of us. They keep trying to relocate the pronghorns to Southern AZ by trying to force them, with helicopters, into enclosures and in the process many of them get killed, which is so sad. They are lovely animals that are used to Northern AZ vegetation and if they do manage to be relocated to So. AZ, they often die there because they cannot find the food they are used to.

    by Ursula — February 4, 2015

  28. Property taxes are way less than I paid in Wisconsin/Milwaukee – like 40% The community I live in has home values between $175,000 and $480,000 – I would say the property taxes range from $2500-$3900 (this is a gated, foothills, golf course, pool, tennis, pickleball, fitness center, restaurant type community). HOA is $180/mo. Vehicle registration is high in AZ if you have a new car as it is calculated based on car value. So when we bought a brand new vehicle our annual registration was around $525 which was pretty shocking but goes does down each year. I drive an 8 year old VW and I’m down to $120 this year. Running AC pretty solid from May-Sept does run up a good electric bill, our home is 2500 sq ft and we run between $200-$320 a month in summer (no pool)….but there are several months a year when we run “free”, no AC and no heat! Everything needs to be bottom line analyzed…some things are higher and some things are lower. Our water/sewer bill is around $55/mo. Sales tax in Marana is 8.1%, that too is pretty high.

    by LJ — February 5, 2015

  29. Dick and I rented out our home in Hilton Head and moved to a furnished rental in Saddlebrooke, northeast of Tucson, for a year to check it out. We are loving it! There is so much to do and the scenery is gorgeous. I haven’t had a bug in the house since I moved. The weather is great, and yes I’ve been here in the summertime. The days are going to be hot, but the nights do cool down some. As other readers noted, Tucson is cooler than Phoenix, and Saddlebrooke’s 3200 elevation cools down further. We figure we can also picnic on MT. Lemmon at 10,000 ft., a hour away, when things get really bad. There is snow up there today, and I’ll be wearing shorts later. I am amazed at how much cheaper things are here. We can buy a nice house for half the cost. Food is cheaper too, by far.
    I also like the purple politics here, as opposed to the need to be bright red. In SC, it was difficult to say what I thought all the time.
    I lived in FLORIDA twice, once in Palm Beach County and once in Tampa. We decided not to return. I guess I’m tired of hurricane insurance, both wind and hail and flood on top of my regular insurance. If I can’t live really close to the ocean, 10 minutes or less, I don’t want to be there.
    It’s all a matter of what works for you.

    by Barbara — February 5, 2015

  30. I love the idea of putting retirement in dry climates. My major concern is that much of the desert to California have been in drought for an unbelievable time. Forests are easily burned, and once that happens, soils erode and cannot soak up what little precipitation that occurs.

    I, for one, don’t want to go into an area where a critical resource is already in a critical position. Just one person’s opinion, I’d rather go somewhere where water is plentiful and good quality.

    by Lynne from Connecticut — February 5, 2015

  31. Thanks for all the comments in response to my blog. I’m sorry about my slowness in replying to member questions.

    ** MEDICAL CARE: Peg, you asked if we found good health care nearby. Yes, we feel fortunate that the University of Arizona Medical School is right here in Tucson. My wife had serious respiratory issues (pulmonary fibrosis) that predated our move to Tucson, so transitioning to Tucson was a big step for us because she has been on oxygen 24/7 since 2010. We’ve been very happy with our care at UAMC (Univ. of Arizona Medical Center). Prior to moving, we used the Mayo Clinic system in Wisconsin. We did try Mayo Clinic’s satellite campus in Scottsdale (a 2 hour drive from Tucson), but we feel we get better care at UAMC.

    In terms of dental care, many Voyager residents get their dental care done in Nogales, Mexico, only 60 miles from Tucson. I’m sure there are exceptions, but everyone I’ve talked to tells me they’ve had excellent care and at enormous savings. I’m planning to go there myself because I need some major dental work done, and it will cost a mint if I do it in the U.S.

    ** WATER AVAILABILITY: Lee S, you asked about water. I agree with Dave Hughes who responded to your inquiry. In spite of all the frequently-heard forecasts of imminent doom because of water availability, the fact is that both Phoenix and Tucson are in fairly good shape. Both have been saving water and pumping it into the aquifer to be available in future years. The Arizona Daily Star reported last June that when the Director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association was asked if Phoenix could run out of water if the Central Arizona Project has a few dry years, her answer was “Emphatically not!” And as Tucson News Now reported last June, “Tucson Water has set itself up so that it’s banking water for a potential future shortage. It’s likely Tucson will still be chugging along 50 years out.”
    Many people hear a horror story about the “water situation” in the Southwest or Southern Arizona and wouldn’t consider moving here. And those people shouldn’t move here, because those fears and worries would preclude their enjoying the Arizona experience. For me and others who trust the expert estimates of water reserves, we don’t live with that fear and so we can enjoy living here.
    Many retirees and others clearly aren’t being scared off by this one dimension. As evidence, the National Restaurant Association industry forecast projects that Arizona in 2015 will experience greater restaurant growth than any other state, and it also projects that Arizona will lead the nation in restaurant growth every year for the next 10 years! In my judgment, that wouldn’t be the case if lack of water were about to ruin our lives.

    ** EFFECT OF DRYNESS ON SKIN AND SINUSES: To Rich, you asked if one gets acclimated and I think so. The only skin issue I have had is with cracking heels. I need to periodically put cream (not lotion, but cream!) around the edges of the bottoms of my feet to keep them supple and not crack. My wife has had no skin issues, but most people seem to need to lubricate their skin.
    We don’t have a humidifier and haven’t found that our nasal passages dry out. In Wisconsin, we needed a humidifier in heating season due to the low humidity … but we don’t need a humidifier here even with much lower humidity. Strange but true!
    We both use BiPAPs with oxygen and do put water in our BiPAP humidifiers at night.

    ** AIR QUALITY: JB, you mentioned the smog you experienced around Phoenix. The American Lung Association in its annual “State of the Air” report consistently ranks Maricopa County (Phoenix metro) as being among the worst in the nation for air quality. In contrast, Pima County (Tucson metro) ranks among the best in the nation. For example, in the most recent report (2014), Maricopa County received a grade of “F” for both particulate matter (soot, dust, etc.) and ozone (smog), while Tucson got an “A” for particulates and a “C” for ozone. For particulates, Maricopa had 10 orange days and 6 red days while Tucson had none. For ozone, Maricopa and Pima respectively had 56 and 3 “orange days”. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said that wind patterns and speeds account for some of the difference between Tucson and Phoenix air. “In Phoenix, wind blows regularly from west to east in the afternoon, sending pollution that has built up in the morning into the east and northeast valleys … In Tucson, winds blow harder and in a wide variety of directions, which makes it easier for pollution to blow out.”

    ** PSORIASIS: To Raman, I don’t know from personal experience but in reading several items from a Google search, it appears that there is a multitude of opinions and experiences. Have you joined the Inspire group on Psoriasis? I found some great discussion there among people with psoriasis about effects from weather. ( http://www.inspire.com/groups/talk-psoriasis/topics/psoriasis/ )

    ** LIFESTYLE: Several comments addressed the laid-back lifestyle. AARP in a 2009 article titled “Live the Simple Life – Where to find low costs, minimal stress and lots of fun” analyzed 300 American cities for “characteristics including stable home values, low unemployment and cost of living, minimal traffic congestion, availability of cultural activities, outdoor recreation opportunities, and more—17 traits in all that contribute to a no-hassle, low-key lifestyle.” AARP determined that Tucson was the #1 city in America for living “the simple life”. I can’t argue with that!
    The Wall Street Journal referred to Tucson as a “mini-Mecca for the arts.” No doubt! The arts and entertainment opportunities are impressive.

    ** DRIVING/TRAFFIC/ROADS: I found it to be very easy to learn my way around Tucson. Streets are laid out on a grid with major north-south streets every mile apart, and major east-west streets every mile apart. Once you’ve learned those major streets and their order, it’s almost impossible to get lost. In contrast to my experience, I have a friend who thinks it’s very confusing to drive around Tucson. I can’t understand why, but he has an entirely different view.

    There’s only one freeway, I-10, which runs diagonally from southeast to northwest. Many complain that the lack of freeways makes it slow to traverse the city. In fact, we like that our location right off I-10 because it facilitates getting to many places.

    If you were to ask me what I most hate about Tucson, I’d say street conditions. Many streets are in very bad condition. A bond referendum for street improvement passed a couple of years ago and that has helped … but too many streets still need improvement. I can live with the potholes … a minor annoyance that’s trivial in comparison with all the pluses.

    JB, you commented that your friend from Sierra Vista goes to the Tucson VA (presumably to the Southern Arizona VA Health Center) and “cannot wait to get out of Tucson”. I can sympathize with your being frustrated by conflicting opinions! The typical route from Sierra Vista to the Tucson VA would be to take AZ-90 north 21 miles from Sierra Vista to the interstate (I-10), then 41 miles west on I-10 to Exit 261, then less than a mile off I-10 on South 6th Avenue to the VA. Your friend doesn’t hit much Tucson traffic on I-10 until about Exit 270, so his driving in Tucson consists of about 10 miles of really great interstate driving (with mild interstate traffic compared to within most cities) and then less than a mile of city streets. Not bad, in my view. The fact that your friend “cannot wait to get out of Tucson” demonstrates that we should all be cautious and never assume that someone else’s experience will be how we experience it.

    Before we moved to Tucson, we lived in a town about 20 interstate miles from Eau Claire, Wisconsin which has only 67,000 people. Many people in our town of 1700 people, when driving to Eau Claire, said they “cannot wait to get out of Eau Claire”. So it’s all dependent on the person and perceptions, which is why it’s so hard to evaluate where to retire … because you can’t rely on what you’re told by any one person (including even by me!). (~ smile ~) That’s what makes topretirements.com and similar websites so important that we can read about the wide array of experiences and opinions people have.

    ** SCHOOL DISTRICTS: Arizona is 49th in the nation for money spent per student. While it doesn’t directly affect retirees without children of school age, it eventually affects all citizens if we fail to prepare our children for the future. Arizona’s current state government seems very anti-public education. The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is very bad, but there are some great school districts as well (e.g., Vail Unified Schools, Catalina Foothills School District, Tanque Verde Unified School District). Property value appreciation can be affected by one’s school district, and the Vail School District where the Voyager’s located was rated the top multi-school district in the entire state.

    ** COSTS, TAXES, ETC: Several members asked questions about specifics of “the housing situation”. We bought our house totally furnished (1332 sq. ft, 3 BR, 2 BA) for $166,000 in November 2012. Real estate taxes last year were $1,851. HOA fees are $103/month. We’re in The Cove which is a gated 55+ community with 289 houses in southeast Tucson (actually in Pima County just outside the city limits, but surrounded on 3 sides by Tucson). We are a half mile south of I-10 at Exit 270 (Kolb Road) and associated with the Voyager RV Resort but not officially part of the Voyager (i.e., we own our own lot rather than leasing from the Voyager, but have full access to all the amenities and activities at the Voyager). We in The Cove have our own pool and spa (200’ from our house) but also can use the three pools and 2 spas at the Voyager. About 40% of residents live here year round, the others being snowbirds.

    Houses in The Cove were about $250,000 prior to the 2007 Great Recession housing collapse. Prices fell to about $150,000 by the end of 2012. There were 10 houses for sale at that time when we bought, after peaking at 17. The market heated up dramatically after we bought. It seems that during this past year, whenever a “for sale” sign goes up, it already has a “sale pending” or “under contract” sign attached! What a turn-around!

    Before buying in The Cove, we lived in a park model in the Voyager which we bought in 2006 with 520 square feet (400 sq ft + 10×12 room). Most people think of the Voyager RV Resort as consisting of three parts:
    (1) “The Voyager” itself which has 1576 lots, 600 of which are for open to RVing, with the other 976 spaces occupied by park models such as ours. Prices on the 40 park models currently for sale are $11,000-$50,000. The annual lease cost is about $4900 which includes water, sewer, and basic local TV stations. Personal property tax (i.e., which replaces real estate tax) on our 1998 Cavco park model was $276 last year. That tax decreases each year as a unit ages. As Ginger mentioned, the annual lease cost at her park in Marana is $3600, so the Voyager space rent is about $1300 more per year.
    (2) “The Bay” which has manufactured housing (i.e., double-wides) with 996-1700 sq ft. Prices of the 7 units currently for sale are $75,000-$134,000. Monthly space lease cost is $514-565.
    (3) “The Cove” which is stick-built homes as described previously and not actually Voyager property but usually thought of as “part of the Voyager” unofficially since we can use all the amenities at the Voyager.

    If you want to see photos & descriptions of units for sale in the Voyager and the Bay, to get some sense of costs and value, the website voyagerrv.com will be of interest. Also, the website provides a description of the amazing array of activities and amenities. If you click on the “February 2015 Compass” link on the right side of the home page, you can see the activities calendar on pages 26-31. That is a big part of why retirees are attracted to the Voyager RV Resort. I should mention that you don’t need to be an RVer to enjoy this resort, but one can get that false impression.

    ** CRIME: Several comments discussed crime. In Sperling’s Best Places presents “Crime Rates for All 331 Metro Areas”, the entry titled “Worst Large Cities for Crime (>500,000 pop.)” says: “Although Arizona has two of the most crime-ridden cities in the nation, their violent crime rates are relatively low. … # 1. Tucson, AZ Tucson has one of the highest property crime rates in the country, especially larceny. On the bright side, Tucson has a low murder rate. … # 4. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ Phoenix-Mesa has one of the highest rates of auto theft in the nation.”

    While I recognize the stats, I don’t feel at risk like I often have in other large cities. We go to central downtown at night to the Fox Theater perhaps twice per month, and don’t feel it’s unusually risky. I often go to the grocery store and pharmacy at night, at 8 or 9 or 10, and don’t feel unsafe. As is true of any sizeable city, one avoids certain areas at night, but you cannot live your life in fear or you’ll miss out on too much. We live at the Voyager in a gated 55+ resort just outside the Tucson city limits, and I feel safer here than I have anywhere we’ve lived … ever! I think that would be true in any gated 55+ community, so it’s not unique to the Voyager. I notice there are many widows living here because they feel safer here than they would if they moved back to their preretirement communities. So, is there a lot of crime in Tucson? Absolutely, but it hasn’t diminished our quality of life … at least not yet! (~ smile ~)

    Dan, you wrote that “I have been led to believe [crime] is a serious consideration due to proximity with the border.” I think the importance of “proximity with the border” is often exaggerated and used in an attempt to demonize the Latino portion of our community. While a portion of crime is due to proximity to the border, that portion rarely affects us who live here, especially us who live in 55+ communities, especially in gated 55+ communities. Poverty is high in Tucson, and that’s a key driver of the crime here … theft of property by poor people for survival.

    ** WHERE TO LOCATE IN THE TUCSON AREA: Lee S, you mentioned you’re interested in Oro Valley. Many retirees live there, especially in Rancho Vistoso (Del Webb), Saddlebrooke and Saddlebrooke Ranch. They are awesome, but I can’t afford either of the Saddlebrooke resorts. The traffic on Oracle Drive also would frustrate me, I believe. And the time to get to UAMC would be a concern since Carol and I have health issues. David said he’s moving to Rancho Del Lago, a Del Webb 55+ community, near Vail, southeast of Tucson. Very nice … and in the Vail School District! And don’t forget all the retirement areas in Green Valley, just south of Tucson!

    ** AFFORDABLE 55+ COMMUNITIES: Peg, you asked “I see that you’re living in an RV community. Can you recommend an affordable 55+ community near Tucson?” I recommend that you first look at manufactured housing. There are oodles of 55+ communities with manufactured housing throughout the Tucson area where the costs are much more reasonable. I’ll write a separate detailed response later about this since I believe it will be helpful to you and others who want to consider Tucson area and keep housing costs down.

    Harv

    by gunderso — February 7, 2015

  32. I know only a few will see this, but I still want to say “thanks” to Harv, LJ and all the others who directly and indirectly answered my questions and tried to deal with all the questions asked by so many. It is clear that there is a lot of interest in AZ and that the state and the Tucson area have a lot to offer.

    Several mentioned that despite the beauty of the area, they just needed to get back to the “green”. Good point! Since 2003, we have made three major road trips of 5 weeks to the 4-Corners states, 5 weeks all over the West in a great figure-8, and of two months to AZ, UT, and CO. After each trip, by the time we headed home to NC, we were both feeling almost desperate for green. The lush green of the eastern forests, farms, meadows and swamplands. We’re OK with the southern humidity (frankly, I love it!), so in the end we’ll probably stay right where we are. But I have seen why so many are attracted to AZ and Tucson, and I expect we’ll go back to Tucson for an extended vacation.

    Good luck to you all!

    Rich

    by Rich — February 7, 2015

  33. Harv, you have a wealth of data! I just wanted to comment on Oro Valley and Marana…north Tucson. Oro valley has its own impressive hospital…Oro Valley Hospital, and in Marana we have Northwest Hospital. Both are excellent hospitals with a wide range of specialties. I did drive down to UAMC for awhile but I cannot say my experience was as good as Harvs. In September I switched to Northwest Hospital and have been very pleased that I did.

    Oro Valley and north Tucson in general has ‘greener’ desert, filled with flowering shrubs and saguaro cacti. In my opinion, this is the really lovely part of the area.

    I also wanted to say that my land lease costs in Marana are low, but do not include electricity or basic cable, so it all averages out. Still, when I was looking for a park model in Florida, the cheapest space rental I could find was 550 a month, so AZ seems to be much cheaper in that regard.

    And one more time…about crime…remember that Tucson has several barrio areas where very poor people live. Much like any big city, there are areas that are more crime-ridden than others. You are not likely to be living in those areas. Where I live, and for miles around, there is virtually no crime. I also go grocery shopping at night, out to movies, etc. never lock my car. No issues. Never lock my house…no issues. I am in a community also, so that helps. Due to my illness since I moved here, I don’t get downtown much, but when I do, I feel perfectly safe. Love the University area and 4th Street area. I have so much to see when I get healthier and stronger!

    by Ginger — February 8, 2015

  34. Nice article. I have two questions though.
    How much does energy to for a typical home? Is it extremely high like parts of Florida?

    The second is actually more important to me. What is the water situation like?

    by NW — February 9, 2015

  35. NW….if you read the comments you would have your answers. See Harvs comment just above.

    by Ginger — February 9, 2015

  36. I don’t know how long Harv has been residing in Tucson, I lived there almost 20 years, but the streets are not laid out in a grid and many of them start and stop multiple times with no warning. There are also numerous streets around Tucson and the local area that have the same names but don’t connect to anything other than more sand in the desert.
    When we moved from Tucson 4+ years ago the downtown homeless population was rampant, crime was on the increase, and degenerates were basically the norm on the streets after dark, and they weren’t bashful about aggressively panhandling.
    Another bone of contention was the manner in which bond money for street repairs was squandered on absurdities such as the bridge to nowhere. The bottom line was the streets were becoming a perpetual array of potholes and large stress cracks.
    Several comments regarding crime were concerning–not locking car and home doors is an invitation for criminals. The fact that these people have been lucky to date is no excuse for continuing such a practice. The fact is the closer one lives to the border the more crime is prevalent, especially property break-ins, vandalism and auto thefts. It’s not uncommon for vehicles to be stolen out of driveways in Green Valley and farther south.
    homeowner associations are also rampant in and around Tucson, and many of them are overbearing and very costly. I know, I lived in SaddleBrooke for the entire time I was in Tucson and watched the HOA become an operation for people who needed to be important rather than merely interested in serving the community for a period of time. When the HOA sends you a photo a tiny clump of weeds on the farthest corner of your yard and a letter advising that it’s 1/2″ too tall and must be removed within 30 days or it will result in a $100 dollar fine, that’s way too much intrusion. This form of absurd intrusion became commonplace.
    Regarding water, it’s a crap-shoot depending upon who you talk with about the issue. I went to the presumed experts at the city, county, state and University of Arizona to gather information. They were very forthright and openly admitted that the Aquifers were not, in fact, teeming over with an abundance of water, but rather just the opposite. And water is not cheap in Tucson and the surrounding areas. When we moved our base rate was $85, and that did not include sewer or trash pickup, those were extra, individual monthly charges,
    Something that was quickly swept under the rug was the Page Trowbridge landfill, a toxic site that was opened in the 1960s and not monitored until several decades later after tons a potentially lethal substances had accumulated thanks to the U of A failing to establish and maintain oversight on it. It was an issue back in the late 1990s and the developer quickly hooked up with the U of A and fabricated a makeshift fix–lining the top of the site with rolls of plastic to “avoid ground water contamination.” That was a joke as confirmed by several state inspectors, but it mysteriously became a non-issue once the developer broke ground on SaddleBrooke Ranch and the tax dollars began rolling in to the various agencies from local to state.
    South Tucson has been a gang haven for decades, and today Catalina to the north has also become a haven.
    Overall, Tucson is rather typical for a city with over a million population. There are areas where crime is minimal and neighborhoods that should be avoided, and the same goes for various parts of town when the sun goes down. Look at the local crime statistics for all neighborhoods in and around Tucson before deciding on where to settle. And by all means, take a close look at the property tax rates. If you have your eye on Oro Valley you’d better plan on hitting the Lottery because they’re outrageous and on the way up again this year.
    I chose Tucson as my initial retirement destination and had planned on living there for the duration, but nothing and no place stays the same, and often for many of the wrong reasons. If you’re planning on moving to Tucson do your homework, research everything with a little personal bias as possible in order to have a clear view of what you’re getting into. Good luck!

    by Desert Dude — February 13, 2015

  37. Desert Dude…if you lived the whole time in SaddleBrooke, the most expensive and exclusive neighborhood in Tucson, I know you were not personally a crime victim and are talking about crime based on things you ‘heard’. There are many many neighborhoods in Tucson that are perfectly safe, as mine is.

    You clearly were not happy here, so it’s a good thing you left. I hope you are happier wherever you are now.

    by Ginger — February 14, 2015

  38. Let’s hear some pros and cons, positive and negative on the State of New Mexico and it’s cities both large and small.

    by Jackie — February 15, 2015

  39. Ginger, I totally agree with you!

    by loralee — February 15, 2015

  40. To Harv and the others who have posted all this great info on Tuscon, thank you! Ginger, I always enjoy reading your posts and getting your perspective. I’m leaning towards Florida to be nearer to family and friends but were it not for that Tucson would be at the top of my list. I’ll still probably make a visit or two there.
    When it comes to crime, if you look at any city you’ll find crime. We all just learn the areas to avoid. I imagine Tucson is like any other city in that regard.

    by Tessa — February 16, 2015

  41. New Mexico has some of the most natural beauty and clearest blue skies in the country. I have done some hardcore hiking in the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque at the 10,000 foot level. Absolutely beautiful country. If you like the outdoors lifestyle then Albuquerque has a lot to offer.

    New Mexico is a very poor state. Because of this there are many lingering social problems. As you travel the state, the high poverty level is very apparent. Also very unfortunately, in many of the small towns the alcoholism and drug abuse problems are right there in the open: staring you right in the face. Because of the hard social issues; the education level in many areas is quite low. There are a lot of people in New Mexico in a difficult situation.

    Albuquerque is a sprawling and very nice city. The city offers good health care and good colleges. For people that really enjoy outdoor activities; Albuquerque is great. New Mexico does not receive a lot of retirement attention. I love traveling to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Albuquerque is a quick two hour flight from Los Angeles.

    by Bubbajog — February 16, 2015

  42. Bubbajog – I agree with you about New Mexico. It’s beautiful but it’s not a place I think I could live/retire in. We went there on vacation. Nearly every city we traveled through had vast sections that looked depressed and run-down. There were nice areas but overall it was not for me.

    by John H — February 18, 2015

  43. What a great and down-to-earth write up and this is greatly influencing our decision that Tucson will be where we ‘retire’ (whatever that is!! At age 60 my wife and I each ride our own motorcycles and love to bicycle, so I tend to shun the word ‘retire’!).

    We’re in the Atlanta area. As I type this it is 18 degrees outside. I haven’t been able to ride either my bike or motorcycle in weeks. That just sucks. Not how I want to live the rest of my life. Not to mention the humidity during the summers.

    I have spent a great deal of time riding horses across the northeastern Arizona desert, up near the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest region – in the middle of summer – and it wasn’t bad at all.

    The moment I can put a “For Sale” sign in my yard here, I’m on my way, Tucson! Thanks for the terrific write-up, Harv!!

    (Oh, and the rest of you who say it’s too hot there, yadda yadda…. please stay in your frigid tundra. We don’t want heaven-on-earth getting TOO crowded or popular! 🙂

    by Scott Pollak — February 20, 2015

  44. Kudos to you Scott…I am in Phoenix and it has been in the 70’s, sunny. and picture perfect! Can’t beat that when a lot of the country is slipping and sliding on freezing roads and frigid temps!!!

    by loralee — February 21, 2015

  45. Thank you Ginger and Loralee and Scott: I love Tucson but I will be visiting my son in Phoenix in the beginning of March to look at places to move to. Any help or ideas would be helpful. I am in Houston and it is expected to get colder in the next few days. Right now it is gloomy and spitting a bit. I need my sun!!

    by SharonA — February 21, 2015

  46. I am a native Of Tucson Arizona but have lived in both Tucson and Phoenix. It is cooler inTucson and the nights cool off which they do not in Phoenix. Tucson receives more monsoon weather than Tucson. East valley of Phoenix receives more rain but they also get the dust storms. I lived 27 yrs inPhx area and 34 inTucson. Big differences Phx area are mega water users and Tucson is very conservative. I have Avery big problem with the water waste in Phx especially by the retirees. We currently live in Trilogy at Vistancia in Peoria, Az. My allergies are very bad because of all the non native plants that require a lot of water. People come here and they want all the plants and flowers that they did back home. This is a major problem for a desert community. If you look at lake Powell and lake mead you would realize the waste in water is criminal. If the water use continues our state will be out of water. Desert cactus tell you by swelling during part of the year and become very thin and dry other times that our desert is ruled by rainy and dry seasons. They conserve their water for times when there is no rain so they can survive. We love retirees but please plant desert and don’t water it. Cactus bloom and provide color during the spring, silver during dry times and green during the winter months. If you move to Arizona respect our desert by not planting as if you live back east. Then there will be enough water to survive. A side note I am Democrat and the Retirees in this State are destroying our schools. Bonds are very difficult to get through because they don’t want to pay the addition taxes. My grandchildren deserve an education just like your grandchildren do so when you vote keep that in mind. Republicans sure don’t care about the children of our state nor do they care about water instead they dig there head in the sand until our state will be in a crisis. Why is this? Because they don’t want anyone to tell them what to do. Hence a Republican representative inAvondale wanted no control over builders allowing them to plow down the desert and not having to move and then replacing the native plants. How would this hurt? We end up with non native water using plants. Which will hurt all In Arizona. Of course this representative was financed by national builders. Even though we love being by are kids/grandkids we are probably going to move away from Phx and back to Tucson

    by Nancy Campbell — August 2, 2015

  47. We started researching where we wanted to REALLY retire (as we were already retired from working fulltime) about 7 years ago. We were living in North Central Texas. We visited and researched Southern Texas (quickly crossed off the list due to high humidity and cost of living), New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. The next 4 years were spent traveling to Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. We loved Nevada but found the traffic and costs to be too excessive. We liked New Mexico but it just didn’t feel right and we had no idea why. About 3 years ago, I saw a lot about Green Valley AZ on TopRetirements.com and started to zero in on Green Valley. I ordered the online newspaper. We first visited Green Valley 2 years ago and liked it so much, decided this was the place we wanted to be. We made several trips and each time felt comfortable. We set our timeline… we would make the move in 2015 after taking a couple of cruises out of Galveston that were already paid for (why fly in when we could still drive). We put the house up for sale in June which sold at a great price (thanks to the hot DFW real estate market) in one day, flew out and bought a townhome in Green Valley – again lucking out as the real estate market was still depressed after the market plunge as we would never have been able to afford this home had it not been in a depressed market. We moved here in July and still cannot believe after all of our research and planning, we are really here. Our property taxes and property insurance are 1/4 of what they were in Texas for the same size home. Our car insurance is 40% less. Yes, the car registration is a shock but paying $200 more per car per year is nothing compared to what we are saving on taxes and insurances. Other services are also less. My kids are scattered around the country so where we live doesn’t matter. We love the desert Southwest, love the mountains, and love being here in Green Valley, Arizona. I am so glad I learned about GV on TopRetirements.com.

    by Joanne Hice — August 12, 2015

  48. Thank you Joanne for the report on Green Valley, AZ! I found your story to be quite interesting and informative! Good luck to you. Can you comment on your experiences in grocery stores, Costco and other shopping experiences. Also, can you comment on weather and the heat. What do you expect winter will bring? Was the heat no concern to you considering you lived in TX? I live in New England and weather is always a topic of conversation. Horrific winter storms and at times tons of snow and ice. Summers are hellish hot and many humid days. Spring is practically non existent some years due to rain and cold temps. Fall is my favorite. Typically very cool nights, warm days blue skies and beautiful trees with the leaves changing colors. Winter is ugly with no leaves on the trees, dangerous walking conditions with ice and snow. I have lived here for 52 years and am used to the seasons but the cost of living in CT is outrageous so we need to find a place to move to stretch out our retirement dollars!

    by Louise — August 13, 2015

  49. Can I ask the costs in GV of: utilities, home insurance, car license, internet, satellite or cable TV? I have also narrowed it down to Sun City, AZ or Green Valley. I really like the much lower real estate taxes in Sun City, as they seem to be the only place with no school taxes

    by Patricia Reynolds — August 13, 2015

  50. I would appreciate some estimates/guesses on electric and gas bills (in a 1680 sq ft home, conservative use) , and cable/internet services in Tucson. And, what do you anticipate property taxes would be on a house this size (small lot) in southeast Tucson? Just looking for some idea. Will research further….. Thank you.

    by Vicki Mitchell — August 30, 2015

  51. Do you stay in Tucson during monsoon season? Curious about your compairson re: the increase in humidity and bugs.

    by DSR Pest — September 8, 2015

  52. LIke many of you, I am a transplant from several places in the US, and now I am settled in the community of SADDLEBROOKE, about 20 miles north of Tucson. It is a 55+ community, has about 5000 homes, 4 Clubhouses
    3 Fine Restaurants, 2 Grills, a 480-Seat Theater with lots of performances, 2 Arts & Crafts Facilities , 4 Fitness Centers, 3 Libraries all linked with a lending computer program, a Billiards Hall, 3 18-Hole Golf Courses, a 27-Hole Golf Course, 21 Tennis Courts, 8 Swimming Pools, A Softball Field, about 8 Pickleball Courts, Bocce Ball Courts, Horseshoe pitches, half court basketball courts, and a Dog Park. And all of that is included in our annual HOA dues. We are about 7 degrees cooler than Tucson and about 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix. From my back door, I look straight up at Mount Lemmon where I can enjoy the view of the snow in winter while playing outside in my shirtsleeves. We have lots of wildlife and beautiful monsoons which for a photographer like me is pure heaven! We have solar panels on our house and haven’t paid for electricity in 6 years. The HOA dues are very low considering all that we get for them. And the taxes look ridiculously cheap after living in New Jersey. There are so many options for activity that if you did a new one every day, you still wouldn’t get around to all of them in a full year! One that I love most is the Institute for Learning in Retirement which offers academic seminars from October to April including an incredible range of courses from Science, to Literature, to the arts, and everything between. I personally have taken 31 courses since we moved here, each for $15 a piece, and they are mostly taught be residents that were professors or specialized in the area. Of course the best part is that the community is made up of retirees from all over the country, all actively seeking new friends and following new interests so making friends is very easy. We looked at about 15 communities before settling here. A decision between Florida and Arizona? No question Arizona…. A decision between Phoenix and Tucson (SaddleBrooke)? Also a very easy decision…SADDLEBROOKE!

    by Sharon C — February 6, 2016

  53. PAYSON Arizona
    Was in tucson and agree it has many many advantages for retirees.
    For those who want the ideal climate , trees and abdundant water supply along with fantastic year round golf— check out Payson Arizona. The Rim Golf and Chaparral Pines golf communities.
    Payson
    Short drive to mayo clinic and banner has hospital in Payson. The weather is perfect. Sits just at tree line above desert in the rim of the mountains outside Scottsdale. New university being built and has water supply. About only community that has water rights and conservation in place.

    Sara m

    by Sara m — April 13, 2016

  54. Green Valley just 20 miles south of Tucson and at an elevation of 3000′ it is cooler and less congested than Tucson. Life is at a slower pace, but within 25 minutes we can drive to Tucson if there is something there we think we need or want. Green Valley is green. Between the pecan groves, golf courses (7), and Madera Canyon, it was our choice 8 years ago when we moved from the Seattle area. It has been a great choice in our retirement. Real estate prices are affordable, real estate taxes are less than half of what they were in Washington, golf is affordable, medical services are available, and we have a new hospital in Green Valley. Life is good.

    by Peter McMullen — April 13, 2016

  55. We moved here 13 years ago from Mn, because of winter, humidity, and mosquitoes! Alas..we have none! Are we happy? So-so. Weather Sept- April? Almost perfect? Things to do? Unlimited.Costs? Totally affordable (for us).
    However, the politics are crazy (some comments edited). We also have homeless people begging at almost every stoplight around the Davis-Monthan military base. Also the summers have started to really wear us down, to the point we HAVE to leave in June & July, unless of course you just want to hibernate inside an air-conditioned cave for 2-3 months.
    In sum, if you can close your eyes to stuff around you, and get away for a few months, it be your slice of heaven.

    by Al McClellan — April 13, 2016

  56. I just came back from a five day stay in Saddlebrook. I really did like it there but my eyes, and those of one of my cousins, were not happy there with 7% humidity. I’m a transplant from California to the Boise, Idaho area and even here I’ve had a problem with dry eyes but nothing like in the Saddlebrook/Tucson area. My allergies were bad there too. I know I could not live there due to the dry eyes and allergies. I’ll stay put in beautiful Idaho.

    The Boise area isn’t humid at all and not as hot as where we lived in California (Redding). We love it here!

    by Kathy Holcomb — April 13, 2016

  57. I’ve been to Tucson. My sister and her husband used to be stationed there. Loved it. But I hear they have gang problems, now. Probably depends upon where you live. My brother-in-law was allergic to all of the dust, but my allergies cleared up there, so it all depends upon what you’re allergic to. Tucson used to be better before people started bringing in plants and shrubs that aren’t indigenous. If you want pretty plants, find another state to live in and quit bringing them into AZ, people! LOL. Leave it the pretty desert that it is (especially in May).

    I’m interested in AZ because of the weather, also. I love the heat and hate the cold. I have arthritis…

    by Kim — April 21, 2016

  58. I do not see anyone has much interest in California. Granted, Southern CA is crowded and too expensive, but I have heard some people have moved to Northern CA, such as Redding, Millville. Anyone has any experience in this part of the state?

    by Raman — April 22, 2016

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