Tooling along in your Corvette across Arizona on classic Route 66, you will eventually drive through Flagstaff. This small city of just over 68,000, centered amidst some of the most enchanting physical landmarks in the world, is a top rated community for retirement. At an altitude of 6910 feet the climate is dry and much cooler in the summer than anywhere else in Arizona. Cecil B. DeMille tried but failed to make Flagstaff into an earlier version of Hollywood because of its great scenery, which includes the Grand Canyon, the San Francisco Peaks (extinct volcano cones), Oak Creek Canyon, and the highest point in Arizona – Mount Humphreys. The town has won numerous awards as a “best place to live” or “best place to feel young”. The population grew 28% from 2000 to 2012.
The Babbitt Brothers were early entrepreneurs here, creating a large empire consisting of retail (trading posts), lumber, and cattle. That star has faded but been replaced by an ambitious new plan of development and a booming economy where jobs for retirees are relatively plentiful. The Lowell Observatory (Pluto was discovered here) and Northern Arizona University contribute to the economic and cultural life of the region.
Flagstaff has an interesting historic downtown near the train station too. The downtown is a few blocks wide so it’s pretty small but lots of character and tons of options for outdoor activities closeby. The overall area is incredible Walnut National Monument just outside of town was a highlight. There’s a paved path that loops the cliff ruins of the Sinagua tribe.
The original train station is still in use and also operates as the town visitor center
Here’s Flagstaff. Buffalo Park was used in film sets and had herds of buffalo roaming. It was converted to a park and all the buffalo ended up on dinner plates
Watch this short Youtube video prepared by the Travel and Tourism Foundation and Travelindex:
Many active adults have chosen Flagstaff as their community for its mild climate and beautiful setting. There are many high-end active adult communities, either built or planned, that would be ideal for active adults in retirement. Real estate prices are not nearly as high as in nearby Sedona, reflecting the area’s diversity. Views and acreage have a dramatic impact on pricing. Zillow reports the median home value to be $409,675 in early 2021.
What Is Special about Flagstaff
• Stunning scenery and access to top national parks • Grand Canyon • Hiking, sightseeing, horseback riding, and biking in Walnut Creek Canyon • Historic Route 66 • Meteor Crater • Walnut Canyon National Monument • Northern Arizona University • Mild, dry climate • Lowell Observatory • Old-Fashioned Mountain Bike Festival and Race
What Is Not Special about Flagstaff
• There are a lot of tourists (5,000,000 a year) • . Crime rates are higher than average.
Who Will Like Retirement in Flagstaff
Flagstaff attracts people interested in great scenery and outdoor activities.
Local Economy Is Driven by
Flagstaff has a healthy economy and lower than average unemployment thanks to its popularity as a tourist and retirement destination. Northern Arizona University is a major employer. The Growth Management Guide 2000 plans to convert Flagstaff from a regional shopping and commercial center to a center of government, finance, and offices. W.L. Gore & Associates (Gore-Tex(R)) is located here.
Climate and Physical Environment
Flagstaff has an altitude of 6910' and a high desert environment. It has low humidity and mild temperatures most of the year. The average Jan temp is is the high 20's and the average July temp in the low 60's (evenings are cool). It is on the northern edge of the largest contiguous stand of ponderosa pine in the world in north central Arizona. Phoenix is 120 miles. View Google Maps
Restaurants & Cultural Scene
In the downtown theLumberyard Brewery and a handful of other breweries and restaurants are located. Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra performs concerts from September through April at the Ardrey Auditorium at NAU. Museum of Northern Arizona is worth a visit. Flagstaff is justifiably proud of its Native American heritage; in addition to historic displays at the many ruins in the area, many galleries and stores feature Indian jewelry and clothing. There are many tourist attractions in addition to Grand Canyon Natural Park that are fun to visit. There are several theatre companies including Theatrikos and the Flagstaff Light Opera Company. The Northern Arizona Book Festival is one of many.
Crime in Flagstaff is just below the national average.
Flagstaff Medical Center is one of the 3 largest employers in town.
Flagstaff Airport offers commuter service to Phoenix. Amtrak has a station in town. Flagstaff Public Transit Mountain Line provides economical bus service.
Our son graduated from NAU in Flagstaff. We are very familiar with the area. I have lived in Arizona for 58 years. Flagstaff has a service economy, which means most of the jobs are service related, i.e. fast food, hotel/motel jobs, retail sales, etc. Most jobs are minimum wage and while Flagstaff has pushed for a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state, it still isn\'t enough to live on and own one\'s home. We have been looking for a condo so we could leave the heat in the Phoenix area during the summer for the past six years. So far, everything we\'ve seen is hopelessly outdated and overpriced at that. We enjoy Flagstaff and would dearly love to live there part of the year, but I don\'t believe that will ever transpire.
Posted by RetCop on May 09, 2018
One of the things you missed in your review is Arizona Snowbowl, the local ski resort. While it can\'t compete with Colorado or Utah it is local and provides good skiing at a moderate price.
Posted by ecarmines on April 15, 2015
Jobs for Retirees
Having attended college in Flagstaff and returnde to visit friends many times over the years, I disagree with the above statement, \"a booming economy where jobs for retirees are relatively plentiful.\" The locals refer to their town as Poverty with a View due to the lack of employment opportunities, one of the reasons I left and why I will not be able to retire there. Maybe it is affordable to those Californians who made windfall profits on their house sales but not to seniors on a limited budget. There are no plentifult jobs, unless you consider work as a motel maid or pizza delivery person.
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