We moved to Arizona in 2003 for a job. We spent nearly 10 years in Tucson, then in 2012 moved to Chandler for another job.
In general I liked Arizona, and will miss much of what the state offers. This post is what I will miss. Some of it greatly, some of it less so, but I am headed back to a place that has equal yet different charm.
While my wife will grumble about the brutal summers, you do get acclimated, and the mild winters are awesome. With planning and preparation you can do outdoor activities all year.
When we lived in Tucson, there was an impressive summer monsoon pattern. Brutally hot in the morning, building clouds by noon, brief but INTENSE rain in the afternoon, and then a remarkably pleasant evening.
The monsoon rains really brought out the fresh smells of the desert.
Chandler/Phoenix, not so much monsoon pattern. This leads to a more brutal summer, as there isn’t the rain to bring respite, and the monsoon storms are replaced by brutal haboob dust storms.
Living on the edge of civilization in Tucson was always exciting. We had plenty of wildlife walking through our yard and property. Javelinas, Coyotes, a variety of snakes (venomous and non venomous), wolf spiders, tarantulas, and even our local den of gila monsters.
Our last year there, we had a nest of Cooper’s Hawks and their fledglings flying around the neighborhood. It was always exciting.
In Chandler, the closest we get are scorpions (lots of bark scorpions) and stray dogs.
We were fortunate to make several good friends in Tucson. There was a very nice “homey” community there that felt great to be part of.
We also were quite involved with the local Greyhound rescue organization. Great people and great dogs.
Our neighborhood in Chandler is also full of great families and friendly people. But Phoenix is a major metropolitan area, so it has a much more detached feel to it. I will not miss Chandler too much.
I touched on this with the weather, but if you like outdoor activities, Arizona is hard to beat. Great cycling, motorcycling, hiking, shooting, it is all good.
From our house in Tucson, less than 3 miles away were trailheads with 50+ miles of great hiking.
25 miles and you are up at over 9000 feet, with a completely different climate. Go to the south, and there is Patagonia, Tombstone, and Bisbee.
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a true jewel of the area, and the destination of choice for our visitors. We were members every year we were there.
And the Pima Air and Space Museum, with their complete SR-71 is a stunning attraction.
Like food? Great restaurants, and the bonus of the summer is that the population drops by the departure of the snowbirds and the students from University of Arizona. Walk into any restaurant, even on Friday or Saturday evening and be seated instantly.
Phoenix is different, but in some ways better. A bit more cosmopolitan, but we haven’t lived here long enough to really get the lay of the land.
Regardless, I will miss Arizona. It is a beautiful state, it has many wonderful sites from the Grand Canyon, to the Sky Islands, from San Francisco peak to the White Mountains.
Next up, what I will not miss.