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Tucson, Arizona
Old 12-30-2015, 10:06 AM   #1
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Tucson, Arizona

Hi-
I just returned with a friend of mine from Arizona. I have a nice home near Bellingham, Wa at the moment. Aside from seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, I visited Phoeniz/Mesa, Sun City, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Bisbee, and Tucson. I want to buy a very small second home, or condo, or townhouse (1 or 2 bedroom)

I am 69, and as much as I love the PNW for most of the year, I like the idea of being in Arizona for 2 or 3 months a year. I looked at some homes in each of the above places, and I also looked at the city or town itself. I've always been one who likes different cultures, and I fell in love with Tucson. The downtown is compact, clean, and my experience was very positive. I'll be looking to buy a place near the downtown that allows me to not rely on my car so much, so my dog and I can do a lot of walking. The housing costs are so reasonable, and to be able to buy a nice small home for under $150,000 is remarkable. I'm used to the high home price I have in Washington state.

Do any of you live or are snow birds in Arizona? i'm very aware of the extremely hot weather during the summer time, but even if I did send a little time in Tucson during the winter, being at 2,700 ft, the temperatures are 10-15 degrees less that Phoenix.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rob
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:41 AM   #2
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I suggest you look at the crime rate and school quality in downtown Tucson. I would not live there.

I would have a closer look at areas that are of interest to you in Phoenix. Phoenix has a broadly diversified, healthy economy. As university towns go, Tempe is a pleasant place to live. A large variety of ethnic restaurants and some cultural diversity, if that is what you are after. Downtown is walkable. There is public transit that works decently. You can take light rail to the airport. A condo is doable in your price range. A house is not at this point.

Lots of retirement communities designed with snowbirds in mind in the greater Phoenix area. Everything from mobile homes to large modern houses. Lots of medical and other services are nearby. An older home in one of those would be in your price range.

Tucson is a nice place if you like living in gated communities or in the exurbs.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:57 AM   #3
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I don't know anything about Tucson, but why not rent there for a few years? Two or three months of rent a year shouldn't break the bank, and you'd get more of an idea of what it is like to spend time there every year.
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:21 AM   #4
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I don't know anything about Tucson, but why not rent there for a few years? Two or three months of rent a year shouldn't break the bank, and you'd get more of an idea of what it is like to spend time there every year.

Air BnB and VRBO may provide what you need to try out a few areas. Even with 3 dogs, we've been able to find nice places to rent on the California Coast, so I imagine you may find find similar in AZ. That is our plan for exploring the eastern part of the US.


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Old 12-30-2015, 11:26 AM   #5
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Your suggestion of renting is what I will certainly do, also. I will look into that.

Rob
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:47 AM   #6
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We've owned a condo in Scottsdale in 2002, but we spend very little time there in the summer. I have experienced 120°, and that told me that the Phoenix area is not for me in the summer.

Rob - I like Tucson as well. I agree with others to rent first. Get acclimated and explore the real estate options for a year or so and then buy once you find the place that best suits your needs.
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:53 AM   #7
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Have you looked at Lake Havasu? (I haven't been there for 13 years, but I used to like the area along the Colorado.)
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:57 AM   #8
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We've owned a condo in Scottsdale in 2002, but we spend very little time there in the summer. I have experienced 120°, and that told me that the Phoenix area is not for me in the summer.
But it's a DRY heat!

I have friends who live there and whenever I visit I have to listen to that mantra. Drives me nuts! The place is unliveable in the summer IMHO.
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:13 PM   #9
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I've lived in Phoenix since the late 1980's and like it. June through September can be brutal of course but the rest of the year makes up for it. I doubt you'll find Tucson actually 10-15 deg cooler than Phoenix, more like half that. One nice thing about Phoenix is you're only about 2 hours away from much cooler mountain towns like Flagstaff which runs up to 30 deg cooler but is at 6500-7000 feet elevation. Tucson also has significantly better air quality than Phoenix which is beset by a brown cloud for a lot of the winter.
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:21 PM   #10
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I used to live in Tucson years ago - Lots of snowbirds there, but at the time, they were flocking in the foothills (and I still believe older folks are still getting places in that area.). My friend who still visits her family in Tucson says the downtown has been totally redone and not like the downtown I remember (run down and scary), but she only goes to downtown to eat. As for the foothills, it is amazing that the prices haven't gone up at all in the last several years (if not come down...)

I am sure you can find a monthly (or multi-month) rental in the downtown area to try out...
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:40 PM   #11
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We've visited Tucson several times for long stays over the past couple of years and are seriously looking at relocating there in 2016.

You're smart to try to be biking distance from 4th Avenue if you can. There are several neighborhoods, and walkscore.com can help with choosing. Tucson quality of life is far superior to Phoenix, IMHO: a fraction of the size, far less air pollution (I wouldn't ride a bike or run in Phonenix - ever), much easier access to outdoor activities, etc.

Our plan is to be there 8 months out of the year and spend June-September in the Pacific Northwest and highlands of Mexico. For snowbirding I agree with others that renting initially and quite possibly indefinitely makes much more sense. You could be looking at 2K a month to get something decent, but I think it will take a season or two to get a sense of which specific neighborhood you like most.

My wife's family all live near Bellingham and I know that city well. I think Tucson's arts and progressive community will be a perfect complement to your Washington home base. Enjoy!
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Old 12-30-2015, 05:08 PM   #12
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I live in southeast Arizona but frequent Tucson. As was stated the difference in temperatures between Phoenix and Tucson during the summer is closer to 5 degrees than 15. The monsoon season runs from July into September which sometimes helps to cool things down in the late afternoon and Tucson typically gets a little more rain than Phoenix.

If you can find a house for less than $150K it would be very wise to check out the neighborhood, that seems very low to me but I really haven't researched Tucson real estate recently. Definitely rent first before buying.
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Old 12-30-2015, 10:50 PM   #13
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I live in southeast Arizona but frequent Tucson. As was stated the difference in temperatures between Phoenix and Tucson during the summer is closer to 5 degrees than 15. The monsoon season runs from July into September which sometimes helps to cool things down in the late afternoon and Tucson typically gets a little more rain than Phoenix.

If you can find a house for less than $150K it would be very wise to check out the neighborhood, that seems very low to me but I really haven't researched Tucson real estate recently. Definitely rent first before buying.
We hopefully just helped DD sell her townhome in Tucson. She has moved to Phoenix for work. Housing is definitely cheaper and less expensive in Tucson. Check it out on Zillow. Tucson seems older, more rundown/working class/college town/more dangerous. Phoenix seems more upscale/university, larger and more spread out.

We have friends who winter in Mesa (part of Phoenix) from Bellingham and we have visited them. Small world.

I find attractions in both places.
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Old 12-31-2015, 02:07 PM   #14
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If you want to live cheap, take a look at Green Valley south of Tucson on Zillow. Some of it looks pretty basic, but the low cost is attractive. I talked with a couple on the plane who lived there and loved it.
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:38 PM   #15
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If you want to live cheap, take a look at Green Valley south of Tucson on Zillow. Some of it looks pretty basic, but the low cost is attractive. I talked with a couple on the plane who lived there and loved it.
Green Valley is a retirement community 20 miles south of Tucson, most of the developments there are 55+. Green Valley was having serious water issues with the depletion of their aquifer. I believe a CAP (Colorado river water) line is being extended down to that area so maybe it's a non-issue now. I would suggest researching it before buying in that area.
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Old 12-31-2015, 06:36 PM   #16
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Phoenix seems more ... spread out.
I nominate this as the understatement of the month!
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Old 12-31-2015, 06:53 PM   #17
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I have relatives who snow bird to Tucson from western WA. They absolutely love it! They are walking distance to downtown and the campus. When we have visited we walked and biked almost exclusively. We liked the feel of the place. It felt a little gritty to me, but in a good way. I certainly didn't feel unsafe anywhere we walked. I prefer the arty, younger vibe of a small university town. There are some great restaurants and lots of great hiking nearby. I would consider it as a winter escape! Tucson may be a better fit for active folk and for those of a more liberal bent. Phoenix sounds stifling to me in more ways than one!
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Old 12-31-2015, 07:45 PM   #18
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My folks retired to Tucson about 25 years ago. We have been down there many many times. I never had a feeling that it is unsafe, but they do live in the foot hills area which is pretty far north. I do like the university area. It is a little funky and gritty, but it has a nice younger feeling than the more upscale areas. I would recommend the area, especially if you like hiking and biking.


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Old 12-31-2015, 10:53 PM   #19
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I went to the UofA for grad school, uh, some years ago and my parents have lived there for two years now. They are enjoying it. It's pretty town with a greatly improved downtown. It is pretty spread out though (but waaaay better than Phoenix) and doesn't really have a freeway or mass transportation of note. You can definitely find short term rentals for winter time snowbirding for a few years to help you decide if you want something more permanent.

You actually do get used to the summer weather. Most people spend the day time indoors with the outdoor activity taking place in the morning and evening.
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Old 01-01-2016, 08:51 AM   #20
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My niece wants to go to college there (though she's a junior in HS now, and things are pretty fluid at that age) and I've agreed to take her on a college tour visit there and to some schools in Colorado this spring.
Will be my first visit there, so this is a nice thread to read.
We will fly into Denver, I think, then rent a car to drive down to there and then fly out of Tucson.
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