I’ve said it a million times… If I could move, I would. I’m asked all the time why… Here ya go.
I’m an AZ native. Lived here almost my entire life…. Except for those 2 times that I managed to escape; once to Houston, and once to Massachusetts. I still don’t know how I manage to get dragged back. I was likely tricked.
The funny thing is that everyone I meet LOVES it here. To that, I usually ask, “why?” Oddly enough, the answer is usually the reason that I want out! “That’s MY point… you can’t use it too!” So, if you’re thinking of moving here… this is what you can expect. Apparently most people like it.
- The weather. (we have none) This is typically my #1 reason for wanting to move. “Weather? Are you joking? We don’t have weather!” I would love it if we had weather… cold, snow, rain… those are ‘weather’. I try to explain that we only have 2 seasons… hot and not hot. Apparently people would rather deal with 100+ for 2 months than the 10- for 2 months. For some, the other 10 months make up for it. Why does everyone hate rain? Or Snow?
- Too much Sun. Sure, sunsets are pretty, but I’m not sure it’s a valid reason. The evening hours fill the sky with all kinds of colors, neon orange, pinks, purples. It’s nice. I’d be just as happy with seeing sunsets on vacation. Give me overcast and clouds any day! All the days!
- Too much desert. I don’t like cacti, I don’t care for aloe or other succulents. I am over mesquite trees and bougainvillea’s . I hate the color brown (as in dirt), and rocks, in my opinion have 1 purpose… to be a mountain. I’d rather be in an area with tall pines, oaks, red woods, maples etc. I love blooming trees that fill the air with petals during the fall like Cherry trees or Magnolias. I love grassy yards and fresh flower gardens after the winter has melted. I love the color GREEN everywhere. However, I’ve actually heard people say that they prefer to live here because of the color… Seriously? Flowery plants in dirt on the side of the highway isn’t color… Trees, trees and more trees… that’s color! Don’t even get me started on the cactus category of plant. Our state tree is a big spikey thing with ‘arms’ that you’re not allowed to remove from your yard unless you have a permit. I literally would never buy a house with a saguaro because I would end up STUCK looking at it every day.
- Too many chain restaurants. This one always surprises me. People will move out here FOR the food! We have about every chain known to man and several culinary institutes… every corner is littered with at least a hand full of chains, from fast food to gourmet… even breweries and sports bars. You can’t drive a mile without passing a dozen of them. However, when I’m asked where I like to eat I will tell you about one of the mom and pop shops. It’s just that too many of them are being chased out by all your favorites.
- Everything is too new. I’ve driven across the country a few times. I noticed that the majority of the towns I loved were old, historic, and full of character and charm. Starbucks that reside in old houses on the side of the road. Local shops and restaurants in Victorian houses. Commercial buildings built 100 years ago by someone who handcrafted the bricks used. Gas lamps lining streets. Phoenix and it’s ever sprawling valley is full of new buildings, or freshly renovated shopping centers. There are very few buildings with old world charm, and most of them are in downtown Phoenix, or the Arcadia district where no one wants to live, because they move here for ‘new’.
- I don’t care for stucco, I am tired of buildings with fresh coats of beige on them. I can’t stand neighborhoods that all look alike, with their Tuscan trimmings, brown stucco walls, built around their 4 car garages. They all look like, well… little boxes on the hillside. (yes, currently watching Weeds, and that song reminds me of the Phoenix area. ) I prefer my homes to have character and architectural details that stand out. Give me an old victorian or colonial with a wrap around porch. I don’t even mind the ranch homes on big lots with lots of trees. They do have them out here, but they’re hard to find. Most of them are tucked away on a county parcel with irrigation. That’s why they have the big trees.
- It’s a City… too big. I live in the East Valley. That’s what we call it. It’s made up of 7-10 cities, depending on how far out you consider to be in the Valley. These are cities though, not small towns. Everything has just grown so big, it’s all one now. The East Valley consists of Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale (parts of it), Ahwatukee (which technically isn’t a city, it’s Phoenix), Apache Junction, Queek Creek, San Tan, and Maricopa. Am I missing any? Oh… and Gold Canyon. So, maybe there’s 11. The West Valley is just as big with Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Buckeye, Sun City… and I know I’m missing a few there… I don’t go that direction unless by force. It’s TOO FAR! The North Valley consists of Cave Creek, Anthem, Scottsdale (yeah, it’s in a few areas), Black Canyon City and I know there’s more. The point is, it’s just stupid big. People come here to work in Chandler, and see on the map that it’s only 20 minutes from Peoria… sure, why not live there? The houses are cheaper. It’s because on Maps… it’s 20 minutes away, and you’re probably ok with that. The reality is that it’s more like an hour away. Traffic in this big of a city sucks. You will NOT reach your destination within that half hour because there are a million people between you and that destination, also 4 freeway changes, and 27 lights that will all be red, and the speed limit and traffic laws will change several times on the way. Good luck keeping track of the speed changes when it goes from 35 in downtown Chandler, 45 through the rest of the town, 40 or 30 down in Mesa depending on what road, and now downtown Scottsdale changes their speed to 25, but only during the evening hours. Have fun!
- Since we’re on ‘too big’, lets also include too many people. I heard someone tell me that they moved here specifically because they didn’t like ‘small town’… with nothing to do and too little population. “Everyone knows everyone”, is apparently a bad thing? I graduated from my High School in Phoenix with about 2,000+ other people. I live (according to maps) 20 minutes away from that area and I run into people from high school exactly ZERO times per year. I’m a people person that doesn’t like to leave my little area… I like the idea of knowing people everywhere I go. Give me small town, any day.
- Opportunities… I can give you this one. There is NO shortage of opportunities here. Work, education, creative… if you can think it, there is probably a great opportunity for that here. We have all the big companies, from Amazon to Zillow right here… jobs a plenty. There are hospitals and specialty hospitals. If you have one body part ailing you, we probably have a whole hospital dedicated to fixing it. We have zoos, museums, parks and hiking galore. Looking for something to do? We have crafty opportunities galore… everything from BYOB painting, glass blowing, ceramics, horse back riding, knitting…. Literally, everything. We have movies, night life, sports, even beaches and dinner boats. We have live theatre, murder mystery dinners, comedy, music concerts, Nascar etc etc. We even have many celebrities that like to live here if you want a spotting… I have to believe it’s part time, I’ve never run into anyone. But I don’t frequent Paradise Valley and Scottsdale much. Opportunities are of no shortage in this city… but I like simple. I want to go into the store and get to know the cashier, I want to have 1 movie theater or casual mom and pop store where you KNOW people. Here, everyone changes jobs, you never see the same people wherever you go. There’s a better opportunity around every corner!
- The lack of cold. I know I covered this a little in number 1, but I feel it needs more emphasis. It’s January 5th, and as I write this it is 70 degrees outside. (January 7th… 81, what is that about!?) I know that people in Minnesota or Maine are thinking that sounds fantastic. Me? I think Winter should have white stuff on the ground, and a good roaring fire! Our doors are open and half the city is wearing flip flops, while they sit outside drinking their ice coffees.
- The state is too big. I remember getting in the car to go to lunch back in Mass, and we’d cross over several state lines before we finally stopped. Each state had its own look and feel, culture and character. I love driving around and seeing the different places. Well… everything out here is pretty much the same. Cookie cutter neighborhoods, and every corner has a Fry’s grocery store, a dollar store, Circle K and 7 restaurants. In order to get anywhere NOT in Arizona, you have to drive for hours in the vast nothingness that we have so much of out here. For the people that like to shoot, or go 4-wheeling in the desert… that’s why they’re here. I have already expressed my feelings on that desert though… I want trees. Luckily our state does have trees, they’re about 2.5 hours north of here… tall pines, snow, skiing, hiking etc. Flagstaff, Prescott, Payson… they’re all great cities to go to when you need to find trees and weather. Yes… I go there a LOT. Still, every territory/state has its own character, and Arizona is so big, it’s just unreasonable to go for a drive and cross a state line.
- It’s the Wild West. I like a good western movie just like anyone else, but I don’t like to live in it. We literally live in a state where horses are seen walking down the roads, due to all the horse properties. Scottsdale is known for its quaint cowboy district that is its downtown. Gilbert and Glendale both compete with Scottsdale for the title of “Most Western Downtown”. Tombstone is a few hours south of us. It just does NOT get any more Western than that. Old mining towns like Bisbee and Jerome are huge visitors attractions based on their history as a mining town. You don’t even have to go far from the East Valley to get to Tortilla Flats… just the name alone is ‘cow town’. It’s our cities attempt at mining town/ghost town attraction. If you’re into 4-wheeling, you’ll love Crown King. It’s the most ridiculously placed city in all of Arizona… on top of a mountain with 2 roads in and out… neither of them drivable by normal vehicles. I believe there are 25 people that live in Crown King. I went there once… that was enough. I do know people that go there every weekend to camp and play though.
- Government… and I know you all are thinking about what you hear in the news… not that, although it’s annoying. It’s the HOA’s I’m referring to. Since the mid 90’s, every neighborhood, except certain custom communities and the county parcels, all have HOA’s. Everyone wants their little houses made of ticky tacky’s (yep, still stuck in my head) but while they want all their new, shiny houses… they don’t think about the fact that they have their own government, including poorly elected government officials. Who leads up the HOA’s? People with nothing better to do, that’s who. Has been and always will be the person in the neighborhood that always wanted to be in government and control things, the problem is, they weren’t qualified. Now, they patrol the neighborhood making sure everyone has picked up their trash, brought their basketball hoop in, and hasn’t dared to let their Oleander bushes overgrow. Some people like it. They say that an HOA adds to property values, by keeping the neighborhood looking new and fancy. The example I hear a lot is, “it’s better than having a neighbor with 6 cars up on blocks in the front yard”… where are you coming from where that’s the norm? Take it, you can have it. I like the neighborhoods with character and charm, where every house looks different. If I have to live here, it’s not going to be in an HOA.
- You can’t get lost here! Everything in the Valley is on a grid. Straight shot down the street leads you to the place you want to be. Every 1 mile, marks the next main road. BORING! There are very few roads that wind around. Most of them are in the older areas, like Phoenix Moon Valley area and some of Scottsdale… but it’s a pretty safe bet that if you look down from the plane on the way in to the valley, you’ll see the neatly laid out streets and all their lights. It’s a perfect grid. I would prefer roads that wind and circle back. I like to go down one road going East and end up on a road to the North. My husband used to go nuts not knowing what direction we were going, I LOVED it! You just never knew where you were going to end up. Lets face it… turn on your phone and you know where you are… why do we need such grids going North/South and East/West?
- This is a new one… I saw on the news last night that Arizona is considering joining the other 49 states and participate in Day Light Savings. If you don’t live here, you may not be aware that in 1967, Arizona said, “I don’t want to change my clocks anymore… it’s too hard”. Or something like that. So we don’t. Almost EVERY person I talk to wants to stay this way. The biggest reason for it is that in the summer, to change would mean longer days. Despite what they may think, it’s still the same number of hours, and guess what, all of them are going to be blazing hot, no matter if you get that extra hour in the shade or not. Me? I’d like to be able to call a customer service and not say… I don’t know… to “what time zone are you?” We have our own, it’s either Mountain or it’s Pacific and I don’t keep track on which it is because here in AZ, we don’t play that game!