Advice about Moving to Arizona
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I 'm a thinking of moving to Arizona with my toddler (2.5) Much as i love the Bay Area (diversity, weather,lifestyle, culture) i'm really burnt out on the pace of life and spending more money than I make.... I have some family in Phoenix, but have heard that Tucson & Sedona are less congested. Looking for ideas/suggestions for preschools and residential areas to check out which are walking distance to parks and other amenities. anon
Sedona is gorgeous but most definitely ''congested'' in terms of traffic- particularly in summer- and no-passing on most roads. Very nearby Sedona the small town of Cornville has become pretty popular lately- I hear it has good schools, good health food store and better (warmer in winter, no icy roads) weather than Sedona. It's pretty but definitely not scenic like Sedona but only 15 mins. away. I would suggest visiting your Phoenix relatives and doing a few day trips from there- since it is in the middle between Tuscon and Sedona. Tuscon is nice too with a slower pace than Phoenix and probably more environmentally-centered. I do think Phoenix has a more going on for kids and I like that it is much easier to visit northern Arizona than from Tucson. You could also try Flastaff near downtown for walking to things, but in general Arizona is spread waay out, lacks efficient public transportation, and so involves driving longer distances from place to place, and especially so for Phoenix areas. If you do buy a home in Phoenix my friends with kids like north-east Phoenix or the north-central part closer to the east which is central to be convenient and east to be in the well-reputed Paradise Valley school district without paying for it. lived there a while ago
I can't speak to Sedona or Tucson, but we moved our family to Phoenix from the Berkeley area two years ago for similar reasons to yours.
I can tell you that nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. Although the cost of living is reasonable relative to the Bay area, it has skyrocketed in the last few years while wages have not. So there is a big disconnect between salary and housing cost. There was just a big article in the paper about how companies are struggling to recruit middle management people here due to that.
My hubby makes 20% less than he did in CA. Our mortgage is the same (we have 2.5x the size and a great school district though), and his commute is the same as it was there(1+ hr each way). He often wonders why we did this.
As far as communities in walking distance to great parks...Phoenix is not set up that way. Everyone owns a car. There is no mass transit to speak of(although light rail system is being built). The ''older''(1950's) communities are mostly not in good school districts and the newer neighborhoods are very cookie cutter. Most are master planned and have a park and a school within the community, but we have been at the park in our neighborhood morning noon and night and there is almost never anyone there. Once the temp gets over 100, NO ONE leaves the house. You wave to your neighbor when you push the trash can to the curb and that is about it.
There are some good things about it.
It seems much more geared to families here. We are in a community with a high concentration of Mormons and so the local businesses cater to families. There is every imaginable sport, activity, etc for kids here. I keep seeing questions on BPN about people with active 3 year olds trying to find sports or activities for them. That was me in Berkeley a few years back. Here there are many many choices for our active kids.
I love the warm weather. Never could get used to the fog that hangs in Berkeley so much of the time. Love to walk outside at 8pm and have it be 75!
Do I miss the diversity, liberal politics, and celebration of multiple cultures? You bet.
Think long and hard. We would come back if we could get back into the housing market there and without taking a bloodbath on our house here. Neither of which is viable now. Stuck in the Valley of the Sun
I grew up in Tucson, and would highly recommend Tucson for what you are seeking. It has a great community vibe, particularly in the university area (U of A) -- on a smaller scale of what you have in the SF area. I would AVOID Sedona, which is beautiful but has become highly touristy and a place where the rich buy vacation homes, much like Santa Fe. If you are thinking of northern Arizona, Flagstaff is a good alternative, also a university town (NAU). As for Phoenix, it may be a good option if you have family already there, but keep in mind that it is a major city and has suburban sprawl and freeways much like here or LA.
My husband and I would love to move back to Tucson, but it's not viable for us because there are not enough big companies with the types of jobs we would need. Phoenix would be more viable, but that has never appealed to us. I understand your need for a different pace of life - best of luck! Nearly Native Zonie