Home Sweet Home
Seven months already? Is that how long we’ve been in Arizona? Time flies when you’re having fun. Last year we thought we wanted to live like full-time nomads. So we downsized and went to Mexico for the summer. Even though that trip was absolutely awesome, something was missing. A home to come back to. So here we are, putting down roots in my favorite state. The third time’s the charm right? Here’s why we love Arizona so much:
You Feel Like You’re On Vacation ALL the Time
Want to live in a place where you feel like you’re on vacation every day? Arizona has a distinctly Mexican vibe, and it’s awesome. I fell in love with Arizona way back in 2007, and been thinking about it ever since. That’s a perfect example of positive thoughts becoming a reality. Every day I wake up to the dry climate, the clear blue sky, and the sounds of birds everywhere. We see all kinds of wildlife that we never dreamed of back east. It’s just one more perk of living ten miles from the border.
The geology of Arizona is unique. I constantly ask myself, “is this really part of the United States?” An average hike around my neighborhood starts at 4,200 ft and winds through several thousand feet of spectacular rock formations. Last weekend I spent an entire Saturday hunting for quartz crystals, and we came home with a bag full of something I’d normally purchase in Sedona. It’s not just what’s in the ground that makes Arizona so special, it’s what’s above ground. The Grand Canyon is five hours away, and the red rocks of Sedona are even closer. There’s a canyon, park, conservation area, or national monument to explore every few miles.
Thousand year old pueblos and cliff dwellings, seventeenth century Spanish missions, wild west shootouts sites, eerie mining towns, and borderlands historic sites are just a few of the things that the history lover will find in Arizona. I can’t think of a better place to teach history than in an area filled with so much of it. Tubac, Tombstone, Bisbee, Tucson, Tumacacori, and San Xavier are within an hour’s drive.
Virginia is a beautiful state, but it gets cold in the winter, really cold. It was incredibly strange to look in my closet at all the winter clothes that I didn’t wear this year. I may have put on a sweater twice, and even at its coldest, the temperature didn’t drop below freezing. Arizona has extremely low humidity. Some days it’s under ten percent. Although that leads to dry skin and dehydration, it also means fewer illnesses. I had a minor cold right after we moved here, other than that it’s been months since I’ve been sick. Back in Virginia I had a bad cold almost every month. The climate out here is definitely healthy and enjoyable. Even in the summer, the low humidity makes the outdoor activities in hundred-degree heat bearable. One of the best things about this climate is being able to sit outdoors for hours at night and not be bothered by mosquitos or any other kinds of bugs. The lizards and bats eat them all!
Hike Your Heart Out
I’ve done more hiking in Arizona these past few months than in years in Virginia. One of our favorite hiking spots is only fifteen miles away. We go from 4,200 ft all the way up to the green Ponderosa Pine forest at 6,300 ft. We made it all the way up to 7,500 ft last week. Every hike is a new adventure and a new discovery. The tallest peak around my area is Miller Peak, which tops out at 9,465 ft. One day we may attempt to hike all the way to the summit. For now, we plan to spend our free time exploring the hundreds of connecting trails near our house.
You’ll Never Get Bored
It’s incredible difficult to get bored in Arizona. There’s so much to do. So far I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, Sedona (twice), hiked in a volcano, visited two old Spanish missions, and hiked dozens of trails. That sounds like a lot of trips, but really, it’s nothing compared to what we haven’t seen.
Thirty-Third. that’s what Arizona ranks in United States population density. I’ve spent a lot of time in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida (#11, 19, 18, 16 & 8 by density), and those states are crowded. So crowded that there’s no chance of going to any historic site or park and getting away from everyone. In Arizona, especially in the southwestern part of the state, it’s easy to spend an entire day hiking without seeing another person. The low population density means a different way of life out here. It means people are nicer, things are slower, and everyone is more relaxed. The state motto, Ditat Deus, which means “God Enriches,” is a perfect statement to describe a land with so much natural beauty.
We’ve seen more wildlife in seven months in Arizona than in years in Virginia. A side effect of low population density is that wild animals have plenty of space. It was heartbreaking to see dead animals in the road every morning on the way to work in Virginia. In Arizona there are many wide open spaces, even in the cities, the animals aren’t forced out into the road. We’ve seen coyotes, hummingbirds, deer, and all sorts of small mammals living happily in their natural habitats.
It’s Cheaper in Arizona
Compared to east coast living, Arizona is incredible inexpensive. Our housing costs alone have dropped by more than half. We’ve also noticed that a lot of fruits and vegetables are cheaper and fresher here, coming directly from Mexico. There’s also no personal property tax on vehicles, saving hundreds every year. Arizona has always been close to my heart. Honestly, I never thought I’d see the state again after 2011, but here we are. This time I’m never leaving. A whole lifetime of exploration awaits.