Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arizona thoughts

After two and a half weeks in Arizona - and going home tomorrow - we're seriously considering spending January and February here next year. It's been a beautiful, leisurely trip. In fact, I think it's been too much leisure for me. I'm ready for more to do.

I wish that weren't the case. I'd love to be able to say I'm most content living quietly at home. I'm actually better off when I have the chance to have people and activity around me.

In Sedona we took seven short hikes, just the two of us, in the first ten days. And then we had old friends come for three days. That was fun. Conversation, a day trip to the Grand Canyon, meals with company.
Grand Canyon, South rim

View from our Tucson condo

We looked at three possibilities for spending part of the winter in Arizona:

1. A large daylight basement studio apartment in Sedona. We met the owners and they'd be very glad to have us there. Advantages: lowest rent of all the places we explored - though not cheap; in Sedona, which we love. Disadvantages: Sedona is a year-round community, and for people like us coming in for a couple of months, we'd have to find our place. People are already living their lives there.

2. A manufactured home rental in Tucson Estates, on the northwest side of Tucson. We stayed in this 55-plus community for one night, with a couple we contacted through Evergreen Club. Advantages: midrange rent; lots to do; our friend would keep an eye out for rentals for us between now and then. Disadvantages: none, really, except it looks a lot like a 55-plus community and the manufactured homes are fairly close together - quite a contrast from our neighborhood at home, with its larger treed lots. About 60 percent of the population in the winter leaves in March or April, so we we'd have that in common with them.

3. A park model rental in Voyager RV resort, on the southeast side of Tucson. We spent yesterday with our old friends there, looking around. Advantages: enormous number of activities; multiple pools and ball courts. Very friendly people who walk right up to you and introduce themselves. Disadvantage: highest rent. About 90 percent of the population is winter-only people. This is the place I like best except for the rent.

The rent. But then I look at what we've done this year to get away from our Pacific Northwest winter: flew to Hawaii for ten days in December and rented a car to get around; flew to Arizona for 18 days and rented a car to get around; flying to Ecuador for three weeks and paying a driver to get around. We did Hawaii and Arizona using timeshares, and Ecuador is a home exchange. But still, when I consider airfare and car rental, the rent to stay in one place for two months doesn't sound as bad. Not to mention we'd go there once and stay.

I've realized quiet time is good, but I'm not a hermit. I need activities and people around me - and the option to participate.

Who would have thought we'd consider being snowbirds in Arizona?


Janette said...

Be careful for basements in Sedona. In the winter basements can get flooded. Yes, it is a year round community- but there are many people who only live there in the summer or only in the winter. Sedona can get snow and be cold.

We also spend loads on traveling around. I wonder if we got one place, if we would be happy just staying there? I miss community, but I love change!

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh, I understand perfectly! We have debated this topic for the last nine years, ending up not agreeing on where to settle down. I get tired of visiting just one place, even if only for a few weeks. If I leave my home, I want to see and do new things. After two, three days anywhere, I want to move on.

I thought of home exchanges, but who'd want to visit my coastal place in the winter?

I'll wait for you to give us all the ins and out.

Teresa Evangeline said...

You might find Flagstaff a good place for day trips, too. Sedona is beautiful. I think you also get in the quiet flow of life once you get used to taking it down a notch or two. You find your own activities and things happen... people meet, activities show up, etc.

Sounds like great fun.

Sally Wessely said...

Two things:
1) I tried to leave a comment on this post via networked blogs, and it would not let me.

2) I totally understand your dilemma. I sometimes think I would like to winter in AZ, but I am like Rosaria in many ways. I know I would get bored with visiting just one place. If I'm not home, I want to see new places.

I don't have to deal with the winter blues like so many of you do who live in the northeast or northwest. We have sunshine nearly every day of the year here. The weather is mostly mild in the winter. Even so, I just don't like wind, and snow, and cold even if it only visits occasionally.

My cousin recently bought a home in Surprise and will spend most of her time there, but her children live close-by. She has her cabin in the mountains of Colorado too, so she has the best of both world. (Her cabin is really more like a fully equipped three bedroom home.)

I like the idea of activity in the 50+ communities. I love the ease of living in those places, but I know in time I would not like living there more than a few months a year. I say go with the best place you can afford with the most options. I would not go for a basement for all the reasons you mentioned.

Terra said...

You have a lot of intriguing options for where to stay. I look forward to hearing which one you choose.

Linda said...

Arizona sounds pretty good right now but you need to include March in your plans. How about 3 months instead?

Linda Reeder said...

Go for the one you want the most. It's just for one year. You can do something different the next year if you don't love it.
I'm one of those people who likes to go and see and do. I like exploring new places.

DJan said...

I loved visiting my sister's 55-and-older community in Florida, but I missed the kids and variety. There's plenty to do there, and I would adjust eventually to the slower pace, but I really like interacting with all ages here in Bellingham.

I look forward to hearing what you decide to do. You've had a great time so far... :-)

Barb said...

Okay, I'm simply going to ask you love Portland enough to stay there the rest of the year? Do you have family there that keep you the rest of the year? Is permanent moving, or six months each place a more viable option

Cheryl Kohan said...

We have friends in Arizona and I do love it there. It wasn't all that long ago that I swore I'd never move to a 55-plus community...not on a bet! I'm changing my tune, however.

All the snowbirds I know are are fun people!

Linda Myers said...

Barb, it's the Seattle area, but still the Pacific Northwest. I have no interest in living in the desert - I've done that twice before (El Paso and Lancaster, California for eight years in the 70s). I'm not tolerant of the heat, the desert looks like a dead place except in the winter, I love the PNW except in the winter. Half of our eight kids and four of our five grandchildren are within driving distance.

Spending a couple of months renting a place in Arizona during that time, where the community forms quickly, may be a solution for us.

#1Nana said...

From icy eastern Oregon a few months in Arizona sounds like heaven. I love the idea of a community with activities. I hope that once the spouse retires we can travel around in the RV and find that winter warm spot.

Arkansas Patti said...

Try it for a year and see if you can enjoy one place only for the winter. I'd go for the expensive one you like for look at all the money you will be saving in air fair and car rentals.
It will be interesting to see which way you go.

Out on the prairie said...

When I was living in Ticson you could spot the winter visitors with their wintery blush of a sunburn.What a nice place to enjoy, I would love to revisit the canyons all around.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Me! Have to tell you, the climate & people here can not be beat. So laid back. And yes, even in Phoenix. So you know Tucson is relaxation central :-) I think you'd love doing it no matter which option you choose. Northwest side of Tucson I think is where my mom really loves. My sister is on the east side & its pretty nice over there too.

If you do end up back in state next year Matt & I will be much more settled in our house & all that stuff so I'll make sure we make concrete plans. So sorry to have to miss each other this time around! But I'm so glad you both had a great time & got home safe & sound :-)

Sandi said...

You have several good choices, and I like how you listed pros and cons to help you decide. I think it would be nice to take a break from PNW in the winter, but a short one, as you have. For me, the pull of being within driving distance of my family is a big one, and I think it always will be.
My dad snowbirds in AZ and absolutely loves it in his 55+ park model. I visited him during winter one year and understood completely. His "community" reminded me of a college campus for retired folks! They had so much fun! My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, too!
Whatever decision you make, especially renting, means that you can change your mind if it doesn't suit you!

Ms Sparrow said...

This is what I call a "high-class" problem! And to think you started this blog with fears of becoming a bag lady. You've come a long way, baby!

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

Linda, you are right...there are many choices out there. We live in Tucson in a RV resort. Our little winter home is a park model. There are many for rent here so you might take a look at the website. I would love to have you has a neighbor.

There is as much or as little activity as you want and we love it. We live in Rincon Country East RV Resort (pictures: (website: (map of location:

Here are a list of post I have written about snowbird lifestyle. (

Good luck.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

Incidentally, we live in Portland in the summer. This is our "second" home complete with friends and activities. We love this place.


Tracy said...

I have some good friends that live in Tuscon and when I visited, I loved it...enjoy your time and stay as long as you like :)

Deb Shucka said...

It's not like you're considering the move without lots of thought or other experiences to help you decide. The older I get, the more tempting warmth and sunshine in the winter are. The good thing about renting is that it allows you to change your mind if you find you want something else.

Unknown said...

Hope they develop a great community here. I love the weather here that's why for me, it is a great place to retire. I will surely consider this place but for now I'm going to check the retirement communities new york and plan as early as now.

anay said...
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