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Living in Arizona

So you’re thinking about making the move to Arizona? As a recent re-locator myself, I thought it would be helpful to give an overview of life in the desert to those who have never been and to provide valuable information to those considering a move out of necessity.

When I began considering a move, many things had happened in my personal and professional life that caused me to rethink my path. I had been let go from several good paying jobs because of re-orgs and budget cuts. I found myself without work and without any leads. While it would be nice to be able to live on love alone, this only occurs between the pages of a best seller. One cannot live anywhere unless they can pay for it, so I was forced to look outside of my box for alternatives.

Professionally, I had a college degree and many years of experience in a variety of fields and after careful research, I found that Arizona was still holding their own. I packed up the house and my prayers drove for more than three days and moved into a lovely patio home. I found a job (not in my field) and trained for several weeks. About 3.5 months in, I was let go…I am currently looking for work.

I did find out about six months after the move that even with all the research I had done I did not have my information right. Arizona was well on their way to an economic emergency. Job cuts began shortly after I arrived in July of 09 and the unemployment rate skyrocketed. Foreclosures which had already become prevalent here and all over the country, nearly doubled in this time. Friends and family who had moved here during a boom time began losing their jobs and, and therefore their ability to pay.

I don’t know what is in the future for me, but I do know that moving across the country is not always the right answer, especially for those with limited skill or education. This move, for me has been disastrous and I am again in the process of packing it up once again and moving back to my old digs.

For those of you who are sure that this is the right move let me tell you a bit about the area and what it’s like to live here.

After you have visited the obvious places, Grand Canyon, Apache Junction, Sedona, Tombstone, Flagstaff and Payson, there is little left to do. You may be able to find other weekend, or day trips to some cool ghost towns, or old gold mines, but some of the attractions are good once and only once.

Other things to do include casinos and gaming. As with any casino, there are nice restaurants and a pretty good night life, but of course this doesn’t come free.

There are a plethora of places to eat and pretty much any cuisine you can think of. The food, depending on the eatery is pretty good, but some are not. Chinese food is a bit bland here and fresh seafood is hard to come by.

The retail shopping in Arizona is fantastic. All over the state are outside shopping malls with name brand stores galore. Dolce & Gabbana, Ann Klein, Dillards and Guess, just to name a few. The malls have nice places to eat outside, misters when the air is hot and current music piped through speakers. One can shop, eat, drink and listen to music all in one place.

There are of course many other things to do, but these are a bit harder to come by, like fishing and hunting. There are places to go, but they are not very close by, so would take a fair distance to drive. There are plenty of golf courses and other attractions, but again would might require a significant drive.

Overall Arizona is a great place to live if all you really do with your time is eat, drink, gamble and shop. The seasons here are quite nice. June through November is too hot to go outside and do anything. Swimming is a great pastime, but too long in the sun during peak summer months, even fifteen or twenty minutes will start you on heat exhaustion and give you one hell of a burn. December through May isn’t bad. The air temperature fluctuates between 50 and 70 degrees every day. You need a light jacket, but the skies are blue and mostly cloudless so while your friends and family who live elsewhere are shoveling snow and scraping windshields, you are comfortable and probably in a better mood because here, the winter doldrums are non-existent.

Arizona can be a very nice place to live, but can also be a huge culture shock. The desert is completely unique and you will find little here to remind you of where you came from that is unless you go to the mountainous areas. The topography is mostly flat, but with treeless mountains in the distance. Sororo cactus only grows in the state of Arizona and so they are protected. Deep into the desert they grow by the thousands and it is a magnificent sight to see.

My best advice for anyone thinking of making the move would be that you visit here first, maybe even twice. Once in the summer and again in the winter would be best. Doing so will give you a much better idea if you can deal with the climate.

Do your research about the area. Check out your future employer and find out how financially stable they are and lastly have a back-up plan if plan A goes awry. If you take all of this advice and do your homework, you should be well-prepared and enjoy your stay.