Retirement Living In A Land of Sunshine
And Spectacular Scenery
Anyone searching for a place to retire that includes lots of sunshine, great golf, a reasonable cost of living and a wide selection of housing choices certainly might want to start by looking at Arizona. Yes, the climate can be excruciatingly hot in certain areas, notably Phoenix and southern portions of the State, but there are some very attractive areas where temperatures are more moderate, the four seasons are filled with spectacular scenery and outdoor activities are readily available.
In spite of the heat, Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the nation, and the surrounding environs have become well-established as a retirement haven for many who find the climate from September through May to be almost perfect. Couple the climate with the advantages of a truly metropolitan environment and all that big city living has to offer, and many retirees find the area hard to resist.
Well-known places like Sun City, Scottsdale and Tempe, together with a number of smaller retirement-oriented communities just minutes from the center of the city, have made this one of the largest concentrations of seniors in the country. Yet only 12% of the total population is over 65, as compared with 23% in Miami.
Some are drawn by the spectacular golf course communities with an upscale affluent lifestyle. Other retirees gravitate toward the growing number of moderately priced manufactured home communities, some of which feature golf courses and a country-club package of amenities.
If one prefers a smaller city but still desires the warm weather and sunshine that comes with life in the desert Southwest, there are several options. Tucson, 120 miles south of Phoenix, offers retirees a diverse, vibrant social life and the unique charm of a historic and culturally lively small town. Here one finds a rich heritage derived from an amalgamation of Hispanic, Native-American and Anglo-American influences. Add the scenic beauty of the Sonoran Desert, a reasonable cost of living and 360 days a year of sunshine and you have an adventurous lifestyle that is highly desirable for many retirees.
Just north of the Mexican border and 45 miles of Tucson is the tiny artists’ enclave of Tubac. With only 1,200 people and a stimulating mix of artists, middle- and upper-class executives and retirees, this village, first settled by the Spanish who arrived in the late 1600’s, has been continuously inhabited since a fort was established in 1752. Today, centuries-old adobe houses line Tubac’s central streets and blend in with new master planned communities stretching across the Santa Cruz Valley. At an altitude of 4,000 feet, Tubac is significantly cooler than Phoenix or Tucson and ideally suited for retirees searching for that unique and exciting environment in which to spend their newly discovered leisure time.
Retirees have also discovered several small towns and communities in Central and Northern Arizona, where higher altitudes and temperatures that are 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix, provide for pleasant living twelve months a year. Few places in the entire country can rival the unparalleled scenic splendor surrounding Sedona, with its red rock buttes, soaring mesas and eroded canyon walls, all wrapped in a vast, endless blue sky.
All of this natural beauty is somewhat tempered by the frantic pace of construction, with luxury estate homes and lush golf courses spreading outward in every direction, often intruding on the serenity and tranquility of this idyllic landscape.
Another retirement destination in Central Arizona is Prescott, once the territorial capital of Arizona, and today, with its imposing courthouse on a tree-shaded square, an historic downtown business district, and neighborhoods of restored Victorian homes, this small town is home to several upscale master-planned golf communities targeted to affluent retirees.
The economic and cultural center of Northern Arizona is Flagstaff, home to Northern Arizona University and familiar to any fan of Tony Hillerman novels. This culturally rich city of 50,000 residents enjoys a college-town atmosphere, four colorful seasons, easy access to the snow-capped San Francisco Mountains, nearby lakes and an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. With summer temperatures that normally do not exceed 90 degrees, Flagstaff is viewed by many retirees as the perfect place to retire.
Clearly, Arizona is much more than just a hot green oasis in the southwestern desert. It is truly a land of many landscapes; within its borders are verdant green valleys with upscale golf course resort homes, affordable active adult communities and small towns with charming neighborhoods...all influenced by a diverse and exciting blend of history and cultures creating a unique lifestyle that can add an interesting and fascinating element for your retirement.
This Month’s Spotlight City: Flagstaff