At least by our standards, the nice weather is here in Phoenix. Though we know it isn’t all that long until triple digits, warm sunny days and cool, clear nights, broken up with an occasional cloudy rainy spell make me almost forget the furnace of summer in the desert. Each day is simply gorgeous. Typically, we get some of our meager yearly rain in January and February. The tourists have arrived for the season but Covid concerns have reduced the number of snowbirds tremendously this year. Resorts and restaurants remain shuttered or largely shut down, so the normal throng of happy, money-spending out-of-staters is missing; not so good for the economy but a welcome change of pace for those who live here.
After 35 years in this part of Arizona (with almost three years in Tuscon in the early ’80s) we are Arizonan natives by local standards. Betty would move to a small town with white picket fences and much less heat in the summer, but such a place doesn’t exist close to family, and that fact is the driving force.
Personally, I’d live nowhere else. After all these years I am comfortable with the harshness of the summer, the brown, unforgiving desert just outside of the city, and 5 million people all rushing to or from somewhere. I know where things are and how to adapt to the climate. Not having hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, polar vortexes (Texas?), mudslides, or any of the usual natural disasters plaguing many parts of the country is a major plus. Some day we will run low on water, but that is a problem others are addressing.
Number one on most lists is the presence of family and friends. If you have good relationships with your family members who live nearby it is likely you haven’t given much thought to moving. Most of us will put up with a lot to be close to loved ones. Good friends are also important to how you feel about your home town. As we age it seems making new friends becomes more difficult. If you live close to people you genuinely like and can turn to when you need help that is another check mark in the plus column. Colvid has made this abundantly clear.
The cost of living affects us all. This includes the cost of housing, taxes, food, and energy. Some places are just more expensive to live in than others. Southern California, New York City, Connecticut, the Bay area, parts of the Pacific Northwest, and Scottsdale are well above average in this regard. To love living in one of these places is to accept that fact and budget for it. Other parts of the country are relative bargins in these categories. If your budget is tight, the cost of living may play an important part in where you hang your hat.
Recreational opportunities. Being outside and enjoying nature is an important component of happiness for many. Being close to lakes for fishing or boating, having mountain trails to hike or bike or ski in deep powder, being able to play golf or tennis when you want is crucial to many. If you live in Manhattan I will assume this isn’t a key priority for you. But, if you do live where you can’t satisfy your nature fix on regular basis that could be a big deal.
Educational and cultural offerings. College towns or cities with major universities often rank high in resident satisfaction. The concerts, plays, lectures, community classes, and art exhibits that are usually part of educational institutions may be quite important to you. A symphony orchestra or venues to see live plays and musicals may be the elements of a community you need. Then, again, maybe you could care less. But, the lack of these opportunities may be troubling to you.
Transportation. If you don’t like to drive or own a car, don’t live in L.A. or Phoenix. Cars are the only reliable form of transportation in these cities. If you prefer public transportation or walking to get from here to there how does your town satisfy you? This could be a major factor in how happy you are living where you do.
Sporting and Entertainment activities. Some of us are happiest as spectators of professional or college sporting events. Others require a variety of soccer fields, horse trails, golf courses, or baseball diamonds for comfort. A good selection of movie theaters and restaurants is a necessity for some. Can you satisfy your interest in sports where you live? How about being entertained? Have you had to give up what you love because it simply isn’t available?
Health care facilities. The Phoenix area is blessed with excellent medical facilities. There are two Mayo facilities in town, along with dozens of hospitals and specialized treatment centers. Several medical schools provide us with a better than average doctor-to-patient ratio. In many parts of the country the residents aren’t so lucky. If you or a loved one has a medical condition that requires specialized treatment, odds are you will need to live where those options are available.
The weather. We all talk about it. We all complain about it. Yet, most of us tolerate wherever we call home. There are some folks who love to ice fish when it’s 10 below zero. I know some guys who love to camp in the desert when it is over 100 degrees. Take away someone’s ski trails and you’d be in trouble. Portland or Seattle can get gloomy in the winter with month after month of rain and drizzle but, when the sun comes out the greenery and views are stunning. Both cities consistently rank as some of the most popular places to live.
Weather is something over which we have no control. Your only ability to affect the weather where you live is to move to where that weather isn’t. Are you sensitive enough to your hometown’s weather for it to make you unhappy. Or is it simply an irritant that doesn’t change the way you feel about where you live? Are you in the Jimmy Buffet camp who thinks, “the weather is here, I wish you were beautiful?”
Especially in retirement, moving is one of the most critical decisions you are likely to make. So, ask yourself this important question: “Am I unhappy with enough of the parts of where I live to consider a move?” Or, did reviewing the list above make me think, “This really isn’t that bad, in fact I really kinda like where I am and I can tolerate the not so perfect parts.”
How about you? What factors are keeping you where you are? What things that are missing are making you consider relocation? Let us know. It’s like the weather, we are all interested in how others address this issue.