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July 26, 2018


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We've been wintering in southern Baja Arizona for almost 10 years now. As we're not willing to sacrifice our Canadian citizenship ("disastrous" medical care, social democracy, and coming soon: nationwide legal herbal remedy), and as the last few days have topped out at 112 degrees, we have no intention whatsoever to live there full-time. We don't golf, we are 2 hours from Phoenix & Tucson if we really have to spend time in a big city, and we are 2 hours from the Sea of Cortez if we require a little beach time & fresh fish. We do find it a little strange to live within the 100 mile Homeland Security border zone and the paramilitary aspect of border life, but we have found a real community of caring folks, many whose families lived in the area when it was still Mexico, and, of course, many whose families have been there for untold centuries. Winter weather is pretty close to perfect if you don't like winter (my wife, especially), the "green desert" area is spectacular, groceries are affordable, etc. There are a few "kookocracy" supporters, but also many progressives, and no sign of the real-estate industrial complex, as we are surrounded by (for now) federal lands of varying descriptions as well as the Tohono O'odham Nation. South Dakota? I don't think so...

Last I heard Maricopa county was the fasted growing county in the nation. You should see the people pouring into the west valley. They are snapping up "retirement homes" that are 4,000 plus square feet, three car garages with attached RV garage. They are monsters. These folks are NOT downsizing in their retirement years. They can't build them fast enough. Survey says...………??

Ruben, Ever heard the saying, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature?" Man's attempt to live in a desert is going to look pretty foolish when the temperature approaches that of a sauna (with the consequent weakening of the ever-present asphalt), the water is rationed, and a power outage in July.

I'm 53. I moved from Phoenix to Seattle last October because I wanted to retire here. The population is diverse, well-educated, and forward-looking. And it sure is nice to be around a lot of young people, for a change. I really grew to resent the influx of retirees and their sense of entitlement while living in the west valley.

Now I'm wondering... should I keep renting the house in El Mirage or sell it soon before the fecal matter really hits the fan? (That could happen in a number of ways, given the instability of the current national & geo-political & economic environments...)

My young niece & nephew reside in Phoenix. Will they be able to take the heat in the next ten years? I worry that they can't compete against the kids here in Seattle. Here I see those little signs that they stick in the ground advertising Singapore Math and Coding camps. In Phoenix I see them mostly advertising cheap pillow top mattresses and Pest control.

Tell me Jon, will I ever get over that reflex of wanting to shun the sun and stay indoors while the temps reach the high 80s? People keep telling me it's a sin to stay indoors whilst the sun is out in Seattle. I say that sunshine is highly overrated.

I've been reading this blog for years. I love the writing and all the comments from this thoughtful and dedicated online community. I'm gonna keep coming back.

Thanks for joining us, Kim. I’m with you. I tell people I’m a native Phoenician and nothing makes me more depressed than endless sunny days.

I was talking to a neighbor last night about social isolation and its various costs (addiction, anomie, alienation, etc.). We both agreed that aging in place is preferable to age-segregated ghettos such as retirement communities and "independent living" institutions. We also speculated about the unintended consequences in a country where distrust and fragmentation are weaponized by a certain political party.

I was 10 years old when Sun City was born. Over my long life, it opted out of its local school district, voted down community-enhancing projects like Val Trans and Rio Salado, and helped install the increasingly sociopathic Republicans in high office. When we talk about American/heartland values, this is what we mean: cruelty and disconnection for the sake of material comfort.

I don't begrudge anyone for desiring a warm weather home. But of all the pain and discomfort they might have avoided in colder climates, they forgot to calculate what it means when you're no longer living in a vibrant community where other generations are not merely an abstraction but a vivid reminder of life's finely woven web of interdependence. So much of America's bitterness and anger actually stem from a conscious choice not to participate in community. It generates the misery that seeks a scapegoat in "others". This drama becomes a substitute life for the real one they abandoned when they moved to their ghettos.

I am making a conscious effort to understand Trump voters, per the daily reminders in our mainstream media. Here's my response to those voters: no man is an island. You can move to one but you can't escape the nightmare that is a life lived as if other people no longer matter.

Jon-how can you consider retiring in Seattle when that once fair city has lost famed cornerback Richard Sherman to the San Francisco 49ners and the original Kurt Cobain tribute bench in Viretta Park to Phoenix. That leaves so little to look forward to in Seattle.

I just moved from Bellingham, WA to Tucson,because my rent in Bellingham was about to go WAAAY up. (I moved to Bellingham from Portland, and from Seattle before that, for the same reason.) So far, I do like the lower cost of living, and my apartment is air-conditioned. People here seem to be genuinely friendly, as opposed to the polite passive aggression of the PNW. I have found a job in a call center, which along with Social Security will enable me to live much more comfortably (financially, anyway) than I ever have in the PNW. I imagine I'll get used to the heat, eventually...

I have lived in the Phoenix area for so long, I am a wee bit embarrassed. Retirement comes for me in two years. If the kookocracy will allow me to collect my pension, I am taking it to a small town in southeastern Colorado, 45 minutes from doctors and malls, but far, far away from the feel of the modern American city. Four seasons sound SO delightful. I have been stuck in this Phoenix area house now for two weeks straight with the a/c struggling to keep the house at 80. There is no quality of life left here. When we returned from our Colorado house this summer, we travelled by way of Globe. Once we hit "Gold Canyon" I was struck - again - by how sprawling and depressing the Valley has become. Hot, angry, and crowded. I can't wait to leave.

The only way to retire in Phoenix or California is buy a place that allows you to take the rest of your money and buy an "escape" place in North Country.Spend 6 and 6 and you can be very happy.If that doesn't work for you-you are screwed.Phoenix will soon be unliveable in the future and a summer escape is mandatory.

Arizona is the equivalent of a third world country.

Ah ha glad to hear all you traitorous weaklings are leaving the Great Sonoran Desert. A place where the great Sun shines and the southerly winds bring us monumental clouds as I sit here as the temperature works its way to a wonderful 108 while watching out my mobile home window, the Gila Woodpeckers, California Curved Bill Thrashers, Cactus Wrens, three variety of Sparrows, Abert Towhee’s, White Wing and Inca Doves, Black Chinned Hummingbirds and an occasionally an American Kestrel and a Roadrunner. I've been where the sun don’t shine, shitily depressing!
Now if you could just convince Joe Smith and his cousins to move back to briny lake.
The Good News is the city is doomed?
“The air is so poisonous, not merely with filth and disease but with something deadlier-human hatred. Yes there is hatred in Lukeville, Arizona, too, but here it is easily dissipated into the nothingness of space: walk one half mile away from the town, away from the road, and you find yourself absolutely alone, under the sun, under the moon, under the stars within the terrible and aching lowliness of the DESERT.
But that loneliness is not enough; which is why, somehow, we must save the city.”
Edward Abbey while in Hoboken, NJ wrote, City of the Prophecies – a Hoboken Perspective.
Screw the pro sport stuff. I’ll take the Organ Pipes and Sajuaros and the Sun and Sand, thank you.

I'm with you on admiration for this desert, Cal - its awesome. But, the smell of hatred on this blog sometimes blows me away for weeks and months.

I'm always amused when someone on the right complains about "hatred" from the left.

For 50 years, the right's brand has been based on hatred. Pure and unadulterated.

It is what their base eats, sleeps, and breathes.

They certainly can dish it out; but they just as certainly can't take it.

Talk about snowflakes...

Plenty of hate was needed to destroy our oasis and desert with sprawl.

Plenty of greed as well Rogue. Agree with Franklin. Quite a snowflake indeed melting over comments on this blog while blindly following the sociopath Trump as he relentlessly and continually inflicts insults from the highest office to those less powerful or even vulnerable. Trump is the embodiment of hate and any supporters who believe otherwise should be thrown out with the rest of the white trash.

The rain came last night:




I could have written this column. It includes every reason I got the hell out in 2014. Will I stay in Denver for the duration? I don’t know, but I have no regrets.

My grandkids like Denver much more than they did Austin. Particularly the lite rail.
I think it should be illegal for any more folks to come and live in Arizona and New Mexico. And pay people to leave!

I don't desire to go to war with the Dudas.
Much rather drink coffee while staring at the Catalina's and discussing whether Chuck Bowden would approve of his name on a structure on Frog Mountain.

Fairly chilly here today.
The Monsoon season is on.

Cal, I know Arizona born young adults who moved out of Arizona to Minneapolis. Stayed in the Twin Cities for a couple of years and then settled in Denver which they preferred. My having spent decades in Phoenix, Denver always reminds me of Phoenix. Denver is likely a very good move for those who were raised in Phoenix. For me a place that reminds me of Phoenix is a major drawback.

Drifter, the problem in Phoenix is 1345000 too many people. As is 7 million in Arizona. TRs dam caused such.
My grandkids were born and raised in small military towns of Oklahoma and Texas. And because of their professional skills Denver offered them big financial reasons to leave Austin for Denver. The Phoenix job market has no such financial rewards for them. However for an old chuckawalla chaser with little formal education this here Sonoran Desert is just fine. And i don't sneeze in the brown of summer. Its cloudy today and the hottest month is just about gone. I have not had to pay for utilities for 4 years but starting now gotta pay for my electric which isn't a lot when you are cooling 320 square feet with two highly efficient AC's. However i may turn up the thermostats and go to Chandler Mall for about 8 hours. Read books and Magazines at B&N while sipping Starbucks coffee.
Hasta Luego

Having lived in Denver and Phoenix, I can tell you they are very different.

Denver was the corporate and financial center of the West. Seventeenth Street downtown was the "Wall Street of the Rockies." Denver was a big city when Phoenix was a tiny town. It was a major rail and distribution center. It has the largest concentration of federal employees and agencies outside D.C.

Denver has great bones, with classic buildings downtown in original use (the Brown Palace) or repurposed. A magnificent, grassy civic space sweeps between City Hall and the state Capitol. The Denver Art Museum is a major national attraction. The Center for the Performing Arts is the largest such collection of theaters and concert halls between Chicago and the West Coast. All four big league sports teams play downtown.

Denver has moved aggressively on transit, and now has an extensive regional network of light rail and commuter rail, as well as a restored and vibrant Union Station as the hub for this and much more.

Close-in neighborhoods are lovely, graced by parks. Capitol Hill is a unique funky neighborhood that also has the 19th century mansions of mining and other magnates. Denver also has civic stewards who ensured that the city thrived despite suburbanization and the Poundstone Amendment that stopped further annexation. Poundstone, intended to hurt the city, in fact helped it.

Phoenix has little of this. No wonder Denver is a magnet for young talent.


Cal is correct about TR's dam being the beginning of the increase in population.
The real impetus came thanks to Uncles, Hayden, Goldwater and Rhodes. Phoenix and the valley exploded with the arrival of the CAP.

Why you should not retire in (my) the desert.

Deserts: Google "When Climate Change Starts Wars" Natulis Jan/Feb 2017

I grew up in Boston area tenements and went fishing in a contaminated pit below Dow Chemical and across the road from Bethelem Steel. My first intro to AZ was at the age of 4 via a 3D Viewmaster with scenes from what was then Saguaro National Monument. My first actual visit was via a military transfer from Sacramento to Omaha which I took via San Diego and spent the night in Gila Bend, the hottest place in the US that September day, visited Montezuma Castle and stayed in Flagstaff, the coldest place in the US that same day. 40 years later with the kids moved out or in college, I had an opportunity to work in Indian Country with the DOI based in PHX. While I had always preferred Tucson, this would have to do. I eventually chose Wickenburg as a town that seemed an unlikely place for sprawl development. It had everything needed, 2 grocery chains, one downtown, and 3 hardware stores, two downtown, plus a movie theater!, a place with slow but steady growth where homes were built by local builders rather than national developers. That all changed, quite unnaturally, thanks to an alliance that includes the local chamber of commerce, newspaper and , in my opinion, APS, the regional power company which is motivated by the 10% return on infrastructure assets conferred on them by the AZ Corporations Commission. That is, with energy demand declining, this dinosaur is hooked on creating new infrastructure rather than selling power! So in 2011, I voted with my feet and bought a tear down farm in western MA. I still come back to Wick for the winter and it’s still a seasonal magnet for grandkids, so I won’t sell it for that big loss I’ll have to take at some point, but the bottom line is that Arizona is still a nice place to visit but......

When mentioning hatred as the brand of the Right, don't forget the Right's vast self-righteousness, as if whiteness and evangelical Christianity are America's proper default conditions and everything else is inauthentic.

Phoenix and Las Vegas are the Nightmare Cities of the New West. I'm trapped here by personal obligations. Would be gone in a heartbeat if I could move.

Greed, the pursuit of loneliness, sprawl, and licentious outdoor recreation have ruined Arizona. Climate will make the southern bits unlivable in due course.

There's an interesting feedback loop (he wrote, redundantly) involved in retiring to Seattle.

Since housing costs in that city have rocketed into high earth orbit, only those retirees of very substantial means can afford to relocate to Seattle. It is out of the reach of the overwhelming majority of boomers. (And since housing in Seattle is becoming the province of only those who have the wealth of Croesus, one wonders where all the service workers will live. Commute in from Yakima?)

Wealthy boomer retirees willing to spend money on housing in Seattle will only drive up costs, thereby inviting even WEALTHIER retirees.

Seattle will become an oasis for arts and culture, politically correct dining, and non-evidence-based rejuvenation schemes.

Meanwhile in Phoenix with its hundreds of thousands call center jobs, retirees from Fort Wayne, and white grievance politics...

I would urge some caution, Joe. Prices are indeed high in the 84 square miles of the city, but much lower in other parts of the metro, including those with commuter rail. And you do get what you pay for.

Joe, I can here the Mississippi river calling you back to Iowa. The temperature looks good there.
I was born in the river bottom of Middle river in Iowa.
But i prefer the Great Deserts.
Minus call centers. I have almost a 100 blocked numbers on my NO call phone.

Jon -- According to a story in the Seattle Times that ran on June 5, the median price for a single-family home in King County was $726,275 in May. For the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa area, Zillow, on June 30, estimated the median sales price for a single-family house at $235,600. Although I realize we may have a bit of apples vs. oranges in the data here (King County excludes Edmunds and Everett and other northern suburbs), the numbers do suggest that much of the Seattle area is out of reach for most retirees.

I also acknowledge that prices will be higher in North Scottsdale, uptown Phoenix, and Paradise Valley.

In any case, I'd want to live in the urban core in Seattle, where you do, Jon, not in an outlying area.


Median means half the numbers are below. In Tacoma, the median is $290,000. King County is much smaller than Maricopa. Anyway, lots of affordable housing in beautiful cities in Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis.

The medium house orice in Dubuque Iowa is 169900.

I've been to Tacoma. No thanks.

T-Town has some cool old neighborhoods, and it's 33 miles by commuter rail to downtown Seattle. Phoenicians drive farther than that every day. On the train, you can work via wifi, read, think, sleep.

As for the Midwest:


Comeback Detroit? Median house prices range from $55000 to $300000??

Hey !! Don't knock South Dakota.
We have one area code, two time zones, one political party, two climate systems and are firmly rooted in the twentieth century. If you enjoy political corruption, you'll love it here.
Rush hour in Rapid City is a two-block backup (three if something stoopid happens and five if there's a train).
Sure wish we had a Costco.
It's still enjoyable being one of the 50 Democrats here.

Husband and I are considering selling our small house in West Seattle and buying a house in the Phoenix area for retirement in the next couple of years. We have older family in the Tucson area and have visited a number of times. We can get so much more house for our money there than here and want to retire a bit early by cashing out some equity. Can Phoenix be a nice place to live? Some of the comments here are a bit discouraging. Any advice is appreciated.


Seattle is expensive for a reason. Phoenix is relatively cheap for a reason. You get what you pay for. In Phoenix, no Sound, no Pike Place Market, no world-class cultural assets, etc. As I wrote, one can retire comfortably in Phoenix, but it usually requires car dependence and the heat is getting worse.

Jane, if you value your lungs and prefer desert to forest i would buy SE of Picacho Peak, AZ. Also slightly cooler than heat sink Phoenix.

Jane, Over the decades I have met many people from the Pacific Northwest who relocated to metro Phoenix. None have expressed enthusiasm for escaping your region to live in Phoenix. The majority wish they could return to the Northwest. Maybe you will be different. West Seattle is a very nice part of King County.

Plenty of hate was needed to destroy our oasis and desert with sprawl.

You can move to one but you can't escape the nightmare that is a life lived as if other people no longer matter.

It's still enjoyable being one of the 50 Democrats here.

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