Author Topic: Tuscon Az?  (Read 3753 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Tuscon Az?
« on: May 19, 2017, 06:57:16 PM »
Long time reader/lurker and just wanted to jump in and ask what the community thinks of Tuscon Az?

I was approached by a recruiter for a very interesting job with a large company based in the south end of the city.  I grew up in Nor-Cal but currently live in a mid sized east coast city.  Cost of living and salary would be comparable.   I am a single guy, no kids. 

Poking around google the city looks very cookie cutter-strip mallish-subdivisionish, without any real cool downtown bar/restaurant/art district.  I do like hiking and getting out doors but a good micro brew/pizza parlor place is always fun.  Some of any reluctance is that I have been living in a very green area for 10+ years and the dryness is very different. 

Is there a good local vibe?

Any and all thoughts welcome!


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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2017, 07:35:48 PM »
I have been to Tuscon a couple of times and was not impressed by anything (except nearby Saguaro NP). Other than the general vibe this is all I know.


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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2017, 08:24:43 PM »
It's been 20+ years since ive lived there - but the things you want are there. I can't point you to the latest iteration.
There are some amazing older houses in the Sam Hughes neighborhood, other newer houses in the foothills, the university area, a downtown area, etc. the university has a great photography museum.

It is dry, there are tons of plants, but it's not the same kind of green.

But, it sounds like you've made up your mind.


  • Stubble
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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 08:36:38 PM »
Your google-fu is weak sauce. Admittedly, most major cities in AZ are somewhat cookie cutter-ish with many strip malls, Tucson has a pretty vibrant downtown scene. I like it.


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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 10:03:51 PM »
I live in the area.  I wouldn't call the town cookie-cutter and strip-mallish.   I moved here five years ago with my family from Houston, Texas, and we like it enough to want to stay here when we are no longer working.

Here is what I think the city has going for:
- Anything outdoor is great.  More than a hundred miles of bike trails, many hiking trails in and around the mountains.
- Agreeable climate.  Yes, June can be hellishly hot.  But Mount Lemmon is 23 miles of twisting highway away from the town and, at 9,000 feet, 30 degrees cooler. 
- Food!  Oh, the food!  Tucson is now the only UNESCO-designated City of Gastronomy in the United States.   It's not that the food is expensive - no, the best food is cheap and local. 
- Local booze includes several microbreweries and at least two distilleries.    Sonoita - Patagonia area south of town has now its own wine appellation.
- Downtown is rebuilding.  A lot more bars and restaurants there now than even just a few years ago.  Two or three hotels are under construction now, and many apartments and lofts, too.
- A lot of small locally managed businesses and stores. 

Not everything is perfect:
- It's a desert.  Trees do grow in this desert, but it only gets some 12 inches of rain a year.  It's not lush green and it's got good reasons not to be.   If you prefer lush green, however, you will be disappointed.
- The town is quite poor.  Because Tucson does not want to be the next Phoenix, the town economy is not growing as fast as Phoenix economy.   There are jobs, but it takes effort to find good ones, and a layoff usually means that the next job offer will come with a pay cut.
- Roads are in poor shape, particularly in unincorporated areas.  I found much better quality of pavement in rural Poland(!) than around the airport, which, one would think, would be the advertisement for the city.  Some roads have been paved so long time ago that they have reverted back to gravel.
- There is no fast way to get around town.  Because the powers that be have long opposed expressways crossing the city, most of the traffic moves on local streets.  My inner conspiracy theorist believes that the traffic lights have been set out of sync on purpose to discourage car commutes and move everyone onto bikes.

Since you mentioned South part of town, I have seen more of cheaply built subdivisions there than elsewhere around the area.   But the town isn't that big and you might have good housing options about 20 to 30 minute commute away.   I hope this helps.


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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2017, 02:26:54 AM »
This focuses mostly on biking and crime, but is a good place to start, especially since it's likely the same employer or at least same area.

I love Tucson and I think the downtown and university areas have what you are looking for.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2017, 10:12:17 AM »
I lived in Tucson ('c' before 's' btw) throughout the 1990s and absolutely loved it, though I did miss water access. However, I adored the desert and worked and recreated all over the southern half of the state.

Tucson has grown and sprawled a great deal since I lived there, which was irritating when I visited a few years ago. Considering its size, it perhaps does not have the big-city amenities that one would expect; however, it has a very strong regional/local vibe regardless (far more than Phoenix did at the time I lived there) with an extremely active traditional music, arts, literary, food, etc., scene.  I suspect if you live in the newer developments south toward the Santa Ritas, this vibe might be lost to some degree.

We just made an attempt to move back to Tucson last year, but the job opportunity ended up being unfilled.

Downsides: The summer heat and lack of rain can be very hard to take for some people. I did fine with it (including doing outdoor labor) but it got tiring if there was no decent monsoon season to break it up.

Urban sprawl, as mentioned.  And winter traffic is horrible, between the snowbirds and the students.

Lack of water and lack of lush vegetation.  I am from the Great Lakes area and missed water and lush greenery terribly. But I loved the Sonoran desert, which is biologically AMAZING, so it balanced out.  I also developed an adoration for southwestern style architecture and xeriscaping.

The air force base activity means lots of noisy aircraft flying over the city and interrupting conversations several times daily.  Yeah...I'm reaching for bad stuff now LOL.

The upsides: low cost of living, decent economy, major university, amazing southwestern culture, mountains all over the area, year round outdoor activities, etc.

If you have seasonal affective disorder, the more or less constant bright light is really helpful. I did not realize how positively it affected me until I moved from Tucson back to the Great Lakes area after college.

I'd move back in a second.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2017, 10:34:21 AM »
Awesome, thanks everyone.  The place does sound a lot cooler than I had been thinking.  I do miss good south-western food; fried chicken just does not do it for me.

Poking around more I saw the big circular concrete pad near aerospace pkwy south of the airport; I think I know that that is for.  Big solar powered UAVs like helios would take off from there to go up to above 60kft and provide internet access during months long flights.  The 'runway' is circular so there is never a cross wind.  This does give me some good vibes about the tech sector growing and there being other job opportunities. 

The scale of things does seem different from where I am now; what looks really from downtown is only 20 miles.  Maybe not daily cycleable in the summer but not really a bad commute.

I think I will continue talking to the recruiter and see what happens.  Worst case I fly out for an interview and I dont like the vibe.

Footsore Rambler

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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2017, 12:11:51 PM »
I live in Tucson, and have been here since 1998.  The vibe is excellent IMO -- it's what I like, at any rate.  Dining is good, music's pretty good, amazing hiking, weather's nice (as long as you prefer heat to cold), and it's pretty bikeable.  It has a sprawl-and-strip-mall problem similar to many other western cities.

If you end up flying out here, send me a PM and I'll take you around!


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Re: Tuscon Az?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2017, 01:12:34 PM »
I grew up there in the mid 90's near the Vail / Corona De Tucson areas.  So at the time it was more rural - maybe it still is - and my info is dated.

I think it was my favorite place to live so far.  It wasn't as hot as Phoenix, or as humid as Houston, or as congested as Denver.  I'd move there if my wife didn't have a job keeping us in the Denver Area.  One downside may be the lack of other job potential in the area.  Be sure to look into that.

Dining -
Incredible.  Mama's Pizza was good at the time - had a pizza probably 4 foot in diameter - crazy.  Two teenage boys could put a hurt on it.  Carlos Murphy's I think was the other one we frequented.  I remember CM had a cool location near the school that was very old timey feeling.  Very cool vibe.  Egees was always a hit in the summer - especially the lemon Egee.

To Do -
Mt. Lemon.  Lots of cool old towns to spend the weekend in around there.  Bizbee, Tombstone, etc were always a short drive with lots of adventure.  Vacations in Mexico were fun (my first kiss happened there!).  The Titan missile silo tour is not to be missed.  UofA basketball is fun.  Lots of caving in that area -- if you're into that.

Driving -
I wasn't driving age when we lived there, but I remember there were signs on the roads that stated how fast you should go if you wanted to hit all of the lights green.  It sounds like that might not be the case anymore though.