Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
tim1999
Posts: 3886
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by tim1999 »

The area the OP is asking about is called Ahwatukee, nobody locally calls it Foothills. It is a safe area of upper middle class 1980s/1990s tract houses. The recent extension of 202 along the south side of 'tukee made it a lot easier/faster to get to places to the west without having to deal with downtown traffic.

As is the case in many popular areas right now, homes tend to go under contract in a day or two with dozens of offers including many for all-cash and over asking price. In fact, the house OP linked to is under contract.

Side note - DO NOT buy a home backing to a golf course in Ahwatukee. At one point all 4 of them were owned by the same guy who doesn't have the community's best interests in mind. 2 are still in business but very run down, and the other 2 are kaput and just fields of weeds and dead grass the last I checked. Just google "Wilson Gee Ahwatukee" to read all the sagas. Gee still owns the 2 that are open and 1 of the 2 that are closed.
Workaholic
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:55 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Workaholic »

Parents snowbirded there for many years and I recently (like yesterday) just got back from a wedding out in Scottsdale. It was in the mid 90's the entire time I was there but if you aren't standing in direct sunlight, the heat really isn't too bad. Dry heat is real and is noticeably different than heat with humidity. I was in Florida one year when the temp was 85 with 100% humidity and I was literally drenched in sweat just standing outside in the shade, it was miserable. 95 degrees with almost no humidity was actually quite tolerable. Now when it gets to be 110F, hot is hot no matter how you slice it but it still beats multiple months of freezing weather and snow.

Real estate seems absolutely crazy right now- I watched a segment while I was there about it and unless you have cash, it seems to be a tough market for someone with a conventional mortgage. Definitely not sustainable but we'll see what happens.
Dave55
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:51 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Dave55 »

cbr shadow wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 1:03 pm My wife and I live in the Bay Area and have been aggressively saving for a while, with plans to hopefully early retire at some point. Below is some of our information:

- Both 37 years old
- (1) Child who is 6 months old, no siblings likely.
- Net worth around $1.4M, $700k of which is taxable investments or cash
- Income: $350k combined, roughly.
- Currently renting in Fremont, CA ($4,200/mth)
- Wife can work anywhere remotely, but needs access to a major airport
- Wife is the breadwinner, makes $220k roughly

Bay Area is too expensive for us to feel comfortable buying a house, although we do like it here a lot. The initial purchase price along with property taxes in CA would make early retirement much harder here.

What we like about our current area:
- Good culture (for us)
- outdoorsy stuff to do everywhere (cycling, triathlon groups)
- Nice weather although we would prefer a bit warmer and to have a pool.
- No mosquitos.
- Great schools

I've been looking for a "sweet spot" all around the US where we can find a place with medium cost of living, great schools, warm/hot weather and lots of sun (wife is affected by seasonal depression in gloomy chicago weather, which is where we're from originally).

I think Phoenix checks many of these boxes for us, in particular the "Foothills" area of south phoenix.
Upsides of that area:
- $550k can get you a very nice 2,200 sqft house with a pool and mountain views
- VERY low property taxes. In CA we would pay $1,200/mth in property taxes for a house we would find acceptable, compared to $350/mth in AZ
- Great school district (8/9 rating)
- Tons of sun
- Access to Phoenix downtown (for jobs, potentially)
- Access to international airport (Wife's job requires some travel)

The big downsides are probably:
- [OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
- Very hot summers (110 degrees) which of course is much hotter than we're used to in the Bay Area, and for much longer of a period. In Fremont we can get over 100 degrees but it cools a lot at night and only lasts maybe 2-3 weeks.

Any additional advice would be really appreciated. What are the upsides and downsides of living in this area (specifically Foothills area of south Phoenix)

Here's an example of the area and house type I'm picturing:
https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1750 ... 4893_zpid/
Have you ever spent more than a week in the summer in 110 degree heat, either in Las Vegas, Phoenix, St George, Utah or Palm Springs, CA? If not, try that first. You will either like it, or you will shift gears and look for another locale. I lived on the Central Coast of CA for years not far from the Bay area and I would never live in a desert climate.

Dave
"Reality always wins, your only job is to get in touch with it." Wilfred Bion
AZAttorney11
Posts: 828
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by AZAttorney11 »

tim1999 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 5:22 pm The area the OP is asking about is called Ahwatukee, nobody locally calls it Foothills. It is a safe area of upper middle class 1980s/1990s tract houses. The recent extension of 202 along the south side of 'tukee made it a lot easier/faster to get to places to the west without having to deal with downtown traffic.

As is the case in many popular areas right now, homes tend to go under contract in a day or two with dozens of offers including many for all-cash and over asking price. In fact, the house OP linked to is under contract.

Side note - DO NOT buy a home backing to a golf course in Ahwatukee. At one point all 4 of them were owned by the same guy who doesn't have the community's best interests in mind. 2 are still in business but very run down, and the other 2 are kaput and just fields of weeds and dead grass the last I checked. Just google "Wilson Gee Ahwatukee" to read all the sagas. Gee still owns the 2 that are open and 1 of the 2 that are closed.
+1
AZAttorney11
Posts: 828
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by AZAttorney11 »

I wouldn't live in Ahwatukee, but if you must then be sure to become a regular at Nello's. Look at Central Phoenix (Arcadia and Biltmore areas), North Phoenix (Desert Ridge), or Scottsdale. Most stuff along the 51 is nice, although I wouldn't go too far west (beyond, say, Moon Valley). Cave Creek and Fountain Hills are beautiful, but if you prefer Bay Area politics you won't like those areas. Avoid the West Valley. Parts of the Easy Valley are nice, but not for me.
Pacman
Posts: 183
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:50 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Pacman »

AZAttorney11 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 6:52 pm I wouldn't live in Ahwatukee, but if you must then be sure to become a regular at Nello's. Look at Central Phoenix (Arcadia and Biltmore areas), North Phoenix (Desert Ridge), or Scottsdale. Most stuff along the 51 is nice, although I wouldn't go too far west (beyond, say, Moon Valley). Cave Creek and Fountain Hills are beautiful, but if you prefer Bay Area politics you won't like those areas. Avoid the West Valley. Parts of the Easy Valley are nice, but not for me.
Why wouldn't you live in Ahwatukee? Some of those other areas you mentioned such as central phoenix, desert ridge, & scottsdale seem much more expensive than what the OP is looking at.
stan1
Posts: 10202
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by stan1 »

What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
latesaver
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:35 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by latesaver »

i can't imagine someone that feels "at home" or comfortable living in SF feeling the same way if they were in phoenix. but i could be wrong.

also they had 145 days in 2020 above 100 degrees. that's a lot of heat...
Starfish
Posts: 2229
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Starfish »

There are some top 10 schools in Phoenix. This is the main advantage.
But the heat and and the landscape... Even the pools are so hot that you do not get any cooling from them.
I personally would not care at all about the size of the house. A family needs maybe 1500 sq ft to live very comfortable is the house is well designed.
Lee_WSP
Posts: 4797
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Lee_WSP »

Pacman wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:24 pm
AZAttorney11 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 6:52 pm I wouldn't live in Ahwatukee, but if you must then be sure to become a regular at Nello's. Look at Central Phoenix (Arcadia and Biltmore areas), North Phoenix (Desert Ridge), or Scottsdale. Most stuff along the 51 is nice, although I wouldn't go too far west (beyond, say, Moon Valley). Cave Creek and Fountain Hills are beautiful, but if you prefer Bay Area politics you won't like those areas. Avoid the West Valley. Parts of the Easy Valley are nice, but not for me.
Why wouldn't you live in Ahwatukee? Some of those other areas you mentioned such as central phoenix, desert ridge, & scottsdale seem much more expensive than what the OP is looking at.
The geography makes tukee more isolated than every where else. Plus it's not actually its own city. It's part of Phoenix, but on the other side of the mountain and more or less disconnected from the rest of the city in many ways. To the south is the reservation and to the West is a preserve and undeveloped desert.
MarkRoulo
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:25 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by MarkRoulo »

stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?
For Phoenix (and similar locations) I'd price out solar.

The nice property that I'd expect this to have is that the hotter things are the more likely that the panels were generating electricity for the A/C unit.

I'd also price out battery storage (e.g. Tesla PowerWall).

Maybe $20K once (or once every 20 years) covers the cost to run the A/C???
Beachey
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 9:54 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Beachey »

cbr shadow wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 2:50 pm
sls239 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 2:05 pm That 8/9 school rating pretty much only says that the children in the school rate 8/10 for socioeconomic status within the state of AZ.

And when you say the culture is different, please remember that your child will be growing up in that culture which will impact the opportunities offered and the behavioral norms and expectations.
I do understand those points, but what metric is better for understanding how good schools are in an area? The area we're considering has "award winning schools, some of the best in the state", have good ratings from "Great Schools". I'm not sure what else to consider. My statement about Bay Area schools being good are based off of the same assumptions.

The second part of your post sounds like you're saying there's less opportunity in Phoenix than other places - am I understanding correctly? That's a definite downside of phoenix if that is in fact the case.
It has been a few years wince I left but there were a lot of alternative, charter schools in the Southeast Valley. I lived in Chandler but I take it you are looking at Ahwatukee which is adjacent. My impression (my kids were not school age) is if you spent the time you could find the right school for your child. There was much more choice than the typically one-size fits all that is common in public schools. There are also private schools if you wanted to go that route. I do think the mainstream public schools were underfunded and not as good as you might find in many suburban areas in Silicon Valley, Chicago, NYC, etc.
User avatar
HE Pennypacker
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2021 6:27 pm
Location: Ah yes most likely

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by HE Pennypacker »

Jobs will be spread out not centered in downtown. Avoid long commuting at all costs as this city is very sprawling. In fact I think Tucson is a better choice if you want the weather. Tucson has a smaller airport(less crowded) and a train station
Lee_WSP
Posts: 4797
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Lee_WSP »

stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
EVAP coolers only drop the temp ten to twenty degrees and don't work when it's humid. Like after a monsoon.

You could keep a three thousand sqft house at eighty for three hundred a month or so. So a two thousand sqft house can be kept pretty chilly for five hundred.
User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 16720
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by HomerJ »

Lee_WSP wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:30 pm
stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
EVAP coolers only drop the temp ten to twenty degrees and don't work when it's humid. Like after a monsoon.

You could keep a three thousand sqft house at eighty for three hundred a month or so. So a two thousand sqft house can be kept pretty chilly for five hundred.
I expect our electricity bills in the summer to be only around $250/month. That's for a 2400 square foot 1-story house kept around 76-77 degrees.

This is surprisingly cheap. Cheaper than our old house in KS for the summer (but the old house was twice as big and 3 stories).

It's so cheap that it makes it hard to justify solar, but we will probably get solar anyway.

We have a gas furnace for winter, but barely used it at all.
A Goldman Sachs associate provided a variety of detailed explanations, but then offered a caveat, “If I’m being dead-### honest, though, nobody knows what’s really going on.”
rich126
Posts: 2768
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by rich126 »

stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
Generally most homes have multiple units. My 2,000 sq ft home had 2 units on the roof. I kept the thermostat around 78 and it was around $400 max but that was a couple of years ago.

The good part is that for at least 6 months of the year you really don't need AC. While temperatures may get in the 80s in the fall, evenings can drop 30-40 degrees and it is chilly in the evenings. Most people just have heat pumps. While you can get frost in late Nov/Dec/early Jan it doesn't require a lot of heat. A friend that worked at a golf course used to go crazy with tourists than came out here during the winter thinking it was the tropics. They didn't understand the golf course doesn't open with frost on the course due to it damaging the greens if walked on. They would complain about why it wasn't open.
quantAndHold
Posts: 5717
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by quantAndHold »

If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Lee_WSP
Posts: 4797
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Lee_WSP »

HomerJ wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:38 pm
Lee_WSP wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:30 pm
stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
EVAP coolers only drop the temp ten to twenty degrees and don't work when it's humid. Like after a monsoon.

You could keep a three thousand sqft house at eighty for three hundred a month or so. So a two thousand sqft house can be kept pretty chilly for five hundred.
I expect our electricity bills in the summer to be only around $250/month. That's for a 2400 square foot 1-story house kept around 76-77 degrees.

This is surprisingly cheap. Cheaper than our old house in KS for the summer (but the old house was twice as big and 3 stories).

It's so cheap that it makes it hard to justify solar, but we will probably get solar anyway.

We have a gas furnace for winter, but barely used it at all.
I don't think my heater went off at all this last winter. I mean I know it did, but it was barely noticeable.

OP,
You can call srp and get the high low for a twelve month period on any houses that are serviced by them. It's much better than asking on a forum.
Topic Author
cbr shadow
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by cbr shadow »

quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
I have family in Denver and like it in the summer, but can't deal with so much snow for so much of the year. It's sunny, but the snow steals from the joy in my opinion. My brother sent photos in late April this year after a blizzard, and had another one on the way. That is also not my idea of a good time.

It sounds like the heat is something I'm going to really have to experience. It's good to get so many perspectives on this forum! I guess we're back to considering southern california where money goes a bit further than the bay area, but property taxes are still very high.
quantAndHold
Posts: 5717
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by quantAndHold »

cbr shadow wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:11 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
I have family in Denver and like it in the summer, but can't deal with so much snow for so much of the year. It's sunny, but the snow steals from the joy in my opinion. My brother sent photos in late April this year after a blizzard, and had another one on the way. That is also not my idea of a good time.

It sounds like the heat is something I'm going to really have to experience. It's good to get so many perspectives on this forum! I guess we're back to considering southern california where money goes a bit further than the bay area, but property taxes are still very high.
The reason people in Denver take pictures of the snow is because it usually melts after a few days. Denver is not Chicago.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
User avatar
Marmot
Posts: 465
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:44 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Marmot »

We have been in Phoenix since 1985. Love it. The first 2 summers are tough, after that....just hot. Seven months that absolutely beautiful. People usually end up suggesting something north (Flagstaff, Prescott). You asked about Phoenix and that is what replying to. The real estate is no different than most other places. Yes houses are selling fast. Last week we had a 2.2 million house go up next door. It was under contract in less than 24 hours.
Marty....don't go to the year 2020....Dr. Emmett Brown
User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 16720
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by HomerJ »

cbr shadow wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:11 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
I have family in Denver and like it in the summer, but can't deal with so much snow for so much of the year. It's sunny, but the snow steals from the joy in my opinion. My brother sent photos in late April this year after a blizzard, and had another one on the way. That is also not my idea of a good time.

It sounds like the heat is something I'm going to really have to experience. It's good to get so many perspectives on this forum! I guess we're back to considering southern california where money goes a bit further than the bay area, but property taxes are still very high.
You are going to have to try for yourself. Just like you shouldn't move to Phoenix without trying Phoenix, you shouldn't just give up on Phoenix and move to southern California without trying Phoenix.

I have no idea what some of these people are talking about. I guess we all have very different tolerances.

In the direct sun in summer, it's very hot. Take two steps into the shade, and it feels fine.

The sun goes down every night, and you can easily sit outside by the pool with a cool drink in your hand and enjoy the sunset and you don't feel hot.

You're not trapped inside for half a year.
A Goldman Sachs associate provided a variety of detailed explanations, but then offered a caveat, “If I’m being dead-### honest, though, nobody knows what’s really going on.”
Lee_WSP
Posts: 4797
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Lee_WSP »

There's no way to know until you experience it. But I can tell you that it's a lot better pound for pound than Georgia's heat or anywhere else that hits 100 with 30% humidity or so.

I think the biggest thing people don't realize is that the city no longer cools off at night. While probably true in 1970/80 (I wasn't here back then), all the concrete and blacktop holds the heat in for hours. This phenomenon is worse in some parts of the city and is severely mitigated by the presence of trees, grass, pool, etc.

Again, just look at the hourly temperatures to get a good idea of how quickly or not quickly the heat dissipates. (the average high in July is 106 and the average low is 81 so you basically draw a straight line from 106 (7pm) to 81 (5am). But on the hottest days, I think the high is 120 and the low is ~90. We had a lot of them last year, it was as bad as I can remember and the year before that was the worst in my memory. So, it's only getting hotter. :(

What everyone does is basically just jump from their home to their car to the destination back in the car and back home. You aren't stuck at home, you just walk quickly from cool spot to cool spot or deal with it in some other way. Each person's adaptation is different.
Topic Author
cbr shadow
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by cbr shadow »

quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:31 pm
cbr shadow wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:11 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
I have family in Denver and like it in the summer, but can't deal with so much snow for so much of the year. It's sunny, but the snow steals from the joy in my opinion. My brother sent photos in late April this year after a blizzard, and had another one on the way. That is also not my idea of a good time.

It sounds like the heat is something I'm going to really have to experience. It's good to get so many perspectives on this forum! I guess we're back to considering southern california where money goes a bit further than the bay area, but property taxes are still very high.
The reason people in Denver take pictures of the snow is because it usually melts after a few days. Denver is not Chicago.
I understand and am very familiar with Denver - I've spent weeks in Denver in each season while visiting family. They get too much snow for me. Do a satellite view of Denver and count the pools in people's yard, then do the same in SoCal or Phoenix. Part of our requirements in the initial post is that it needs to be warm/hot climate so that we can have a pool. People have pools in Chicago as well, but they're uncommon and only open for a brief part of the year.
btenny
Posts: 5587
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by btenny »

You mention early retirement in your title but discuss home ownership. Please revise.

Yes Phoenix metro is a nice place to raise kids and live. But it is extremely hot for 4.5 months (June 1 to October 15) a year. Temperatures will not go below 85 (even at night) for weeks. People who work outside start work at 3-4 am and stop at 11-12. $400 summer electric bills are common. There are hundreds of neighborhoods to choose from in many different suburb towns. I like to point people to Google Maps for a nice overview. The green stuff is parks and mountain preserves. The blue streak is the mostly dry Salt River. See here

https://www.google.com/maps/@33.4272617 ... 495,10.54z

You asked about Ahwatukee, it sets south and east of the South Mountain preserve. It is nice area that is a part of Phoenix. So people in this area can go hiking and biking all over those mountains. Houses look at the mountains. Ahwatukee is also close to Chandler and Gilbert which are the technology areas of Phoenix. Intel and Google have a big presence there.

I am partial to the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley areas. I have lived there for 40 years. I look at the Phoenix Mountain preserves. I can bike and kike all over them when the weather is nice. But I snow bird since I retired and leave town for most of the summer.

https://www.google.com/search?q=phoenix ... tWpVCuM;mv:[[33.754652199999995,-111.9395988],[33.499782599999996,-112.1063411]];tbs:lrf:!1m4!1u3!2m2!3m1!1e1!1m4!1u2!2m2!2m1!1e1!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1

I suggest you rent a house with a pool and not buy a house and commit to Phoenix until you have lived here for a year or two. This will give you time to meet people and learn about the various towns and areas. The culture and people and life style are a lot different than the bay area.

Good Luck.
User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 16720
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by HomerJ »

Lee_WSP wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:03 pm I think the biggest thing people don't realize is that the city no longer cools off at night. While probably true in 1970/80 (I wasn't here back then), all the concrete and blacktop holds the heat in for hours. This phenomenon is worse in some parts of the city and is severely mitigated by the presence of trees, grass, pool, etc.
Maybe that's part of it. I live in a golf community in the suburbs (similar to what the OP is looking for), fairly far outside the city, away from concrete and blacktop. Nights cool off pretty well here.

I've read just having a pool in the backyard drops the temperature 10 degrees in the surrounding area. And, of course, you can actually get IN the pool if you really want to cool off.
A Goldman Sachs associate provided a variety of detailed explanations, but then offered a caveat, “If I’m being dead-### honest, though, nobody knows what’s really going on.”
Lee_WSP
Posts: 4797
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Lee_WSP »

HomerJ wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:28 pm
Lee_WSP wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:03 pm I think the biggest thing people don't realize is that the city no longer cools off at night. While probably true in 1970/80 (I wasn't here back then), all the concrete and blacktop holds the heat in for hours. This phenomenon is worse in some parts of the city and is severely mitigated by the presence of trees, grass, pool, etc.
Maybe that's part of it. I live in a golf community in the suburbs (similar to what the OP is looking for), fairly far outside the city, away from concrete and blacktop. Nights cool off pretty well here.

I've read just having a pool in the backyard drops the temperature 10 degrees in the surrounding area. And, of course, you can actually get IN the pool if you really want to cool off.
I don't know about ten degrees, unless it's a huge pool. But one thing might be that being next to a bunch of people with pools is going to simulate being next to a lake or small body of water.

The golf course definitely helps. All that grass holds a lot of water. Having a lawn in the backyard is similar to a pool IMO. It stores less water, but the grass regulates the temperature, I think of it like sweating for plants.
JohnBDB
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:51 am
Location: DFW

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by JohnBDB »

quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
A person asking for Phoenix is not going to enjoy Denver. Melts next day or not, Denver is very cold in the winter.
User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 3032
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by JupiterJones »

cbr shadow wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 1:03 pm - Both 37 years old
If you intend to live out your days there, the climate in Phoenix is definitely something you should think about--now just for today, but also 20 and 40 years from now.

As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions... especially about the future." That said, assuming a worst-case scenario, by around 2040-2060, Maricopa county is projected to see daily 95+ degree temps for over half the year. That could be coupled with higher humidity, so the whole "but it's a dry heat" thing becomes less relevant.

Even if the worst case doesn't pan out, you're still looking at things likely getting a lot less comfy there by the time you're in your 60s & 70s. Something to consider.
Stay on target...
Topic Author
cbr shadow
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by cbr shadow »

btenny wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:10 pm You mention early retirement in your title but discuss home ownership. Please revise.
I don't understand what I should revise. We want to early retire while simultaneously owning a home. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying because it sounds like you think those things are mutually exclusive.
Topic Author
cbr shadow
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by cbr shadow »

btenny wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:10 pm
Yes Phoenix metro is a nice place to raise kids and live. But it is extremely hot for 4.5 months (June 1 to October 15) a year. Temperatures will not go below 85 (even at night) for weeks. People who work outside start work at 3-4 am and stop at 11-12. $400 summer electric bills are common. There are hundreds of neighborhoods to choose from in many different suburb towns. I like to point people to Google Maps for a nice overview. The green stuff is parks and mountain preserves. The blue streak is the mostly dry Salt River. See here

https://www.google.com/maps/@33.4272617 ... 495,10.54z

You asked about Ahwatukee, it sets south and east of the South Mountain preserve. It is nice area that is a part of Phoenix. So people in this area can go hiking and biking all over those mountains. Houses look at the mountains. Ahwatukee is also close to Chandler and Gilbert which are the technology areas of Phoenix. Intel and Google have a big presence there.

I am partial to the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley areas. I have lived there for 40 years. I look at the Phoenix Mountain preserves. I can bike and kike all over them when the weather is nice. But I snow bird since I retired and leave town for most of the summer.

https://www.google.com/search?q=phoenix ... tWpVCuM;mv:[[33.754652199999995,-111.9395988],[33.499782599999996,-112.1063411]];tbs:lrf:!1m4!1u3!2m2!3m1!1e1!1m4!1u2!2m2!2m1!1e1!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1

I suggest you rent a house with a pool and not buy a house and commit to Phoenix until you have lived here for a year or two. This will give you time to meet people and learn about the various towns and areas. The culture and people and life style are a lot different than the bay area.

Good Luck.
All good points - thanks for the info!
bloom2708
Posts: 8762
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by bloom2708 »

Also remember, anyone from Phoenix replying will tell you it is "too darn hot!". "Stay away!". "It is miserable year round!". :D

(they don't want more people..sshhhhhhh). :o
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
FedFTE
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:36 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by FedFTE »

If you like living in the Fremont area and would like to have a replica without very high taxes and are willing to move east, consider Maryland, especially the Montgomery and Howard counties. Great schools, manageable RE taxes, and you can find a new house in a really good area for about 700K. Being suburb of DC, there is a lot of financial stability, high paying jobs in IT, government contracting, defense, etc. Weather is superb. You get a few hot summer weeks. Snowfall is about 12 inches per year, which is very manageable. UMD is a highly rated public university. I have thought about moving out of Maryland and after extensive comparison have realized that there are hardly any state in the US that can come close to all that Maryland has to offer.
squirm
Posts: 3461
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by squirm »

Just look at the climate graphs and charts to draw your conclusion, there's no bias there.
rockstar
Posts: 1819
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:51 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by rockstar »

bloom2708 wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 3:13 pm Also remember, anyone from Phoenix replying will tell you it is "too darn hot!". "Stay away!". "It is miserable year round!". :D

(they don't want more people..sshhhhhhh). :o
I'm in AZ. And the heat doesn't bother me. What will bother someone is when their change falls out of her pockets and they burn Lincoln onto their butt. :)

The heat isn't a reason to stay away. Right now, I'd stay away because housing prices are off the charts ridiculous. You're looking at 5x median salary for median priced home. You're looking at over 20x rent. The economics are awful right now. And with home prices up so much, I wonder how much my property taxes will go up next year. Now, if you want to come here and rent, that makes far more sense to me.

As other have mentioned, Queen Creek is super nice. It's like Canada south.

I'd avoid Scottsdale mainly because of the tourist and retired folk. Combine these two types of drivers, and it's a pain. You're also going to pay premium for a home there.

If you'd look at Queen Creek, I'd also look at Fountain Hills. It's pricey like Scottsdale but without the tourists. The foothills in Ahwatukee are also nice.

But as I said before, I'd rent right now.
Slacker
Posts: 942
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 8:40 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Slacker »

Finances-wise, Phoenix area is a great location for early retirement (low taxes, cost of living very reasonable).
Activity-wise, South Mountain is great and going up to Prescott, Sedona or Flagstaff gives you a little more variety of exploration but PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE MOUNTAIN TRAILS DURING STORMS!!!! (the flash floods up there are CRAZY). Plenty of reservoirs/lakes.

You are coming from San Francisco? The heat is going to KILL you! 90 degrees at 6AM, the coolest part of the day, in the summer. I felt like my lungs were going to burst into flames walking outside during the day in July and August. 110? Try 115 to 125. More likely to have several weeks that never get below 110 for the high temperatures. However, the winter weather is fantastic (and you can head to the mountains if you want a little snow).

Air quality is pretty bad when you are deep into the metro area. If you stay on the outskirts you can avoid much of the poor air quality, but South Phoenix will put you squarely in it. I know there are worse metros, but there are also much better metros for air quality with similar quality of life and overall cost of living.
Slacker
Posts: 942
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 8:40 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Slacker »

HomerJ wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:38 pm
Lee_WSP wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:30 pm
stan1 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:45 pm What is the state of the art yet affordable year round HVAC system in Phoenix? I'm guessing not many evaporative coolers and can a 2000 square foot house be kept around 81 in the summer for under $500/month? Gas furnace in the winter or a heat pump?

We were in Scottsdale a few weeks ago for a long weekend, real estate is crazy like everywhere else. TSLA/BTC cash outs, boomers not into zoom calls calling it quits, VHCOL cash outs, post-COVID restlessness, and so forth on demand side. Seemed like many houses even 15-20 years old just put on the market have been freshly flipped (cheaply updated whether by original owner or flipper) with 2021 gray interiors prior to listing.
EVAP coolers only drop the temp ten to twenty degrees and don't work when it's humid. Like after a monsoon.

You could keep a three thousand sqft house at eighty for three hundred a month or so. So a two thousand sqft house can be kept pretty chilly for five hundred.
I expect our electricity bills in the summer to be only around $250/month. That's for a 2400 square foot 1-story house kept around 76-77 degrees.

This is surprisingly cheap. Cheaper than our old house in KS for the summer (but the old house was twice as big and 3 stories).

It's so cheap that it makes it hard to justify solar, but we will probably get solar anyway.

We have a gas furnace for winter, but barely used it at all.
Nope, that isn't cheap. That is terrible, you should check into what you are doing.
User avatar
fishnskiguy
Posts: 2621
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:27 pm
Location: Sedona, AZ

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by fishnskiguy »

I beg to disagree with some posters. If you go to Phoenix in mid June, you will know in three to five days by staying at a nice motel with an outdoor pool if you can tolerate that level of heat for five months a year. Some can, some can't.

Chris
Trident D-5 SLBM- "When you care enough to send the very best."
goos_news
Posts: 143
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:14 pm
Location: Northern California/French Riviera

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by goos_news »

You can see the difference in weather statistics at weatherspark (add any other city for a comparison).
https://weatherspark.com/compare/y/1076 ... nd-Phoenix
Yes, your average highs in Fremont match the lows in summer time in Phoenix.

But feeling is believing. Try late July or early August, to see what happens when the storms or clouds roll in, and the humidity rises. You may thrive, like some others. But be sure to try it out.
IMO
Posts: 1421
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by IMO »

cbr shadow wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 1:03 pm My wife and I live in the Bay Area and have been aggressively saving for a while, with plans to hopefully early retire at some point. Below is some of our information:

- Both 37 years old
- (1) Child who is 6 months old, no siblings likely.
- Net worth around $1.4M, $700k of which is taxable investments or cash
- Income: $350k combined, roughly.
- Currently renting in Fremont, CA ($4,200/mth)
- Wife can work anywhere remotely, but needs access to a major airport
- Wife is the breadwinner, makes $220k roughly

Bay Area is too expensive for us to feel comfortable buying a house, although we do like it here a lot. The initial purchase price along with property taxes in CA would make early retirement much harder here.

What we like about our current area:
- Good culture (for us)
- outdoorsy stuff to do everywhere (cycling, triathlon groups)
- Nice weather although we would prefer a bit warmer and to have a pool.
- No mosquitos.
- Great schools

I've been looking for a "sweet spot" all around the US where we can find a place with medium cost of living, great schools, warm/hot weather and lots of sun (wife is affected by seasonal depression in gloomy chicago weather, which is where we're from originally).

I think Phoenix checks many of these boxes for us, in particular the "Foothills" area of south phoenix.
Upsides of that area:
- $550k can get you a very nice 2,200 sqft house with a pool and mountain views
- VERY low property taxes. In CA we would pay $1,200/mth in property taxes for a house we would find acceptable, compared to $350/mth in AZ
- Great school district (8/9 rating)
- Tons of sun
- Access to Phoenix downtown (for jobs, potentially)
- Access to international airport (Wife's job requires some travel)

The big downsides are probably:
- [OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
- Very hot summers (110 degrees) which of course is much hotter than we're used to in the Bay Area, and for much longer of a period. In Fremont we can get over 100 degrees but it cools a lot at night and only lasts maybe 2-3 weeks.

Any additional advice would be really appreciated. What are the upsides and downsides of living in this area (specifically Foothills area of south Phoenix)

Here's an example of the area and house type I'm picturing:
https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1750 ... 4893_zpid/
OP, I'll give some feedback on weather in this 1st post.

From a weather perspective, you are would be moving from what is one of the top year round weather locations. I've grown up in SoCal and have lived in a number of locations (including Phoenix with 2nd home), and including lived and/or very familar with locations that many offer up as alternatives to Phoenix to consider that are cooler (such as Flagstaff and other locations at elevations of 5-7,000 ft). There are compromises from where you are at now. Move to areas where they get even small amounts of snow (that may not stick around) and that means cold winters/late fall/early springs that are not really comfortable for many outdoor activities. Move to Phoenix and your obviously have to deal with very hot summers, all of which are not always dry heat (such as the summer monsoon season), although it's not to the level of other areas known for high summer humidity. Go to an outdoor night concert in August in Phoenix, and you'll be drenched in sweat. However, It's living in the supposed "mild/moderate" winter weather that personally gives me the desire to own a 2nd home to snowbird in the winter as desired.

As other's have said, you should make sure you visit in summer to Phoenix, since it's a short/cheap flight. Be sure to come in June (dry heat) and again in August (with some monsoon weather). I'm not sure if your just looking on paper at the weather or if you've come and visited? It's similar to Vegas if you've visited in the summer there.

But I do think you acclimate to the heat, especially as one gets older. I remember my spouse (when younger than you are now) saying she could never live in the Phoenix heat and her thoughts changed with a little time/experience. Water is very important. A nice pool backyard setup with a covered patio (misters are great) can make the 110 summer heat more enjoyable. Personally, don't even like to jump in the pool until it's over 100, and for kids having a pool in a place like Phoenix is a game changer.

I will say, I was used to the AZ heat before having lived there. It was common growing up in SoCal to drive out to places like Lake Havasu/Parker/Lake Martinez in the middle of summer to go boating. Very enjoyable to be in the "brutal" heat and in warm water. As your from NoCal, compare this to heading up to Lake Tahoe (beautiful lake), and while the water is sparkling clear there, it's hardly the same wakeboarding in the cold water of Tahoe compared to wakeboarding in an warm AZ lake in the summer. Sort of like going surfing in the warm waters of Hawaii in the summer vs. surfing with a wetsuit off the coast of SoCal in the summer, both great experiences, but the warmer water is really nice vs. the colder water even if it's mid summer. Even did a recent end of October AZ boating trip with some CA friends and man that was nice vs. being at home when things in October are getting quite cold.

Our immediate family often routinely left our nicer summer location that was significantly cooler to our 2nd home mid summer for things like 4th of July fireworks, to have our young child enjoy the various waterparks, swim all day in the backyard pool, and take the boat to the local lake. Again, believe it or not, despite the heat, these were enjoyable mid summer trips.

The Phoenix locals escaping the heat in the summer seem to head north. It's a relatively short drive to get to Sedona (at 5,000 ft) or to Flagstaff (at 7,000 ft). There are other mountain locations (Showlow/Pinetop) on the east side of Phoenix (it's a big city). The Grand Canyon and Lake Powell are a little farther out. Lots of outdoor things to do in these locations. These locations provide significant heat relief that comes with higher altitudes and a big big bonus is they are summer locations that get monsoon rains. Many people from CA have no idea about the regular summer monsoons which keep can drop the already nice temperatures significantly (but there is lightening risks), keep things relatively green (as opposed to CA dried out summertime brush), keep the air cleaned out(unlike what you get in NoCal fire summers), and most importantly the rains typically help to control summer fires (and there are many small lightening fires). I was shocked the 1st time I went to Flagstaff with the extensive Ponderosa Pine forest and the regular summer monsoons' (couldn't believe it actually rains in the summer, unlike CA!). CA mountains can get occasional thunderstorms, but it is nothing like what one gets in Northern Arizona. One can find a reasonably priced hotel in the summer for a quick escape or camp in the extensive forest. Most people in Flagstaff do not have AC at their homes and people from Phoenix even find that shocking.

Other areas I've known locals to escape with a "reasonable" drive is south to Mexico (Rocky Point), and out to San Diego to hit the beaches (but not until after July 4th once June gloom is passed at the beaches). Flights are available to nice summer destinations such as Hawaii, and being a little farther from the West Coast, one can entertain heading to the Caribbean vs. Hawaii as the flight time is better.

Schools seem to get out earlier for summer break than CA (end May) and go back early (early August). This would seem to also help keep the kids in a air conditioned environment during a significant part of the summer/early fall heat. It appears they acclimate well and practice sports as it cools in the evening from what I've observed.

1st time I worked in Phoenix in the summer, it was common for staff to wear sweaters to work because the buildings were kept so cold (and people acclimate). They would go outside to warm up!

Obviously, don't need to say much about the great winter weather. When I leave the cold for a winter snowbird trip, I think the locals just take for granted how nice it is to be able to go for a bike ride/hike or just sit in the back yard with the nice weather. If one does want snow/cold weather, then driving up to Flagstaff or Showlow area can provide a reasonable ski trip.

But again, your leaving a top year round weather location. Almost everywhere else has some compromise on the weather.
chipperd
Posts: 1059
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:58 am
Location: here and now

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by chipperd »

cbr shadow wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 2:50 pm
sls239 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 2:05 pm That 8/9 school rating pretty much only says that the children in the school rate 8/10 for socioeconomic status within the state of AZ.

And when you say the culture is different, please remember that your child will be growing up in that culture which will impact the opportunities offered and the behavioral norms and expectations.
I do understand those points, but what metric is better for understanding how good schools are in an area? The area we're considering has "award winning schools, some of the best in the state", have good ratings from "Great Schools". I'm not sure what else to consider. My statement about Bay Area schools being good are based off of the same assumptions.

The second part of your post sounds like you're saying there's less opportunity in Phoenix than other places - am I understanding correctly? That's a definite downside of phoenix if that is in fact the case.
I've only read up to this post and not sure how old OP's kids are, but as one who had worked in public schools for a large part of my 30+year career, once you narrow down to a few school districts, call up the superintendents office and as for:

Most recent SAT/ACT score average of the graduating class
SAT/ACT score averages over the last 5 and 10 years to see if there is a trend line up or down
Number of AP classes offered this past year, 5 years ago and 10 years ago
Percentage of students who take AP/early college experience classes
AP score average of most recent graduating class and more specifically, the percentage of students who scored a 4 or a 5
Trend in AP score averages, again asking specifically for percentage of students who scored a 4 or 5
What percentage of students are free/reduced lunch (No judgement here, it's just stats that show a strong correlation between household income and educational performance. Obviously everyone is an individual and plenty of kids from low income families wind up attending great colleges or have fantastic careers)
What percentage of kids attend private school in the district
What percentage of students are identified in their birth to 5 program(like the special ed comment below, you want a goldilocks number here)
What percentage of students are identified as special education (you want a goldilocks number here. To low relative to the national average could mean the district may not invest enough to help those who need it, to high may mean the district overly capitulates to litigious parents and pays for things like horseback riding camp in the summer).
Ask for a website where you can find teacher ratings (you might just be able to google this one)
Ask for contact info to reach out to the local PTA leader and perhaps speak to the board of ed chair to find out what needs he/she sees coming in the future and how the district plans to address (the equivalent of a blank stare to this one will tell you more than you need to know).
Watch a remote board of ed meeting or 2
Do half of these and you will get a great sense of each district.

On a side note, have you, OP, thought about renting for a year to see if you like the area once the above questions are satisfied? I've always thought renting when checking out a new area is a great way to see the "goodness of fit" prior to the commitment of a purchase.
"A portfolio is like a bar of soap, the more it's handled, the less there is." Dr. William Bernstein
jkhayc
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:56 am

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by jkhayc »

I assume you go by the same/similar name on ST?

The area you are looking at is not particularly good for your hobbies. We lived in Tucson from summer 2016 - summer 2019, and South Scottsdale from summer 2019 to spring 2021 (just moved to the southeast).

We were never worried about crime (in South Scottsdale), had all kinds of amenities within a short range, and it was a good (not great) area to do those same hobbies you do on that other forum.

The summers are brutal. Anybody saying positive things about it on here is just sugar coating it or delusional. Last summer it never dropped below 90, ever, for a couple of months straight. Brutal. The winters are extraordinary, but for 4-5mo out of the year it is mostly unpleasant. Being close to Flagstaff, Prescott, or Pine Top/Show Low is a valuable tool to offset the summer months.

Feel free to PM here or on that other forum to discuss anything more specifically, especially "hobby" related.
Colorado13
Posts: 1209
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:58 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by Colorado13 »

cbr shadow wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:11 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
I have family in Denver and like it in the summer, but can't deal with so much snow for so much of the year. It's sunny, but the snow steals from the joy in my opinion. My brother sent photos in late April this year after a blizzard, and had another one on the way. That is also not my idea of a good time.

It sounds like the heat is something I'm going to really have to experience. It's good to get so many perspectives on this forum! I guess we're back to considering southern california where money goes a bit further than the bay area, but property taxes are still very high.

Snow arrived in the Denver metro area yesterday. Not a lot of snow, however... But if you want heat and find spring snow to not be a good time, I wouldn't recommend Denver.
quantAndHold
Posts: 5717
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by quantAndHold »

JohnBDB wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 2:40 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 12:48 pm If you have not lived somewhere where it’s that hot, I would rent first. It’s a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Going running in the dark at 5 am because it’s *only* 95, and then hiding inside with the shades closed, running up the air conditioning bill, day after day after day, is not my idea of a good time.

I would look at Denver. A little more expensive, but still cheap by Bay Area standards. More interesting city. Livable weather year round, you’re not hiding indoors half the year. Lots of outdoor things to do all year.
A person asking for Phoenix is not going to enjoy Denver. Melts next day or not, Denver is very cold in the winter.
A person who lives in Fremont and likes it is going to find Phoenix very, very hot. Whether they can adjust or not is the question. I think a lot of people who are saying Denver is too cold or snowy are people who also think Denver is in the mountains. It isn’t.

Everything is a trade off. Once you leave the coast, you leave the coastal climate. Pretty much anyplace is going to either be too hot, too cold, or both.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
thedane
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:25 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by thedane »

If you can deal with the heat, Phoenix is a great place to live.

A few notes in no specific order:
  • Summers are hot, and the heat does often stay throughout the night/evening
  • Summers are getting hotter and longer
  • You can still do stuff outside in the heat if you know your body; I mountain bike in 115 degrees - drink lots of water before. Know when to stop riding. Is it fun? No, but I manage, and the scenery is gorgeous, and often trails are empty.
  • Get up early for things like yard work or exercising
  • Cost of living is relatively low
  • Solar panels do not always make sense - check with utility company for their absurd "solar pricing plan" they force you on when you are a solar generating customer (I do not have solar)
  • My 2,000sq ft house is older, 1950's, solid block construction. Added insulation, new windows, efficient AC etc. Max electric bill in summer is around $220. Often, newer houses are "poorly constructed" and will yield a higher electric bill.
  • We have amazing nature here, and great road trip getaways like others have mentioned. Forest, snow, rivers, lakes etc. All within 2 hours.
  • Lots of tech companies moving in
  • I personally prefer to be closer to "social life", so be aware that south side of South Mountain puts you a bit further away from the social scene. I'd prefer Tempe/Scottsdale/Arcadia Area - But pricing is also higher.
  • Schools are generally terrible. There are pockets of good schools, but be aware.
  • Housing market is crazy, like everywhere else. Be prepared.
  • We have amazing Mexican food.
  • Fall/winter/spring is incredible
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor is a great airport, big, but efficient. Very low chance of delayed flights due to weather
Reference: I've lived in Phoenix for 20 years, and haven't died from it.
rockstar
Posts: 1819
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:51 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by rockstar »

So I just walked to get my mail. It's 2p and 97 degrees.
D2C2K2
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed May 12, 2021 4:42 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by D2C2K2 »

My wife and I moved to Peoria, AZ (just northwest of Phoenix) from Anaheim, CA about 3 years ago. We had lived in southern CA our whole lives. We are both in our Mid-30s and (mostly) Boglehead minded. We moved out here for a wide variety of reasons, including potential early retirement, and have not regretted it.

Truth, it is hot during summer. But, I wouldn't say it is unexpectedly hot. 90 degrees with a slight breeze can have a chill in the air due to low humidity. It can get to 120, just stay inside on those days. Friends and family back in CA always say we should move back because of the heat in AZ... no way, if anything, it is the 30 degree nights during winter that are more surprising. For a CA transplant, drink lots of water, don't go out in the monsoons or haboobs/dust storms, buy a humidifier, and turn on the AC during summer. Get a house with a pool for summer and a hot tub for winter. No solar.

It is not difficult to find 9- or even 10-rated schools here. There are also tons of private schools.

The pace of life is way more relaxed than CA. People actually talk to their neighbors. Kids play in the streets and have block parties. State taxes are much lower. Housing is cheaper - twice the size and half the price! (prices going up in Phoenix and the suburbs). hiking and outdoor activities are amazing. Freedoms are greater. I could go on and on here.

The things that we miss are minimal. Weird things like foggy mornings, grass front and backyards, snails after winter rain (AZ gets most rain during summer).

In short, I literally registered for the forum to respond to this thread and encourage you to make the move! For us, moving to AZ came with no regrets and our lifestyle has been greatly increased because of it.

Best my friend.
IMD801
Posts: 159
Joined: Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:26 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by IMD801 »

Other than Phoenix being an objectively very hot, sprawling place, it's sort of hard to generalize. I lived in different areas of the Valley for several years and now live elsewhere. Some thoughts/opinions from my experiences there:

Good things: no ice to slip on, lots of sun, the Sonoran Desert can be beautiful, roads are in good shape mostly due to the weather, decent variety of areas/neighborhoods to choose from, some good Mexican establishments

Not good things: heat, tons of driving required, lots of A/C at home and in cars, not much culture overall, not many walkable areas, running out of water

Overall I think Phoenix would be a decent place to retire given the weather, reasonably good medical care, and moderately priced real estate

...

I like Tucson better. :happy
FlamePoint
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:45 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by FlamePoint »

Marmot wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 1:41 pm We have been in Phoenix since 1985. Love it. The first 2 summers are tough, after that....just hot. Seven months that absolutely beautiful. People usually end up suggesting something north (Flagstaff, Prescott). You asked about Phoenix and that is what replying to. The real estate is no different than most other places. Yes houses are selling fast. Last week we had a 2.2 million house go up next door. It was under contract in less than 24 hours.
This!

Moved here last July after living in a VERY rainy state for over 20 years. I’ll take heat over doom and gloom gray skies 10 months out of the year any day.

You’ll have to decide if you are going to embrace the heat in the summer or not. A home with a pool makes a HUGE difference. The heat doesn’t both us, and we just work our schedules around the worst of it in the summer. Morning and evenings are when we are most active June-September. Mid day we stay in air conditioning. The winter months are amazing!

AZ isn’t for everyone, however any advise you listen to should be from those who live here (or did recently) vs those who are just going by what they’ve read or heard about the area.
rockstar
Posts: 1819
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:51 pm

Re: Phoenix, AZ as an early retirement location? Advice please

Post by rockstar »

IMD801 wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 6:52 pm Other than Phoenix being an objectively very hot, sprawling place, it's sort of hard to generalize. I lived in different areas of the Valley for several years and now live elsewhere. Some thoughts/opinions from my experiences there:

Good things: no ice to slip on, lots of sun, the Sonoran Desert can be beautiful, roads are in good shape mostly due to the weather, decent variety of areas/neighborhoods to choose from, some good Mexican establishments

Not good things: heat, tons of driving required, lots of A/C at home and in cars, not much culture overall, not many walkable areas, running out of water

Overall I think Phoenix would be a decent place to retire given the weather, reasonably good medical care, and moderately priced real estate

...

I like Tucson better. :happy
Lots of culture here. But it's outdoor culture: hiking, camping, and backpacking.
Post Reply