An HONEST Review of Tucson, Arizona

in #life5 years ago

For someone from the Midwest, Arizona is a vacation destination. When I first moved here that is what it felt like. There were all kind of mountains to climb and different things to checkout. It was awesome and the sun was almost always shinning. Over the years the advantages and disadvantages to Tucson, Arizona in particular have become more clear. Hopefully with this writeup you can get a better idea about what it is like in Tucson and confirm or disprove your perceptions of this area.


I'm sure you have probably heard it is hot here. It does get very toasty in the summer. Usually right before the monsoon season there is some blistering heat which is above 100 degrees. It is my personal opinion that the best times of year in Tucson are in March / April and in October / November. It will be sunny and not to hot and not too cold. In general I can deal with the weather here. Also one fact that a lot of people don't know is that the mountains around here are over 9,000 ft high and there is even a ski resort on Mt. Lemmon which is on the North side of Tucson.

As far as hiking and other outdoor activities are concerned Tucson is an amazing place. There is rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and hiking. I feel that Tucson is far superior to the Phoenix metro area from the outdoor sportsman perspective.

For sports spectators the main show in town is the University of Arizona. The Arizona Wildcats have across the board been very success in the NCAA. It really just depends what you want to watch. If you want to watch professional sports at the highest level you are mainly going to have to go to Phoenix. MLB spring training used to take place in Tucson but all the teams left for the Phoenix metro area years ago and the Tucson market has had a hard time keeping minor league baseball teams here. There have been Triple A, Double A, and independent league teams here but have all had a hard time bringing large crowds. Going up to Phoenix to watch and NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL game isn't a big deal though so you still have access to that.

As far as the night life is concerned it is honestly pretty good in my opinion here in Tucson. You have this mix of a city and a college town here and the main area to go out is pretty consolidated with 4th Avenue and downtown within walking distance of each other. There are for sure a lot of hot women here between the University and the women who are local. Friends who have visited from other parts of the country are impressed with it as well. I have a friend from Santa Clarita, California and he is impressed with Tucson's nightlife and the attractiveness of the women around here as well.

As far as the job market goes that is where Tucson falls ways short. There are three main pillars that are the support of the Tucson economy. Raytheon which is a military contractor, The University of Arizona, and Davis Monthans Air Force Base. It is very hard to get employment at Raytheon because you typically have to get security clearance. So let's say you are in IT or are an engineer and you are pretty equivalent to another candidate. You don't have clearance and they do. guess who is getting the job? NOT YOU! Also you have to be OK with working in an environment where you are supporting or designing missile systems that will ultimately be dropped on someone's head over in some other country. That really doesn't interest me to be honest with you. The majority of people working at Davis Monthans Air Force Base are in the military so that doesn't apply to me. That leaves the University which is a beautiful campus but if you are staff there it doesn't really pay that well and only really makes a lot of sense if you are taking classes there or have kids who are in school. I used to work there and every other person who I have talked to that works there or has worked there agrees that most of the time everyone is just slacking off and is putting in about 40% effort. Most of the time there aren't hard deadlines and you won't be under the gun to get something done like you would be in private industry. So if you want a lower paying job that is not too hard with a lot of very hot eye candy walking around all over the place that might be an option. Some people find their spot here in Tucson. There is a guy I play basketball with who is originally from California and is an Anesthesiologist. He mainly works with kids and loves the job and thinks Tucson is great because the real estate is relatively cheap compared to California. Real estate is worth a lot less here than in California but it is mainly a product of the fact that Tucson is a low wage city in general and a poor job market.

Tucson would be amazing if somehow you found a niche where you were making a lot of money in this market or if you were able to work remotely from here. Those situations are rare but I have even seen people who will commute to San Francisco from Tucson because it is cheaper to buy plane tickets, get rental cars, and stay in hotels and just live in Tucson rather than deal with the extreme housing prices in San Francisco. That plan would probably work better out of the Phoenix metro area because flights are way cheaper out of Sky Harbor in Phoenix.


Tucson has amazing weather and great outdoor activities, a great night life, beautiful women, and beautiful sunsets. It doesn't have the ocean or large lakes very close, it is more expensive to fly out of Tucson than Phoenix, and it isn't a major hub for anything. Ultimately it is a beautiful place with a relatively poor job market. It also isn't very business friendly either which is a big reason why there is a poor job market. In summary I feel like it is a good place to visit, go to school, or to retire. It isn't a great place to build a business or a career.

For those of you have been to Tucson, what do you think?

Thank you for viewing my post and please consider following me @brianphobos.


Tucson, a love/hate relationship? I can't tell? Are you considering Tucson for a move?

I live in Tucson right now. There are the good things about it but I'm just warning people that it could be a dead end place for a career or business if they are in IT or engineering. There are a ton of low paying call centers here.
If I was a million dollars liquid here I would love Tucson!

Why can't you get a clearance? Heavy drug user? The OECD estimates half of us earn income through crime ($1.2 trillion in taxable income annually slipping through Uncle Sam's fingers). Is that your issue? No problem keeping busy during the six months+ it took to get my clearance.

And oh, any school teacher saving 20% should have over two million for retirement.

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Thank you for adding me in!

every other person who I have talked to that works there or has worked there agrees that most of the time everyone is just slacking off and is putting in about 40% effort. Most of the time there aren't hard deadlines and you won't be under the gun to get something done like you would be in private industry.

doesn't that pretty much describe any government job?

Yeah that is probably true! lol

There are many workers with the "Mañana" (do it tomorrow) attitude exactly like there are everywhere but it is easier to find people here who'll work their butts off. I'm from Philly. Nearly a million have left. It now has the population it had over a century ago. The exodus is happening in NYC, Chicago, Detroit, and states across the country. Where are they going? California (as during the 1980s when it was run by Republicans)? No. People prefer Republican Texas and Florida. 1600 of the 1800 business that left Silicon Valley have gone to Texas (like Apple, Google, and Samsung). Tucson (and rent) has grown greatly this last year. However, America's #1 fastest growing city is Phoenix (another Republican stronghold). It has everything the author wants. Great freeways, big tech (beside Motorola and Intel, it is the capital for self driving software), and the same good weather. 19 of 20 people moving here tell me (quite loudly) they would never consider living there. They love Tucson. Much of NORAD was moved to Sierra Vista and govt money flows from there to Tucson - mostly to small contractors. Do you own a stereo? I have a half dozen Yamaha's. Every one has a made in Tucson Burr Brown / SONY chip in them. Much of Mars engineering is done here. I worked for a company that redesigned Hubble (it's the world's #1 location for optics - starting with the #1 optics program at the UA ... the Vatican's astronomer teaches there). I can be hiking in minutes no matter which direction I drive in. Due to the nightly scrubbing in those mountains, the air is cleaner than Phoenix. There is no better place for golfing (or bicycling) - 60 courses in the county. Seems Tucson, in truth, is the largest small town where we're all connected by just three degrees of separation (half normal). And oh, we have the world's best school system (private charters run by Basis) due to having the world's best Charter School laws (thanks to Lisa Keegan). If you love your children, you will move here and enroll them even if that requires making bombs for the military. Duh.

Been in Tucson two years now, ain't too bad cause I am a cheap guy and it is cheap city!

Don't think I would live here if my job didn't bring me to it though. I would like to live in a place where it's a bit greener and easier to grow things to eat.

Yeah you have to really fight the land here. I have an orange tree but that is the only thing I try to grow here. Coming from Indiana where everything is pretty easy to grow it is a lot harder here.

Hah! Indiana is on my short list.

I had a pool surrounded by 14 fruit trees (including a fig tree). No problem (except for pool cleaning). The pool took more water (from evaporation) than all of the trees combined.

Having stayed in the midwest for 2.5years (Kansas City, MO), I think anywhere else from midwest is a holiday. :-)

That is the feeling a person can have for sure wherever they are from. Even my friends from California didn't realize they had it so nice until they left for awhile and saw other parts of the country. Being away from Indiana I miss boating in July and August. I miss the fact that it is so easy to grow a garden, hunting mushrooms, and pick wild raspberries and blackberries.

Well said. We are creatures of habits unless one is born into a family of nomadic life.

I have been to Tucson MANY times and while don't think its the best place to live it is a lot better than most cities.
I agree with your points but ultimately it comes down to preference and family ties.

Yeah I agree. I feel that Texas where you are at is a way better place from what I have seen job wise and as far as being more business friendly.
Tucson is a pretty cool place for sure and I have really enjoyed a lot of things about it but I feel it is time to move on.

Oh yes, DFW is one of the best places to do business in the country!
No question about that. The weather is no where near as sunny or dry but that can be better for certain preferences. There are also NO mountains, hiking or good recreation for the most part. There are a lot of lakes.
Economy wise there are few better places for sure. DFW is also a HUGE city, Tucson is more like a big town.

I was impressed by DFW and I have been planning to move there for my resell business. Probably North of Dallas. Maybe Plano or someplace like that. I would miss the mountains but would plan on getting a boat to hit the lakes. Describing Tucson as a big town is pretty much spot on. It grew up but never really wanted to so it is kind of like a man baby. LOL

You all should be considering Phoenix. Tesla moved to Texas... and then to Phoenix.

I grew up an hour south of Tucson in Sierra Vista, my mom always lived in Tucson and we went back and forth visiting her (my siblings and I). As I young adult I lived there myself. You hit it on the nail. Great place to visit or retire but not to raise kids or have a family or career. Everyone works at call centers. It's dead end.

I did love it for the monsoon season, and the strange UFOs.

Yeah it it a call center nightmare here.

It's a call center capital, no weather related reason not to show up to work. In other words, Tucson is a weather heaven. It is also a capital for IT and engineering (what I did all my life - and did so well that I was able to retire at 42). But, it's mostly in small to medium companies (other than Hughes). Tucson has the best test scores at FREE Charters run by BASIS, where two thirds go to FREE Ivy Schools. Yea!

That's crazy you found that post after all these years. Hahhaha

The US cities with the highest crime rates: Albuquerque, NM, Memphis, Tennessee, and Wichita, Kansas ... but not Tucson. The top cities for car accidents are Columbus, OH, St. Louis, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Sacramento, CA (and pretty much anywhere in California). Not Tucson. We have these people called Snowbirds. They bring a lot of money - over ten times more than those under 55. It's why Costco is focused solely on making them happy. They're only here half the year. Perfect. You can rent your home to them for thousands per month (if you can move in with a friend). Great schools. The world's best test scores are in Tucson at FREE Charters run by Basis, where two thirds go to FREE Ivy Schools. My son, in the Foothills School District, was on a state winning chess team most every year and his team won nations about once every decade, starting in Kindergarten. Like Catholic schools anywhere, ours all have 100% graduation rates. There are LOTS of great education options. It gets to 100F in Philly and 100 people die. Tucsonans are never stupid when it comes to heat. I often say "true" Tucsonans are known for being emotionally connected to a blue sky that goes on forever and our religion about hydration. Philly recently went four days with NO power. Tucson has far better utilities. Wildlife. Lizards (and tarantulas) are common pets. Everywhere else I've been has worse mosquitos and flies (from Denver to New Jersey). The best chance to see a drunk student is in State College, PA (home to the best fireworks - a great place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there). Light on the freeways. For 60 years, it's taken over 45 minutes to drive 6 miles into Philly. You can always get from one side of town to the another other in under 45 minutes. More roads do NOT speed up traffic, they just increase the number of cars on the road. If you've a 30 minute commute (nobody I know) there are beautiful homes on the other side of town (in whatever direction that might be). Tucson is the very BEST place to live. I did so well in IT and engineering here that I was able to retire at 42. Yea!