Courtesy Pulte Homes
Living in Tucson - 340 Days of Sunshine Beauty
The Tucson of today embraces a future full of promise and opportunity while paying homage to a past whose influence can still be felt. Tucson offers a beautifully diverse tapestry of cultures and experiences, with a heritage that stretches back beyond recorded history. Combine this with the Old Pueblo’s easy charm, add a dash of sophistication, and “cowboy up” with friendliness often found only in a small town, and the result is a city unlike any other. Many new to Tucson are pleasantly surprised to find this city of the American Southwest is home to so many different cultures. The different languages heard on the street reflect the global perspective of modern-day Tucsonans. Spanish is the primary language of one in seven living here, in deference to the city’s close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, while other languages commonly heard attest to the city’s “college town” status as the home of The University of Arizona.
Tucson’s high tech industry also seals the international deal by bringing in talent from all over the world to keep on top of cutting edge technologies. The result is a friendly and eclectic mix of cultures that complement and add to an already thriving arts scene: just listen to the local music scene, with its sounds of mariachi, country western, classical, reggae, rock and jazz filling the air to create a beautiful symphony celebrating the myriad of cultures here. Further evidence of Tucson’s cultural mix is in the cityscape itself, with its downtown of adobe buildings surrounded by modern buildings. The distinctly Southwestern styles of St. Augustine Cathedral, the Pima County Courthouse, the Veterans Administration Hospital and dozens of turn-of-the-century homes delight the eye and hearken to days gone past. Those who call Tucson home are often found outdoors, enjoying the city’s natural beauty, including the area’s 28,500 acres of parkland, outdoor exercise and recreation facilities, more than 30 golf courses, municipal parks, as well as bicycling, jogging and equestrian trails. Dozens of hiking clubs lead the way through the mountain ranges that surround the city, while softball, baseball and soccer leagues for all ages and skill levels abound.
Realtor Sharon Koch, who together with Long Realty Company real estate partner Dorina Dennerlein, has more than 20 year sales experience, believes Tucson’s natural beauty is the inspiration for residents’ attraction to the great outdoors. “We have the hiking trails, we’re surrounded by the mountains, and we have the desert. We are environmentally conscious here of what we have, and are trying to maintain what makes Tucson unique. “Koch says one of the reasons newcomers want to relocate to Tucson has to do with the city ’s unique approach to adapt to its surroundings, rather than making its environment adapt completely to human needs. Koch says that this has developed into a “best use” philosophy that is evidenced by the city’s ordinances. “The whole of the Catalina Mountains are part of the Coronado National Forest, for example, and we have other protected lands in the area, says Koch.” The land we can use for building is limited, and we want to make the best use of it. We’re pretty much built from mountain to mountain along I-10 and I-19. Our freeway is like a beltway around the city, and we don’t have highways that go through the city. Population-wise, we are almost a million strong, but we don’t seem like a big city because we are really spread out. And because we felt that it was important not to block views of mountains, the city’s laws state that builders cannot obstruct an existing structure’s view. As a result, you won’t find many huge buildings in our downtown.
Another perk to living in Tucson is on a clear, cloudless night the sky comes alive with the twinkling of thousands of stars. “Our night skies ae just spectacular,” says Koch. “We have light ordinances in Tucson –you can’t just put a whole lot of light into the atmosphere, and this is done to protect the viewing for our observatories, which are some of the best t to be found in the world. Because of the observatories, it’s important not to pollute the sky with light at night. Infact, if you’re driving to the city at night, you won’t even find t h e usual glow you find with other cities . ”Koch says that the city’s devotion to the environment is one of the main reasons many choose to relocate here.” When you move here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people from all over the world. People are friendlier here, and we have a very accommodating atmosphere.
We have 340 days of sunshine a year, so there’s always something to do here, and I think we’re less expensive than many other parts of the country.”
Finding a place to live is one of the most exciting experiences a newcomer to the Tucson area can have. With the help of a trained real estate professional, those new to the area can be assured of making an informed decision about one of the most important decisions in their lives: the purchase of a home. A knowledgeable realtor can help homebuyers make an intelligent choice about “location, location, location”, and select a community that will best suit the buyer’s needs and lifestyle. Realtors may be found through recommendations from friends, co-workers, family, or by contacting the local board of realtors to find a real estate professional in the area. Finding a realtor and becoming educated about the Tucson area and the amenities offered in the different neighborhoods will go a long way toward making the house-hunting experience an enjoyable one.
At 226 square miles, Tucson is more than four times the size of San Francisco, but its smaller population means while residents enjoy all the perks of a large city, they are able to navigate the territory with the ease of a small town. The variety of communities and housing designs means there’s a home here for every taste, lifestyle and pocketbook. Older, well-to-do neighborhoods such as El Encanto that were once on the outskirts of the city are now located in midtown. East Tucson offers established neighborhoods with mature landscaping and clear views of the Rincon Mountains. Many communities have sprung up around country clubs in the winding foothills of Tucson’s mountains, while new subdivisions on the city’s periphery offer energy. Tucson’s northeast side features large house-property lots and affordable family homes, while rural-style homes on bigger, open lots are found west side. “Homebuyers understand the tax advantages of owning a home,” says Linda Breckenridge, a Realtor with Long Realty Company and a native Tucsonian. “
A Realtor can help educate a homebuyer quickly, so there are no hours and days spent driving around trying to get to know a new city. As an agent, I can narrow down the choices, and when newcomers arrive, they will already know what they want to see, whether they want an older area or a new community, or what the neighborhood schools are like. ”When it comes to selecting he perfect home, it all comes down to the individual buyer’s particular set of circumstances that will most affect the decision of where and what to buy. While single-family homes are readily available in Tucson, today’s buyers want to know all the options available to them. Duplexes, townhomes, condominiums and zero-lot line homes are available to those who want to choose a particular style of home or homeownership that suits their needs best. To select the best housing option, prospective buyers need to have a realtor that is knowledgeable about the differences in ownership. Single-family homes, condominiums, and zero-lot line homes are built on individual lots with surveyed and plotted boundaries. Depending on the development, these homes may be subject to certain legal rules and restrictions regarding the physical specifications of the home, including later housing alterations made to the home. Like single-family homes, zero lot line homes are built on individual lots, but have little or no yard and therefore no yard maintenance. Instead, these homes offer their owners small terraced areas or patios they can choose to landscape.
Two attached single-family homes on one lot are considered a duplex, and give residents options to use one of the property’s homes for rental property. Townhomes are one- or two-story homes constructed in rows that share sidewalls, with unobstructed front and back entries and small lawns or patios. (Often, townhomes are constructed as two story homes to avoid a “bowling alley” feeling in the design. Condominiums offer a homeowner even less outdoor upkeep: while the homeowner is responsible for indoor maintenance, the exterior of the dwelling is the responsibility of a management company appointed by the homeowner’s association of the condominium complex.
Some homeowners look forward to hours spent on puttering in the yard, while just picking the Sunday newspaper up off the lawn is the most outdoor home maintenance other homeowners want to do. Whereas it used to be that single-family homes were the predominant choice among homebuyers, many now want homes that will accommodate busy work and recreation schedules. Those making home purchases include busy executives, empty nesters and students who don’t want the responsibility of yard work and prefer to let the homeowners association take care of it. “We have students moving here, as well as business people, and we are very popular with baby boomers. When people have very busy schedules, they want to spend their off-time doing something fun, and for most people, that idea of fun doesn’t include yard work,” laughs Breckenridge. “My job as an agent is not just finding the perfect house –I want clients who chose to live in a community to know that about the lifestyle there,” says Breckenridge.
“The University of Arizona is among the country’s top twenty research universities, and plays an important role in attracting and supporting local business. The largest private employer in the area is Raytheon Missile Systems, which develops tactical and strategic defense missile systems. Tucson’s defense and aerospace sector is further enhanced by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, located on the city’s southeast side. Other major employers include the reservation center for American Airlines and GEICO, while high-tech companies such as Sunquest Information Systems, Intuit, AOL, IBM, Bombardier and Texas Instruments. Health care, one of Tucson’s original attractions, continues to draw people from around the nation and provides thousands of jobs. Tucson has ten hospitals, and the University of Arizona has the only medical school in the state. Many of the physicians who treat patients here are known throughout the world as the best in their particular specializations. Tucson is also known to those who seek a more holistic approach to their health, with several internationally known health and spa retreats and alternative health care centers, such as Miraval and Canyon Ranch luxury resorts in the Catalina Foothills. “People who move here are pleasantly surprised by what they find here,” says Breckenridge. “We’re just friendly here. And for m any people it’s the weather and the lifestyle that is the biggest change. It’s so sunny here, and you can do so much more outside than you can in other communities, so outdoor living here is very different.”
“There’s a misconception that it’s horrible and hot all year round, when the truth is that while we do get high temperatures in the summer, our temperature drops at night,” Breckenridge continues. “I know we’re not as green and lush as other areas, but there’s an appreciation of the desert that those who live here enjoy.” Breckenridge says another plus to living in Tucson is that when residents are in the mood to get out of town, they can completely change their surroundings quickly and easily. “If you want to go play in the snow, you can visit Mount Lemmon in 45 minutes, where the plant and animal life matches that of Canada,” she says. “We’re only about six hours to San Diego and the ocean and about an hour to the U.S.-Mexico border itself. You can also quickly access Flagstaff and go skiing if you want to. “But the real pull to live here is the exceptional beauty of the desert and the mountains.
“I think the beauty of our mountains is what attracts people,” says Breckenridge. “The scene here is so serene and beautiful, and we have absolutely incredible sunsets, and when the sun goes down over the mountains, the colors change from purple to pink to orange –it’s just breathtaking.”
Breckenridge advises those who decide to make the move to Tucson to take the time to do the research to make sure their move to their new home is a successful one. “Take a tour of different areas, and take a look at price ranges and amenities. Make a list of properties and communities in the north, south, east and west,” she advises. “Don’t look at just one neighborhood –get a feel for the different areas and be sure you use an agent that is very knowledgeable about our city. You want to be sure that you know everything that your neighborhood in Tucson has to offer.”