Last Updated: 23-JAN-2018
This trip had two purposes, a vacation and to check out the area for possible relocation in a couple of years.
As usual we took Southwest Airlines non-stop from Baltimore to Las Vegas and had no issues and got in early. Picking up the car from Alamo was not that easy as Las Vegas had some street construction between the airport and the car rental area so the line was quite long for the shuttle bus and this delayed us close to 30 minutes. I always rent a 4x4 SUV but I am finding that the people at the desk do not know what vehicles are four wheel drive or all-wheel drive or two wheel drive so we had to really look at the vehicles in the garage before we selected one. Ended up getting a 4X4 jeep SUV which worked out in the end. Returning the vehicle was easy and the construction delays did not seem to affect the return trip.
AREA RESEARCH AND THE DECISION - (This was written in JUN 2016 after our final relocation trip to Tucson, AZ)
After close to a year of researching THREE areas for possible retirement relocation, we decided to take a trip out to southwest Utah for a week of looking at it from the relocation perspective.
Those of you who follow my trips and where we have discussed relocation you may find that these final trips surprising. First it was Florida and Costa Rica. Well, Costa Rica was an early retirement destination but now being only 3 years from my age / serviced based retirement (MRA) I don't need to consider the early aspect anymore.
I follow Costa Rica every day in "google alerts" as well is a couple of local English only papers and I am not liking what I am seeing from a major increase in crime to property squatting issues. Another negative with Costa Rica, I would have had difficulty in taking various weapons down for our relocation legally. Sure, we will take vacations and rent homes again in Costa Rica but at this point in our lives, looking at it for a long term residence will not occur.
So to our Florida decision as we have vacationed in the Marco Island / Naples, Florida area a number of times and we really like the area. We now feel that we would grow board with the region within a few years. Sure, we like cruises but, what is the difference in flying vs. driving ? Also, even if we live out west it's only a couple of hours longer on a non-stop flight from Las Vegas or Phoenix to Ft. Lauderdale vs. flying from Baltimore so I don't see an issue. Another major problem with SW Florida is storms and insurance costs. The big one will eventually come and I really don't want to be a participant. This summer (2015 and 2016) was wet in SE Pennsylvania and the mosquito population was very robust and it got us thinking that we would have to deal with that year round in SW Florida. Sure, our house would have a lani but, still, it's just another nuisance to deal with. The final realization on living in Florida came in the consideration of the "dead end" factor. We are very active and we would quickly exhaust the recreational activities in the general area. Looking at the closest mountains from SW Florida (Ashville, NC) it's a 15 hr. drive and we have already explored that area of Western North Carolina.
The THIRD area we are looking at is the Vail / Eastern Tucson, Arizona Metro area. I see some drawbacks of the Tucson area such as increased crime (select neighborhoods like most areas) and the concern with Mexico being 60 road miles away.
We recently went out to the Tucson area for 10 days in APR/MAY 2016 and again in teh fall of 2017 to give the area a good look. I lived in Arizona back in 1984/1985 and was impressed with Arizona.
SO WHY ST GEORGE
Overall we were very impressed with the entire area as it quickly felt like it could be home.
The weather - As I get older I like it hotter and I hate winter. So, this area has excellent weather when you look at the southwest. Yes, it goes over 100 in the summer but it cools off at night more than low desert areas like Phoenix. Yes, it does get snow but its quickly gone and being retired I have no place I need to go anyway. In the summer if I want cool areas, I have a number of places within 2 hours where I can get over 9,000 feet so I can find 70's day and 40's at night even in July. Also, where we are looking is more of a desert landscape so no fires in the local area to deal with. Update - I watched the weather over winter 2015-2016 and it was a bit cooler than I want.
One thing that I am worried about is that you really can't go north of this area in the winter. Lots of snow within miles. So, we would explore the deserts to the south and west during the winter months.
Urban problems - After living with all the drama of Baltimore along the route that I commute and where Mary works, I want to live in a very non-urban area. St. George is one of the most conservative, no-urban-problem areas in the country. Enough said.
Crime - None. While driving around Kayenta development in Ivins, UT we heard that crime is non-existent. We will travel a good bit and this is a concern near where we live now.
Guns - Extremely friendly. Virgin, UT actually had (has) an ordinance that required a gun in every residence. Pennsylvania is a gun friendly state but it's becoming surrounded with liberal states so it's only a matter of time before it falls. Driving on BLM land we saw a number of people out enjoying shooting in the desert and we even encountered an individual shooting a suppressed 50 call bolt action. So, its wide open.
LDS - I am not Mormon and generally not religious but I have many beliefs that are similar to the Mormons such as working hard, self-reliance, Ancestry, keeping your property neat and clean so I am sure we will have no issues.
Medical & Travel Its only 2 hrs. back down to Las Vegas so it's not far to medical specialists if needed as well as an airport that will go almost anywhere we wish to travel with Southwest Airlines via a non-stop flight.
TRAFFIC / POPULATION DENSITY - This may be bad as the area is expecting tremendous growth.
TOWN - Clean, has what we need shopping wise. Easy to get around.
HIKING - Unlimited and varied to easy day hike to multi-day backpacking year round.
NIGHT SKY - Very dark and Kayenta area being on the west side of town would have excellent night skies for astrophotography.
EXPLORING - Not many metro areas in the country have so much to do within minutes of the town. We never felt that we were competing for opportunities. Also, being retired we would do our exploring during the week and stay close to home on the weekends.
ST. GEORGE LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS - A bit worried about taxes in Utah. Its a large family reality so they need schools and infrastructure. Having no kids I don't want to support this, and concerned that I would get screwed like I do in PA with a high school tax. Something we need to research.
HOUSING CONSIDERATIONS - This is where I see a big problem in comparison to Tucson, AZ area. We looked at the Hurricane / St. George area and generally speaking we only liked Kayenta as we don't want to be close to other houses. We want a pool and this limits us here. Right now I am looking at 50+ homes in Tucson metro area compared to a couple in Kayenta. Also, the price point difference is a concern. We are talking in some cases 300-400K difference for a similar house. It's something we are really looking at. Like Tucson we are looking at three distinct types of homes. remote with acreage (30+ acres), semi-rural with less than 10 acres and in a plan with less than an acre. Our health and desire to maintain property will dictate what we go after.
SO WHAT IS NEXT AND OUR TIMELINE - (UPDATE JAN 2018) I could possibly early out or go deferred in the fall of 2018. Depends on a couple of variables and if my commute drives me insane (which is a very good possibility). Mary is already eligible but it's in our best interest for both of us to stay till mid 2019 if no early outs. So, our timeline follows our best retirement time which is summer of 2019 - less than 1.5 years from now. Another variable with Mary, is Baltimore as long as it remains semi-safe she will work. Also, her office may undergo some changes so that could make her go earlier.
Our house - as some of you know we have done an amazing amount of renovations to it in the almost 16 years we have lived here. Yes, I built it as our retirement home where we would spend our winters where its warmer but, we feel that it may be time to move on. We were going to do this anyway so why not do it when we are younger and have more energy to explore. So, over the next 3 years we have a few projects to complete - Kitchen, front walks, part of rear patio walk. Sheetrock & main garage, basement and finish master bedroom. Everything we can do and having an end date gives us a goal and allows us not to spend too much on any one of those projects. Heck, after this trip we have changed our goals and getting things done around here is the new normal.
All photos were taken with a Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera (white date) and some photos & videos were taken with a Motorola Moto-X 2013 version.
Night shots and some video was shot with a GoPro Hero 4 Silver camera. (Red date)
For a detailed description of the Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera setup I am using, visit my Camera Page
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