Written by Sara Habib
COO at Airtreks
At the end of 2013, I made the decision to leave the Bay Area and move to Tucson. My job had recently closed our physical office space, making everyone’s commute virtual, and I could live and work from anywhere in the world. Here are the reasons I decided to come to Southern Arizona:
The Sonoran Desert is magical, cool, and unique.
If you have never been to Arizona, you have probably seen pictures of the tall, stately saguaros that are the defining feature of our desert landscape. But photos don’t capture the feeling of standing next to one of these incredible plants, which don’t even start to develop their distinctive arms until they are over 100 years old. These desert giants are only one of the incredible plants and animals that can only be found in this part of the world. There are hundreds of species that are indigenous to only this area, and it has become a passion and a hobby for me to learn about them and spot them in the wild.
The natural beauty of Tucson and the surrounding area is yours to explore when you make this your home. Since moving here I have made hiking out into the desert a part of my daily routine. There is something very magic and special about the landscape here. Enjoy chromatic sunsets, 75-degree-November-days, and watching the summer monsoon clouds pile up on the horizon on July afternoons.
It’s affordable to have a life here.
When I was living in the Bay Area, I couldn’t see myself buying a house, or owning a car, or saving for retirement. Most of my money went to rent and food and daily life. I was stressed out about money all the time.
In Tucson, I can afford to buy a house and a car with the same salary. I can shop for organic groceries at the Co-Op on 4th Avenue and still have money left over to save for a vacation.
Having more disposable income here has helped me enjoy my life more. I feel like I’m contributing positively to the local economy. Moving here was a great financial move for me and my family.
There are great options to work and play.
While getting out into the desert is still my number 1 way to enjoy and explore Tucson, there are a lot of other things the “Old Pueblo” can offer.
In non-covid-times, there’s great live music and fun gatherings downtown. Tons of local shops and specialty businesses have flourished here. If you like cycling, there are 100 miles of bike path for you to enjoy in The Loop.
I’ve been able to network professionally and make friends easily through volunteer groups and connection opportunities. I’m a member of the Junior League of Tucson, which focuses on women’s development and volunteering, as well as Tucson Young Professionals, which offers great opportunities to network, learn, and connect to what’s going on locally.
Tucson is also a great base to explore Arizona, Mexico and the Southwest. A 3 hour drive can find you sipping a margarita on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, or swooshing down a ski slope in the White Mountains in central Arizona, or channeling your inner yogi at a vortex in Sedona.
Small-town feel with big city accessibility
Tucson has over a million residents, but it still feels like a small town in some ways. It’s a place where it feels like anything is possible and you can build your life/business/whatever exactly how you dream it.
One of the things I did to take advantage of this type of environment was to start a nonprofit theater festival, Tucson Fringe. In fact, I did this before I even moved here! My co-founder and I have since turned the festival over to a permanent Executive Director and Board, and the yearly event has only grown from there.
If you have something you have always dreamed of doing, Tucson is an incredible place to be an entrepreneur or to build a network.
And, Tucson is close to other big cities if you are feeling the need for a larger crowd or more big-city activities. We’re 90 minutes from Phoenix, 8 hours from LA, and 6 hours from San Diego.
Full disclosure, I am what is affectionately referred to as a “boomerang”-- I grew up in Tucson, moved away for a while, and then came back. My siblings have continued to make their life elsewhere, but my parents are still in Tucson. Moving back gave me the added benefit of being close to them. I’ve seen a few friends in my peer group do the same. We all spent years in New York or San Francisco or LA, but ultimately got pulled back home for many reasons (it was really missing the desert for me!).
I’ve also seen other friends move here and then draw their family to them as they built their life here. Siblings and parents moving to town is a common theme for young professionals like me-- they see how good we have it and they want to get in on it too!
I hope learning about me and my decision, and reading this list helps you decide if Tucson is the right move for you. I love it here and would love to see the city grow with other young virtual workers. I think this is a great place to build your life, build your home, and build your passions. Come join us!