There are any number of reasons that people find themselves moving to Arizona. A job, school, or family are some of the more popular reasons people move anywhere. The Grand Canyon state has a few other reasons that it attracts a lot of new residents each year.
1. Weather: Most of the state is a desert, offering sunny, warm temperatures during the day and cool nights. Expect more than 250 sunny days a year with just a few months of extremely hot temperatures. It beats the cloudy, dreary days experienced in most of the country and who wants six months of winter anyway?
2. Economy: Arizona continues to grow thanks to low property and business taxes that attract established businesses as well as new startups. It is also one of the top states in the country for entrepreneurs, both home-grown and imported.
3. Outdoors: Numerous federal and state parks, lakes, rivers, and forests make Arizona a great place to go outside. Tourists can gaze at the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and countless other attractions. Active residents can engage in just about any outdoor sport including hiking, fishing, rock climbing, golfing, skiing, snowboarding, hand gliding, boating, off-roading, cycling, spelunking, and even river rafting or tubing.
4. Retirement: The first three reasons on this list make Arizona an ideal place for people to retire. There are numerous retirement communities for active seniors to enjoy their independence and take advantage of all Arizona has to offer.
Whatever your reason for relocating, if Arizona is your new home, you need to take some steps to prepare yourself for what is likely to be a life-changing experience.
The first thing you need to understand is that Arizona has a varied climate. Most people think of the state as a hot, dry desert, but there are parts of Arizona that have true winter complete with cold temperatures and lots of snow. Some cities are near sea level while others are 4,000, 5,000, or even 6,000 feet in elevation. With changes in elevation and temperature come differences in rainfall, flora and fauna, and even risk of wildfires.
Since the largest population in the state is in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, including over a dozen cities like Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria, the rest of the article will focus on concerns held by those moving to the Valley of the Sun. Many of these also apply to those moving to Tucson and other desert cities like Tombstone, Yuma, Marana, and Nogales. If your new home is in Flagstaff, Sedona, Payson, or one of the other cooler parts of the state, adjust accordingly.
As you might expect, there is a good and bad time to move to the Arizona desert. If you can choose your own date, you might think that the fall or winter is the best time to move. Who wants to be unloading a moving truck in 100 degree weather, right? That is the very logic that makes it easier to move in the late spring and summer months.
Here are a few reasons why it’s better to move in the warm months:
- Moving companies and trucks are easier to find as demand drops.
- Traffic on city streets drops as seasonal residents, aka “snow birds” have fled to cooler climates.
- Availability of rental properties increases as students and snow birds have gone home.
- Cost of renting a moving truck or even renting a house drop as demand falls.
If you have to move in the cooler months, take all this into account and remember that while you are heading to a desert, you may have to drive that rental truck through snowy mountains passes or park it overnight in a hotel lot where temperatures can fall below freezing.
Any move requires figuring out things like where to live, how to turn on utilities, enroll your kids in school, get a driver’s license, register your vehicle and things like that. A quick web search can direct you to checklists and Arizona has plenty of official government and tourism websites that can provide you with the information you need for taking care of standard logistics.
There is more to it than how to pack a moving truck and when to turn on the cable and internet.
What does it mean to move to a desert?
- If you move off-season that means that afternoon temperatures will be above 100 degrees and may be as high as 120 degrees in some places. That means that the temperature in your car and in the back of your moving truck will be even higher.
- In high summer, monsoons can be a common occurrence. These are torrential thunderstorms that can cause flash flooding of streets, parking lots, and underpasses. There are also hundreds of washes in the desert, dry beds that turn into raging creeks and streams with almost no warning and overflow onto major streets.
- Along with monsoons come dust storms. While these can happen any time of year, they occur more frequently in the summer months and most monsoons are proceeded by an afternoon dust storm. If you haven’t seen news footage of the big storms barreling down on Phoenix and the surrounding cities, look it up online so you can be prepared.
- The desert is dry. While humidity rises in the summer, the air is much dryer than other places. Drinking water yourself and making sure children and pets stay hydrated is more important than you might realize.
Tips for Moving to the Desert
Here are a few tips for planning a move to the desert.
1. Plan to arrive/unpack in the early morning or late evening. This cannot be overstated if you are moving in the summer. Temperatures can hit 100 degrees by 11am and stay that way until 11pm. Dust storms and monsoon rains are more likely in mid-to-late afternoon and early evening.
2. Have climate-appropriate clothing on hand. If you’re moving from somewhere colder, darker, or wetter, make sure that you can change clothing before or on arrival. Loose-fitting, light-weight clothes are good. Sturdy footwear with thick soles (think how hot the pavement gets in 100 degree temps) is also important.
3. Travel with lots of drinking water. Enough for the trip AND the move-in. Unloading a truck in the hot sun will dehydrate you even faster, so make sure everyone keeps drinking water.
4. Use sun protection. Hats and scarves are good for keeping the sun off your face. Sun glasses are a must for protecting your eyes from the desert sun. And don’t forget the sun block. It will be your friend not just on moving day, but every day that you live in the desert.
5. Always remember the climate. As you unload your belongings, think about what is heat sensitive and light sensitive — anything that can melt will melt if you leave it in the truck to long or stage in the parking lot or driveway before putting it inside. If you are storing things in a garage or shed or putting it in a storage unit, keep the same caveats in mind.
6. Drink more water. Seriously. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke and dehydration are major concerns just living in the Arizona desert, let alone spending hours unloading a moving truck.
In reality, these tips apply whether you are moving to Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson, Flagstaff, or Prescott and whatever month your move occurs — with the exception of time of day. The entire state tends to be sunny, so protection from the sun is vital and dryness is also universal, so stay hydrated whether you’re in flatlands or up in the mountains.
The lessons you learn in planning your move, and executing it successfully, will serve you well as you adapt to daily life in the arid, Arizona climate. View all of our Phoenix area storage locations.
See the wonders of Arizona in this video:
state line photo by CGP Grey; Grand Canyon Photo by Grand Canyon National Park; Phoenix skyline photo by Alan Stark; dust storm photo by Ms. Phoenix; sunscreen photo by Robert S. Donovan — all via Creative Commons License