Best places to live in the Southwestern USA

Sat 6 Aug, 2005 03:50 pm
I know there are some people on A2K who are from this region of the country, and I wondered if you guys could tell me what it is about where you live that drew you to it, and what it is that you like, dislike, etc., about where you live.

Albuquerque intrigues me for some reason. I have never been there, but I have always had the impression, for no real reason, mind you, that this is a place where people go to escape. A place for loners and people who want to be left alone. A place for weirdness. Am I off-base on this?

And what about Vegas? Phoenix? San Diego? El Paso? What about the rest of the area? How is the economy looking? How are the people? How's the nightlife? I'd love to hear anything you'd like to share. Thanks.
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Stray Cat
Sat 6 Aug, 2005 04:28 pm
Well, I've always lived in the Northeast, and have never travelled out west. But I have a cousin who grew up in Florida, then moved to Park City, Utah. He's very successful and Park City is a pretty ritzy town. He likes it there pretty well.

But he's travelled a lot -- all over the country, even all over the world. And there are two towns in particular out west that he really likes. One of them that you mentioned, is San Diego. I think he just really likes the weather there, very beautiful and temperate all year round. Sounds like it's a very nice city too.

But there's one place that he's always raved about, and that's Sante Fe, New Mexico. From what he's told me, it's a beautiful, very interesting, very cool town. I've heard a few others say the same thing about Sante Fe.

Sorry, I can't be more informative. But, I'm guessing that Albuquerque is probably like a lot of large cities anywhere in the country, probably kind of nondescript. I guess it depends on what you're looking for. Sounds to me like Sante Fe is the type of place that's more unique, has more of a character all it's own.

Anyway, my cousin has said that if he ever moves, he would move to Sante Fe or San Diego. He said he would never move back east. He hates all the traffic, the crowds, the conjestion of the big cities here. For the same reason, he has said he would never move to L.A. either. He's the type that likes to have some space around.
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Stray Cat
Sat 6 Aug, 2005 05:53 pm
(strolling back in with tail in the air....sitting down)

Hi. I'm back...I just realized something.....

A place for loners and people who want to be left alone. A place for weirdness

umm.....are you alright, Kickycan? That one line sounds a little forlorn.

Of course, I don't know you....but I've never gotten the impression that you are someone that wants to be left alone. You've always sounded like more of a people person.

...are you sure that is what you want? Just askin'...
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Sat 6 Aug, 2005 07:22 pm
San Diego: probably the most livable city there is.
Average median age: around 35 years,
population 1,3 million San Diegans (without counties)
weather: perfect, all year round, no humidity and rarely
above 80 F in the summertime
economy: predominately white color industry (small bio tech
firms, Qualcomm, facilities of Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, military,
and a huge service industry)

Housing isn't cheap, but the property tax is only 1 % due to
Prop. 13 (Howard Jarvis). Rents are expensive, but not
comparable to Manhattan.

Here are some info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego
and don't forget to look at the attractions.
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Sat 6 Aug, 2005 08:08 pm
As someone moving to albuquerque shortly, I will listen with you. I am moving there because I can afford it, I have some friends there, and... it is a real place, with a real history. Well, every place is real, but I mean a place I can get interested in and am already interested in from the bits I know.

Unfortunately this evening some folks from there are off having fun and are unlikely to answer immediately.

I also love Los Angeles. This is not usual, at least among folks up here in north north. But I can't afford it in my old environs, and it is fairly stressful just to drive a few blocks to my old grocery store (I just visited a few weeks ago.) Walk? You kid. The intersection between my old house and my grocery store is an F intersection, as in the worst traffic. A woman with a bag of groceries trudging ten blocks would be quite the unusual sight, and yes, I've done it.
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 12:16 am
Stray Cat wrote:
(strolling back in with tail in the air....sitting down)

Hi. I'm back...I just realized something.....

A place for loners and people who want to be left alone. A place for weirdness

umm.....are you alright, Kickycan? That one line sounds a little forlorn.

Of course, I don't know you....but I've never gotten the impression that you are someone that wants to be left alone. You've always sounded like more of a people person.

...are you sure that is what you want? Just askin'...

Actually, that was just me telling the people here what my impressions are of that city. But from your response to it, I can see that you are madly in love with me and would like to build a life together.

All I can promise is that I'll think about it. I ask you to be patient. One day our time may indeed come, my little kitty cat...
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Merry Andrew
Sun 7 Aug, 2005 04:28 am
Albeturkey -- the name says it all. People move there not because it's a cult sort of thing but because rents are dirt cheap compared to anyplace in the Northeat or the major metropoli of the Midwest and W. Coat e.g. Chicago, San Fran, or the larger cities of the Rust Belt. Once you've gone to the tourist trap of Old Albequerque, you've seen all there is to see. But it's OK. You can get right on I-40 and it'll take you further west to Gallup which, at least, has Navajos walking the streets. Or, take I-25 north to Santa Fe [q.v.]

Dallas-Fort Worth -- Of the two, I'd opt for Ft. Worth, not Dallas. Dallas has a bunch of high-rise buildings, every one of which looks like it was made out of tinfoil. Scary. Dpwntown Ft. Worth, around Sundance Square, at least looks like it's the southwest. And some good restaurants in the Stockyards district.

Houston -- Houston isn't Texas. It's waaay too much like L.A. I think they misplaced it; it belongs in Louisiana.

El Paso -- El Paso is an army town. Period. What charm it might once have had has been long ago obliterated by its very close proximity to Fort Bliss. If you ever find yourself there, do the right thing: cross the bridge immediately into Juarez, Mexico. Like all tourists, you'll get taken for a ride, but it's worth it. Find a restuarant called La Florida. Next door is Benny's Liquor Store. Tell 'em I sent you.

Tuscon -- Tuscon has some class. Not much, but some. The interesting stuff is just outside of the city -- the San Xavier Mission, built in the 1720s and still intact and still run as a Catholic church for the Papago Indians; Saguaro National Park where you'll see cactii 15 feet tall and taller; a very interesting zoo that has only animals indigenous to the area, etc.

Roswell, NM -- I've spent a lot of time there, under protest, I might add, and toeard my last stopover there was actually begining to feel fond of the town, the way one feels homessick for the slums one grew up in, say. Roswell's okay but after you've visited the UFO MUseum, there really isn't much to do.

San Diego -- I never contradict a lady, so I'll let Calam's chamber-of-commerce recommendation stand. I don't really consider the Pacific Coast part of the Southwest, though. You need deserts and canyons to qualify.

Yuma, AZ -- the hottest hellhole on earth. The only reason there's a town there is because at one time -- before they built a dam -- it was the only place where the Colorado River not only had water in it but actually be forded.

Lessee, where else is there. I like San Antonio. Riverwalk, despite its tourist-trap phoniness, is a really fun place to meander, dine liesurely al fresco and go for a barge ride on the canal.

Never been to Pheonix.

Salt Lake City -- only place on earth where I actually got cited for jaywalking. Never paid the fine. I think there's still a warrant out for me there. The only thing to recommend the city itself is its proximity to Bryce Canyon, which is well worth a visit.

Oh, yeah. Santa Fe. That's the NM state capital. It has its charm, I'll admit. But the last time I was there, the Indian market and the whole plaza scene had become sort of Disneylandish. And, of course, the prices on everything have gone up as well. If you're into religious architecture (or anything else to do with religion, for that matter), Santa Fe has the oldest church ever erected on the North American continent outside of Mexico. Pure adobe, built by Indian slaves imported from Mexico before Boston or New York were even settled by Europeans.

Speaking of 'Disneylandish', stay away from Tombstone, AZ. I was there a dozen years ago and loved it. It was a frontier town like you see in the Western movies, except that it was authentic. I mean, this is where the gunfight at the OK Corral actually took place, right? And the Oriental Saloon is where Doc Holliday dealt Faro. I went back last year and the place is an abomination. The Oriental Saloon sells souvenirs made in Taiwan. You have to pay to see the OK Corral and they even re-stage the gunfight for the truly demented. It's an amudement park that only a five year old could even stomach.

Now, Lincoln, NM, is of a different order. The town where Billy the Kid killed a few people in a few street fights hasn't been "developed" yet. The smart promoters have yet to move in. The town looks pretty much like it did in 1881 except that the main street is paved now. The old courthouse, from which Billy the Kid escaped after gunning down two deputy sheriffs, is maintained by the Arzona State Parks Dept. as a museum and tourist info center, which, under the circumstances, is appropriate. I shudder to think what will happen when the folks who ruined Tombstone discover that there's a place they haven't fully exployed yet.

What else you wanna know?
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Merry Andrew
Sun 7 Aug, 2005 04:34 am
I refuse to edit my typos.
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 06:25 am
San Diego is in California, California is not in the southwest. No part (worth mentioning- especially El Paso) of Texas is in the southwest. Santa Fe, New Mexico is a hollywood studio movie set, it's entirely made of chicken-wire and paper mache painted to look like adobe. There are absolutely wonderful places in the southwest, I'm not telling you about any of them. (it's also true that many people still wear guns on their hips in the southwest, this is mainly to defend themselves against easterners, californians and texans).
Your friend, the DYS.
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 06:34 am
Several years back (1980 to 1982) I was reassigned to a portion of the company located in Amarillo Texas. It was a fantastic place. Comfortable and rather friendly and nicely located up in the Texas panhandle it was on a clear route between Oklahoma and New Mexico while still be in Texas and near colorado as well. Other than Vermont what could be better?

Oh, one more selling point is that it is just a short drive, maybe 15 or 20 minutes from Bushland Texas (real town name). Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 08:17 am
Wow. Merry Andrew, very interesting! Thanks.

So we're all in agreement that Wolf Hole, AZ is a shithole?
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 08:19 am
Santa Fe:

Last I checked and as best as I can remember:

Motto: Land of the Individual.

International Tourist Destination.

With a population of only about 40,000 supports

20 used bookstores
10 live theaters
3 universities
10 museums

Has numerous annual festivals.
Interesting architecture

By contrast, the City of San Marcos, TX, where I used to live with a similar population, had one used bookstore that went under,

was only able to get their folks together enough for maybe one live production from the community every 5 years or so.

has one university, which is in constant conflict with the city businesses,

and zero museums, last I heard.

San Marcos claims they try hard for tourist dollars, but they were the most inhospitable, angry, complaining, whining group I had ever been exposed to.

Santa Fe's main industry is tourism.

I've always wanted to live with neighbors who could get together and put on productions. It takes an enourmous amount of support, and to live with neighbors whose level of reading could support multiple used bookstores, and to live with neighbors who could put on, I think, over 50 festivals a years.

Plus the weather is terrific and the cost of living comparable to Austin.

Frankly, I don't know why I'm not in Santa Fe right now!
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 08:29 am
Hmmm...used bookstores. Good indicator of what kind of people live there. It really doesn't sound too bad. Doesn't it snow there though?

Austin actually sounds pretty cool too, although I know it isn't really part of the Southwest. Do you live in Austin, Dupre?
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 08:55 am
Hey hey, I know that San Diego is part of California and not
the Southwest, nevertheless, Kicky had asked for info on
San Diego.

I lived briefly in Scottsdale/Phoenix, too hot to do anything,
but it is a nice place to visit in the wintertime.

Santa Fee is very expensive with very little opportunity
to make a living there, unless you're in the tourist/restaurant
industry. Nice to visit but too small to live in.
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 12:26 pm
Albuquerque: After several months of on-line research for a retirement home---and info from Asherman, who had already moved to Albuquerque, I decided to buy a home there after I left California's S.F. Bay Area. A very different environment than where I live all my life. It was an adjustment I handled even though I didn't know anyone in ABQ except for Asherman, whom I knew only from the Internet.

Albuquerque, with a population between 700,000 and 800,000, is in the Rio Grande valley; the river runs down the center of the city. The Sandia mountains are close by on the Eastern side of the river.

We enjoy hot air balloons flying over our homes in the early morning most of the year except in high wind times. Their landing field is quite near Dys and Diane and My homes.

New Mexico is famous for it's art communities, especially Sante Fe, Taos,
and Georgia O'Keeffe country. The hills really do look like those in her paintings, especially along the Arizona, New Mexico border.

Housing costs were unbelievably lower than in the Bay Area. The cost of living, including property taxes, were much lower. I was able to pay an unbelievable cash price for my home, which is newer, larger, and nicer than my home in the Bay Area. The setting is not as nice as the island lagoon environment in the Bay Area, but it is good. And I had the good luck to find a great general contractor who has made life much easier for me in all of my projects.

Sadly, California real estate speculators have discovered Albuquerque and are buying up as much available new housing as possible in our for resale on the West side of the river. There is a housing building boom and real estate bubble underway in ABQ much like that in California and other states. My home has already appreciated over 35% in two years. It seems, once again, I sold and bought at the right time.

Santa Fe and areas north of ABQ are much more expensive. Many are rich people enclaves like Aspen Colorado. Us regular folks chose more affordable ABQ and like it. It's nice not to be house poor to be able to afford other things that make life enjoyable. Santa Fe is about an hour's drive north from ABQ---a nice place to visit. And Colorado is only a seven hour drive.

I checked to be sure good medical care was available in ABQ. I'm a member of a Medicare HMO and receive great medical care at suprising little cost to me.

Most important, Albuquerque is a university town along with a lot of high tech businesses. Lots of smart interesting people here.

I attend classical music concerts with friends I met in a law class presented by the Life Long Learning organization. Met lots of people I had a lot in common with.

My latest find is a group of actors in ABQ. The state is becoming a popular film company site and actors are getting jobs here. I'm fascinated by getting to know the actors in the group. They keep trying to get me to accept extra or small acting parts, but I've spared them that embarrasement. But it's fun and a different experience for me.

The high desert can get hot, but it's a dry heat and tolerable. ABQ is at 5000 feet above sea level. Some people have to adjust to the altitude, but I had no problem with it. Spring, Fall and Winter weather is great. ABQ get occasional dustings of snow, but it melts quickly. I'm amazed at how well weeds grow in our high desert climate.

I've found the people to be wonderful---even the store clerks are very nice and helpful. I lucked out in the neighborhood in which I live. My neighbors have sort of adopted me and watch out for their 76 year old neighbor.

My only real disappointment is the lack of really world class green grocers in New Mexico. I was so spoiled coming from the Bay Area. I also wish I spoke Spanish, but I'm too lazy in my old age to try to learn it.

I also found two of the most delightful dogs in the world, Dolly and Madison, who are wonderful campanions.

I will have lived here three years this October and I've never regretted chosing Albuquerque as my home. It helped that some A2K friends also eventually moved here with Osso Buco soon to join us. And A2Kers from other parts of the country keep dropping in like flies to visit.

Life is good.

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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 12:51 pm
kickycan wrote:
Hmmm...used bookstores. Good indicator of what kind of people live there. It really doesn't sound too bad. Doesn't it snow there though?

Austin actually sounds pretty cool too, although I know it isn't really part of the Southwest. Do you live in Austin, Dupre?

Both shewolf and I live in Austin. I really love it here.

It's very pretty - it's situated on the Balcones Escarpment, so the east side is flat, and the west side is quite hilly.
I live about one mile as the crow flys from downtown, which wouldn't seem like much of a downtown as far as size to you, but a little bit of everything is packed into it.

Austin does have a motto, which you see on bumper stickers (personally I don't like the phrase) Keep Austin Weird.

I live in the 78704 zip code, and there's another bumper sticker that reads "78704, more than a zip code, a way of life"

I knew this guy who moved here from Russia, he once said to a group of us......
"I hate Gays, Born-again Christians, and Mexicans"
My bud, Gabriel Madrid said "Then what the f**k are you doing in Austin?!

(the russian moved to san francisco, go figure)

In my neighborhood, it's a live and let live thing, as long as you don't get out of hand about it.

The economys good, unemployment low, housing getting high but it's the same everywhere.

Lot's of diversity, culture, and a lot of fun things to do.

The only thing I don't like is the heat in the summer, it can be brutal, but the rest of the year is very nice.

Oh, and as soon as you leave Austin, you'll come accross towns like San Marcos, where no kidding, I asked somebody a good place to have lunch, and they suggested the Weinschnitzel.

Does that help?
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Merry Andrew
Sun 7 Aug, 2005 12:52 pm
Sadly, I must agree with most of Dys's evaluation of the current state of Santa Fe. But I also stand by my earlier statement that it still has a sort of tawdry charm of its own. I disagree that Trexas is not part of the Southwest. The panhandle, West Texas (the Abilene area) and the Guadalupe Mountains certainly have a legit geographical claim to that designation. So does El Paso. I don't like the town, but it's Southwest.

It must be kept in mind, when people complain of a place being a tourist trap, that this is what the Southwest thrives on, what keeps the economy going. There are millions upon millions of acres of US Government-owned land. The people of working age (the Southwest is also a prime retirement area, much like Florida) work either for the government or in tourist-related industries. There ain't nothing else. The trail-herds stopped being profitable right around the start of the 20th century. If there's any oil left in Texas, they don't pump it any more. Arab oil is cheaper. Cowboys out of work go in for construction jobs. Former roughnecks tend bar. And so it goes.

Oh, yes. A word of warning to Kicky or anybody else planning to visit the Southwest -- stay the hell out of Ruidoso, NM. This is the quintessence of a tourist trap, built for yuppies with unlimited cred on their American Express cards. And anything you can buy there, you can buy in Roswell for exactly one half the price.
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Sun 7 Aug, 2005 01:23 pm
I've been to Santa Fe for all of two hours, but will pipe in to add that I didn't dislike it as I semi-expected to - I was thinking tourist-town-out-of-architectural-digest. Diane and I walked around the old plaza area, went in a few galleries and stores (the candy store, I loved the candy store, they had italian candies, lots of different kinds...) and had lunch before driving back to albuquerque. That day there was a light dusting of snow on the Santa Fe plaza - it was in February - but it melted right away.

In Albuquerque, I am interested in the University of New Mexico. Someone told me (here in northern California) recently that there is a major photography person in the art department, though I forget what was so special about him. The university is in or near the part of town that most interests me personally to live in.

There seem to be several big medical centers, so, as a used-to-be lab tech I see that as something of a strong industry.
Countless people have told me that there is a thriving art community in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area. I checked out the museum and really liked it. Just read an enthusiastic review in the NYTimes for the latest production at the Santa Fe opera house.

The city is on the Amtrak route, a matter that appeals to me as an old train rider - I've been through Abq on trains several times as a child. There seems to be a thicket of possible bus routes - one reason I am interested in the downtown area is for walking and riding buses.

And, finally, I was neutral to the place when I went in February to visit Diane and Dys (and met BBB). That only lasted until I got off the plane and started walking with them out of the gate area - there was a view from an airport corridor of the roseate Sandia mountains as the sun was lowering in late afternoon. Bang, I liked the place, no more neutral.
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Stray Cat
Sun 7 Aug, 2005 05:53 pm
Santa Fe and areas north of ABQ are much more expensive. Many are rich people enclaves like Aspen Colorado. Us regular folks chose more affordable ABQ and like it

O.k. That makes sense. My cousin, who really likes Sante Fe, happens to be filthy rich and owns his own business. So he wouldn't have to worry about things like how much opportunity there is in a particular town -- like the rest of us mere mortals.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you're alright, Kicky. Just checkin'!

I can see that you are madly in love with me

But, of course!
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Mon 8 Aug, 2005 12:27 pm
Well, all I can say to that is, you have impeccable taste, Stray Cat.

Interesting article about Tombstone, AZ...


Wyatt Earp Fought Here, but the Corral Isn't O.K.

TOMBSTONE, Ariz., Aug. 3 - George Spangenberg sold weapons to both Wyatt Earp and the gang he faced at the O.K. Corral. Today visitors can see the G. F. Spangenberg gun shop - "Est. 1880," according to its sign - standing on Fourth Street.

Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Re-enactors of the shootout at the O.K. Corral posed with a tourist last week after their daily performance. Tombstone, Ariz., is in danger of losing its designation as a historic site. Well, actually, the shop was established only 16 years ago to cater to tourists and has no connection to the gunsmith whose name it borrowed.

"We don't say it's the same shop," said Jim Newbauer, a manager of the store, which is across the street from where the original stood. Nor does the shop go out of its way to say it isn't.

Just how true to history this famous Old West town should remain is the subject of a modern-day shootout. "The town too tough to die," as Tombstone bills itself, is at risk of losing its designation as a national historic landmark because some say it has been a little too kitschy in embellishing its heritage.

"It's becoming like a Hollywood set instead of an authentic historic Western town," said Sally Alves, a bed-and-breakfast owner.

Dates from the 19th century are painted on buildings erected in the last few decades. Some stores have simulated brick or adobe facades. Some are painted in colors like purple or turquoise that probably were not used in 1880's frontier towns.

The National Park Service, which administers the landmark program, last year listed Tombstone's status as "threatened" because of building alterations "that didn't have any basis in history," said Greg Kendrick, regional manager of the program. Only about 90 of the nation's 2,400 historic landmarks are considered "threatened," mostly because of deterioration, not decoration. Since 1980, 25 have lost their designation.

Now this town of 1,700 is at a crossroads. Starting Sept. 1, Tombstone will hold a three-day public meeting, with federal and state officials in attendance, to discuss whether and how to preserve its historic authenticity.
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