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Thinking about moving to Tucson, AZ from Seattle. Any tips/thoughts/advice?

ouchiesouchies Registered User regular
I'm feeling very stagnant in my current position and I'm thinking about making a drastic change. I wanted to bounce this idea around to see if anyone had any advice, and it'd be great to see if anyone has any first hand experience in that city.

I've lived in Seattle for about nine years. I grew up on Long Island and went to college (English major) in upstate New York. Growing up on Long Island is exactly as bad as you think it would be, which is why it was so refreshing to go to school in the middle of the woods upstate. I moved to Seattle after college because I didn't really know what was next. I had some family that lived in Seattle a long time ago, and some friends of friends that spent a lot of time in the city and its surrounding areas. Everyone had nothing but positive things to say, so I took a chance on a cross country move. I got on a plane with a duffle bag, got off the plane and checked into the hostel downtown and looked for an apartment. Once that was sorted it was find a job to pay the bills. The job was manager of a sporting goods store and it was mostly fine.

After two years of mostly fine, I got the bug again. I went to South Korea for a year, teaching English to kids. It was a great year, but Seoul wasn't home. Home was Seattle at this point. I came home after one year away. I worked as an ESL teacher at a few schools around the city for about 18 months before realizing I wasn't really cut out to be an ESL teacher. A friend of mine is a house painter and he said I could work with him until I figured things out. And now I've been a house painter for just over five years.

During those five years I met a great girl. We moved in together. We got engaged. Things didn't work out and she left. I've tried dating but I'm not really interested. I wanted to include all the above history as context.

So now I'm left feeling as though I'm not really moving forward. Seattle is an amazing city, full of amazing things, but it is also amazingly expensive. I actually make decent money, decent enough for a house painter. But I also live by myself, with almost 65% of my income going to rent alone. So I can't really afford to take part in all the amazing things that are happening all around me. And my rent is BELOW the average for comparable apartments (and believe me, its nothing special). Seattle is of course a tech mecha, but this means that non tech people are getting increasingly priced and pushed out of the city, and people with physical, blue collar jobs are looked at with all but open disdain by all the new people working for the tech companies. Also, even if I was making bonkers money (yes, there are those out there in construction that make bonkers money, and my experience is that they are always shady as hell), the fact is that my job is a lower case j job and not a capital C Career. I don't have any medical benefits whatsoever, no sick leave, no vacation. There are no long term prospects, no possibilities. No stability or security. If there are no jobs booked, then I don't work, and then I stay awake at night panicking.

I know I need a change, a job with more stability. The problem is that it would be very difficult for me to make that transition: a new job that I could get wouldn't pay me enough to cover my bills, and my resume is frightfully light in regards to those well paying tech jobs. And I'm not even sure that I'd want a tech job if I could get one. I'm more or less working a job I don't like simply because doing otherwise wouldn't be financially feasible.

It seems clear that a move would do me good, and I have somewhat of a history of just picking up and heading to new places. Why have I stopped the spinning globe with my finger on Tucson? A job that I thought I might be well suited to was Customs and Border Patrol. I have a lot of misgivings about this idea: I'm a wackadoo liberal and this job definitely has the potential to run against that. I have gotten the impression that Border Patrol wants every one to know, under no uncertain terms, that "we aren't ICE, we promise. Seriously, fuck those guys" but I'm still worried. But I like working independently and in the outdoors, and job where I could stare pensively across beautiful vistas sounds like a great fit. And it's a government job, which means benefits, stability, long term prospects. And if I took the initiative and undertook additional training and certification courses I could be making literally twice what I make now in four years. In a state where, depending on location, the cost of living can be more than half what it is here in Seattle. It sounds bizarre, but I feel like there is more potential for me in Tucson than there is for me here in Seattle.

I'm formulating a plan where I could visit Tucson in June to get my feet on the ground. I've made a cursory scan of apartment listings and they are overflowing with nice, affordable options. If I spend that week there and no alarm bells go off, I could try to get an apartment. Make the drive down there with my few belongings when my lease in Seattle is up. Find a job once I'm situated. Live there for a few months and if I'm sure enough, pursue the Border Patrol.

So this is where I ask if anyone can provide any first hand experience with life in Arizona. Have you lived there? Has any of your family lived there? Visited for vacation? Whats the deal with that crazy place? Also, does this harebrained plan make any sense? Am I simply repeating my past behavior: move to a new place, get half way comfortable, stop short of making the real decisions, get antsy, and move again. If anyone has had a similar set of obstacles, I'd love to hear about it and what kinds of things you decided to do (or not do). Sorry for the long post, thanks for any insight you might have!


  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2017
    Do not move without a job.


    The rest of the plan seems pretty good though. Checking things out and such. I would suggest you visit during what would be considered the most extreme of whatever season you decide... probably July or August so you can see what it's like walking on the surface of the sun.


    Most hospitals keep a painting crew on full-time staff. You may start there as a way to just find something so you can relocate.

    dispatch.o on
    ceresEncadmanbKristmas Kthulhu143999Skeith
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    @Arch is currently an Arizona, he may have thoughts.

  • ArchArch Neat-o, mosquito! Registered User regular
    Yo, I actually moved to Tucson specifically from Pullman, Washington.

    I'll say this- Tucson is one of my favorite cities I've ever lived in, but it isn't without it's flaws. It is pretty blue, as far as cities in Arizona go, but it isn't Sedona and it ain't Flagstaff (which are more liberal). There are a lot of Trump hats and racism here.

    It is pretty cheap to live here!....but a lot of the cheap apartment options are much, much shittier than they appear at first glance. If you can, try and go in on one of the cheap houses with someone (or yourself, if you can afford it!).

    Obviously living closer to the University is better in terms of housing quality and safety, but worse for affordability.

    I'll also say this- there aren't a lot of big employers in the area. The University, the few hospitals, and Raytheon are pretty much the biggest places where you could get a capital-C career, but wages are pretty low across the board, even below what you'd need to survive in the low cost of living that is Tucson. On the other hand, there's a ton of jobs at chain stores, restaurants, etc...but they aren't careers, per se.

    The few border control people I've met are pretty goddamned racist, and any attempts to pretend they "aren't ICE" is bullshit. I've seen them show up at car wrecks and cart people off before ambulances even show up, so I'm not sure how much I'd recommend that as a career, but you do you.

    If you are looking to get a job doing any sort of construction, and you don't speak Spanish, you're in a bad place as well down here.

    The climate is also so much better than Washington- sun nearly 24/7, and I'm typing this from my office where I wore a t-shirt to work today. Even the summers don't get too bad, provided your house has central AC and not a swamp (evaporation) cooling system.

    There's a lot to do in Tucson, especially if you love the outdoors. There's Sabino Canyon, the Desert Museum, Mount Lemmon, and a ton of other trails and parks, along with good nightlife and some of the best food you'll eat (except....all the Italian restaurants around here suck. I don't know why.)

    Tucson is a huge suburban sprawl though, and there's a ton of diversity across the entire city. There's a lot of great cinemas, a vibrant local arts and culture scene, and a pretty good "nerd" crowd as well.

    I'm not sure what else you're looking for, but if you have specific questions, feel free to @ me, and if I'm still here when you visit, we can meet up and I can show you some of my favorite places to eat.

    RingoKristmas Kthulhu
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    My cousin runs a game shop in Tuscon. He seems super happy living there which is an accomplishment in itself. I don't think he'll ever leave and it makes me consider it as a place to go if we ever decide to move away here.

  • ouchiesouchies Registered User regular
    Thanks @dispatch.o, I definitely should be more thorough this time around and try to sort out the job thing BEFORE moving this time. It would be good to learn better behavior, rather than just winging it like I did last time. You're right, it would be worth it to look into some of those commercial painting jobs as a short term idea: businesses always need rooms painted various shades of off-white.

    And thanks @Arch, all those tips were super informative. It's great to hear from someone that moved there and is really enjoying it. You bring up solid points to think about. I definitely want to visit in the Spring. As I've been thinking about all this hypothetical move over the last few months it's frankly been exhilarating, thinking about the possibilities of it. But then I also worry that this excitement might be coming from an avoidance of dealing with the larger uncertainty I'm feeling. A mere change of scenery isn't a catch all solution, but it also can't hurt. And nothing is permanent: trying new things is great but if I move somewhere and after some time realize it isn't a great fit, there's nothing stopping me from heading back to Seattle, or trying other new places. The point remains that I don't feel like I'm moving in a good direction where I am, so why not try somewhere else. And now I'm thinking aloud, so I'll stop. But thanks for your tips!

    Kristmas Kthulhu
  • PailryderPailryder Registered User regular
    my sister lives in tucson and loves it. It does get hot but they just go out early in the morning or late at night and stay inside during the day. it's really 2-3 months of super heat and then the rest of the year appears to be really nice if you like warmer weather. the infrastructure of the roads around tucson is pretty terrible. everytime i've visited i'm amazed by just how bad it is. depending on which side of the city you end up on water rights can be an issue/cost a lot.

  • ArchArch Neat-o, mosquito! Registered User regular
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    Pailryder wrote: »
    my sister lives in tucson and loves it. It does get hot but they just go out early in the morning or late at night and stay inside during the day. it's really 2-3 months of super heat and then the rest of the year appears to be really nice if you like warmer weather. the infrastructure of the roads around tucson is pretty terrible. everytime i've visited i'm amazed by just how bad it is. depending on which side of the city you end up on water rights can be an issue/cost a lot.

    re italized: Having grown up in AZ I feel the need to qualify this a bit.

    During the summer yes, it will be cooler at night. It will still be over 100 until quite late during the height of the summer, and above 90 until close to midnight often. Visiting in June first is a good idea.

  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    Arch wrote: »
    Tucson roads aren't that bad....

    When I lived there, there were car-busting potholes on main roads

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