Close enough to Phoenix, beautiful weather, but a - 5/16/2009
I moved out here a year ago after living over 50 years in Boston and the suburbs of Boston. I absolutely HATED the cold and snow in Boston. You can't count on any plans there because at least 50% of the time the weather ruins them. I couldn't care less about the night life but if you do, this is not the place for you.
The good - The weather is ALWAYS beautiful here, and I mean always. I love thunder storms, and the rare rain we get here is always a thunderstorm. Weather has never ruined my outdoor activities. On the whole, much cleaner and more modern here than Boston. Incredibly cheap housing, and I mean dirt-cheap. The roads are well laid out. Main roads are wide, and all run north, south, east and west in a grid pattern and it's almost impossible to get lost if you have a good sense of direction (I don't. I use a GPS). As for jobs, well not bad, but not good. Plenty of minimum wage jobs because there's fast food EVERYWHERE! Lots of strip malls too. On the average, higher paying jobs here pay $10,000 less than the Boston area.
A city like Phoenix should be bending over backwards trying to attract high tech companies, but apparently, the politicians seem to have only one purpose here, and that's to move on.
The bad - VERY HOT! The summers are very long, and it has reached 118 degrees several times while I've been here. It's over 100 degrees for weeks at a time. I can't complain though, because I love the heat. VERY dusty! Car washes everywhere because you need to wash your car at least every 2 weeks. The drivers here absolutely SUCK!! I can't emphasize that enough! The traffic reports on the radio every morning go on and on describing accidents. I swear to God it seems like every third driver I see is on the cellphone while driving, and almost NO ONE uses signals, and the police don't seem to care, or are completely clueless, I'm not sure which. This is BY FAR my biggest complaint.
As I mentioned, I use a GPS. It's useful, but only if I put in direct addresses, and NOT the names of companies, buildings, etc. I guess the GPS companies are too lazy to update it with 10-year-old buildings. If you look for a McDonald's for example, it may tell you that the nearest one is 2 miles away when you're actually right around the corner from another one. You get used to keeping your eyes open and not trusting the GPS after a while.
It seems there are apartment buildings on practically every street where I live in Chandler. This was a bit depressing when I first moved here. You either rent from them or rent a home for much more. Those are your only choices.
If bugs bother you, then this isn't the place for you. Cockroaches are common in homes here, but most people have someone come out and spray. I've seen one tarantula in the past year, and that was 180 miles from my apartment. No scorpions yet, so it's really not as bad as some people say, aside from the cockroaches.
Another big problem is the illegal immigrants. There are so many that you have to be very careful with your personal information. They steal Social Security numbers in order to get work, and they can destroy your credit. They also drive without insurance, steal vehicles, and fill emergency rooms. There are also Mexican gangs here involved in drug dealing and kidnapping, although I haven't come across any yet. I got myself a gun and Concealed Carry permit.
As far as housing, the hardest thing for me is trying to figure out good and bad areas of any city. I'm used to driving through bad neighborhoods and seeing run-down 3-family homes with junk cars in the driveways in Boston. Here, you can drive through what appears to be a nice neighborhood, and is really not. You have to speak to the locals about that. Also, there don't seem to be "bad" or "good" cities to live in. It seems EVERY city has pockets of bad areas, and that makes it even harder to decide where to live.
All in all, I'll take the bad with the good. I couldn't take another 6-month New England winter.