Review of Flagstaff, Arizona


Not perfect, but pretty darned nice.
Star Rating - 11/16/2019
Flagstaff is a city that enjoys clean air, a mild four season climate and abundant natural beauty. Nestled near the San Francisco Peaks, approximately 50 miles south of the Grand Canyon Flagstaff is a paradise for anyone who enjoys nature and the outdoors. As a place to live Flagstaff is very different from many other sunbelt cities. On the positive, while it has become more populated in the last 20 years it is still far less congested than nearby Phoenix or Las Vegas. Traffic is typically problematic only when your travels take you near Northern Arizona University’s campus. Crime is relatively low, and the city still enjoys a small, community feel. On the negative, Flagstaff housing is costlier than the state average. This is exasperated by the fact the City’s primary industry is tourism (and the typically low wage jobs it creates). Beyond the University, Gore Medical Devices and the Flagstaff Medical Center it can difficult to find a job that pays a living wage. The city government has done a poor job diversifying Flagstaff’s economic base beyond tourism, due in part to a prevalent fear among some citizens of growth or - gasp - turning into Phoenix. The irony is that the people who are most afraid of growth are often the same ones who complain about low wages and expensive housing. Flagstaff is in desperate need of a ten year plan that grows the economy by leveraging the University and the existing bio tech industry to create higher paying jobs in clean, future driven industries. Because of the 30 degree difference in summer temperatures (compared to Phoenix & Vegas), Flagstaff is a popular place to own a summer home. A recent study suggests one out of three homes in Flagstaff is owned by part time residents. Consequently, this also has driven up the cost of housing and results in significant population surges in the summer months. In summary: while not perfect, Flagstaff is a great place to live as long as you land one of the higher paying jobs in town or have some degree of financial independence. The city has a growing number of unique restaurants, pubs and micro-breweries, reasonably good public schools, modern medical facilities and a sense of community that is difficult to find in other western cities. If you’ve been to Bend, OR of Boulder, CO I think you’ll find the feel and pace of Flagstaff to be very familiar. My hope is that local government and community leaders will come together to forge a vision for Flagstaff’s future that is both environmentally and economically sustainable, before it’s too late.
Brian | Flagstaff, AZ
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