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Reader Requested Short Review of Cottonwood, Arizona
In the rugged, high altitude Verde Valley of central Arizona, between Flagstaff and Phoenix, Cottonwood (population 12,000) got its name from the tall cottonwood trees that grew not far from the cool Verde River, one of the desert's last free-flowing rivers. The year was 1879 when white settlers started to arrive, establishing farms and homesteads. By the early 20th-century, Cottonwood was thriving, although no longer as a farming community. Instead, it was a hot spot for gambling, bootlegging and general carrying-on, and it was known as the "biggest little town in Arizona."
The rowdiness has since died down, and today Cottonwood appeals to people in search of a growing but affordable desert location with pretty scenery and lots of outdoor recreation. The traditional western ethos of individualism and practicality still reigns, but tourism and commercialism have their place here, too.
Racially diverse, Cottonwoood has doubled in size during the last 10 to 20 years. The cost of living is 2% below the national average. Forty-five percent of the population is age 45 or better. Politics lean to the right, and 16% of locals have a four year college degree. The crime rate is below the national average.
The median home price is $185,000. Housing includes ranch ramblers, manufactured homes, Mediterranean styles, Southwestern territorial styles, adobe styles and others. On the Greens is a pretty 55+ community with colorful homes.
Tucked under a cathedral sky, Cottonwood is ringed by buttes and mountains. Hiking, fishing and camping are favorite pastimes, with 423-acre Dead Horse Ranch State Park, the 480-acre Verde River Greenway State Natural Area and gorgeous Sycamore Canyon just outside of town. Two golf courses, both public, provide 27 holes of play, and four parks, including pretty Riverfront Park, have areas for picnics and strolling.
Some popular tourist destinations are nearby, including the Blazin' M Ranch (a manufactured Wild West town), the Verde Canyon Railroad (a trip through the frontier as it once was) and the Montezuma Indian Ruins (1,000 year old limestone cliff dwellings). For civilized tastes, eleven vineyards/wineries are within an hour's drive.
Old Town is the well-maintained historic center and home to various retailers, trinket shops, art galleries and coffee houses, most locally owned. Annual events include the Chocolate Walk, a Christmas event in which the world's most important food is celebrate.
The Old Town Center for the Arts is small but beautifully restored and presents music and theater acts throughout the year. Shopping is limited (no malls), but there are big box stores (Wal-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, etc.). The Cottonwood Public Library has in interlibrary loan program, books on tape, large print books, wifi Internet and public access computers.
In-town public transit is provided by VerdeLynx ($1.25 to $2 per ride), which also runs to Sedona, 20 miles away. The closest airports are in Flagstaff (65 miles) and Prescott (53 miles).
Verde Valley Medical is a short-term acute care hospital with 110 beds. It is award-winning for patient safety and meets or exceeds national averages in all areas. It accepts Medicare patients and is accredited by a relatively new organization, DNV Healthcare. For military retirees, Cottonwood has a CBOC. The closest VA hospital is in Prescott.
The Verde Valley Senior Center, a part of the Yavapai County Area Agency on Aging, provides congregate meals, wellness checks, tax preparation assistance, counseling and more. The Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department has a new building and offers exercise classes geared to the senior set as well as adult-designated swim times.
Cottonwood sits at 3,322 feet above sea level, but summer temperatures are still in the 90s and can reach the 100s (evenings are considerably cooler). Winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s, 50s and low 60s. On average, the area receives 13 inches of rain per year. There is very little snow except in the surrounding mountains. Humidity is very low. The air quality is below the national average.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Arizona Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
With reasonably priced housing, sunny days, dry air, good medical facilities, pretty scenery, a cute downtown and good senior programs, Cottonwood is a place to consider for retirement.
The Grand Canyon State was originally part of New Mexico. After the land was ceded to the U.S. in 1848, it became a separate territory. It did not enter the union until February 14, 1912. Copper was discovered in the area in 1848, and metals mining continues to be an important part of the economy. Cattle and tourism are two of the states other vital industries.
Although Arizona can be one of the hottest states in the union, air conditioning continues to bring more and more people to the urban areas. The Colorado Plateau spreads through Arizona from the north and is interspersed with remnants of the Rocky Mountains. The land flattens into desert near Phoenix. The Colorado River forms the state's western borders and snakes through the Grand Canyon.
Arizona is home to places with names like Nothing, a ghost town in western Arizona, and the Horspitality Resort.
The state is stubborn when it comes to time. It observes Mountain Standard Time on a year round basis.
Population - 6,931,030
Persons 65 years old and over - 17%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 86%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 27%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 31%
White persons, not Hispanic - 58%
Median household income - $50,225
Median home value - $167,500
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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