Bullhead City, Arizona
On the very western edge of Arizona, conservative Bullhead City (population 42,000) sits along the Colorado River, next to the Black Mountain Range, and across the river from shimmering Laughlin, Nevada, a very popular casino and tourist destination. For years, Bullhead City was just a lonely desert outpost, a strip of trailer homes and businesses across the water from the old Riverside Resort casino. It was not even incorporated until 1984.
Today, though, the Riverside Resort, Harrah's and eight other casinos, all in Laughlin, are major attractions, and each year more than six million people come to the Bullhead City/Laughlin area to gamble and enjoy resort-style entertainment. This has helped Bullhead City grow a bit during the last decade. The crime meets the national average, and 46% of residents are age 45 or better.
The cost of living is 15% below the national average, and the median home price is $300,000. Housing stock includes manufactured home communities, ranch ramblers, split-levels and Mediterranean-style riverfront residences. Xeriscaping is standard.
In addition to gamblers, large numbers of RV "snowbirds" make their way to the 21 local RV parks each year, filling them to capacity from November through May. With the economy revolving around these visitors and gambling, Bullhead City has a good variety of restaurants and retailers. There are also a number of festivals, including the annual boisterous River Regatta, Hardyville Days (named for the city's founder), Riverfest, Cornfest and the Chile Cook-Off.
Laughlin, which is a mini-Las Vegas with its glass towers, neon lights and 11,000 hotel rooms, brings tourists to Bullhead City, but so does Lake Mohave. Just a few miles north of the city, it is a part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and is 4 miles across and 67 miles long. Fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, camping and picnicking are popular, although many beaches along the water can only be reached by boat. Lake Havasu, another favorite recreation area, is only 50 miles to the south.
Bullhead City's parks and recreation department has a few senior programs, including Senior Softball, and it maintains a good selection of public parks. Rotary Park, the largest, runs along the river and has beaches, boat ramps and fishing jetties.
There are also two nine-hole golf courses and three 18-hole golf courses. The Bullhead City Senior Center has groups and activities, and Meals on Wheels is active. Low income seniors, as well as low income non-seniors, are eligible for the Housing Rehabilitation Program, a service that helps homeowners maintain their homes.
The Bullhead City Branch Library has undergone a recent expansion and has public computers with internet access, an interlibrary loan program and book discussion groups. Mohave Community College has classes for all ages and hosts a Northern Arizona University satellite campus.
BATS is the public transit system and operates Monday through Saturday. It runs fixed routes but also offers curb to curb service and a para-transit curb to curb service (advance reservations are required). The vans/buses travel over the bridge to Laughlin for an extra charge. Interstate 40 runs about 30 miles to the east and south of the city, and the Bullhead City/Laughlin International Airport services flights from most major airlines.
Western Arizona Regional Medical Center is the primary health care facility. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare and Medicaid patients. For military retirees, Kingman, 30 miles away, has a VA outpatient clinic, but the nearest VA hospital is in Las Vegas, 80 miles away.
Bullhead City is one of the hottest places in North America, and it has nothing to do with gambling. Summer temperatures regularly exceed 120 degrees, and on August 11, 1983, the hottest day in the United States (132 degrees) was recorded - in the shade - in Bullhead City. It is also windy. Hot, windy and dusty. Rattlesnakes love it. Winters are mild with temperatures in the 40s, 50s, 60 and 70s. There is no humidity. The sun shines 295 days of the year. The water quality is below the national average, but the air quality is outstanding.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Arizona Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
The heat may be too much for some people, but safe neighborhoods, a mature demographic, plenty of entertainment and water recreation make Bullhead City worth a look at retirement time.
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.
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