Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Oro Valley, Arizona
A Comfortable Bedroom Community North of Tucson, Oro Valley Has a Pretty Setting and is Home to Golf Courses and Master Planned Communites
In the Santa Catalina Mountain foothills north of Tucson in southern Arizona, Oro Valley started out as a ranch in the 1860s. As Tucson grew, so did Oro Valley, with homesteaders and more ranchers arriving to start a new life. A few miners made their way here, too, lured by rumors of gold in the nearby hills. In the 1930s, developers began selling home sites, and in 1974, Oro Valley incorporated even though it primarily consisted a few subdivisions and a country club.
Today, Oro Valley (population 49,000) is a comfortable bedroom community, filled with master planned communities and high tech companies employing white collar workers. National publications have named the town a great place to live. Many residents are second home owners.
The cost of living is 15% above the national average, and the median home price is $505,000, reflectiing a 5% increase from a year ago. Politics lean to the left, and the crime rate is below the national average. Fifty percent of locals hold at least a four year college degree, and 50% of locals are age 45 or better. The city has some racial diversity and has grown 17% during the last decade.
Neighborhoods are newish, well-tended and peppered with Mediterranan-style, Territorial-style and adobe-style single family homes. Most master planned communities boast a golf course and residences with fairway views. Xeriscaping, a combination of rocks, cacti and short bushes, is common. Tall trees are few.
Locals enjoy a fun farmers' market and a good supply of nicer chain restaurants. Most stores, including JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Marshalls, are clustered along Oracle Road that runs on the east side of town.
Abundant outdoor year-round recreation is one reason people enjoy living here. Sprawling Catalina State Park and Coronado National Forest are just outside of town in the Santa Catalina Mountains and provide plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, biking and horseback riding. At least 10 golf courses have an Oro Valley address. Some are for members only.
An emerging arts scene contributes to Oro Valley's high quality of life. The Festival of the Arts happens twice a year and features 150 artists, musical guests, hands-on activities and plenty of food. Every October, the Oro Valley Music Festival occurs over two days, one devoted to country music and one to rock and roll.
Nearby attractions include Honey Bee Village. This site consists of 500-year-old ruins from some highly successful irrigation farmers known as the Hohokam. Ruins of the Romero Ranch, one of the area's first cattle ranches, are in the Santa Catalina Mountains east of town and are a reminder of Oro Valley's roots.
The Oro Valley Library sits next to a golf course and became a part of the Tucson area library system in 2013. It serves farmers, ranchers, families and seniors from some neighboring 55+ communities. Books, audio books, public computers are free wi-fi are available. Mountain views are standard.
SunTran is the public transportation system. The normal fare is $1.75, but people age 65 or better ride for $.75. Monthly passes are available, too.
Oro Valley Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and has 146 beds. It is a Level IV Trauma Center and a primary stroke center. Tucson has another eight or so hospitals.
The climate in this part of the country is hot and dry, although the elevation (2,550 feet above sea level) mitigates summer temperatures somewhat (but they can still reach the low-100s). Winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s and 50s. On average, the area receives 11 inches of rain per year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
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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