Paul and I finally got to celebrate our first 4th of July in the US in four years. However, we didn’t celebrate in true patriotic fashion with the all-American BBQ and fireworks. Instead, we hit the open road (despite the ridiculous gas prices) and headed to Arizona. It wasn’t so much of a vacation but more of a scouting mission.
We’re thinking about Arizona as a possible place to settle down… along with Seattle, Boston or in general, New England. We don’t know where we want to live so we’re in the process of checking everything out. Paul has always lived in California his entire life so he’s keen on living elsewhere, not to mention, you can’t really get that much for your money in Southern California. Homes, property, gas, etc., are all more expensive here… you just don’t get enough bang for your buck.
When we first decided to move back to the US it was a bit unnerving for several reason, but one of the big reason was because the US economy was tanking quickly… I’d say a recession of sorts but no one here dares to mention the ‘R’ word. Living in Australia we were doing really well and happy to be earning Aussie dollars. Everything was secure and there was no fear or uncertainty amount the economy or the booming housing or job markets. On the flip side of the coin, we knew moving back to the US would be good for buying a home and settling down. It’s definitely a buyer’s market… if you have good credit. To some degree, even though the US economy is uncertain, the housing market is very favorable for us.
So, we’ve officially started our home search and the first place we decided to check out was Arizona. Growing up, my family always spent school vacations holidaying in Arizona. I have fond memories of the state and I’ve always thought it would be a nice place to live. There are heaps of outdoor activities, natural landmarks, national parks, beautiful desert and I really love the southwestern culture.
We have an idea of what we want in a home and its community. We’re not keen on the whole track housing, land development communities with strip malls, fast food chains, and discount shopping centers. We like areas and homes with personality, charm, unique homes with large pieces of land, small town/community feel, etc.
We started our search in the Scottsdale, Carefree, Cave Creek and Fountain Hills areas and saw a ton of homes- mostly new construction. Even though we were only there for four days, we were able to get a good understanding of what areas and the types of homes we would consider and others that we would discount. Out of the areas we saw, I think we could be happy in the small community outside of Scottsdale called, Fountain Hills. The home we liked the best was actually a town home in a small 20 unit community. It’s a large four bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2200 sq ft. home with a nice pool, however, we wouldn’t get the land and we’d be living in a townhome community. Fountain Hills does have that small town sense of community and you don’t have the strip malls or the Walmarts. The entire community is built around this lake/ Fountain feature and has walking/dog trails, playgrounds, etc. It’s really quite lovely, however, we would have to make sacrifices… the big one being that’s it’s not actually a single family home with its own land.
Although I think we could be happy in Fountain Hills, I do think we could still get more for our money elsewhere… an actual home with proper land in a community that we like. I’ve compared what we liked in Fountain Hills to what we could afford in the Boston area and without hesitation, we could definitely get exactly what we want there. I won’t entirely rule out Arizona, because I do like it and we could certainly be happy there, I think financially, it makes sense to look elsewhere.
There’s more happy house hunting in our future. It’s kind of a scary, frustrating yet exciting time. This crucial decision impacts the rest of our lives. Both of us will make sacrifices, but hopefully we’ll find a home that is meant for us. We control our future and I guess that is what is scary. We have to power to make our lives what we want… it’s just a matter of figuring out what we want.