Ryan: In this section we’re going to discuss lifestyle in the Phoenix Metro. My guests are Connie Kent and Joseph Yu, Realtors from Century 21 Arizona Foothills. Connie you’re new to the program, are you from Arizona originally like Joseph who claims to be the unicorn?
Connie: I don’t know about a unicorn and no I’m not originally from Arizona. I’m actually from Florida so I’m transplanted here as a Floridian and I’ve been here for about 20 years now actually since 1999.
Ryan: Outdoor life. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I asked you either one of you?
Connie: Just being able to enjoy a lot of the natural resources that we have here. And that’s what’s great about Arizona lifestyle, coming from Florida where everything is screened in to avoid the bugs, and escaped the humidity, coming here it’s just opened up a whole world of things to do on the outside.
Joseph: You know I think we have this kind of preconceived notion when people think outdoors in Arizona that the only thing there is to do out here hiking.
Ryan: I know a lot of master planned communities have walking trails they advertise, what do you mean by hiking, what type of hill, are there mountains? Where people hiking?
Joseph: That’s a great point, I mean there’s a lot of municipal trails you do have. Trails within your own neighborhood or your subdivision. We also have mountains within the metro area where people do hike on a frequent basis.
Connie: And we have I mean,just a short drive out of Phoenix and out of Tucson, the two major metropolitan areas, it’s easy to get to sort of a four-season environment.
Joseph: Yeah, that’s actually a really good point Connie, I mean Sedona’s a really popular destination just for hiking and even doing a day trip, so can you do something locally in town? Absolutely. Can you do something that’s only a couple hour drive away? Yes, I agree. South Mountain for example, many of those trails are shared between horses, pedestrians and mountain bikes.
Ryan: You say South Mountain, where is South Mountain?
Joseph: South Mountain is on the south part of town.
Ryan: Yeah I’ve been to the top many times by car. There’s a little spot called Dobbins Lookout that overlooks the Phoenix Valley. Breathtaking views.
Connie: Yeah and that’s a good point, you don’t actually have to hike it to get to the top, you can drive to the top of that one.
Joseph: There are hundreds of trails and there are Peaks where you can climb up to the top of South Mountain.
Connie: There are equestrian Trails as well there. I’ve gone up into South Mountain on a horse, I mean if you are into motorcycles or dirt bikes or things like that, there’s trails that you can do around the area. Not necessary South Mountain but around the Phoenix metropolitan area where you can do and enjoy that type of activity.
Joseph: Yeah you know I think over by the White Tank’s, that’s a very popular activity, as you know the four wheeler’s and dirt bikes.
Connie: And don’t forget pets. I mean one of the greatest things I’ve seen when people are climbing the mountains and going through the area is they will usually have a pet along with them.
Ryan: There’s these different levels of trails depending on your experience level. If you want to get the sharp incline you can, and there are more moderate trails usually at the base. You’ll find these all throughout the Phoenix Valley. We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about golf. Are you guys golfers?
Connie: I found that what I like to do is just throw my 7-iron in the bag, whoever I’m going out with, because I enjoy the terrain, and jump out on the little part 3’s and just play those along the way so I’m not a true golfer but I also…
Ryan: Do you putt with your 7-iron?
Connie: No, throw my putter in as well.
Ryan: So you’ve got a 7-iron and a putter.
Connie: Are you testing to see if I know the different clubs? (laughs)
Ryan: On a par 3 you could easily do a 7-iron and a putter.
Connie: Yes that’s what I do, but I love the scenery and we’ve got some gorgeous courses out here.
Ryan: Right, out in the East Valley when you even get close to Superstition, the views are incredible. I don’t think of fishing and Phoenix together, but it’s actually a possibility isn’t it?
Joseph: Well there’s Urban fish, what we call Urban Fishing, which is you can go fishing in these man-made lakes, and then also we do have surrounding lakes that are less than an hour drive.
Ryan: Okay so we’ve got water we’ve got fish, how about tubing, is that a thing?
Connie: That’s a half day experience. That’s a great place to kind of get yourself introduced to the environment here, and you cut through Canyons as you’re going down and it’s half day event, it’s a lot of fun.
Ryan: How about water parks? If I don’t want to go out and venture 30 minutes out, is there a urban option for me?
Joseph: Oh Absolutely, I mean most of the cities and municipalities have community pool or city pools with little splash pad areas and little water parks but then there are the bigger parks like Sun Splash that come to mind, and Big Surf.
Connie: Alright, we’re a city where the sun shines most of the time so in the summertime, there’s plenty of places to go to cool off.
Ryan: Snowboarding and skiing, how far away are we from the closest ski resort?
Joseph: Well I think most people in the valley would probably either go to Snow Bowl or Sunrise. I think the best skiing would be up in Sunrise though, in the White Mountains.
Ryan: So Snow Bowl is in Flagstaff Arizona?
Joseph: Yes, it’s north of Flagstaff.
Ryan: So is this something you can do in one day? If you get up in the morning to drive to Flagstaff are you coming back the same day?
Connie: You can, it’s probably a great weekend getaway. To go up, to be able to live in Phoenix where you know, where we don’t have snow for the most part, and to jump in your car and head out for the weekend, to be able to ski all weekend, I mean that’s a great thing and not have to go too far.
Ryan: Where can you go from the Phoenix Valley in one day, coming back? We’ll call them day trips.
Joseph: Very popular out here.
Ryan: Places like Sedona, Tucson, Prescott, Tombstone, the Grand Canyon. Even Mexico’s Rocky Point is a popular destination.
Joseph: All these destinations that you just mentioned, are anywhere from a 2 to maybe four and a half hour drive.
Connie: Even the beaches of California is 5 hours to San Diego.
Joseph: How fast are you driving?
Ryan: She said she drives the speed limit! (laughter) Okay so the Phoenix Valley, is what I call an event-centric Metro.
Joseph: No absolutely. I think we have something for everyone. If you’re into food and you love culinary festivals to art festivals to things to do with the family, there’s not a shortage of things to do throughout the year.
Connie: No matter what your stage in life, if you have a younger family, or your retiring, or you’re a college student, there is something here for everyone.
Ryan: Event-Centric to me means the local, national, there’s always something going on. There’s always some sort of event in virtually every community. So depending on where you live, actually it doesn’t depend on where you live, it’s everywhere! There’s always something from Taco festivals to food trucks. Chandler Arizona has a thing called the Ostrich Festival, and as strange as that sounds, it’s a real thing, and there’s real ostriches, I think they even race!
Connie: They do, they have the ostrich races.
Ryan: Isn’t there a bar downtown Chandler it’s like a speakeasy, isn’t it called The Ostrich? If I remember correctly, originally this was used as a storage facility for the ostrich feathers?
Ryan: You know, stuff like that. Food trucks are really big thing, it seems like all the cities around here at least one night of the week, gathering in collection of food trucks, where the community really just hangs around and tries all the different food.
Joseph: And also music festivals are big thing out here.
Connie: And Arts and Crafts festivals, a lot of those are here, because we pretty much have year-round nice weather.
Ryan: Staying on the events, we’ve got Ballet, Orchestra, Theater, Symphony, lots of museums from Native American to music. We have the Botanical Garden, we have the Phoenix Zoo, and you mentioned music festivals. A couple of big ones, out in Tempe Beach there’s the Summer Ends Music Festival and of course, Country Thunder the big country music festival out in Florence, Arizona. So we got bigger events, national stuff that we get a lot of attention for. Super Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open. There’s a lot of visitors that come to our state in those winter months for these big events.
Connie: They are looking for a place where they can draw larger crowds and they don’t have to worry about a thunderstorm coming through or snow storm or anything along that line that would impact the attendance.
Ryan: National Championship in college football, we have NASCAR, final 4 has been played in Phoenix. The list goes on and on and it will continue year-over-year obviously not every year, these aren’t annual events, but like you spoke to we’re on a short list of destinations that can host these events because of our weather.
Joseph: And the facilities that we have in town too.
Connie: That’s true, we do have good facilities for conventions and conferences and events.
Ryan: Yeah, like the Phoenix Comicon.
Joseph: Yes, and you know that also kind of goes into our infrastructure, and our freeway system, how it’s very easy to travel.
Connie: Yeah we’re definitely Resort City, and that’s you know, a great benefit to the locals because the resorts here will allow you to come in and you can have a stay-cation. I know Joseph that was something you were mentioning is in the summer, if we can’t quite get out of town we go on a stay-cation.
Joseph: Some of these Resorts even have miniature water parks.
Ryan: Yeah all these things bring in employment and revenue for the local area. What am I going to find, I’m not from here, what am I expecting? Big box stores, national chains, or lots of Mom and Pop’s, or are we somewhere in between?
Joseph: We have all the large Major Brands, all the major retail stores as well as your local…
Ryan: Your Macy’s and…
Joseph: Yeah, you have your Macy’s your Nordstrom’s, your Targets Your Costco’s your Sam’s Clubs your Walmart’s, I mean the list goes on and on and on. Hobby Lobby, you know we can just, we can go all day about that. There are a lot of local mom-and-pop type small businesses that do offer a lot of different retail and other services.
Ryan: Yeah I tend to see a mix of it and it makes total sense to me. Arizona, Phoenix specifically, is a destination city and people expect certain levels of accommodations.
Connie: That’s really true, I mean being the 5th largest metropolitan area in the nation we are fortunate to attract the big box stores and the large chains but also because we’re a resort based destination and tourism is a really important part of our economy, we also have a lot of mom-and-pops or specialty shops.
Joseph: And then when you talked about mom and pop’s especially in the suburbs, I think they’re sprinkled in, but I always say predominantly it’s going to be the national chains as well as the regional chains. If you do like more higher-end fine dining that’s definitely more Scottsdale. So I would focus more on the Old Town area, pretty much anything off, anything in Scottsdale, Arcadia, and Phoenix which is a really popular destination or Central which is another…
Connie: Biltmore area, and don’t forget the, again back to Resorts, one of the things that being a tourist destination brings in are the great Resorts with a great restaurant and famous chefs that are running restaurants there.
Joseph: Yeah, as an example I think Michael Mina has a Steak 44 in one of the restaurants in one of the Resort’s up in Scottsdale.
Ryan: So something I see a lot, I’ve noticed in my 10 years here, are these amazing backyard BBQs. People have glass walls that open up and just extend their living room into their backyard near their pool. This is a real thing here isn’t it, this really creates an option for people that don’t want to dine out as often.
Joseph: We really do have this outdoor living concept out here, and it’s been really embraced so a lot of these newer homes especially your’re seeing how can we bring the outside in and vice-versa.
Connie: It’s a common request as well when people are moving here, either from different states or even moving around with in Phoenix, is a focus on the backyard. While I really want an oasis style backyard where we can entertain, where we can enjoy the pool. It’s an extension of the home living, it’s Alfresco living at its best.
Joseph: Custom barbecues are really important feature because it helps create that outdoor living space. I’m even seeing more of these pizza ovens in backyards.
Ryan: Yeah the Firestone pizzas.
Joseph: Yes, I’m seeing more of the pergolas and the Ramada’s being added to create more of this Resort and kind of create this more livable outdoor space.
Connie: And you know what’s great about having a pool here in Arizona, that you can’t do in Florida, you have to in Florida, you have to have the pool right up against the home and then you got to screen it in to keep the bugs out. Here you can kind of lay out your backyard around your pool.
Joseph: Yeah and I think that also kind of speaks to our climate as well as the lack of bugs we have compared to other parts of the country, where what I’ve been told, we don’t have as many flying bugs as let’s say, Florida.
Ryan: What would my quality-of-life be if I moved to Arizona? What would be the first thing that you would tell those people?
Connie: Moving here I would say the biggest benefit for quality of life and lifestyle, is just how freeing it is. You don’t have to have two wardrobes, you don’t have to really look up the weather report to know what you can do that day. You meet all different types of people they’re all very engaging because we’ve all come here from somewhere else for the most part.
Ryan: Okay Joseph, what’s the biggest difference between quality of life say in Phoenix compared to Los Angeles California or San Francisco California or San Diego? The biggest difference that you’ll see in the quality of your life between these two places, or are they just very similar?
Joseph: I would say they’re different, I would say when we talk about quality of life I think the biggest, one of the biggest factors could be traffic. So we’re not dealing with that traffic like on the 405 in LA.
Ryan: Even though we are spread out, there’s a lot of miles between destinations.
Ryan: The traffic is just…
Joseph: It moves.
Connie: Your money goes further your housing options are better. What you would spend in a California type environment, spending here would cost you a lot less.
Joseph: Your dollar goes so much farther, not only from your daily expenses but even housing. You get a bigger bang for your buck.
Ryan: So what I’m hearing in summary, quality of life, it’s not necessarily that you get better things or it’s really the flow of money. If you paid less overtime for certain things in one area you’re able to adjust and spend it in another area. If you spend less on real estate you’re able to put it away for retirement, dine out more, build your bigger backyard or put the amenities in, have more family event time. To me that has a direct relationship to the quality of life. Not saying it’s good or bad, it depends on what you’re looking for.
podcast series created by WOA
This podcast series touches on a wide variety of topics from weather and lifestyle to real estate and affordability.