This I Have Learned: Living in Arizona

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

It goes without saying that we all have moved to the state of Arizona for a multitude of reasons: the weather, the topography, the dark skies, the ability to be outdoors every day of the year, and the myriad of activities that can be had, especially while living in an over age 55 active adult community.

From SaddleBrooke, one can drive a mile north, east, or west and find him/herself in a landscape that resembles the moon. Isn’t that what we like—the ability to be untethered, if you will, in order to escape from the hustle and bustle of what happens in one’s daily life?

There are so many perks to living in Arizona, especially in this part of the state. For one, because Tucson is a college town, it has a relatively diverse population. This means that Tucson is culturally rich and affords opportunities to attend many cultural events.

Tucson also has more than 1,200 restaurants and bars—two-thirds of them are locally owned, and many are City of Gastronomy “certified,” meaning that they are strongly connected to the local food system and use environmentally and socially responsible business practices (according to Here magazine). It was in December 2015 that UNESCO proclaimed Tucson a City of Gastronomy.

Arizona is a dark-sky state with world-famous observatories that have state-of-the-art observatory equipment. According to Visit Arizona, Arizona is home to more certified Dark Sky Places than anywhere else in the world. No country outside the U.S. can rival the state’s 16 dark-sky communities, places, and parks.

Those living in SaddleBrooke live in a park-rich environment; there are over 148 parks in Pima County, and Pinal County has five state parks, four wilderness areas, three national monuments, two national forests, and a national scenic trail.

If one is interested in a road trip from SaddleBrooke, one can jump into his/her car for a five-hour trip to see the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater, or the Painted Desert. And, there are 47 National Landmarks in our state! The list of beautiful spaces in Arizona goes on and on.

All of these considerations notwithstanding, Arizona is still home to rattlesnakes, scorpions, Gila monsters, coyotes, and mountain lions. However, these animals are a part of the personality of our beautiful Sonoran Desert.

But space—do we have enough space here? Based on the 2019 Census, we do. Arizona has a population of 7,278,717 and is 113,653.1 square miles in size. Quickly doing the math, that means 64 people per square mile. Hmmm.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don’t fence me in.

This I have learned…