Last fall, I spent 8 weeks living in Phoenix, Arizona while my fiancé played baseball in the Arizona Fall League. I have lived in a lot of different places, but I’ve only lived west of the Mississippi River once (Rochester, Minnesota). While I’ve visited the West quite a bit, I was sure visiting there was going to be different from living there. Although 2 months isn’t a long time to get to know a place, I definitely got comfortable enough to be able to pass on some of the things I think you need to know about Arizona.
8 Things You Need to Know About Arizona
It really is just a dry heat
This blew my mind, but the heat in Arizona really is (as everyone says) just a dry heat. I lived in Florida last summer right before moving to Arizona last fall. Florida has a tropical climate, which makes it hot, but also extremely humid. Arizona has a desert climate, which makes it hot as well, but without the humidity. I would take 100 degrees of Arizona dry heat over 85 degrees of Florida humidity any day of the week. Seriously.
Mountains and snow in the North, Palm Trees and desert in the South
I was surprised by how much the climate of Arizona changed from the North of the state to the South. The Phoenix area and South is extremely dry desert with lots of palm trees and very little rain. Flagstaff and North is void of palm trees and instead covered in mountains that are often snow covered in the fall, winter, and spring months.
The retired population is booming
Arizona, much like Florida, has a very large retired population. In fact, nearly 30% of Arizona’s population is retired. In general, Arizona is a cheaper place to retired to than Florida. For this reason, Arizona is home to many retirement communities.
It actually can get cold(ish)
Ok, hear me out on this one. I lived in Arizona during the fall. Daytime was beautiful and in the 70’s-80’s, but evening and night time was chilly! Temperatures in Arizona can fluctuate by as much as 20-30 degrees from the daytime high to the evening low. I sat at quite a few of my fiancé’s evening baseball games in 50-60 degree temps. Compared to Wisconsin winters, that’s nothing, but by Arizona standards it was down right chilly.
Brown, brown, and more brown
I knew Arizona was desert, but I was still surprised with how brown everything was. Lawns are few and far between, trees are replaced with cacti, and it’s rare to find a home that isn’t some shade of beige, taupe, or brown. Even the mountains, while beautiful, are brown.
It’s incredibly beautiful
Arizona is insanely beautiful. Yes, it’s very brown. Yes, I missed grass. But honestly, Arizona made up for everything I missed with everything it had to offer. The mountains left me breathless. The abundance of hiking close by had me in outdoor fitness heaven. Even just the few hour drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, or Antelope Canyon had me pulling off the road unable to pass up a picture of a stunning landscape.
Related: Tips for Hiking Camelback Mountain
Dust storms galore
Tornados, hurricanes, and flooding is all something I’ve dealt with but a dust storm was a completely foreign concept to me. Because most of Arizona is so dry extremely windy days are prone to wind storms. This might sound lame and not like a huge deal but trust me, it makes doing a lot of things extremely hard, especially driving.
Daylight savings time isn’t a thing
Arizona (along with Hawaii) does not observe day light savings time. Arizona actually participated in day light savings time for one year (1966). It was soon noticed that more sunlight in the evening, in a place the endures scorching summer temps, meant more air-conditioning and more energy being used. In 1967 Arizona voted to opt out of daylight savings time.