My Family Is Moving to Arizona!

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My family is moving to Arizona in a few days. We had planned to go for months. And then we couldn't go. Now, suddenly we are packing our bags. I've been suffering from migraine headaches and what I assume are near panic attacks due to all of the stress of preparing for the move and my worries over whether we're making the right choice. But I'm glad we're going. I'm ready for a change and a new adventure. If you're wondering, “Should I move to Arizona?” Then this story might help you decide if life in Arizona is right for you.

Moving to Arizona
Off to pricklier pastures – moving to Arizona (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Over 14 years ago I moved to San Diego with my then-fiancé and now husband of many years. We had start-up company dreams and beach wishes. With me entering business school full-time, him taking a cut in pay, and the difference in cost of living, we took a 70 percent cut in pay to plow our way out of the snow of Minnesota and into the shores of Southern California.

We've clung to the California dream for years. We almost moved away once before, to Silicon Valley or back to Minnesota, whichever job made the offer first. Then my husband's miracle job swooped in to save us. I couldn't picture starting my family outside shore-lined San Diego. I had envisioned a beach baby who would giggle at the delight of ocean at her toes. I got her. And then I got my little sand digger boy a few years later.

But here's the thing. We rarely go to the ocean. Ocean waves in San Diego are too big. The water is too cold. Eventually, the dream job turned into a nightmare when the economy crashed into a frothy mess. My husband works in the mortgage industry. They're the first ones to feel the pain and the last ones to see relief.

Last year when my family began considering a move, we talked about Portland, Costa Rica, Minnesota, and, yes, Arizona. I lived in the Phoenix area from age 8 to 22, save one year in France during college. I swore I'd never go back to hands burnt on a blazing steering wheel and blow drier air blasting from open summer car windows. One day I marched into my husband's home office and announced, “I can't live in Arizona. We have to take it off the table.”

But then things changed with his job. We were doing well, making good money, actually SAVING money for the first time in years. Then his company switched sails. They priced themselves out of the market on purpose, afraid of upcoming financial changes. Again we were bobbing in the sea without a motor. We needed to swim to shore…somewhere where housing is more affordable. Somewhere we could breathe again without swallowing salt water.

Again, I marched, “We need to move to Arizona. It's the only thing that makes sense.” And it did. My husband could keep his sales territory and commission. We would have more money to spend and save. My parents live in Arizona. So does my brother and his two kids. The Mexican food in Arizona is as good as what you'll find in Mexico, if you ask me. Plus, there's so much more to do in Phoenix now than when I was growing up. Besides, we'd have a backyard swimming pool. We decided to dive in.

We put our dream house up for sale. For months we prepared our children to leave the only home they'd ever known. Then we hit a reef. No more Arizona. We needed to stay put due to a job change for my husband. With Travel Mamas, I can live anywhere. Him? Not so much. Suddenly, we wanted Arizona ever so much.

For months we searched for an affordable rental home that met our expectations in San Diego, with no luck. And then…a break in the waves. My husband's new company said we were free to venture to sunnier and more cactus-filled pastures. This was just a couple of weeks ago.

Still, I can't help but feeling it's not the desert for which we are destined. It's like we were stuck in the dream of San Diego and Scottsdale is our first step to getting unstuck. Today I told my husband that I see Arizona as a stepping stone, that I cannot picture living the rest of my life in the desert. I was surprised when he said, “Me neither. I can't believe I'm moving to Arizona. But it makes sense. We want to live near family. It's more affordable. This is what we're doing.”

I asked our two kids, “If it were up to you, and it isn't, would you rather stay in San Diego or move to Arizona?”

Sea of cholla cactus, Arizona
A sea of cholla cacti (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

They both answered right away, “Arizona!”

“Why?” I asked.

“Family!” they said.

So off we go to Arizona.

When I close my eyes I envision rain and green and wet and trees. That's where I think I belong. But off we go to the desert.

Off we go on a new, drier adventure. I look forward to sharing our journey with you…cactus thorns, swimming pools and all!

Want to know more about our move to Arizona and how we settled in? Take a look at this story about adjusting to life in Arizona!

Are you considering moving to Arizona, too? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Hope moving went great! I have been wanting to move to Arizona for years as well but I own a horse farm in Texas. So I have to work this process of moving my horses through and be really prepared. Your article is really helpful and inspiring. Thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      So happy to provide some help and inspiration! Best of luck with your move to Arizona — this is a great place for horseback riding!

  2. Arizona Tints says

    Hey Colleen,

    Best of luck with the move! I am from Arizona. This is a nice place. It has so much to offer, aside from low living cost, we also have a lot of mountains and other photogenic scenes.

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