We moved to Tucson 11 years ago after one too many gloomy winters in the Pacific Northwest. The desert is a fascinating place to live and visit. If Tucson is on your list of “places I want to sit” here are some tips I hope you’ll find useful.
For about six months the weather here is almost perfect. Endless sunny days and cool nights. Even when it’s 95F outside, find a shady place and it can feel like heaven. This is roughly October through April.
As for those other six months…it’s not so perfect. Temps regularly top 100F starting in May and can stay there through September. You’ll be fine running errands and such, but if you want to spend serious time outside, like hiking, make sure you’re done by 9 am at the latest. A sit with a pool is a definite bonus this time of year.
TIP ONE: Does the sit have air conditioning? As strange as it may sound, not everyone who lives in the desert has air conditioning. They may have evaporative cooling. It cools by pumping moist air into the house. It doesn’t work as well as regular air conditioning and it feels kind of muggy. There’s a reason we call them swamp coolers.
TIP TWO: The best things to do here are outside. We have a few museums and shopping malls, but if you’re relying on them for entertainment you’ll get bored fast. We do have hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, and golf courses. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is a must-see. But be prepared. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need plus sunscreen, good walking or hiking shoes, and a hat. Even in the cool winter months, you can dehydrate or get sunburned quickly.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ROAM
Stay here long enough and you’re sure to see bobcats, coyotes, and maybe even a mountain lion. The wildlife here go about as if they own the place and merely tolerate us humans.
This is a point of pride for many locals. We love being able to look out our window and see a bobcat lounging in the yard, or hearing the coyotes howl at night.
We also have critters here that don’t exist in most other places in the US. Strange pig-like animals called javelinas. Colorful reptiles known as gila monsters (the most venomous reptile in North America). If you’re really lucky you may see coatimundi or ring-tailed cats.
TIP THREE: Never leave pets outside by themselves. It’s way too easy for a coyote or wild cat to turn Fido into an appetizer. Does the house have high walls around the yard? That won’t keep out the predators. They can easily leap or scale those obstacles.
TIP FOUR: Keep your dogs leashed on walks. You know to avoid javelinas, gila monsters, and rattlesnakes. But your dog may not. A close encounter with any of these is a good way to end up in the ER (for you and your pet).
IT’S A HIT-OR-MISS KIND OF PLACE
Sometimes family and friends will ask me to check out vacation rentals for them. The photos of the inside of the home look wonderful. But when I visit the neighborhood it’s often a dump. People may be mad at me for saying this, but a lot of Tucson looks run down.
TIP FIVE: There are some outstanding parts of town, but before agreeing to a sit my advice is to do a Google drive through the neighborhood.
TIP SIX: Areas like Sam Hughes or the Foothills are generally nice. Oro Valley is a nearby town with lots of good homes as is Vail. But they’re further away from downtown and Vail feels particularly isolated. Marana is usually an okay spot, too. Further south, Green Valley caters to retired persons and Tubac is a funky artist town.
Was this helpful? Let me know and I may add expand on what I wrote. Happy Travels!