Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tucson for Snowbirds...a season at a glance!

It occurred to me that I had never written about a total retirement snowbird season in a RV Resort.  The emotional and financial implications of making the decision to leave home for a whole season are big.  Here is a small glimpse of what your life might be like.  Additional links to information is at the bottom of the page.  You will find more information on costs, real estate possibilities and park model living.

We begin our snowbird season in October. In Oregon, our home state, it begins to rain and turns cold. As soon as we have a few dark days our thoughts turn to our winter home. When we travel south, we leave the cold behind. It is generally very warm when we arrive but I am not sure if we just notice because it is cold in Oregon or because it is hot in Tucson. I shed my warm clothes in favor cooler ones. The warm clothes I arrive in go into storage for 6 weeks or so.

This brings up the issue of clothes that fill our needs for six months. While my husband leaves shorts, jeans, etc here in our park model, I don't do that. He tells me women are different. I don't know about other women but that does not work for me. I need clothes for the weather we find in Oregon from March through October. I use the same clothes year around. While we don't need fur lined coats in Tucson, it does make sense to pack for lots of layers. Each day in March or November, for example, can call for long pants with a jacket to short sleeve and crop pants. I change my clothes a lot. When it is winter in Minnesota it is winter in Tucson. It can snow, hail, freeze and blow here just like back home. I do not own two sets of everything so I take my clothes back and forth.

Arizona Front DoorArizona Front Door (Photo credit: Always at Home)
Fort Lowell Neighborhood 
  • Jan 38.9°F 64.5°F 
    • Feb 41.6°F 68.4°F 
    • Mar 45.1 °F 73.3°F 
    • Apr 50.5°F 81.5°
    • May 58.6°F 90.4°F 
    • Jun 68.0°F 100.2°F 
    • Jul 73.4°F 99.6°F 
    • Aug 72.4°F 97.4°F 
    • Sept 67.7°F 94.0°F 
    • Oct 57.0°F 84.0°F 
    • Nov 45.1°F 72.3°F 
    • Dec 39.2°F 64.6°F
    As we move from October toward December and the days grow shorter, the days get cooler.  Actually this is one of my favorite times of the year.  We golf and I plant flowers in my little plot in front of my park model. The park begins to fill back up and the snowbirds fly south to find warmer weather.  Our park will begin to have dances on Halloween and a big Thanksgiving dinner is served for everyone.  The people here do become like a second family.

    In December we fly back home to be with our family for the holidays. By using a Amex credit card or airline miles, we usually have enough in point to buy at least one round trip ticket. Most years we only stay for a week. Many times we have been back in the park to celebrate New Years Eve to go dancing with friends.

    It will freeze here around Christmas.  The flowers will need to be covered for a few nights. We even protect the water on some nights. I wear jeans, long sleeved tees and sweaters. We have bocce ball fun league in Nov-Dec and all the activities in our park will keep even the most dedicated recluse active.  What we have here in the park coupled with all those things going on in the city make it hard to be bored.

    Tucson is a city!  We live fairly near the Park Mall on Broadway. In the winter we love to take in a movie in the all senior citizens we take advantage of better rates on special days and hours. The mall also has restaurants and great shopping. When we settle in for the remainder of the season our life becomes very routine. But, as compared to our summer home, we are not isolated from other people. We can be with people all the time or stay out of sight. It is our choice. People gather in the coffee room in the morning and read the paper, share a story or two and then move on to the rest of their day.

    January is cool and the days are short. We place bocce ball and if we play at three in the afternoon, we are wearing ALL our layers before the game is over.  February begins to warm but it can still freeze.  Frost delays are common on the golf courses up through March. In spite of the nippy mornings the pickle ball players are whacking the ball around almost every day. We have a table outside that overlooks the courts and we are regular spectators. We love to eat breakfast in the sunshine and we always have entertainment.

    We live very frugally here. Our park model is beautiful on the inside but cost us less than a car.  We pay rent for the space. Our washer and dryer were added in the shed this year.  Before, I used the laundry room.  I like that a lot. I met some friends there. The pool is just outside the door of the laundry and I would sit in the sunshine and read as my wash tumbled dry. The clothes lines are very handy too.

    Our library here in the park is really quite extensive. Residents read their books and then donate them.  There is no cost. Neighbors read the wide selection and do it year after year.

    I am a great reader but I use a ipad or kindle to read most books. We subscribe to Cox internet.  We can afford this because we but our internet and TV service back home on vacation. No good internet service or tv package is cheap so you may as well bite the bullet and go ahead and get it. We have a wireless network in the park you can pay a monthly fee is worthless and a big pain. Talk to your neighbors before you subscribe to any wireless service. I have yet to see one that is worth the money.

    I tried the line dancing class but it turns out I don't like to get up and be at the recreation hall at 9:30 am.  Oh well, line dancing is fun to watch anyway. They added a Zumba class this year and that is a great favorite. Cards are a big favorite too and Texas Hold Em or Bridge will fill the card room.

    It is March now. The wind is blowing today and it has been windy off and on all week.  But next week the temps will be in the 80's. My husband will play golf a couple of times. By using or Easylinks he always gets the best rates.  The city golf course are generally much cheaper if you use these websites.  In fact I cannot imagine not using the computer here. and Groupon are our go to places for almost everything. Like most seniors we try to live high style at a reasonable price. Go figure!

    We love the outdoors and eat outside as much as possible. We own a space heater for our patio.  The Saguaro National Park is very nearby and we visit to watch the sunsets whenever possible.

    By April the days will be getting very warm. We usually leave the third week in the month. Water is turned off, refrigerator emptied and windows shuttered.  Our little park model "doll house" will sleep until next fall. It stays very clean because it is closed up tight. When we come back in the fall, it will not even be dusty.

    What Does Tucson Have to Offer?
    Tucson is just an hours or so north of the Mexican border. The city is divided into two section; South Tucson is a separate town and made up mostly of Hispanic residents. Tucson proper has a upscale north side and the rest of us live middle class lives in the rest of the city. The area around the U of A is the old part of town and some beautiful Territorial style houses can be found there.

    City center is beginning to show signs of a return to usefulness but really the banking and business community occupies it during the day and disappears at night. It is interesting to drive through because it retains the look of the Old Pueblo back in the day. Tattoo parlors are prevalent so the downtown has a very counter culture look. The addition of some condos and space for stores is helping the area now.   There are some very old buildings and the Congress Hotel has a great restaurant.  Just so you know, John Dillinger was captured here and the likes of Wyatt Earp visited nearby. I like that history a lot.

    Living for six month in a culture so different from the one we enjoy in summer is one of the great pleasures of this location. I always have the feeling that this is where the "Old West" lived and breathed.

    The food is fantastic. Mexican Sonoran food can be found in small family owned restaurants. We visit one on 22nd Street called Taco Giro. We are told that it has the best Sonoran cuisine around. If you are a  fan of great New Mexico Mexican food, a small place called Poco and Moms is the place to go. For more main stream Mexican we visit a place called El Rio. But if you are in the notion for white table clothes and wonder cuisine, you can find that in Tucson too. Beautiful resort like Lowe's Ventana Canyon and Marriot Resorts dot the area close to the Catalina Mountains. Tanque Verde Guest Ranch is a world renowned dude ranch and features horse back riding, bicycle tours and beautiful barbeques.

    Hopefully, if you decide to come to Tucson, you will embrace the Hispanic and Native American culture along with all that it brings. An evening spent watching the Day of the Dead parade near the University of Arizona will give you a look at what this world has to offer.  People sit in the cemeteries on the holiday with picnics and barbeque's to spend the day remember a loved one.  Small monuments sit in front of houses on country roads with a shrine housed in a tiny concrete house. The San Xavier del Bac Mission is home to the Tohono O'odam Nation.They are having the nations largest Indian PowWow this weekend. This very old mission is so very charming and the photographer's dream come true.

    However, if you don't want to ever rub shoulders with people that are unlike the ones back home or try food that is different, you should not come here. You will not like it.

    A small community called Tubac is about 40 minutes south of Tucson. Here you will find a growing thriving art community. North of Tucson along the foothills of the Catalina Mountains you will also find art studios for famous artist  Diane Maderas studio is here as is De Grazia's Studio in the Sun. The University of Arizona brings performances in through out the school year. The Tucson Gallery of Art is located in the old downtown area.

    I hope this post has been helpful for you.  Be well!


    More Information Here....Park Model Living


    1. Wow! Great post, Barb, full of snow bird information for those of dreaming of escaping cold winter temps and rain.

    2. Hi Barbara,

      We're in Tucson for the moment (or for the month, or for the winter), and we were told to come check out your blog. We're boondockers, so our style is a little different, but I love to hear about things to do and see here.

      Thanks for sharing!

      The Good Luck Duck

    3. Terrific information. Tucson is exactly where we have been talking about moving to for the winters. Interesting that it still sleets and snows occasionally. This will be my first year as a snow bird and I have lots to learn. I didn't even know about the park models. Definitely something I needed to know!

    4. Do you have to rent the park model for the entire year or only while you're there?

      1. We rent the space for our park model year around. We pay the fee annually. Thank you for your interest.

    5. Do you have to rent the park model the entire year or only the months you are there?


    Leave your thoughts...I am interested.

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