Retire in Tucson?

We visited Arizona because my parents thought retirement in Tucson might be an option in the future – and I hopped along with them!  We combined their interest with a short vacation and a visit to a college campus for a friend. So, let’s find out why you should retire in Tucson!  Check out Birdie’s take on Tucson.

My Tucson Experience


  • Tucson is a modern city with little resemblance to its past cowboys and gunslingers reputation
  • Hot and dry is the normal Tucson climate, but it was hotter and dryer than normal during my visit, given that the Southwest was in a drought. I hoped to visit the Rillito River Park Trail, but when I discovered that the Santa Cruz river was a dry river bed I decided against it.  The best time to visit the river is in monsoon season (July-mid-September).
  • Driving 30 minutes north of Tucson one will find the Catalina Foothills that emanate from a forest of Saguaro cacti and small brush to pines at the higher elevations as one nears Mount Lemon.
The blue skies and white clouds of the Catalina foothills and Mount Lemon. This idyllic scene is a point in favor of a decision to retire in Tucson..

Heading to Mount Lemon

  • Mount Lemon was dry, but with refreshing cooler temperatures compared to Tucson (which resides on a valley floor). Mount Lemon peaks at 9,157 feet and provides scenery of mountains and rolling hills with cliffs, boulders plus a variety of trees.  All this is set against a backdrop of blue sky sprinkled with white clouds that created a moment of calm and awe for this viewer.

Historic Site

  • San Xavier Catholic Mission outside of Tucson was founded by Father Eusebio Keno in 1692. The current church was built in the late 1700’s. Restoration was underway during our visit. I found the small museum and exhibits of cacti and other desert plants as well as the chapel provided a meditative calm
San Xavier Mission, view of the architecture and cactus and desert landscaping influential in decision whether to retire in Tucson.

San Xavier Mission

Intricately woven basket from the Tohono O'Odham reservation in southern Arizona from trip to determine advisability of retirement in Tucson.

Tohono O’Odham Basket

  • The San Xavier website has the following information: ”Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. The last resident Franciscan of the 19th Century departed in 1837. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States. In 1859 San Xavier became part of the Diocese of Santa Fe.  Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission in 1872. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity now teach at the school and reside in the convent. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity website and select from the left menu on the History page.”
Prickly Pear cactus are among the flora and fauna that may influence a decision to retire in Tucson.

Prickly Pear Cactus

  • San Xavier’s alternate name is San Xavier Del Bac with “Del Bac” meaning where water rises. I found only parched countryside.
  • Pick up some Prickly Pear Cactus jelly while at the museum gift shop.

Final Thoughts on Why You Should Retire in Tucson

  • I found the city of Tucson (population 500,000) modern and clean. Though in a dry and desolate area, its citizens have created a city that provides a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Northerners find retirement in Tucson a pleasant break from cold and snow, and have a range of housing options from condominiums and townhouses, to beautiful new homes at the foot of Mount Lemon. Financial managers follow a money trail to Arizona.
  • Although I found the desert and southwest plains climate and topography interesting, my parents did not leave with a feeling that a retirement in Tucson was in their future. The lack of water, plants, and trees was more noticeable than I personally would have imagined ahead of the visit.

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