Phoenix -- How Good a Place to Live and Ride versus Similar-Sized Cities?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Phoenix -- How Good a Place to Live and Ride versus Similar-Sized Cities?

    Right now I live in Houston. The riding is terrible. Eventually we'll move, and I've been researching all that I can about a good destination to permanently put down roots. Because of my career, I need to be in a fairly large city, which rules out the true mountain biking towns. I've ridden Sedona and Flag, and loved them both, but they're too small for me to make a living.

    So my question is this: is Phoenix a good place to live and ride, compared to other similarly-sized cities? Can I own a home for $300,000 or less, with decent schools, easy trail access, and a commute less than 45 minutes (perhaps near South Mountain)?

    Other cities in contention would be Salt Lake and Boise, each of which are obviously smaller and colder.

    I've searched the forum for similar threads, but think things may have changed as the Phoenix economy has changed, and would appreciate any fresh opinions you may have.

  2. #2
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    You'll have to get used to our 100+ degree summers. Almost knocked me off last year when I ran out of water.

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    I would look at the North Valley for this. We live in South Cave Creek. I can get almost anywhere in Phoenix or Scottsdale in 30 minutes (45 minutes during rush hour), housing up here isn't too bad, and from what I have heard, the Scottsdale schools are good.

    I have several trail systems within 30 minutes of my house (Cave Creek, BCT, Sonoran Preserve , McDowell Mtn, Pima/Dynamite, PMP, etc...), some of which is within 10 minutes, or ride out my back door material.

    But the summers are hot and long as hell, and it's not green. Those are two MAJOR adjustments my wife and I are having trouble with.

  4. #4
    Kathleen in AZ
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    I chose Phoenix to settle and absolutely love it. Sure it gets hot, but you get used to it and learn to enjoy the morning hours during the summer. PD214 says north Phx but I prefer living close to South Mountain. Google Ahwatukee for a great neighborhood where South Mountain will be your backyard. But there is awesome and varied riding all over the Phx area.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalking_horse View Post
    So my question is this: is Phoenix a good place to live and ride, compared to other similarly-sized cities?

    Yes. You can ride all year long (just have to ride early or head up north to avoid summer heat). There are a ton of trails in the Phoenix area alone. Somo, PMP, MMP, MSP, Hawes, Usery, White Tanks, Gold Canyon, BCT, AZT trail etc etc. Throw in the short drive to Sedona and Flag and you will have more mountain biking than you will know what to do with.

    Can I own a home for $300,000 or less, with decent schools, easy trail access, and a commute less than 45 minutes (perhaps near South Mountain)?

    Yes. Obviously location plays a huge part into price but you can easily get a 3000 sqft 4-5 bedroom 3 car garage house for around the $300,000 price range within a 45min or less commute.
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  6. #6
    Addicted to 2 wheels
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    I think you would be hard pressed to find as much good, close mtb in such a large metro.

    Oh yes, the heat. My secret is to ride in the early eveneing when it is really hot. Drink lots of water. By not avoiding the heat, but spending time in it, you get used it. I would not go out when it broke 110 though. That basically shut me down in August.

    Boise would be pretty cool, if it can support you.

  7. #7
    SamuraiBunnyGuy
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    i jumped right into AZ last june (from chicago), and adapted no problem. In fact i prefer the 110 days to this 60's crap.

    i did get a zillow notification that phoenix area home prices, while down 6% in 2010, actually climbed 1.4 in 2011,, so it looks like the bottom has already been hit and inventories beginning to shrink.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DurtGurl View Post
    I chose Phoenix to settle and absolutely love it. Sure it gets hot, but you get used to it and learn to enjoy the morning hours during the summer. PD214 says north Phx but I prefer living close to South Mountain. Google Ahwatukee for a great neighborhood where South Mountain will be your backyard. But there is awesome and varied riding all over the Phx area.
    Good point. What kind of riding do you prefer? If you like AM or DH type rough stuff with a bit of XC too... South is the ticket. If you like XC type stuff, with mild AM mixed in (like me), North is the way to go with Cave Creek, BCT, MMP, MSP, PMP, etc...

    Keep in mind too, AZ people's idea of XC is what most people in the SouthEast would refer to as AM.

  9. #9
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    yes to all your questions - too many choices to discuss in a thread between riding systems and parts of the Valley here, you need to do some reading first and get yourself an overview. Search this forum for similar threads, they come up periodically.

    Be sure you like AZ weather, flora, politics and culture. Weather will not be too different from Houston. Another suggestion would be the Denver metro area. Tucson may also be worth a look, though smaller.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalking_horse View Post
    Right now I live in Houston. The riding is terrible. Eventually we'll move, and I've been researching all that I can about a good destination to permanently put down roots. Because of my career, I need to be in a fairly large city, which rules out the true mountain biking towns. I've ridden Sedona and Flag, and loved them both, but they're too small for me to make a living.

    So my question is this: is Phoenix a good place to live and ride, compared to other similarly-sized cities? Can I own a home for $300,000 or less, with decent schools, easy trail access, and a commute less than 45 minutes (perhaps near South Mountain)?

    Other cities in contention would be Salt Lake and Boise, each of which are obviously smaller and colder.

    I've searched the forum for similar threads, but think things may have changed as the Phoenix economy has changed, and would appreciate any fresh opinions you may have.
    Re weather: I'd take AZ summers of Houston's any day of the week. No humidity.

    I've never been to Boise, and only passed through SLC. I've heard good things about each. I'm an AZ semi-native (moved here when I was six), and been in Phoenix 15 years. Grew up in Tucson, and lived in Globe and Prescott. Would move back to Tucson in a heartbeat; can't say the same for Globe or Prescott ;-). There are hundreds of miles of trails at our doorstep, as we have a nice house 1/4 miles from the Phoenix Mt. Preserve. 2000sf, smallish lot, 3 bedrooms. Bought at close to height of market, and house is prolly worth about $250,000 now. Right in center of town, and easy access--both by car or bike--to anything.

    I ride year round, and almost never ride before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. The heat does not bother me, but then again, I've been here most of my life.

    Culture-wise, it's kind of lacking, but getting better if you know where to look.
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    Wow, thanks for so many solid responses so quickly. And by all means keep them coming. What I'm hearing is very encouraging.

    As for the heat, I know it's a bit different, but I'm accustomed to horrible summers. Houston's not as hot, but even in the early morning you can't escape it because it's trapped in the humidity.

    As for Dh vs. XC, I'm not a pure freeride type of guy, but I'm comfortable with intermediate to advanced tech stuff.

    I'm a corporate lawyer, which is what requires me to live in a biggish city. It also has long hours, which means that I place a huge premium on "out my back door" trail systems -- by the time I get home after work, it's dark. For me to get to ride much, I has to be in the morning without much transit time.

    Boise is cool but the legal market is small. My research suggests that Phoenix's is somwhere between Houston and Boise.

    I'm reasonably comfortable with what I know of "politics and culture," but I'm kind of a hard guy to categorize, so it's not like I'm looking for a very specific kind of demographic.

    Durtgurl, I've checked out Ahwatukee. Google maps says 30ish minutes to downtown. How much worse is it in rush hour?

  12. #12
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    obviously downtown will have a concentration of lawyers, but for the 'big companies' and corporate presences etc, they also can be in a lot of parts of the Valley. There is a lot in N. Scottsdale, and along I-17 in the north Valley. Probably a good selection in Tempe and some in like Chandler. I would either get your job first, or rent, til you settled in. riding spots are all over the valley, and your commute depends a lot on where\when you go or if you can take the light rail to downtown. If you are a city guy vs. a suburbs guy you can make either work if you choose smartly. That all said, downtown is going to be harder to get to via either surface streets or highway since there are interchanges and tunnels that always snarl. Seriously consider living near the light rail. Its really hard to state times without having specific routes in mind. I would definitely assume at least 30 min from anything more than a few miles away.
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  13. #13
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    Great, thanks. I realize it's unrealistic to answer all these questions in the abstract, and a lot depends on the details. But it's good to hear that the potential is there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DurtGurl View Post
    I chose Phoenix to settle and absolutely love it. Sure it gets hot, but you get used to it and learn to enjoy the morning hours during the summer. PD214 says north Phx but I prefer living close to South Mountain. Google Ahwatukee for a great neighborhood where South Mountain will be your backyard. But there is awesome and varied riding all over the Phx area.
    Yep, you gotta live close to "South Mountain" ......I have lived here my whole life ( 59 years) and I would not live anywhere but "East valley or at "Ahwatukee" .

    Right know you can get a 1.3 acre ranchett very cheap , you picked the best time to move the AZ !!

  15. #15
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    I don't think the riding can get better anywhere..I ride year round everything from desert to pines and everything inbetween. Even right now in winter I can find those mountain rides all within reach of the valley. I think the biggest thing for a true mtbr is that somo is in the heart of phx and you can find everything there from so called xc to dh and everything inbetween . However lots of hikers in the winter.

    Also IMO it doesn't matter what side of the valley you live in there is good riding to be found everywhere. As far as traffic goes it sucks for most getting into phx but living in the far east valley it takes me approx 30-45mins to get into the heart of downtown and in the eve I can get from the far west valley back to the east valley in an hr or less. Traffic coming from the north valley into central phx sucks and in the eve going back is just as bad. I have had it take me an hr to get from northern/101(glendale) to central phx when its a 20min drive outside of rush hrs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalking_horse View Post
    As for the heat, I know it's a bit different, but I'm accustomed to horrible summers. Houston's not as hot, but even in the early morning you can't escape it because it's trapped in the humidity.
    I moved here in June from Gainesville, FL... super humid (sits in a lower pocket in the middle of the state with no breeze) and hot in the summer. I thought I wouldn't be bothered by the summers here.

    Damn I was way wrong. But it's worth it (so far).

    As for traffic... Compared to every single other big city I have been in for work (Atlanta, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, OKC, Dallas, Houston, and a few more... ) Phoenix has by far the best traffic situation for a large city. Sure, it slows down. But NOTHING like Tampa or Atlanta... Only spent two days in Houston, so I don't know it very well, but traffic here *seems* lighter than there.

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    +1 on the Tuke. Good schools and downtown takes about 1/2hr during commute times
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  18. #18
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    Ahwatukee is the place. Right on South mountain, cant really grow any more, and very affordable. I would not even think of living anywhere else in the valley as long as I ride and hike, period.

  19. #19
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    If you're accustomed to Houston summers then Phx will almost be breezey in comparison ... but watch out because the lack of humidity could literally kill you.

    As a visitor to AZ from now and then, and former 10-year Austin resident, the riding scene seems to be about 2x to 4x the size of Austin's and with an essentially proportionaly increase in riding opportunities.

    Social events in Phx like Screamer, Flight of the Pigs, etc., really highlight how much more active the bike scene is.

    Of course, I have no idea about the road cycling scene in AZ, I'd hate to be out on the blacktop in the heat of the day though.

    Can't speak to living permanently out there, although I'd try it ... if the climate wouldn't kill my (swedish blooded) gal.

  20. #20
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    Unless you like cold weather, Phoenix can't be beat for big city living and world class variety Mtn biking. I have lived everywhere, and this is just what I am all about. I moved here, specifically because I needed to connect with my environment, and this was it. Right now, I long for 2pm Jun rides, but that is not for everyone. I will probably die without witnesses this way.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bear View Post
    If you're accustomed to Houston summers then Phx will almost be breezey in comparison ... but watch out because the lack of humidity could literally kill you.

    As a visitor to AZ from now and then, and former 10-year Austin resident, the riding scene seems to be about 2x to 4x the size of Austin's and with an essentially proportionaly increase in riding opportunities.

    Social events in Phx like Screamer, Flight of the Pigs, etc., really highlight how much more active the bike scene is.

    Of course, I have no idea about the road cycling scene in AZ, I'd hate to be out on the blacktop in the heat of the day though.

    Can't speak to living permanently out there, although I'd try it ... if the climate wouldn't kill my (swedish blooded) gal.
    roadie scene, of which i dabble, is quite good. North Vally, East, South and even Central Phx (dgangi's mad urban routes) are all good.
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  22. #22
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    Personally I'm not a big fan of 'allwhitetukee'...but to each their own. When we decided to move back down by South Mountain we looked around there for homes to buy and didn't really see anything wonderful....I'd say most of them are older homes now in the phase of needing work....at least the ones we saw. We decided to move back where we were before on the north side of the mountain off 24th street and Baseline. Ya, its a little more ghetto in certain spots, but overall its very mellow around our neighborhood. Everyone is friendly, we have two trailheads within a half mile of the house and a half dozen more within 3 miles in each direction. Its also a big area for roadies, and we have a nice paved canal path for casual or commuting. Not to mention we got a great deal on a ridiculous house that was only 4 years old. Oh and we actually know and talk to our neighbors.

    One thing to mention is we don't have children, so we don't really worry about the school system around here. From what I've at least seen of the elementary schools in our immediate area they are all very new and very nice looking and we have a new arts academy being built down the street. There are still a lot of old ranch homes around here so you never know what you'll find going down the street...the other day I came across a guy out walking his two llamas and a ram.

    I think the final deal for us as well was not dealing with the traffic on the freeway south of the mountain. There is one way in, and one way out so you can only imagine the nightmare that brings to your commute. We still have easy freeway access, but we also have the option of driving right into downtown on surface streets if we want as its only about 7 miles away, plus easy access into Tempe.
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  23. #23
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    One thing that has been touched on but not stated out right. We ride year round. I don't think there is another city of similar size that has the trail selection with the year round opportunities we have. Other great mountain biking cities are in the mountains and are snowed in for 6 to 9 months of the year.

    I'm partial to the East Valley, I live in a neighborhood called Red Mountain Ranch I have 3 trail heads within a mile and a half or less to the Hawes trail system. I have 40ish miles of trails that have very little hiker traffic, and although I am never more than 45 minutes from home at the furthest reaches of the system, you feel like your in another part of the world, most of the time you're out there.

    I also road ride. The street I live on is a main through far for road bikes. Most all the road clubs and bike shops in the East Valley have routs that come through my neighborhood and Las Sendas (another bigger upscale neighborhood just east of me). I can road ride many many bike lane miles before seeing a stop light, depending on the rout I choose.

    Also, I'm 25 minutes from South Mountain, 20 minutes to the airport and 30 minutes to downtown. Traffic is rarely a problem, but I don't do rush hour so that may be why.

    I lived in San Diego for 15 years and I loved it, weather/ocean. I'm not trying to move back. I love me some Phoenix.
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  24. #24
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    I said I ride year round .
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  25. #25
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    McDowell Mountain Ranch... Good Schools, good trails ( search the Quad Bypass) , tons of Hummers and fake boobs

    mmmm boobs.

    serious.. NE Scottsdale is the place to be.

  26. #26
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    I live in Gilbert and love the east valley area and enjoy riding in the Hawes area. The east valley is also close to the McDowell mountain park area which is an excellent area to ride. Ahwatukee to me seems to be a land locked area that is a bit congested. Thats my opinion. But it is very close to the South Mountain area.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by clockwork View Post
    I said I ride year round .
    Okay, there ya go poken holes in my story.

    I just want to emphasis that we are a year round riding city.
    Better than most, not as good as some.

  28. #28
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    Yup I do truly feel blessed that I can ride year round without down time. Plus the diversity of trails accessible ina short time from anywhere in the valley is staggering
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  29. #29
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    I moved here from Fresno CA back in August. I love it here. I live 4 miles from SOMO and have enjoyed riding there, as well as the other east valley trail offerings. I went back to CA for christmas and could not believe how much my technical skills had improved. I was killing my buddies on the downhill stuff. After riding Nation 3 times a week, everything else just seems a little easier.

    The weather is hot in the summer, but that's when you do dawn patrol rides, or just head up to Sedona, Flagstaff, or Payson. Its beautiful up there in the summer. In Fresno we had to drive 1-2 hours to get in a good ride, so driving to Payson or Sedona is no big deal.

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    I would look at the North Valley for this. We live in South Cave Creek. I can get almost anywhere in Phoenix or Scottsdale in 30 minutes (45 minutes during rush hour), housing up here isn't too bad, and from what I have heard, the Scottsdale schools are good.

    I have several trail systems within 30 minutes of my house (Cave Creek, BCT, Sonoran Preserve , McDowell Mtn, Pima/Dynamite, PMP, etc...), some of which is within 10 minutes, or ride out my back door material.

    But the summers are hot and long as hell, and it's not green. Those are two MAJOR adjustments my wife and I are having trouble with.
    Ditto this, except for the last part probably because I'm a native. It's hot but not humid and you can morning ride just fine. I, too live in Cave Creek and there's mountain trails all over the place. Don't know much about Houston MTBing but be prepared to climb in Arizona. Furthermore, Black Canyon Trail is a short drive from the Cave Creek area and it's MTB mecca in AZ. Featured in Dirt Rag issue #160. Yes, with the depressed real estate market here a good home can be found for $300k.


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  31. #31
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    Corporate lawyer?

    This is for you:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/arizona/craig...ay-761575.html

    Just kidding...gotta see if you lack sense of humor as much as most other mountain "cyclists"...

    This place is the best, great weather and lots of good riding.....I'm sure you could find good work here too. We have more than just awesome bikes and trails to offer....
    Check my pulse...

  32. #32
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    if mtn biking is your side thing...

    Stalking Horse,
    Last edited by bigrigmig; 01-13-2012 at 11:29 PM. Reason: wrong reply
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  33. #33
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    former GHouA resident...

    Stalking Horse,

    Forget about Memorial Park, stop driving out to Jack Brooks, and don't ever day trip out to Warda again. The only place I've ever lived that has better mountain biking than the Greater Phoenix Area, and that is close to a major corporate center, is the Colorado Front Range.

    The CFR has the same, but inverted issue that the GPhA has- you have to make special accommodations and be really committed to ride when the weather reaches extreme temps. The advantage the GPhA has is that when the weather gets hot we go up into the mountains and the riding is legendary. When the CFR gets cold you go up into the mountains and the riding is legendary, albeit on different apparatuses.

    I miss the water sports I did on the upper Texas coast where I grew up but I live in Phoenix now and the riding is amazing in the heart of the city, all around the edges of the Valley, and in the nearby mountains.

    You could make a lot of worse choices with your criteria and few better.

    Ditto on all the high temp riding warnings.
    Last edited by bigrigmig; 01-13-2012 at 11:36 PM. Reason: forgot something....
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  34. #34
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    I live in Tempe and ride the light rail to down town every day. It takes just under an hour door to door. It beats driving and saves me lots of $. There is a stop right in front of the court house. PHX downtown area is thriving and if you like sports, it's a great place to be.

  35. #35
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    Best place I've ever lived. Huge upside potential if you are making the move soon since the housing market is depressed. You can get a really nice home for 300K in Phoenix.

    Check out the Phoenix Mountain Preserve area (Northern and Highway 51), it has good riding and is close to everything.

    You should take a week vacation out here and ride all the local mountains and see what area you like the best. I'm sure we could set you up with local trail guides with some notice.

  36. #36
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    Porsche

    Quote Originally Posted by 5bravobravo View Post
    Corporate lawyer?

    This is for you:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/arizona/craig...ay-761575.html

    Just kidding...gotta see if you lack sense of humor as much as most other mountain "cyclists"...

    This place is the best, great weather and lots of good riding.....I'm sure you could find good work here too. We have more than just awesome bikes and trails to offer....
    That looks like exactly what I'll need to conquer Pheonix's technical trails! Thanks for the tip! *places bid*

  37. #37
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    Thanks for all the tips. Really good stuff.

  38. #38
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    As a big-time business traveler, I've spent a fair amount of time in just about every metro area in the USA, and I've ridden in many of them. From a MTB-access standpoint, Phoenix is unique in that it is the *only* major metro area that has "backdoor" access to decent MTB trails without living on the far fringes of the city. We have the 2 largest city parks within our borders (South Mountain and Phoenix Mtn Preserve...soon to add the McDowell's as the biggest...although that isn't really "in" the city).

    To get that in Denver you have to live in far NW Golden...or Boulder. To get that in Salt Lake City you have to live far back into the Wasatch canyons. None of which are great for commuting to work (SLC not so bad...Denver sucks). Ditto with San Diego, LA, San Francisco, and most any major metro area with access to MTB trails (>1M population).

    (FYI - I am not even counting Boise here as I would call that a mid-size city...and if you want to step down to that size of a city, you have many other cities to consider such as Tucson or Spokane WA).

    Our weather is also unique in that it allows for 12-month riding, as long as you can deal with the heat. Riding in the summer from May-Sep usually calls for 5AM wakeup calls...or trips to Flagstaff (2 hours north). Riding the rest of the year is cake.

    If you're a lawyer, odds are you are going to be working in either mid-town or downtown Phoenix, as that is where most of the legal jobs are. Both of these areas are a pretty tough commute from Ahwatukee (South Mountain Park), but are easy access from North Phoenix (Phoenix Mountain Preserve...or PMP as we call it). In fact, North-Central or Northeast Phoenix is where many of the mid-city lawyers and bankers live. If you're dead set on living near South Mountain, living on the North side gives you a *much* shorter commute to work, but then that neighborhood has many bad areas mixed in with the good.

    (FYI -- if you don't mind riding a bus to work, both NE Phoenix and Ahwatukee have park-and-ride routes to work, which is nice).

    Culturally speaking, the city is a mix. Suburbs such as Surprise, Gilbert and Chandler are a cultural wasteland (no offense...but it's true). Tempe, Arcadia (East Phoenix), Midtown/North Central Phoenix, and parts of Scottsdale are where you will find the greatest diversity...in both residents and attractions (restaurants, bars, etc).

    The political scene is pretty much the same. Live in the suburbs and you'll be governed by mainly white Mormons who look out for "family values" (some would say at the expense of many other liberties). Live in the areas I mention above, and political views are much more liberal.

    Anyway, I'm a life-long Phoenix resident with over a million miles of business travel under my belt, so I am speaking from experience with my opinions above. Of course, this is just one man's point of view, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Good luck in your search!

    Thx...Doug

  39. #39
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    [QUOTE=clockwork;8908210]I don't think the riding can get better anywhere..I ride year round everything from desert to pines and everything inbetween. Even right now in winter I can find those mountain rides all within reach of the valley. I think the biggest thing for a true mtbr is that somo is in the heart of phx and you can find everything there from so called xc to dh and everything inbetween . However lots of hikers in the winter.

    Have you been to BC and sampled the Shore, Whistler, and Squamish? I love it here too but I think as far as the riding go's they have one up on us.

  40. #40
    dirt visionary
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    Yeah but I seriously doubt they have true 100% year round riding ..Hell cali has more than us the front range has more than us also ...
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  41. #41
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    i do think the quantity (and in some cases, quality) of riding choices in metro phx is the best you can find for such a large metro area but the heat is laughable. kudos to those that get accustomed to it and manage to ride from may-sep but, frankly, i think its nuts. if you can deal with the oppressive houston summer heat then this shouldnt be too much of an issue.

    the horrid brown-cloud that hangs over much of the city all too frequently should also be considered as well as the soul-less suburbia and cultural wasteland that is most of the city. choose your 'hood wisely and that can be avoided to some extent, but even then, you are still surrounded by it.

    imo, if you can swing a living in boise, it would be a no-brainer. boise is the most underrated city ive spent time in, in the west. spokane is in the same category as well and has coeur d'alene right down the highway. day trips to southeast bc in the summer!?!?!? both of these areas maintain the lack of cultural diversity that suburban phx has just on a much smaller scale. air is clean and mountains WITH WATER are in your backyard.

    with boise you have a half day drive to targhee/jackson/yellowstone/ogden & slc which is tough to beat as well.

    slc is pretty awesome as well but you still have the lack of cultural diversity and air pollution to deal with... fortunately you dont have to get very high in the wasatch to get above the nasty inversion layer. living in many suburbs of slc like sandy and cottonwood has your backdoor right at big and little cottonwood canyons. northeast part of the city, which was some cool neighborhoods, puts you in quick striking distance of park city and more outdoor opportunities. the metro-area def has that rat-race feel like phx, though. its just the draw of the wasatch that weighs heavily enough to overlook some of that... much like all the riding opps in phx.

    i guess it boils down to how important year-round riding is to you or if you would like to be doing other things in the winter on the snow and drive to the riding (like any sane person does in phx in the summer) for part of the year.

    reno is another one that could support what you are looking for but this post is way too long already!

    if i were in your shoes im looking at it like this:

    boise
    spokane/coeur d'alene


    slc







    phx

  42. #42
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    [QUOTE=raisingarizona;8912695Have you been to BC and sampled the Shore, Whistler, and Squamish? I love it here too but I think as far as the riding go's they have one up on us.[/QUOTE]

    I have...and you're right...the riding up there is superb! However, good luck finding a job in Squamish...and that's what this thread is all about...living and riding in a community where a white-collar professional can get a job.

    When you consider that, Phoenix *is* hard to beat.

    Thx...Doug

  43. #43
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    Have you spent any winters in Spokane? It can be miserable up there! My brother-in-law spent 5 yrs as a surgeon in Spokane (after living in LA and Medford, OR). Ya the access to the great outdoors (biking, camping and skiing) was nice for him, but the winters in Spokane were brutal and the economy was the pitts. He left that town for San Diego a few years ago and he has very little good to say about Spokane now (other than the access to the outdoors).

    Speaking of the economy -- Reno is in the same category. That town is in the economic dumps and may not recover. Betting the future on casinos is proving to be a cosmic mistake for that city. Unemployment up there is one of the worst in the nation. Buying real estate in Reno would be a huge gamble.

    SLC has a diverse economy, and the Mormons do have good schools. However, if you're not a Mormon, fitting into SLC is hard. One of my wife's co-workers moved down to Phoenix from SLC last year (he was born and raised there...and was not a Mormon) and he said the difference is night-and-day. In SLC everybody knows that you aren't Mormon...and when your boss, neighbors, and co-workers are Mormons...it can be tough for a non-Mormon...especially when it comes to school and work.

    Boise is absolutely a great city, but it's small. Outdoor activities are great -- Bogus Basin is 10 miles up the hill, and there are a decent amount of mountain bike trails in the area. However, the economy there is rather limited, and it's 90% white (i.e. not diverse at all...if that matters to you). I've considered a move to Boise but, in the end, I decided against it as options for a career up there are rather limited. I would assume a laywer could do OK up there...but I am not an expert in the legal field.

    Interesting that you call Phoenix a vast cultural wasteland. How so? One could easily say that Gilbert, Chandler, Surprise, and some of the far-flung suburbs are nothing but strip mall hell...but let's face it...that same issue applies to other cities such as Denver, St Louis, and Atlanta. Whenever you have milquetoast suburban sprawl, you end up with a bunch of boring, manicured houses, Cracker Barrell's, Best Buys, and corporate movie theaters. But then that same boring populous sprawl comes with some of the best schools.

    Look at Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Tempe...much of the rest of the city is quite diverse. There are lots of older/unique neighborhoods, great local restaurants, clubs, and other activities. There are also many ethnic minorities. But along with that diversity comes some other issues, such as crime and not-as-good schools. There are some exceptions to this -- Madison school district in Phoenix, some of Tempe school district, some of PV school district, and some of Scottsdale school district -- but by and large the schools in Gilbert are going to be better than Phoenix. It's generally a tradeoff.

    Thx...Doug

  44. #44
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    All of the cities mentioned above are great towns. It really comes down to whether you are an outdoor type regardless of weather. If you love snow sports as much as mountain biking, then SLC and Reno are the way to go, IMO. If you really don't like snow and would rather be on your bike most of the year, PHX can't be beat as far as accessibility and variety.

    Although the Wasatch and Rockies surrounding SLC and Denver have great trails, they are snowed in much of the year, and even in summers not as quickly accessible as those trails in PHX. Boise as a riding town is overrated IMO. The most accessible trails on the West foothills get pretty old and mundane as far as variety is concerned. The more epic trails are a good drive away. However, if you are a whitewater nut, Boise it is!

    I love, love, love the sun. I would rather travel to get in my occasional winter sport urge and live someplace where my bike never collects dust, so AZ has been great for me.

  45. #45
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    We moved to Boise 4 years ago. Was in a similar situation you are in and looked at several places over the years. Our typical winter in Boise is cold only about 2 months long (day time highs around 30-40). Summers get hot but peak temperatures are 6pm so you can ride without having to get up early and still beat the heat. We have a lot of good trails up at Bogus Basin that are open about 5 months of the year. The trails right from town are lacking any challenging stuff except for maybe 5% of them. Your can drive to the south and east to find good challenging stuff. Great road bike riding here. You can get alot of house for 300k
    Our airport is easy to fly out of. We leave our house about 1:15 minutes before departure and still wait around the terminal. Best months to visit Boise would be May -July to check it out.
    I ride with 2 lawyers. They do corporate law but do fly out quite a bit.
    hope this helps
    oh ya, everybody speaks English here. I really like that and we are a gun friendly state just like Arizona.

  46. #46
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    while i agree that the phoenix lacks cultural diversity,, it was refreshing to be able to walk into IKEA here without everyone speaking polish...

  47. #47
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    Are we really comparing Boise to Phoenix? It would take 2 Boise's just to equal the population of Tucson. C'mon, that's not even a city right? It is easy to fly out of the airport in Boise? To where? Salt Lake City to connect to everywhere else? I can fly non-stop to London and Tokyo from Phoenix. That's a real city.

    Anyway, Phoenix rocks for riding. There are so many major trail networks contained within the city limits. Not on the outskirts, not hours away. They are in the city. Some cities have small trails, but Phoenix has epic riding in the city. Go a few miles out of town, and there is even more riding. I live in southeast Phoenix and my nearest trailhead is about 3/4 of a mile away. I can get to downtown in about 15 minutes, 20 during rush hour. I love living here.
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  48. #48
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    Thanks for all the posts. The last handful tease out a couple of more issues that I've considered.

    Regarding Boise, I agree that it's not really comparable because it's much smaller. My wife is from there, and I've spent a lot of time there and ridden most of the Ridge to Rivers system (and around Sun Valley). I love Boise, but it has a couple of drawbacks for me: (1) a less robust economy for my particular area of specialty; (2) no year-round riding; and (3) lack of diversity of trails.

    To expand a bit, I'm not into snow sports. I just like to ride my bike. So one thing I love about AZ is the year round riding potential, and that you can access different climates within two hours of driving. Not many places offer that.

    Boise has lots of spectacular singletrack, but the trails are pretty homogenous after a while. Not many tech features. Having too much buff singletrack is a great problem to have, and it seems like they're working on adding more diverse trails, but between Phx, Sedona, and Flag, Arizona seems to offer a compelling menu of choices.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalking_horse View Post

    To expand a bit, I'm not into snow sports. I just like to ride my bike. So one thing I love about AZ is the year round riding potential, and that you can access different climates within two hours of driving. Not many places offer that.
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  50. #50
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    economy is hurting for sure here. We do ride year round, you just have to travel down to Wilson creek or Celebration Park.This about an hour drive. Trails right in town are too buff except for Bobs and the skills trail at Table Rock. But you have probably to most beautiful place to ride in the US, Stanley Idaho. 4 month season there, down the road from there you have Ketchum.


    Quote Originally Posted by stalking_horse View Post
    Thanks for all the posts. The last handful tease out a couple of more issues that I've considered.

    Regarding Boise, I agree that it's not really comparable because it's much smaller. My wife is from there, and I've spent a lot of time there and ridden most of the Ridge to Rivers system (and around Sun Valley). I love Boise, but it has a couple of drawbacks for me: (1) a less robust economy for my particular area of specialty; (2) no year-round riding; and (3) lack of diversity of trails.

    To expand a bit, I'm not into snow sports. I just like to ride my bike. So one thing I love about AZ is the year round riding potential, and that you can access different climates within two hours of driving. Not many places offer that.

    Boise has lots of spectacular singletrack, but the trails are pretty homogenous after a while. Not many tech features. Having too much buff singletrack is a great problem to have, and it seems like they're working on adding more diverse trails, but between Phx, Sedona, and Flag, Arizona seems to offer a compelling menu of choices.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmitch2 View Post
    economy is hurting for sure here. We do ride year round, you just have to travel down to Wilson creek or Celebration Park.This about an hour drive. Trails right in town are too buff except for Bobs and the skills trail at Table Rock. But you have probably to most beautiful place to ride in the US, Stanley Idaho. 4 month season there, down the road from there you have Ketchum.
    Yeah, I'm definitely not knocking Boise. I love it there -- that's why it's in close contention for where I may want to be. No place is perfect. Wish I could spend winters in Arizona/Southern Utah and summers in Ketchum (and probably BC, though I've yet to ride there).

  52. #52
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    I'd say Phoenix is a good place to ride, not very good to live in IMO. It's a big metro-city. You are going to have all the good and bad aspects of a big metro area. Metro traffic, metro smog, cookie-cutter homes and developments, metro businesses (good and bad), lack of wildlife and vegetation (partly due to climate), and so on. You might be close to one of the riding areas, that you may or may not like, but you will be able to get to others with a relatively short to moderate drive. This isn't all different from quite a few other big metro areas that have nearby riding, like LA, Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, and so on. Some of these have riding "in the middle" just like Phoenix, while some have riding more on the "fringes", but it's the same deal as far as living next to or near a riding spot and having the other ones pretty closeby. The Phoenix basin is an area that stretches 60+ miles, so it's kind of like SoCal or Bay Area in terms of development and cities.

    As other's have said, air quality is among the worst, and the heat is pretty oppressive. More than anything, know what you are getting into. There are plenty of other places with just as much "year round" riding, like Oregon, California, Utah, and others (the amount of people I saw with mountain bikes going to/from Durango yesterday was huge!). Some of these may get you a little wet, some may be a little cold, but it takes some serious dedication to wake up at 4am on the weekends on weekdays to do your riding when it never gets below the 90s and is 100+ as soon as the sun is up (heat of the summer). Yes, you can drive to a different climate, but that's true of about any place here in the West in my experience and short life (again, California, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, any mountainous state). Just know what you are getting into, how hot it really is, understand the lack of cover and how it affects riding.

    I'd never compare Phoenix to any cities like Durango, Flagstaff, Colorado Springs/Boulder/other CO towns, Boise and many others. These are smaller to moderate cities geared more towards outdoor activities, they have many things that the big metro cities lack, as well as with any of the above mentioned towns you have big enough shopping and options these days where you don't have to go to some "mega metro" area to get anything. I saw more mtbs per capita yesterday in SW Colorado than I've ever seen in Phoenix, and this supposedly "the riding season" here in AZ. Obviously it's a low-snow year, but it just goes to show you how these towns are geared(pun!). These towns just don't compare. The big metro areas are for "big city"-living and jobs that require people to live in or near such a city. You can make it work and Phoenix is definitely one of "the" cities that has significant riding nearby, no doubt about that. Just realize that the "2hr drive" every weekend in the Summer may get kind of repetative and logistically a pain.
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