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I live in Pittsburgh and am retiring from the US civil service next year at age 52 (my wife retired this year) and we are looking for active retire in a scenic and cool area of the southwest. We had bought land in San Luis, Colorado but now think that is too high (7500").
I have former co-workers in Pinetop and in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona. We drove around the area last and liked it all. And I liked Payson but it was hot there in July.
Can anyone give me insights about that White Mountain area and the relative desirability of Heber or Pinetop?
Showlow is definitely a better area if you want to live close to most amenities such as shopping, doctors and healthcare facilities. Showlow is a small community, but has a great deal more to offer than most small mountain communities. There is a plethora of places to live, both in the city and on the fringes. Showlow has about the same climate as Heber/Overgaard, whereas those two areas have no amenities what-so-ever, they are more rural. They are about 30 miles apart. A great deal of the countryside around Heber/Overgaard was burned in the 2nd largest forest fire in American history (about 1/2 Million acres) just a few years ago and will be a long time recovering. Payson is about 90 miles SW of Showlow and is warmer, more crowded and pricier than Showlow. Skip it.
There is a brand new subdivision going in on the fringes of Showlow's city limits, which is a masterplanned community. Residents will be able to walk to shopping, golf, fishing, and live planned events. I too am retiring soon, and just visited there today and was so impressed I am thinking of moving there. As a side note, I am not Mormon and while it may be an issue in some other communities, it is not an issue in Showlow today. Showlow, is big enough to offer most anything you might need, while still offering a quiet, slow paced style of living.
Good Luck in your quest. Having lived all over this state, I would be happy to share info. with you about any of the other cities in Arizona which you might like information. I am not a realtor and do not have any reason to convince you about a given area, I just love this state. My wife and I have travelled the U.S. looking for Valhalla, we always agree there is no place like this state!
I live in Show Low, Heber-Overgaard is only 30 miles. We are at 6400 ft, winters are mild & summer average high 80's. I don't have air cond, but a fan works well. The snow melts in a couple of days. Alot of Mormon here but friendly people. There are churches of all denominations. Pinetop is very touristy & has alot of Agnostic religion and Indians.
I retired in Dec 2007 & decided on Show Low after pondering homes in Heber-Overgaard. They are only 30 mi apart & Show Low offered more amenities. Heber-Overgaard has no shopping & you must go to SL or Payson to grocery shop. Also, HO is mostly septic, and sewer was a must for me after living on septic for 28 years in So Cal. Show Low has a large retirement & resort population and there is always something to do for retirees. Not anything for children or teens tho so if I was raising a family it would not be the place to live. Population is around 10,000 but swells to 20,000 in summer as many homes are vacation homes for the Phoenix, Tuscon people. Very friendly, with a trauma center, 2 med helicopters, Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot, small Penney's, Sear, & Kmart. Lots of fast-food & small restruants. A slow, easy pace, lots of fishing, hiking, camping. Pinetop-Lakeside is only 8 miles, the casino 12 mi, and ski Sunrise is only a 40 min drive.
We too are retired US Civil Service. My wife at one point considered a job with the Forest Service in that area.
But if you are getting older consider the fact that you are pretty limited as to what kind of medical care you can get there and it's a bit of a drive. Even then it won't been anything close to a decent trauma center.
Shopping is also an issue as there is not much there as you most likely know.
Wells are expensive to drill in that area and when we were looking at property it seemed the normal was a mound system which costs more to do.
She decided against the job there needless to say.
As your medical plans are the same in retirement check on doctors and facilities on plans that are available for that area. You may be surprised on what you do or don't find.
Enjoy your retirement, we sure are!
As one who lives in the White Mountains and hopes to move away soon ...
We love Heber, but it is right on top of the Rim and gets more snow at times than Pinetop or Show Low. Fewer amenities (groceries, shopping, movie theaters, etc) than Pinetop. However, it is right in the middle of some great country for hiking, fishing, etc.
Both communities have a high rate of drug users. Not impressed by the "Mountain Time" mentality, and prepare for everyone to know who you are - all of the time (typical small town - don't expect anonymity). The population in both places is about 50% Mormon and yet there are also plenty of Catholics and Baptists as well. I think the trick to finding friends will be not to isolate yourself (i.e. don't expect to meet a lot of people if you choose a home that is several miles off the beaten path and then don't involve yourself in any kind of activities - whether Church, Volunteering, or otherwise).
Additionally, if medical services are of any concern at all to you ... be aware that the one and only hospital in the area (which is 45 minutes from Heber) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of competence. They also use the absolute highest fee charts that they can get away with, and have been described by our pediatrician as "a wealthy hospital" largely in part to their predatory collection practices and absurd pricing. We are a family with young children, and this is one of the biggest reasons we are considering a move - lack of medical choices and competent care in certain fields. We spend a LOT of time driving back/forth to the Phoenix area for our medical care. So if medical is a concern, think of Heber so that you will be closer to better hospitals (hospital in Payson is about one hour from Heber - better choice by far!).
Good things .... hmmm. I am thinking. Trees. Treees are pretty. Oh yes. In general, people here will band together to help one another. And apart from the crime caused by drug users, domestic violence, and rampant alcoholism (lots of DUI's - see the paper at [URL="http://www.wmicentral.com"]www.wmicentral.com[/URL] ), there seems to be little "other" crime. If you are an outdoors type, there is enough to do here to keep you busy all spring/summer. A couple of years ago they opened up a Lowes across from Home Depot. Oh yes, and they are opening a Discount Tire soon, although we still have not seen the promised Trader Joe's, Costco, Olive Garden, or Target that have been rumored for quite some time. Grocery shopping consists of two choices - Safeway or Wal-Mart. We could use more restaurants that AREN'T Mexican food.
We are considering Prescott, AZ. LOVE the historic district, courthouse square, and milder weather. It is very close to other communities that are a lot of fun for day trips and exploring (Camp Verde, Jerome, Flagstaff, Sedona, Williams). It has a small town feel while still being just a little over one hour to the suburbs of Phoenix. Weather is colder than Payson but a lot warmer than Heber.
To be honest if i had the chance i would so get a small cabin or house in any town on the white mountains it wouldn't matter to me. But since you need the basic amenities showlow, pinetop, and maybe springerville or eagar arizona will fit your needs perfectly.
I usually take extended vacations during the summer months, and the Pinetop/Lakeside area is where I often stay. It's definitely a small town atmosphere, but there are still plenty of shops & restaurants that even somebody from Phoenix can enjoy and not become too bored. The main reason I go up there is to escape the heat. Summer temperatures often peak in the 80s ... only once in a while do high temperatures reach the 90s, but it's always pleasantly cool at night. From July to about the middle of September, afternoon thundershowers are common, which has even more of a cooling effect.
Also, Show Low connects right on to Pinetop/Lakeside ... and when you drive down Highway 260, it seems like a mini metropolitan area. What can't be found in Pinetop as far as restaurants or shopping can usually be found in Show Low. Nothing upscale by any means, but all the basic services are available plus some. For a small town, Show Low looks and feels larger than what it is.
I would avoid Payson because it's lower elevation, and the summers are much hotter than what you will find further east in the White Mountains. It's typically over 90 degrees every day in Payson during the summer months, and it can even reach 100 or more on occasion. It's not what I would consider a cool escape from the Phoenix heat. Pretty much anywhere from Show Low on eastward is much more ideal for summer getaways due to the lack of heat.
You are right about those 100°+ temps in Payson. A few years back our family was camping in that area in early June and it went over that and stayed there. All we wanted to do was find the shade and keep moving the lawn chairs to keep them in the sun.
3 days of that and we went home.
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