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Old 09-11-2013, 11:01 AM
 
16 posts, read 41,751 times
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Hello, first time posting here. My family might be moving to Tucson in the near future and I am trying to find some of the best places to live in the area. Since everyone's idea of "best" varies depending on what they care about, I have listed below the criteria that we care about. Please make suggestions based on these criteria. I realize that not all of the criteria will be completely satisfied. The first three are easily the most important.

1. Schools. I have three young children (oldest in kindergarten), and we are moving from MA where schools are quite good, so schools are a major concern. In particular, elementary schools are what we care about at this point. Any pointers on other sources/websites that may give us more info. about the schools would also be greatly appreciated.

2. Proximity to airport. My potential employer is right by the airport, and I hate long commutes. The shorter the commute, the better.

3. Family-friendly---safe, quiet, things to do with kids (parks, libraries, pool, etc).

4. Green/vegetation and beautiful, varied terrain would be nice. Anything to soften the adjustment of moving to the desert.

5. Nice quiet safe neighborhood to go on walks or for jogging.

6. Cost of housing is of course a criteria. But coming from expensive Boston, this is not at the top of our list. Also, we do not need a huge or fancy home.

7. Close enough to grocery stores and general stores. Don't really care about restaurants/night life/other city amenities. Don't need to be near large shopping malls or museums or the like.

8. Hopefully a neighborhood with other families with kids (as opposed to, say, a retirement community). However, would not mind some diversity with some retired people, some younger, some families, some hispanic, etc. Living around educated people is a plus. Living around snobs or racists is not.

9. A nearby gym (as in, within several miles) would be a plus. Close to mountains and hiking would also be a plus. However, we would like to avoid scorpions and other dangerous critters, and fewer coyotes/etc.---maybe this contradicts the closer to mountains.

10. We have a slight bias toward SE side because we already know some people that live in and near Vail. But driving from the other side of Tucson to see them would not be a big deal at all.


Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Colorado - Oh, yeah!
833 posts, read 1,601,333 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob32 View Post
Hello, first time posting here. My family might be moving to Tucson in the near future and I am trying to find some of the best places to live in the area. Since everyone's idea of "best" varies depending on what they care about, I have listed below the criteria that we care about. Please make suggestions based on these criteria. I realize that not all of the criteria will be completely satisfied. The first three are easily the most important.
Some details like how big of a house (rent or buy) and what your budget is will help, but in short, it sounds like the Vail/Rita Ranch area would be great for you. There are other areas of town that could work (NW, Oro Valley, Sahuarita), but since #1 on your list is schools, I give the edge to any place in the Vail School District.

Quote:
1. Schools. I have three young children (oldest in kindergarten), and we are moving from MA where schools are quite good, so schools are a major concern. In particular, elementary schools are what we care about at this point. Any pointers on other sources/websites that may give us more info. about the schools would also be greatly appreciated.
Vail is the best in the area, some say in the state. Limited pre-K and Kindergarten is half day, but there are after school services available.

Quote:
2. Proximity to airport. My potential employer is right by the airport, and I hate long commutes. The shorter the commute, the better.
Raytheon?

20 Minutes from Rita Ranch to the airport entrance; a couple minutes longer to Raytheon. The other areas I mentioned aren't that much farther, but you will want to avoid the foothills as you would have a 45+ minute drive on surface streets that would drive you crazy. If you go to the NW side, proximity to I-10 will be important.

Quote:
3. Family-friendly---safe, quiet, things to do with kids (parks, libraries, pool, etc).
Rita Ranch has a park and a pool (never been to it, seems to busy and the season is limited). Other areas will have more, Vail will have less.

Libraries are around, but not in abundance.

Quote:

4. Green/vegetation and beautiful, varied terrain would be nice. Anything to soften the adjustment of moving to the desert.
I happen to have a house for rent with a great, green back yard and a really nice shade tree, but that is the exception. You can get more green as you move towards the foothills, but that is very seasonal and still pretty rare.

Quote:
5. Nice quiet safe neighborhood to go on walks or for jogging.
Lots of places fit this criteria. Generally speaking, if you are in a good school district, you will be in a safe area.

Quote:
6. Cost of housing is of course a criteria. But coming from expensive Boston, this is not at the top of our list. Also, we do not need a huge or fancy home.
How big? How much per month? Rent or buy?

Look at zillow, but generally speaking $1100/month you can rent a 1600 sq. foot 3BR/2BA. 2100 sq. foot, 4BR/2-3 BA will be $1300-1500. Be prepared for small yards, most newer areas have lots in the 4,500 - 6000 sq foot range.

If buying, be very aware of the how the house sits relative to the sun. Your first June electric bill can be quite a shock.

Quote:
7. Close enough to grocery stores and general stores. Don't really care about restaurants/night life/other city amenities. Don't need to be near large shopping malls or museums or the like.
Of the places I have mentioned, only Vail doesn't have a grocery store. The NW side has the most to do.

Quote:
8. Hopefully a neighborhood with other families with kids (as opposed to, say, a retirement community). However, would not mind some diversity with some retired people, some younger, some families, some hispanic, etc. Living around educated people is a plus. Living around snobs or racists is not.
Most of the places I talked about are generally family oriented; Rita Ranch and Sahuarita especially.

Quote:
9. A nearby gym (as in, within several miles) would be a plus. Close to mountains and hiking would also be a plus. However, we would like to avoid scorpions and other dangerous critters, and fewer coyotes/etc.---maybe this contradicts the closer to mountains.
Rita Ranch has a Snap Fitness (roghly $30 a month), it is a smaller gym and won't have a pool or sauna, etc, but it is a good neighborhood place. LA Fitness is scattered around town as are several others. Sahuarita is the only area that I can't conclusively say has a gym within a 15 minute drive.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:02 PM
 
16 posts, read 41,751 times
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Thanks for the informative reply! I will definitely look into those areas you recommended, especially the Vail/Rita Ranch (although the "no grocery stores" part kind of scares me). Not sure yet if we will rent or buy, but we will be somewhere in the range that you mentioned (3br/2ba on the low end, 4br/2-3ba on the high end). Haven't ironed out the exact figures yet. And we'll consider the direction that the sun hits the house; I'm assuming you mostly want to avoid the main windows being on the west side of the house?

I don't know anything about Rita Ranch, other than that it is in the Vail school district but is closer to Tucson. Sounds good to me. Does Vail have any advantages over Rita Ranch?

If anyone else has any tips, please chime in as well!
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:44 PM
 
2,672 posts, read 2,559,006 times
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Indian Ridge which is on the NE side and would be about 11-12 miles from the Airport I think would be attractive. Its next to the Tucson Country Club. Indian Ridge still has its own swim team kind of a throwback to the 60's and 70's. This is an established community but the houses are older. It would still be a terrific place to raise kids. Its near a lot of shopping including a very cool little Miniature Golf Course and some rides. The schools are a little ways away but not too far except for the High School. You could move near the grade school Fructhendler but you would be out of walking distance of the stores. Leaving Indian Ridge and heading a little further North on Sabino Canyon you will find a mix of houses with higher prices. The commute to the Airport is about 25 minutes.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:52 PM
 
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I found this video-article on the historic Indian Ridge neighborhood. https://www.azpm.org/s/5985-history-...-indian-ridge/ If cost wasn't an objective then the Tucson Country Club would be attractive. It has public streets so you can drive through it although it feels private. Its right next to Indian Ridge.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,875 posts, read 15,294,290 times
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I'm a big fan of the largely unmessed-with mid-century modern ranch houses in the borregokid's Indian Ridge (15 miles from the airport). And I doubt I'm alone given that there appear to only be three currently for sale ($200,000 - $275,000). Two are in Indian Ridge Estates:

Property Details - 6941 E Acoma Pl Tucson Arizona 85715
Property Details - 7060 E Katchina Ct Tucson Arizona 85715

And the third in Indian Ridge Terrace:
Property Details - 3062 N Sagehen Ct Tucson Arizona 85715

The downside is, being in the city, they are part of the Tucson Unified School District. Not something I would normally recommend, although the elementary school serving that neighborhood is highly rated and parents in the area have a reputation for being involved with their local schools:
Fruchthendler Elementary School

If you like the Central Tucson ambiance of walkable neighborhoods and older architecture, one of the highest-rated neighborhoods in the city is called the Sam Hughes District. At about 9 miles by car, it's a bit easier commute to the airport. It encompasses a larger area than Indian Ridge and its homes fall in a much broader age (1920s-80s) and price range. The architectural diversity of the area makes the Sam Hughes House Tour arguably the most popular in the metro. Sam Hughes really seems more like a village than an in-city neighborhood, complete with some Mom&Pop businesses and walking distance to the University. It's a very popular place for university faculty to live. Hughes Elementary is another well-rated TUSD school with a lot of parent involvement.
Sam Hughes Elementary Home

To see the houses for sale go to "Create your own Tucson home search" (link below) and look for "Sam Hughes" under the drop-down menu labeled "Community."
Create Your own Tucson Home Search

Another interesting choice, if you would like a house built in the 21st century, is the master-planned, eco-friendly, supposedly-sustainable community of Civano, in the southeast quadrant of the metro, 13 miles from the airport. Houses range from $160,000 to $400,000, priced largely based on size and amenities. It is served by the well-respected Vail Unified School District and even many of the elementary kids can walk to school. It has a beautiful community center, parks and playgrounds, a B&B called The Inn at Civano, its own neighborhood coffee shop, and the famous-city-wide Civano Nursery. Being a lot farther from the city it probably has a lower crime rate than you'll find even in the more expensive in-city neighborhoods.

Here's an instructive architectural case study about the community:
Community of Civano in Tucson, Arizona : UnSprawl Case Study : Terrain.org
I remember someone I know finding a rental there. Houses for sale in Civano can be found on the same Community menu I linked for Sam Hughes, as well as here, which includes more photos:
Civano Real Estate & Civano Tucson Homes For Sale - Zillow

Best of luck. I'm sure others will chime in with additional ideas.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:42 PM
 
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I have always liked Civano a lot. The home are energy efficient and the neighborhoods are terrific. Its a little higher priced but the HOA fees are pretty reasonable. There is supposed to be a Super Walmart being built soon which would really make it attractive. Now you have to drive some distance to a food store. I found a place that was built kind of like Civano but 45 years ago. We have a total of one child in our community out of 169 homes. I am guessing over time Civano will trend to retirees.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:43 PM
 
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I have to agree the vail school district statistically is rated the best. However, we moved into Rancho Sahuarita two years ago from washington state and we still agree that it's the only place in Tucson that we are committed to calling home. I cannot give an opinion on the school district here, we virtual school at home. It fits our needs better than a brick and mortar school. Lunch is better too!

The community here is amazing though. Very close shopping and resteraunts. There are many parks and excellent walking paths. The main pool and a private water park at the community clubhouse plus two additonal satellite pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a minature golf course and a kids club and teen room plus a full gym keep us busy. There are movie nights weekly through the summer and fall for residents. There is a five acre lake in the middle of the community stocked with fish. That was really important to us coming from a place where there was a ton of water. We were really afraid we wouldn't be able to adjust to the desert. There seems to be a lot of green here with the pecan groves and the grassy community areas.
We have been extremely happy living here.

Lots of residents are LEO and the airport and Raytheon is about twenty minutes from here. We made a scouting trip before the move and checked routes, alternate routes, and the times and miles on each route. We looked at vail/rita ranch and we looked north at Oro valley, but we settled on Rancho Sahuarita for the family friendliness. We wanted to not be in the city and yet have easy access to the city.

No matter where you choose I would suggest a scouting trip if possible. Renting first, just to be sure, and then wait for the right house to come on the market. I would have hated to purchase and then decided it wasn't where we wanted to be.

Good Luck.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:39 AM
 
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Thanks for all the tips. I will definitely look into all of these suggestions. And I do plan on doing a scouting trip first, and will likely rent for a while before buying. But I think it's best to do as much initial research as possible before renting, so that we hopefully are already in an area that we like when we are ready to buy.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Colorado - Oh, yeah!
833 posts, read 1,601,333 times
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The NE areas (Indian Ridge was mentioned) would give you more greenery and there are a lot of plusses to that part of town, but the commute could get old. It faces the typical Tucson issue of being stuck on surface streets and while driving time may be 25-30 minutes during the day I would expect rush-hour would be closer to 40 with lots of red lights. I regularly go from the airport to the Speedway & Harrison area around 4:30 and that is a solid 40 minute drive. Housing is a little more expensive up here too.

Civano is an interesting place and I get the feeling people love it or hate it. It does have the advantage of being on the North end of the Vail School District so you get the good schools, but are closer to the city. The Target and associated shopping at 22nd & Harrison is good (and growing), there is also a new WalMart nearby (hate 'em, but they are handy to have around).

Vail, as I said, has no grocery store, but Rita Ranch isn't too far away. Plenty of people do that drive, but it would annoy me. Also, the railroad tracks in many areas of Vail are too close for me. I hear the trains in Rita Ranch more than I would like, I don't know how the people with houses on Mary Ann Cleveland do it with a road in their front yard and the trains in their back yard.

As one person pointed out, there is a WalMart going in closer to Vail (Houghton and Mary Ann Cleveland). I am not exactly a fan of WalMart, but I am hoping their presence and the development of the shopping center will bring more retail and dining to that part of town.

Sahuarita is another place that a lot of people love. As the poster who lives there said, it has a lot of amenities and people who live seem really passionate about it. I know it was hit pretty hard during the housing bubble, so I'd have to think housing would be fairly affordable, but that's about all I know of the area.
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