Ok - big news for me. I'm a resident again.
On my way southwest for winter, I stopped in Albuquerque and Tucson to see if I’d like to live in either. Albuquerque is in a cool area, seems to have great weather, etc. But I was not a fan of the people there. Basically, there are tons of people suffering with homelessness, hard drug addiction, and severe mental illness. Then, there are also just a lot of crummy/loser type folks there. It definitely seems to have potential to improve, but without knowing the city well, I wouldn’t want to drop anchor there.
Now, Tucson, I liked better. It has some similarities to Albuquerque: nice outdoors stuff right by the city, dry and mostly warm climate, and cheap homes. And, importantly, the people in Tucson have their lives together much better. There isn’t nearly the same level of suffering and crumminess. Aside from a large proportion of very ‘normal’ seeming people here, there are: many students (The University of Arizona campus is here), and quite a lot of earthy/hippie/spiritual/yoga/herbal medicine/“desert rat” type people - which seem interesting to me. One thing missing - it there don’t seem to be very many young people with high incomes or lots of professional success. I think there just isn’t all that much here as far as industry/technology or other high-earning jobs. A higher than normal portion of men here are employed by the border patrol, military (there’s an air force base with 6,000 people), and the military industrial complex (Raytheon and Boeing(?) factories). There are TONS of outdoors stuff nearby, though I haven’t been out exploring yet. Mountains just on the north edge of town go up quickly to 9,000 feet, and there is plenty of desert stuff around.
I decided that I like it enough to try it out for a while. I rented a tiny little house for 6 months. It’s a guest house, which are known around here as a “casita”. I’ll be getting a nice taste of living in one place again in a ‘normal’ way, checking out the city, getting to know people here, etc. I’m hoping that I like it here enough to want to buy a house to live here long-term. If I do buy something, I’ll likely try to do it in a way that keeps my housing costs low, like buying a house that has a casita and then renting out the house while I live in the casita. That could match up well with traveling regularly in the summers without the expenses of being a homeowner weighing on me.
The house is really small: just 250 square feet. That’s 4x the area inside my van though, and like 10x the volume. It is very simple and quite nice inside. It seems to be plenty of space for ‘living’ - at least by myself. There won’t be room for more space-intensive hobbies (van conversions, numerous bikes, motorcycle and motorcycle projects, gardening, beekeeping, building things, etc..), so those will mostly have to wait until some later day.
Here are some pictures of the house:
There’s a closet and bathroom in the back. And a washer and dryer outside (yeah, that’s a thing they do in the southwest).
I rented it for $575 a month. That includes ALL utilities and also Wifi. It was listed at $625, and I negotiated down to the $575 along with or by paying the rent for the entire 6 month least up front. So I’ll have this place until at least the end of April. I like the location fairly well. It’s a ten minute walk to go downtown, and a ten minute bike ride to campus. (I rented it in November, so you’ll see a big chunk of spending, though I will likely spread the rent cost out over each month).
I got some furniture already - inexpensive stuff from Ikea. I want to build the rest: a bed frame with room to store things underneath, and likely some type of shelves along that wall by the door. That will have to wait until I go get some things from my sister’s basement in Denver - including tools. I’ve been waffling about whether it’s worth driving all the way up there with my inefficient van. It’ll be $350 of gas per round trip. If I decide to move on from Tucson in 6 months, that would probably mean driving up to Denver again, and then that would be an expensive way to use my stuff for just 5-6 months. So I’ve been working on a list of what things I would bring down from there. So far, it’s like $1,700 worth of stuff. If I don’t go get it, I would buy very few of those things down here. Whether I go is mainly a question of how confident I am that I’ll want to stay here in Tucson long-term.
Plans while here
- Get a feel for living in a normal home, in a city, while not working. (I haven’t ever done this, as I sold my last house and took off in the van before I quit my job)
- Make friends. Get a good lover (or a few).
- Try out some ways to generate income. (For now: portrait photography. I’ve posted a simple ad on craigslist and seem to be getting about one client per week. Also, a friend who lives here seems to want to hire me to build out his van.)
- Explore the city, get to know different parts of it well
- Go explore areas around the city, mountains, desert, etc.
- Get and start riding a motorcycle. Use for most of my non-bicycle transportation around the city, and for exploration and camping trips out to the mountains and deserts. I hate driving my 12-15mpg van now that it's not also my home. Right now I’m thinking about getting a cheap little dual sport, like a Yamaha TW200 or a Suzuki Vanvan 200. Gonna take the MSF course soon. I've been reading books and looking at way too many websites and youtube videos.
[Also, I hav a new annoyance. Flickr - the website where I store tons of pictures, has now announced that they are limiting their free accounts to only 1,000 pictures. I have, I believe, a few thousand uploaded on my main account there. All the pictures on this journal are hosted there. This means there is a good chance that some or maybe nearly ALL the pictures in this journal thread will disappear. I’m probably not going to feel like going through all the posts, re-uploading the pictures, and re-linking them.]