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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713

    Information gathering: Tucson

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    As part of the process of applying to grad school, I thought I'd check out where I'd be living.

    So, Tucson. This would be the biggest geographic shift for me, and while I've been once (to talk to some UA faculty), I didn't spend much time there.

    Weather? Besides "hot and dry", of course.

    Bike friendly? The professor I talked to (had his bike in his office!) seemed to think so. What about the campus area?

    Best and worst things about living there?

    Cost of living?

    Any words of wisdom regarding the campus area?

    Anything else?

    Indian food is probably too much to hope for, but maybe Tucson's a little different from Phoenix...? I hope...?
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,645
    cons: it's hot.

    Coming from Ohio, you will be delighted in how bike friendly the place is, especially near the campus... heck, it's all flat!
    We've spent some time there (my husband likes to go there every November, he's leaving tomorrow) and so I'm no expert, but when we're there we ride day and night.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Flagstaff AZ
    Posts
    2,521

    Tucson

    Both my sister and parents live in Tucson. My sister is a professor at the University. It is a big town, but I would say it is very bike friendly. There is a lot of traffic so you have to be ready for that.

    If I were going to live in one of the larger towns in Arizona, Tucson would be my pick. It is desert living so it is pretty darn hot in the Summer and quite nice in the winter. It can get cold, i.e. 32 or so at night in some areas. The downtown, and campus areas are a little warmer, the northern parts of town, a little cooler.

    There are good restaurants in Tucson, but I don't know about Indian. I really don't like Indian so I would not know if there is a good restuarant. Since it is a fairly large town, I would guess you could find at least one good Indian food restaurant.

    The desert in the Tucson area is really gorgeous. When it flowers, it is absolutely breathtaking. I would say that the cost of living is middle of the road.

    There is a fair amount of good cultural things to do in Tucson, but it still has some small town feel about it. Much different than Phoenix. I would never live in Phoenix.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,045
    I've lived in Tucson for 30 years. The weather never as hot as Phoenix- worst is June-September, when it is often above 100, but dry through June. The summer monsoons bring more humidity, mainly early July through the beginning of September. Sept-Oct are still warm but cooler mornings and evenings, and the winter sees temps dip into the low 30's, but rarely much colder, and often in the 40's for lows. Lots of sunny dry days, and sometimes wind in the spring and fall.


    Bike friendly? Yes- for the most part. Lots of miles of signed bike lanes. Look for the Tucson bike map available as a pdf online.

    Best and worst things about living there? I love the Sonoran Desert, and it has access to high elevation (Mt. Lemmon) close by, plus other great mountain ranges to explore an hour or two away.

    Worst... not such great public transportation.

    Cost of living? Much lower than big eastern cities, but wages aren't so high.

    Any words of wisdom regarding the campus area?
    It's okay- some areas are a bit sketchy, but overall not bad.

    Anything else?
    PM me- I'd be happy to share. I came to Tucson for grad school and stayed and raised my kids here.

    Indian food is probably too much to hope for, but maybe Tucson's a little different from Phoenix...? I hope...?
    Yup, there's Indian food- a couple places within a mile or two of campus, and some further out.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    209
    Owlie, AZ Fiddle pretty much covered it. There's a great website by the bicycle advisory committee www.bikeped.pima.gov

    It's the bike map I use for Tucson. There are also lots of great routes just outside the city limits. Lots of neat places to explore with all kinds of terrain.

    I've lived in the southeast of Tucson for 10 years. The best part is lots of mountain ranges. Summer sunsets and sunrises burst with color.

    Worst part I agree with Fiddle in transportation. Not well planned out but I don't think planners anticipated this kind of growth.

    Good luck with grad school, let me know if I can be of more help!
    dt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    276
    Best Indian restaurant in town is Shere Punjab located not too far from campus 853 East Grant Road, Tucson, AZ 85719-2933

    It may not be the best you have had but it is good.

    Good-luck with grad school.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    On my bike
    Posts
    2,510
    I worked at the UA for 30 years. This coming summer will be my 50th summer. Woo hoo...(she says as she melts...)

    The UA is a great school if you're majoring in the right subject. Like many schools, UA is going through budget woes. PM me if you want further info.

    Hot & dry about covers it. They say "Yeah, but it's a dry heat" to which I reply "So is hell." But, you don't have to shovel heat. The Spring is great - when the rest of the country is still freezing, we're riding. We get about 10 inches of rain a year, so you rarely get rained out.

    The best thing about Tucson - bike lanes in many major thoroughfares. If you're smart, you won't have problems. There are several bike clubs that have rides on the weekends & during the week. Worst thing - As AZFiddle says, the public transportation isn't great & is going to become worse with budget cuts.

    Oh, another best thing is that some TE girls live here!

    Where are you coming from?
    Last edited by Dogmama; 11-20-2010 at 05:14 PM.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Dogmama, I'd be moving from Ohio. Pretty huge shift weather-wise! (she says while shivering under a blanket because her landlord is pretty stingy with the heat.)

    I hear you about the budget cuts. Education is always what gets cut. I like the department, I liked the faculty I talked to, but they really don't have money.

    Would not having a car be a major hindrance? (You can get by without one here, but there's good public transport and the university area is largely walkable.) I'm thinking about summer, because I don't do heat well, but what gets me is the heat+humidity we get here. 90 in Cincinnati feels like 110 does there!
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,045
    Owlie, if you locate within a couple of miles of campus, you can get by without a car. Bus service near the university is better than further out. Yes the summer heat is pretty bad during late afternoon when it's much over 100, but I managed to commute to 10 miles (each way) once a week during most of July - September this summer. My husband commutes 10 miles each way every day, but he often rides home after 6 or 7 pm due his weird schedule.
    Midday is not a good time to be out on a bike for long though.

    The dry heat really is better than the humidity.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Posts
    37
    I live in the Phoenix area but there are a few things that are similar. Yes, it is hot in the summer but because Arizona doesn't do DST, the sun comes up between 5 and 6 AM - which is a perfect time to ride. The weather is nice and you can get a lot of riding in. Until I retired a month ago, I did most of my riding in the summer

    Secondarily, Tucson is well known as a bicycling hot spot. Last Saturday was the Tour de Tucson where 9,000 riders took part in rides of 109, 80, 66 or 35 miles. I actually like the Phoenix area better for rides because there are more bike paths but if you go out to the bicycling magazine site you'll be able to see some additional rides.

    Tucson is a lovely city - with a great climate and an excellent University.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    under the Tucson sun
    Posts
    489
    This is my third year living in Tucson--both my boyfriend and I are grad students at the U of A. Definitely incredibly bike-friendly, with good LBSs scattered around town. As Biciclista mentioned, Central Tucson is very flat, but go just a few miles away and there are many formidable hills to ride on (not to mention Mt Lemmon). All your major supermarkets are represented within a couple-mile radius of campus, plus places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and independent stores as well, so grocery shopping (and most other errands too) by bike is very feasible.

    DBF and I rent a house ~2.5 miles from campus, and both commute by bike on a bike boulevard--a residential street that's been designated as a bike route, limited access to cars, special traffic light actuators just for bikes. It's pretty fabulous.

    Biking ON campus generally stresses me out, as for every responsible, respectful cyclist there are probably 5 people who are veering all over the place, cell phones and/or iPods distracting them from where they're going. This isn't really a problem away from campus.

    All of that being said, Tucson as a whole is still very car-centric by my perception. Lots of spoiled kids who live closer than I do drive alone to campus every day and pay for parking. It's pretty absurd. Bikes and cars do co-exist relatively peacefully, but it does seem like most of the time the only people who use the bus (which I've also used quite a bit and really is not bad at all) are people who don't have the option to drive.

    DBF and I are Midwestern transplants. He absolutely loves the heat; I hate (but generally tolerate) it. Your mileage may vary. When walking, you learn to not always take the shortest routes, but rather the shadiest. Similar idea goes for clothes--I'm often wearing long sleeves in the summer--I figure I'm going to be hot either way, so I might as well give myself the extra layer of sun protection.

    I have found cost of living to be generally lower than other places I've lived (metro Chicago and Madison, WI), but we do have a pretty high sales tax at this point (I think it's up to 9.5% now??). So... meh.

    Feel free to ask more specific questions here or by PM!
    Last edited by badgercat; 11-22-2010 at 10:32 PM.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Thanks, Badgercat. I'll probably be commuting and doing errands by bike for a year or so until BF finishes up here and joins me wherever I'm going to grad school. Good to know about the campus area.

    The sales tax in AZ surprised me. I went grocery shopping with DBF's family (in Mesa) and glanced at the receipt. Here I'm used to 6.5-7%...and food isn't taxed!
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,129
    That's because in AZ, each municipality can add on their own tax to the state tax on food. And clothes...

    There's no cheeseburger in paradise .
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    On my bike
    Posts
    2,510
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    That's because in AZ, each municipality can add on their own tax to the state tax on food. And clothes...

    There's no cheeseburger in paradise .
    Yup. Tucson's tax is 9.1% but food is not taxed. Except when you go out to dinner. I guess that qualifies as "not-food." In the case of McDonald's, et.al., that would be correct IMHO.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Quote Originally Posted by Dogmama View Post
    Yup. Tucson's tax is 9.1% but food is not taxed. Except when you go out to dinner. I guess that qualifies as "not-food." In the case of McDonald's, et.al., that would be correct IMHO.
    Ohio's like that too. I think it's a tax on "services rendered" rather than on the food. Apparently in Pennsylvania, clothes and underwear aren't taxed, but bras are. Huh? Good to know that food isn't taxed in Tucson! That's my single biggest expense, after the rent check!

    I shudder to think of what my utility bills out there would be, though. (There are advantages to living next to a lake, even though I'm not strictly sure it's water...)
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
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    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


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