Good luck, Owlie!
I just read through this thread again, and got my momentary feelings of nostalgia, which I keep firmly under control.
I *did* love Cave Creek, where we stayed a couple of years ago. It's not over developed, no huge amounts of strip malls, lots of desert, and few traffic lights. Just like the way Scottsdale and Tempe were when my parents moved there in 1971. We have seriously considered buying a small condo in Cave Creek or Carefree in the future. While I would be far from my friends in Tempe, the riding looks great and the county park was awesome for hiking and trail running. Tempe was a great place to raise young kids and even back in the 80s there were tons of cultural and recreational activities. But, it's just like that Eagles song about the destruction of LA (I can't remember the name, "lost" something), which has a line that says something like "and they built those boxy houses and Jesus, people bought them..."
There is more to life than warm weather, which I know, is hard for some to believe. But, U of A is a great school.