Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tucson is the top go-to place for simpler living . . . or so they say

About a week ago I was reading in USA Today when I stumbled across an article that caught my eye. The article mentioned that according to the AARP Tucson is the top place to go for simpler living. Apparently the AARP came up with the top twenty-five cities and then picked out some from all the different regions of the U.S. to make sure all areas were represented. They created a "stress index" based on crimes, depression, proximity to a university, affordability, and the multi-cultural feel. They interviewed the mayor, who says he is the mayor of paradise. According to him, Tucson has the highest quality of life of any city in the country, thanks in part to its temperate climate and low crime rate.

"Wow! You've got to be kidding!" I thought. Is this the same Tucson where I live? It had to be. Along with the article it had a picture of the Catalina mountains covered with snow (something that you don't see much here). Thought after thought passed through my mind such as a quote that I have heard attributed to J. Golden Kimball, "If I had a summer home in Tucson and one in Hell, I'd sell the home in Tucson and move to Hell." William Tecumseh Sherman, who succeeded Ulysses S. Grant as the Commanding General of the army, having a similar perception of the region, said, "We had one war with Mexico to take Arizona, and we should have another to make her take it back."

Today I heard someone quote a song that reflected our thoughts about the weather, "Spring has sprung / Fall has fell / Summer is here / and it's hotter than . . . usuel." With the 108° weather we had in Tucson today, combined with the fact that the air conditioner at the church didn't work, you might understand how it was almost hot enough to make a saint swear (but not quite)!

In the last month, we have only had nine days at or above 107° according to the historical weather data on That's accompanied by seventeen days of balmy weather between 100° and 106°. We even had one day top out at a frigid 95°--but that's the exception. On February 23rd of this year we had already topped the ninety degree plateau at 91°, so yes, if you compare us to Phoenix or Death Valley, which usually top us by about five or six degrees, we have quite the temperate climate.

As for the crime rate. Well, last Monday at least four vehicles had their windows smashed in just a block to the north of us. While that may sound pretty bad, it's been a full three months since four vehicles on our street had their windows smashed out. Also on Monday, a friend of mine had his bike stolen after someone cut his bike lock, and it's been over a year since I've had a bike stolen from me. Debs just finished serving on the jury in a first-degree murder trial, but that doesn't happen often--there were only 73 murders in Tucson last year. Per capita that's quite mild, compared with . . . say, Ciudad Jaurez. If you look at the per capita rate of crime compared with other cities in the U.S. you will see that Tucson is quite comparable. Compared with the number four city on AARP's list; Logan, Utah, you can see that Tucson holds its own. There are only five times as many murders per capita. If you live in Tucson, you're only 28 times more likely to have your car stolen, 25.4 times more likely to be the victim of a robbery, or 8.99 times more likely to be the victim of aggravated assault. Take a look for yourself. I've also included El Paso--once again, you are only five times more likely to be murdered in Tucson and just 2.4 times more likely to have your car stolen in Tucson.

Logan/Tucson crime rates El Paso/Tucson Crime

If you take a look at the map showing the crimes/activity reported in Tucson on July 27, you'll see that it's a rather quiet city. If you take a look at the last fourteen days, you'll see an artistic canvas with a few unpainted spots (largely gated communities). These maps only show the crimes that the Tucson City Police dealt with--they don't include the University Police, the South Tucson Police, or even the County Police. Having said that, however, I bet you still can't locate the University on the two week crime map. I've removed the "suspicious activity" from the two week map to remove a layer of paint that would cover everything else.

So, congratulations to us, we live in the city of simpler living where you don't have to wait long before someone knocks out your car windows or steals your bike. If you want to get rid of all that excess in your life, come to Tucson, there seem to be plenty of people that will gladly take it off your hands.

Ok, so maybe I've been overly sarcastic and negative about Tucson, but when a mayor blindly overlooks some things in his community (i.e. crime), it kind of gets your gander up, particularly when we have been the victim of it several times--whereas before, I cannot recall ever being the victim of such crimes.


fawndear said...

You can always move here! We only have your weather for 5 days once every 30 years.

Trena Doll said...

When are you coming back to civilization? For some reason, the Tucson of my imagination is a cross between the dusty old wasteland of spaghetti westerns and the industrial wasteland of apocalyptic '80s films. Hopefully I'm way off. In any case, stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you Mayor lives in a gated community, and works from home. Or maybe they got Tucson on the wrong list. It might have been put on the City's one would want to move away from. Would it have made 5th on that list?