A Visit to Never Never Land – Arizona

For the past 10 days The Car Guy and I have been Canadian Snow Birds. Yes, we packed up shorts and sun tan lotion and headed south to a place where snow flakes rarely fall – Phoenix Arizona. We have a few friends there, several who like us well enough to invite us to stay in their home. So stay we did – 5 days with some fellow Canadians, and 5 days with an American couple we met in the Middle East.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, which made us wonder how we could stay there for several months a year. We made some mental calculations. How many friends would we have to have if we wanted to stay as guests  in their homes (as opposed to buying a house or hauling a honking big RV down south each year?) There were too many variables to come up with an exact number, but it appeared that 5 days was about the maximum we could expect to be welcome before the host ran out of wine and beer and the towels needed changing.  So, let’s say we moved to a new home every 5 days, and let’s say we planned on staying south of the border for about 4 months (and let’s say each month has 30 days, just to keep the arithmetic simple). That means we need to have 24 friends.

The 24 Friends who live in Arizona Plan is no more likely to happen than my 52 Friends who live all Around the World Plan. So we ended up back where we have been many times before – a discussion about a combination of staying with friends, buying some more timeshares, and/or a mobile domicile of some sort. We have never seriously considered buying a house there, though. Note the word ‘never’. Never is a word you should never, under any circumstances, say out loud. It will come back to bite you every time.

Our Arizona-Canadian friends, who also don’t have 24 friends who they could stay with, have bought a winter house outside of Phoenix. The second evening we were there, a family of Javelina strolled through the back yard. Dad, Mom, a couple of little Javelina kids. I didn’t get a very good picture, but I have good memories of the warm evening air and the lovely dinner on the outside patio, (and the wine and the beer). That night we watched the stars from the comfort of our lounge chairs.

The next morning our host picked a bucket full of oranges off one of his fruit trees. He made them into juice which accompanied our breakfasts on the patio.

Many of the prickly plants (which all plants seem to be to a greater or lesser degree) were blooming. On the day before we were leaving, the Echinopsis finally opened. What a huge trumpet shape flower!

But – getting back to Never. We were never going to buy a home in this Never Never Desert Land. But a respite from a long Canadian winter looks more and more attractive as the years tick by, and we are, by nature, people who like to have a roof over our heads that we can call our home. We returned to Canada with a list of housing options, and the willingness to open the door to the thought that we would like to be Snowbirds. It wasn’t all that hard to think this change is a good thing, because when we got home, it started to snow again.

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31 thoughts on “A Visit to Never Never Land – Arizona

    • You are so right! The desire to return is heightened by the fact that spring isn’t really just around the corner here – it is still well up the block and is taking it’s own sweet time in arriving!

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  1. The first time I heard the term “Canadian Snow Birds” was on a trip to Florida from the UK. There were so many Canadians wintering there. We’ve done the RV bit for about two months. Only in the UK they are much smaller. Between selling our house in Somerset and moving into our new house in North Wales, “She Who Must Be Obeyed”, our two dogs and of course me travelled all over the UK from Lands End to Scotland. It was fun, but in the end we couldn’t wait to take possession of our new house.

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    • Yes, the caravans in the UK are just wee bits of things compared to the ones here in Canada and the USA! I would absolutely love to return to the UK and travel from one end to the other – but yes, sooner or later I would want to put down roots in a home somewhere.

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  2. I love the idea, 52 friends now that’s really got me thinking – in fact we wouldn’t need 52 because we would have to deduct travel time…leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do!! i’m sure there’s a rent-a-friend agency around here somewhere!!!

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful visit you had with your friends. I visited Arizona once when I was a teen. The orange and lemon trees were amazing. It’s a beautiful place and I hope to go back for a visit sometime.
    I admire you folks who live way-far-north of us. I don’t know how you handle the cold for so many months of the year. Other than the cold, going by your beautiful photos here on your blog, Canada’s definitely enchanting and seems a great place to live.
    “Never is a word you should never, under any circumstances, say out loud. It will come back to bite you every time.” Words to live by! I ‘never say never’, I use alternatives like “By choice I wouldn’t or I don’t plan too………..” and still I get haunted by my words from time-to-time lol 😉

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    • Canada is a wonderful place to live, and I would never choose to leave it. But there are certainly many other wonderful places that I would like to live in for a while!

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  4. We would seriously consider buying a winter place in Charleston, SC for retirement because my brother lives there and I really like it. But you could spend a lot of time in hotels for the year-round cost of a place. It’s a dilemma.

    Love that flower photo and the oranges just pop off the page!

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    • Good point, Peg. Much depends, I suppose, on how soon the winter place can become a full time place.
      We will never be able to move to the USA on a full time basis (for tax reasons). We have to keep a residence here in Canada. But from an investment perspective, Arizona housing is very attractive. The average house prices in the area where we are looking are half the average cost of a house in the large city nearest to us. The Canadian dollar is strong, and we are open to the downsizing that comes when the kids leave home and the dog dies… so we continue to weigh the options!

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      • You will also have to keep in mind that the U.S. immigration rules don’t allow you to be south of the border more than six months out of the year. It’s a real sticking point that I just found out about, so look into it carefully.

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        • Yes, we have been looking into those rules. There are actually two considerations to keep in mind. The first is how long you can stay out of your home province each year without losing provincial health care. And the second is how long you can stay in the US before the American Government starts taxing your world wide income. Four months would be the safest amount of time to stay Stateside in each calendar year. Any longer than that would require due diligence on our part to ensure we continue to be viewed as Canadian residents! This is one of the websites we have been consulting: http://www.snowbird.ca/2006/07/19/cross-border-tax-implications/

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  5. Hi,
    Sounds like you had a fantastic time with friends. There is nothing nicer than sitting outside at night and enjoying the beautiful stars, with great conversation, and relaxing. It must of seemed a bit surreal to arrive back home and wake up to snow.
    That certainly is a beautiful flower so large and full.

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    • You are certainly right about the surreal part – a plane ride of three hours took us from shorts and sandals to boots and mittens. It is a small world, after all!

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  6. I also wish I could find a way to spend, say three months a year, in Arizona. That would still leave two months of winter here, which should be about the right amount. Gorgeous flower shot, by the way!

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    • We’re thinking four months in Arizona, four months at the cabin, and four months at the Red House, or whatever abode is chosen as our shelter from the cold during the ‘shoulder’ seasons of spring and fall. A lifetime of financial prudence should make it all possible if we choose carefully! Of course, we aren’t the only ones who would be using these places – family and friends will all play a role in their habitation.

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  7. I can imagine that Arizona must have seemed like heaven after a long Canadian winter. We loved living in San Antonio for nearly thirty years. The winters were so mild, they were nearly non-existent, and the sun shone nearly every day. You could eat outside almost year round. But, being originally from Connecticut, we missed the seasons, especially the fall foliage. Virginia is a nice middle. Not nearly as harsh winters as Connecticut, and we get four distinct seasons. Plus, our summers weren’t so terribly hot for so long. I think you really should consider buying a little spot I Arizona for the winter. I bet you would love it!

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    • Actually, I can think of many places in the USA that would be wonderful winter retreats, but Arizona is one of the closest, and offers a very good chance of relatively warm weather! The desert should be very interesting too. My house research continues.

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    • The only drawback I have with the 52 Friends Plan is that it would only work for one year. The second year – I don’t think I would be invited back by anyone.

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  8. Trade in those wonderful moose of yours for javelinas?? You’re kiddin’, right? Buy a sunlamp. And one of those cute li’l two-inch cacti that come in a pot. You can paint Navajo symbols on the pot. : )

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  9. Love the 52 friends plan but like you said after the first year….well a rotation plan needs to be addressed for sure. I have thought of this plan myself in the past. I have friends and family in many States in the U.S. and would love to try this plan out. I even have a brother in Arizona now! Your pictures me think, could I light on his doorstep? Hmmmm…….
    Great photo shots.

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    • We had friends from Australia who did a North American tour and they stayed with friends for just about the whole trip. I expect they were socially exhausted by the time they got home.

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