Baybueler - Arizona really only has two population centers comparable to California. Those two are greater Phoenix and Tucson. Everywhere else is but a burg with plenty of micro towns on the fringes. What terrain and weather do you enjoy most?
South AZ; stretching from CA to NM is mostly Sonoran desert. It's very lush compared to the Mojave. There are a bunch of little towns to settle in, as it is largely agricultural. Just north of the 'valley' around the 5000' mark is the grasslands for cattle ranching. Prescott is the dominant town, but it is comfy small. Further north and east is the Mogollon rim country, which is alpine on top, and arid below. The Rim is what it sounds like. A rugged wall rising 1500 feet above the desert and grasslands.
Further north yet is the high desert and red rock country. It is mostly Navaho reservation, though.
I was moved to Phoenix from San Jose in the 1980's by my employer. Both my wife and I were smitten with the resort feel of the air and the desert beauty. 20 years later we split up in Boston and the first thing she did was move back to AZ!... to a town called Cave Creek. Sort of a cowboy town north of Scottsdale, but full of Midwesterners. She lets me store a trailbike there to visit and explore with. I expect to buy a condo in Scottsdale because I like a more urban environment these days. I'm into convenience and I don't want to have to drive a car to get anywhere. Arizona has that too!
You should rent a place for a week every year in a different part of AZ that interests you. You'll find your spot for sure. Maybe around Show Low or Alpine might appeal. Who knows, but it won't be along hwy 93 to Vegas.
Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
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