| Nov 23, 2014
Depending on who you ask, the American Southwest is made up of just two states (Arizona and New Mexico) or up to eight states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah). Once owned by Spain and Mexico, and with the cultural heritage to prove it, the Southwest features quite a bit that’s unique from other parts of the country.
In fact, if you’ve never lived in the Southwest before, moving here can be quite a transition. With warm, arid temperatures all year long, almost everything about this part of the United States is built around heat. The architecture relies on natural local materials like adobe, is wide-open and airy to make the most of natural breezes, and is designed around a Spanish and Native style. The art scene is strong and has a decided Southwestern flair. And if the natural setting is your thing, you’ll find everything from deserts with famous red sandstone formations evergreen forests and even a snowy mountain peak or two.
Like any major geographical region, the Southwest has its share of large, bustling cities and smaller towns. The biggest cities include Phoenix, El Paso, Denver, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. When compared to metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago, the pace of life tends to be a little slower and the prices not quite as high, you’ll find much of the same city features.
Bustling downtown areas with traditional cityscapes are common, and the more popular industries of technology, communications, health care, and manufacturing provide the bulk of jobs. The agricultural setting focuses less on plant life (the dry temperatures make it hard to grow much) and more on animals like sheep and cattle.
And for those with a more academic frame of mind, there’s even more to be interested in. In addition to a very strong arts scene, there tends to be a liberal mindset that embraces issues like alternative health and environmentalism. The presence of several colleges helps boost that mindset, and you’ll find several state universities worth checking out.
If you live in the Southwest, there will be a few things you can’t do without. Air conditioning and a pool can be found in almost every house, and you’ll find it’s much more practical to own a car rather than rely on public transportation. Water use tends to be more restricted (you probably won’t be watering your lawn every day), but the tradeoff will be that you’ll have much more low-key landscaping to worry about, with shrubs and cacti that don’t require your constant vigilance.
Your dollar should go a little further here, as well. Although the salaries tend to be lower than national averages, low real estate costs and reasonable food rates mean you can get by on less than you might in a larger metropolitan area.
And perhaps most important of all are the people here. Southwestern residents tend to be warm, friendly, and welcoming – just like the landscape. Although there are tight-knit communities where it may be a little bit harder to make friends, most new residents find that they’re immediately welcomed and made to feel at home.
Do you live in the Southwest? What has been your experience?