Tucson is the Center of the Astronomy World. Tucson has the highest population density of Astronomers, anywhere in the World.

Tucson also is the home of the up-and-comming Optics Industry. (Some say that Tucson will be the next Silicon Valley in the next 20 years, due to this industry.

Practical information about Tucson:

  • There are way more apartments than people, so rent is cheap. Its not unreasonable to say 90%-95% of apartment complexes have vacancies.
  • Almost all apartment complexes have a swimming pool and hot tub (they probably call it a "spa"), and most have tennis courts, fitness rooms, club houses, and on-site staff.
  • The difference in price between the run-down apartments in the bad neighborhoods and the "luxury" apartments in the good neighborhoods is negligible. Do yourself a favor and stick to looking at the nice places.
  • Many apartment complexes are for people 55+ years old. Check the ads carefully before you visit.
  • Tucson was rated the cheapest place to live in the West. Monthly rent for a 1BR when I was there (2003) varied from $300 for a single level/no amenities/not near anything to $400-$500 for a "luxury" apartment close to downtown. Anything over $600 is going to be a luxury resort in the foothills near a golf course, or in the heart of downtown.
  • There are few really bad neighborhoods. South Tucson tends to be a bit "tougher", though.
  • There are plenty of $15-$25/night motels to stay in while you're looking for a place. Motel row is just north of downtown, but there are cheap places off the interstate as well.

  • Tucson, frankly, takes up a _huge_ area. "Sprawling" doesn't do it justice. I guess when you have hundreds of miles of desert around you, you can afford to build out instead of up.
  • Tucson is definitely a car town. Pretty much any place you need to go is going to be over five miles away.
  • Parking is easy anywhere, even downtown.
  • Walking can be hazardous. Not because of the cars, but because the sidewalks have a tendency to disappear, sometimes for a block and sometimes for miles. On the edges of town (such as east of the airport), there are no sidewalks at all, just roads in the desert. If you're going somewhere on the edge of town and you don't have a car and the bus doesn't run where you're going, take a cab instead of walking.
  • The bus system (SunTran) is "ok". Chances are there will be a route close by to where you live, and that it will run often enough on the weekdays that you can take it to work. However, the routes don't go everywhere and mostly trace the main streets; expect to walk a half mile or even a mile between your bus stop and your destination. The frequency of the routes decreases dramatically for weekends and during the summer months (no classes at UA in the summer). The fare is cheap and the buses are clean.
  • The streets are not a grid system. This can be very frustrating if you're not used to it. To be more precise, the main thoroughfares ARE a grid system, and the smaller streets have no system whatsoever. For example, if you need to go to 1600E Edison (a small street), you cannot hope to start at 1000E Edison. Between 1000E and 1600E Edison may cease to exist, or may be blocked by a median in a main thoroughfare, or turn into a dead end, and even if Edison exists the entire way, there won't be any stop lights along Edison. Instead, you have to take one of the main thoroughfares to 1600E, then another thoroughfare down to Edison. The main thoroughfares are your friends.
  • All addresses and streets are North, East, South, or West.
  • There is constant road construction in all parts of the city. Tucson is growing, and the construction is a good indicator of this.
  • All stop lights with a left turn lane have a dedicated left turn signal (green arrow).

  • Wear sunscreen.
  • There is a big difference between 85 degrees and 110 degrees. You can last quite a while outside in 85 degree heat, but 110 gets to you very quickly. Think ahead, wear a hat and bring water if you need to go outside for an extended period in the summer.
  • You might be surprised by all the "Do not enter when flooded" road signs, considering the cacti growing next to them. There is a month in late summer called "Monsoon season" that is chock-full of storms and rain, and that is the time when the flood signs really matter. Every time it rains, someone drives into one of these huge puddles and gets stuck. Don't be that person.
  • Davis Monthan Air Force Base occupies a large part of the Southeast of the city. The downside is that you'll occasionally run into one of their checkpoints when driving and have to turn around. The upside is a yearly air show and almost daily buzzings by fighter jets and bombers.
  • There are a lot of "Wash"es, e.g. "Saguaro Wash". Wash is just another name for a stream that has no water (or "The dry bed of a stream." more precisely). These take in water when it floods.
  • Yes, you really can see the stars. Due to light pollution control, the sky is dark from most places in the city.
  • Yes, there really are good sunsets.

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