Featured photo for Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff was one of my only hopes in Arizona for a new home, as it is one of the only major cities in that state where the summers are not consistently in the triple-digits from May to September. In contrast, Flagstaff gets about 100′ of snow each year! (It melts quickly under the Arizona sun, I hear). However, as I arrived in town I was fairly unimpressed. Here’s why:

  • Too many highways—e.g., Interstate 40, Business 40, Route 66, US 89, US 89A, and US 180—go right through town and hence there are fast food restaurants and motels everywhere! Presumably, this is because Flagstaff is the nearest major city to the Grand Canyon and a last stop for many sight-seers. I now refer to Flagstaff as a “drive-thru” town.
  • More urban blight includes numerous apartment complexes and strip joints. Yet, housing is way more expensive here than most places in, say, Colorado. Arizona as a whole seems to have housing costs like that of Oregon (i.e., approaching California).
  • Crime statistics are fairly unimpressive (at least compared to most of Colorado and other places). Supposedly, Flagstaff has lower violent crime rates that most of the rest of the state, but property crime and theft is statistically significant. (Some try to say they are overstated since the tourist population whom much of the crime is committed against is not included in the residential population, inflating crimer per capita figures.)
  • Downtown was small and less hip than I’d imagined for this college town.

All that said, the Coconino National Forest just south of Flagstaff was gorgeous and made for an awesome sports car drive down US 89A, and is pretty ideally located just 90 miles south of the Grand Canyon, 30 miles north of Sedona, and 90 miles north of Phoenix. I could imagine living here, unlike sprawling super-hot Phoenix!

On the way to Flagstaff, I spotted this little French car -- a Citroen C3 Pluriel -- still with European plates.  Isn't it cute?
In contrast, I also saw the UGLIEST car I have ever seen (with New Mexico plates).  Makes me wanna puke.
In Arizona, I also spotted... dinosaurs.  Ok, so this one is fake -- there were quite a few by I-40.
Now in Flagstaff, you can see that there are quite a few pine trees up here.  The climate is different than the rest of (typically baking) Arizona due to being almost 7,000' in elevation.
Many freeways run right through the center of Flagstaff, making this feel very much like a "drive-thru town".
The main strip was covered with motels and fast food joints.
Mountains in the distance.
Downtown had some character but was small.
Many characterless apartment buildings looked all alike.
The Coconino National Forest made for an awesome drive down US 89A south of Flagstaff.
I camped in the Coconino National Forest.  It was pretty damp on this day.