Tucson, Yuma, Casas Adobes best places to raise kids in AZ, survey says

Got kids? Bring them on down to Tucson.

Two cute Tucson kids/Ryn Gargulinski

Two cute Tucson kids/Ryn Gargulinski

Old Pueblo is the top place in Arizona for families to thrive, according to BusinessWeek’s annual “Best Places to Raise Your Kids” rankings.

Tucson hit Arizona’s top spot, with the runners up being Yuma and Casas Adobes.

We have a feeling the ranking committee has never been to Yuma.

We also have a feeling they may not have come to Tucson, either – or at least tried to get anywhere on a bus if they did.

“It’s (also) a relatively affordable place to live,” the report said of Tucson, “with more than 100 parks, a good public transportation system, and many public and private golf courses.”

Tucson school yards are counted as parks, by the way.

But the golf courses are important. We know how much kids love to golf away their Saturday mornings.

The ranking focused on towns that have a population of at least 45,000 and a median income of $40,000 to $125,000. BusinessWeek picked one top spot from each state, and two runners up, if applicable. Alaska’s Anchorage had no runners up.

Natural sandbox option/Ryn Gargulinski

Natural sandbox option/Ryn Gargulinski

Towns were then judged on their air quality; family income; job growth; theaters; diversity; household expenditures; crime rate; number of schools and their performance; museums and those school yard parks.

Based on those categories, it’s obvious why Tucson made the cut. Our air quality definitely beats out places like Los Angeles. We only get air quality warnings when there is a blinding, dusty wind or massive brush fires in the distance spewing ashes into our atmosphere.

Families usually make enough to live on – as long as they still have their jobs. But we are not sure why the job growth category didn’t kick us out of the mix altogether, as it seems Tucson jobs are shrinking.

The report mentioned University of Arizona as being one of the biggest employers, but it failed to mention the school’s hiring freezes.

For theaters, we got the Fox, The Loft and that cheapie place with $2 tickets at Grant and Swan roads.

Household expenditures often lack snow pants, furry boots and ski masks.

Pima Air and Space Museum probably got us hovering near the top in the museum category, and bless those school yards, as they helped us kick butt in the parks category. Tucson also has six dog parks, eight if you count the two in the county.

Not bad.

The rankings also left out some other reasons why Tucson is a great place to raise kids:

Bilingual studies. Children will automatically be immersed in the study of the Spanish language, hopefully learning key phrases, like “Your mother wears combat boots,” from their classmates.

Natural sandbox. Never mind those chintzy plastic backyard boxes, Tucson has a glorious sandbox created by God. Kids can find hours of pleasure in the dry riverbeds and washes, like the diapered child I once saw frolicking in the sands of the Rillito. All the rocks, glass shards, coyote feces and horse manure makes for some very interesting mud pies.

Less environmental dangers. Sure, we have prickly, eye-poking cactus and those pesky killer rattlesnakes, but there is absolutely no chance a kid will drown in the ocean or be swept out to sea. Few Tucson children are injured from slipping on ice or getting lost and buried in the snow.

Even though I am poking fun, I think Tucson can rock for anyone.

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Is Tucson an awesome place to raise kids? Why or why not?

What about Yuma or Casas

What criteria would you use for ranking a place good for kids?

Where were you raised? Was it good for kids?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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42 Responses to Tucson, Yuma, Casas Adobes best places to raise kids in AZ, survey says

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Humorous article, nice writing! It’s nice to know that there is something good about the odd pueblo besides hiking. It is a fairly decent place to raise a kid.
    PS…Yuma? I didn’t know anybody lived there by choice… 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax! thanks! yes, there’s actually a bunch of fun stuff to do – for kids and adults alike – esp. if you like hanging out in school yards (hahah).
      yuma as no. 2 definitely has me scratching my head….when i did a rest stop there on the way to san diego, it was like a blast of hot, fiery hell wind. even after being the cars for hours and taking the dogs out to stretch, they wanted back in the vehicle PRONTO when we were in yuma!

  2. Jennatoolz says:

    I absolutely love Tucson! However, I plan on letting my kids run loose in the chilly Northwest, whenever I decide to have kids, that is. Oregon perhaps? That state is absolutely beautiful!

    I grew up in a tiny tiny place called Capitan NM. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it some time ago, when you blogged about Smokey Bear. Looking back, I think it was a great place for raising kids. 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      any place that’s the home of smokey bear has got to be a great place to raise kids! i was raised in kmart headquarters – or at least former headquarters? – troy, michigan.
      suburbia is ideal for children as it’s not the big nasty city. small town are great, too.
      if you pick the chilly northwest, jennatoolz, you may have to raise your household expenditures to include snow pants! ahhah.
      yes, oregon is prob. the most gorgeous place i’ve ever lived. now if it would just stop raining…..

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Haha yes…snow pants! I used to have a purple pair when I lived in Capitan. Those were my favorite!!

      • Rynski says:

        i always ended up with red snow pants for some reason. maybe that’s why i no longer like wearing red? hahhahaha

      • Ado says:

        Interesting,  Rynski, I don’t like red clothes either, but simply because I don’t look good in red.

        B.T.W. Ryn,  how would you describe the color of your hair in that avatar pic?  :+)

      • Rynski says:

        well now, ado – red HAIR is different than red clothes!! hhaha.
        technically my hair is a fine flavorful mix of sweet pepper and pomegranate (according to the boxes)

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Sounds pretty tasty Ryn! Hopefully we don’t catch you munchin’ on your hair any time soon! 😛

      • Rynski says:

        jenna – i can’t hair munch – it’s much too short to make it to my mouth – haha. and yes, i love the delicious flavors they give the colors. i was upset, however, that they changed the name ‘chili pepper’ to ‘sweet pepper.’ i like chili peppers better.

  3. azmouse says:

    YEAH! I was born and raised in Tucson, and I love it here. I think it’s beautiful to look out my windows and see the mountains. It has it’s issues like any place does, but I’ve managed to raise my kids safe and sound.

    I hate to admit this, but my daughter actually lives in Yuma. It is still a pit, even though they are trying to make it some luxury snowbird city. Some parts are very nice with new shopping and restaurants, but it is still mostly awful.
    Yuma is a meth mecca. Every where you drive, you see people in cars honking, then dealers run up and selling to them right in their cars. It’s bad and very prevalent.

    • Rynski says:

      oh, poop on the yuma and meth connection. another reason the ranking committee should have perhaps checked these places out a bit more beyond looking at how many school yard parks they have.
      glad to hear some parts of yuma are getting facelifted. i’ve noticed meth thrives best in smaller towns – so maybe yuma will start to grow and kick them outta there.
      and so glad you are a happy tucson native! very cool when folks really love where they live. refreshing, too, since then you don’t have to listen to them complain (haha).

      • Jennatoolz says:

        I think I’ve passed through Yuma once or twice. From what you two have been saying, I’m glad that I’ve passed through, rather than stopped in Yuma, haha. I’ll have to remember not to honk my horn in a fit of road rage, if I ever pass through there again. Can’t be having meth-mouth’s come runnin’ up to me thinkin’ I want to buy some! 😛

  4. leftfield says:

    Hard to believe Tucson’s schools would be considered a selling point for the city.  Of course, “we don’t none of that there educatin’ here; it just leads to people gettin’ lib’ral ideas; you know, love-ins and that sort”. 

    In spite of this, I like the place.  If my own child were younger though, I’d give some thought to a place further away from American commercialism and what they call culture in this country.  Probably send her to Karl Marx Elementary and Trotsky High School (Home of The  Fightin’ Prols, three time State Hacky-Sack champs).

    • Rynski says:

      i agree about the tucson school thing, leftfield, which is why i did not comment on them. but at least the school yards can be used as parks…
      …also agree a school that takes the hacky-sack championship would be a grand environment (hahahahah)>

    • radmax says:

      Lefty…my sister, God bless her, is a TUSD teacher, lib as they come! In fact, every educator I’ve met or my daughter has had for a teacher has been very liberal. It’s a constant annoyance for me that she is not learning the three “R’s”, except at home doing her homework with me. So, as far as learning, I believe you are correct. Judging by what I’ve seen of the curriculum, I’m not sure exactly what they are teaching them.
      PS- her report card reads like an in depth report on social skills and communication. Don’t get me wrong, I feel these are necessary things to know, but I would like her to be able to balance her checkbook somewhere along the line. Maybe that’s what college is for these days…

      • radmax says:

        PPS-I also believe she would assist you in relieving Karl Rove of that ‘heartburn’ problem. 🙂

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Radmax…hate to burst your bubble, but they don’t even teach checkbook balancing in college. At least not at my school, haha. It’s all about the plastic now, it seems. What’s a checkbook anyways??? 😛

      • Rynski says:

        hahhaha! one boss i had, a financial adviser, said he met one woman who just KNEW she had money in her checking account because she still had checks left in her checkbook.
        i learned checkbook balancing working p/t during college as accounts payable for a florist. also learned how to do funeral arrangements (haha).

      • radmax says:

        What would I do without my calculator…sheesh! 🙂

      • Jennatoolz says:

        I think I was taught how to balance a checkbook while I was in 8th grade (still in Capitan NM)…but I was too young to really apply it to my life, as I had no job, and no money. It was long forgotten…lol.

      • azmouse says:

        Hey Maxxie,
        At Sabino High School, I took a math class that taught us all about balancing checking accounts, doing our own taxes, etc. It was quite helpful.

    • Ado says:

      Those Trotskyites in that H.S. had a pretty good chess team also, that is up untill 1972 and Reykjavik and that upstart American boy Bobby Fischer and the complete destruction of Boris Spassky.

  5. tiponeill says:

    Consider the source _Business Week.
    Good advice for finding a place to raise your all white protestant rich kids 🙂
    Tucson IS a good place to raise kids at the moment, but it is subject to Arizona and it’s State Legislature so it’s future doesn’t look so great.
    I checked the article and Dothan Alabama came in number 2 – I’ve been to Dothan, Alabama. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if your kids are Jewish or Black or Hispanic or Asian or Gay or …….

  6. yumaguy says:

    What is it with people from Tucson trashing Yuma all the time? What is it you’re so jealous about? The fact we have a real river with water in it? I’ve lived here my whole life and never seen a drug deal go down, let alone this ‘meth problem’. Get real, we’re a border town, it’s all pot. I’ve spent enough time in Tucson to see that there’s nothing better there. Almost everyone I went to school with that went on to U of A chose to transfer or come back to college in Yuma because they couldn’t stand Tucson.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya yumaguy,
      good for you!! on sticking up for yuma. glad to hear it has fine points. would you then agree that it is a good place to raise kids?

    • azmouse says:

      No offense to you, yumaguy, but I have a family member that works for the court system there and meth is out of control. It’s Yuma’s number one drug of choice. The good news is, you don’t have the crack and opiate problem Tucson has.

      • azmouse says:

        You can do volunteer work at Crossroads Mission in Yuma and see the devastation that meth has created in your city.

        I know it’s like any place else, good and bad.

  7. cHCHRIS says:

    I guess Tucson is better than the other cities/towns in this state, but as someone who grew up in Omaha and Denver and has lived in many states, I can honestly say there are much more affordable, cleaner, less crime-ridden options if you want to raise children. All I hear about on the news is how badly managed TUSD schools are and how many shootings there are each day.

    Also, aren’t there more than two dog parks in the county? I live south of Tucson and there are two in Sahuarita alone. Maybe those are the two you’re counting?

  8. tiponeill says:

    All I hear about on the news is how badly managed TUSD schools are and how many shootings there are each day.
    That’s all I hear about too, from places like the Star and TC – but in real life the schools have been good and I’ve never experienced any crime.
    I think that’s more an observation on the quality of Tucson’s media than it is raising families here.

  9. azmouse says:

    I do have concerns with how the police handle random crimes that occur. When my oldest son and his friend were assaulted a year ago last month, nothing has been handled. It was considered highway robbery, because they were walking home from a nearby  Circle K, but the perpetrators were yelling derogatory names at them, apparently because they thought my son and his friend were a gay couple. I consider that a hate crime, personally. They only took one of their cell phones and didn’t touch their wallets. (robbery??)
    My son had a concussion from being beaten over the head with a tire iron. One of the blows to the back of his head was so hard, it gave him a black eye just from the force of the hit. His friend’s jaw was broken in two places and some of his teeth knocked out because they had picked up a piece of pavement they found on the side of the road and hit him in the face with it, and his back was broken as well.
    Apparently there were no witnesses, even though it happened around 8pm on Golf Links and Camino Seco and not only did my son and his friend know the type of car the guys jumped out of, they memorized the plate number as well…but no arrests have been made.

    • Rynski says:

      wow, azmouse, that’s both creepy and crappy.
      glad you’re son and his pal are OK – if his pal is OK with a broken back? did he end up paralyzed?
      wonder why no arrests were ever made with license plate no. and other info available?
      i would agree that sounds like hate crime material – but i also recall that to be a ‘hate crime’ a crime had to fit some very specific and narrow definitions that were hard to meet, even for crimes that seemed obvious in their motive.

      • azmouse says:

        He’s not paralyzed, but he takes allot of pain meds, which sucks, and they’re trying to decide if they should cement parts of his spine, basically.

        My son’s friend had a hard time because he and his family are pretty strict Mormons, so he was upset that someone thought he was gay, and he had to tell the police and his parents that maybe that was why they got jumped….it really embarrassed him, I guess.

  10. NH-transplant says:

    Wow, Azmouse.. I have a cousin who is incarcerated because he was holding a tire iron (deadly weapon!) against three people in a car with guns.  And yes, he was shot during this scenario, and the police do know who all the involved parties are.  No one else garnered any charges in the incident.  Hmmm.  Oh, my cousin has blonde hair and all of the other involved persons were swarthy skinned. 

    Nothing has changed really since I went to grade school here in the 80s – beat up on the playground (park?) for being white every day.  And now I have taken my daughter out of public school – “whitey” is a perfectly acceptable term of address in the schools now but dont let my kid get caught using similar terms of endearment for other ethnic groups – those are considered racial slurs.  Nope, Tucson is only for kids if English is your second language. 

    • azmouse says:

      Hello NH-transplant,
      I didn’t think about any race aspects of my son’s situation. He and his friend are white, and the perps are hispanic, but I think they got beat up because they thought my son and his friend were gay?? Either that, or they were just calling them those types of names to be mean…I don’t know.

      I’d be curious where you went to elementary school? I went to elementary school at Tanque Verde Elementary. I also got called names and beat up allot for being white, and I was definitely a minority at that particular school…that would’ve been very late sixties, into the seventies.
      It was really hard and very scary going to school every day. Of course, you can’t blame the children for how they were (probably) being raised. It happens with every race where parents raise their children to be leery of someone who is different than they are.

    • azmouse says:

      By the way, I’m really sorry to hear about your cousin. I hope he, and your family are all doing okay. Do you all continue to fight for his release?

  11. NH-transplant says:

    My introduction to the Tucson school system as a kid was Esperanza Elementary and its experimental curriculum (100+ kids per class, spanning 3 grades per class, and 7 teachers).  Come to find out, it was also the last school that emotionally disturbed kids were sent to before juvenile/institution or something.  The district refused to let us walk a few blocks to the Drexel School instead.  We sold our home and moved to the Sunnyside district where I enjoyed being the minority, and where I withdrew my daughter from as a middle schooler (she home schools on the internet now).  Her brand new school had yet to meet the Federal requirements outlined by \No Child Left Behind\ in any area except attendance since opening.  My child was continually bored to death in her classes because a large portion of each class period is conducted in Spanish for the benefit of the non-English speaking students in the integrated classrooms.  And she was doing curriculum she had passed two years prior in her NH schools.  Do we wonder why schools out here lag behind schools in other parts of the country in terms of the curriculum covered?  Despite English being the AZ state mandated language, there is not much incentive for students to learn it. As for that cousin of mine – he remains incarcerated.   He is not innocent of making other stupid mistakes, I am afraid.   I am disappointed that his \friends\ who are proven gun-wielding thugs are still out on the streets.  Got to love how perception makes a weapon into benign in the hands of your son’s attackers, but yet into a weapon more deadly than a gun and a car in the hands of someone else.

    • azmouse says:

      Thanks for the reply and for sharing your story with me.
      It sounds like your daughter is doing great now(?)
      Sorry about your cousin. Sometimes nice kids can fall into the hands of negative peers, and their lives get ruined. If I went to jail every time I did a dumb thing back in the day, I’d still be locked up! LOL

  12. Denise says:

    PLEASE HELP!   I am a mother of 3 boys, we live in Mission Viejo, Ca but my husband just got a job offer in Tucson and we don’t know what to do, we don’t know anything about the place.  We both were born and raise here.  Any suggestions, help???  I just want a safe family enviroment.

    • koreyk says:

      Try city-data.com. 

      Start with the statistics/ data for a general overview, and then head to the forums to get more specific answers.  There are numerous threads you can read or jump into.  You can start your own if the existing ones don’t answer your questions.

      Given that you are from Mission Viejo, I am assuming you are looking for an “upscale” area.  There are quite a few such, both within the city limits and just outside.  In addition to Tucson, look into Casas Adobes, Oro Valley, Catalina Foothills, and Tanque Verde.

      Good luck.

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