Not very long ago we used to grumble about new Arizonans, chiefly regarding our observation that there are just too darned many of them.
We’d chuckle to see them wearing walking shorts at night in December and January. We’d shake our heads as they kept their cars stopped in the right-turn lane at a traffic light because they were from a state that didn’t have right-on-red.
They’re still coming, of course. But according to new U.S. Census figures for 2011 reported in the Tribune last week, it’s important to note that Arizonans are also leaving in fairly similar numbers.
Arizona gained more than 222,000 new residents from other states last year, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported, but 211,816 who started 2011 as Arizonans had a non-Arizona address by year’s end. Fischer also reported some other interesting census statistics:
• As it has been for several years, California remained the biggest supplier of transplants to Arizona, as 49,635 came here last year, according to the census. But those statistics also show California is also the place where the most Arizonans moved to in 2011, 35,650 of them. I imagine standing on the Interstate 10 bridge over the Colorado River (no fishing) watching cars from both directions crossing the state border, changing their watches by the thousands.
• Lots more of us moved to Texas than moved here last year: We received 12,688 from the Lone Star State while losing 20,073, people who soon will learn the correct way to shout, “Yeeeee-hah!” at Friday night football games, just after eating a mouthful of molten-grade chili, or at the mention of the words, “Johnny Manziel.”
• More Arizonans moved to Oregon than Oregonians moved to Arizona. But adjoining Washington state’s statistics went the opposite way, with more of them moving here than Arizonans moving there. More Arizonans moved to Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio than residents of those states who moved here. Oregon’s pine trees must smell better than Washington’s.
• But shoveling snow and repeated attempts to start a frozen, dead battery in the morning darkness still serve as powerful motivators to many other Midwesterners, a group that has traditionally provided so many new Arizonans. We gained more people than we lost from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.
Californians have been traditional targets for Arizonans’ jokes. I’ve heard and retold many, one oldie-but-goodie being that to a Californian, formal dress means that you wear socks. Our state historian, Marshall Trimble, has often begun sentences with, “I’d rather see my sister marry a Californian than…” and finish them with some quite unpleasant if not repulsive activity.
Every time there’s an earthquake in the Los Angeles area, my Facebook page comes alive with the expressions of my friends from west of here, variations on the theme of, “Did you feel that?” My sarcastic replies are often something along the lines of, “Lake Havasu City real estate prices just rose 11 percent” or “You heard of Zuma Beach? We’re putting up signs welcoming people to Yuma Beach.”
They may not like digs like those, but at some point it seems that the cost of living in the Golden State catches up with these folks, even with their mostly higher salaries. We might not really have paradise in Arizona, but look at it from their perspective.
Generally, if they live within an hour’s drive of the Pacific Coast, their homes are much smaller and much more expensive than ours. They pay much more for gasoline and more for the cars they put it in, and they drive in traffic that makes ours look like, well, not like traffic.
And more people than you think buy a house here, put their families in it and commute back and forth to Los Angeles to work. The little stems on those folks’ watches must fall off from overuse.
So from that volume of my largely unwritten works, “The Fireside Phoenician (Selections),” here is a little parody of “California, Here I Come,” a song that Richard Nixon once said he wanted played at his funeral (it wasn’t):
Arizona, here I come,
Right back where I started from;
Your deserts, your summers, are worth it to me,
It’s better, than paying all those taxes and fees, so I say:
I’ll be in the Grand Canyon State,
Where they don’t have Medicaid,
Close up tight that Golden Gate,
Arizona, here I come!
Read Tribune contributing columnist Mark J. Scarp’s opinions here on Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.