Mesa’s isn’t No. 3. It’s No. 1. We’re not slighting the qualities of Scottsdale or Gilbert, which came in at No. 7 and 16, respectively, on Money magazine’s annual list of the best American cities to live.
Mesa, as Scottsdalians and Gilbertites are sure to point out, came in third on the publication’s list of best “big” cities of more than 300,000, but was way down at 93rd in the overall list.
Mesa’s position on the list we’re talking about here actually bodes well for the entire East Valley; it topped SustainLane.com’s ranking of the 50 largest U.S. cities for natural disaster risk, along with Milwaukee.
The two other Arizona cities mentioned, Phoenix and Tucson, were locked in a four-way tie for third when the list was released last month; as near as we can figure, it was because Phoenix’s west edge is about 50 miles closer to the San Andreas fault and Tucson occasionally gets rain.
It’s refreshing to see our drought-wracked desert metroplex singled out by a Web site that’s dedicated to promoting “sustainable living.”
But the writers at Money and SustainLane are hardly the only people who have figured out what Arizona, and especially the East Valley, has to offer that no one else can.
The Sonoran desert does more than shield us from the hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes that shove Miami, New Orleans, and California (aside from Teflon-coated San Diego) to the bottom of this list.
It provides us with an environment that’s truly like no other. A forest is a forest even if you can see it for the trees, and what distinguishes beaches is which side the water is on. When we see a saguaro or a paloverde, we know we’re home.
We just hope they’re still there when we get back. More people call these prickly cities home every day, for many of the reasons Money cites: Scottsdale’s golfing and other recreational amenities, Gilbert’s breakneck growth not just in housing, but in jobs, and Mesa’s affordability, which can turn a California pauper into a prince.
But we all feel like princes and princesses on those balmy February weekends when we can and do do anything we want to do. With a little bit more care and nurturing, we can extend that Arizona Dream year-round.