5 min read

Choosing where to lay roots

Choosing where to lay roots

One of me and my husband's resolutions this year is to figure out where we want to lay roots.

For some reason when I was growing up I never thought about the possibility of leaving my hometown. I'm from Las Vegas and lived there for over 30 years. I hated it. The heat, lack of trees and wildlife, traffic, terrible schools, culture, tiny lot sizes. I could go on and on.

Overall though, the landscape and weather were the biggest dealbreakers. We had beautiful mountains nearby (Red Rock and Mt Charleston), but for about 5 months out of the year if you wanted to go hiking you had to make sure you were DONE by 9am before it got too hot. The heat was miserable. Like sitting in an oven, burn yourself with the seatbelt miserable.

Making our first move to Williams, AZ

After having our first kid, we moved 3 hours away to Williams, AZ. We had a small house on 10 acres. Evergreen pines and junipers all over the property. Tons of wildlife coming through all the time: elk, deer, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, gophers, snakes, woodpeckers, and more. The milky way visible to the naked eye from our porch. Abundant trails, foraging, and camping literally minutes away. It was bliss.

Two months ago, we moved 45 minutes away from the house to Flagstaff, AZ. If Williams was so blissful, why did we move? Well, as it turns out, it is very difficult to have a time-consuming career and kids while living in a rural area with essentially zero amenities.

In Williams, we had just ONE grocery store 25 minutes away. If we wanted anything beyond that, we had to drive 45 minutes each way to Flagstaff. Kids activities, doctors appointments, pediatrician appointments, etc. were all 1.5 hours roundtrip just in commute. On top of that, the childcare options were dire. There aren't any daycares or preschools in the area, so we had to rely on a VERY small pool of babysitters for the regular Monday-Friday 8-4 workday.

Next stop: Flagstaff, AZ

So, ultimately, we decided our lives would be much easier if we just moved up to Flagstaff. We've been here for about 2 months now and love it! We're renting a house with a much smaller yard and very much miss our 10 acre lot back in Williams. But so far, the pros outweigh the cons.

We're treating this year in this rental as a trial run to see if Flagstaff is where we want to lay roots. It definitely checks a lot of boxes, so I'm super grateful to have the opportunity to "try it out" before we decide if we want to buy.

There are still a few other places we have on our "maybe" list of where to lay roots, so in the next few blog posts I'm going to do a little exercise to explore each of those areas. In the rest of this post, I'm just going to jot down some of our must-haves, nice-to-haves, and dealbreakers.

Wishlist – weather and landscape

After living in Las Vegas for so long, desirable weather and landscape are at the top of my "must haves" list. My alter ego is honestly a forest faerie (iykyk), so dry desert vibes just drain the life out of me. My soul needs the forest.

Must haves:

  • Max 100 degrees < 5 times per year. Summer is generally in the 80s or low 90s max.
  • Good amount of rain. Minimum 20 inches annually. No max.
  • Lots of natural greenery. Mountains. Hiking. Foraging. Forests.
  • Camping nearby
  • Decent air quality

Nice to haves:

  • Long growing season (>4 months), good soil
  • Lots of water. Lakes, ponds, streams, etc.
  • Dark sky city. Bortle scale less than 3.


  • Dry, desert landscape
  • Tornados
  • Hot and humid

Don't care either way:

  • Altitude doesn't matter
  • Cold weather doesn't matter. Fine with or without snow.
  • Wildfires are acceptable as long as insurance isn't outrageous.

Wishlist – community and vibes

I never knew that I cared about community until moving to Williams. Las Vegas had every type of event and meetup you could think of, but I was super anti-social when I lived there lol. I've changed a lot in the last few years, and actually enjoy hanging out with people now! Unfortunately, Williams was the exact opposite in terms of events. There was basically nothing going on there. And the community there was much more conservative and just an overall older crowd (lots of retirees). Barely any kids activities, and when there were events, they were usually hosted by one of the churches. Nothing wrong with any of that obviously, just not my crowd!

Must haves:

  • Good school options
  • Outdoorsy culture: lots of community events for hiking, foraging, etc
  • Stuff for kids to do
  • Community events and classes: science, tech, outdoor stuff, food, art, etc.
  • Good childcare options
  • Traffic not too bad
  • Population at least 50k
  • Friendly. People not super closed off or weird and snobby.
  • Safe.

Nice to haves:

  • No extreme politics either way
  • Decent vegan scene
  • Tech scene

Wishlist – property and house

So far, I've only talked about the general area of where I'd like to live. There are probably a lot of places that would fit the bill for the above points. Here's where it gets tricky though – we want the amenities of a city AND a large plot of land (ideally at least an acre), without breaking the bank.

The actual property being our little slice of paradise is a non-negotiable, and this section is where a lot of potential options fall apart 😅 To get an idea of what I want, here's my vision board in Notion:

Vision board in Notion - lots of greenery, garden beds, waterfront, etc.

I truly want it all, and I refuse to settle for anything less than paradise 😄

What I will sacrifice though is the actual house itself. My husband and I completely renovated our Williams house all on our own, so I don't mind a fixer up. As long as the bones are solid and some of the harder to change things fulfill all my requirements (high ceilings, square footage, etc), the actual house itself isn't super important to me. The land and location though – top priority.

Must haves:

  • Nice views
  • Mature trees
  • Not close to neighbors
  • Not super rural, still in a neighborhood in a sense
  • 3000+ sqft
  • 4br, office, and gym
  • ADU or space and zoning to build 1-2 ADUs (to house parents eventually)
  • High ceilings
  • Big kitchen (or layout that allows for renovating info larger kitchen)
  • Big picture windows
  • Usable land – not in flood zone, large incline, etc.
  • Within 15 min of grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc
  • If lots of mature trees, can settle for just half an acre

Nice to have:

  • Ideally at least 1 acre. And even more ideally 3+.
  • Pre-built garden area, fruit trees, water catchment, greenhouse
  • Waterfront or water on property
  • Not a fixer upper
  • Lots of wildlife visiting the area

Potential areas

What fits the bill so far? Probably a lot of places! But so far we've go our eyes set on Flagstaff, surrounding Seattle area, Northern California, and Southern Maine. I'll go over each option more in depth in another post.