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The Most Underrated City: Tucson

underrated cities

 Most Underrated City: Tucson!

Tucson made Travel & Leisure’s List of the Most Underrated Cities. In fact, Tucson was ranked #3 on a list of 31 underrated cities.

It’s not all wild, wild west culture and year-round golf in this laid-back, nature lover’s paradise; With a population of 500,000+, Tucson has much to offer residents and vacationers alike.

Tucson’s natural beauty is enhanced by the magical weather patterns. Monsoon rain storms, rainbows, breath-taking sunrise and sunsets that always astonish locals and tourists alike.

Surrounded by mountains and The Saguaro National Park, Tucson attracts all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. The Tucson mountains bring together hikers, cyclists, rock climbers, bird watchers, storm chasers; all thrilled with what Tucson has to offer.

Downtown Tucson has an amazing list of attractions. Decade-long efforts to redevelop the area have resulted in top-rated restaurants for one. Tucson was also named UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy for one reason; the restaurants. Restaurants like The Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails and Poca Cosa.

In 2015, Tucson was even given this prestigious award for being a foodie’s paradise. Tucson was the first city in America to receive this honor. The city was also rated as most playable city for kids and families.

Arizona is the Best State for Retirement

Tucson has plenty of reasons for you to love it, the amazing Mexican food, the spectacular sunsets, and the low-key winters just to name a few. But did you know that being in Arizona puts us in one of the top 7 tax-friendly states? That’s great news for people looking to relocate and especially good for retirees on a fixed income. Here’s why Arizona is the best state for retirement.

Tucson For the Retired

We’ve assembled a list of tax-free items so you can see, at a glance, the biggest tax reasons Tucson, Arizona is the place to be and the best state for the retired.

Arizona is a Top 7 Tax-Friendly State
Arizona is a Top 7 Tax-Friendly State

Tax-free:

  1. Estate and inheritance 
  2. Groceries
  3. Military retirement income
  4. Prescription drugs
  5. Railroad retirement income
  6. Social-Security benefits

Tax-Breaks:

  1. Up to $2,500 of income from federal government, designated Arizona state government, and Arizona local government retirement plans is exempt.
  2. Senior residents could qualify for a property tax refund of $502.
  3. Seniors of 70 and older can qualify to defer their property taxes if they’ve lived in their home for 6 years and in Arizona for 10.
  4. For AZ state government, and AZ local government up to $2,500 in retirement plans are exempt.

Tax-Basics:

  1. Arizona has a 5.6% state levy
  2. Cities can add up to 5.6% but the states median is 8.4%
  3. Low end income tax is 2.5%, the high is 5.7%
  4. There is a 3.5% surtax on (taxable) income over $250,000 for single filers and $500,00 for joint filers.

Ok so technically all this information applies to the entire state of Arizona as a whole, however… We really believe that once you’ve looked around at what AZ has to offer you will find that Tucson is not only economically feasible but it’s also the warmest and welcoming city you will find on our stretch of the Sonoran Desert. When you’re done with the rest, come back to the best!

50 Over 50 Accomplished Women

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Congratulations to Carlotta Flores who made this year’s “50 Over 50: Vision“ in Forbes Magazine! Carlotta is the visionary owner of El Charro Café in downtown Tucson. You may have heard that Tucson is a Unesco City of Gastronomy. Carlotta Flores is a big part of what makes us the best 23 miles of Mexican Food in the States. Flores took the reins from its founder in 1972 and grew the business from a single café to multiple restaurants, over 400 employees, and a licensing and branding deal with MGM Grand in Las Vegas! That takes vision, dedication, and planning. In addition to all that Flores is an integral part of the Tucson community. She has a pay-it-forward mindset and according to her son Ray she reminds people that “sometimes you need to give more than you get to get somewhere.” Flores has been volunteering for over 20 years in Tucson and has served on several boards. She met the woman who nominated her, Rosalie Crowe, through the University of Arizona’s Chicano/Hispanic Student Affairs & Resource Center.

Unbelievable

El Charro Cafe
El Charro Cafe
Flores told the Arizona Daily Star that even though she spoke with the editor of the list, Maggie McGrath, a couple of days before the announcement she still didn’t believe it. Flores kept waiting for someone to ask for money to finalize the nomination but it never came. When the 50 over 50 news hit Tucson social media it began to sink in that the honor was actually real. No one around Flores has any doubt that she deserves the award. In 2019 the heart of the operation, El Charro Café, was a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award. That award recognized exceptional talent and vision in the culinary world. She may not have won that one (even though we believe she should have,) being on the Forbes list of 50 over 50 is nothing to slouch about. Congratulations Carlotta, you deserve all the goodness that comes your way.

Tucson Ranks in Top 50 Places to Visit in 2021

Travel And Leisure Rank Tucson Top 50 Places to Visit in 2021
Travel And Leisure Rank Tucson Top 50 Places to Visit in 2021

According to Travel & Leisure, our very own desert jewel Tucson is ranked #45 in their top 50 list of places to visit in 2021. And let’s face it, after 2020 we are ready to spread our wings and fly. For some of us, we don’t have to go far since we already live in paradise!

What They Said

Hotel Tuxon
Hotel Tuxon

T&L acknowledges that while we’ve often been in the shadows of our larger more metropolitan sisters like Phoenix and Santa Fe. However, we were catering to the wellness crowd years before “wellness” was really a thing. Our beautiful rolling vistas are a favorite of spas, outdoor enthusiasts, and artists.  

As beautiful as we are, we are also quirky and filled with personality. The accommodation for out-of-town visitors is unparalleled. From the Tuxon to Hotel McCoy you’re sure to enjoy the personality these venues offer. Or perhaps you’re looking for something a little less commercial. The Joshua Tree House Tucson boasts 5 beautiful suites backed up right next to the Saguaro National Park.  

Did you know that Tucson ranks gold as a bike city? Oh yea, it’s so great for cyclists that a new bike guest ranch is in the works to cater specifically to bicyclists! The Bike Ranch will be Tucson’s first sustainable eco-resort.

Come On Down

Yes, we know that 2021 is halfway over but we are confident that Tucson is going to remain in the top places to visit for years to come. We’ve already been identified as one of the top cities poised for recovery after the pandemic. Don’t believe us? Well, you’ll just have to come visit and make up your mind, it’s okay, we’ll wait.

Download a PDF of Travel and Leisure Top 50 Places to Visit in 2021!