the grass IS greener (but, not necessarily better)

the grass IS greener (but, not necessarily better) 1When we lived in Tucson, I often lamented to Tim about the quality of the grocery stores. "Where can a girl get a decent loaf of bread in this town?" "This produce is terrible!" "Why are the stores so uninspiring?"

Then, I started traveling the USA...and I realized that our whole country has some serious food quality issues (more on that later).

How I long for Trader Joe's with balloons and free samples! How I wish I could stop in for zucchini squash, cantaloupe, & plums (and gummy bears!) at Sunflower Market! And let's not forget that I had access to the boring (but reliable and decently priced) Safeway & Fry's.

I also miss the spectacular desert sunsets, painted by the very breath of God - each night a creative display of artistry.

And - oh! - the glorious mountains towering high above in every direction.

I took for granted the pleasant dryness of the weather. Even in the hottest summers, our family could still go out for walks after dusk - without being eaten alive by mosquitos and bloodhungy gnats.

I pine for the yellow sunshine, beating down on my bare shoulders in the springtime. For the winding hiking trails through cactus country. For the lack of tornados and blizzards.

As we drive cross-country, people inevitably ask where we're from. After we answer, they say, "I love Tucson!" or "We'd love to move there!" Without fail. Apparently, my nondescript hometown has quite the reputation.

All this to say - Tucson may be lacking in some areas (nice parks with updated playscapes, unique residential & commercial architecture, and a thriving business/technology environment), but it also has a certain charm.

Oh, Tucson, you're still inside me. An invisible tattoo on my life.

What do you like most about the city you currently live in?

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50 comments on “the grass IS greener (but, not necessarily better)”

  1. I think you totally nailed it here. No matter how "cool" it might seem to live somewhere else I think deep down we all crave what we know because what we know is connected to so many memories. When you said you would like a lack of blizzards my heart skipped a beat. To me a blizzard brings so many memories of coziness and family time and no where to go because we can't! And that's just it. It's not about what a climate or region might have or not have, it's what those characteristics makes us remember and make us feel.

    Great post!

    1. I think you're right, Jenny. So much of what we love is tied to familiarity. I'm discovering that more and more as we travel further and further away from the mountains of Arizona.

  2. We live in a suburb of Milwaukee. I like everything here except for the weather. I'm more suited to a tropical or desert climate, not a frozen tundra! But we do have green grass, lots of parks, a ton of free or low-cost activities for families, we're on Lake Michigan, we're close to Chicago, and our public school system (elementary through post-graduate) is top-notch.

  3. It is amazing how much you grow to really love your town once you leave it. I have a great recipe for homemade bread which we slice thinly and use it for sandwiches or just to eat. My hubby loves it so much that on the weekend I have to make sure I have enough for the week and if I don't I gotta get bakin!

  4. I like best that we are close to the local wildlife area and I enjoy having 4 seasons. I also am glad that we are so close to some family - growing up we were hardly ever close to family, that is a blessing I don't ever want to give up. Beyond that - I've lived places I liked a lot better, but I've learned that no matter where you live it really is what you make of it. If you decide to like it, to be content - you will be, if you decide to focus on what you would change if you could - you will and you will rob yourself of some of the joy of simply living that is yours to have!

    Tucson sounds like a wonderful place!

  5. Like others, I've lived in so many different places, and I miss things about each of them. But what I love about Phoenix is, of course, the weather. Including that first day in spring when you can feel the first real heat of the summer sun!

    But in making a place feels homey, it helps to find the things that are important to you. So in that vein, try using to search for farms, co-ops, CSAs, and farmers' markets in your area. I like to try to track down locally owned grocery stores, too, since they tend to offer more locally-produced options. Most locals seem to know their local grocery store chain. (Another site is:

    1. Great pointers! We've started asking the campground host which grocery store they shop at when we check in. As you said, it helps to have a local's recommendation.

  6. I love Minneapolis with all my heart - the ease of biking everywhere, the parks and lakes, the niceness of the people, the bustling downtown, the farmer's markets on every corner during the spring and summer, and the politics of the people who live here - to name just a few of the reasons why. I'm not a huge fan of February in Minnesota, but I can take it. This place is etched so deeply in my heart that I already dread the day I know will be coming soon when we have to move on.

  7. You're so right about the desert sunsets. They're tough to beat. I think my favorite part about living here is the Mexican food. Sounds weird, right? But of all the places I've lived I've never tasted anything comparable. That's what I'll miss most when we leave...

    1. Definitely NOT weird. There is a serious lack of good Mexican food in the Southern states. I tried to make enchiladas one time in Alabama, but they were terrible...because the tortillas were soggy, the cheese was mediocre, and the salsa wasn't like "Arizona" salsa.

      We did, however, have super tasty Mexican food in San Antonio, TX and in Bristol, VA (of all places!).

  8. I, we've lived in many different locales. There are always things to love and things to...dislike ;) I have, at times, focused on the negatives :) I am planning on finding myself content in every place we are present, enjoying what can be enjoyed and ignoring/avoiding what can't.

    Where we live right now: There are majestic bald eagles soaring in the sky, one has made a HUGE nest a 1/4 mile away.

  9. I love the people, and the green. Every time I leave MS I miss how green it is. I don't ever miss the heat, humidity, or mosquitoes though. Those are just downright aggravating.

  10. i like indianapolis because we have all four season (snow, true spring with rain and flowers and perfect weather, hot summer, huge trees with orange and red leaves in fall) and because we have every good store (nordstrom to trader joe's to anthropologie) and major sports (colts, pacers, IU, butler) and affordable housing and low cost of living and good schools and it's pretty clean and all in all, a good place to have a family. and i love our street and our house. :)

  11. Just stopping by for a quick peek but...

    Oh girl, how you described this locale! I have lived in a few places and love to visit many, but I would have to say: the desert has my heart- for many of the reasons you so eloquently stated.

    Tucson misses your family too. But we are so proud of the work you are doing.

    Stay safe out there. Prayers and love.

  12. I've only lived in Tacoma for 6 months...but I love that when you come here, you know you're somewhere different. It's not full of chain stores and restaurants....mostly small independent businesses with owners and customers who are are passionate about their city. It's rough around the edges but there are some hidden gems here and a uniqueness I have not experienced anywhere else.

  13. The best (only) thing I like about our current town (small west Texas border town) is that my husband and son live here with me. That sounds incredibly negative, but I truly don't think I'll miss anything about this place when we finally move. Well, on second thought, we don't have any big city pollution, but that's about it.

  14. Sometimes we need to be away from our own "backyard" to truly appreciate all it has to offer. ;D It is fun exploring though...yes?

    1. Yes! A thousand times - yes. I do love that we're living an adventure - seeing spectacular sights, making marvelous memories. This is a year I will never, ever forget.

  15. Very well said!! I totally know exactly what you mean. Not saying that WA isn't beautiful, I do miss everything about Arizona! So many people up here travel to Arizona and wonder why we ever left. I miss the heat, the sun, the blue skies, the sunsets, the smell of the desert after it rains, along with my home, family, friends and my awesome neighbors! Sometimes you need to step away to really appreciate the beauty of certain things. Guess it's true.. You can take the girl out of Arizona but you can't take the Arizona out of the girl. You guys are doing great things while seeing the country...great experiences to share with the girls when they are older but it helps you realize just where your heart and home is. At least that is how it is for me. No regrets for leaving but it has made me love and appreciate where I'm from even more!! Miss you guys tons!!

    1. I heard the news about your upcoming move! I bet your heart is singing...but I'm sure it will be hard to say good-bye to the friendships you've developed there too.

      Can't wait to see you when we circle back around to Arizona! This time WE'LL be the ones at your house peeking over the fence at OUR renters! ;)

  16. WE miss you and your sweet family! I am starting to love where we live Corona De Tucson, Arizona. Our schools are amazing, the mountains breath taking, the lack of busy, city life is refreshing, everyone in our neighbor waves as we pass by, the nights cool down after a hot summer day, there are no bugs, the cactus and plants are SO green right now and everything is waking up and blooming from the winter. We have endless hiking spots, and the sunsets are amazingly beautiful! THe only thing I would love to have here is beach or ocean. However, San Diego is a quick drive west:)

    The best bread I have ever bought is at the Rincon Farmers Market on Old Spanish Trail....the lady selling the bread makes it homemade and even grindes the wheat herself! SOOO YUMMY!!

    *If you choose to make Tucson, Arizona your hometown again...I know that we would ALL welcome you happily! Lots of prayers for your family still being said daily!!

    1. Hey, I know the lady who makes that bread at RFM on Old Spanish. She is amazing and so are her kids! Best bread EVER!!!

  17. San Luis Obispo, CA is absolutely wonderful!! We have lots of Farmer's Markets, close to the beach, have lots of trails to hike or ride bikes, Cal Poly University is here and keeps the town interesting with the students coming and going, amazing restaurants, laid back and absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! We're also halfway between SF and LA, so big activities are never too far away.

    1. I'm from Paso Robles, just a hop skip and a jump from SLO. My heart skipped a bit when I read this comment. Stephanie is right on the mark; California's central coast is a most amazing place to call home. Assuming, that is, that you can find a good enough job to afford it! ;)

      1. Um...LOVE that Stephanie commented on here! Stephanie Tang is my old neighbor...they left us here in Santa Cruz to move back down to SLO. As far as Santa Cruz goes, I feel like I am always bragging about it here. We love where we live because we are minutes from the beach, minutes from the redwoods. We have fabulous weather, amazing farmers markets, fantastic churches, amazing community...we are just an hour from SF and four hours from many great things here. We miss our neighbors though!

    1. Yes, I love that about Southern Arizona!

      We're in North Carolina now...and the hiking is plentiful here too. Beautiful country in these parts.

  18. I've lived a few places (Florida, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, and now Pennsylvania) and there is always something to miss. Things I currently miss are decent restaurants besides Italian or chains (North Carolina and Virginia definitely win the award there). We do have lots of local farms here where we can get pretty much anything from meat to produce to milk or eggs, which is super nice. We also really like being close to family. This is the first time we have been close enough for day trips since we both left for college. It really cuts down on the amount of travel we have to do. I love that we are close enough to both Philly and NYC to do day trips. While we love to visit big cities, I'm glad we don't live in one, especially with two little kids. Grocery stores here are alright, but 25 minutes away is both Trader Joes and Whole Foods, so we often go there for some change. We have lots of nice playgrounds (two within walking distance) and plenty other kid friendly things to do. But I do miss the weather of San Antonio, not too humid, plenty of sunshine, and never too cold. I'm pretty sure San Antonio was as close to MY perfect weather city as we will ever get, too bad my husband totally disagrees with that :)

    I really think there are things to miss about anywhere!

  19. Interesting!! I'm sure it's hard to be away from home. I loved Arizona when I visited and I have often said I'd love to live there. Of course, I'd probably miss my green countrysides and the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

    I do love where I live, but I wouldn't mind living further south. It's just too dang cold. I think I might like South Carolina. As long as I could live close enough to the farm country to get my fresh meat and produce and raw milk! :-)

    1. Tucson is definitely lacking in the fresh produce/meat/milk department. But it has many, many other merits. We're learning firsthand that there are strong points and drawbacks to just about everywhere!

      We were just in Bristol last week and were awed by all of the local food...beef, pork, breads, cheeses, raw milk, yogurt, and more!

  20. I think I would like Tuscon... but I would miss the snow! :) I really do love that we have the 4 seasons here. I love the size of the town, small enough to know lots of people everywhere you go, but big enough to not feel like you're under the microscope!
    I love that it's very cool to be green and we have an awesome farmer's market. I love that we can get so much of our food locally if we just try!

    1. Tucson actually does get a little bit of snow. It snowed about one day a year in our old neighborhood...and it always snows a fair amount on Mount Lemmon (under an hour away).

      I think I'd like to live in a place with a small town feel and big city amenities (that's what everyone wants, right?). If possible, I'd also like to be within a 2-hour drive of a major city center.

      We just spent this past week with my sister and her family in Bristol. I was so impressed by all of the local food available. We had local cheese, milk, bread, beef, and pork - delicious!

  21. I love this post Stephanie! Tucson misses you too, or at least all your friends and family!

  22. I love living in area where you can look out to the mountains or the sea. I have been lucky to live in both places. My home town of (Laguna Beach,Ca) is breath taking. There is about 20 small beaches on the coast. My favorite is victoria beach. Best place to go skim boarding and near a beautiful cove. The sites are breath taking and the best sunsets on the clearest days you can see Catalina Island. Now I live near the mountains (Cupertino/Saratoga, Ca.) I love seeing the lusts greener all year long. I love our little city with the farmer market every saturday morning with the fresh bread and treats from Santa Cruz. The walks in the morning and evening and amazing pink purple sunsets. I hope you can come out west and visit some of california cities!

  23. Hm, now I'm more anxious to visit there! I guess we're currently in Fair Play SC (had never heard of it) and I'm not super sure what they have to offer. We've only been in the campground or to the next bigger towns. But I guess I like the quiet. I like to go find adventure, but have quiet at home. :)

  24. Having lived in so many different places there are things you miss and love about all of them. The grass is never greener on any side but you are right that a lot can be solved by the access to things you love.

    I hope you are getting the chance to crack the surface of many of the places you visit to see the charm.

    We love the family atmosphere of our town, the parks, the school system, arts, shopping etc but it's expensive and tough to do on one income. It's a trade-off but for us it's our home.

    1. Sometimes I wish we had more time to "get below the surface" in each town. We tend to see each place at face value...unless we have friends/family in the area (then, we get to see the area from a local perspective!).

      Tim & I were just saying yesterday that maybe for year #2, we'll pick our top 12 destinations and spend 1 month in each. ;)

  25. We've enjoyed the desert far more than expected - we've been in Arizona the longest of any state so far. We've identified cacti, watched rattlesnakes mate, and are starting to see the flowers come out. We've had conversations around possibly looking into camp hosting here in the winter.

    That said, I miss being in the forest with a canopy of trees overhead. I miss nice grassy parks for the kids to play on. I miss being near large bodies of fresh water. And while the sunsets here *are* nice - we get pretty good sunsets over Lake Michigan back home.

    Not that I'm pointing the truck north by northwest anytime soon...but theres nothing like a long trip away to make you realize what you appreciate about home.

  26. about the ACTUAL city I live in? Practically nothing except that it is near to EVERY major highway in CT (84, 91, 384, 2, 66, 44) that get me to OTHER cities that I love - like West Harford with it's great library and awesome restaurant selection, Glastonbury/S. Glastonbury with berry and fruit farms and small (rich) town charm (LOL). And various private & state parks close by but somehow NOT in our town! :) I transplanted to my city when I got married b/c my husbnd already owned our house. But I confess that I don't love it. That said, CT and New England have so much to offer... and at least I can get there rather quickly! :)

  27. I love so many things about my city (Charleston) but I'm going to have to say the Ocean is my #1. oh, I'm so lucky.

    But you also made me think about one of the worst. The bloodthristy marsh gnats who are out to get me every night :)

      1. I miss that bakery! They have the BEST shortbread cookies (Have you tried them? I think they're available on Thursdays).

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