The Southwest was amazing. It includes New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Nevada and Southern Utah. I think this was our favorite region. It has gorgeous weather in that it is hot or warm with the most days of sun per year out of the whole country (about 300).
Here is the video:
The people were also open and friendly. Chris has actually kept up emailing some people we randomly met because we drove down their street in Albuquerque. As people who will be new in where we move, we obviously want this level of openness to new people. Another plus for the South West is that it is newer. There are people from all over the country there, which means the culture is less well defined. I don’t think either of us felt Cajun or Southern for instance, and for that reason, it felt like it would be a bit harder to plug into that, whereas the South West, though it definitely does have its own culture, it feels like it is still being actively defined. We also really liked the local art, which seemed to be a mix of Spanish (as in the Spanish who colonized the West before the US existed), Native American and Mexican (for instance, the lovely chicano art that we saw in Mesa).
Unlike the East of the country, the Southwest is *not* a forest, not even a little bit. There are very few trees, and, as a result, very few insects compared to the rest of the country. We were told the main pest is the scorpion, but that if you got an exterminator to deal with its main food source, crickets, they are not a problem. Most people we spoke to had only seen one or two in their lives.
Our favorite city in the Southwest was Phoenix. It felt like the opposite of England in all the right ways. It is all kinds of hot, but the low humidity made that a pleasant change rather than a new nightmare. I don’t think Chris ever though he’d miss it being 105F/40C, but we both did as we went back north. Housing prices are on the cheaper side, which is probably because of the crash in 2008, but the city appeared to be rebounding.
Another plus for Phoenix is that everyone we met elsewhere who had lived in the area had fond memories of it and seemed to miss it.
It was also extremely attractive with the Sonoran desert surrounding it, full of saguaro cactuses.
Runner up, an unusually strong one, goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It isn’t quite as big, but it has amazing sunsets, extremely friendly people and seemed well organized. It is a cooler than Phoenix, but still a lovely proper desert. Also, the state of New Mexico has more to do with space than any other state seemed to. We saw Roswell, but beyond that, in the realms of real things, they have the Very Large Array and we managed to run into a professor who taught us lots of things about the sun. It is also a gorgeous state. Both New Mexico and Arizona are ridiculously beautiful and were two of our favorite states to drive through easily.
Honorable mention goes to Socorro, New Mexico for being the home for the Very Large Array. Obviously we couldn’t live out there as it’s just dishes and not much else and Socorro itself is a tiny town, but it was an amazing place to go, being full of quiet and a lack of pollution in addition to the cool spaceyness of it.