Sedona, AZ is definitely in our future

Published January 2, 2015   Posted in Having some fun

I will admit it is a little strange knowing that so many people believe that Sedona, the small red rock town in northern Arizona that my wife and I are planning on moving to, is home to something akin to mystical energy (known to the locals as “vortexes”), but my wife and I love that town nonetheless.  We love it for its beauty, its tranquility and the way that it makes us feel every time we visit.  


Taken December 2014

Nestled within Arizona’s red rock country nearly two hours north of Phoenix, Sedona is a tourist haven during the summer and a relaxing getaway during Arizona’s relatively warm winter months.  Views of sweeping red rocks glimmer with the evening light, delighting photographers like me and anyone who appreciates southwestern life.  There is no other landscape quite like what this city offers.

In other words, Sedona rocks.

From the first time that my wife and I visited Sedona in 2013, we toyed with the idea of moving up there; our current home is about 4 hours south, in Tucson, AZ.  We would need to downsize, but honestly, we want to do that anyway.  I love photography and my wife loves to hike.  And we both adore the red rock landscape and the energy that a small, but active, town like Sedona holds.

We spent three days between Christmas and New Years in Sedona this winter.  Everything was perfect.  While cold at night, close to 50-degree days brought us ample opportunity to get out and hike some trails, enjoy a new south American restaurant that opened up just two weeks ago and met some very interesting people along the way.  As always, our trip to Sedona was a success.  We loved every minute of it.  Each time we go, we talk about the idea to cut ties with Tucson and make our way up north.

Now, it’s official.  The idea that we toyed with has become more than just a pie-in-the-sky goal, something that we “may consider” if the opportunity presents itself.  The truth is this is the city that we absolutely hate to leave.

You know those vacations that you take where you’re happy that you went, but you are also looking forward to returning home?  Well, not here.

Don’t get me wrong – we love our Tucson home and the friends that we have in the city.  But, we love red rock country more – more than sticking around a larger city for the sake of money and “night life”.

We are moving to Sedona, damn it.  Come hell or high water, we will be moving to the place that we both love to make a new life for ourselves.  Our job now is to put all of the pieces together to do this as smart as we can, maximizing our savings while we are still both working in Tucson and setting us up to make this transition into the next phase of our lives easy and natural.

As with any other city with magnificent beauty, Sedona is not a cheap place to live, and my wife and I are fully aware that the cost of living there will be more than in Tucson.  In life, you can’t have it all.  Want freakishly stunning beauty?  Okay, but give up cheap gas.

Here is the plan

My wife and I have considered a bunch of different options to make this move possible, and the plan starts with effectively relocating our current rental property from southern Arizona to Sedona to establish ourselves in the area and to start paying down a reasonable mortgage as quickly as possible with rental income – without actually living there yet.

We own a rental property in a small town south of Tucson.  The current rental contract extends through midyear 2016.  After the contract expires – depending on the housing market at the time – we will look to sell the rental property and use the revenue from the sale to put a large down payment on a townhouse or apartment in the Sedona area and immediately begin renting out that property.

The idea here is to find a cheaper mortgage on a smaller rental property – so, no standalone home.

Keeping the new Sedona property under $170,000 or so (before our down payment) will set us up for a low enough mortgage to make a small profit on the monthly rent.  If all works according to plan, we will have a nice steady stream of rental income in the city that we want to move to in a few years.

When my wife and I believe we are ready to relocate, we sell the house that we are currently living in and use the proceeds from that sale to pay off the remaining mortgage of the rental property in Sedona and live in it for a year or two – I will continue working (from home) and we will sock away every spare penny for another down payment on our home – most likely a standalone property with a yard and a view of the red rocks.  Until then, we live mortgage-free in our townhouse.

After moving into our home, we re-list the townhouse as a rental property to help us pay the new mortgage.  From there, anything goes, and it all depends heavily on the real estate market at the time.

Short term goals

Most of our short term goals remain unchanged – save every penny that we can and continue contributing the wife’s entire salary into our savings.  The more savings that we have, the easier that the move to Sedona will be.

What changes is how actively we focus on Sedona real estate and the overall market.  Sedona is rich with high turnover younger folks who live in the area for a few years (or months!) and then move on.  This ultimately bodes well for the townhouse rental because these scenic vagabonds are generally not in any position to purchase a home and solidify themselves in any particular area.

We need to talk with a good realtor to get a feel for how supportive the Sedona market is for our plans of moving into the area, hopefully into a completely paid off townhouse initially, then into our more permanent home.  Staying focused with our eye on the prize won’t be hard.  With each trip to Sedona, our excitement to live there only strengthens.

Long term goals

Retiring by 40 is still the goal and is very achievable even with the move to a city with a relatively high lost of living.  Before we decided to prioritize this move, my actual targeted retirement age was more like 36 or 37 rather than 40, but now, it will probably be closer to 40.  No big deal.  But, even if I don’t ultimately retire by 40, it would come as the result of our move to the city that we love – a happy choice, for sure.

Life is a series of trade offs.  Choosing the right things that make the most sense to you is the key to enjoying your life to the fullest.  A lot of the right things for my wife and I include the outdoors, and there are few better places in the world to live for outdoorsy-types like us than Sedona, Arizona.

We also need to look into alternative sources of income.  My wife loves to knit and is considering how to monetize the time that she spends working with yarn and fabric.  For me, it’s photography.  Selling photographs online, starting a photo tour business in Sedona or a photography gallery are all things that I am considering.

As the adage goes, if you do what you love, you never truly “work” a day in our life.  After we move to Sedona, we hope to turn that adage into our way of life.

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26 responses to “Sedona, AZ is definitely in our future”

  1. How exciting to make a “for sure” decision and a plan to get there. It sounds like you have thought everything through. Hopefully the real estate markets cooperate with your plan and set you up for a reasonable cash flow situation. Best of luck with the eventual move!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I started reading your blog after you posted about it on the MMM forum. I like what you’ve written thus far and plan to keep checking back for new posts. I particularly like this one as my husband and I have a similar plan, but we want to end up in Southern Oregon around Ashland or Jacksonville. I find that having something like this to look forward to really helps get us excited about the possibilities and stay focused on achieving the goal. Best wishes for a prosperous and happy 2015!

    • Thanks Jennifer. I’ve traveled through Oregon – absolutely beautiful state. While my wife and I aren’t northwestern-type people (we like the heat I guess), I can definitely understand your desire to move into that area. It’s a fun little process to go through (if you maintain the right attitude) and adds an additional variable to the whole retirement and financial independence goal.

      How long into the future are you looking to make the move? What attracted you to southern Oregon?

      • Jennifer says:

        Our plan is to definitely be there by the time we FIRE, which we are planning to do in 5 1/2 years. However, I work from home and can live anywhere, so we are open to going at anytime between now and then. Our primary goal before making the move is to ensure we can pay cash for a new home there. As long as we can do that and my hubby can find work, we could literally go at any time. For what it’s worth, Southern Oregon is actually warm in the summer, low humidity and not at all rainy like the Portland area. It’s a bit of a secret and I just hope too many people don’t figure it out before we get there. In the meantime, we’ll tough it out in Austin.

        • Sounds like you and I are in a very similar situation. I also work from home and can work from anywhere. It is the wife’s situation with the extra income that is keeping our Sedona plans a couple years out. I completely understand about your goal to pay cash for the home – our rental income is our planned way to make this happen with a very little net cash decrease.

          Good luck on your move!

        • pete pfautsch says:

          Tough it out in Austin-really? It is a gorgeous city

  3. Jenna says:

    Creating an action plan for a dream is how this stuff happens. Good luck!

  4. […] you are more likely to stick to your goal. So we’ll keep saving towards our down payment on a town home in Sedona next year and I’ll stop worrying about whether the money should go somewhere else. This is […]

  5. […] probably know by now that my wife and I have a dream.  We have a dream of picking up our lives and moving up to Sedona, AZ in the near future to live out the rest of our lives surrounded by red rocks in northern Arizona.  […]

  6. […] Retire for any amount of time, you probably have a general idea of our plans for the future. Save, buy townhome in Sedona, pay off townhome in Sedona, move to Sedona, eventually buy our home in Sedona and rent out […]

  7. Jenn says:

    I helped my sister move to Sedona, and I was blown away by how beautiful it is out there! I’m not sure I would move down there myself, since I am so attached to the rocky mountains here in Provo, Utah. But it is definitely a beautiful landscape. I see why you want to move there!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Jenn – thanks so much for your comment. While our plans changed about Sedona, it’s still one of the most beautiful cities in the country and we still love to spend as much time as we can there. Amazing place. Beautiful red rocks. All in all, wonderful town.

  8. Sedona is an amazing place! I understand why you are so determined to go there. I believe that a person must go to live in the place that they feel like home. I wish you best of luck with finding a property there!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Estelle. We have changed our plans a bit since the writing of that article, but Sedona will always be a place that we thoroughly enjoy visiting! 🙂

  9. Tina says:

    Have you made your move to Sedona yet?

  10. Sloopie says:

    I would reconsider. Traffic has become unbearable, and many tourists bring their not so nice ways with them. Also, with all the tourists come a lot of different maladies, flus, etc. Trail parking is overflowing into neighborhoods. thinking of leaving after only three years.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Sloopie – we have changed our plans, actually – not because of the traffic in Sedona (which I admit can be very heavy), but due to our desire to travel the country. We’ll be in Sedona from time to time, but in our Airstream and only staying for a few weeks at a time. 🙂

  11. Tyler says:

    I’ve lived here in Sedona for 11 years and my fiance’ and I are trying to escape. It is SLOWWWWWDona to those of is that know it best. Most of my good friends have already moved on which makes it sadder. It is expensive to live here and I’m talking food. Your food bill becomes $250 per week with 2 people easily. That’s a rent to most people or more! I would think about it if you haven’t already moved here. Expenses are high but pay is super low. God bless.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your thoughts, Tyler. We have definitely changed our plans and no longer need to move to Sedona. Instead, we’re going to be traveling the country in an Airstream (already bought), so we’ll get to experience Sedona when we want, but then move to cheaper areas of the country thereafter. A perfect mix, we think!

      • Rick Sperry says:

        Hi Steve, I think you need to follow your heart. I eventually want to travel like you are going to do. See America the way the locals do. I started looking at retiring in about 1998 for a 2007 retirement. We took vacations all over with the question to ask. Would I want to live here. When my wife brought me to Sedona, my jaw dropped when I saw the night sky. We have owned a home in Sedona since 2003 and moved here full time in 2007. We came from Southern California. I guess if people think Sedona has traffic, they have never been on a SoCal freeway any time of the day!

        I love it here and have no plans of moving. Traffic here means it takes 5 minutes longer to get somewhere (maybe) ! Weather – 300 days of sunshine and a Milky Way you can see 300+ nights a year. Oh, what about the majestic beauty of the area; Red Rock vistas, the smell of pine trees, etc. etc.

        I embrace tourism and change. It is the lifeblood of our economy. I can leave my front door unlocked at night at not worry about my safety. How many places in this country can you have all of this?

        • Steve says:

          Hey Rich – I think you’re right, gotta follow your heart. We will definitely spend a lot of time in the Sedona area in our RV. The cost to live in Sedona was just too steep, but just as well, as the RV lifestyle is more up our alley anyway. I took a look at your web site listings…some beautiful homes up there!

  12. Sar says:

    170k for a Sedona home? Not going to happen. Maybe a condo if you are lucky. If you are lucky you will find a stand alone home in Sedona for $250-$275k in winter when the real estate market as slowed down but most homes are $300k and above. I am planning on moving to Sedona this winter. I’ve been flipping houses in the west valley since 2011. My last flip home is under contract and I will be renting somewhere here for 6 months until just before Christmas and then ill go house shopping in Sedona. I am looking for something for $250k with $100k down. By some miracle I will be able to convert the garage to an air b and b but I am not counting on it right away. Will most likely buy a van and offer tours that take visitors to Jerome for a few hours. There aren’t many jobs up there so you got to use your head.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Sar – we’ve changed our plans, partly because Sedona was so expensive (the other was due to the constant crowds). We’re traveling full-time now. 😉

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