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A Tale of Two Cities 2017

Updated on April 28, 2017
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.


While vacation in two cities in the western USA, I got this impression of life in two very different cities. Let me explore how these two cities compare.

- Apr. 2017


My wife and I was fortunate enough to take a two weeks vacation this spring. Her brother owns a nice house in Desert Highlands, a gated golf community in Scottsdale, Az. We spent about 4 days there recently and then drove about 360 miles west to Irvine, Ca. My daughter has a rental unit in Los Olivos and we spent about a week there before flying back to NY.

My General Impressions

Having been to both cities within the span of a week, I have some general impressions. Scottsdale is a rich man's play ground. The golf courses are impecable, the homes are huge and well furnished. The club house are well attended and staffed with friendly workers. The foods are top notch in the restaurants. It is a great place to live for 6 months out of the year, from November to April. The rest of the time is just too hot. I was told Scottsdale is one of the fastest growing cities in America with 202 persons moving in every day.

Irvine, Ca is a new city that is well planned, It is close to the beaches but also convenient to shopping and the freeways. It has wide, clean streets lined with palm trees. It is a family friendly place with lots of activities year round. The weather is nice most of the year. The neighborhoods are called villages and they are full of new housing constantly being build and the city has a growing tenants of public traded companies and startups. The neighborhoods are diverse with many ethnic groups along with their foods and restaurants. Life here is a slower pace than the east coast and filled with more outdoor activities due to the weather.

What Are the Metrics

In contrasting these two cities, I have a list of items to compare.

  • housing
  • weather
  • foods
  • fruits
  • traffic and transportation
  • shopping
  • groceries
  • convenience
  • healthcare
  • commerce
  • diversity
  • Politics
  • recreation
  • scenery
  • places of worship

Some Details...Scottsdale

My views are obviously biased and only address what I encountered In my 4 days spent there. Since I am recently retired, that also colored my reactions. Scottsdale is an affluent community. The people I encountered are mostly older and affuent and retired. They found an oasis in the desert of Az where the weather is dry and good for allergies. Many who lives here are only here part time. This is one of their homes. They spend about half the year here, playing golf and shopping and hiking and enjoying the social life with friends and family. It is almost a resort atmosphere. The people who are workers and staff at these locations are mostly young and some are ethnic minorities who are happy to find a job in the service industry.

I enjoyed my stay but since I don't play golf, I did not get the most out of the experience. I did ride along the course on a golf cart and ate at the club houses. I also did some hikes and shopped in some of the retail stores and name brand outlets. The streets are clean and the houses all are designed to blend into the hillsides. I did get a chance to visit the Wrigley mansion which has been converted to a fancy restaurant and museum. I also paid a visit to Taliesin West, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright. I also took a day trip to Sedona which is about 2 hours drive north of Scottsdale. It was a peaceful and spiritual place with energy vortex abound.

Some Details...Irvine

Driving 5.5 hours on Route 10 West brought us to Irvine, Ca. A modern city with beautiful parks and malls and developments and beaches nearby. It is quite a contrast from the desert of Arizona. I was visiting my daughter who is living in a modern community which included 6 olympic size pools, exercise rooms, playgrounds for kids and teens and close to the Spectrum mall.

I can't help but noticed the slow paced life style of people here compared to back east. The convenience of all the stores and the well manicured lawns and the palm trees. In one 2 hours morning, I was able to shop at 4 nearby locations including an Hmart, a 99 Ranch market, Costco and Trader Joe's with a stop at a Chase bank. Driving here is a breeze. There are rush hours and congestion like most large cities but during the day, it is fine.

We are able to drive to Laguna beach in about 20 minutes and have dinner in a fabulous restaurant with beautiful views. The people are friendly and courteous. The weather in spring and the proximity of all ethnic shopping and restaurant makes this an ideal place to live.

The cost of living here is one of the great selling point. A rental unit of 2 bedrooms and 2 baths with full amenities is approx. $2500 per month. A comparable place in NYC will easily be doubled. Compared to the place in Scottsdale, it is no worse and a lot cheaper. A house in a gated community would cost at minimum $2 million and up. The quality of living in Irvine is unmatched.

Another selling point for young families is the thriving religious community of Sadleback church of pastor Rick Warrren. His simple message and the Saddleback campus with all its youth activities makes this a model for others.


It is hard to believe how two cities within a 360 miles distance, in two states, could be so different. Both cities has some charm and attraction. The life styles are quite different from the NY suburbs where I live. I enjoyed my visits to both cities. I must admit, I can't see myself living in Scottsdale more than a week but will have no trouble adapting to life in Irvine.

© 2017 Jack Lee


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    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      20 months ago from Yorktown NY


      Yes I know about the tax situation in Ca. Where I live in Westchester, NY, we have one of the highest property tax in the country and also income tax as well.

      I was more or less commenting on the quality of life issues here and the weather. When you get older, those are important considerations.

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      21 months ago from South Dakota, USA


      Since I lived in California for many, many years, I can tell you from first hand experience that your impressions are colored by the fact that you were only "visiting." Also, since you don't work there, you can't really say that the traffic is "fine." You also didn't experience many of the fees and taxes that are unique to California residents. I agree, it's a nice place to visit. But I would not live there anymore. I even wrote a hub about it. Glad you enjoyed your stay.


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