LIVING IN CAREFREE ARIZONA 2022-07-23T20:14:27-05:00




An absolutely lucky lightning shot taken from my front porch as a rain storm moved from south to north over Phoenix, AZ. Paul D. Maley photo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 11/6/19.



Another day in paradise. All photos are by Paul D. Maley unless otherwise noted.

I always wanted to live in Arizona and in 2016 that became possible. Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Arizona and in particular Carefree which is located north of Phoenix.


-The number of sunny days and clear nights is quite high

-After sunset you might see the Milky Way and Zodiacal light as well as a meteor in the sky.  On rare occasion when there are no clouds and you see one in the sky before dawn, it might indeed be the remnants of a cosmic visitor.

Trail left by a fireball on June 2, 2016

-Even a bright Full Moon rising can be impressive

The Full Moon rises over Black Mountain

-You can do tai chi outside on most days

-The air is cleaner and it is easier to run here than other places provided you do it when temperatures are cool

Even during a searing hot day local birds are able to get water out of prickly pear cactus fruit 

-When you go into a store or post office you will not find the huge lines as you might see in major cities

-You can drive to any part of the state in 3-4 hours at most

-The Grand Canyon is within easy driving distance

-Lots of hiking trails close by

Spur Cross Ranch hiking trail is just one of many trails in the area








Hikers appear faintly on the crest of the Black Mountain trail (wide view on the left) and closer up view on the right.  Photos by Lynn Palmer.

-You can easily get a 1 acre lot rather than live crammed next to many others in a crowded subdivision

-Fences are not generally required and you can appreciate a much larger view in your back yard than in typical city subdivisions

5 houses share a ‘common’ area of about 5 acres. Each house owns some portion but lack of fences makes it appears that everyone owns the whole parcel.

-You can lose yourself in the profound beauty of nearby mountains

Bell Rock is just 1.5 hours away by car

-There are no threats of direct hits by hurricanes; the number of tornadoes is quite small

– We live in an area where there is just one intersection with stop signs in Cave Creek town

-In most subdivisions there are no stop signs and no street lights

-I was able to name one of the washes in our subdivision (9/27/19)

-If you lose your watch there is a giant sundial in Carefree town

-We even have a seal!

-Astronomy in the area

-There are large boulder fields around parts of Carefree

-People take to the streets when they have a complaint

-The wildlife is seemingly everywhere

A bobcat appears in our back yard


Another bobcat sees me attempting to take his photo and is not pleased

Hummingbird in front of my house in April

-Life is tranquil compared to Phoenix

From our back yard we can see hundreds of sunlit Saguaro cacti along nearby Black Mountain.  This is a small sample.

-Sometimes you never see an animal but you know it has been there

Damage caused to cactus by javelinas. Yet new growth occurs even after all this damage.

-The highways in general are far better than I imagined

-We have laid back street names

-Even our cats love to look out the windows every day

Our cats watch birds, lizards, and other things from our westward facing window

-You can see balloons in the early morning sky nearly every day

Photo from our front porch in early morning as a group of balloons launch along our western horizon

-We are close to primitive rock art sites

Rock art located 2 miles from our house.

-Sunrises are great


-Moonsets can be impressive also

The nearly Full Moon sets

-The airport is about 30 minutes away

-Some animals are so fast it is a real challenge to photograph them

Roadrunner on the side of our pool. I could only get one photo.

Three baby quail watch from a rock ledge in front of our house

-Storms can be brief and intense but offer interesting phenomena

Mammatus clouds after a storm southeast of us

-When it rains you can get some pretty colorful rainbows

-During the summer monsoon lightning storms can be impressive

Above lightning images taken from my front and back yards, espectively in 2017

-Some astronomical phenomena show up unexpectedly

A man-made Iridium spacecraft photographed through a closed bathroom window

Smoke train from a bright meteor lingers more than one hour after it passed over

In this double exposure three spacecraft appear behind a saguaro cactus: Tiangong 2 (Chinese space station), Iridium 90 and Iridium 13

-Desert mirages are a common sight

Mirages photographed near Wickenburg AZ

-It can get so hot that uninvited creatures can attempt a high dive into your pool

Local pack rat ready for a dive

How hot can it get? The above image shows you.

-You can witness life cycles of local critters

Humming Bird egg in a nest on our front porch April 2018

Baby humming birds appear

– Property taxes and insurance rates are lower than when we lived in Houston, Texas

-Local wildlife are quite varied and appear on our property


Owl sitting on a Palo Verde tree. May 29, 2018

Mule deer


A Chuckawalla

A pack of coyotes down the street in the early morning hours

-Animals can surprise you any time of day in the front or back of your house

Gopher snake on front porch furniture

King snake in the back garden


A scary moment May 12, 2018 when a rattlesnake somehow got into our walled backyard and almost bit Lynn.

Strange millipede

-Pools are great to use most of the year

Relaxing in the pool all you can see is the sky and surrounding landscape

– Crime is lower

-The area promotes creativity

A weird, yet innovative guitar as yard art

-It is a family friendly area

One of many quail families frequent our property

-Sunsets are amazing

You can even be startled by a reflected sunset

-Desert plants require very little water and there is something blooming every month

Red Bird of Paradise

Saguaro cactus flowers bloom in April 


Aloe Blue Elf

Brittle Bush


Hillside vervain


-You can find many varieties of cacti

Prickly Pear cactus

Saguaro Juniper cactus

Saguaro cactus

Fish hook cactus

Hedgehog cactus blooms

Teddy Bear cholla cactus

Beaver Tail cactus

– Home owners association fees are far lower than Houston

-Carefree and nearby Cave Creek are small towns and easy to navigate

-It is easy to find your directions even at night

Our street is aligned exactly north-south. The North Star (Polaris) is just above the house at the end of our cul de sac street.

-There are a wide variety of scary creatures but they are unique to this area and add to the intensity of living here


A typical scorpion

A rattlesnake sunning himself in the road during the summer about a block from our house

Carefree Town Views

The pavilion with misters going in summer

The Boulders area

Some homes are in the Boulders

Local bunny

View of distant unique hill in Scottsdale

Street sign in Carefree with counterpart in Cave Creek

Pavilion area bronze sculpture representing the western tradition

Pavilion area landscaping 1

Pavilion area landscaping 2

The only hotel in town built in 2022

The pavilion with dance activities in the morning


Harold’s Corral, where many bikers hang out

Shopping area

The local library

Biking friendly roads

The best (and only) Thai restaurant in town

THE CONS (compared with Houston, Texas)

– There is a state income tax

-On most weekends Cave Creek is invaded by bikers; the noise is almost constant

– Service providers are not nearly as vetted, available or reliable as they were when we lived in Houston

– In this state there seems to be a higher incidence of criminal schemes, fraud and lack of enforcement due to lax laws; wild west mentality

– Though we do not live in Phoenix, that area has an extraordinarily high rate of pedestrian fatalities and wrong way crashes

-Health care providers are not widespread and medical care not as good as Houston

-Water usage is tight and rainfall is very low; rationing is expected.

-The 20 year drought at Lake Meade threatens Arizona’s water supply.

-Utilities rates are far higher than I imagined

-Irrigation lines dry out and leak. Unless you have a map of the lines you may never know where they are and leaks could go undetected for a long time. When irrigation lines are installed they are rarely if ever mapped out.

-Water pressure can be unexpectedly high. Pressure relief valves are required.

-Water is very hard and a water softener is required.

-If you don’t like hot temperatures, the low humidity is persistent except during monsoon (50%); high temperatures typically reach 100 deg F beginning in April and dont let up until November

-Internet/cable access and rates are not as good as Houston

-High incidence of house fires due to poor workmanship, dryness of the area

-For astronomers there is a significant level of light pollution especially to the south where the Phoenix light bubble predominates

-A high level of termite infestation

-Lots of rescues take place in the area when people hike without adequate water or smart phones or other resources

-You should not leave your car outside at night due to pack rats liking it as a nesting location