Readers dont take kindly to New Mexico suggestion
Arizona Daily Star
September 6, 2006
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
Tucson, Arizona | Published:


It was with tongue in cheek Sunday that I wrote potential retirees to Arizona should consider New Mexico instead.
But to some readers, them was fightin' words.
I cited a North Carolina economist who said retirees could find greater financial happiness in the Land of Enchantment because the Grand Canyon State is becoming a money pit. She said Arizona's housing costs have risen faster and higher than New Mexico's.
My intention was to pass on good financial information, and maybe to have a little fun.
Paul Swan, a Michigan transplant living in Corona de Tucson, wasn't laughing. He wrote that retirees like him, who are working a second career in Arizona, bring more than higher housing costs. They are educated and have a high work ethic.
He took me to task for suggesting retirees are to blame for for Arizona's fast-rising housing costs, which I did not write. He blames Californians for Arizona's relatively high house prices.
Dear Mr. Swan: Californians will be unfazed by the accusation. They are accustomed to being blamed for everything bad in Arizona.
Another reader, Mr. King, a Southern Arizona resident, mused that if New Mexico is such a great place to live, why aren't I living there?
Dear Mr. King: Six years ago I asked my wife and three daughters to leave California for Tucson. They were ready to kill me then. I'm sure they will not hesitate to complete the job this time if I ask them to move to New Mexico.
You might not mind that, actually, but I would.
Mr. King also chided me for failing to write that New Mexico has a water shortage.
Dear Mr. King: I didn't want to dissuade retirees from moving to water-starved New Mexico instead of water-starved Arizona. I'd rather they consume New Mexico's water, which I understand is sweeter and has healing powers.
Other readers admonished me for encouraging retirees to move to New Mexico.
"We don't really want them," wrote R.G of New Mexico. "They are an expensive lot and put demands on your infrastructure that are unsustainable in the long run. The best bet, really, is for retirees to stay where they are."
He suggests New Mexico tax every non-New Mexican retiree $10,000 and distribute the money to local towns. "So, keep your miserable comments to yourself," R.G. wrote. "We neither want, nor like, outsiders."
Dear R.G.: Run for governor of New Mexico. You are sure to endear yourself to like-minded New Mexicans and win in a landslide.
Rick Sanchez, a fifth-generation New Mexican living in Northwest Tucson, had a different take. He offered some advice to retirees who may be considering New Mexico.
"First of all, there is a great deal of Spanish spoken in New Mexico and has been for centuries. In fact, Spanish is one of New Mexico's official languages. When 'Mexico' is part of your name, you couldn't expect differently. There are plenty of folks speaking Native American languages as well. This could prove unsettling to transplanted Midwesterners."
Dear Mr. Sanchez: I'm glad I didn't write that. I would have been blasted by readers who think I'm serious when I'm only joking.
Finally, Tom and Suzanne Jones of Green Valley wrote that my suggestion was all for naught.
"We're not moving."
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones: Good choice. Living in Arizona is better. Just don't tell any out-of-state retirees.
● Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach him at 573-4242 or at He appears on "Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.