Rural Living Along The Border
January 6, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Two City-Slickers Moving To A Rural US-Mexico Border Town. What Should We Expect?

In a year, my SO and myself (both late twenties) will be spending two years in a rural area near to the US-Mexico border (probably Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona). We do not know where exactly we will be yet, but it will be in a town (i.e. not a remote farm), probably a place like Douglas, AZ. My SO will be moving there for a two-year-job-offer-you-cant-refuse, and I will be following her since my work can be done remotely. On paper it works out perfectly.

The only problem is while both my SO and myself have moved around a lot, domestically and internationally, we have always lived in big cities (e.g. Atlanta, Nairobi, London, etc). We have never lived anywhere that one would consider rural. We are well-traveled, but we are definitely city slickers. We are always up for an adventure, but frankly I don't know what kind of adventure we are getting ourselves into.

1. What should we expect? How different will this be from a city?
2. We currently share a Honda Fit, do we need to buy a second car? A truck?
3. How is internet access along border towns? My job doesn't require a super fast internet connection (any DSL is fine) but it does require one.
4. What is the cost of living in these areas?
5. Are there any resources or books I can read before hand to get a sense of what living there will be like?
6. Am I overlooking anything?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
posted by Spurious to Travel & Transportation around Douglas, AZ (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Speaking Spanish will be a huge plus. You can get-by as an English-only speaker, but being bi-lingual to some degree will get you further.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on January 6, 2013

Response by poster: @Thorzdad: My SO is advanced, I am beginner. One of the big benefits of moving there would be the chance for both of us to become fluent.
posted by Spurious at 7:30 AM on January 6, 2013

I'd get an all-wheel drive vehicle, a shotgun or two, some Spanish language lessons, etc.

As to what to expect, don't be surprised to see illegal immigrants and/or drug mules running through the area. Also expect to see a Department of Homeland Security presence to counter these people.
posted by dfriedman at 7:31 AM on January 6, 2013

I'm going to give you a couple of humorous-but-not answers to get you started and then come back when I have more time for some other ideas.

but for the ring of truth, try El Mariachi (the movie) and Lonesome Dove (the book).
posted by skbw at 7:35 AM on January 6, 2013

Response by poster: @dfriedman: Thanks. I will say that I have never used a firearm in my life, let alone owned one.
posted by Spurious at 7:36 AM on January 6, 2013

Best answer: Internet access will generally be available in town, usually from the local co-op telephone provider. Del Rio, for instance, has 2Mbps down and 384Kbps up for ~$60/month. Cable Internet access and (for damn sure) fiber are definitely out. Getting much outside the city limits will doom you to dial-up. Cost of living will be dirt cheap as long as you're fine with normal staple consumer goods, like those found in a Wal-Mart that hasn't been remodeled for 20 years. Out-of-season produce and specialty products (think most anything you find in a Whole Foods or even an upmarket chain grocery store) will be more expensive than you'd normally see in an urban area.

Roads will be fine in and around town and you'll be in the South so it rarely snows. If you and your wife need to go separate places at the same time you'll definitely need a car because public transit is almost always non-existent.

You should expect people to be more community-based and somewhat insular until you're known about town. However, as long as you're not a jerk, you can generally make some good friends and get along fine. Some areas of the border are deeply Democrat-leaning (think El Paso down towards Big Bend), some are deeply Republican-leaning (like Arizona). There will be a limited amount of entertainment options, usually plenty of alcoholic establishments, but a heck of a lot of natural beauty.

You may see some mules (people trafficking) and illegal immigration but that's usually confined to the ranches and empty spaces along the border. If your residence is near a church or on the quiet edge of town, be sure to lock your door to avoid unwittingly playing host to border crossers. Otherwise, your personal safety will be fine.

Basically, it's just like living elsewhere in America, just very boring if you're not an outdoor person.
posted by fireoyster at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, a second vehicle is a good idea. However, unless you're actually going to be dealing with rough roads on a regular basis, you don't really need a truck. While you could walk around fine in the towns, things still tend to be spread out and even a small population town could be a few miles across. Also, using Douglas as an example, you're goin to need to go to Sierra Vista or Tucson occasionally to get things. Or maybe you're just going to want to explore the area. Distances are very vast out here, so you both will want a reliable vehicle at your disposal.

As for the firearm thing, that depends. Are you going to be living in town, or out in the middle of nowhere? If you're in town, don't get one if you're not comfortable with it. If you're out on a ranch that's many miles from anything, a gun may be a good idea; in addition to immigrants and smugglers, you need to be able to protect yourself against wildlife. But a gun is a very personal decision, and one that you have to feel comfortable with either way.

Border Patrol will be everywhere. You will be going through checkpoints occasionally. Do not take any illegal drugs through these checkpoints (not saying you use them, just some people do) because they run a drug dog around every car there. You'll usually just get asked "US Citizen?" and then waved through after you answer and they take a quick glance through your car.

Can't speak for all the border towns, but you should be able to get cable internet in Douglas. I don't think you should really have trouble getting high speed.

You need to teach yourself to carry a lot of water in your car and on hikes. Temperatures can go over 100 degrees and it is extremely dry. You don't want to be sitting by the side of the road waiting for a tow truck in June with no water. Don't ask me how I know this.

Never stick your hands or feet where you cannot see. That's a hugely important rule for living in desert areas. Along those lines, if you see a rattlesnake or other unfriendly critter, stay the hell away. A lot of people get bitten because they just had to go and get a closer look (or even taunt the critter.)

The cost of living is not exorbitant. Rents tend to be on the low side. But you will use a fair bit of fuel and groceries will be a tad bit more expensive.

As for the border towns themselves - get a passport and don't cross the border until you are familiar with your own area, and the first couple of times you do cross, go with someone who is familiar with the area. (And if you do end up buying a gun, DO NOT TAKE IT OR ANY AMMO INTO MEXICO. This is very important.) If you live in a border town, you're eventually going to want to explore; just do so prudently.

If you end up in Arizona, you are going to see signs that say "Do not enter when flooded." And you'll look at the dry wash and wonder why that's there. Once monsoon season comes you'll find out. Don't cross flooded washes and educate yourself about flash floods. Monsoon season can be a treat as long as you have an air conditioned escape for the hot days.

Getting out and living a while out in the desert is something that is well worth it. Life is different out here and I love it.
posted by azpenguin at 8:13 AM on January 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Almost everything will close earlier than you're used to, except for the post office and the public library. There won't be as many options restaurants-wise as you're used to having and you'll have to drive to all of them. For that matter, you'll have to drive almost everywhere. Or you can buy a bicyle and--depending on the town--be the eccentric out-of-towner who rides everywhere, or just one in a bunch of hippies. Public transportation will be probably limited to infrequent buses and smaller shuttles (that look like short school buses) that are poorly advertised. The desert will probably surprise you with how empty it is. The heat will surprise you and so will the sun. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen every time you go outside, even just for a minute. Learn to hang out in the shade. Find some long sleeve cotton shirts that are both light and loose for sun protection. You will be able to see SO many stars. Keep your eyes out for local posting boards and go to town gatherings when you see them posted. You are a lot less anonymous in a small town than you are in a city; depending on your temperment, you will find this either claustrophobic or reassuring. Probably a bit of both at various different times. You don't need to buy a shot gun, but someone may offer to teach you how to shoot if you mention to them that you've never shot a gun before. If a rodeo comes to your area or your town, go see it. If there are any pow-wows in your area, go see them too. Things are probably going to be less expensive than you're used to. Small western towns often have surprisingly beautiful small libraries with good internet access, lots of community events, and really helpful librarians.
posted by colfax at 8:22 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh yeah, forgot about Border Patrol. CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) has the authority, rightly or wrongly, to do immigration checks up to 100 miles from any international border. To prevent possible hassles and because it is required for going into Mexico, I highly recommend getting a passport for both of you. Get the passport card while you're at it as it's a wallet-sized proof of citizenship. If you think that you'll want to go back and forth into Mexico often, you might look into the SENTRI program. It is a trusted traveler program that lets you use a different lane and bypass most of the border/customs checks. (Incidentally, it also works at several airports for getting you out of the Nude-o-Scope scanners.)

If either of you are a permanent resident or otherwise not a citizen of the United States and you live in Arizona, make for absolute certain that you carry proof of your right to be in the United States at all times. Carrying an I-551/green card or any other admissions visa on your person is technically required by federal law, though the law is loosely enforced except in Arizona.
posted by fireoyster at 8:24 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hah, I just realized that, by definition, you both have passports because you've been to London and Nairobi. Still, I'd get a passport card if you're eligible. Makes it easier in case you're get stopped at a CBP checkpoint or are pulled over by Arizona authorities. You can then leave your passport--with all of its cool, difficult-to-replace, stamps--at home.
posted by fireoyster at 8:28 AM on January 6, 2013

Get a great camera and carry it with you. You're going to see some beautiful things. If you've ever had any interest in astronomy, get a star guide and plan on a lot of stargazing. You'll encounter darker skies that you've probably ever seen before.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:33 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The desert west is very large, and very empty. You will have to drive a lot of miles to do things outside your town. You probably won't need to buy another car, or a truck, but you may well want to. Pretty much any town is along a well-maintained highway, but a truck would allow you to access more recreational opportunities. You can probably buy an old beater fixed up by a local.

The Mexican food is very delicious.

In small towns, things are often arranged on physical bulletin boards, call-in radio shows, or through churches, rather than on this new-fangled "internet" thing.

I would get a mountain bike and bomb up and down mesas, and go hiking and camping a lot. Once you get beyond Texas, a lot of the land is federally owned, which makes really wide-ranging outdoor exploration possible. If you want to take a monthlong mountain bike camping adventure, this is the time. The seasons are almost the opposite of what you're used to, inasmuch as the outdoors are much more accesible during winter, versus the blazing hot summer.
posted by akgerber at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The biggest thing I've learned living in desert-y areas (that's not covered here) is be ready for big temperature swings. I was in Arizona once during the summer and we went into the grocery store and came out about 2 hours later and the temperature had gone up about 20 degrees on its way to the well-over-100 high. Likewise, when the sun drops below the horizon, there's a swift temperature drop and, depending on elevation, it can get pretty cold. (Cold by the standards of dressed-for-110).

The biggest adjustment will probably be the lack of things, both to buy and to do. The thing about living in a city is if you're looking for a particular item, you know it's there, it's just finding the right store for it. In a rural area, that thing may not be available, period. Amazon Prime is a good investment for that reason. You'll probably be doing a lot of Amazon ordering. In terms of things to do, it really depends on the specific town and culture there, but if they roll the streets up at night, be ready for a lot of nights at home until you earn some trust with the locals and start getting invited places.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:07 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @fireoyster:

- Thanks for the information about internet access. Frankly it is critical in my line of work.
- I am a little worried about the community-based nature of small towns. I've lived in a dozen buildings and only once have I ever known my neighbor's name.


- Thanks. I was thinking a truck would be a good idea because I'd love to take advantage of the area's wilderness for activities. Plus, the only thing that would make me stir crazy would be if I was trapped at home without transportation until my SO got home.

- I am torn on the gun. I suspect my SO will be adamant against it, which is fine by me.


- Everything closing early is a bummer, but expected. I am a pretty good cook but rarely do it because we eat out (something small and cheap) quite a bit.

- Both of us have well-worn passports, but I am not part of the SENTRI program. It is a great idea because I'd love to spend time in Mexico while we are there.


- Thanks for the information about the second car. I think a truck is a good idea because we'd love to take advantage of the desert while we are there.

- Can you tell me about this "federal land" thing. Not to sound stupid, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I can go on federal land?

@Ghostride The Whip

- Socially I don't mind so much. We are both decent introverts (but not shy or anti-social). Also we are considering having a kid during the two years so I doubt we will spending many nights "lighting up the town" so to speak.
posted by Spurious at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2013

Federal lands are national parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, Bureau of Land Management holdings, and the like. They have different rules for what's allowed - some kinds (like BLM holdings) may allow camping anywhere, whereas that's not true for national parks.

I've never lived in the Southwest but I have lived in rural areas. As much as you can, turn up at whatever the equivalent of the local firehouse pancake breakfasts are; get your car washed at the carwash fundraiser for the local baseball team; offer to bake something for the bake sale that's raising money for [thing]. All of these things will begin to integrate you into the community, although you may always be thought of as the People From Away, and the house you live in may always be referred to as [Family Name of People who Owned the House for Umpteen Years].
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on January 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

fireoyster sez: Some areas of the border are ... deeply Republican-leaning (like Arizona).

That's pretty simplistic. In Nov 2012, about a quarter of the AZ electorate (i.e., those eligible to vote) voted for Romney. How deep is that?

In fairness, this error is widespread in the punditry. The entire idea of a 'red' or 'blue' state, defined by a sliver's difference between two minority voting blocks, is ridiculous.

(Romney AZ vote was 1,233,654; AZ electorate is ~5 million.)
posted by LonnieK at 9:46 AM on January 6, 2013

Watch out for scorpions. They were a problem for me when I lived in the Mojave desert. Bark scorpions are small and flat, and can fit through cracks and get in your house. I'm not someone who uses insecticides much at all, I'd rather have bugs than chemicals. I did have an exterminator spray for them the second year I was there and I didn't see any more after that.. I never got stung but our neighbor did and it's painful.
posted by Melsky at 9:55 AM on January 6, 2013

I can't speak to the border specifically, but as someone who grew up in a small town in a rural part of the US, one thing to think about is whether you will be living "in town" or in a house that is technically in the orbit of a place like Douglas, AZ, but is located further out in an isolated area.

For example, in my small Louisiana hometown, I grew up in a modern suburban-style housing development with nicely paved roads and neighbors on all sides, a quick drive to school, a supermarket, soccer practice, parks, all the typical suburban infrastructure. The idea of needing a 4WD truck and a bunch of shotguns would have been a ridiculous affectation; we were as safe and civilized as anywhere in New Jersey or Orange County, CA.

On the other hand, several years later we moved to a house out in the countryside on the outskirts of town. Same town, same socio-economic level, same basic type of housing stock. Even the same school district. But our nearest neighbors were out of view and earshot, and there was frequently wildlife to contend with (ask me about the time an alligator got into our pool!). There was one road into town, and while it was in good repair, all it took was a little bad weather to make you happy you drove a big SUV. So in that case, it made sense to live a slightly more stereotypical rural lifestyle.

It will be helpful to know in advance what the local landscape is like in terms of housing stock, neighborhoods, how big lots are, what infrastructure is available, etc. for wherever you end up moving. As mentioned, this will be especially important if you depend on high speed internet.

Some areas of the border are deeply Democrat-leaning (think El Paso down towards Big Bend), some are deeply Republican-leaning (like Arizona).

In keeping with the "insular community" attitude mentioned, if these towns are anything like the small town I grew up in, you might find that the local misfits are eager to adopt you. My dad is the town Democrat and seems to become immediate besties with every outsider who drifts through, from new professors at the community college to our town's few artists and restauranteurs. This will probably be less true for towns like Alpine, TX, which are inexplicably chock full of art galleries and record stores already.
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

On preview: Yes, scorpions. Ugh. And learn some basic things about rattlesnakes (what they look like, how to stay far away, etc.)

Get a second car. A truck or four-wheel drive something is a good idea.

Listen, forgive me if this is obvious, but how much you go to Mexico is highly dependent on which border town you live near. I know that all the Mexican travel warnings have been criticized as scaremongering and/or racism, but I know people back in Texas who are longtime residents of El Paso and Brownsville who no longer go to Juarez or Matamoros because they don't think it's safe. So, my advice is to get a handle on what exactly is going on in your particular region of the border and talk to locals about best practices for exploration.

The State Department warnings are state-by-state specific and frequently updated. A lot of people also think they're totally overblown and ridiculous. But they are worth at least perusing.

It is possible that reading 2666 has given me an alarmist view of certain parts of the border.
posted by purpleclover at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

To offer some advice on the gun thing, don't get one if you don't want to, it's a personal decision. However lots of people around you will have guns openly displayed. Don't freak out about it. For various reasons guns are a BIG part of the culture on the border and a lot of people have rifles/shotguns in the truck you can see and often a pistol on the hip that you may or may not see. They are law abiding citizens and view the gun as a vital part of that citizenship. The biggest complaint about new comers in rural communities is not they are liberal or not religious or whatever. It is that they want to change the rural culture to the big city culture and guns are a BIG part of the rural/urban divide. So anyway, if you see one just accept it and move on. The ones you see on the hip or in the truck are no threat to you.

And yeah, Mexico can be dangerous. I grew up in El Paso and traveled a LOT on the border, including mexico. At the time it was no big deal, as long as you stayed out of the drug business they would leave you alone. Things have changed and if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time it can go very, very badly. You have nothing to fear on the US side(mostly), but I wouldn't travel on the Mexico side without a guide who knows where to steer clear of.

And take enough water to give some away. It has been a few years but i have never been out in the boonies in AZ without coming across some...immigrants on their way to better a life. The two things they want is what direction north is and do we have any water they can have. A big tell on whether or not you are on a smuggling route is the amount of garbage under the creosote bushes. If you see a bunch you are on a traffic corridor and just be aware of that.
posted by bartonlong at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2013

If you are thinking of having a kid while there, look into the proximity of medical facilities. It sucks to go into labor and have a 105 minute drive to the hospital. It sucks to have your kid fall off a slide and have a 45 minute drive to the nearest place that could give him stitches.

About federal land, as rtha said, it's largely BLM and National Forest, with some National Park and National Monument sprinkled in. Learn the different rules because it's actually really fun to know how much you are allowed to do, and also because it sucks to get lulled into thinking you can do anything anywhere and then be woken up in the middle of the night for camping in the wrong place.

My experience is in other rural states, so someone will hopefully correct me if TX and AZ have medical clinics everywhere.
posted by salvia at 11:19 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it's flat and treeless, you might really enjoy owning a good pair of binoculars.

Also, hats. Good hats.
posted by amtho at 11:41 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

My folks live on the outskirts of El Paso in a very rural area. My Mom won't leave the house at night without a gun ever since her face-to-face meeting with Mr. Mountain Lion.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:17 PM on January 6, 2013

A bit depends on where you're going to be. If you live in town, internet access is easy and you need a second efficient car. If you live outside of town, which might be dramatically cheaper, you will have a harder time getting internet access and you will need a second vehicle that is front wheel or four wheel drive and has some ground clearance*. Personally, living in the rural south and even going out to my ex-girlfriend's 5-acres-and-a-trailer frequently, I've only needed a Honda Accord unless I've been doing construction on her or my house. I also work from home, by the way, and need always-on internet.

If you live outside of town, you will probably not have curbside trash pickup. You'll need a vehicle with an open bed that you can load trash into to take into the collection zone. If you insist on recycling, you may have to go all the way to the wal-mart or the dump.

* RWD only is a fast way to get stuck in mud; if you have a RWD only (i.e. a pickup truck) then you really need to get a winch for the front of it so that you can get out of ditches easily by yourself. You cannot count on passers-by to show up outside of town... however, if they do, they'll generally stop to help if you look like you need it.

Either way, you learn fast to have backups. I have a policy of buying doubles of things I use frequently at a store. That generally means that I don't run out of things. It gets expensive fast when you need to run across town to get a staple grocery... and then you forget that you were also out of some essential like soap and have to make ANOTHER run into/across town. Need soap? Buy two. Toilet paper? Oh, god, buy two packages, even if you have to store it in the attic. Frequently used or disastrous-if-you-run-out spice? Buy two. Prescriptions? 90-day, mail order... rural pharmacies don't always have what you need that day. You'll get better at making lists and making a loop of town. If you're going to make more than one stop while grocery shopping or you live a ways from the store, throw a cooler in the back of the car so that you can keep dairy and meats cold on the way home. I also have a Verizon MiFi 3g card that I can use to get data outside of town or as a backup to the power or internet service being out or flaky. Rural areas are last on the priority list to get fixed.

Get used to being polite and saying "Hello, sir/ma'am" to people in shops. In larger cities, people ignore each other while in shops. In smaller communities or the south, they say hello and might discuss things. People wave when they see each other on the road. And re-read the "Sir/ma'am" thing twice and practice it. I'm in central/south Texas, and one of my coworkers is from south Texas but living in Austin. When we're traveling with other coworkers, it's a noticeable difference that he and I ALWAYS say "Thank you, sir/ma'am!" ... our more metropolitan coworkers just say "Thank you."

Do not discuss politics or religion. You will get an invitation to church; you are able to politely decline. The nice things is that people don't generally get pushy. They will generally invite you once and then leave you alone. Politics is slightly different. The proper response to "The world's goin' to hell if 'bama gets 'lected" is a polite but disinterested "mm-hmn" or a what-can-you-do shrug. If you bring up or respond to something, though, you might find yourself in a position where you can't back down. Depending on how you want to be seen in town, my advice would be to not get yourself into those situations, and if you do, either try to bargain your way out of them ("Oh, I can't possibly come to church, but we're having a pot rost that night, would you like to come over?") ... ("Ah, I don't really discuss politics. Say, do you shoot? Where in town is good to practice at?") ... a little bit of honey with the medicine goes a long way towards being seen as "not so bad" in the coffee shop/diner where you might end up working when your internet or power is down. That, in turn, is what decides if they'll help you out of a ditch or drive by... or whether your power or air conditioning will get fixed first ... so on so forth. And yes, there's favoritism/nepotism; rural communities are a network of friendships. Don't object to it. It is the way it is, and you cannot and will not change it ... you'll just alienate yourself and deprive yourself of cool experiences and possibly even basic services.

Cost of living is frighteningly lower in many cases, but you end up paying more for fresh foods. Unless you're good about cooking when things are in season, get used to cooking with preserved or packaged foods. I still lead an insanely healthy lifestyle by local standards, but I really only cook with what I can find at the store or canned. Meats are usually easy to find here in Texas, but I don't know what other areas are like.

Gun ownership is an individual decision. I wouldn't do truly rural living (as in, out on acreage) without one. There are just too many things that like to eat humans and/or their pets out on acreage. The number of times I met copperheads out on my ex-girlfriend's old property was huge. I have dogs and the emergency vet was more than 30 minutes away, so it was critical to kill the buggers fast. And we didn't have a problem with two legged varmints much; areas farther south really do... either oilfield workers who might note a place where they think a woman's living alone, or migrants. If you do decide to own a firearm, I'd suggest a revolver and a shotgun. The revolver stays near the door. The shotgun is usually in the bedroom. Take classes and practice with them; they're useless otherwise. If you hike, you might consider a CCW so that you can carry the revolver while hiking. It's for your protection -- pepper spray don't work on copperheads far as I know.

Hiking and outdoors stuff is wonderful EVERYWHERE in the south. You'll want good cameras. Also, you can actually see the stars. Going walking on a clear-skied night is an amazing experience.
posted by SpecialK at 1:42 PM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, forgot about Border Patrol. CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) has the authority, rightly or wrongly, to do immigration checks up to 100 miles from any international border.

I just wanted to add something about how this ability manifests itself. Along the southern border of California, there are frequently border checkpoints along major highways and thoroughfares, typically somewhere near county lines (for example, on S-2 and I-8 near the Imperial/San Diego line; on I-5 near Orange/San Diego; I-15 near Riverside/San Diego). I've never been pulled over by a border patrol agent outside of one of the checkpoints, and although I've been directed to secondary inspection a couple times, I've never had a problem driving around the area without anything other than my driver's license, and they've never even asked to see that. While you'll probably see Border Patrol presence all over (white cars with a diagonal green stripe), they're not going to pull you over like the cops would or something. If you're not going into Mexico, you won't really need much documentation.
posted by LionIndex at 1:51 PM on January 6, 2013

either oilfield workers who might note a place where they think a woman's living alone

I would be more concerned about this sort of thing rather than Hurf Durf Illegals if you end up living outside of town. My grandparents' house was robbed by workers at the nearby dry dock. It was just too easy of a target -- big old house full of god knows what, no alarm system, and the residents are elderly people who have a decent enough chance of being in town* or on some other part of the property out of sight/earshot of the house.

*On a less alarmist note, be prepared to divide your time into "at home" and "in town" parcels. This will be incredibly important if one of you works from home and you decide to only have one vehicle.
posted by Sara C. at 2:06 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Be prepared for wildlife. Javelinas will probably run through your property with wild abandon. Snakes, scorpions, etc. The grocery stores will probably be lacking. Wear sunscreen. I see that your SO is opposed to guns, but I think it might be prudent for you to own one. Y'all have only lived in big cities, so I can understand why you wouldn't want a gun. However, things can be different in rural areas (really dangerous animals).

It's very different to live in Texas vs Arizona, so do report back if you have any cultural questions relating to specific states.
posted by semaphore at 2:06 PM on January 6, 2013

Practical advice re: scorpions: whack your shoes on the ground (tap tap tap the rubber part of the heel) before putting them on so that the bugs fall out. Sounds like a redneck cliche, but yet...
posted by skbw at 7:13 PM on January 6, 2013

Yeah, here in Texas, that's especially important to get the cockroaches out. It only takes shoving your foot into a boot or slipper once and going *CRUNCHSQUISH* once to learn it. And yes, we treat the house and yard with everything that's safe for dogs. *shudder*
posted by SpecialK at 7:26 AM on January 7, 2013

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