5 Ways Life in AZ Differs from NYC/NJ


For you that don’t know I am the NYC/NJ transplant in the EVM tribe. I moved here in 2018 with my husband and one year old from Hoboken, New Jersey, which is right outside NYC. I can’t really explain just how much our lifestyle has changed, moving to the Southwest suburbs from the NYC metropolitan area, but what I can do is note major differences I quickly noticed when comparing the two.

Now I must preface this by saying that I am fully aware I’m still an Arizona newbie and have a LOT to learn and experience here. The points I mention below may mean that I’m simply still uneducated in the topic– and that’s one of the reasons why I’m writing this post: to get more insight and tips and tricks from you, the AZ experts! 

So, here we go! Five ways Arizona is different from NJ/NYC:

  1. “What are your cross streets?”: So this is a totally normal question in the Valley. If I ever heard someone ask me that back home I’d end the conversation immediately, double check that I had all my personal belongings and call my husband or mom to tell them what that person just asked me, along with dropping them a pin of my current location just in case I end up missing in the next 24 hours! But, the Valley is really cool in this way. If someone is asking about your about cross streets, it doesn’t mean they’re trying to stalk you (at least I don’t think so), they’re just trying to understand your general area.
  2. School Year Schedules: I’m so intrigued by this and would love more information since my little one is too young for school. So, I see that majority of students have similar year ends (end of May-ish) but then some schools seem to start up again in July, while others start in August! I feel so naive even as I write this, ha! So do some schools have trimesters while others have semesters? I’ve only ever done semesters, but trimesters sound cool. Does that mean they have longer winter breaks?! I would have loved that growing up! From what I’ve gathered, schools are usually on a more traditional schedule (August-May), while others are on a year-round schedule. Either way, it’s a little different out here.
  3. BYOB Restaurants: My husband and I swore by BYO spots- who wouldn’t love a restaurant you can go to eat at and bring your own alcohol, free of charge?! Now I’m not saying I’m a huge drinker, but imagine how much cheaper your dinner bill is when you can provide your own booze! So, you can imagine our disappointment when we first moved here and couldn’t find one. But am I wrong here?! (And for this scenario I wouldn’t hate being wrong!) Are there some BYOB’s that I’m just not aware of yet? If so, please share the wealth, friends! My wine [which is very much needed some days] in the dinner bill adds up! While these aren’t all ‘East Valley’ here are some BYOB places from the Phoenix New Times.
  4. Old School Diners: I wouldn’t be a true NJ gal if I didn’t mention this. Diners are a dime a dozen back home and I wish AZ had them too. Sometimes you just need a low-key restaurant with furniture from the 80’s to go to at 1am for a grilled cheese and disco fries. Granted these days with a toddler, we’d go there at 5pm vs 1am, but the fact that they were open 24-hours was great! When my water broke at 6am, I made my husband stop at a diner before heading to the hospital for a Taylor ham, egg and cheese on an everything bagel and it was amazing. (Yes, dietitians eat bagels, too!)
  5. Rain & Snow. Obviously there is no snow in the East Valley and there’s barely even rain, but there is “Monsoon season.” I’ll say that although I’ve witnessed multiple rain/sand storms this past year, they typically only last for a few hours and everyone looks forward to it! Some of the storms I’ve seen here have gotten pretty intense, but in the east coast, rain storms and hurricanes are just the norm and I’ve experienced two straight weeks of nonstop rain before and everyone hates it! However, I’ll note that what is SIMILAR with AZ and NJ, is that whenever there is a rain storm in AZ, everyone (or at least what I’ve seen) documents it on social media similar to how everyone documents the snow in NJ! I’m not saying this in an offensive way at all, because I do it, too! It’s just funny, it’s like the saying “If you don’t post it on your Instagram story, did it even happen?”

I can go on and on about other differences like the (lack of) humidity, the scorpions, the fact that most of the Valley is so new and clean (vs walking in Midtown passing piles of trash like it’s no biggie). But I’ll end with this: the main reason my husband convinced me that moving to AZ was a good idea is that the area is super family-friendly. And that’s the biggest, and most important, difference I’ve learned since moving here. As much as I miss the hustle and bustle of the big city, I love growing my family in the East Valley and the strong mama tribe that’s in it!


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