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Living in Sedona, Arizona: Life Beyond the Vortex

I've lived in Arizona for 70 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.

Beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Living in Sedona

Sedona is in northern Arizona—at the southern end of Oak Creek Canyon—and has been voted by readers of USA Today and other magazines as one of America's most beautiful cities. Sedona's landscape is breathtaking. It has giant red rock and limestone formations with green junipers and cacti, Oak Creek (which flows all year through groves of massive cottonwood trees), and this is all set against an intense blue sky. The four seasons are present, with a dusting of snow in the winter, though most days are sunny.

Sedona is visited by about four million tourists each year. But "What is it like to live in Sedona?" is a question that I've been asked frequently.

Sedona transitioned itself from truck farming vegetables, apple and peach orchards, and cattle ranching into a destination for many western films such as Call of the Canyon and Angel and the Badman. As western films became less popular, Sedona began another life as an art colony, and then Sedona became a well-known tourist destination. That's not to suggest that growing vegetables and fruit has disappeared from the area because, during the summer, Sedona boasts two Farmer's Markets. Just south of Sedona, in the Verde Valley, there is still some cattle ranching. Also, smaller-scale independent films continue to be filmed in Sedona and the surrounding Verde Valley, and often the red rock formations in Sedona can be spotted in auto and other commercials. However, Sedona's economy depends heavily upon tourists.

Tourists shop at a number of fine art galleries and unique shops in areas like Uptown, Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, and Hillside Shops; they hike a number of fine trails, they enjoy Jeep and Hummer tours, they enjoy our restaurants, and they drive to the nearby wineries in the Cornville and Page Springs area.

Garland's is a great place to check out Native American art.

Garland's is a great place to check out Native American art.

Religion, Entertainment, and Healthcare

In the last 20 or so years, tourists have come seeking a spiritual retreat or awakening under the banner of the New Age Movement. A number of businesses in Sedona offer vortex or medicine wheel tours. It's possible to have an aura photo taken, buy healing crystals, have your tarot cards read, visit the Creative Life Center, where a number of interesting New Age topics are discussed, or experience an energy balancing massage.

I have no quarrel with each person pursuing their own spiritual path, but I'd like to mention that spiritual unity also can be found in a variety of churches in Sedona, at the Jewish Community Worship Center, at the Buddhist shrine, and in a variety of other worship groups. Meditation can be done at any time and at any place when a person decides to look within themselves. Prayer can be done by anyone at any time anywhere too.

We have a number of world-class resorts in Sedona, wonderful bed-and-breakfasts, first-class spas, some very average motels (some of which have been in business for many years), and some of the same chain motels which are found in many other cities. It's humorous to note that McDonald's was not allowed to build a franchise in Sedona until they agreed to create a restaurant in a tan Southwestern style and use teal-colored arches rather than the standard "golden arches." Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell are here too. There are also a number of locally owned restaurants that offer almost every kind of ethnic cuisine and vegetarian and vegan restaurants too.

The Sedona Public Library is fairly unique in the fact that the land for the library was donated by two citizens of Sedona, and donations from 2,287 businesses, organizations, and individuals raised $2.4 million for the library's building fund. According to a recent article in the Sedona Red Rocks News by head librarian Virginia Volkman, it was Barry Goldwater who gave a moving dedication speech at the dedication ceremony on our main library in 1994. Another small branch library in the Village of Oak Creek has been added to the system, and the system is top drawer. The community rooms at the main branch remain in continuous use.

There are three main and very distinct sections of Sedona.

  • The oldest section is called Uptown, which is considered our downtown. There is a variety of souvenir, jewelry, art, and clothing stores and restaurants. Those who live here consider it to be mainly for tourists. The views from Uptown are amazing.
  • West Sedona is where the City of Sedona offices, medical, grocery, spas, several resorts, and many of our retail stores are located.
  • The Village of Oak Creek area is home to three golf courses, the Hilton Resort, and a number of smaller motels and restaurants.

We have lived in Sedona for seventeen years now and have made many interesting friends who have come from all over the world. We have a small airport that offers helicopter and other small airplane tours. We have the Sedona International Film Festival, which takes place every February and attracts more attendees each year. We have a theater—Harkins Six—for first-run films, and the Mary Fisher Theater, an independent theater for independent films, art films, and documentaries. We have several challenging golf courses, a community center, and a first-class history museum at the Sedona Heritage Museum. A new state-of-the-art performance facility was built at our Red Rocks High School, and a variety of public, charter and private schools offer a wide range of educational styles.

The average age of our residents is 50. Property is expensive, and outside the service industry, educators, and small businesses, not a lot of jobs with benefits are available. We have received good medical and dental care in this area, as Sedona has an Urgent Car and an Emergency Center. For surgery, most residents can choose between Northern AZ Health Care hospitals in Cottonwood or Flagstaff. Crime exists as it does everywhere, but it's not been a major factor. I don't need vibes from a vortex or special crystals to tell me that I'm happy living in Sedona. I'd love to hear from others in Hub Land who would like to share their experiences visiting Sedona.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is there good high-speed internet available in the area? I'm thinking about relocating and work full time remotely. But I need reliable high-speed internet to do my work.

Answer: Yes, most people use Century Link or Sudden Link.

Question: I’m thinking of moving to Sedona in the next few months. I am a custom cake designer, do you think there is business for someone like me over there? I sell from my home and I make vegan and healthy cakes as well. I also make designer cookies and much more.

Answer: There is a Safeway Grocery in West Sedona that makes sheet cakes and special orders and a very expensive cake shop with wonderful designs. The name is Cake Couture and I'm pretty sure you can look at their website. A new chocolate shop has opened in Cottonwood, about 16 miles from Sedona that is looking to cater to occasions and events at several of the area wineries. Sorry I don't know their name, but I hear their chocolate is wonderful. I think if you could check with one of the area wedding planners here, they also could be a good resource for you.

Question: Are there ballroom dance studios in Sedona?

Answer: No, none that I know of.

Question: are there any apartments in Sedona? Always start a sentence with a capitol letter. Are there

Answer: Yes, there are, but housing is expensive. Close to Sedona is Cottonwood, or Camp Verde, and they are not expensive.

Question: I’m a third grade teacher in Chicago. I’m thinking of selling my house and moving to Sedona. I just need to get out of the city. What are teaching jobs like in Sedona and how are the housing prices?

Answer: My answer is sad, because I was a teacher and my daughter is currently. AZ has one of the lowest pay scales in the US, which is what the Red for ED strike was about last Spring. Colorado has pretty good pay. The other "whammy" is that while some cities in AZ have less expensive housing than Chicago, Sedona is more of a retirement/tourist community and housing is expensive here.

Question: I'm retired but my husband still works part-time contract pilot work. We don't know anyone in Sedona. We are in our 60's but active and progressive and youthful. It is hard to make friends as a newcomer?

Answer: While Sedona isn't a planned retirement community, most people who move here, come from other places because of the cost of living and lack of full-time jobs. That said, we didn't know anyone here when we moved here full time and we have some wonderful friends and neighbors. Good ways to meet people include joining clubs, volunteering, attending community events, churches or other places of worship, taking classes through Olli or just being friendly to others you meet.

Question: So is there any country western dancing or other types of dancing in Sedona?

Answer: Several of the bars have bands and the dancing depends on the type of music, but to my knowledge, there isn't a country western bar in Sedona.

© 2011 mactavers


mactavers (author) on September 30, 2019:

Thanks for your comment. We have been to B C many times and it is a beautiful place too!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 30, 2019:

I have not traveled to Sedona, but I have friends who have and know someone who was married there, with the beautiful red rocks as a backdrop. This was a useful, well-written article for anyone who is thinking of visiting or finding a job and housing in Sedona.

mactavers (author) on February 14, 2019:

Just let me know through this site when you arrive or go to our super Chamber of Commerce for more details then.

DoDDS teacher on February 13, 2019:


I am a teacher who will be retiring in Sedona in four to five years. Nice to hear there is an active group of retired educators! Looking forward to joining you!

Mactavers on May 07, 2018:

We have an active retired teacher's group in Sedona, I'd be happy to put you in touch with. You didn't tell me what educational level of teaching you would be interested in. The three state universities and the community colleges all offer on line classes. Yavapai Community College has a campus in Prescott and Cottonwood and Flagstaff has Coconino Community College. Sedona, Camp Verde and Cottonwood all have high schools. I hope this is a place for you to start looking.

Rosana Howard. on May 06, 2018:

I’m a retired teacher and and considering relocating to Sedona.

I’d like to teach online (remote teaching.) what do you know about possible online teaching, in Sedona?

mactavers on April 14, 2018:

Children are very welcome in Sedona, and most people wish we had more children here. The biggest reason that we don't have many children here is the cost of living and that many of the jobs are in the service tourist related industry which is hard for young people financially.

MarinMom on April 13, 2018:

Hi Mactavers,

I'm a young married mom with kids. I noticed that you mentioned that the average age is 50. Can you shed some light on whether or not people with small kids would fit into the community? I wouldn't want my kids to feel like they are the only ones in town.

mactavers (author) on December 14, 2016:

Thanks for reading my Hub. There are three golf clubs in Sedona and two are located in the Village of Oak Creek which is just south of Sedona by Bell Rock. There is also a exec course in the Village of Oak Creek. There is another private club in the northwest area of West Sedona. Without knowing your price range, I don't know what area might suit you best, but I'd suggest looking on the Zillo site for an idea of what's available in your price range. Prepare for sticker shock, but sometimes there are a few bargains too. Best of luck.

Kathy on December 13, 2016:

we are thinking of moving to Sedona we Looked at Prescott but not too impressed by available homes we have 5 dogs so I need a dog friendly area we are looking at houses with at least a half an acre we are retired

where is the best area to live in Sedona with ,we are going to visit the area next year and link around to get a feel what are your thoughts and we are also golfers too thanks

mactavers (author) on August 30, 2015:

Hi Marilynn, I'm from Tucson. We "tested the water" by buying a condo before we sold our home in Tucson. We live in the Village of Oak Creek, and love it. There are lots of homeowners here as well as in West Sedona. We found Sedona very friendly as most people have not been born in Verde Valley. Like any new move, I think the best way to know a community is to join groups and/or volunteer. Places that are good bets are the library, thrift stores, food bank, caregivers, car clubs, Urgent care center, community events like the film festival, church/or other spiritual, hiking group, or a book club. Our first years here I volunteered or checked out most of these groups, then decided on the best fit for me. The Sedona Chamber would also have a long list of other activities to become a part of the community.

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