Whether you’re transplanted from one of the other 49 states or one of those elusive Arizona natives you hear about but rarely see in the wild, these twelve commandments will keep you safe and sane living in the Grand Canyon State.
1. Thou shalt wear sunblock.
According to EPA research, more than 40% of Arizona adults get sunburnt each year, and the melanoma rates for Gila County are 70% higher than the national average. Basically, our UV index is like a bajillion out of ten. We’d slather on SPF500 if we could find it. In fact, some Arizonan is probably in a lab trying to invent it right now.
2. Thou shall not kill… cacti.
Sure, the saguaro blossom is the state flower an all, but most Arizonans aren’t that keen on cacti. The bad news is that cutting one down could technically land you in jail. Taking or destroying native plants is considered theft up to a Class 4 felony, and could score you a max of one to 3.75 years in the slammer if you’re a first-timer. So keep your paws off our prickly pals.
3. Honor thy elders.
If Florida is where East-Coasters go to die, Arizona is where Western seniors come to live. 15.9% of the state’s population is over 65 years old; many live in retirement communities or dedicated senior towns such as the Phoenix suburb of Sun City. They’re some of the state’s most dedicated voters — and often very handy with a golf club.
4. Thou shalt not take sides.
The Bible had Cain and Abel; we have the University of Arizona in Tucson vs. Arizona State University in Phoenix. Graduates from each school seem to carry a grudge against their counterparts for life, so when you go in for a job interview or try to make friends on the bus, feel out the folks before declaring your college team pride. Otherwise, you could end up jobless or black-eyed.
5. Look out for number one.
Most employment in Arizona is at-will, which means employers can fire you at any time — and you can quit at any time. While it’s best to leave a job on good terms whenever possible, if your boss is an asshat and your company CEO makes Scrooge look generous feel free to walk out at lunch and never come back. Two weeks’ notice is for suckers (and employees who actually feel valued)
6. Covet thy parking spot.
In Arizona, the most desired parking spot isn’t the closest one to the door. It’s the one with the shade. Drivers will seek out 2 inches of darkness versus prime real estate nearest their destination. If you find a spot with even minimal coverage, guard it with your life. And if you buy or rent a place with covered parking/garage space? Winning.
7. Remove a rock at your own risk.
One of the best perks of living in the 48th state is the availability of quick day or weekend trips — Arizonans can see the red rocks of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest all in a day or two. It may be tempting to take a rock or two back as a souvenir, but don’t give in to temptation. Officials at these sites have received petrified wood and stones back in the mail claiming that the takers were cursed with bad luck. Even if the Curse of the Petrified Forest isn’t real, why chance it?
8. Keep the time holy.
Spring back, fall down… What the heck is that saying again? With the heyday of farming seated well in the past, most of the country feels that whole “spring ahead, fall back” thing is just a nuisance. We ditched Daylight Savings in 1967, so set your clocks once and you’re good for life.
9. Thou shalt avoid the MVD.
We all hate the long lines and endless queues of motor vehicle departments. Number 365. 365. Bueller. Bueller. Luckily, your Arizona driver’s license is good till your 65th birthday, after which you’ll have to renew in person every five years. The best part? No new photos are required till you hit senior status. So get an Arizona DL at 25 and you’ll look young and perky for ages.
10. Respect thy natives.
We’re not talking about the people born in Arizona — at least, not all of them. Arizona has the third largest Native American population in the nation and contains two out of three of the country’s largest reservations. It isn’t all pow-wows and teepees either. Permits are required for certain activities on the Navajo Nation, and the natives are skittish about photos. Put down the smartphone and pick up a peace pipe.