22 Things You Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners About Phoenix

Congratulations! Just by living in a no-snow zone, you’re smarter than 80% of the American population. That also means you’ve got a phonebook of friends, relatives, and other moochers all desperate to escape slush and sleet for the Land of a Thousand Golf Courses by asking you, “When’s a good time for us come down?!” You’ll put them off as long as possible, but eventually, they WILL come down. And here’s all the stuff you'll need to fill them in on...

1. Haboobs: they’re real

And really scary. Haboobs -- fancy-speak for terrifying dust storms -- brown out the sky with dirt and debris, and blow around 30mph. That means you don’t even see the beer can flying into your face. On the upside, they make for cool Instagram shots! 

2. “But it’s a dry heat!” makes our ears bleed

A dry heat just means you can feel your skin burning and your contacts morphing into sandpaper as you blink. So stop saying it like it’s a good thing. 

3. Parking lots are valiant battles for shade

We’ll take a spot 2mi away in the shade before we pull into a convenient spot in the sun. And by "shade" we mean "a 2in sliver of darkness from a baby tree."

4. We’re not embarrassed of our shrubs...

... we’re just wrapping them up mummy-style with shade cloth because they can’t take the heat.

5. Our highways are strangely circular

Am I going North on the 101 South or South on the 101 North? I don’t know, but I’ve passed WestWorld three times already. 

6. … But we can absolutely drive in a dust storm with zero visibility

Put this baby on cruise control! 

7. Our drivers licenses don’t expire till we’re 65

Too bad our leathery, sun-beaten faces will resemble the wallet more than the license photo. 

8. Yes, that is a gun in the grocery store

Arizona’s famously lenient gun laws protect the right to openly carry a firearm permit-free in most places. So when you see a shopper in the produce section packin’ heat, don’t fight him over that last bunch of bananas. 

9. We don’t have basements. Or sewers. Or tall buildings.

All of those would require costly digging into rock-solid earth. So we’re quite happy with flooded streets and Christmas decorations in our pantry, thanks.

10. Step away from the cactus

A) it's sharp. And, B) we’re fiercely protective of our beloved Saguaro cacti -- even property owners have to get a permit to move one -- so save your “Jack + Diane 4-EVER” carving for a stupid, lame oak tree. 

11. We don’t have cold tap water in July

The pipes are hot. Get an ice cube. 

12. We don’t observe daylight saving time

Since Indiana adopted daylight saving in 2006, we’re the only state in the lower 48 that doesn’t switch our clocks. Why? Uh, maybe because we're not all 19th-century farmers?

13. We are SO not joking about airplane windows


14. Green grass is overrated

Dead, brown grass blends nicely with the desert colors. Better yet, stick to crushed rock for your front lawn. It's perfect for the kids’ pick-up soccer games!

15. It’s really dark at night, on purpose

Maricopa County’s Dark Sky Ordinances prohibit visible bulbs or lighting that shines upward. A dark sky is a starry sky! And that’s good for all the peeps out there spending their Saturday night romancing a telescope. 

16. Our pronunciation needs work

For a city so close to the border, our Spanish accent sucks: the city of Casa Grande is pronounced “Casa Grand,” not GRAHN-day like you learned in Spanish 101. Oh, and that shady getaway up North is PRESS-cut, not the more WASP-y pronunciation of Prescott. 

17. We have suicide lanes, and they’re terrifying

You should really pay attention to the traffic signs on arteries like 7th St and 7th Ave during rush hour: in the morning, the center lanes run South; in the afternoon, they run North; and they’re a damn free-for-all the rest of the day. Assuming head-on collisions aren’t a hobby, stay in your lane. 

18. We don’t really have the most plastic surgery in the country

Jeez, guys, we’re not that superficial. We have the fourth-most plastic surgery in the country (behind Miami, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills).

19. Our lizards are your squirrels

Acceptably cute, pretty much everywhere. 

20. Nobody can drive in the rain…

Woah, woah, woah. Is that a droplet of water?!  Two droplets?! Well then, I guess I’d better drive 10mph until I reach the safety of my carport. 

21. It’s totally normal to live next door to a horse

Many homes in Metro Phoenix enjoy “horse privileges,” which allow you to board horses at homes on decent-sized lots, as long as you keep the smell and flies in check. 

22. We do wear coats

And hats, scarves and boots. When it’s 50 degrees. Brrrr!

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