5 Tips for Rave-Worthy Company Culture

| By The Chamber Edge
| Photo by Brielle Farmer

It's no surprise that happy people are productive people. But do you know what it takes to make or keep your staff content? Is having a foosball table in the lounge or being able to bring your dog to work what makes the difference?

Tucson Metro Chamber has learned a thing or two about how to create a stellar company culture from hosting the Copper Cactus Awards. The locally owned small businesses that are recognized for their accomplishments and innovation each year would not have the same success without providing a place to work where their employees feel motivated, creative and satisfied.

Here are some ways to create a workplace environment that will help your business and employees succeed.

Get Out of the Office

Plan company events so coworkers get to know each other on a different level. Come up with a variety of ways to do this because activities such as karaoke won't appeal to everyone (although it is a fun way to discover that the wallflower of the office can hit the high notes or rap like Eminem). Coordinating a volunteer outing to help the community, getting crafty or other team-building activities, are excellent ways to engage employees.

Be Flexible

Not every company has the means to be like Google and provide playgrounds, massages and bowling alleys, but even small businesses can allow employees to work from home occasionally, use personal time by the hour instead of by the day or shift hours around if the full 40 hours are being worked each week. After all, people's peak productivity hours vary.

Spread the Wealth

Company culture isn't just about having fun. It's about encouraging employees to feel more invested in the company and knowing that their ideas can make a difference in the company's success. Since people often feel motivated by money, offering incentives, giving bonuses or profit sharing are always well received. Giving free company swag is nice, too.

Promote Well-Being

Help employees maintain good health since they'll do their best work when they are feeling their best physically and emotionally. Providing sit-to-stand desks, free or discounted gym memberships or simply encouraging midday walks are little things that make a big impact. And providing healthy snacks helps offset the ever-present temptations, such as birthday cake.

Create a Home Away From Home

A proper working environment helps employees feel comfortable and creative. Declutter messy bookshelves, have spots for groups to collaborate as well as areas for relaxation. Let employees add personality to their space so they're content spending time there. After all, during the workweek most people spend more awake hours at the office than at home.

Becoming more aware of these general tips to help improve your company culture is the first step. You may find that it takes time to build a thriving culture to create a high-performing team. But who knows, maybe you'll be the proud winner of a Copper Cactus Award this year. It's an excellent goal to have.

Whiskey del Bac: a True Tucson Classic

Tucson's Hamilton Distillers, makers of real craft whiskey, harness the power of mesquite to capture the true flavor of Tucson

|By Louie Christensen


Tucson’s youth didn’t grow up with friendly oaks and maternal willow trees to climb. No, in the desert we climbed Mesquite trees. We scrambled up that dusty bark, pushed our way through the thorns, to climb up to that plank of wood crudely tied to a sturdy branch. So, to a Tucsonan…mesquite is the smell of adventure.

It’s also the smell of memories, of gathering the people we love around a fire pit filled with glowing mesquite embers. The smell of mesquite smoke takes us back to our past; to when we snuck that first kiss, laughed with friends, or listened to our family’s stories that we’ve heard a thousand times but couldn’t wait to hear again.

It’s the smell of food, of great food; locally sourced and created with quality in mind. From our newest steak houses, to our favorite spot to grab a carne asada street taco; that sweet and savory smoke bridges cultures and brings us together around the table.

So when Tucson’s Hamilton Distillers released a mesquite smoked single malt whiskey, it captured the city’s heart.

Now, when you hear “Tucson whiskey,” you may be tempted to envision a dusty Old Tucson saloon set piece, with old timey bottles filled with warm, over-proofed XXX whiskey. But, you won’t find any wild-west shootout tropes, cowboy silhouettes, or cattle brand logos anywhere near Hamilton Distillers. No, Hamilton Distillers isn’t chasing after snowbird souvenir sales, they are chasing after creating amazing whiskey, and people have taken notice.

This year, Whiskey Advocate named Whiskey Del Bac’s Dorado (their flagship mesquite smoked option) one of their “Six Great Under-the-Radar-Whiskies”, Esquire Magazine named it the 7th best whiskey in the US, and it took home a gold medal from American Craft Spirits Association in 2018. They’re distributing as far as New York City, and have been making a huge splash across online whiskey review channels and circles.

Hamilton Distillers represents the best of Tucson. Why? Because their Whiskey Del Bac line isn’t worth buying simply because it’s from Tucson and it’s nice to support our local purveyors, it’s worth buying because it is flat out, leave-your-qualifiers-at-home, delicious. Tucson has entered a new era. We no longer need to rely on southwest kitsch, or dude ranch clichés to draw people in. We are a city of creators, of tastemakers, of craftsmen, and their work speaks for itself.

Try a glass of Whiskey Del Bac Dorado, you’ll see.

Choosing to Stay in Tucson After Graduating from UA

University of Arizona graduates talk about how their decision to study and work in Tucson has shaped their careers

| By Amanda Oien

Tucson’s green saguaros and silver barked mesquites aren’t the only colors that feel like “home” to a Tucsonan. Evident from the highest tip of Tumamoc Hill, or the rocks of Windy Point—it’s clear the heart of Tucson is brick. Not just any brick, but University of Arizona brick. The city may have grown, but that brick-clad campus has remained its crown jewel since 1885.

Given the countless distractions in Tucson—like its enticing climate,  heavenly Mexican food, miles of stunning hiking and biking trails and an insanely diverse foodie, art and culture scene—it’s surprising to most newcomers just how obsessed Tucsonans are with their Arizona Wildcats. While Tucson may be a midsize city, it has the heartbeat of a college town.

The University of Arizona gifts people who call the Old Pueblo home with a sense of community and hometown pride. If you’ve ever gone out to breakfast on a Friday morning during football season, or shopping on a game night during basketball season you know what I’m talking about. Dress codes and work uniforms are ditched for spirited UA shirts and jerseys. You can feel the collective pride in Tucson, you can see it everywhere.

Some UA graduates might leave the Sonoran desert to call a new place home, taking with them fond memories and nostalgic longings. But others fall in love with this inspirational place and proudly take up the name Tucsonan.

Madden Media, a national destination marketing agency, also calls Tucson home. Located in Downtown Tucson in the historic flat-iron MacArthur building, over 40 ‘Maddenites’ are UA graduates. Over the years, more than a hundred UA Wildcats have worked at Madden Media, including its founders, Kevin and Jill Madden.

Julie Sipe

Campaign Manager
Hometown: San Diego, California
Major: Marketing and Sports Management

Julie knew she wanted to branch out and go away for college. With an exceptional business program, she chose UA.
“I loved the feel of the campus the second I stepped out onto The Mall, I just had that feeling. Tucson is a big city in some ways, but it has that small-town college feel. All of the jobs I’ve had post-college have been from being able to connect with so many people at UA’s Eller College of Management. The network of people I met there has really impacted my career path.”

Katie Bailey

Marketing Development Strategist
Hometown: Flagstaff, Arizona
Major: Business Administration and Marketing

“UA evened the playing field so you understand the language, concepts and theories and how to apply them in a job or whatever specific career path you choose. The UA takes you beyond that high school understanding of basic mathematics and accounting to understanding what a sample size is. It just helps you have that business language.”

Max Houtkooper

Digital Marketing Strategist
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Major: Sociology

“UA was everything. Forever and always. I live and die for UA basketball. I still have my National Championship t-shirt from ‘97. I really hadn’t looked to go anywhere else. UA was always my top pick. I really like working with groups of people and understanding those dynamics and when digital marketing presented itself, I thought, ‘I could fit into this role.’ I like watching how groups of people interact on sites and how they interact with ads.”

Neil Bernardo

Creative Strategist
Hometown: San Jose, California
Major: Visual Communications

Neil wasn’t your average student. He took a year off and began his studies at Pima Community College before transferring to UA.

“Being in an educational environment made me a lot more conscious of graphic design, more than it just being a job. You learn a lot more theory. It made you feel apart of art society.”    

Kristen Brockel

Creative Specialist
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Major: Photography

For a while, Kristen thought she would graduate from UA and move to find a job and begin her career. But like many others, she fell under Tucson’s spell and made the decision to stay.  “Being at UA and having such a great time in Tucson made me want to stay here. Just being able to work in town and having had all the opportunities I did at UA, shaped my career today.”  

Hector the Loneliest Saguaro

Kathryn Humphrey’s move to Tucson inspired her new children’s book

| By Amanda Oien
| Photography by Brielle Farmer

Sunshine and scorpions surround Kathryn Humphrey, who is embracing her new home in Tucson, Arizona—with the help from a secluded, yet resilient, saguaro.

Kate, an illustrator hailing from the glitz and glam of Los Angeles, has called Tucson home since 2015. She moved here with her Air Force husband and five rescue dogs. Trying to find her bearings on what she calls “a different planet,” Kate wrote her first children’s book, Hector the Loneliest Saguaro.

When Kate first moved to Tucson, cactuses were just another desert oddity. But the closer she looked, the more intrigued and attached she became.

On a road trip through Southern Arizona, saguaros decorated the dramatic landscape that encompassed her. But Kate noticed something. A lone saguaro, separated from the rest.

And just like that, Hector, the loneliest saguaro, was born.

On the anniversary of her mother’s passing and surrounded by her new environment, Kate remembered the secluded saguaro: alone in the desert but still standing strong and proud.

Kate remembered her mother’s advice: When you are feeling sorry for yourself, go help someone else. So Kate began to write.

“I didn’t intend to write this story,” Kate said. “But I had an idea and I wrote it first word to last in one hour.”

Kate’s children’s book, Hector the Loneliest Saguaro, takes kids on a journey of overcoming feelings of not belonging, remaining strong, proud and true to who they are—just like Hector.

But it isn’t your average kid’s book.

“It’s a more sophisticated language,” Kate said. “When I grew up, books didn’t insult kids. I wanted to write a cool story that sounded pretty.”

Kate said she’s always spoken to kids like adults and she wasn’t about to change that when she wrote her book.

Hector the Loneliest Saguaro not only guides kids through some of life’s challenges, but teaches them about Hector’s own challenges in a sometimes unforgiving Sonoran desert.

Kate Humphrey holds a photograph of her mother.

Bees, butterflies, and woodpeckers accompany Hector on his educational adventure through the desert’s ecosystem. Kate intended her book to be for 7–12 year olds and read aloud to little ones.

“I address the seasons a lot in the book,” Kate said. “It’s a big part of our ecosystem. The seasons here are all so different.”

Kate is excited to get the book into the local market. Hector the Loneliest Saguaro is printed by Arizona Lithographers, a Tucson green printer that uses 100% renewable resources.

For Kate, Tucson couldn’t have been a better place to create her book.

“It’s the perfect size market,” she said. “It’s big enough to where there’s a lot of things going on and a lot of resources, especially for artists. But it’s not so big that you just get lost in the crowd.”

With her mother’s advice wrapped around her, Kate continues to spread Hector’s story and fall in love with her new Sonoran desert home.

Order Hector the Loneliest Saguaro by Kathryn Humphrey at hectorthesaguaro.ecwid.com.

Uncontained Excitement for the MSA Annex

Explore Mercado San Agustín’s brand-new sister property | By Heather Wuelpern

The MSA Annex—a collection of converted shipping containers, which house nearly a dozen shops and a bar—celebrated its grand opening May 4–6, 2018. Local favorite Giant Sand added to the good vibe as their band christened the stage before they kicked off their month-long European tour. The hubbub of activity that night was outstanding as patrons danced, shopped, and socialized.

If you didn’t make the grand opening, there’s no need to fret. The MSA Annex—adjacent to Mercado San Agustín on the west side of Tucson—will only continue to flourish as the word gets out. Plus, a few more shops are slated to open soon.


The names of a few shops might ring a bell since they’ve already developed some roots in Tucson. Avenue Boutique, for example, has branched out to the Annex after being at their Broadway and Country Club location for years. Transit Cycles transported themselves from up the street at the Mercado San Agustin. And Isabella’s Ice Cream has been chilling over on Fourth Avenue and in the new American Eat Company. Also, Westbound—a spinoff of the popular Tap & Bottle—serves up beer, wine and spirits in its open-air bar at the Annex.


Why I Love Where I Live has a knack for spreading their love for Tucson. They have that in common with iconic actress Diane Keaton, as she confessed her love of Tucson on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and then posed for a quick picture while shopping at this special shop the next day. Perhaps Ms. Keaton found some treasures for her new Tucson barrio home at Dust and Heritage or a pair of earrings at Now or Never. Regardless, she’ll have to stop by the MSA Annex again to explore all of the other wonderful stores, such as Luca Ryann or Fletcher and Co.


Stroll through the Mercado District’s residential area and find a perfect mix of Old World and modern architecture living in harmony. Some homes have rich colors, balconies, and hidden courtyards, reminiscent of homes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, while others have clean lines, contemporary touches, and interesting angles. Explore the homes near South Avenida del Palo Fierro and scope out the large-scale mural of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera by local muralist Rock Martinez on the west wall of one of the residences.


Whether you get to the MSA Annex via the Sun Link Streetcar or Tugo Bike Share—both have stations within a few strides of the shops—or by walking, driving, or skateboarding, just get there! You’ll find treasures and enjoy a snack or brew. And, who knows, maybe you’ll even see a celebrity.

MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento

Mercado San Agustín, 100 S. Avenida del Convento

Artistic Triumph

Meet 3 Tucson artists who have mastered their crafts | By Sarah Burton

Some artists are born creating, never stray from that path, and spend the majority of their lives doing just that. Others, although enamored with creativity and expression, go a more traditional direction and let art take a backseat to careers and everyday life. The three artists featured below fall into the latter camp, and describe a singular moment or experience of an overwhelming desire to create. And lucky for us, they did not ignore those thunderclap moments and went on to master their crafts. Visit their galleries or shops and take a piece of their creativity home.


Óptimo Custom Hatworks, 47 Main St., Bisbee, AZ, 520-432-4544, optimohatworks.com
Tucson Guide - Shop Local

Photography by Steven Meckler

Nestled in the picturesque main street of historic Bisbee, you’ll find Grant Sergot most days, busy crafting custom hats for customers from all over the world. An uninformed passerby may glance through the window of Óptimo Custom Hatworks and mistake it for a quaint albeit run-of-the-mill hat store. But inside, Grant is carefully designing in his unique mediums: felt and straw.

The path that landed Grant squarely in hat-guru territory started by mere chance when he drove into Arizona, along with two dogs as passengers. When his truck got stuck in the mud near the Grand Canyon’s south rim, he found himself sitting around a campfire with an old burned-out ranch hat he found to help keep the snowflakes off his face.

“As it snowed, the brim got more wet and I realized I could manipulate the brim,” he recalls. “In the morning, I threw it up on the dash of my truck and could manipulate even more as it dried, and I realized this is a medium like clay or plaster.” When he couldn’t shape it any longer, he pulled out a tea kettle and got to steaming the Old West, cowboy way.

“That was the start,” he explains. “I traded in my ballcap and woodsman hat for these hats.”

Later, Grant discovered a shimmering hat on a wooden milk crate at an estate sale, beckoning to him, as he tells it. This fortuitous encounter with a real-deal Panama hat only further shaped his life’s work.

“It took my truck breaking down in the mud to realize the importance of a good hat.”

“When I first began making hats in a gallery, everyone thought I was crazy. I said someday I’m going to be in Arizona Highways, and now I’ve been in several times,” Grant reflects with pride.

Since then he’s made quite a name for himself, and grown a loyal following. He’s also collected antique tools from all over as traditional hat shops fell by the wayside. One such fascinating tool of the trade is a conformer from 1911, invented in Paris in 1848, that looks something between a birdcage and a torture device. This is the first step to ensure a custom fit for anyone, any hat. And while you can definitely walk into Óptimo and select an artfully designed pre-made hat, having him make one just for you is the real deal.


Carly Quinn Designs, 730 S. Russell Ave., Tucson, AZ, 520-624-4117, carlyquinndesigns.com
Tucson Guide - Shop Local

Photography by Steven Meckler

While going to school for a degree in fine arts, Carly Quinn was in need of a job and ended up working part time for a local artist making tile. What began as a way to pay the bills soon had her undivided attention.

“I fell in love with the technique, and after graduation from college I bought my own kiln,” Carly recalls. She continued tile making on the side while beginning her first full-time job as a graphic designer, but it didn’t quite satisfy: “I was designing temporary tattoos for those vending machines you see, as well as a couple other design jobs, but I was so unhappy I decided to quit.”

Carly saved enough for a small studio, which she shared with another artist, and got to work. “It was the craziest thing for me to do, and I knew I had to get the word out, so I built my own website, created an online Etsy store, and called a bunch of magazines.”

“I was so unhappy in my career, but every single day after work I would go home and make tile.”

When timing was right, she opened her shop—Carly Quinn Designs—and it has become quite an attraction for visitors looking for that perfect bit of Tucson to take home. Carly puts it simply: “I have achieved my dream.”

Her technique is self-taught for the most part, based on a Moorish technique from the 1300 and 1400s called cuerda seca (dry cord). “I knew there had to be a name for how I was making my tiles, and eventually I found it.”

She begins on a blank canvas of terra-cotta-colored base tiles from Italy, which she then draws on with a proprietary wax resist pen. Once dried, she colors in between the wax lines with liquid ceramic glazes. She allows the glazes to dry before placing the tiles into one of the four on-site kilns.

“Firing at 2,000 degrees causes a chemical reaction, so the ceramic turns into glass and fuses to the base tile,” Carly explains. “The end product is weather-proof and will last forever, staying bright and glossy.”


Madaras Gallery, 3035 N. Swan Rd., Tucson, AZ, 520-615-3001, madaras.com
Tucson Guide - Shop Local

Photography by Steven Meckler

Known for her boldly colored scenes of the Southwest, Diana Madaras continues her reign as one of this region’s celebrated painters—but art wasn’t always what filled her days. After running a successful sports marketing company for 12 years, she began dabbling in painting, which caught the eye of a professor at the University of Arizona. “He encouraged me to keep painting. He was relentless,” she recalls.

In 1993, she took a month-long painting trip to Greece that changed her life. “It was as if I got off the plane and the world was black and white, and by the time I returned, it was in technicolor,” Diana explains. Upon returning, her corporate life no longer cut it, and after three years she became an official full-time artist.

She opened Madaras Gallery and quickly garnered attention for her brilliantly colored depictions of the Sonoran Desert. Now with countless awards, exhibits, press, and a gallery shop on most Tucson visitors’ to-do lists—it’s clear this is where she’s meant to be.

“I never felt totally satisfied in any work until I found painting. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Her newest endeavor is a spirit animal series, inspired by famed Native American artist John Nieto, which debuts this fall. “Art begets art,” she says, explaining the new series. “After being around his work, I was so inspired.” For these works, Diana is opting for watercolor on a tree-free synthetic paper called Yupo. “It’s an interesting effect, which is what I was going for,” Diana shares. “The surface is slick and no water is absorbed, making it one of the most difficult to work with.”

Diana points to her childhood helping out in her father’s veterinarian hospital for the source of her deep love of animals, which are regular subjects in her work. “My job was to take care of wild animals that were dropped off,” she says. “Now I can paint them and give them eternal life.”

Longtime Tucson resident Sarah Burton decorates her home, her garden, and herself with desert-made products from local creatives.

Finding Her Desert Home

One millennial finds Tucson has a lot to offer

If three years ago you told Quinn Miller that she would not only be living in Tucson, Arizona, but that she would be active in the community and genuinely happy with her life there, she would have given a simple and concise “no.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, Quinn never saw herself leaving the metropolis. Everything she needed was there in her southern California hometown. But once her boyfriend got accepted into a PhD program at the University of Arizona and asked her to move to Tucson with him, she changed her answer to “I don’t see myself living there.”

Thankfully, that isn’t the end of Quinn’s story, and she reconsidered so she could experience life in another city; after all, LA would always be a short drive away if she yearned to return to her comfort zone. So she and her boyfriend packed their bags and headed to sunny Tucson to start their next chapter.

A hidden gem in the desert

When Quinn arrived in Tucson, she saw the sleepy town she imagined. But once she got out of her Armory Park apartment and actually explored Tucson’s revitalized downtown, she saw more than what the moniker “Old Pueblo” suggests.

“People don’t expect all the culture that’s here,” Quinn said, noting the UNESCO-recognized cuisine, history, and art found all around the city.

Quinn thinks one of Tucson’s strongest assets is its people. “When they ask how you’re doing, they actually care.” The genuine nature of Tucsonans gives the city a quality of realness, and adds a lot to Tucson’s easy way of life.

Top-notch cuisine—some of Quinn’s favorite places are 5 Points Market & Kitchen, Seis Kitchen, Reilly Craft Pizza, Cup Café, The Coronet, and Exo Roast Co.—rounds out the offerings downtown, all easily walkable or just a short ride on the Sun Link Modern Streetcar that travels through downtown to the University of Arizona. “I didn’t realize how nice it was to live a life where I didn’t have to spend two hours a day in a car.”

After the sun goes down, vibrant nightlife keeps the urban core alive with awesome breweries like Pueblo Vida Brewing Company, Tap + Bottle, and Crooked Tooth serving up craft brews, mezcals—a Tucson staple—and innovative cocktails. Quinn satisfies her dancing moods at Hotel Congress and Playground right in the heart of downtown, and for live music she heads to the Rialto Theatre.

Quinn found her places to relax in the hustle and bustle, too. Yoga Oasis is one of her top places in Tucson, and pottery classes at the Tucson Clay Co-op provide her with a creative outlet.

Rounding out Quinn’s favorite aspects of Tucson is its Sonoran Desert setting. “The natural surroundings were a really big surprise for me—the desert landscape is so beautiful.” It’s easy to tell the how much Quinn adores being outside here. “Tucson is a green desert surrounded by beautiful mountains—it’s entirely different from what people think of when they picture a desert.” Quinn loves to take visitors to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park to experience the desert life, and pop up to Mt. Lemmon to cool off during the summer or play in the snow during winter. The Loop—a network of more than 100 miles of paved trails surrounding the city—makes for a perfect way to show off Tucson, too.

Even with all the natural beauty on the outskirts of Tucson, the authentic and colorful casitas in the old barrios always draw her back to downtown. “I love the Tucson architecture. It has such a unique vibe.”

Modern boom town

Quinn isn’t the only one attracted to Tucson’s downtown. Caterpillar has recently moved its regional offices to the urban core and is building a 150,000-square-foot facility—the Caterpillar Tucson Mining Division—at the west end of the streetcar route in the Mercado District. Many high-tech startups and longstanding local businesses also fill the towering buildings of downtown, making it a great environment for college graduates.

Career opportunities aren’t just located in the center of town. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on the southeastern side of the city is one of Tucson’s top employers. In fact, its presence is the reason the city has such a high number of high-tech industries—Raytheon Missile Systems, Universal Avionics, Honeywell Aerospace, and Bombardier Aerospace all have a large presence in Tucson, as well as Texas Instruments, IBM, and Intuit. That’s not even mentioning the roughly 150 Tucson companies designing and manufacturing optics and optoelectronics, earning Tucson the nickname “Optics Valley.”

Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
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Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business
Visit Tucson - prominent local business

The University of Arizona, located just east of downtown, also attracts highly skilled researchers, and has worked closely with NASA on several missions to Mars. Banner University Medical Center employs many students and graduates of the university, as do Tucson’s other large healthcare employers Ventana Medical Systems and Sanofi-Aventis.

New home

Quinn has connected with Tucson and embraced this new life. “I feel like I’ve found a really nice community.” Compared to living in Los Angeles, life is more relaxed for Quinn here. “I have time to spend on the people and things I love, while also developing my professional skills outside of work.”

And she’s taken her love for the community to new heights by rising up to President of Ad 2 Tucson, a former affiliate of the American Advertising Federation geared toward young professionals who work in advertising, marketing, communications, and media. Ad 2 and another organization, Tucson Young Professionals, helped Quinn get her footing in Tucson when she first moved to the city, and now she is instrumental in doing the same for other millennials in the community.

“I feel like I’m in a really good spot.” All of Tucson’s offerings with low price tags have definitely spoiled Quinn. “I now have a house and I have a good job, and I have time and money to go out and do things that I really enjoy, such as hiking with my dog and getting food and drinks with friends.” And she regularly encourages her friends to visit so she can showcase the city and let them be as surprised as she was.

“I love Tucson, and I do feel at home.”