Buying into Arizona

Purchasing a piece of Arizona, can lead you into experiencing a real horseman's paradise.

Purchasing a piece of Arizona, can lead you into experiencing a real horseman’s paradise.

Canadians love buying Arizona real estate. You’d know this to be true if you have a friend or family member who disappears to their “other” home south of the border when the weather begins to turn cold. This winter, instead of going through your Facebook privacy settings to prevent their vacationing photos from coming up into your newsfeed, ask yourself, “Why am I not in Arizona?”

Kathy McNiven

Arizona Home: Maricopa AKA “Little Canada”

For many snowbirds, purchasing a home in Arizona has given them their “happy” back. Since purchasing property in Arizona, Kathy NcNiven and her husband say their whole world dramatically began spinning in a better direction, and put the “smile” back into their lives.

“Coming down to Arizona totally changes your relationship,” says Kathy. “You get to be who you are.”

After buying their piece of land in the desert sunshine, McNiven said she learned how to smile again. It wasn’t just the warm sun and random afternoon happy hours that made the biggest difference. Living closely with your neighbors is normal here and it’s unusual to find someone in their house by themselves during the day.

“It seems like this community sucks you out of your house and puts you into activities, whether you want to be or not,” says McNiven.

Wine with dinner on their patio at the McNiven’s casa in Maricopa is a whole world away from an often hectic and frozen life in Alberta. After falling in love with this carefree lifestyle this area offers, the McNivens decided to purchase more properties and take advantage of other real estate options around the Thunderbird area.

“The first purchase was very impulsive. We came down to Arizona and we really didn’t like what we saw until we came to Maricopa.”

After reselling several properties, NcNiven explained they have no vision of ever selling their prized home in Maricopa.

“I am not sure of what the value would be right now, as we have no intention of selling. I don’t know what other parts of Arizona are like, but the sense of community in Thunderbird County and Papigo is absolutely incredible.”

Purchasing a home in the United States may seem like a stretch for some, but for the McNivens, the lifestyle and contentment they found in the state was well beyond what they had originally bargained for.

Kathy McNiven says the Arizona lifestyle, has put the word "happy" back into her life.

Kathy McNiven says the Arizona lifestyle, has put the word “happy” back into her life.

Val Nelson

Arizona Home: Wickenburg, AKA “The team roping capital of the world”

After several winters spent in Arizona ‘rv’ing’ it from her horse trailer, Val Nelson of Cochrane, Alberta, decided it was time to buy into the dream. Being competitive in the barrel racing world and having the ability to be away from Canada’s climate for months at a time gave Nelson the option of making this vision a reality.

With a bit of a background in various equestrian areas in the state, Nelson felt drawn to the town of Wickenburg. Besides the vast picturesque desert scene surrounding Wickenburg, the area is a bustle of horse activity, adorning restaurants and trendy shopping, which Nelson was aiming to take in.

“The people are so welcoming and the downtown is busy and safe – even at night when they have goat roping and dances off Main Street,” explains Nelson. “It’s very festive!”

When the opportunity arose in the spring of 2013 for Nelson to purchase a quaint piece of horse property, it did not take long for Nelson seal a deal. Being a realtor herself in Alberta, she knew that this chunk of paradise was the deal for her and now was the right time to buy.

“The dollar was at par, I just transferred cash. It was that easy.”

The deal could not have gone any better for Nelson. She did her homework before buying and found exactly what she was looking for in Arizona.

“Shop out the comparables or get a realtor who will find you a deal. I am a Canadian realtor, however I found an American realtor – Penny Arthur, who enjoys deal shopping too!”

As the cold blows into Canada this winter, Nelson will be nestling into her southern hideaway. By having this new home, she hopes to save money on renting and also gain a return on her initial investment.

“It saves me paying RV and horse board fees of $1,200 per month. When I sell it, hopefully it will retain its value or increase if the economy picks up.”

Although Nelson doesn’t swing a rope, she is an avid barrel racer. Wickenburg ‘s new Rancho Rio arena is scheduled to run Women’s Professional Rodeo Association co-approved jackpots throughout the winter and Nelson undoubtedly will be there. Having her horse in shape all winter will give her the extra edge on the competitions this spring in Alberta. This of course is just an extra bonus to finding a “vacation” home in Arizona.

Val Nelson purchased a horse property in Wickenburg in part to be close enough to participate in regular barrel racing jackpots all winter.

Val Nelson purchased a horse property in Wickenburg in part to be close enough to participate in regular barrel racing jackpots all winter.

Tim Bishko

Arizona Home: North Scottsdale AKA “The West’s most western town.”

In the Salt River Valley, known as the “Valley of the Sun,” Tim Bushko found his piece of horseman’s paradise. Within just a few square miles of where he purchased his property, resides a hot bed of the industry’s premier cutting, reining and cow horse trainers. For Bushko, this is awesome as his second home fits perfectly with his equestrian obsessions.

With all the abundance of arenas and horse activity (right at his fingertips), the Alberta native describes the north Scottsdale area as, “Fantastic, for whatever equine fix you need.”

Dunning, Fappani, Cushing, Wood, you name it – they all train right out of Bushko’s backyard. Being a part of this elite equine community while on vacation is exactly what most people only dream about. But for this part-time Albertan, it is a reality.

Aside from being a mecca of performance horse activities, the Scottsdale area also presents a variety of trendy, upscale amenities, with a sense of traditional southwestern character.

“North Scottsdale is a little less urban (than downtown Scottsdale),” explains Bushko. “It’s quiet, large lots, close to the things I like.”

In the winter, Bushko travels from his Priddis, Alberta home to his Arizona escape quite frequently. Unlike some snowbirds, once or twice a year is not enough for him. He likes to get the most of his southern property throughout the year. With a handful of top trainers and the best western amenities at your doorstep, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the pristine qualities within the Scottsdale area.

Brenda and Stuart Derochie

Arizona Home: Chandler AKA

Leave the livestock behind. Home away from home for ranchers Brenda and Stuart Derochie is within a suburban gated community called Solera. Besides having convenient access to Arizona’s horse world knocking at their door, the Derochies didn’t purchase this property to share with their horses. Instead, this piece of paradise is meant to enjoy with their expanding family.

“We first bought in 2007,” says Brenda Derochie. “Our first home was a two bedroom home just off the second hole of the golf course. But as our family grew with grandkids, we decided to buy the house across the street that had three bedrooms, a den and a swimming pool.”

This piece of heaven is a large crossover from their world in Alberta. The Derochie’s life in Canada includes a small cow/calf operation, five miles west of Claresholm, Alberta. After 28 years of owning Frontier Western Store in downtown Claresholm, the Derochies sold the business and are enjoying semi-retirement on their piece of sunshine paradise. Despite being deeply rooted in the western lifestyle, the Derochies opted for a true vacation style home, without the burden of upkeep of animals.

“We had originally thought of buying a horse property, but with us not being there all winter the gated community was a better choice for us. There are many places you can board your horses and rope at without owning the property.”

In order for Stuart to rope during the winter, the Derochies were hauling their horses to Arizona. But the Derochies now stick to Arizona’s other extracurricular activities.

“Stuart has had two back operations and he is unable to rope anymore. So mainly right now we golf, hike and he is an avid hunter and shooter also. He eventually would like to do more riding in the desert.”

Without animals to tend to, life here is much more like a vacation. The Derochies’ home is conveniently located on the number three hole of the Lone Tree Golf Course. With no horses in their backyard, they can step right out their door and go golfing. For the Derochies, this is how to vacation in the winter.

Before You Buy

Four key tips for Canucks thinking of an Arizona location from Wickenburg horse property realtor, Penny Arthur.

1) See it in person: Distance sometimes makes it a necessity, especially on a property new on the market that fulfills all of our criteria and is priced well enough that it’s not likely to stay on the market for long. However, it’s best not to make offers on property you have not viewed in person.

2) Be ready: Have your financing planned out and approved in advance so when you see that good deal you are ready to move. Good deals don’t last long.

3) Think for yourself: Just because you have friends in a certain area doesn’t mean it is a good investment. Do some investigating on your own.

4) Utilize the fine print: After writing a contract you have a 10-day period to inspect your home and area- use it!

– Find out more about Wickenburg horse properties at Arthur’s website, www.wildwestwickenburg.com

Other Helpful Tips

What about them varmints?

A monthly must of desert living, spraying for pests in your living quarters can cost around $45 a visit and targets scorpions, spiders and termites.

Taxes when selling

Any income you earn in the United States has to be reported to both the U.S. and Canadian governments, including selling your Arizona property. At that time you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is a nine digit numbered issued by the Internal Revenue Service, to those who do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. Unfair, we know, but expect to be taxed by a percentage on profits made by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.