Sunday, June 27, 2010

Adventures in the Tucson Rental Market

So you say you want to find a house to rent in Tucson? I just went through the process so I have some fresh advice.

First of all, there are a lot of properties available for rent right now and the more you look at the more it will all begin to run together. Maintaining a spreadsheet to help keep your potential rental properties straight may be a good idea. Andrew and I composed a Google doc we could easily share and update. It included fields such as: address; contact info; rent; # of bedrooms and baths; square footage; A/C, evap cooling or duel?; views?; open floorplan?; pool? etc.

How to find a property:

Drive around in the neighborhoods you like. Peek in the windows of rental properties that look worth noting. (More on this to follow.) Note to landladies/landlords: consider the importance of signage location. If you put the sign as far out on the curb as possible it really helps people scoping out your block for signs from the corner!

Go to

Go to Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (

Ask rental management companies such as Tucson Realty and Trust for their listings. (They have some online, but have more updated lists in their office.)

How to determine if you want to schedule a viewing:

If you found the address online, google the property to find more info, including pictures. This works especially well for houses that were for sale previously.

Google maps satellite and street view can give you a feel for the neighborhood and curb appeal.

If you are still interested, drive by and maybe peek in the windows if the property looks vacant. Use your best judgment and proceed with caution!

If you are still interested, schedule a viewing. I really suggest you do all the homework mentioned above so as to not waste your time, gas and somebody else's. Let your fingers do the walking.

A little about what to expect:

Properties closer to the UA, downtown and certain hubs are more expensive, but generally you can expect to find properties for rent at about $1/sq. ft. dropping off a bit after 1,500 square feet. This is a really broad generalization, but at least it gives you some ballpark figures.

You can expect to find great rental properties in virtually any neighborhood in Tucson these days. We saw lovely pools, stunning views, huge back yards, fully furnished, etc.

Since the market is flooded with rental properties, it's a good time to negotiate. Be polite and prepared for a no, remembering, however, that it never hurts to ask for a break on the rent; especially if you are willing to offer a few months of rent up front, in cash.

Andrew and I specifically found our place (not the pad pictured above) via drive by. It includes 2000 square feet, gardens, koi ponds, an Arizona Room, dual cooling, and other little details we're pretty excited about, like a washer and dryer!

Happy hunting!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Teresa's Mosaic Cafe

The view of the Catalinas from the patio. Photo from

As Andrew and I were searching for a new home, (blog post to follow), we noticed what a great view there is from N. Silver Mosaic. We were wondering if McDonald's would let us rent their place, when we noticed a building next door with an equally spectacular view. It turned out to be Teresa's Mosaic Cafe.

We came back a few days later for breakfast on the patio. It was one of the last perfect weekends in Tucson; they didn't even have to turn on the misters. I had one of the Oaxacan plates with their homemade tortillas (made as you watch in the main dining room.) Andrew was so inspired by their Jamaica that he got some hibiscus at Food City on the way home and brewed up his own batch.

What can I say? With ambiance, service, a view and food like that, Teresa's has given me a reason to venture over to the "other side" of I-10 more often.

Cee Dee Jamaican Kitchen

For forever Andrew and I have been driving by this place on Swan near Speedway (next to Top Banana, FYI) called Cee Dee Jamaican Kitchen. Its grand opening seemed to never come, but finally one day we were running errands and noticed an actual "Open" sign in the window. We instantly pulled a u-turn and stopped in for lunch.

We were the only ones in the place besides the owners and a friend of theirs. It was a cool, cozy, tasty relief from a hot, busy day. Perhaps the locale was a little cee dee (seedy) but that's part of the charm, as the name suggests.

We both had the $5 lunch special consisting of a plate of food with two sides. I had the curry chicken (includes rice) with plantains and festival (possibly named after the likes of some fried thing you would eat at a carnival?) for my sides. I also got a glass of the carrot juice. (Tastes like a carroty version of horchata. Delish.) My ears were not left out of the fun as the reggae delighted them.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight Thursdays-Saturdays. Phone: 520-795-3400.