Welcome to the Area


THE CLIMATE—one of the best:

 People who have been around the state of Arizona a long time refer to many areas in Northern Arizona as “mountain towns”. When you look at a U.S. map, you see that we are closer to the Equator than much of North America, and normally people think that the Southwest as a hot desert. However, unknown to many visitors, elevation makes all the difference in temperature, morning and night, summer and winter. Payson is right at 5,000 feet, just like Denver, Colorado and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and higher than almost any place East of the Mississippi River.

Accordingly, we enjoy a mild, four-season climate and literally some of the cleanest air in the world. Payson weather is milder than Flagstaff, which is colder and with much greater snowfall, at 7,000 ft. + plus elevation. Payson is greener than most of Prescott. With about 17 inches of precipitation per year, we get much more than Phoenix, which averages 6+ inches a year and much less than areas up on the Mogollon Rim twenty-five miles north and east of here, that average 110 inches of snow in winter. Summer brings Arizona a monsoon season, with afternoon thunderstorms. We welcome the moisture and beauty associated with them. Payson receives more rainfall from these storms than the desert areas and even higher elevations close by, receive more than Payson. January and February are the coldest months. If it snows, it is usually gone in a day and if it’s sunny, daytime highs are usually over 50°.

THE TOWN & GROWTH [we are “small town”]:

Our town is incorporated and surrounded by U.S. National Forest Service lands. The only way that Payson can grow in land mass, would be if a developer can persuade the U.S. Government to trade land adjacent to Payson, for other lands he owns elsewhere, that the Forest Service wants. As of early 2009—very few land trades were in progress, that would allow for a residential subdivision. The last one took 7 years to complete and several before that failed. Even with the approval of a “land-swap”, Arizona law would prohibit and the Town of Payson would not approve residential zoning, without verifying adequate water supplies. The Town has historically protected its small-town flavor, been anti-growth and enacted a number of ordinances to inhibit growth. This has made land scarce and expensive and the average housing prices reflect that, as compared to metro-Phoenix. People who were here in 1970 remember a population of around 2,000 and for them, the current population of 16,000+ seems like a tremendous leap. Change is possible. In 2005 Congress approved a 3,000 acre-foot allocation of water for Payson from the C.C. Craigin [a.k.a. Blue Ridge] Reservoir. Completion of the pipeline occurred in April 2019. The Town regards this as “water supply insurance”—not a way to expand. The plan is to cut back on pumping groundwater. It will definitely help our economic development.

The bottom line on growth, is that the boundaries of the town are not expected to expand much, if any. From the standpoint of real estate values, this continues to limit supply in the face of demand. Supply-demand forces would dictate that any investment you make in real estate here, is likely to be a solid one. That was my thinking when I decided to move here in 1996. Coupled with land scarcity, is the aspect of expensive building costs. None of these things are news in Payson–things have always been this way. Payson didn’t suddenly run out of land during the real estate “bubble”. There are no tract home builders. Consequently, there are no economies of scale for building the kind of tract housing here, that is the predominant pattern in the Phoenix metro area. For you that means that you can enjoy the small-town flavor, will pay a premium for it and will realize greater value for your property when you go to sell it.


 The median age in Payson is 54 and it is fair to characterize Payson as predominantly a retirement community, with second homes being another major group of property-owners. We guess that full time occupancy is about 55%. The closest, large unincorporated areas are Pine and Strawberry; [13 & 15 miles north]. Star Valley has about 3,500 people and was incorporated in 2005; [4 miles east]. Pine and Strawberry combined have about 3,500 people and are accurately characterized as mostly second home and summer home communities, although some people live there full time. Payson has a high school, middle school and two elementary schools. There are some small parochial and charter schools. Currently we have a campus of the Gila Community College.


 Realistically, from a career perspective, there are almost no “corporate style careers” in Payson except for education and medical. Many people enjoy being in business for themselves. The hospital, supermarkets, auto dealers, Wal Mart and Home Depot offer an exception to this. From a recreational standpoint, most people in Arizona like to do things outdoors and Payson fully embraces that lifestyle. Even advanced “seniors” enjoy getting out for a walk and fresh mountain air. In fact, people here lean even more strongly to the outdoors: hiking, mountain bicycling, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, motorcycling, off-road ATVs and camping are the most popular activities and a huge number of people from other parts of Arizona visit here to do those things as well—especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Payson is the only substantial community within 90 miles [Flagstaff to the north, Show Low to the East Sedona and Prescott to the west and Phoenix to the south] that has any appreciable shopping or restaurants. Take a look at a state map and you’ll see that only 16-18% of Arizona is in private hands. Only 1% of Northern Gila County where we reside, is in private hands. Past U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt declared Rim Country—as we call it—to be the watershed for the Phoenix metro area in the early 1900s. So, unlike most everything east of Denver, we can freely use these lands, but we cannot own them or build on them. If there was ever a little piece of something left that seemed like the “Wild West” this area represents a bit of it. Go a little ways out of town and your cell phones often don’t work anymore.


 I can provide you with a local phone book to identify hotels & restaurants. I suggest you also visit the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce site: rimcountrychamber.com. The Town of Payson has a demographics/economic profile site as well, paysonaz.gov. The Chamber site lists other recreational activities and a schedule of events in the area. Another web site resource is the newspaper: the Payson Roundup, www.PaysonRoundup.com and it lists classified ads, property rentals and more. Payson has the only regional hospital for over 90 miles. It continually wins national awards for quality of service. The Town airport has a 5,500 foot runway, fuel, fly-in camping and restaurant, but there is no scheduled airline service.


 If you’d like to invest in area real estate, I’ll be glad for the opportunity to help you. I’ve been in the local business over twenty years, have excellent professional and educational credentials and can give enthusiastic references from past clients. ERA Young Realty & Investment is the largest and one of oldest real estate companies in the area. Our company reflects the highest levels of professionalism, experience, maturity and accomplishment in Payson. If there’s a property available here that will meet your needs, I can find it for you and complete every phase of the investment process. I can answer most of your questions and will quickly find the answers for the rest. I have a well-seasoned list of service providers I trust through past experience. From lenders to builders, plumbers, electricians and landscapers, I’ll make recommendations that make your life easier here. You can even ask me about a barber, dentist or mechanic. This is still “small town” Payson. I prefer to deal with full time practitioners in every field of endeavor—ones who have never failed us or any of our clients.