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Out of curiosity, as a New Englander who has never been to the area, why do you want 2 homes in what appear to be similar climate and fairly close proximity?
I'm glad you said you haven't been to the area. Phoenix doesn't have a similar climate to anywhere in California with the possible exception of Death Valley (I may be exaggerating here..).

A lot depends on WHERE in California we're talking about. I live in the Sacramento area, which is very different than even San Francisco, a mere 80 miles away. California has an amazing diversity of climate, cost of living, etc. Generally (very), it's cheaper to live in Northern California than in Southern California, except that the San Francisco area is arguably the most expensive place to live in the entire country.

Regarding taxes, that's the downside of the whole state, but in balance, I'll stay where I am. I retired 6 months ago..
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