I have lived in 3 different states for 12 years. I was fine with that until I had my first Child. I also lived only 6 hours away by car. (another thing to concider) B4 kids you can jump in the car and just go. With kids, not so much! I had my hubby's fam in one of the states (for 10 years), 5 siblings of them. All grown adults, but they really did not help much. One family did, but they moved, then once again, there was nobody. They were not mean or selfish, they just had thier own kids in sports and other activities. They also did not live all that close. If money is tight, you will not just be able to run home for holidays, or things you want to be there for. You also have to concider work and all. Try getting the holidays off. It was not possible with my job! Also, have fun fighting over the holidays.. That was an annual event in our house. Do not put all your eggs in one basket that these friends will be there for you when ever you may need them to help you. They may, but thier family will have to come first. With out family around, you will have to pay all of your babysitters. Not to mention find them!
I am only telling you all of this because, all I wanted after my 1st child was born was to COME BACK TO CHICAGO!
I joined all the "mommy groups" and that is nice, but it does not replace your family and people that will help you because they love you and your kids. I still have friends from all the places I have lived, and cherish those friendships. I am glad to be home and I will never leave again.
I was terribly home sick. Family definatley trumps weather!
I hate winter as well, and take meds for Seasonal Affective disorder.
My lil sis lives in Southern Cali, and she is also homesick. She lOVES the weather, but she also says, people are not the same. She is still there for school, but is moving home in a year. She also feels the same as I do after her own experience. I hope you make a decicion that makes you happy.
As for homes, See a mortgage broker and they will tell you what you need to do to get a mortgage. You will have to fix the credit first. You can also get a town house for the low 100's at least in the NW burbs.
Good luck, but do take to heart what your family says. I was like you when I first moved. I was so excited and I did not understand why they were so upset. I get it now, and I hate to admit, they were right (and I HATE admitting that). I ended up seeing a therapist and on depression meds back when I lived away. Just keep all this in mind. AZ is a 24+ hour drive. Traveling 6 hours with a small child (or 2)
takes 8-10 hours, and is very hard. Just think about what is importaint to you, and if you can live seeing your family only once or twice a year. And realistically, you will be lucky to get that. My heart goes out to you!
I am sorry if I sound one sided. That is not my intention. You are not me (and be thankful..LOL) and you need to do what will make you happy. I just did not know all the troubles moving away would bring me. Some people relocate and LOVE IT. You just need to weigh your pros and cons..