Earlier this week, hundreds of Rio Rico residents showed up to a public meeting, voicing their concerns over mixed-use development proposals.

So, I decided to come back to find out what attracted them to this small and quiet town.

“Warmer, drier. I mean all those obvious things,” said James Hickman, a Rio Rico resident.

During my short time in Rio Rico, it became evident that this town offers more than just beautiful scenery. With the Santa Cruz River winding through the area, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts like Ed Pirl.

“I’m into mountain biking also, and there are some great areas around here for mountain biking. Also kayaking,” said Ed Pirl. “We’re not far from Pena Blanca Lake, and then also we’re not far from Patagonia Lake, which is a much larger lake.”

But it’s not just nature that attracted soon-to-be retirees like Pirl, who moved to Rio Rico with his retired wife, Beth, two years ago.

“We knew we wanted to leave Florida due to the hurricanes and the humidity in the summer,” he said.

Many of those living here say they love the climate and nearly year-round sunshine.

But above all else, while speaking to locals, I quickly got the sense of a tight-knit community. For retirees James and his wife Cindy Hickman, it’s been one of their favorite aspects since moving from Tacoma, Washington in 2020.

“We don’t have any family here, so that was a huge problem for me initially,” Cindy said. James added that he “thinks we’ve both met people we’d trust our lives with in just this short period of time.”

The Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors is set to vote on the mixed-use development proposal on July eleventh.