Though I no longer live in Flagstaff, I still have to respond as I moved from Tempe to Flagstaff in 2005 and my son was born there at Flagstaff Medical Center (which was a wonderful experience btw). I LOVE Flagstaff and still think it is one of the best places to raise a family. I went to ASU and passed through Flag on a road trip and fell in love with it. I moved there less than a year later, met my husband and had our first child soon there after. I think it is such a magical and comforting place, truly a come as you are kind of place. As it is a small town, life is simplified since you have limited options. What I mean is, there are only so many places to buy groceries, clothes and shoes, cars, only so many doctors, libraries, public assistance offices, places to go out for the evening, etc. You know what's available and you save time because everything is condensed. I really appreciated that after growing up in the Chicago area where you likely drive everywhere, with regards to city traffic and still can feel like you haven't totally found all options. The best things about Flagstaff in my opinion are the people and the mountains. The people are generally some of the kindest, friendliest, most conscientious people I've ever met, and it is so easy to meet people and make friends because you are likely to see the same people everywhere you go. It takes no time to feel like you are really home. It is very family friendly and you see every kind of family situation. There are so many resources for families, great parks, libraries, programs, classes and free things to do throughout the year. There is no Chuck E. Cheese so you have no choice but to get creative
It is so easy to go for a hike, even get around town via the urban trail system. Day trips to Sedona are wonderful too, especially in the summer for a dip in the creek. And just waking up and looking out your door and seeing the vast, colorful mountains is so calming, centering and makes you grateful that you are there. I felt that I always had time there. I never felt pressured to accomplish a million things or make things a certain way. My family and I could just "be" together which was really awesome and it was an excellent incubator for our very new family.
The housing is pricey, no doubt about it. We lived in Sunnyside, or East Flag, which is undoubtedly more reasonable. I'm guessing that is the "ghetto" that was mentioned in the previous post. Check it out anyway though if cost is an issue because ghetto by Flagstaff terms will most likely be laughable if you've lived in a larger city. I never felt unsafe there, though I would have loved to live on the hill just north of the hospital or somewhere between the library and Thorpe Park downtown. While housing is expensive, you may find that your expenses are less in other areas due to the very casual nature of the place. It is not a gimmie gimmie lets-see-how-much-we-can accumulate kind of place. Our needs as a family were very simple and we were very content.
Though lengthy, I hope this is helpful to you. If not I guess its my love letter to Flagstaff
We moved a year and a half ago to Chicago to be close to my family. It was very hard to leave and we still plan on settling back there after several situations here settle. Good luck to you and your family.