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Dallas or Bust: 6 Tips for Your Move to the Big D

So you're ready to hop on the Texas train and become a Dallasite, huh? Thanks to our booming IT and health care industries (and over a dozen Fortune 500 companies), Dallas receives a constant influx of new residents, relocated by their jobs from all over the nation. If you're one of those, you join the likes of Glenn Beck and Khloe Kardashian, both of whom moved here in 2011. Whether or not you love or hate that pair of media characters, hopefully your presence here won't be nearly as polarizing.

Even if you've never been to Dallas, chances are you've got a few preconceived notions. These might include belt buckles, steers, and all things LARGE -- and you might be correct on all three accounts. But before you host your garage sale, pack the boxes, and load up the moving van, here are a few things you may not have considered to help prepare you for your move to the finest city in the world.

  1. Bring Your Outdoor Gear - Did you think Dallas was nothing but cow fields and prairie? We might be lacking in mountains and ocean, but the DFW region is rich in parks, open land, and waterways. The Dallas Park and Recreation Department boasts 21,000 acres of parks, including 17 lakes and 61 miles of trails. Bring those kayaks with you -- there are literally 4,400 acres of water in our park system to explore. This ain't no desert, darlin'.
  2. Your Money Goes Far - If you're moving to Dallas but keeping your New York or L.A. salary, lucky, lucky you. The median household income here in the nation's 9th largest city hovers around $40,000. Among the top 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S., Dallas ranks fifth from the bottom in cost of living. If you want to live in a cheaper city, you've only got Houston, St. Louis, Tampa, and Detroit to choose from. And it's a fair claim to say that Dallas has the best cultural scene among those. Which leads us to the next point...
  3. We're Cultured. Really. - There's a lot more things to to do in Dallas than boot-scoot and line dance. The Dallas Museum of Art brings consistent shows to town that rival the exhibitions of the big boys in New York and D.C. The private benefactors of Dallas' arts scene take serious pride in their city, and it pays off for the public. Raising over $37 million in private funds to build the museum in the mid-'80s, some proponents claim that its prominent presence helped draw AT&T to the city from San Antonio in 2008.
  4. You'll Want to Be in Shape - It's true. People look good here. Yes, we've got our share of buffet-line addicts just like the rest of the South (I'm one myself), but Dallas is an active city. We've got 22 community swimming pools and over 250 public tennis courts. The opportunities to take off on bike trails are almost endless, as are the chances to find like-minded riders. Here's a list of area bike circuits and trails to give an idea of how much is out there (trail list).
  5. Don't Get Overwhelmed - We get it. This is Texas. Dallas is a big city. The toughest decision you'll make is where to live, and there's no simple way to break it down. If you like the suburbs, have kids in tow, and want to hang out at the neighborhood pool, try West Plano or Coppell.Don't need a house that was built in the last decade? For a taste of classic prairie architecture and character (and bikable to public transport) check out the quickly up and coming neighborhood of North Oak Cliff. But seriously, that's just three options of many. Talk to fellow employees, talk to the bartender, talk to the lady in line at the grocery store on your scouting visit, and make the decision that's best for you and your family (and your commute!).
  6. Leave the Attitude in New York - Around here, we smile and hold the door. We say 'Yes ma'am' when you ask if we'd like another helping of barbeque. Don't be rude, and you'll get along just fine. Dallas may be a city, but it's still the South. We're glad you're here.