Oklahoma City — affectionately known to locals as OKC — sometimes gets overlooked in favor of other cities in the region like Dallas or Kansas City. But OKC has a rich history, thriving culture, and promising future all its own. Lying on the 1-35 corridor, Oklahoma City is a gateway to Texas and Mexico to the South as well as Kansas City and Wichita to the North. Don’t just pass through OKC — stop and get to know this gem of a city. Here are some tips and things to think about as you plan your move to Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma City Public Schools is the largest school district in Oklahoma. The district encompasses 55 elementary schools, 16 secondary (middle and high) schools, 15 charter schools, and 2 alternative schools. Preparatory schools and magnet schools are options for children attending school in the Oklahoma City Public Schools. For parents who prefer private education, OKC offers a number of choices, including both religious and secular schools. These include the Casady School, Christ the King Catholic School, and Heritage Hall.
Oklahoma City and the greater OKC area is home to a variety of institutions of higher learning, including career colleges, community colleges, and college and universities (both religious and secular). The University of Oklahoma, famous for its football program, is in Norman — just 20 miles from Downtown OKC. Oklahoma State University has a campus in OKC proper, and Oklahoma City University also calls the city home.
Oklahoma City’s unemployment rate is on par with the national average, at 3.7% as of December 2018. That’s lower than the overall rate for Oklahoma as a whole, which was 4.0% in the same time period. In 2008, Forbes declared OKC a “recession-proof” city, and the economy has continued to grow over the past decade. The city is home to 2 Fortune 500 companies — Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy — and is a major hub of the energy industry in the United States.
The job market in OKC heavily features job in energy, including oil and gas. Major employers, include Chesapeake, Devon, and OG & E Energy. Boeing has operations in OKC, as do Hobby Lobby, Dell, and Coca-Cola. The healthcare sector is also a site of employment for many.
OKC is often thought of as a hotspot of cowboy culture, and you can absolutely find your share of it in the city. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is a must-see, and you can take in a rodeo, live country music, and go boot-scooting any time. But OKC is more than just a Western culture destination. It’s got a vibrant cultural scene and ever-expanding options for entertainment.
The Bricktown Entertainment District is fast becoming a destination for visitors and residents alike in Oklahoma City. Featuring restaurants, nightclubs, and even family-friendly entertainment, Bricktown is one of the most happening places in OKC. Enjoy a cruise along the canal, check out a concert or a stand-up show, or take the kids to Brickopolis for arcade-style fun. Elsewhere in the city, enjoy a show at any of OKC’s many theaters, or check out the most expensive collection of Chihuly glass art at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. While more somber an attraction, the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is an important piece of the city’s culture, honoring those who died in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building.
Oklahoma City is home to an NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Oklahoma City Dodgers, the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, offer baseball fans a team to root for. You can find soccer (FC Oklahoma City Energy) and rugby (USA Rugby Crusaders) in OKC as well. College football — the Oklahoma University Sooners, in nearby Norman — is where the real sports passion of the city lies, however. Fan enthusiasm for the Sooners rivals — and even surpasses — enthusiasm for professional NFL teams in some cities.
Much like its nightlife scene, OKC’s culinary scene is growing and becoming more diverse every year. Most people think of barbeque and Southern “comfort” food when they think of Oklahoma, and there’s no shortage of good options available in Oklahoma City. Definitely take time to find a good chicken fried steak — it’s the official meal of the state of Oklahoma! (And chicken fried steak comes with cream gravy, never brown!) Be sure to get the fried okra on the side. With the state being a major cattle ranching center, you’re never too far away from a good steak or burger, either. The onion burger, in particular, is an OKC staple.
Alongside all that down-home cookin’ and cowboy fare, however, you’ll also find gastropubs, bistros, and various kinds of world cuisines. OKC has a thriving craft brewery scene as well as several wineries. For those who prefer their drinks caffeinated rather than spirited, you can also find excellent locally roasted coffee in the city.
Much like the summers in Oklahoma City, the housing market is hot. Foreclosures, unfortunately, seem to be driving the number of houses available on the market — making OKC very much a buyer’s market. Housing prices rose nearly 3% in 2018 and are expected to continue to do so. You can also get a lot of house for your money in OKC. Unlike many metropolitan areas, moving outside of the city proper won’t necessarily save you money or get you more living space; both home prices and rents within OKC are comparable to those in the greater metro area. The average price per square foot for a home in Oklahoma City is $108. The median home listing price is $189,000, but houses typically sell for much less than listing — the median price paid for a home in OKC proper is $129,000.
If you prefer to rent, you’ll be paying less rent than residents of comparable cities. The median rent price is $995 in OKC proper and a $1099 in the greater metro area.
While public transportation in OKC has improved over the last decade, it is still very much a car culture city. Be prepared to spend lots of time in your car. Downtown and its immediate surrounding are somewhat walkable, but the further out you live, the more you’ll need to drive.
The city has two airports and an Amtrak station for those traveling longer distances, but within the city transit options are still somewhat sparse. There is no light rail or commuter service. The city does have bus service, but due to a combination of both OKC’s geographic sprawl and the city’s spoke-and-wheel public transit design (which makes everything run through downtown), many bus journeys are simply impractical due to commute time and number of bus changes. The city did receive a large grant to fund the Oklahoma City Streetcar system in downtown.
Uber, Lyft, and taxis are all available in Oklahoma City. Like many Western US cities, you cannot hail a cab on the street in Oklahoma City. You will need to call a cab or set up service through an app or website.
Oklahoma City’s weather is remarkably temperate most of the time but prone to extremes, much like other cities in the region. The climate is considered humid subtropical. There are 4 distinct seasons, and spring and early summer tend to feature the most volatile weather. The average rainfall is about 32 inches. Oklahoma City is in the heart of Tornado Alley, and severe and devastating storms are not uncommon.
Winter: Winters in OKC are mild. The average temperature in winter hovers right around 45 degrees. Snow is relatively uncommon — the average snowfall is 9 inches per year. The city can easily come to a halt if more snow and ice fall. Temperatures do fall below freezing frequently during the winter months but tend to rise back above that mark during the day. Winter is dry and runs from December to March.
Spring: Spring is when the weather gets interesting in OKC. Running roughly from March to early June, spring is thunderstorm and tornado season in Oklahoma City. Springs are wet and often feature severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes. The average spring temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, but it is not uncommon for the year’s first 100-degree day to fall in early May.
Summer: Summers in Oklahoma City are hot. They are relatively humid as well, though after mid-June summer is drier and there are far fewer thunderstorms and tornadoes than during the spring months. Summer runs from mid-June to early September. Temperatures range from the 80s to over 100 degrees, and it is not uncommon for there to be heatwaves of several 100-degree days in a row.
Autumn: Autumn, running from September to late November or early December, is mild and can be wet in Oklahoma City. Temperatures cool quickly and tend to stay in the 80s for the most part. The last 90 degree day occurs in mid- or late September, with the first hard freeze coming in late November.
Though it’s often overshadowed by other cities in the Southwest, Oklahoma City has a lot to offer! As you prepare to make the jewel of the southern Plains your home, know that Simply Self Storage is here for all your storage and moving needs!
Ronald Trainer says
OKC is one of our favorite cities. Besides being a fan of pecan pie, one of my favorite restaurants near our training location there is Nonesuch. On our way east to Little Rock, we’ve also enjoyed a visit to Robber’s Cave.