Oklahoma City is famous for a variety of reasons. It is home to one of the world’s largest livestock markets, has significant petroleum and natural gas reserves, and sits on one of the most significant highway corridors in the United States.
It is also remembered for the attack that happened on April 19, 1995, when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. The incident would kill 168 people including 19 children.
Oklahoma City was settled in 1889 when the Land Run offered property to over 10,000 homesteaders. The town quickly grew, with the population doubling in size between 1890-1900. By the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907, it had surpassed the territorial capital of Guthrie in size, prompting a move in statehood. It would also be a significant stop on the old Route 66.
If you’re thinking about making a move shortly, then these are the pros and cons of living in Oklahoma City that you will want to review.
List of the Pros of Living in Oklahoma City
1. The cost of living is very low when living in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City often ranks as one of the best places to live in the United States because of its overall low cost of living. It also ranks as one of the best places for businesses in the country, with overhead costs remaining lower than the national average. This advantage is so strong that the city sometimes ranks as the best place for a living and working. If you want your savings to stretch further, then living here can be one of the best decisions that you make.
Oklahoma City has a cost-of-living score of 91.5 on a scale of 100. That means you can earn $47,000 per year when living here and enjoy the same lifestyle that it would take $60,000 per year to have over in Atlanta.
2. Earnings growth has been rapid in Oklahoma City.
Since the recovery from the recession years began in 2010, few states have had as much success as Oklahoma for earnings growth. This advantage applies directly to Oklahoma City, where the jobs market has remained consistently strong. Part of the reason for this benefit is the presence of Tinker Air Force Base, with over 30,000 active-duty personnel, civilians, and reservists contributing to the local economy.
The presence of the military supports over 32,000 secondary jobs in Oklahoma City. There are also several significant employers in the area, including Hobby Lobby, Mercy Health, Devon Energy, and AT&T. This benefit is also reflected in the 3.3% unemployment rate.
3. You will find warm and welcoming people in the state.
Oklahoma City often ranks in the top 10 as one of the friendliest cities in the United States. Part of the reason why there’s such a high level of happiness here is that there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can embrace the city life, enjoy the privacy of rural living, attend a fantastic school, or explore an art district. The downtown area is walkable, with lots of great shops and restaurants to enjoy. There are botanical gardens, conservatories, and even professional sports in the city thanks to the presence of the NBA’s Thunder.
4. The housing market in Oklahoma City is exceptionally affordable.
Housing is one of the primary reasons why the cost of living in Oklahoma City is such an inviting benefit. The median house price in the city in 2018 was only $148,000. That’s compared to the national average in the United States of $240,000. That’s a significant difference, which means there is a big to consider for potential home buyers. It’s one of the most affordable median home prices in the country for a city of its size.
5. You’ll earn a decent wage when living in Oklahoma City.
The median household income in Oklahoma City in 2017 was just over $56,000 per year. Although it is a little less than what the national average tends to be, you will find that the lower cost of living allows you to live better without actually spending more cash to do so. If you’re looking for a way to build some equity and improve your net worth, moving to this state could be beneficial in several ways.
Some of the best jobs in Oklahoma City pay well over $100,000 per year. Many of those jobs are in technical professions, but there are also a lot of opportunities in natural gas, oil, energy, and aviation.
6. Oklahoma City provides access to an excellent educational infrastructure.
If you want to move your family to Oklahoma City, then there is good news on the educational front. There are more than 120 primary and secondary schools in the city for you to consider. Most of them have high ratings, so you have more choices available when scouting homes and neighborhoods. If you want your kids to have only the best, then the districts you will want to consider in the area include Bethany, Piedmont, Robin Hill, and Oakdale.
Your family will not need to travel out of state after high school to continue their education thanks to institutions like the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University, and the local community college.
7. Traveling around the region is very simple.
It doesn’t matter where you decide to live in the Oklahoma City metro area. Your home is going to be about 20 minutes away from the downtown area, even when you are dealing with rush-hour. Your commute will be about five minutes quicker when living here compared to other cities of the same size across the country. You also have the option to live in the downtown area so that you are within walking distance of all of your favorite parks and restaurants.
When you add in the entertainment options that are possible when living in Oklahoma City, the only reason for you to be bored is that you’re inflicting the result on yourself.
8. Several cultural opportunities are available to explore in Oklahoma City.
You will discover that there are plenty of things to do in Oklahoma City no matter what your preferences are. If you stop at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, you can see almost 30,000 artifacts and art pieces. You could visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, watch the Dodgers play minor league baseball at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, or spend a leisurely day at the Museum of Art.
9. You get to experience all four seasons when living in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City is one of those places that experiences all four seasons each year. Even though it is further south than a majority of the country, you are still going to see hot summers and cold winters during the average year. The city also receives about 36 inches of rain, but that’s actually less than the national average. In total, you can expect about 230 days of sunshine when you start living here. Highs tend to peak in the 80s during the summer with a little humidity, while the winter will bring days when then temperatures never rise above freezing.
10. Oklahoma City is an excellent spot for veterans during their retirement.
Oklahoma City maintains a positive relationship with the Armed Forces because of the economic benefits that come from stationed personnel. The robust military ties make the Sooner State a top 10 location for veterans who are ready to retire. There is plenty of healthcare access in the city and surrounding region, and anyone living on benefits or Social Security will have their funds stretch further because of the lower cost of living.
You’ll find all of the support groups present, from the VA to the VFW, so you can carve out the best life possible during your time in the city.
11. It offers a surprisingly diverse culture.
Many people outside of the state see Oklahoma City as a monoculture. Although a majority of the population does come from European descent, 45% of the people under the age of 19 belong to a racial or ethnic minority. One of the reasons for this advantage is the desirability of the educational institutions in the region because it pulls students from all over the world. It might be a place that typically votes Republican, but you’ll find that the overall atmosphere tends to be more moderate.
List of the Cons of Living in Oklahoma City
1. The weather in Oklahoma City can be very destructive.
If you decide to start living in Oklahoma City, then you are going to be living in the heart of Tornado Alley. Although the risk of experiencing a destructive event is minimal, you will need to remember to listen for weather alerts when storms begin to build. You can see the thunderheads developing in real-time, especially during the months of April and May, so severe weather isn’t a complete surprise.
You can also expect to receive the occasional snowstorm, hail, or sleet during the winter months. Storms sometimes blow through that cover everything in ice. Oklahoma City can be a pretty place to live in the aftermath of some of these events, do you want to make sure your insurance policies are always up-to-date.
2. Oklahoma City is right in the middle of a prairie state.
If you are someone who enjoys outdoor activities, then Oklahoma City is going to provide a variety of options to consider. What do you won’t find here are mountains or beaches because this landlocked state is right in the heart of the American prairie. There are plenty of rolling plains for you to enjoy when living here, but there isn’t a lot of variety in what you can expect from the landscape.
3. It’s the biggest small town in the world.
Oklahoma City serves as the capital and largest city in the state of Oklahoma. It’s also one of only two state capitals that include the name of the state and its name. The city is growing like crazy because of its job market and affordability, but there is still a feeling that you’re living in a small town when you are here. There aren’t any other large cities nearby, so that means your option for a holiday is to head to Amarillo, go north into more ranchland, or visit some of the small towns in the region.
Although finding an out-of-the-way diner that serves the best catfish in the world isn’t a bad way to relax, you’ll discover that the variety of amenities can be lacking in some areas.
4. Cultural independence can also lead to isolation.
You will find a lot of pride in the culture of Oklahoma City. It is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the country. You may also agree with some former residence that the local culture is almost determined to remain ignorant in some ways of life. Everything tends to end up being with an approach that feels like things that are okay are just good enough.
Oklahoma is a state with a long history of tragedies, including the Oklahoma City bombing. There are still folks here who seem to be stuck in their grief and anger. That means you can find pockets where alcohol, drugs, and suicide are significant issues that the next generation is facing right now.
5. You may encounter high levels of fundamentalism in Oklahoma City.
Everyone has the right to believe what they want from a religious or spiritual stance. Christianity is by far the most popular practice that churches follow here, and fundamentalism tends to be the most popular medium used to embrace faith. Consistent findings from Pew Research showed that the area is one of only three where over 50% of the population identifies in this category. Tennessee and Arkansas are the other two.
If you don’t believe in corporal punishment or the death penalty, then your definition of justice might be at odds with some of your neighbors. That can lead to some uncomfortable experiences over time.
6. Infrastructure funding can be somewhat lacking.
Oklahoma City, and the state at large, has some budget struggles that continue to remain unresolved. The solution that typically comes through the City Council or the legislature is to raise taxes to cover the shortfall. That means many infrastructure problems are underfunded and not repaired on time, including bridges and roadways. It is not unusual to encounter holes and bumps in the road that could potentially damage your vehicle. Even when funding is available, roadway maintenance tends to be at the bottom of the list of priorities. The state sales tax is only 4%, but the city tax in Oklahoma City doubles the amount.
7. It is difficult to retain the best teachers in Oklahoma City.
Teachers in Oklahoma City and the rest of the state are significantly underpaid when compared to the figures that you see across the country. It is not unusual for educators to take positions in Texas because they pay better. Even though many of the schools have high ratings, the state spends less money per student than the national average.
When there is an emphasis to mix religion with politics instead of paying for needed items, then the shortfalls could be bothersome. If you enjoy that perspective, then this won’t be a disadvantage at all. The church communities are close, friendly, and welcoming.
8. Cultural diversity is not the same as political diversity.
There are high levels of cultural and ethnic diversity in Oklahoma City, but there isn’t much to consider when you discuss religion or politics. If you are not a Christian or a Republican, then you will find yourself in the minority in most neighborhoods here. That makes the city feel unbalanced to a certain extent. If you have strong opinions that run counter to the local culture, you might find that many are unaccepting of who you are despite the embrace of Midwestern politeness and Southern charm.
9. Food is taxed throughout the state.
When you purchase food in Oklahoma City, then you are going to pay a tax on it. Efforts in recent years have been made to repeal this approach by raising the state sales tax by a single percentage point, but it has fallen short so far. Food, drink, and grocery items are taxed at the full state and local rates, which means it could be as high as 10% per transaction. That charge works to offset some of the cost of living benefits that make this location an inviting place to live.
If you move to Oklahoma City from one of the coastal states, then the lack of religious diversity could be problematic for some households. Even if you are Jewish, there are only two synagogues for you to choose from in the region. Other faith preferences may find a complete lack of infrastructure or community available.
You’ll find that most conversations here start with either sports or religion. If that doesn’t seem interesting to you, then smile and keep moving. It can be tough to make friends with local families if those aren’t in your set of priorities.
When reviewing the pros and cons of living in Oklahoma City, it is essential to balance the low cost of living with the expectations of the culture. It can be a fun and affordable place to live, but it isn’t the right community for everyone.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.