Dominated by the Ouachita Mountains, while the extreme east-central regions feature the mountains of the Arkansas River Valley. Lying within the drainage basin of the Mississippi River, Oklahoma has two main rivers in the state – the Arkansas River and the Red River.
Oklahoma is ranked around 28th in population density and 20th in land mass. In simple terms, it means that there is lots of space in the state for new settlers to move in. If you are one of these people looking to plant roots in the state, then you have come to the right link. In this guide, we aim to give you all the important information you need to know about your possible new home if you are planning on moving to Oklahoma.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Oklahoma?
Often known as the Sooner State, the nickname Oklahoma gets has a rather peculiarly interesting backstory. The first people to move into the state did so before, or sooner than the official start of the Land Rush, to grab the best land. Later years would see the University of Oklahoma’s football team take “Sooners” as its nickname, further cementing the name.
The state built most of its economy in the oil industry. In fact, the state’s Capitol Building is built directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field. Plus BBQ is amazing here in Oklahoma. If you love BBQs you will love it here. The state is extremely diverse and has a large population of native americans.
There is never any rush hour traffic and barely any crowds in the state, so commutes are relaxing and short. The schools are ranked one of the lowest in the country, but the housing and living is affordable, although at the cost of suffering harsh summers and winters.
Crime Rate In Oklahoma
Unfortunately, Oklahoma is one of the states with higher crime rates. As per SafeWise, the state’s violent crime rate is the 14th highest in the country and the property crime rate is the 6th highest.
The violent crime rate in the city is 4.3 incidents per 1,000 people, which is a dip from the previous year’s 4.7. This means that you have a 1 in 232 chance of being a victim of violent crime in the state. The property crime rate in the state is 28.5 incidents per 1000 people, meaning there is a 1 in 35 for you to be a victim of property crime.
On the bright side, in the West South Central region, Oklahoma has the second lowest violent and property crime rate in the country.
The eastern regions of the state enjoy a humid subtropical climate, with hot humid summers and the winters ranging from mild to cold. To add to that, western regions of the state suffer a semi-arid climate with extreme temperatures.
The season of spring comes marching in during March, with the sign of winter thawing out by the end of the month. The season continues all through to May with temperatures ranging from 59°F in the early days to 80°F towards the end. As the season moves through the months, the rainfall also increases with May being the wettest month of the season. The month of May is also the start of tornado season, and the state witnesses at least a dozen or more twisters as the season gets closer to its end.
June brings with it a lot of sunshine and long days. The temperatures from the start of the season to the end in August range from 84°F to 96°F with some days reaching a peak of 100°F or more. The month of June also sees quite a few wet days, some storms and tornadoes. Now that shouldn’t be surprising considering that the state lies in the center of Tornado Alley.
At the start of the season with the cooler days, many outdoor opportunities for recreation like swimming, boating, canoeing and kayaking become available. The water park industry also sees a boom as people look for more ways to beat the heat. But in the later days and months, the temperatures become unbearable with morning and evening being the best times for activities. In the mountainous regions, which are much cooler, hiking and trailing are some fun activities to do.
The beautiful season of Fall begins in September and idly dies down by the end of November.
Temperatures drop through the season with highs like 83°F at the start and lows at around 59°F towards the end of the season.
The leaves start to change colour in mid september and signal the start to the festival season and pumpkin patches. Fall in Oklahoma is relatively pleasant with gentle breezes at the start and windy days that demand you wear a jacket in the later days. It also makes for the best scenic drives and road trips through the prairie lands.
The season comes to an end in November and signals the arrival of winter with the temperatures dropping every day and the ground slowly being taken over by frost.
December signals the start to the land freezing over. The temperatures vary, with the season starting off with mild temperatures as high as 46°F and see the temperatures drop as low as 19°F and 21°F in January and February.
Be careful when driving on the roads as they tend to be icy and slippery with any slight drizzle freezing over the roads. The season is not all bad, giving residents a reason to cozy up in the warmth of their homes. Cabin in the wilderness are a romantic getaway with the welcoming warmth of their fireplaces.
The state park opens up numerous activities in the season and you can also take to hiking and biking the wilderness trails. In the season’s final month of February, the temperature rises as spring draws near, driving the frost away.
Is It Expensive To Live In Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is among the top 5 cheapest states to live in the U.S. The median household income in Oklahoma is approximately $52,919, which is lower than the national average that stands at about $66,039.
Something else to consider when looking at how expensive a state is – the tax rate. The state sales tax rate in Oklahoma is 4.50% and the average local sales tax rate here is 4.45%. This brings the average combined sales tax rate in the state to 8.95%. To add to that, Oklahoma’s property tax is 0.87% which is relatively low.
Also Read: 7 States With Lowest Taxes
Cost Of Living In Oklahoma
According to salary.com, the cost of living in the state is 6.9%, lower than the average cost of living nationwide.
To understand this better, we will look at the cost of living index for Oklahoma compared to the national average. Do keep in mind that the national average is always set at 100. Overall, Oklahoma has a cost of living index of 86.8. Well below the national average of 100. Here’s the breakdown:
- Grocery: 94.1
- Housing: 70.1
- Utility: 95.8
- Transportation: 91.3
As per Value Penguin, the cost for healthcare in the state of Oklahoma has reduced by 8% from the previous year and costs an average of $539 a month.
A family of three, assuming two adults of age 40 and a child, will have to pay, on average, roughly $1,631 a month in healthcare. But what if they had two children? Then the average cost of healthcare would be $2,006 a month.
Buying A House
As per the cost of living index we mentioned above, housing is relatively cheap compared to the national average. Zillow estimates that the median home value of a house in Oklahoma is approximately $146,179 making houses in Oklahoma more affordable than most of the other states in the country. But you should know that this is a 8.5% increase in the value over the last year.
See Also: The Affordable States to Live in
Renting A House
Many of you will not be looking to purchase a new home right away and would prefer to rent a home. HomeSnacks estimates that the average rent in the state is approximately $1,000 a month for an apartment of 1,237 sq ft.
A one bedroom apartment will lighten your bank account by $715 on a monthly basis, and a two bedroom will do the same at $800 a month. A three bedroom apartment will cost you an estimated $1,095 a month in rent and interestingly enough, a studio apartment might just be more expensive and could cost you $950 a month in rent.
Utility bills are important to consider when you look at the cost of living in a state. The average cost of living in Oklahoma is approximately $348.72. If we were to break that down, then your average bill for electricity would be $113.93 a month. Water and gas would each cost you $70.93 and $55.83 respectively. The rest of the cost would cover other things like the internet and other miscellaneous things. This average of $348.72 is lower than the national average cost of utilities which is $370.16
Oklahoma Employment Opportunities
While the economy of Oklahoma is pretty diverse, it was not always the case. At one time, the state depended on agriculture as one of the main sources of economic income, and this ended up being less than optimal. But in recent years, the officials have managed to get a more balanced economy by focusing on more beneficial industries.
Some of the major industries in the state are Aviation, IT, energy, biotechnology and healthcare, so if you ever get a job lined up in this field in the state, grab it. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that these industries have their hubs in the major cities of the state, but they have a much smaller presence, if any, in the smaller towns and cities.
Oklahoma also loves startups and there are a ton for you to choose your pick. There are also plenty of startup events and incubators hosted in the cities, along with co-working spaces in case you wish to carve a new career path for yourself. Do note that the unemployment rate in the state is 4.2% which is a dip from the 5.2% in October of last year. The minimum wage in the state is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The state of Oklahoma is not the best when it comes to education, ranking around 40th in the entire nation. Oklahoma has the 21st largest school system in the U.S with only 31% of its students achieving math proficiency and only 35% achieving reading proficiency. The high schools have an estimated dropout rate of 2.4%.
The average tuition for private schools in the state is roughly $6,361 per year. Similarly, for a private elementary school, the tuition fee is approximately $5,177 a year on an average, and $7,605 for private highschool tuition.
If you are looking to go to college in Oklahoma, the average tuition fees for an in-state student is $4,618, while a student from out of the state pays around $12,113. This is lower than the national average tuition fees for in-state and out-of-state students, which are $6,540 and $17,871 respectively.
Getting Around Oklahoma
Oklahoma is not really known for its public transit system. They have very few buses and trains and if you are lucky to live in a city with this service, then the system works great.
There are 5 bus companies that operate within the state, but not all the cities in the state have a bus service. The services operated by Jefferson Lines and Wanda Coach run specific services between a couple cities in the state as well as general routes connecting Oklahoma to cities outside the state.
The other three bus companies, Tornado Bus, El Expreso Bus and Amtrak Thruway do not operate specific routes between cities within the state, but they do run services that connect Oklahoma to cities outside the state.
On the major routes, the average price of a ticket is $108 with the cheapest ticket being available at $18, while the most expensive ticket is $200.
Oklahoma city has only one passenger train service that operates in the city. Operated by Amtrak, the service runs a 206-mile route between Fort Worth in Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In the state, this daily service stops at the stations of Ardmore, Norman, Oklahoma City, Pauls Valley and Purcel. The journey on this train can cost an average of $83, with the cheapest ticket available being for $6 and the most expensive ticket being $282.00.
The state of Oklahoma is home to only 4 commercial passenger airports and of these, Tulsa International Airport is the only international airport in the state. The remaining airports are Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Lawton–Fort Sill Regional Airport in Lawton, and Stillwater Regional Airport in Stillwater. Most of the air traffic in the state is handled by either the Will Rogers World Airport or the Tulsa International Airport.
Taxi And Cab Travel
Taxis are plentiful in the major cities in the state, but in the smaller towns, they are a bit more scarce. If Uber and Lyft are available in your city, then you can avail their services at any time, day or night. Your basic cab fee is around $2.75 with each kilometer being charged at $1.25 and $30 is charged every hour for standing and waiting time.
Oklahoma has 935 miles of interstates within its borders. Being a city that is centrally located, quite a few interstate highways pass through the state. The state has 8 major interstate highways that form a network of freeways.
If you drive a car, it is by far the most efficient way to travel as the state lacks public transport everywhere apart from the major cities. The vast number of freeways make it easier to travel in Oklahoma than many of the other states in the country. And the lack of traffic compared to other states is also a blessing.
An average, one way commute in the city takes approximately 22 minutes which is shorter than the national average of 26 minutes. About 82.5 residents in the state drive their car to work and only less than 1% take the public transit system.
Also See: Moving To Oklahoma City
Best Cities To Live In Oklahoma
There are many cities and places in the state that may seem appealing to settle down in. Below, in no specific order, we have listed what we believe to be the 3 best cities to live in the state.
One of the fastest growing cities in Oklahoma and arguably one of the top 3 places to live in the state. Bixby houses a relatively small population resulting in a tight knit community. If you ever want to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but also still have access to the amenities that the city has to coffee, then Bixby might be the place for you. It’s quiet here and the neighbourhoods are always within reach of the mega malls and city-like shopping regions.
This homely atmosphere is not all that the city offers. Being relatively close to Lake Bixhoma opens up avenues for numerous recreational opportunities like hiking, picnicking and fishing, just to name a few. It has one of the best schools in the state, making it perfect for you to settle with your children. The housing market may be expensive, but the city also enjoys one of the higher median household incomes in the state.
- Population: 29,098
- Median home value: $238,470
- Average market rent: $1,240
Let’s keep this one short and to the point. The city has great neighbourhoods with an aesthetic feel to it. Edmond loves art and good entertainment. It is home to championship golf courses and lush green outdoors around Arcadia Lake, which is a great place for fishing. The city also has one of the best, if not the best school districts in the state.
Half the population have college degrees, a quarter of the population boast a masters degree and the highschool dropout rate in Edmond is the third lowest in the state. With great schools, employment opportunities, recreational activities and being one of the safest cities to live in Oklahoma, it is no surprise that many families are happy to call this place their home.
- Population: 96,376
- Median home value: $264,654
- Average market rent: $725
Don’t let the name fool you. The town is far from broken, else it wouldn’t be on our list, would it?
Are you an avid angler? Well we got some good news for you – Broken Arrow is home to a humongous 110,000 square-foot Bass Pro Shop. If you are a person who loves to spend time out enjoying the city activities, then Broken Arrow is the place for you. The 4th largest city in the state, Broken Arrow has a variety of shopping centers and arts centers. If you prefer hanging out with nature, then you can visit the Ray Harral Nature Park.
But do not let that fool you, this city loves to give its residents a small town vibe, with the joys of big city living. The scenic landscape, outdoor activities, 46 public schools to choose from and affordable living, make this city perfect for families to settle down. If you ever want a little more excitement in your life, the larger city of Tulsa is but a short ride away.
- Population: 112,458
- Median home value: $202,983
- Average market rent: $943
Is Oklahoma A Good Place To Live?
Oklahoma is a very affordable state with reasonable housing. It’s a great place for you to settle and has good job opportunities in the city. They also have amazing BBQ, good food and a very diverse and friendly community. If these check your boxes, then yes, Oklahoma is a good place for you to settle down.
But if there’s more to your checklist, like good weather, great schools, and a good public transit system, then maybe Oklahoma is not the best place for you to look. On top of that, the state has the minimum wage of $7.25 which is lower than some of the other states in the region.
All in all, if you land a good job or some other opportunity that gives you a reason to move here, then do look to settle in and around the larger cities and suburbs, as they provide you with a better way of life, community and schools compared to the rest of the state.