Wisconsin mom in need of info (Houston, Dallas: middle-class, real estate, rental)
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
I could really use some much needed information. My husband is tossing around a hard to resist transfer and i am trying to learn as much as i can about Mcallen and Mission. We have two children, which are 10 and 13 years old. I could really use some help on some good schools and a nice area to live. I have seen many negative comments, and yes that has scared me, but i also have to have an open mind about the situation. Please help fellow transfers and people who have been there awhile. Thanks
yikes. um, i wouldnt do it. "hard to resist" transfer huh?
yeah i had a "hard to resist" job offer here, the money was too much to turn down....and then when i got here, i realized why.
nothing in life is free. there aint no such thang as a free ticket. there is a price to pay for everything.
there is big money to be made in several sectors in South Texas..there is a REASON. think about it. why would they pay THAT much for certain professions, much more than, lets say, i would make in Dallas, but the cost of living so low?
all i can say is you BEST insist on a visit. and i mean a REAL visit, not just two nites. go to the grocery stores, walk through the aisles at walmart, eat at the local restaurants, talk to people...get a GOOD feel for what life is like there, before you decide to move there.
Belle's suggestion of making at least one (if not several) long and intensively researched visit before moving is an excellent one, and I heartily endorse it. That is just what we did not do before moving to the Rio Grande Valley in 1981, and I regretted it for 18 years. We learned from our mistakes and researched the next move much more thoroughly, with the result that we've been a whole heckuva lot happier for the past 8 years than we were for the preceeding 18.
Specifics to look at while you're there definitely include visits to the local retailers and a meal or two at local restaurants, as Belle suggests. I'd add some other things to that list: go through the radio dial to see if you can find any of the music you enjoy listening to. Contact the Madison Civic Center to see what their concert and performance line-up for this year includes. Tour the local libraries, and look at the copyright dates of a good sampling of books (both fiction and reference). Whatever you enjoy doing for fun and relaxation, check into what the RGV offers to see if it meets your preferences. If you like to go to movies, malls and golf courses, you may well find the region very much to your liking.
If you are a church-goer, seek out at least one of the many churches in the area that would suit your beliefs and go to a service or two. You are likely to find a very welcoming community there, one that will help you connect quickly to the region. If you are not a devout person, or if your spirituality is expressed in non-traditional ways, you are likely to find it difficult to find like-minded individuals.
Since you mention your kids, I'll add some more suggestions. We moved from the RGV to Wisconsin when ours were 14 and 16, and even though it was a home-coming for the spouse and me, it was a big scary thing for them, because all they knew was Texas. (They've forgiven us since then, by the way.) Things to do for your kids include going online to look at school district websites and specific schools within those districts, contacting the school ahead of your visit to arrange a time when your kids could tour the school, meet some of the teachers and some of the kids, and check out the activities available. Check out things like the South Texas Youth Soccer League, which was extremely active when we lived there, and other youth activities. Sports are extremely big in Texas, and if your kids enjoy sports in school, they'll find a ready welcome there. Sports-related things like band and cheerleading are very popular, too. However, it's important to prepare your kids for the reality that things in South Texas are going to be really, really different, and it's not going to be easy for anyone in the family to get used to the change, but that it's going to be ok anyway, even if you wonder about that yourself.
Go online to the local newspapers (I don't know how to make a hot link in a post, but you can google them: McAllen Monitor, Valley Morning Star and Brownsville Herald) and start reading the local news stories to get a feel for the region, the people, the local issues, and the politics. The classifieds are very likely also online, and take the time to research rental costs and real estate prices, as well as job opportunities.
And speaking of job opportunities, you don't mention your own profession. Do you work outside the home as well? If so, you will want to do very careful research on your own job prospects, because while there are some professions that are in high demand in the RGV, there are a lot of others that are not. When we lived there, unemployment in Hidalgo County ranged between 10% and 18%. I've heard since then, it's down to "only" 6% or 7%, but if you're in that 6 or 7 percent, it's 100% to you. Also, if you usually work in an area that requires you to deal with the public, you will need to become at least semi-fluent in the local dialect of Spanish in order to get any kind of a similar job in the RGV.
As far as where to live is concerned, if I were in a position where I had to go back, I'd probably look at living in Mission or Sharyland (which isn't a city, it's a school district within the city of Mission) rather than in McAllen. Mission is a neighboring community, so you'd be close to McAllen, if that's where your husband works, but it's just got more soul than McAllen. Schools are pretty good (for the Valley) in both Mission and Sharyland. Depending on which side of Mission you start from and which side of McAllen is your destination, the commute time would be anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes.
Good luck to you and your family, Midwest Mom. I feel for you, and I wish you well. I do want to stress that there are a whole lot of people who really love living in the Rio Grande Valley, and many, many midwesterners have successfully and happily transplanted there. A lot depends on how you go into it, how well you prepare, and how flexible you are able to be. Keep us posted on how things go, and best wishes.
midwesternbookworm gave EXCELLENT suggestions. esp the one about reading the online newspapers to get a feel for the area and what goes on there on a daily basis. read them daily, as if you were a resident of the community. see if you can visualize yourself as part of that community, would you feel "at home"? had i just done that ONE thing, i would have quickly seen, that i would have had NO chance in hayull of assimilating and acclimating myself down here to this area!
I only moved from Houston to Shreveport, LA and thought I went to a different world--I know that even though I grew up in TX, moving to RGV would be something that I could not adjust to...
one thing that really bothered us the few times when we went that way for vacation or business was just the poverty you see--on either side of the border---it is very difficult not to feel guilty -- so we stopped going and we don't go to places like Playa del Carmen on vacation either--prices and people are great, hotels are wonderful, but if you walk outside Disneyworld and see how the real world is there--you can understand why so many Mexicans (and other Hispanics) want to come here...
MidwesternBookworm hit the nail on the head--
I think the biggest impact is going to be on your children. They'll be in middle school, which is a tough age no matter where you live but especially so when they're the overwhelming minority.
We moved to the RGV when my son was 6 and I figured he would get used to it. He never did. He did OK in elementary school but when he got to middle school, he suffered verbal and physical racial attacks. The poor kid's self-esteem suffered SO much and he felt like he was in a no-win situation. I put him in Tae kwondo and sports hoping it would help, but it didn't. He was still "the huero" and beaten up. I told him to defend himself but the principals told him that if he did, he would be punished along with the perpetrators. They also told him he just had to "take it" and understand that the underprivileged kids who beat him didn't know any better and were raised differently. It was horrible. If I could have afforded private schools -- and if the private schools had special ed. for his ADHD -- it might have been better.
So, consider your kids foremost. Adults like us can adapt but it's much harder on the children. I would advise doing the move ONLY if you can afford private schools for your children and you're happy with the private schools available in the area. Nothing hurts worse than seeing one's children suffering.
What part of Wisconsin? My mom is from there (Pewaukee area) and moved down to Brownsville in the late 70s. It was a shock for her, but the region was not as developed as it is now. She remembers driving on the beach with her dogs and seeing no one in sight.
Good luck with your move. There are lots of people from the North who now live down here permanently, but mostly it's because of the weather and cheap cost of living. if possible, see if you can live in Harlingen, McAllen, Weslaco or Pharr. I would say stay away from Brownsville unless you want the ultimate culture shock.
The counties along the Mexico border are some of the poorest in the state. As someone previously stated, if the pay or opportunity is almost too good to pass up there's a trade-off somewhere. From what I understand, there's not much of a middle-class down there. There are wealthy people and poor people - and not a lot in-between. It'll definitely be culture shock and your kids, if they're not hispanic, will be a tiny minority.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.