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Old 04-29-2011, 07:38 AM
1,515 posts, read 2,103,625 times
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Well my husband and I finally decided to buy 4 tickets and fly to Texas with the kids, and check things out over our spring break. We spent 4 lovely days on job interviews, scouting real estate with a realtor friend, and generally putting many miles on our car driving around at all times during the day---rush hour, off times, etc. I must say that I'm very impressed with how friendly people are, how clean everything looks, and it was pretty darned easy getting around (compared to NJ), even during rush hour. What you can get for your money in terms of real estate almost makes me cry. We looked at quite a few houses on our visit and I must say that it was eye opening. I thought that we had a nice house here. Some of the properties we saw were so much nicer than ours. Even though your property taxes can be a bit steep when looking at the listings, none of them were as high as what we pay right ($13,000 on a $296k house we bought 12 years ago). What we pay in NJ and NY taxes is fairly hefty as well. Hubby pays around $600/month in commuting costs--train, subway, parking, cab fare.

Right now we are weighing a job offer and trying to do a comparison on cost of living. I've visited a few websites and will sit down to do some calculations over the weekend. Granted, he is taking a bit of a pay cut compared to what he is making in NYC but we are looking for a bit better quality of life and not having a two hour commute (one way) into work. We do live rather modestly in NJ and aren't used to extravagent luxeries. In Texas, we would be looking for a $250-400k house most likely. But we will be renting for a bit before making any purchase. We also need to sell our current house which may be a bit challenging in this market slump.

A few negatives that I've read about for Texas in terms of cost are the high property taxes, high insurance rates, high utility rates (during the summer months), etc. I'm looking for a bit of comparison and especially from some of you East Coast folks who have relocated to Texas. Do you find Texas to be more affordable to what you payed on the East Coast? I see there are a few NJ folks on these boards and would really interested to hear your opinion. Frankly, I didn't see too many drawbacks to Dallas. It was a bit more crowded that what I expected and lots of lot of concrete---everywhere. But where we live in NJ isn't the most beautiful area either and so, so conjested. I found driving in Dallas much less of a hassle quite frankly. So for those who have made the move, any regrets? Or things that really suprised you?

This is not a "I hate NJ" thread since I know that can get rather heated on these forums. There are things that I will miss about NJ, especially leaving friends and our familar routine. I'm just looking for some positive feedback since we are in the process of weighing everything very carefully. I've been a long time reader of these boards and have found many of the posts extremely insightful. Actually, I was rather prepared during our recent Dallas trip and had some working familarity with the various areas. Thank you!!
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Old 04-29-2011, 08:51 AM
Location: Simmering in DFW
6,952 posts, read 21,561,967 times
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Originally from NY/NJ, I've been here a long time but last move was from Haddonfield area outside of Philadelphia. Things I miss about NJ is better public transportation, being able to go to the shore or into the city for a show or good museum. Also, used to go down to Washington DC at least once a year, and somehow that just gave me a good connection to my "inner patriot." Miss all that a lot. When my children grew up they were able to afford nice homes here in the DFW area and able to afford having mom stay home with kids on a modest income. That was nice. As friendly as Texans are, whenever I have lived on the east coast or even the west coast, somehow the neighbors were more of a part of my life. I do think people are generally more approachable here but relationships are more shallow here and I have always found I made friendships thru personal networks and memberships, never within my neighborhoods in the DFW area. That was even the case when I was raising kids here.
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Old 04-29-2011, 09:35 AM
34,049 posts, read 54,052,702 times
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couple of points

around here work commute and schools are two big factors in home choice
depending on where your husband's job site will be you can Google map towns in area--and probably add 10-20 min depending on drive time/road conditions/specific locations

school districts don't follow the same boundaries as a town or county--
each district is INDEPENDENT--thus the title ISD--
some towns can have 2-3-4 different districts within their boundries
and some districts can flow into 2-3-4 towns
so just make sure you know the district your neighborhood is in--

school taxes are big part of your tax bill--some districts have higher taxes
Schools are ALWAYS important factor in choosing home even if buyer does not have school age children

our state (for many reasons too complex to go into) confiscates part of the local ISD's tax revenue each one collects--gained from local taxpayers--and redistributes that "excess" money to other districts or one of the TEA regions--based on a formula that TEA and the legislature came up with
The state uses that money to suppliment the revenue it pays per student in each district--
we call that the Robin Hood tax effect--

Our state is cutting funding to schools very drastically for next funding period--some districts will be severely effected (one around Houston area has already cancelled band for next year) and some won't

some are better managed than others and have anticipated this restriction so are in better shape to withstand losing money--some get to keep more of their tax revenue because it is not taken by the state under the Robin Hood rules--it is complicated--

my point is that districts that look OK/good/great now -- might not look the same next year--
classes are going to be more crowded in almost every district--there will be other cost constraints--G/T art/music programs might suffer--some special programs might be cut--even some athletic programs might have to pay the price for reduced budget

some ISDs are trying to have bond elections to gain additional money to bolster their services--
bond revenue can't be confiscated by the state--but bond monies can't be used to pay salaries/personel costs either--and payroll expenses are the biggest part of any district's budget...

I agree that many people here do not make great friends within their neighborhood--because our neighborhoods are shifting with people moving in and out, coming from different backgrounds, and having variety of interests--
but I don't think you find neighborhoods where there is great animosity either if someone from different ethnic group or religion moves in--
Many people here have very busy lives and their networks are often centered around work / church / children
case in point--I know young family who are native to this area--they bought their first house in Bedford even before they married and lived there for about 5 yrs--moved after their first child was 3--they had casual relationships with closest neighbors on their street--
there was gay couple next door-who moved and were replaced with young couple with child--
but they were not good friends with any neighbors--
they moved to Colleyville about year ago now and don't know any of their neighbors really--even though some of them are probably close in age and have children in school-
but that might be because they are from the area and have friends from high school and before --have family in the area--

so it varies--
when we first moved here 20+ yrs ago we did have friends in our neighborhood/area who were usually parents of our children's friends--but as our kids got older and people moved away we did not necessarily replace those friends with parents of our children-

Our state is also more business-friendly than consumer friendly
thus the high utility rates/insurance rates--we also probably have more drivers who don't carry insurance than some other states and we do have some bad weather which can cause big losses for insurance companies--

Last edited by loves2read; 04-29-2011 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 04-29-2011, 10:42 AM
Location: TX
3,041 posts, read 11,315,818 times
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moved from PA/VA:
What we miss echo's squirl's! I miss being close to Mtns and Beach (real beach-lol). a long weekend could take you to either.
FALL...I miss the east coast fall. Nothing compares.
COOL nights, even on hot summer days, it's rare when evening temps don't drop.
REAL spring! here is very short then BOOM right into summer. (however, I will bite my tounge because yesterday and today are BEAUTIFUL!!)
Close to so much HISTORY! and ease of weekend visits to quaint villages, historial homes, DC!!

What we enjoy:
Cost of living!
Less traffic and ease of commute
Excellent choices of good school districts, there are many.
slower pace of life...in DC it seemed like everyone was always in a rush.
Friendly people.
Closer to Colorado.
NO weeks of sholving snow and grey days! (the Pittsburg funk!)

the high RE taxes combined with no state income tax...pretty much made it a wash for us. (NJ taxes were much higher so this will be a positive for you)
HIGH electric bills. It's easy to get caught up in the big beautiful house and open ceilings etc... BUT just remember if you go over 3000sqft and have a pool...your summer electric bill could run as high as 600.00 a month. With temps in the 100 for many days on end (evening temps 90+) there is no respite the AC runs constantly. (we went on the budget plan so ours stay at roughly 240.00 per month) I am frugal with the AC...upstairs is set at 80 during the day.
Gas heat prices are pretty good. But again remember that alot of the houses aren't insulated that well. so check the attic's! When we cold like last year with temps in 20's and below for a week...ALOT of heat just goes out the window!
Pipes freezing....again check the attic insulation, look for houses that do not have pipes running in the exterior walls that face North.
Termites...and Bugs, (never had an exterminator back east...here we have one that comes every 3 mo)
INSURANCE!! both Homeowners and car are higher here. (we were told that Homeowners hike was due to hail damage claims)

So all in all is a great place for us for now with our kids. Good schools afordable housing and low crime and a great commute to work.
It is not perfect and it is not our "for life" place.

laughable moment:
BIG Trucks and SUV's! The sheer number of BIG vehicles still astounds me! It seems that every suburban soccer mom must have an SUV! And every Dad has his pick-up truck!

BIGGEST adjustments:
The summer heat. plan your summer vacation back east for August! last year we had over 18 days(I think) with temps over 100!
FLAT! it is the prarie region!
Trees. (yes Dallas people I know you have trees! But just not the expanse of old growth forested land that the east coast has!)

Good luck!
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Old 04-29-2011, 12:55 PM
Location: North Texas
24,567 posts, read 37,527,288 times
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Originally Posted by 5stones View Post
FLAT! it is the prarie region!
Trees. (yes Dallas people I know you have trees! But just not the expanse of old growth forested land that the east coast has!)

Good luck!
We don't have "old growth forested land" because, as you correctly pointed out, this is prairieland.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:01 PM
Location: TX
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I know... it is one of things that I miss.
It is also one of things that east coasters complain about when they get here. So I just want the OP to know what to expect!
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Old 04-29-2011, 09:51 PM
Location: Flower Mound
32 posts, read 48,630 times
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I am originally from Edison, NJ. We moved here 17 years ago. Absolutely no regrets however it was a huge adjustment for us and that is with me traveling to TX my whole life (I have had family in TX forever). It is HOT HOT HOT here in the summer compared to NJ. I actually feel a chill when I go back to NJ to visit family in the summer. It is unbearably hot and I will never get used to it. Summer is just so long and August is horrible. I miss the fall in the NE...forget the seasons change here. You get used to that though.

Making friends is hard. I agree with Squirl...relationships are much more shallow here but we have found a few close friends here that share our interests. The schools (at least where we live in Flower Mound) are great. Honestly though, I am on the fence and cannot honestly say the education is better here than the NE. That's all I am going to say about that so I don't get bashed because in the end we LOVE Texas and feel our children are sufficiently challenged in school. Given the chance to move back to the NE the answer would be NO.

We MISS the beach terribly. We were so close and took it for granted. Forget the lakes here...we cannot even imagine swimming in any of them. It's just not the same. We do go to Mexico twice a year and Destin, FL once a year to get our beach fix. We forget all about the NE beaches as these places are much better.

I miss good public transportation. I loved hopping a train in NJ and going into NYC. Public transportation was a way of life in the NE...here it is looked down upon which I will never get. You can't even get public transportation in most places.

'Keeping up with the Jones' is huge here...some areas more than others. We just avoid it...coming from the area we have in the NE it is not us and never will be so we just ignore it. We live way below our means and we don't care what anyone else does.

The bugs here are freakishly huge. {{SHUDDER}}

Spring is scary at first. The first time they we were told a hail storm was coming we were like so...until we saw the size of it. When they say hail is coming in TX trust me it is NOT sleet!!! LOL

Now, all the things we love about TX...affordabilty! NJ taxes and housing are insane. We love the more laid back way here. We love the town we chose to live in. Yes, some things are more expensive here like homeowner's insurance, utilities, etc but it is TOTALLY worth it. In the end compared to NJ, TX is much more affordable. We LOVE winter here. We feel TX...at least the area we live in...is very "kid friendly". We love the newness of the area...so clean compared to NJ. We love many, many thing here...the history...the pride...the friends we have made...

Really listen to the advice on this board about commuting. Everything is VERY spread out here compared to NJ. Traffic is also a bear here.

Last, TX is very different than NJ so have an open mind. It may take awhile but you will get used to it. We did and are so glad we didn't pack up and leave the first 6 months like we wanted to.

Feel free to PM me if you need anything else. Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:29 AM
Location: North Texas
24,567 posts, read 37,527,288 times
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Friendliness of neighbors and the keeping up with the Jones mentality vary from suburb to suburb, neighborhood to neighborhood. I can see how some of the further-out suburbs are unfriendly and competitive and I've heard that a lot from people living in FM, Coppell, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, etc.

However I can honestly say that my neighbors here in "old" Richardson, while reserved, are friendly and there is no keeping up with the Jones mentality here. At least none that I've seen.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:47 AM
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Thank you for all the positive replies. I think that any area has upsides and downsides. Our neighborhood here has lots of keeping up with the Jones mentality too. This has been the case in other places we lived (one of the worst places was on a military base in mility housing, lol). About 5 years ago here in NJ, we decided to put in a pool for the kids. Our next door neighbor, unemployed at the time, put in a pool too since we were putting one in and he felt "pressured" by his wife. It made me chuckle a bit since it is so not my husband and I. We drive modest cars and don't spend extravagently. We have more of the "saver" mentality and treat ourselves to things like nice vacations and quality of life things for the kids while the rest of our money goes into investments and retirement planning. Nothing too fancy. I've never felt compelled to compete with other people and if that is the case in Texas in some neighborhoods, so be it. I have a pretty thick skin.

As far as friendly folks, we've experienced some of what you say in our neighborhood. When we first moved in 12 years ago (new development), everyone got to know one another. As houses turned over and new folks moved it, it has gotten less friendly over the years. Fact of life I guess nowdays in communities. We are hoping that we can find a nice place for the kids and good schools. And hopefully make some friends in the process.

Thanks again for the input. My husband may be working in Irving so we will need to focus our housing search around a good commute. We are pretty flexible people having moved every 2-3 years while in the military. We've had the pleasure of living all over the country and world. In the US, always on the West and East Coasts though. Texas will be a new experience.
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:04 PM
Location: TX
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If job ends up in Irving...
Look at Coppell and Flower mound.

Flower mound will be a longer commute but you can get a much bigger lot and it still has somewhat of a "country feel" to it.
Coppell would offer you an excellent commute but lots are smaller and it is more dense and compact.

Both offer excellent schools!
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