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Old 10-24-2011, 07:25 PM
 
13 posts, read 28,001 times
Reputation: 19

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I am looking for advice on relocating to Dallas. I have the opportunity to escape the cold of Ottawa, Canada for a high tech job in Dallas.

What is life like for a family in Dallas? Is there a lot to do?

What should I expect in terms of utilities, insurance, etc if I buy a home around 200-250K? Are there any surprises I need to budget for? What neighbourhood should I be looking at? My work will be in Irving.

Do I need a pool?? (Ok.. I want a pool, I just want to make sure I can use it for more than a few weeks a year)

How is the water in Galveston? Can I surf there?


Any recommendations for Realtor and Mortgage broker? What should I expect for mortgage rates down there?

Thanks

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Mod Note: Specific Realtor recommendations cannot be posted in forum - send by DM only.
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Last edited by BstYet2Be; 10-24-2011 at 08:02 PM.. Reason: Mod Note Added
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Junius Heights
1,245 posts, read 3,267,352 times
Reputation: 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
What is life like for a family in Dallas? Is there a lot to do?
Yes. Lots. White Rock Lake, Dallas Arboretum, The Dallas Zoo, Dallas World Aquarium, Numerous Theatres, including the great Dallas Children's Theatre for families, lots of festivals in Spring and Fall. It is a great place to live with kids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
What should I expect in terms of utilities, insurance, etc if I buy a home around 200-250K? Are there any surprises I need to budget for?
This is highly variable. Depending on where you buy that house might vary in size from 1800 Sq Feet to 3600 Sq Feet. The neighborhood might be well shaded, or completely open and baking, etc. My home is 1500 square feet, and 90 years old, yet very efficient on utilities due to it being well shaded by big trees. I have a friend with a technically much more "energy efficient" modern home of the same size, in a newer area, with no shade. His bills are much higher. Do expect high summer utility bills, and insurance is also on the higher side in Dallas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
What neighbourhood should I be looking at? My work will be in Irving.
Well working in Irving gives you lots of options in all directions. The main questions would be, do you want city living or suburb, Historic home, or new construction, a very social neighborhood, or a neighborhood where people - while friendly- mind their own business more? Where you are on that scale will determine much of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
Do I need a pool?? (Ok.. I want a pool, I just want to make sure I can use it for more than a few weeks a year)
Need one no. If you want one, just be aware of a couple things.
1. They are expensive, when things go wrong (and they will in our soil eventually) repairs can be terrible. My parents ar looking at a $25,000 estimate to repair theirs.
2. Once you have one, you have it forever. The expense of getting rid of one is so high, that it is always less economical than fixing it.

Most people I have known say they use the pool very little after the first couple of years, a few though love it, and cost or not, would never be without one. Divorce yourself from the emotional want for a little while, and consider how much you would use it, and if it justifies the cost, and the loss of a backyard. In most - not all but most - cases, you can have a pool, or a back yard big enough for your kids to play in. Not both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
How is the water in Galveston? Can I surf there?
The water in Galveston is not particularly nice. Very brown, and the beaches are small and right by a major road; however, there are nice beaches the same distance from Dallas. IE Surfside Beach. Beautiful, and not a tourist trap.

Welcome to Dallas. I know several Canadian Expats here, who really love it. Once you decide what kind of neighborhood you want, the good news is we wil have it. Dallas is really very diverse.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:54 PM
 
827 posts, read 1,590,657 times
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Keep the therrmals as it MIGHT get a wee bit chilly here for a few days in the winter. Other then that get some thin clothing as the summer can be hotter then Hell [I do believe they are drafting a new ruling to change the name of Texas to Hell anyways]

A lot of folks [well mostly family] have laughed at me cause I bought a Stetson, BUT I am suseptable to heat stroke and the wide brim keeps the sun off me and keeps me feeling cool [not to mention during the rare rain shower keepd the water outta my face].
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Old 10-24-2011, 09:09 PM
 
Location: Allen, TX
161 posts, read 694,500 times
Reputation: 96
Default Canada to Dallas

I am a Canadian who has lived in various parts of the US for the past 15 years. I currently live in Allen, which is a small city north of Plano/Dallas. I have also lived in Southlake, north of Fort Worth. Closer to Irving. I have visited Ottawa several times, winter & summer so can hopefully give you some insight on how life here compares.

You will find lots of nice areas to live - those older with more character are primarily located closer into to Dallas. Not sure if you have kids, but if you do, you will want to research the various school districts. Some are definitely better than others. Texas Education Agency rates the various schools and districts.

Top of the list for criteria On deciding where to live (besides schools) is definitely gonna be distance from work or commute times. Traffic here can be a nightmare.

In no particular order, things that are different here -
* no state income tax
* higher property taxes ( average about 2.5% of house value)
* car insurance is pretty high - I think so - with a spotless driving record, I pay approx $1100 per year for each of my vehicles (2001 Yukon & a 2010 Nissan Maxima)
* public transportation is limited - where I live, there aren't even buses
* highway
is pretty good, But lots of toll roads
* summer utility bills can be a killer - depending on age & size of house, but $300 to $400 bills in the summer are pretty standard
* food prices are less
* restaurant prices are less
* price of real estate is much lower
* no basements!

As for a pool, and speaking as a Cdn, I'd say "go for it"! There are negatives - upkeep, cost etc...But I was swimming in my pool when you guys were enjoying your Thanksgiving a coupla weeks ago. You can use your pool 6 months out of the year or longer if you have a pool heater and want to turn it on.

People here are very friendly.

Hope that helps a bit. Feel free to send me a private message if you want more info.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:15 PM
 
12,987 posts, read 25,975,540 times
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Macbeth gave a great post. I'll just add that the water in Galveston is a 5-6 hour drive from Dallas so I wouldn't count on seeing it too often We usually tell newcomers that the best beaches & water are a 2.5 hour direct flight away.....in Mexico!!

And one more thing- property taxes on your home can be an unexpected expense if you're not aware! Budget for 2.5% of home's value to be safe. That $200-250k home could carry taxes between $5-7.5k paid annually.
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:21 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, north TX
426 posts, read 940,691 times
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The other posters have made some terrific suggestions, so I'll not add on to what they have said, other than to say if you do like the idea of a pool, but don't necessarily want the expense of having one, then you might want to consider buying in a community that has a pool. For example, my community has a pool complex that has 7 pools, including an 8 lane lap loop, a pool with a waterfall, another with 2 water slides, and other various pools. I get the fun of having a pool without the expense.
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:30 AM
 
13 posts, read 28,001 times
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Thanks for all of the advice.

If I do decide, I would be coming with my wife and 2 kids (2.5yr old boy a 6month old girl).

We want a suburb neighbourhood with family/community feel and lots to do with the kids. Someone told me Flower Mound is a nice area with good schools and affordable homes, is that a good area? Is it hard to commute around by bike? Can I do it year round?

I saw house prices in this area go for 150-250+.
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Old 10-25-2011, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Junius Heights
1,245 posts, read 3,267,352 times
Reputation: 920
Quote:
Originally Posted by sanderson82 View Post
We want a suburb neighbourhood with family/community feel and lots to do with the kids. Someone told me Flower Mound is a nice area with good schools and affordable homes, is that a good area? Is it hard to commute around by bike? Can I do it year round?
I will let others advise you on specific suburbs in that area, as I know little about the culture of the suburbs out there, other than to say that our Suburubs are largely bedroom communities. If you want parks and movie theatres for the kids, it will be fine. If you want Rural activities, it will be closer to them than the city. If you want arts, The Zoo, Aquarium, etc. That stuff is only in the city. Driving to it is doable, but it will be driving. Other than Dart (our very limited light rail) Mass transit in DFW idoesnt work. We are too spread out a city for it to ever work.

Commuting by bike is not going to happen if you live in a suburb. If you lie and work in the city it can sometimes be done. It can often be done to restaurants, bas, etc, in the city, and sometimes in the suburbs, but biking works more for pleasure than commuting int he suburbs. Also remember our summers. It is too hot to arrive at work after cycling for 1/3 of the year.

For any kind of commuting Dallas requires the use of a car. It is unfortunate, but it is true. We are a young city, that is VERY spread out.
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:32 PM
 
Location: Rocky Mountain Xplorer
956 posts, read 1,452,086 times
Reputation: 690
Drive South !
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:39 PM
 
3,478 posts, read 6,075,242 times
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Quote:
We want a suburb neighbourhood with family/community feel and lots to do with the kids. Someone told me Flower Mound is a nice area with good schools and affordable homes, is that a good area? Is it hard to commute around by bike? Can I do it year round?

I saw house prices in this area go for 150-250+.
Ditto other posters--commuting on a bike in DFW is a disaster waiting to happen. Sadly it is not a very bike-friendly metro area, though you will find plenty of cycling groups if you want to join. Some actually ride through rural Flower Mound.

Flower Mound is a great area and would not be too bad of a commute. Additionally, I would check out Grapevine and Coppell. Both are nice communities with good schools. Coppell is the closest to Irving. Coppell is also more expensive, but you could find a nice home for 250k. I wouldn't do Irving proper.

As for a pool, you will be able to use it from April-October, depending on the weather. It's really just personal preference, though pp's points about maintenance are true. You also might want to think about it with little ones at home.

Another tip from a different thread...do you have A/C in your car in Canada? If not, sell it there and buy a new one here. You will DEFINITELY need A/C and there is NO market for cars with no A/C in Texas. Or really anywhere within 1000 miles of Dallas.
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