Top 10 Reasons to Love Living in the Dallas SuburbsNorth Dallas — By Rebekah on July 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm
My husband brought home a Dallas Observer on Friday afternoon. I am not an avid Observer reader, nor am I even a browser, even though I’ve lived in Dallas for almost 10 years and in the DFW area for about 15. The music they write about is a little too loud, the politics are a little too in-your-face, and I have no reason to need to find a tattoo parlor or condom shop. But for some reason I browsed through it and saw a caption on the top of one of the first pages that caught my eye:
“I have seen the future – and it is Frisco!”
I thought, GREAT! Finally the North Dallas suburbs are getting some positive press from the hyper-critical Dallas denizens. Before getting excited, I should have paid more attention to the full caption, which was: “The Invisibles / I have seen the future – and it is Frisco.” To save you all the time of reading the full article, the author (quite wittily, by the way) argues that when they look for people to populate outer-space, they will come to Frisco, because these are the people who have no sense of place: “You will need a race of people who have been toughened up to life in Nowheresville. People whose idea of a meaningful landmark is Starbucks. People for whom an address is a code registered with Mail Boxes Etc. People from Frisco!”
There are many facts the author points out that I can’t argue with – yes, our neighborhoods tend to look a bit alike….yes, we have a lot of franchised retail places….yes, our physical environment can be a bit generic and mass-produced. There are even more Starbucks per capita in Frisco than in Seattle. (It’s true – I did the math.) Before I actually moved to Plano, I had sworn I would never move to Plano. OK, OK….so I was a bit hypocritical: I lived in Dallas – a place with no soul – and judged Plano as a place with no soul. Ha ha.
Then I had kids. Suddenly, convenience trumped trees.
So, Dallas Observer, while I agree with you that people in Frisco (and Plano, and Carrollton, and McKinney, and Allen, and Coppell, and Flower Mound, and Grapevine, and Southlake, and other Dallas suburbs) are just the sort you would want to count on to colonize new places due to our resilience and willpower, the problem is:
We Won’t Go, because you can’t beat what we’ve got here.
While our physical environment may not be the most naturally beautiful (although anyone who’s been to McKinney would disagree), we have the most amenities and conveniences around. Now that I’ve lived in Plano (your “suburban fringe, the nowhere of Dallas”) for three years, let me share with you just why I think the Dallas suburbs are the best things going.
The hard financial data agrees, you really can’t do better than those of us living in Texas. Our cost of living indexes at 92.7 to the national average (at 100), and while gas prices might be pinching our wallets, our economy is still healthier than most other parts of the country right now. Texas as a state was awarded 13 of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in Money Magazine’s 2008 List. 10 of those cities – all of them suburbs, by the way – were in the Dallas area: McKinney, Carrollton, Richardson, Allen, Denton, Euless, Lewisville, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie. That means the Dallas area alone has more Top 100 cities than any other STATE, since Minnesota and New Jersey were both behind Texas with 9 cities each on the list. My only complaint is that they should have included Plano on the list as well….surely an oversight since they included all the cities that border Plano – whoops, excluding Dallas.
2. The weather
OK, I am writing this on one of the hottest days of the year (102 degrees), yet still I put weather high on the list. Yes, it’s hot. That’s what pools are for. And, thankfully, they are plentiful up here in the ‘burbs, whether in your own backyard, a neighbor’s, in your community, or at any of the swank new parks & recs facilities we have, like the Tom Muehlenbeck Center in Plano. We average 232 days of sunshine a year! And winter? Well, that’s when you might have to pull out a jacket – but not very often.
The reason we moved to the ‘burbs in the first place – to have a family – turned out to be even more compelling than we had ever dreamed. We live in West Plano, and within 3 miles of my house, we have my children’s pediatrician, dentist, a hospital, 3 emergency clinics, their pre-school, Kiddin’ Around Playcare, the soft play area at Willow Bend Mall, The Little Gym, Young Chef’s Academy, numerous martial arts and dance studios, the Tom Muehlenbeck Center, Cool Cuts 4 Kids, and any shopping venue you could possibly want. When our kids get old enough, we’ll have their sports parks, exemplary public schools (or private, should we choose that route), and lots of bike -friendly streets to explore. And who wants to go see the Rangers when you’ve got the Frisco RoughRiders at Dr. Pepper Ballpark? And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, you can go to the FC Dallas soccer games at Pizza Hut Park.
When we moved north, we figured we’d have to give up the fun adult activities we’d enjoyed before kids. OK, those of you who know me….stop laughing. I have to ‘fess up, Jim and I are not the wild, outgoing types. (We did meet at the Inwood Lounge, but that was a total fluke.) But, if we were the night-life kinda people, we could find lots to do in the ‘burbs! The Shops at Legacy has some great bars (or so they seemed when we drove by and saw all the “pretty” people getting out of their cars), and restaurants abound. So do spas, nail salons and any number of places to get beautiful.
5. 20′ ceilings
We traded in the character of our Love Field-area redo, with its painted brick, shutters, wood floors, front porch, 50′ live oak tree, for …. a red brick box in Plano, that actually looks exactly like another red brick box down the street except my brick is a little maroon and theirs is a little pink. But – I have high ceilings, 3.5 baths, a master down, and a 3 car garage. My live oak is maybe 18′ high – but it will grow! And in the meantime, I can enjoy my high ceilings, big closets, and whirlpool tub.
6. Easy parking
Being a Mom means driving – a lot. So, I happen to really appreciate the big parking spaces that the new retail areas offer. Anyone who has tried to park a mini-van at Snider Plaza, Highland Park Village, or the Inwood Village knows that takes concentration beyond what most Moms can manage, especially when one kid is crying for a dropped sippy cup and another is kicking the back of your seat with his feet. Now I pull in with hardly a thought into the Costco, SuperTarget, or other parking lots. And Ikea even has family-designated parking! (Something more retailers should take note of, by the way.)
7. Easily accessible playdates and babysitters
We knew there would be a lot of kids in the ‘burbs (obviously), but had no idea how many. Maybe we got lucky, but on our street alone, we already know 3 other kids that will be in my older son’s grade in school. And another by-product of the public schools being so great is that we also have a lot of available babysitters, just in our neighborhood alone.
8. Historical downtowns are flourishing.
Anyone who has been to beautiful downtown McKinney knows it is a true gem of history and natural beauty, with restored buildings housing cute antique shops, boutiques, wineries, and restaurants. Downtown Grapevine is also a great place to explore, and Plano’s downtown is blossoming as well. Other downtown areas, like Old Town Lewisville and Carrollton have active groups working to preserve their historical landmarks. Even Frisco’s historical downtown area, which I will admit does not have as many historically significant buildings as some of the others, is in revitalization with passionate groups dedicated to preserving its charm.
9. Natural beauty is just a short drive away.
I am one of the lucky ones who can bike-ride to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve when I want some natural beauty. Other lucky ones in the Dallas suburbs might even be living within view of Grapevine Lake, Lake Lewisville, or Lake Ray Hubbard. While others of us may live in areas with more, how did the Observer phrase it?…”manufactured” beauty, many of these developments have landscaped their way to stunning – especially after the trees grow.
10. Friendships are waiting.
One of the wonderful things we’ve found about moving to the Dallas suburbs is that a lot of other neighbors are new to the area as well. We’ve made a lot of wonderful friends just in the two years we’ve been in Plano…only a handful of which have lived in the DFW area for more than a few years.
I’ve had friends who have moved to more established cities with less population growth that have had a hard time finding friends because friendships are already solidified, which sometimes makes it harder to become a part of the circle.
This picture is actually of my Bunco group – whom I LOVE! – and provides a testament to what great friendships can be developed in the ‘burbs.
So, Dallas Observer, I disagree that the suburbs are the “wasteland” you characterize them as. From my vantage point, they’re a great place to grow kids, friendships, and …. trees.