What's it like living in Tulsa?
February 19, 2021 8:24 PM   Subscribe

What's it like there for young families with prechoolers? Details inside.

My partner and I work remotely and are considering living in Tulsa. We like:

Walkable cities and walkable downtowns (really walkable, not drive to a park to walk), diverse food options, safe parks and walking paths, outdoor concerts, hiking, blue-leaning politics, friendly people.

Are there neighborhoods you would recommend or suggest we avoid? How much is a 2-3 bedroom apartment for rent?

Do we absolutely need a car? How is the parking situation?

How much does daycare cost, or what age does pre-K start?

The weather there won't shock us, we've lived in hot humid tropical places and NYC winters (although tornados would certainly shock us!).

Anything else we should be considering?
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
you absolutely need a car. unless you live downtown parking is a non-issue. rent is generally lower than a lot of cities (going up a bit).

it's a medium size city that punches well above it's weight class in arts, culture and local music. but it's not quite big enough in some ways. the scenes tend to be small and there is a definite everyone knows everyone/went to schoool with them vibe.

there is a decent division one university in the middle of the city, but it is in no way a college town.

the politics is a mix but mostly blue in the city proper.
posted by lescour at 9:48 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

If you like hamburgers, you’re in luck. Tulsa is the best burger city in America.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:37 AM on February 20

You would definitely need a car. While bus lines exist, they're infrequent, unreliable, and limited in where they go.

Downtown Tulsa has undergone a bit of a renaissance over the past decade or so. The new Drillers (AA baseball team) stadium is fantastic and the addition of the Guthrie Green area have made it more of a destination than a place to avoid (like it was when I grew up there). Cain's Ballroom is one of my favorite concert venues in the country.

Cost of living is great, the food scene is *much* better than you would expect, and like lescour says, the arts/music scene is pretty solid. And the parks are plentiful and beautiful.

Politics are a bit of a mixed-bag locally, but probably not *as* bad as you're thinking as an outsider. The State-level is a whole different story, though.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:45 AM on February 20

Tulsa Public Schools enrollment FAQ. Kiddo has to be 4 by September 1 to enroll in pre-K. They're enrolling for next year right now. I'm not sure what they're doing in person vs. virtual.

TPS is a big urban school district, with all the historical assumptions that go along with that, particularly in the Southern US. My understanding is that they do better than you'd expect. Here's a list of schools and school boundaries. If you're renting instead of buying, you don't have to worry about middle/high school anyway. There's also the Union school district on the east/south side of town which is in Tulsa but is its own thing, but if you're talking about not driving that's probably way farther out from where you want to be.

Historical and subsequent de facto segregation splits the city at about Admiral / I-244. North of there, especially north of Pine, is "North Tulsa". It's also where one of the best high schools in the state is. If rents seem lower up there, that's why. If you watched Watchmen, or heard about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre / Greenwood Riots, etc. (100-year anniversary this year), that happened in Greenwood, which is basically just part of downtown now, where the baseball stadium, Guthrie Green, and OSU-Tulsa are.

lescour gets a favorite for mentioning my alma mater, which is the smallest school in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Everybody went to/cares about the big public universities: University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, which are elsewhere in the state. 71st and Lewis is where Oral Roberts University is, so if things seem a little weird around there, that's why. Fun architecture though. (Really, fun architecture downtown, too! City got big around the Art Deco times, and it shows!)

Politics is probably bright blue for Oklahoma, but Oklahoma is one of the reddest states in the union, so it's kind of relative. Oklahoma's still big on energy production, mostly oil and gas. It's also really churchy.

You need a car. Plenty of parking lots everywhere but downtown, and plenty of garage parking there too.

Weather will get hot in the summer, but it's mostly dry. Any time it rains, there will be severe thunderstorm warnings somewhere and they'll put the little map up on the TV screen. You will have the best TV meteorologists in the country, and they will let you know where the tornadoes are and how worried you have to be.

The river got to a record high last year; supposedly it froze over this week. You need to visit the Gathering Place.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:39 AM on February 20

You definitely need a car, but there are some neighborhoods where you might not need to use it every time you go somewhere. TPS has some of the best schools in the country, but also has some less great ones.

All in all, it's a pretty nice place to live and you won't have to deal with some of the annoying bits like your new co-workers being after you to find a church for your first few months since you work remotely. There are plenty of people who are somewhere between leftish and totally crunchy granola there. Other than the one time some jackass chunked their drink at me when I was riding my bike on the street in south tulsa because the adjacent trail was closed, I never had an issue with people on a personal level.

I still sometimes miss my old neighborhood south of TU. It was really nice to be a very short car ride or reasonably short bike ride from downtown, have a grocery store quite nearby, a meat market down the street, and all the fast food I could ever want a couple of blocks away. The only thing I don't miss about it is the mass of cars parking on the street every time they had a big football game. I don't miss south Tulsa so much, but after moving out of that part of town I hardly ever went down there.
posted by wierdo at 4:39 PM on February 20

I moved to Tulsa 5 years ago to be close to family and regret it. The cost of living is cheap and I have met some great people, but it does not outweigh the negatives.

Tulsa is blue, but a fair portion of Tulsans and a large portion of the rest of the state have drunk the Trump kool aid. It didn't matter to me personally that much, until the pandemic. The resistance to mask wearing and the state's insistence on opening everything up had made it dangerous to live here.

Oklahoma has stripped funding for everything and nothing is maintained. It's basically a failed state. The roads are rough and pothole filled, schools are underfunded and substandard, parks and other amenities are crumbling. Services are non-existent.

Tulsa is not walkable at all. You will need to drive almost everywhere. They put in bike lanes, but people drive in them and complain about them.
posted by PSB34me at 5:49 AM on February 21

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