A Guide to Moving to: Oklahoma

(Packed with enough facts and fun to fill a 50-gallon hat.)

Just a wild guess, but did you recently catch the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma and decide right then and there to pack it all up and hit the prairie? Happens all the time. But there’s a lot more to Oklahoma than just singing and lassoing. Don’t worry, though. No matter where you choose to move in Oklahoma, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

We’ve scoured the Internet, the blogs, the travel brochures and even asked a few true Okies what they had to say about their home state. Then we piled it all into this guide to help you make the move go easy. You’re welcome. Let’s get at it. 

Oklahoma - 101

Oklahoma is most often referred to as The Sooner State, based on a nickname given to settlers who moved there before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889. You might even remember Hollywood’s take on the Land Rush from the classic Far and Away, starring Tommy Cruise and Nic Kidman. 

Nowadays, the state is home to about 3,940,521 people. And about 9,657 of these people moved there in 2017 alone, adding to a growth rate of 0.25% over the past couple of years—andthe trend is expected to continue, Oklahoma falls pretty much right in the middle of the pack, ranked 20th in landmass and 28th in population density.

Speaking of the Land Rush, Oklahoma was originally referred to as the "Indian Territory" and was reserved for Native Americans. However, the opening day of the rush brought about 50,000  people swarming to the area and instantly changed all that. To this day, though, the state has one of the largest American Indian populations in the country—about 286,231 in fact. 

Since the Land Rush, Oklahoma has grown and grown. But what does that mean in terms of the job scene for ya? Let’s find out.

Job Market in Oklahoma

Now maybe you’re stuffing your old career into a moving box and bringing it along with you, or maybe you’re just looking to start totally fresh. Either way, we want to talk a bit about the local job scene and where you might fit in.

For starters, the current unemployment rate in Oklahoma is 4.0%, which is neck-and-neck with the national average of 4.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The minimum wage for the state also ties with the federal minimum, at $7.25/hour currently, according to minimum-wage.org. But the good news is that Oklahoma’s overall cost of living is below the national average, so every buck you make will go way further. Woo-hoo!

And when it comes to the hot jobs around Oklahoma, some of the fastest-growing jobs include: computer machinist, personal care assistant, industrial mechanic, physical therapist, nurse practitioner, web developer and personal banker. And if you’re really trying to chase those big bucks, the highest-paying positions include: surgeon, psychiatrist, dentist, pediatrician, nurse anesthetist, physicist and CEO. 

Options, options everywhere. Especially in the medical and fixer-upper departments. But let’s go on to the world of housing.

Housing in Oklahoma

No matter if you’re set on living in the heart of Oklahoma City or buying s ranch out in the middle of nowhere, there’s plenty to choose from here in OK. So let’s talk a bit more about the housing game around here. 

The current median home value in Oklahoma is $119,800, after home values have actually risen 4.9% over the past year. Homes are currently listed on the market for an average of $182,633, and are selling for about $139,800. That is key, because you can get a ton more bang for every buck you’ve got here— a total home buyers dream. But if you’d prefer to just rent a house, you can expect to pay around $1,000/month.

And if it’s a new home you want, a lot of new construction is going on throughout central Oklahoma -- from Norman, through Oklahoma City and all the way up and over to Tulsa. There's also a tiny bit happening further southwest in the state around Lawton. But hey, you can build a brand-new house anywhere you find open land around here.

But if apartments are more your thing, you’ve still got a ton of great options to choose from at some pretty sweet prices. In the state's capital of Oklahoma City, one-bedrooms are going for around $658/month. You'll pay a bit more in Edmond—around $739/month, but Tulsa, Norman and Owasso all have one-bedrooms between $609/month and 705/month. How awesome is that?

Houses, apartments, ranches and cabins, Oklahoma’s got it all. And like we said, those prices are amazing and will stretch your budget way further.

Oklahoma's Culture and Natives 

The Sooner State is the seventh youngest in the nation. Almost a quarter of the people living in Oklahoma are actually under 18, while the state's median age is 36.2. Low rent is definitely one of the major attractions for the younger crowd, as are the two biggest colleges in the state, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Both draw large populations of youngsters looking to get an education, where the cost of living and the culture help keep ‘em there after.

We saw a fair number of locals chiming in about how their fellow Okies are quiet folks who tend to keep to themselves, while still being friendly and welcoming. One local said they had "never found any nicer people than in Oklahoma." We also saw that neighbors are quick to open up their homes to strangers during tough times, like natural disasters—which Oklahoma has its fair share of.

A local warned that many people in the state "get sucked in and never leave"—but why would you ever want to with housing costs this low and the culture all around you. One resident referred to the state’s wide open spaces as "No Man's Land," though that’s really the appeal for many—and perfect for acres and acres of ranch land and plenty of quiet. 

Overall, Oklahoma is home to a great balance of hard work and hardly working. And isn’t that what life’s all about anyway? And the locals live every second, whether it’s 20-hour days on the prairies or spending quality time with the neighbors.

Sooner State Trivia

As you can imagine, we came across a ton of incredible facts and history in our research and we wouldn’t want to waste a single tidbit. So we’ve thrown all the rest into the following section for you to enjoy, rapid-fire style.

One of the nation's largest inland ports, the Port of Catoosa, is located right in Tulsa. It's at the head of a 445-mile waterway that connects the Arkansas, Verdigris, White and Mississippi Rivers, as well as the Arkansas Post Canal. The port handles a variety of things, such as fertilizer, industrial cargo (including rock, steel, sand and petroleum) and agricultural products. 

In the 1960s, Tulsa emerged as a port city after a number of businessmen traveled from the area to check out the Ohio River Valley navigation systems and how they affected industrial growth. These delegates then convinced the higher-ups in Tulsa that a port would seriously help to promote business growth, according to okhistory.org.

There is perhaps a bit of a rebellious spirit in The Sooner State. One resident pointed out that people here are still allowed to smoke indoors in bars, unlike much of the rest of the country. Along with the large Native American population, there's also a large number of casinos throughout the state. Gambling is an activity enjoyed by many locals, as is going to the rodeo. When a rodeo's in town, it's a big deal. 

Oklahomans love their barbeques. While most states claim to have "the best" of a certain style of cuisine, an out-of-towner commented that The Sooner State truly did have the best barbeque in the country. In addition, Oklahomans love their chicken-fried steak (which is just steak battered and fried like chicken), which is always best with a heaping flood of gravy on top. Catfish is also a popular diet staple among locals. So basically, if it’s fried, bring it on.

The Sooner State was only officially granted statehood in 1907, so it's just over a century old at this point in time. A resident stated that since Oklahoma is a "fairly new" state, it's still "somewhat immature culturally, economically and socially", and is "still trying to figure out exactly what it wants to be." 

Because of this, other locals chimed in that it's good land for opportunities, as far as bringing your unique influence in and helping to mold its image. If you envision yourself as a person who wants to help shape the new area you move to, this just might be the place for you to bring that dream to a reality.

A fair number of celebrities and famous folks of the past are from Oklahoma, including legendary bad-ass Chuck Norris, and country music stars Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Ronnie Dunn, Garth Brooks and Gene Autry. And although he’s not from Oklahoma, Merle Haggard’s classic “Okie from Muskogee” is perhaps the perfect insight into Oklahoma culture, though with more of a modern twist these days.

Can't-Miss Oklahoma Fun + Activities

No matter if you're ready to try your luck at the casino slots or you're just aching to learn how to lasso like a real cowboy, Oklahoma has plenty of fun and activities for everyone.

Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  • Toy and Action Figure Museum: Located in Pauls Valley, this is the only museum of its kind in the whole world. It opened in 2005 as a ploy to attract tourism, and it's still going strong to this day. The museum holds more than 13,000 action figures, many still in their original packaging (of course). This is the place to come when you want to let your inner child roam free and drool over your favorite plastic heroes. 
  • Sooner Park Play Tower: In Bartlesville, this "whimsical" tower was inspired by the Mobius strip and the space age. Built in 1963, this spiral staircase has a giant spherical top deck for climbers to get a 360-degree view of their surroundings. Originally, the tower was equipped with an observation deck and a sand pit for children, but due to vandalism, it was closed down in the '90s. Fortunately, the structure was restored and reopened in 2014, sans observation deck and sand pit. But visitors can still get their climb on, and then check out some incredible views. 
  • Center of the Universe: This mysterious acoustic phenomenon is located in Tulsa. A circle of bricks marks the spot in which any sort of noise made is said to be amplified back several times louder in its echo. From the outside of the circle, however, sound appears to be very distorted, and quieter. Why? Who knows. But there are theories about the sound waves echoing off various surrounding structures to produce the effect. While there isn't much to visually take in here other than the brick path to lead you to "the spot," the point of your visit really isn't to use your eyes, but your ears. 
  • The Womb: Located right in Oklahoma City. Hometown Rock star Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips had a vision to bring some of his band's unique quirkiness into an arts center. The psychedelic building is marked by giant neon rainbow murals straight out of an '80s music video, and holds events such as concerts and dances. You'll find some famous props used by the band itself, such as laser-shooting hands and ginormous disco balls. The band is also known to make appearances for some of their own shows and music video tapings. 
  • 99s Museum of Women Pilots: This is the only museum dedicated to female pilots. It has artifacts from Amelia Earhart (and other famous aviatrixes), including her famous goggles and a lock of her hair. Located at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, this museum holds displays from several "firsts" in the aviation industry, including the first woman to get a pilot's license, Harriet Quimby, and Tiny Broadwick, the first woman to jump from a hot air balloon with a parachute. If you're into herstory, come check out the mark that women have made on aviation, and the contributions their efforts and bravery made in a time when it was completely unheard of.

Pros and Cons of Living in Oklahoma

Look, we could go on and on and on and on about Oklahoma—seriously, don’t tempt us. But wouldn’t you rather hear more about Oklahoma from true Okies themselves? That’s what we thought.

Pros (from authentic Okies):

  • Super-low cost of living: Ranked by usatoday as the #4 "least expensive state to live in the U.S.," Oklahoma is crazy affordable. The overall cost of living index here is just 90.4, while the nation's average sits at 100. Despite the low costs of housing and utilities especially, entertainment expenses are said to be lower here, too. So, not only can you find yourself an affordable place to live, but you can then find yourself plenty of stuff to do that won't break the piggy bank, either. 
  • No rush hour: One benefit to not being surrounded by major cities is the lack of traffic. Locals said that rush hour ain’t even a thing there. And who doesn’t love avoiding traffic?
  • That BBQ, though: Everyone here raves about the BBQ—like, everyone. Apparently the claim of being "the best" here is actually one that's earned. Of course, folks in Kansas City and Memphis say the same about theirs, but they are all totally different styles. All amazing, though.
  • Diversity: Locals stated time and time again how much more diverse their population is than an outsider might expect. There’s a huge mix of white, black, Native American and Hispanic—perhaps different than many expect.

Cons (from even more authentic Okies):

  • Wacky ol’ weather: Residents here are pretty much in agreement that Oklahoma has some pretty strange weather. Summers can reach up to 119 degrees Fahrenheit, but winters can get pretty cold, too. Even throughout the day, the weather can change dramatically, making it hard to prepare for rain, heat or even sleet. Many Oklahomans also spoke about the "constant intense winds" roaring through the state, and it does rank third for having the most tornadoes per square mile. The dry, arid land is also prone to droughts. 
  • Few larger cities: Locals claimed that their state's capital, Oklahoma City, really isn't that big of a city. The closest thing to a nearby big city, they said, was Amarillo, Texas. Although, thanks to the lack of big cities, traffic here is a real breeze.

Weird Laws

Well, it looks like it’s time for the silliest section of this guide, packed with some of the most "Huh?"-worthy laws still in existence in this state, just for fun.

Here are a just few:

  • Dogs must obtain a permit signed by the mayor to congregate in groups of three or more on private property. No secretive dog parties. Woof.
  • It's illegal to wear your boots to bed. We all know how much Oklahomans love their boots, but not in the bedroom, please.
  • Fish can't be contained in fish bowls on a public bus. What are you supposed to do then, just throw that guppy in your pocket?
  • Tissues aren't permitted in the back of your car. C'mon, having tissues handy is just common courtesy.

Giddy-Up, Oklahoma!

Well, there you have it—our sneak preview into the Okie life, all fried up and smothered in gravy. Now we obviously couldn’t cover all your concerns, but we hope you’re feeling far more confident about your move. And if you’re still on the fence, we hope to have pushed you closer to the right side.

As long as a super-low cost of living, some finger-lickin’ BBQ, and cowboy boots are your thing, go ahead and pack your bags. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck out there, especially at the casino tables.

NOTE: if you decide Oklahoma isn't right for you, we've covered all the other states, too, to help you find YOUR perfect spot. If the simple, laid-back life isn't your thing, have you thought about California?

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