Whether you’re moving for job opportunities, school, or an affordable cost of living, Tulsa is a great place to call home. Located in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, Tulsa is a bustling mix of green parks, arts and entertainment, job opportunities, recreational activities, modern and historical housing, and growth. Sitting along the winding Arkansas River, among the rolling Osage Hills and at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Tulsa doesn’t just offer opportunity– it provides diverse beauty too. Northeastern Oklahoma possesses seven of Oklahoma’s eleven ecoregions.
Historically, oil and the energy industry fueled Tulsa’s economy. Today, the city is home to other thriving industries, like finance, aviation, technology, and telecommunications. If you’re a fan of college sports or want to attend a respected university, Tulsa is a great place to call home thanks to its beloved NCAA Division I level schools: Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa.
Recently, Tulsa was named one of America’s most livable large cities by Partners for Livable Communities, Forbes, and Relocate America. Livability.com named Tulsa #66 of “2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live”. Realestate.usnews.com ranked Tulsa #83 of the best places to live among 125 metro areas in the US. It seems you’ll have the opportunity for great quality of life if you move to Tulsa.
Living in Tulsa: What to Know Before You Move to Tulsa, OK
As the second-most populous city in Oklahoma, Tulsa had an estimated population of 403,035 in 2018. The greater Tulsa metro area has close to 991,000 residents. Known as the “Oil Capital of the World” through much of the 20th century, Tulsa now has a diverse and thriving economy fueled by finance, technology, aviation, and telecommunications. Tulsa offers a wide variety of lifestyle choices – you can choose to live in a historic neighborhood near downtown or in a sprawling suburb away from the hub-bub.
Pros and Cons of Living in Tulsa
Before moving, it’s always a good idea to have a sense of a city’s pros and cons. Here’s what Tulsa offers:
- Healthy job market: Historically, the energy industry powered Tulsa’s economy, but today, diverse sectors support the economy.
- Low cost of living: Tulsa’s cost of living is 17% lower than the national average.
- Housing: Housing costs are well below the national average.
- Lots of entertainment: From parks with winding jogging trails and well-known museums to upscale restaurants, wineries, and zoos, Tulsa has an entertainment activity for you.
- High crime rate: The Tulsa metro area receives an F grade for crime.
- Weather: While Tulsa has four distinct seasons, these seasons also bring hot, humid summers and chilly winters with an average 6 inches of snow.
- Taxes: The city has a higher than average city sales tax.
- Poor public transportation: With a walk score of 40, a bike score of 47, and a transit score of 23, most residents rely on a car to get around.
- Property tax: The property tax rate Tulsa County is 1.06% of assessed fair market value. For a home valued at $126,200, you’d pay $1,344 in annual property taxes.
- Sales tax: Tulsa’s sales tax is currently 8.52%. The US average sales tax rate is 7.3%.
- State income tax: Oklahoma’s income tax is 5%. The US average income tax rate is 4.6%.
A great place to live, work, and raise a family, Tulsa has a hot housing market as of December 2019. According to Zillow, the average home value is $127,028, which is 3.7% higher than the previous year. Industry experts predict that these housing prices will continue to climb about 1.7% in 2020. The most expensive neighborhoods are Ranch Acres and Bryn Mawr. As of January 2020, there were 2,240 for-sale homes in Tulsa at a current median listing price of $194,800.
The median rent price per month is $950. The most expensive areas to rent in are Bixby, Oakhurst, and Stillwater. The most affordable are Lawton and downtown.
Cost of Living
Tulsa ‘s low cost of living, at an index of 83.2, is lower than the national average index of 100. Costs that are below the average index of 100 include grocery at 95, housing at 51, utilities at 96, and transportation at 90. The expenses that rate higher than average are health at 110 and miscellaneous costs such as repairs, insurance, eating out, clothing, etc. at 101.
According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, a four-person family living in the Tulsa metro area would need an annual salary of $82,332 or $6,861 a month to reach an adequate standard of living.
Weather and Natural Disasters
The Tulsa area provides its residents with a four seasons climate. You’ll have hot and humid summers, colorful autumns, comfortable springs, and chilly winters. The hottest months are July and August, with average highs of 94°F and average lows of about 72°F. The hot season lasts for 3.4 months, from June 3 to September 14, with a daily average high temperature above 85°F.
December and January are the coldest months with average highs of 48°F and lows of 29°F. Each month of the year gets an average of about 3 inches of rain, but January only sees an average of 1.65 inches. The wettest month is often May with about 6 inches of rain. Winters last about three months, from November 25 to February 24, with an average daily high temperature below 58°F and about 6 to 10 inches of snow.
Tornadoes, flooding, and severe winter storms are the greatest threats to Tulsa residents. The City of Tulsa Hazard Mitigation site has helpful information to keep you safe during disaster threats. Map My House, a link on the site, provides information about potential hazards specific to your neighborhood and how you can prepare.
Economy and Job Market
Overall, Tulsa has a healthier job market than metro areas of a similar size. The average salary of a Tulsan is $45,260 compared to the US average of $50,620. The unemployment rate is 3.7%, which is 0.2% lower than the national average. In 2019, the job market increased by 2.7%. Over the next ten years, job growth is forecast to grow by 29.5% compared to the US job growth average of 33.5%.
The United States Oil and Gas Association, formerly the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, was founded in the city and provided viable jobs to generations of residents. For decades this industry drove Tulsa’s economy. Today’s energy producers include Williams Companies, SemGroup, ONE Gas, Syntroleum, ONEOK, Laredo Petroleum, Samson Resources, Helmerich & Payne, Magellan Midstream Partners, WPX Energy, and Excel Energy. Other major employers include Consumer Affairs, Stephens Media Group, This Land Press, Educational Development Corporation (the parent publisher of Kane/Miller), GEB America, and Blooming Twig Books.
Tulsa’s most common employers are small and medium-sized businesses, with small businesses making up more than 80% of the city’s LLCs. The city continues to diversify its industries and has created a base in aerospace, finance, technology, telecommunications, high tech, and manufacturing.
Job seekers should begin their hunt at online job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, etc. Be sure to polish up your resume and hone your interview skills before you start your search.
Traffic and Transportation
Tulsa Transit runs 97 vehicles on 19 various routes throughout Tulsa and to surrounding suburbs such as Sand Springs, Jenks, and Broken Arrow. The routes conveniently connect to major health care facilities, Tulsa Community College, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, shopping centers, and hotels.
Because of Tulsa’s walk score of 40, bike score of 47, and public transit score of 23, Tulsans rely on cars to commute and run errands. The most walkable neighborhoods are Forest Orchard, Park Place, and Yorktown. You’ll find that between 7 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm on weekdays, roads and freeways are congested.
Interstates and state routes dissect Tulsa. Interstate 44 runs southwest to northeast through the center of the city. State routes 64, 65, 75, and 169 run north-south and state route 412 runs east-west. The Inner Dispersal Loop connects downtown with nearly all the Tulsa highways.
What To Do in Tulsa
From culture and the arts to hiking and mountain biking in an urban wilderness area, Tulsa has something for every interest and age.
- Arts and culture: Tulsa is home to two art museums, a professional opera, ballet companies, and one of the nation’s largest concentrations of art deco architecture. You’ll also find concert venues and festivals sprinkled throughout the city. And be sure to check out the famous Tulsa Sound at downtown clubs.
- Get outdoors: Tulsa has its fair share of outdoorsy activities. Stroll through the Tulsa Zoo, Woodward Park, Tulsa Botanic Garden, or LaFortune Park. Take a hike at Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area or Redbud Valley Nature Preserve. Or take the whole family for a splashing-good time at Safari Joe’s H20.
- Catch a game: No matter which sport you fancy, Tulsa probably has a team for you. The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes play basketball, basketball, and football. The Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles teams have a basketball team. FC Tulsa brings professional league soccer to town, while the Tulsa Drillers play Class AA Texas League baseball.
- Test your luck. Some residents and visitors enjoy the River Spirit Casino Resort for a chance at a little gambling luck.
Schools and Universities
The Tulsa metropolitan area provides an education that ranges from universities to elementary schools. The school districts serving Tulsa include Tulsa School District, Broken Arrow School District, Union School District, Jenks School District, Berryhill School District, and Allen-Bowden School District. You’ll find many top-rated schools in the Tulsa area, graded on student progress, test scores, equity, and overall environment.
According to greatschools.org, the top three Tulsa elementary schools, followed by their ratings, are Southeast Elementary School in the Jenks School District 10/10, Eisenhower International Elementary School in the Tulsa School District 10/10, and Henry Zorrow International School in the Tulsa School District 10/10.
The top middle schools are Berryhill Middle School in the Berryhill School District 10/10, Carver Middle School in the Tulsa School District 9/10, Jenks Middle School in the Jenks School District 8/10, and Thoreau Demonstration Academy 8/10.
The top high schools in the Tulsa area are Booker T Washington High School in the Tulsa School District 10/10, Berryhill High School in the Berryhill School District 9/10, Thomas Edison Preparatory High School in the Tulsa School District 9/10, and Union High School 9/10. These schools rank above average in terms of college readiness and test scores.
Tulsa has 15 higher education institutions, from well-known to private and small. Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa are private, four-year schools, while Rogers State University is a four-year, public school.
Tulsa Community College, a public school, offers two-year degree programs. Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, Platt College-Tulsa, the National American University Tulsa, Community Care College, Vatterott College, Tulsa Welding School, Clary Sage College, and Oklahoma Technical College are two-year, private schools.
Unfortunately, the Tulsa metro area possesses high crime rates. According to areavibes.com, crime in Tulsa is 94% higher than other towns in Oklahoma. And when compared to the national average, Tulsa’s crime rate is 152% higher. The US average for violent crime is 22.7, and in Tulsa, the average is 48.3. The US average for property crime is 35.4 and in Tulsa, the average is 74.3. Before you decide on a neighborhood, check the crime map to see how the area rates for property and violent crimes.
Well before your move-in date, set up your new utility accounts. Some providers require at least a week to turn on service.
- Gas service: The main gas service provider in Tulsa is Oklahoma Natural Gas.
- Electric service: The primary electric service provider in Tulsa is the Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
- Water service: The city’s water service is through the City of Tulsa.
- Trash and recycling pickup: Tulsa’s trash and recycling are also through the city of Tulsa.
- Internet and cable service: Several companies provide internet and cable services in Tulsa: AT&T, Cox Communications, and Spectrum are the most popular.
Best Neighborhoods in Tulsa, OK
Here are some details that may help you select the best Tulsa neighborhoods.
Dubbed the “Antique Capital of Oklahoma,” Jenks is a family-friendly suburban neighborhood about 20 minutes south of Tulsa that offers a rustic, rural vibe. Some of the prominent local businesses beloved by Jenks residents are The Pink Lily, Miss McGillicutty’s, Biergarten Wine & Spirits, Okie Swag, and Rustic Gate Creamery. On weekends, folks come from near and far to browse through the antique stores and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
The majority of residents, 79%, own their homes. Families flock to Jenks because public schools are highly rated, and the crime rate is lower than the downtown Tulsa area.
- Population estimate: 20,836
- Median household income: $90,039
- Median home value: $197,100
- Average rent: $1,172
- Schools: Jenks High School, Jenks East Intermediate Elementary School, Jenks West Intermediate Elementary School, Central Elementary School, Jenks West Elementary School
Bixby is a great place to live because of its spread out, suburban vibe. This neighborhood is about 35 minutes southeast of the heart of Tulsa and is known for having many lush parks and top-rated public schools, making it ideal for families or young couples looking to start a family.
Most residents, 79%, own their homes. Residents love supporting nearby businesses like Savastano’s Pizzeria, Bixby Roasting Co, and The Lazy Fisherman. Top-rated things to do in the area are Tulsa Cave House, Carmichael Pecan, Escape Hatch Bixby, Oklahoma Aquarium, Got Wood Axe Throwing, and Bentley Park Playground.
- Population estimate: 24,939
- Median household income: $80,638
- Median home value: $203,800
- Average rent: $934
- Schools: Jenks High School, Jenks East Intermediate Elementary School, Southeast Elementary School, Central Elementary School, Bixby North Elementary School
Owasso is a suburb about 25 minutes northeast of Tulsa, also with a spread-out suburban feel. In Owasso, you’ll find many parks, making it great for families with children and folks who like to stay active. Many families and young professionals live in this neighborhood because of its proximity to top-rated schools and entertainment destinations. Most Owasso residents, 69%, own their homes.
Owasso has much to offer in terms of outdoorsy and cultural activities. Residents and visitors can be found taking a walk or jog through Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, Elm Creek Park, O’Brien Park, Rayola Park, or Funtastic Island. Or, if you’re in the mood for a little art and education, visit Oklahoma Maritime Education Center or the Oklahoma Maritime Education Center. The Tulsa Zoo is just 10 minutes southwest of Owasso, and conveniently, the Tulsa International Airport is just 15 minutes south.
- Population estimate: 34,634
- Median household income: $67,130
- Median home value: $162,900
- Average rent: $951
- Schools: Pamela Hodson Elementary School, Mills Elementary School, Barnes Elementary School, Northeast Elementary School, Owasso Sixth Grade Center
Broken Arrow is a large suburb located about 15 minutes southeast of downtown Tulsa. This area is known for its peaceful, suburban, and spread-out feeling, and residents especially love its parks. Broken Arrow is home to many families and young professionals. Most residents, 74%, own their homes.
Broken Arrow if full of amenities so you can stay close to home to run errands. Popular restaurants include Charleston’s Restaurant, Los Cabos Mexican Grill and Cantina, and Ted’s Cafe Escondido. You can find locals jogging in Ray Harral Nature Park & Center, playing disc golf at Haikey Creek Park, taking their little ones to Vandever Park, splashing around Jackson Park, or meeting a friend for coffee at Apple Barrel Cafe.
- Population estimate: 106,264
- Median household income: $70,788
- Median home value: $161,000
- Average rent: $1,009
- Schools: Union Ninth Grade Center, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, Andersen Elementary School, Marshall T Moore Elementary School, Union High School
While downtown is home to many young professionals, there’s a lot to do if you have a family or are looking to retire in beautiful Tulsa. Downtown is lively with culture, classical arts, music, shopping, and affordable art deco homes. Apartments, high rise condos, and townhomes are also available to purchase or rent. The notable landmarks in this neighborhood are the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and The Tulsa Ballet. If you’re into living close to the Tulsa Sound, you’ll enjoy nearby clubs and dive bars including Lefty’s on Greenwood, The Vanguard, the famous Cian’s Ballroom, and The Fur Shop.
A few favorite downtown restaurants are Juniper Restaurant, Sisserou’s Caribbean Restaurant & Catering, The Vault Restaurant, and Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli. On the weekends, you’ll find Tulsans catching an outdoor concert at Guthrie Green, shopping at quirky DECOPOLIS, heading off to the Tulsa Zoo, and exploring Centennial Park.
- Population estimate: 4,210
- Median household income: $50,709
- Median home value: $63,806
- Average rent: $900
- Schools: Sankofa Middle School-Creative, Holy Family Cathedral School, Deborah Brown Community School
Cherry Street is a Tulsa neighborhood known for its upscale feel, hip shopping spots, low crime rates, and top-rated schools. Just 5 minutes southeast of downtown, residents feel like they’re right in the action. Most residents, 59%, own their homes, but with one of the lower average rental prices, it’s one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Tulsa if you prefer to rent. Because of its affordability, Cherry Street has a wide range of residents, from college students to retirees.
Cherry Street tops all other neighborhoods for the highest number of locally owned businesses in Tulsa. Bike shops, antique stores, art galleries, coffee houses, and boutiques lure shoppers to this hip area. With over 20 restaurants, Cherry Street is also known as one of the busiest shopping districts in the city. After an afternoon of shopping, you might want to duck into Kilkenny’s Irish Pub, Merritt’s Bakery, Pie Hole Pizzeria, Wolfey’s Paradise Donuts, Ty’s Hamburgers, Wine & Spirits Barn, or Jason’s Deli. And if you live in Cherry Street, you can shop at the city’s largest farmers’ market on Saturdays from April to October. The Philbrook Museum of Art is nearby and the University of Tulsa is directly north of the Cherry Street neighborhood.
- Population estimate: 37,123
- Median household income: $52,017
- Median home value: $145,800
- Average rent: $818
- Schools: Booker T Washington High School, Lanier Elementary School, Kendall-Whittier Elementary School
Riverview Historic District
The Riverview Historic District’s name gives it away: This neighborhood is steeped in history, dotted with beautiful architecture, and has a more upscale vibe. Located only 5 minutes south of downtown, Riverview hugs the Arkansas River on its western boundary. In 2007, the National Register of Historic Places officially listed this district.
The ratio of residents who own to those who rent is almost evenly split: Just 51% of residents own their homes. Like Cherry Street, this is one of Tulsa’s more affordable neighborhoods and is very popular among college students. With many homes dating back 100 years, this middle-class neighborhood is a great location for families who appreciate history and beautiful architecture. Homes range in style between Tudor Revival, Prairie School, and Colonial Revival.
- Population estimate: 1,352
- Median household income: $44,577
- Median home value: $129,000
- Average rent: $784
- Schools: Riverview Elementary School, Booker T Washington High School, Deborah Brown Community School, Union Ninth Grade Center
Located between E 31st St at the north and I-44 on the south, the Arkansas River on the west, and W Lewis Ave on the east, Brookside is upscale and popular among a younger crowd who enjoy active social lives. From wine stores, martini bars, coffee shops, and sushi spots, to antique shops, boutiques, and art galleries, this neighborhood has no shortage of eateries, nightlife hotspots, and shops that residents love to walk to.
Most residents, 60%, own their homes which range between small cottages to large brick estates. Despite being a small neighborhood in terms of population, residents can visit local restaurants, museums, and weekend hotspots like Brookside Diner, Sushi Hana Brookside, Tulsa Ballet Theater Inc, Purple Glaze Studio, and the Philbrook Museum of Art.
- Population estimate: 2,137
- Median household income: $85,269
- Median home value: $216,086
- Average rent: $1,100
- Schools: Eliot Elementary School, Wright Elementary School, School of St. Mary
The Pearl District, one of Tulsa’s oldest neighborhoods, is located south of I-244, east of S Madison Ave, north of E 11th St, and west of S Utica Ave. Pearl District is an up-and-coming neighborhood that’s being rejuvenated with new buildings and businesses, making it an exciting area to choose. This area is a popular area for startups, young people working in tech, cafes, art, and the very popular Pearl Street Farmers’ Market. Homes range between vintage brick apartment buildings, attached homes, townhomes, and to 3 to 4 bedroom single-family homes.
The Pearl District is great for families too, as long as you don’t mind a little commute to the north or east to the local schools. Residents enjoy popular spots like Ike’s Chili, El Rancho Grande, Bramble Breakfast & Bar, the Nightingale Theater, The Village at Central Park, Oklahoma Aquarium, and Admiral Park.
- Population estimate: 4,915
- Median household income: $83,354
- Median home value: 262,500.00
- Average rent: $940
- Schools: Longfellow School, Kendall-Whittier Elementary School, Sankofa Middle School-Creative
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Intrastate & Local Moves
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Small Load Moves
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