A mixed bag of fluffy bunnies and rattlesnakes. So, don't you dare reach in blindly. Neighborhoods range from affluent hubs of fat cat business towers to shady areas with frighteningly high crime rates, often within a block or two of each other. Then there are the good ol’ wide open spaces of southern ranch land, sprawling green suburbs, and a growing urban core of modern, big city weirdos. Finding the right niche is key, and this guide is here to help save you from the painful experience of having to relocate, yet again.
The Hunt for the Perfect Apartment
While you run around town, or surf around the internet looking at potential places, keep in mind these four essential questions:
How much are utilities? It is rare to find an all-bills-paid lease agreement here. So be sure to consider how much gas and electricity will run you, especially in the summer months.
How about commute? Tulsa is one of those southland cities where you have to have a car. Between the heat, the lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, and the inefficiency of public transportation systems, life without one would be extremely rough. Traffic is never too bad if you stick to the highways. However, I heard from a friend of a friend of a wife of a cousin of a friend that inner city stoplights have been rigged by the oil companies to slow down traffic, make people stop at every light, and burn more fuel. Can't tell if I'm joking? Go ahead and give it a try. See how many red lights you catch. Also, Tulsa is infamous for its poorly maintained roads. Car maintenance costs can be a big drain on your budget if you don't pay attention to how many potholes you will be driving over every day.
Do you feel safe? Tulsa was rated the 6th most dangerous city in the U.S. in 2010 by Forbes magazine. This was calculated from both traffic incidents and crime rates. On top of that, this city is located in Tornado Alley, so extreme weather and 90 mph winds are also something to worry about. Make sure that your new home is safe and that your neighbors are not people you will be afraid of. You may also want to consider renter’s insurance. It will cover weather damage and robberies, and you can usually just add it onto your car insurance.
Sneeze much? High humidity and high temperatures make for an extremely high mold count in the warmer months. Beware of the allergy season for mold if you are allergic, and, as always, we recommend taking the necessary steps to make sure you will be able to breathe.
As mentioned before, there are some shady neighborhoods around Tulsa. The more dangerous areas are to the north and the east, but even those areas are riddled with sweet, livable gems.
Downtown. Living here, you’ll pay top dollar for high-rise condos, apartments and lofts that overlook the beautiful Art Deco architecture of downtown. Stroll through the swanky old mansions and high rises of wealthy oilmen from the roaring twenties and catch live shows at Cain’s Ball Room, The Old Lady on Brady, or Greenwood’s annual jazz festival. $$$$$
Uptown. Live here if you want to be a stone’s throw away from downtown, but don’t want to pay those upscale prices. The SoBo (South Boston) bar district is a favorite among Uptown residents, who enjoy their city life with views of the downtown skyline and the Arkansas River.
Midtown. It is the beautiful parks that make life so sweet here in the heart of the city. There’s Woodward Park, known for it’s azaleas and gardens that attract photographers and picnic-ers alike. Other parks include Swan Lake, Zink Park, Darlington Park, and Whiteside Park. Shoppers can delight in the Utica Square, an upscale shopping center, or stroll through the Cherry Street neighborhood for antique, boutique, and vintage shops, as well as a number of art galleries. $$ - $$$$$
East. This area is mostly residential and extremely affordable, but crime rates are considerably higher. The safer neighborhoods are located far, far east, just inside the city limits. Just drive down the Broken Arrow Expressway past Mingo for refreshingly safe and family-oriented streets, complete with soccer fields, parks, shopping, and plenty of local and diverse eats. $
West. Located on the west banks of the Arkansas River, this area boasts the Riverwest Festival Park, complete with a floating stage amphitheater set against the downtown Tulsa skyline. This area is also proud to host the local Oktoberfest, one of the largest in America. All hail polka, beer and sausage! Like the east side, neighborhoods get much safer as you drive towards the city limits, however there are some secret sweet spots in the Jenks and Bixby neighborhoods. As you leave the banks of Tulsa's urban core, huge oil refineries and a large industrial area give way to woodsy, walkable neighborhoods with tons of character. $
South. South of 61st St., you find a world of easy-going country suburb life, complete with high school football fever, golf courses, plenty of churches, and, get this, the largest antique fishing collection in world. A little further south, you will find the Southern Hills neighborhood, home to the strikingly futuristic Oral Roberts University. This neighborhood is centered around the exclusive Southern Hills Country Club, which has hosted numerous golf championships, including four U.S. Opens. $$$
Hot Country Fiddle
Tulsa is like a hot country fiddle: It looks pretty like a violin, but when sawed mercilessly with those old timey melodies, it comes to life with country-fried character.