Despite the fact that Garland, Texas inspired craven comedy mastermind Mike Judge's animated series "King of the Hill," don't move here prepared to don an unfortunate buzzcut and charcoal-besmirched muscle tee. Although the citizens of Garland are notoriously friendly, looking like you hang out in a greasy vat of bad judgment might force your new neighbors' cookies and milk brigade to nervously unload their wares and to back away slowly.
Just northeast of Dallas proper, Garland maintains an adorably authentic small-town vibe despite a population of 220,000 complete with neighborhoods that date back from the 1850s and range from positively grimy to cinematically idyllic. It’s is home to a vast array of folks of all skin tones, ages, shapes, sizes, and net worth, so there’s really something for everyone, except people who hate football. Should you be anti-pigskin, know that high school football is a mainstay - nay, a requisite - of Garland community life. Be prepared to dust off your pom-poms for the Friday night lights.
For outdoorsy types, Garland is a veritable paradise. There's a ton of open space. Go par for the course at Oakridge Country Club, practice your sweet hacky sack skills at Audoban Park, cool off at Hawaiian Falls Water Park, or catch a delicious bass at Lake Ray Hubbard.
For night owls, it's reasonable to say you won't be table dancing till last call at some nouveau disco called DIVINIO, but you can trot off to Dallas when the itch to get freaky strikes, or you can hitch up your skirt to some fine country tunes at the Garland Opry. The Patty Granville Performing Arts center features a variety of theatrical and musical events yearlong. Across town you'll find a wide range of dining options whether you prefer your meat in a bun with fries or on fine china accompanied by potatoes au gratin. Vegetarians: welcome to Texas, you're on your own.
Rent in Garland is pretty inexpensive. Across town you can find studios that go for about $500, one bedrooms for $650, and two bedrooms for $1000. Typically utilities will be included in the rent. A 12 month lease is standard, but often negotiable, and Garland maintains stringent rental inspection and enforcement of building codes, so it's highly unlikely that you'll get swindled into living in a pizza box with a toilet that constantly catches fire.
It's generally recommended that you stay to the north of downtown when considering an apartment rental. This is where you'll be able to incite the jealous rage of your out-of-town friends by throwing around terms such as "old-world charm" and "park-like setting" when describing your new environs. Most of the residential zoning in Garland is dedicated to single family homes occupied by good old fashioned nuclear family units. Apartments in Garland are often used by single folks and single-parent families, and employees of GISD, so here's a snazzy secret: if you work for the school district you'll typically get a small discount on rent. Who says working in education isn't lucrative?
You are going to need a car wherever you live in the city. Life is a bit spread out and not terribly walk-friendly, but the good news is that Garland has one of the best traffic situations in all of Texas and you'll never be stuck in gridlock. Garland has two DART stations, and these public transit trains can whisk you to Dallas within 45 minutes.
For an authentic small-town vibe, downtown will be your best bet. The historic downtown square, anchored by a bubbling fountain, teems with family-owned restaurants and quirky mom-and-pop boutiques peddling everything from pink flamingoes and ten-gallon hats to artisan balsa wood turtles. Every first Saturday of the month, downtown Garland holds an outdoor craft fair.
In the neighborhoods directly north and northwest of downtown – such as Walnut Creek Estates, Arapaho, Oakridge, and Holford – you can expect structures with an authentic vintage suburban feel. These neighborhoods are the spitting image of the American Dream; what you think of when you imagine the picturesque suburban communities of cinema, comprised mostly of single-family homes dating from the 1940s to the 1970s set on tree-lined streets, and probably someone's grandpa watering a lawn at all times. There are some apartment buildings in the area, but you can also rent one of the aforementioned single-family homes, which typically have 3-5 bedrooms, for around $1400. That's a laundry closet in San Francisco!
Firewheel, Garland's newest neighborhood, is also the most popular. Built up from the mid-1990s into today, you'll find upscale planned communities in this oasis surrounded by greenery just a few miles north of downtown. It's home to Firewheel Golf Club and Garland's 'crown jewel': the shopping mecca of Firewheel Acres shopping center, where department stores and restaurants abound. Homes in this area range from $200,000 to millions of dollars, and apartment rentals consist mostly of highly manicured modern developments. A studio will start at about $750 up here, but it's probably worth the price hike, as you'll definitely have a lot of modern amenities and appliances; the majority of these spaces were built with the contemporary tech-savvy adult in mind.
Now that you have more useful tips than you can shake a “Don’t Mess With Texas” knick-knack at, we’re confident you’ll have no trouble finding a good spot to settle in the lone star state. Good luck out there, not that you’ll need it.