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My family is moving to Texas for work reasons.  Austin, they said.  Great! we said.  As a mother of three with a disabled kid, I don't take moving lightly, and a LOT of research goes into choosing just the right schools in just the right areas.

So I researched.  Kossacks were particularly helpful and generous with info and advice.  The best info, in my opinion, is from boots on the ground, as they say.  I found a great little neighborhood to live in, with good schools, decent houses, I found a super nice realtor who was setting up a house hunting trip for us...I was all ready for our big move.

And then...well, my husband came home with a bit of a bombshell last night.  

No Austin.

Dallas.

We have the same timeframe for the move, which means I now have far less time for area familiarization and research.

My questions are the following:

1)  Are there any suburbs that have a reputation for being a bit more progressive and/or quirky?

2)  Are there any school districts that have a reputation for excellence in Special Education?

3)  Are there any areas that I should avoid?

4) Do you know anyone who would correspond with me who lives in the DFW area that has a child with moderate to severe autism?

Here's the information that I do have.  I've heard the Plano and Frisco are good suburbs, but when I read about the highly rated schools there they don't sound very pleasant.  I'm getting the impression that they are super-strict and crank the children out like little learning-bots.

I'm going to admit that I am a New England girl with huge and probably unfair pre-conceived notions about Texas.  I'm picturing the big hair, the big cars and big homes (when I look at homes online I seriously can't seem to find anything under 3,000 square feet).  I'm anticipating that my not very athletic twelve year old son is going to get pushed down the stairs a lot.  I'm pretty nervous about the move.  I'm aware that I'm judging a place unfairly without knowing anything about it, but I'm in confession mode here.  If you can allay my fears at all, I will be eternally grateful.

I went over to Mother Talkers to ask for advice over there, but I only opened an account yesterday so I can't write a diary quite yet.  

Any advice and information will be helpful to me.  If you happen to know any DFW Kossacks who might not see this diary right now, but could steer them to it anytime today, that would be so helpful.

Thank you, Kossacks, for your help.

Originally posted to coquiero on Thu May 26, 2011 at 04:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse.

Poll

Will I be happy in Dallas?

24%6 votes
8%2 votes
8%2 votes
52%13 votes
8%2 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good Luck! (8+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry that I know nothing about Dallas.

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Thu May 26, 2011 at 04:28:39 AM PDT

  •  Don't know much about Texas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, theatre goon, BlueJessamine

    but I do have a favorite blogger there:  Juanita Jean.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Thu May 26, 2011 at 04:44:10 AM PDT

  •  Dallas isn't as blue as Austin... (8+ / 0-)

    ...but it's not nearly as red as, say, Fort Worth, either.

    Basically, in most of Texas, cities trend blue, but are over-ridden by the sea of red in the rural areas.

    I have to admit I know very little about Dallas itself, but that's mostly because even while I lived in Fort Worth, I avoided Dallas like the plague, because of traffic.  I truly, truly hate traffic.  Really.

    The big cars and homes are in Texas overall, but are on the decline.  You see a lot of pickup trucks, yeah, but they're definitely not the only thing on the roads in the city.  A lot of that came from the fact that when Texas was developing, the one thing we had the most of was room.  You could spread out as much as you like.  Now, not so much...

    One of my pet peeves here at DKos is the number of people who toss out comments dismissive of all things Texas.  You're not moving into another country, or an alien landscape, or into much of anything you may have seen in the movies or on television depicting Dallas or Texas in general.  It's a city like most others -- it has some local habits and peculiarities, like any other.

    Good luck to you in your move!

    •  I know, it's not my proudest moment (7+ / 0-)

      I do feel like I'm moving to a foreign country.

      I'm fighting my feelings because I know they're ridiculous.

      Part of it is that I got my brain around the Austin idea, I was all prepared for that, and now I feel like I got the rug pulled out from underneath me.

      Thanks for your perspective.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Thu May 26, 2011 at 04:56:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's because of the Texans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueJessamine, SweetLittleOkie
      One of my pet peeves here at DKos is the number of people who toss out comments dismissive of all things Texas.  

      Speaking for myself, it's because of the Texans I've met over the years.  So many of them have been pompous asses who believe Texas is the best possible place on Earth and Texans are all but perfect. Not all, of course.  But many.  Too many.

      Closed-minded, ignorant boosters irritate me no matter where they're from -- my relatives in Utah spring to mind, for example.  I've lived in enough places over the years to know that anyplace has its advantages and its disadvantages. But of residents of all the states I've been in, the Texans I've met are the most irritating of all.

      I don't know if it's compensation over some feeling of inferiority or what.

      As for the diarist -- Dallas to me seems like endless sprawl and endless highways, but at least be glad you aren't moving to Houston.

    •  and I'd've said Ft. Worth ain't as red as Dallas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, theatre goon

      which is the City of the Bankers and Financiers, while Cowtown's a lot more open to ... well, individuality.

      Day before yesterday, I drove past Southfork. They've painted the fences and it's not a Historic Marker site (yet) but there's still a "point of interest" sign for tourists. It's outside Denton proper, north of actual Dallas -- at least an hour away, by my estimate, with typical DFW traffic during the commuter-hours (6 am to 8:30 am, 4:30 pm to 6:30).

      I live on the West edge of the Panhandle-South Plains (it's about half an hour into New Mexico from here, and if there were a straight-shot road it'd be quicker). I used to live in Stephenville, which is west of Weatherford, and had a pretty fair school system at the time (but I'm so old we didn't know what the Asperger's spectrum was back then).

      My advice would be: where's the JOB located? Center on that first of all. If it's in downtown Dallas urban hell (yeah, there's a big one, complete with glass towers and 24-hour-traffic "like a river that don't ever slow down," as the Don Williams song goes), you're pretty well
      fried. If it's in McKinney or Denton or Collin County ... you have options.

      Tarrant County really is better. It's less urbanized and the schools are smaller and less industrialized. You can find Montessori schools throughout the Metroplex, as well ... I think some of the Tarrant County ISDs have them. (Also, Ft. Worth housing is way way way way cheaper than Dallas housing. Dunno why.)

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 26, 2011 at 09:53:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My opinion is pretty much the opposite of yours (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        txflower, coquiero, theatre goon

        With a job downtown, you could live in Oak Cliff: hilly, funky, beautiful old Craftsman homes. McKinney and Fort Worth have some older homes, but those other places are just the tenth ring of architectural hell with zero lot line cookie cutter houses and if there are any trees, they're so puny a real tree back east would laugh itself silly looking at them.

        Those other places are also Republican strongholds; Dallas County is now blue, blue, blue. Dallas County has  an openly gay sheriff and an employment discrimination policy that protects transgendered people, too.

        That's why is so hard to give someone advice about where to live: we all have different preferences.

  •  There's an active MoveOn group in Dallas (9+ / 0-)

    if you're interested:)

    As a military wife whose moved to places that I though I would never fit it, I'm going to tell you that every place is what you make of it. You'll love it only because I can already tell that you are looking for the things that will make you and your family happy. You'll find them because you're open to them!

  •  yes moving does suck (5+ / 0-)

    here's a kossack in that area:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    melody townsel, too, iirc.

    oak lawn isn't just quirky; it's gay central!   that's dallas proper, though, not a suburb.

    Plano is indeed a good suburb.

    and you absolutely MUST dine at Celebration Restaurant at the soonest opportunity!  good luck!

    It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

    by Cedwyn on Thu May 26, 2011 at 05:31:35 AM PDT

  •  Lots of nice areas in Dallas (6+ / 0-)

    Near downtown there are quite a few areas that have been redeveloped and have a great feel, especially in the McKinney-Uptown area.  Park Cities are upscale, very conservative, but have great schools.  North Dallas is a patchwork but has a lot of very nice neighborhoods with more affordable housing -- can't comment on the schools.   I haven't lived in Dallas in several years but we lived in Oaklawn (near Love Field), which is pretty close to downtown and is a good neighborhood with a mixed (and large LGBT) population.  

    Traffic, as was noted above, is awful, so you might want to live relatively close to your husband's work, or at least on a train line that can get him close to work.  It's a very big city, and you don't want to put yourself in a place where commuting or getting to regular destinations is a misery.  A good real estate agent should be able to listen to your needs and help you decide.  There are a lot of agents, and they're pretty hungry.  If you pick one and don't feel she's listening, find another.

    Capitalism conquered communism, and now it's got democracy on the ropes. (JP Barlow)

    by Dallasdoc on Thu May 26, 2011 at 05:33:40 AM PDT

  •  Stay in the city (4+ / 0-)

    Look at Oak Lawn, the M Streets and Uptown. They're in Dallas ISD, which has pretty decent SpecEd programs. They're also more progressive than the area as a whole, and keep you close to downtown. I lived in Oak Lawn for a dozen years, got very involved in local D politics, and made a lot of friends in the 'hood. Not every house is huge (in fact, some of them are downright tiny), but you can find something that will fit--particularly, look in Oak Lawn adjacent to Highland Park--older houses (and some new townhouses), good progressive City Council and ISD members, older neighborhoods with established trees. (and some pretty good restaurants--try Lucky's on Oak Lawn).

    "Finally escaped the rednecks only to find the vegans are advancing."

    by precinct1233 on Thu May 26, 2011 at 05:43:20 AM PDT

  •  I live in Dallas (5+ / 0-)

    Our daughter is on the autistic spectrum and is 19. We homeschooled her all her life so I can't tell you a thing about schools, but I can get you in contact with some people who may be able to help with that.

    Email me directly and I can get the information for you.

    We've lived here since 1984. It's changed a lot over the at period: first for the worse, later for the better. Dallas County is now solidly blue.  We live in the east part of the city near White Rock Lake. It's a beautiful area with lots of trees, nice places for walking and biking, etc.  

    The zoo is wonderful, with many animal interaction opportunities. There's a cool aquarium downtown, too.

    It does get very hot here in the summer, but the spring, fall and winters are normally quite pleasant.

    I was born and raised in Vermont, so I know what you mean about the culture shock. Now, though, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

  •  Moved away in 89 but (4+ / 0-)

    we lived in Denton for several years. It's a university town and at the time was pretty eclectic, we liked it there. Can't speak for it now however been away too long.

    Trade always exists for the traders. Any time you hear businessmen debating "which policy is better for America," don’t bend over. -George Carlin-

    by not4morewars on Thu May 26, 2011 at 06:31:02 AM PDT

  •  It's much more progressive here (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, SweetLittleOkie, elmo, texasmom

    than you probably imagine.

    Are you open to living in Dallas proper? These areas are mentioned upthread, but I'll reiterate - the M Streets are (is?) a wonderful area, lots of beautiful older homes that are not huge, big trees, wide streets, family-friendly; uptown is great, but I always get more of a single yuppie feel there (fabulous restaurants, though).
    I love our neighborhood, Stonewall Terrace, a very family-friendly area, safe and nicely maintained, and close to Stonewall Jackson Elementary, which is probably the most desirous public grade school in the Dallas area (people move here just so their kids can go there); however, we don't have children, so I have no idea what their special-ed program is like. I'm sorry I can't help you there.

    Also, both Stonewall Terrace and the M Streets are within 10-15 minutes of pretty much anything you'd want to do in Dallas, save maybe for far north Dallas, which I avoid like the plague (TERRIBLE traffic).

    I'll post more ideas/thoughts as they come to me.

    Good Luck, and try to keep an open mind - we're not all redneck Perry fans!  : )

    "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

    by txflower on Thu May 26, 2011 at 06:57:36 AM PDT

    •  Schools (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, texasmom

      I keep getting pulled back to that area, which looks so nice, but Jackson Stonewall Elementary feeds into Wilson High School, from what I'm seeing, and that has a Great Schools rating of 4 out of 10.  

      My son is only 12 but he'll be in high school before you know it, so we have to look at that, too.

      Where to the kids in your area go to high school?  Do they go to Wilson, or another high school, or to a private school in the area?

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Thu May 26, 2011 at 07:16:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  coquiero, can you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, texasmom

        spend a little time reading a blog?

        www.readlarrypowell.com is an animal-rescue-centric blog, but the writer is a longtime resident of the Oak Cliff area. That's not central Dallas (it's actually close to both the zoo and the Dallas VAMC), but the houses there are a reasonable size and the ambiance is almost small-town.

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 26, 2011 at 10:00:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  stay out of the Northern suburbs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, SweetLittleOkie, txflower

    Frisco, Plano, Richardson , Allen, Coppell all extremely conservative.  Stay in Dallas itself. There are older neighborhoods but extremely nice I was partial to areas near White Rock lake. Keep in mind the housing will be more expensive the further away you move from Dallas. Still the housing is much less expensive than the North and homes closer to the city hold their value and appreciate more than the Northern suburbs.  I would recommend staying away from subdivision in Norther Suburbs lots of foreclosures and home values have declined significantly.
    That is my advice hope it helps.

    •  correction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      Closer to Dallas home prices go up generally further in the burbs newer homes prices tend to be very good but houses do not hold values very well because new construction depresses resale value.

    •  I live in north Garland (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      near Firewheel and it's a GREAT neighborhood.  I don't know too much about Garland schools, but haven't heard any negative.  

      Richardson schools are good and I would definitely check in to that.

      I would avoid Plano, Frisco and McKinney - but that's just me.  They're a little too cookie-cutter for me, especially the new part of McKinney.

      Lake Highlands area is worth a look and is in Richardson ISD.

      Funny thing about traffic here - I'm in the northeast corner of Dallas County and it just seems like no matter WHERE I go, it's a 30 minute drive.  Traffic sucks eggs.  I am minutes from the Shrub (Bush Turnpike to non-residents) and despite the name, it is an AWESOME way to travel.
      Be sure and let us know how it's going.  It's an adjustment moving here, but it kinda grows on you.  :)

      The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits -- Albert Einstein

      by SweetLittleOkie on Thu May 26, 2011 at 08:40:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Completely agree with this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SweetLittleOkie, coquiero

      Not to mention that those northern suburbs are so cookie-cutter sterile, IMO.
      Dallas proper is much more interesting (and fun!).

      "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

      by txflower on Thu May 26, 2011 at 08:42:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, sweetie! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, elmo

    As you probably know, the commutes in the DFW area are killers - both in time, gasoline waste and dangerous drivers.  We have a friend (the one I mentioned the other day) whose wife is extremely active statewide in autism issues.  If you can tell me in what part of Dallas your husband will be working and what areas you might be leaning toward, I will ask for any information she may have on public schools.  

    Feel free to send me a supersecretDkosmessage if you want.  

    The truth always matters.

    by texasmom on Thu May 26, 2011 at 08:59:41 AM PDT

  •  Well you need to know where to get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    your Indian food fix, right?

    Try these folks (the Richardson location):

    http://pasandrestaurant.com/

    Yum. It's about a 30 minute drive north for us to go there but go there we do. The food is heavenly.

    For Mexican food, we like Urban Taco:

    http://www.urban-taco.com/...

  •  Farmers Branch may be friendlier than you expect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    All of Texas will be better since most of the people are better than their leaders.

    Hat Tip to NNBC

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