Moving to Texas for Work and What Life is Like in Dallas

A few months ago I mentioned that I received a baller job offer, but with one catch: I had to move to Dallas, Texas to take the job.

It’s already been four months since I first set foot in the heartland of America.  Before coming here, I had no to connection to Texas whatsoever–no family, no friends, no nothing.  To be quite frank, I probably could have gone through life without visiting Texas and been totally ok with it.

If you told me four years ago that I would be moving to Dallas, Texas, I would have rolled over laughing and said you were out of your mind.  Now, here I am.  Just goes to show: you never know where life will take you.  From Niigata to Shanghai to LA to Dallas.  I literally ask myself everyday–how did I end up here?

Anyway, Texas is a very interesting place….I’ll give you that.  Here are some of my observations (scroll to the bottom for best of Texas recommendations):

People in Texas are friendly and polite.  Like, really damn friendly.

Friendly bartenders at Deep Ellum brewpub

I mentioned this before, but people in Texas are the friendliest I’ve ever met in the states.  They’re not pretentious; they’re very down to Earth and approachable.  People address each other as ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ here.  It’s the kinda place where you can walk up to someone and strike up a conversation and it’s not awkward at all.

The Lyft/Uber drivers here are the friendliest I’ve ever seen and they’ve given me great tips about the city.  My coworkers are helpful and warm.  Servers at restaurant are truly top-notch–they are prompt, considerate, and well-mannered.  I’m very impressed with just how lovely it is to interact with locals.

Yoga in front of the capitol? Only in Austin

The only drawback?  Like the Midwesterners (and Japanese), Texans tend to put up a wall.  They’re friendly and nice, but to a point.  Many Texans I meet are tried and true Texans–in other words, their family has been in Dallas for generations and they’ve already got a well-established network. They have a close circle of family and friends and they’re very selective about who enters that circle.  This is a big change from California, a state chock full of transplants who are more open (and forced?) to let others deeper into their social circles.

Everyone is Moving Here for a Job

View from my new company window 😀

Transplants may, however, outpace the population.  Texas is booming.  Techies fed up with Silicon Valley are flooding into Austin.  Big businesses are relocating to Dallas for the business friendly atmosphere and low taxes.  Houston is filled with oil/energy money and all the cash it brings.  There is a strong economy in Texas (tenth in the world!) and it’s very apparent.  Cranes are everywhere.  The population is increasing year on year.  Every car that passes my street is either a BMW or Porsche.

I used to think that I was a weirdo for moving to Texas for a job; but the longer I live here, the more people I meet who are in my very same predicament.  Like me, I’ve met many twenty/thirty-somethings with no connection to Texas, but who moved here for a job.

American Culture is Strong Here

Even Trader Joe’s Feels More Texas

I was always at a loss when I had to teach Japanese students about American culture.  To me, American culture was a melting pot of different cultures–it was more than just hamburgers, hot dogs, and baseball.  There was no such thing as “American food” or “American culture.”  We were a mix of different cultures–a country of immigrants–and it was hard to condense that into one, simple lesson.

But man, if I was from Texas?  I’d have a whole lotta culture to teach the kids.

Fortworth Stockyards

A super cool Saloon

I feel more American here.  It may be somewhat stereotyped, but going to a honkey tonk; visiting a real ranch, seeing people wear cowboy boots and hats (and look cool in them) and going to a real rodeo make me feel like I’m in a place uniquely America.

My parents came to visit last week and I took them to see a cattle drive; eat authentic and downright delicious Texas barbecue, and drink in a real-life saloon.  When the bartender saw my dad in a cowboy hat and found out we were visiting from Utah, she gave us a wink and poured us a round of beers on the house.  Again, the combination of old-west plus friendly folks create a uniquely American atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else.

Texan Women Dress REALLY Nice

What can I say?  Texas women are stunning.  My coworkers look like they walked out of a fashion magazine.  From their earrings, to their necklace, the color of their dress and down to the style of their shoe–everything matches.  I haven’t seen women this nicely dressed since Tokyo.

Texas Cities are Super Clean

Downtown Austin

Ausitn was Pretty Darn Clean

Downtown Dallas sparkles.  I live near downtown and man, the city glows.  I just went to Austin last weekend and it was equally spotless.  Compared to downtown Los Angeles, Dallas looks like Luxembourg.

Maybe the suburbs are a little trashier (?), but metro-area Dallas is one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever seen in the USA.  Good job, Texas.

Texas = Affordable

My neighborhood. This would cost 3k+ in LA–only 1k ish in Dallas

I keep telling my husband that Dallas/Austin/Houston are probably the last cities in the US where one can achieve “the American dream.”  Not only are houses affordable here, but jobs are plentiful and wages are high.  I’m quite sure that if I worked my current job in LA I’d make the same salary–except with double the cost of living.  This is a huge Texas perk.

Ok, some of the bad

Green! ….but flat

  • There’s no nature here.  I know, some Texans might argue with me, but as someone from the rocky mountains who spent the last four years in California–I’m sorry.  The nature here is just not that great.  But hey, at least it’s green?
  • Traffic is pretty gnarly in Dallas and Austin.  Not as bad as LA, but close.  Freeway design makes no sense either–it’s really confusing.
  • Texas drivers are out of their mind.  I was pretty sure LA drivers were the most reckless and dangerous in the US, but I take it back.  Texas is much worse.
  • Dear god, it’s hot.
  • Hard to make friends.  But maybe this is true everywhere.

Another drawback for me, perhaps?

I know Texas isn’t for me–but I’m very, very glad I had the opportunity to live here.  Texas is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been in the USA, and there are times where I have to pinch myself to remember that I’m not in a foreign country.  Experiencing cowboy culture, the local hospitality, the amazing Texas barbecue and the convenience of one of the cleanest cities in the world has been a pleasure.

The Colorado river in Austin–super pretty

I need more nature, greenery and coughliberalismcough for my future home, so unfortunately Texas doesn’t fit the bill.  However, it’s been a joy living here.  Many transplants move here and make Texas their home–and I can see why.

Finally, if you’re in Dallas and want some good tips for what to eat/see, then look below:

Best of Dallas/FortWorth

  • Best BBQ: I really liked Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse
  • Best Micro-brew: It’s in Fortworth, but Martin House is bomb.  One of the best breweries ever.
  • Best Asian Food: The food court in Plano’s Mitsuwa Japanese supermarket.  Great ramen, great katsudon, great everything.  Yayoi next door is great, too.   A super secret, but Mr. Max is a legit izakaya in Irving.  Servers are all Japanese and they even got tatami floor.  
  • Best Museum: Dallas Museum of Art wins because it’s FREE!  (5 floors of world-famous art for free?  hell yeah).  The Fortworth Museum of Modern Art is also pretty badass.
  • Best Neighborhood: Uptown and Oak Lawn.  I’m biased cause I live around here, but it’s walkable and there’s a ton of great restaurants and bars around.  Plus the trolley runs around for FREE.  Score.
  • Best Tourist Destination: Go to the Forthworth Stockyards.  Rodeos, cowboys, saloons, honkeytonks and more!  JUST GO!

14 thoughts on “Moving to Texas for Work and What Life is Like in Dallas

  1. w says:

    Why in the past tense? Are you leaving Texas? 😮

    As for Dallas – I’ve been there shortly once a couple of years back and while in general it was quite clean, the downtown around train/metro line was quite dirty and full of homeless people 🙁 (and given my small experience with US at that time I was optimistically trying to use public transport, lol)

    • rubymary says:

      Haha well I think I will leave Texas one day–maybe not soon, but definitely someday. I don’t see it as a long-term location for me.

      I heard that compared to 5 years ago downtown has cleaned up a lot. There are still some homeless (every US city has them) but it’s a lot cleaner and safer now. You were brave to try public transport back then! Unfortunately American public transit can be kinda sketchy, especially in non-East coast cities.

      Did you ride the trolley? There’s a free trolley that loops around downtown and uptown. It’s super old school, but very charming.

  2. autumnashbough says:

    Free trolley sounds awesome. So does everything in walking distance and affordable housing.

    Texas sounds a lot like most of the American South, what with sir, ma’am, and the closed circle of close acquaintances.

    I know everything SEEMS bigger in Texas, but the economy isn’t: California has the 5th biggest economy in the world (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/05/05/california-now-worlds-5th-largest-economy-beating-out-uk/583508002/)

    Texas is 10th.

    • rubymary says:

      Touche! I’m changing my post numbers right now! Some guy on the street said #5–I should do a better job at fact checking, lol.

      Yes, it feels very ‘southern’ here… although Texans will fiercely tell you that they’re a different version of the South. It’s a unique kinda hospitality I love.

  3. Marta says:

    Glad you are having a good time there! Every place has a good and a not so good side, hehe. I so want to jump into that river, it looks very clean and it’s so hot in here xD

  4. Lani says:

    I remember when I religiously watched Miss USA pageants and like 89% of the winners were from Texas.

    When I moved from Colorado to Oregon I was sooooooooo disappointed by how flat it was. Hahahhaa. I feel your pain. There’s a park called Mt. Tabor in PDX and we “Coloradans” were like, “What? That hill over there?”

    Nashville is also “blowing up” as my brother put it. Folks want to live in nice places that they can afford. No crime in wanting to believe in the American dream still!

    I miss TexMex food. Please eat a lot for me.

    • rubymary says:

      Haha were all the miss USAs from Texas? I’m not surprised at all.

      Lol! Oh man, if you thought Oregon was flat don’t ever go to the MidWest or Texas. Even the hills here barely pass for a hill.

      I heard Nashville is the new hipsterville–and the new place you go to become a music superstar (move aside, LA and NYC). I’m actually happy to hear previously unknown US cities are blowing up in popularity and becoming cool. Not everyone can live in NYC and LA 😉

      Yes. I will eat more Texmex for you. It’s soooooo goooood 😀

  5. seira says:

    Mary! I don’t know if you know, but I’m from Texas. And…

    “But man, if I was from Texas? I’d have a whole lotta culture to teach the kids.”

    Yeah, I still don’t really know. I felt the same as you when it came to thinking about trying to teach kids about “American culture.” My parents moved to Dallas (for… a job! and that was maybe 35 years ago, so things haven’t changed much!) so I don’t really think of myself as “from Texas” even though I was born and grew up there.

    Every time I think about moving back home (either to Dallas where all my friends are, or to Austin which is much cooler and better – never to Houston though, Houston sucks, ask any person from Dallas) I consider all the expansion… how my friends have to keep moving further and further away from the city center to find affordable places to live… how crowded all the highways must be now… and I just don’t know. What would you do, if you were living in Tokyo now and considering a move back to Texas?

    • seira says:

      By the way, there’s a huge Vietnamese population in Dallas – I hope you’ve gone to some of the places, like Bistro B. Growing up, about half of my friends were Asian (their families were Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino). We are all still incredibly tight today. Dallas is not the worst place for a kid to grow up…

      • rubymary says:

        Oh man, haven’t hit Bistro B yet. Where is the “vietnamese” neighborhood? I know Carollton is where the good Korean food is (omg, there are so many Korean markets/resturants here now, it’s crazy!).

        There are a lot of Asians here! One of my coworkers is Vietnamese and she’s also from Dallas. I do think Dallas is a nice place to grow up, there’s definitely a strong sense of community here.

    • rubymary says:

      NO WAY!!! You’re from Dallas!? What are the odds!!! That is so crazy! If you’re ever back in town let’s grab a coffee!

      Where were you before Texas?? Maybe I’m being stereotypical, but I was thinking that if I was from Texas I would wear cowboy boots and a hat into my JET classroom and show everyone pictures of BBQ or something, haha. But man, A LOT of people here wear cowboy boots–it’s real! And yes, Houston does suck–and everyone from Dallas reminds me of this, too (what’s funny is people from Houston will say the opposite, that Houston is better). I went on a business trip to Houston and it was just god awful… super hot, insane sprawl (even more than Dallas) and just… lame. I heard the food is good there (if you can battle the traffic), but otherwise.. nah.

      Well, it’s always hard to make the decision to move back home. Everyone has their different reasons for staying in Japan or deciding to go back to the USA. I left Japan because a. it’s insanely lonely b. social oppression c. passive aggressive racism d. hard to build a career e. retirement. If you can see yourself living in Japan, marrying a Japanese guy, having Japanese kids and living in Japan forever then I say–go for it. But if you find it hard to envision living and dying in Japan, then you might want to reconsider. In Japan salaries are quite stagnant (even for seishaiin) and companies are VERY hesitant to promote foreigners. Plus, because the Japanese work system is so archaic, it’s hard to switch jobs mid-career and make a half decent salary (and get promoted). That drove me crazy. I think Japan has a better retirement system than China, but one reason I moved back to the USA was retirement–one day I realized I had no investments or retirement and I was quite scared. Maybe I think too long term, but yeah, that was a big reason.

      I won’t lie to you, moving back to the US was the hardest thing I ever did and even today I still as myself if I did the right thing. Japan is SO convenient; being able to walk/bike/train everywhere and the convenience stores and bullet trains and just everything… god, it’s wonderful.

      I think with your Japanese skills you can get a very good job in Dallas. A TON of Japanese companies are moving into Dallas, like Toyota (that’s the reason I was sent here); Fujitsu, Orix, NTT, Hitachi, and more all have offices here in Dallas. Companies like mine are also hiring Japanese speakers to work with Japanese companies because they’re the #1 investor in the US market (not the Chinese, surprisingly!).

      I live in Uptown and I ride the trolley to work and I can actually walk places, so it’s great. I make good money (for the first time ever) and can afford a nice apartment here. The price of a nice apartment in Dallas is significantly cheaper than LA or NYC… you can live well here.

      Anyway, I typed like 3 pages of text and I don’t even know if I answered your question! Basically, all depends on where you see yourself in the future. Japan pissed me off too much for me to live there forever, so I decided to move back–and it was hard, but I think because of that decision I have a much better job. I do admit, I still entertain the thought of possibly moving back to Japan (not Tokyo); but in the end I have no regrets about coming back to the states.

      • seira says:

        yes!! I am from Dallas, I guess it’s pretty random! I am honestly surprised you ended up there too, although thinking about it, it makes sense!

        I wasn’t anywhere before Texas, I had lived there for 26 years (with a few summers in California, a semester in Japan, and a semester in France) before moving to Japan. But I’ve never considered myself really all that Texan and don’t even own any cowboy boots, so I didn’t really feel like playing that up in a classroom…

        Thank you, that’s a lot of good stuff to think about… I really can’t see myself here forever, but it’s going to be hard to leave anyway.

        (I emailed you too since there’s a lot to follow up on via comment only!)

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