Someone asked on one of the LiveJournal communities I am a part of about moving to Dallas, and if anyone had any advice. Of course, I had to reply...
I moved to Dallas in August of '06 from the New Orleans area. I didn't know anyone here, knew very little about the city or the "trans community." I was moving because my spouse did know people here, could no longer live in New Orleans, and didn't like my suggestion about moving to Atlanta (which I think is far more transfriendly, but I digress).
I'll just hit the high and low points:
Dallas is a pretty "accepting" city. It's got a very large and public GLBT community, mostly centered around the Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn area. The Sheriff is a lesbian Latina, openly gay men have run for and won public offices in the DFW area. And in the last election, an openly gay city councilman nearly won the mayor's race. Recently, the Dallas Voice did an article on a post-transition Dallas Police officer who was not the first person to do so in the department.
Dallas has one of the largest populations of GLBT people per capita in the country. It also has the largest church with a predominantly GLBT congregation in the country, too. Go figure.
There are quite a few companies that have GLBT-affirmative policies regarding employment-including many Fortune 500 companies. If you are looking for a job in the financial, IT, healthcare or transportation fields, there are opportunities in the Dallas area.
The people here are actually very friendly and open. Neighbors tend to be helpful. There are some very nice neighborhoods in the city, and you can find someplace you'll feel comfortable in.
Contrary to rumor, you can get more than barbecue and Mexican food in Dallas. Though there is some great barbecue and Mexican food here. There's also incredible Latin, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and African cuisines at reasonable prices.
And now, what sucks...
Traffic is hellish; the drivers morons. Really. My car insurance went up when I moved here. There are constant roadworks, accidents tie up major roads for hours, the junctions and intersections make no sense, and drivers simply refuse to allow you to merge or change lanes and insist on tailgating you everywhere. Expect any commute to take at least an hour, if you're lucky.
There's no income tax-but every other tax is bleeding. Wages are higher than most of the South, but so is the cost of living. Housing prices have yet to take much of a dive, too.
There is a definite class system in Dallas, based on where you live and how much you make. It helps if you live in the right part of town or the right suburb. Displays of wealth are common and expected. The first shopping mall was in Dallas; they never stopped building them. Think of any prestigious brand and they probably a boutique or store here.
The crime rate in Dallas is shocking, and it's been bad for years. "Hate crimes" are rare, but robberies and assaults are not uncommon.
And while Dallas may be pretty accepting, just a few miles away you're in redneck Texas. Plus, there are parts of Dallas I wouldn't dream of going into at any time of the day...
You may have noticed I have not talked a lot about the transgender community in Dallas. Because there isin't much of one. There are support groups, and some excellent therapists. But socially, simply making friends among the locals has been hard. The vast majority of transpeople are not out, or have managed to stealth themselves well enough they don't feel a need to make contact with others. The friends I have here I found through mutual friends in other places or by being lucky.
However, I will say that the friends I have here have been wonderful people who are generous to a fault and I am happy to know.
When Nicole Meadows said this place will eat your soul, she's not kidding. It's a hard place to live if you don't know people, and it's an easy place to feel lost in. I know I have...
Overall, if you're moving here for family or work, do it. If you are moving here for a social scene, there are better choices...