Wichita Falls: The Right-Sized City to Raise a Kid

This morning I was reminded of just how idyllic Wichita Falls is for raising a child.

And that’s saying a lot, because oh boy, do I love my Houston. When I moved here from there six years ago, I wouldn’t say I went kicking and screaming, but it was somewhere close. I mourned the loss of all the restaurant and high-end and boutique shopping options, the melting pot of cultures – and how that affected things as important and lofty as your worldview, but also as small (but big to me) as your culinary options. I also mourned the missed opportunities – the easy access to top museums and the zoo and the events and the variety of children’s programs.

But this morning, as I sat completely still on Maplewood, letting my car idle as a gaggle of ducks slowly crossed the road, I had an unexpected moment of overwhelming emotions. I felt this sense of joy, fulfillment, and contentment for what our life has become in the city I never though I’d end up in.

This may seem commonplace to native Texomans, but for those of you who grew up in big cities, you know how monumental this is – YES, the only traffic I encounter on my morning commute is the occasion duck crossing due to the lake near my son’s preschool.

Seriously.

So just to remind everyone how wonderful it is to live here in Texoma, I thought I’d share some thoughts:

Things I had to consider about being a working mom in Houston:

  • Live in the suburbs and experience hour-plus commutes each way to work – that’s 8 hours off your week right there! And not the most pleasant 8 hours you’ll spend, believe me.
  • Live close to “town” and pay $400,000 for a house that would cost you $100,000 here in Wichita Falls
  • Daycare and preschool costs are more than DOUBLE what our average cost is here (Average cost in WF: $130/week compared to as much as $350/week in Houston)
  • Is it even economically VIABLE to keep working with a child? Do I give up the career I love?
  • Strategizing WHERE your preschool/daycare will be so you can get there before it closes during traffic. Hint: Choose one close to work to avoid late fees, but then be forced to endure your cabin-fevered toddler for those long commutes.
  • Anonymity and lack of reinforcements. It’s something you encounter living in a big city. You can often feel like you’re living on an island, if you don’t make real efforts to reach out. And even then, people aren’t always that receptive. It’s just the culture of living in a big place. Borrowing a cup of a sugar from a neighbor is a foreign concept. So is waving to them as they drive past you in the neighborhood (Side Note: This practice TOTALLY weirded us out when we first moved here, but now we love it and do the same!)

Being a working mom in Wichita Falls:

  • To begin, I didn’t have to make the gut-wrenching decision between career and family, because daycare/preschool was affordable enough to work in our budget.
  • It’s big enough here that there are a variety of wonderful and affordable daycares and preschools for the choosing
  • There’s less of a workaholic mentality city-wide – both me and my husband leave at 5 pm on the DOT every day from work – this was UNHEARD of in Houston
  • It’s small enough that it doesn’t matter if you’re commuting from one end of the city to another, it’s no more than 15 minutes (this is a BIG DEAL folks!)
  • Short commute + balanced work/life mentality = more precious time spent with my kid during the week!
  • It’s big enough that the culture is THERE. Anyone who tells you there’s nothing to do for adults or kids hasn’t been looking hard enough. Just check out our Weekly Family Events Recaps, our Events page on Facebook, or ChooseWichitaFalls.com!
  • There is a REAL sense of community. It’s unparalleled. Again, those of you who are from here and haven’t known anything else – it’s SUCH a big deal, and so uncommon these days. Our community bands together. Our neighbors reach out to support each other in times of need. I lived in Houston my whole life, but Wichita Falls only 6 years and I still have more people here that I could call on or reach out to if needed. I’m not completely naive as to what happens in our city, but it’s so much closer to the warm, Leave-it-to-Beaver style upbringing my dad describes from the 50s. Leave the windows open, let the kids play ball in the street! We’re in Texoma now. <3

Note: Cute coffee mug found from this Etsy seller!

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