11/25/2015


Downtown to Uptown

Nan Banks
Todd Blickenstaff

Todd Blickenstaff is the Toyota Avalon Product Planner and his wife works in TFS Human Resources.

Todd is a native of Southern California who enjoys surfing, snowboarding, travel, live music and the LA Kings. He arrived in Texas in June 2015 with his wife and two cats.

For my wife Nikki and me, our decision to move to Texas was not that difficult. Nikki also works at Toyota so we did not have to worry about whether she would be able to find a job in Texas. I’ve always wanted to live outside of California and while Texas wasn’t my first choice, we thought we’d give it a try.

Nikki and I previously lived in downtown Los Angeles for over nine years.  When it came time to decide where to live in Texas, we wanted a similar urban experience. We settled in a neighborhood called State Thomas, which is part of Uptown in Dallas. Visiting Dallas four times before finding the loft we bought was helpful and each trip helped me learn about the many different neighborhoods. Here are some notes about my Dallas experience so far.

Griggs Park in Uptown Dallas


Becoming a Texan

Relocation

The packing and loading experience in LA was positive.  The only issue we experienced on that end was the crating company that packaged our flat screen TV and artwork running way behind schedule. Unloading and unpacking in Dallas also went well.  Two items were damaged but were promptly fixed. No missing items, but here’s a helpful hint: pack your remote with your TV!

Because we didn’t want to fly with our two cats, we drove straight through to Texas, a total of about 22 hours. Let me just say, you’re not missing too much if you decide to fly – lots of flat land.  We did see a beautiful sunset and witnessed some amazing lightning storms along the way.

Real Estate

In LA we had a one-story loft with one bedroom, one bathroom and one parking space. In Dallas we got a two-story loft with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and two parking spots for pretty much the same cost as our LA home. Our new place has a balcony, plus access to a gym and pool. It’s right in front of Griggs Park, an eight-acre park that’s way safer and cleaner than anything in downtown LA!

A DART train in downtown Dallas. Photo: Dallas Chamber of Commerce

A McKinney trolley in Uptown Dallas


Commuting

Similar to LA, the drive from the city (Dallas) to work (Plano) is against traffic for us. We can either take DNT (Dallas North Tollway) for about $7 roundtrip, or 75 (not “the 75” I’ve been told) to avoid tolls.  Our morning commute is about 30 minutes (on the tollway) and 40 minutes home in the evening. Not taking the tollway adds an extra 10 minutes. Keep in mind gas is cheaper here. I’ve seen it for $1.99, but $2.15 is most common right now.

Transportation

Unlike most Angelenos, I took the Metro often. I found it to be safe, fast  and convenient, and I was hoping for the same with the DART. So far I have only taken the DART to DFW airport.  It took about one hour, but only cost $2.50. It was very clean and safe. You can take it to the State Fair and I can also take it to Fort Worth or downtown Plano.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Uptown Dallas

Love Field is closer to home than DFW, only five miles and 15 minutes away. It’s my airport of choice and has flights from Virgin and Southwest. Another fun transportation option is the free trolley on McKinney (the street, not the city) that is especially convenient in the heat.

Food

I love being able to walk to restaurants. Si Tapas is a Spanish/Tapas place about three blocks away. Our favorite Thai restaurant, Crushcraft, is a ten-minute walk. We can also walk to Boxwood Tap & Grill, Hopdoddy (arguably the best burger in town), Uchi (high-end Japanese) and the Nodding Donkey (sports bar with surprisingly good food). If you want to learn more about the culinary scene, check out Eater online.

Groceries

I’m sure everyone knows Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and Dallas has several of each. I’m especially excited about the new Whole Foods that opened in Uptown on August 12, a short walk from our loft. Where you might not have been is Kroger’s, which is equivalent to Ralph’s but in my opinion a bit nicer. And my favorite is Central Market, which has a tortillaria on site! Their bakery, butcher, deli and produce departments are as good as or better than Whole Foods and they are less expensive as well! The beer selection includes lots of local microbreweries like Four Corners, Community, Rahr, and Deep Ellum.

Whole Foods in Uptown Dallas

Whole Foods in Uptown Dallas

Barber

Don’t laugh, this is important! I found a great barber at a place called Brass Tacks, located in Oak Cliff. My barber’s name is Juke, and before or after your service you can enjoy Four Corners beer on tap, or some coffee.


Things to Do

Dallas Museum of Art is downtown Dallas. Photo: Dallas Chamber of Commerce

Culture

Dallas has all of its major museums clustered together in downtown. We have a 15-minute walk to the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Perot Museum of Science and Nature, Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and AT&T Performing Arts Center. The Crow is always free, and they often have classes on meditation and other topics. Some museums are free the first Saturday of the month.

Music

Some of my fondest memories in LA were seeing live music and I’m already lining up concerts in Dallas. I got tickets for Untapped, which is a beer festival featuring The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog and other bands I follow. My favorite radio station is KXT 91.7, a commercial-free indie music channel. There are historic theaters like the Kessler and Granada, and newer venues like the Bomb Factory, Club Dada, Trees and House of Blues.

The CMAs at AT&T Stadium

House of Blues Dallas. Photo: Dallas Chamber of Commerce

Sports

The American Airlines Center is about 15 minutes away from us, and yes, I will start cheering for the Stars (except when the Kings are in town). The Mavericks also play there and the venue gets big name musicians frequently. Not that I’m a fan, but Garth Brooks did SEVEN shows there! On my to-do list is to see the Cowboys and Rangers play. We did see an FC Dallas soccer game at Toyota Stadium that was way more fun than I expected. And for college sports, SMU is nearby, and the big UT vs. Oklahoma game was just held in the Cotton Bowl.

A Mavericks game inside the American Airlines Center

The Cotton Bowl. Photo: Andreas Praefcke CC BY 3.0

Klyde Warren Park

 A ¾-mile walk from my house brings you to this gem built on top of a freeway overpass. We went recently for Decks in the Park, where three DJs played music until late at night. There are food trucks, ping pong tables, yoga classes and movies – every day something is happening here!

Klyde Warren Park. Photo: Dallas Chamber of Commerce

Katy Trail Ice House. Photo: Dallas Chamber of Commerce

Katy Trail

About one mile away from my home is the Katy Trail, which is currently 3.5 miles long. It’s a great place to walk, jog or bike ride, and along the way there are places to put back on the calories you lost exercising (Katy Trail Ice House being my favorite). The pathway is planned to extend all the way to White Rock Lake.

The Beaches

OK, there are no beaches, but how often do most people in LA actually go to the beach? There are many lakes and rivers nearby, so there are places to stand up paddleboard, wake board and even wake surf. I’m eager to go tubing sometime. And if you really want a beach, Cancun is a short two-and-a-half hour plane ride away. Or you can drive to the coast of Texas or Mississippi.

Road Trip!

Nothing beats a good road trip, and in less than four-and-a-half hours you can be in San Antonio, Austin, Oklahoma City (OKC) or Houston to name a few destinations. I’ve never been to OKC, but I hear it’s nice.

White Rock Lake


Closing Advice

So if you’re interested in learning more about Dallas, check out D Magazine and Dallas Observer online. Definitely visit and explore the area several times to get to know each of the neighborhoods. You may find that you are more of a Knox Henderson type than a Lower Greenville type. As with anything, keep an open mind. You’ll probably realize (like I did) that many of your preconceptions about Texas and/or the DFW area are a little off, or wrong altogether.  And for those of you that are already starting your move process, my advice is to start preparing for the move now.  Throw away, sell or donate items you no longer use or need. Squeeze in those last remaining bucket list items in your home area (mine were Death Valley and Watts Towers).  If you have any questions that I haven’t covered here, I’d be glad to chat. Good luck and I hope to see you in Texas!