Living south of the Trinity River has never been so great. Just ask the droves of Dallasites that are moving to the hot and trendy neighborhoods of Oak Cliff. Teeming with architectural variety and community spirit, this area is home to more than 147,000 people with an average household income of $40,000.
Many people move to Oak Cliff because you can get more for your money in this up-and-coming area. In fact, renovated homes in close proximity to the Bishop Arts District are snatched up as quick as a wink! That’s a 180 degree change from just 20 years ago, when Oak Cliff was viewed as a dangerous part of town that you don’t risk visiting in the evening hours.
“I simply love life as a ‘Cliff Dweller,’” said Dave Perry-Miller agent Brian Davis. “I was introduced to the area as an undergraduate at SMU while working as a City Council intern. Eventually, I moved south of the river and have now been here almost a decade. Aside from the most beautiful topography in the Metroplex, what sets Oak Cliff apart is its unbelievable sense of community.”
Most people who move to Oak Cliff become adamant boosters of the area. The 43-square-mile area is an urban culture hub, spawning art house cinemas, artisan boutiques, and small businesses faster than the city of Dallas can write permits. It’s also home to activists such as Jason Roberts, founder of the Oak Cliff Transit Authority and the Better Block Project, as well as historic preservation societies like the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League and the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts.
“We consistently open and support the best new dining options in Dallas, we care about saving our historic structures, and we do cool things inside them to ensure that they stick around ( i.e. The Texas Theatre, The Kessler Theater, The Belmont Hotel), we embrace our diversity (Jefferson Boulevard is as close as you can get to being in Mexico while staying in Dallas), and we involve ourselves in the political process to make sure City Hall recognizes our strengths and our potential,” Davis added. ”Add to that the rich history of the area (Bonnie and Clyde, Lee Harvey Oswald, many of the city’s civic leaders …) and what you get is a wealth of diverse backgrounds and approaches to life, with the common thread being a strong desire to improve daily life by making it more interesting.”
Supporting small business is an ethos Oak Cliff residents live and preach. There are tons of great boutiques and galleries throughout the area, with hot spots including the Bishop Arts District, the Kessler X+ district, and the Tyler/Davis district. And just about every weekend there is something going on in Oak Cliff, be it a street festival or a parade, mostly thanks to organizers such as Amy Wallace Cowan and Rob Shearer of Go Oak Cliff.
More shopping options are on the way, as well as mixed-use developments. Projects such as The Canyon and Sylvan Thirty will turn blighted lots in Oak Cliff and nearby West Dallas into vibrant shopping areas with new grocery options and space for luxury apartments and artist studios.
And while Oak Cliff may not have schools that rate as high as those in Highland Park, they are getting better thanks to increased community involvement.
“Many people ask me about the schools in Oak Cliff, which I think is a fair question but one that is steeped in irony,” Davis said. “If you examine the location of the finest magnet and alternative schools in the city, many of them are in or near Oak Cliff (Townview, Greiner, Rosemont, KIPP Academy, Booker T. Washington, Harry Stone, Barack Obama Leadership Academy). We have a lot of issues, to be certain, but we also have incredible options.”
Still, for parents who are looking for great education options, private campuses abound, including the popular Kessler School.
If you’re considering a home in Oak Cliff, the best thing to do is to forget what everyone else has told you about the area and just ask one of its residents how they feel about it.
To answer that, Davis said “there is simply no other part of the city that feels more like ‘home.’”