Oklahoma may be the Sooner State, known for its diverse lands—flat plains, wooded mountains, rolling hills; its Indian history; and, of course, its football; but we’d sooner tell you all about Oklahoma’s hidden gems; the places you may not have heard about in the tourist books.
Of course, Oklahoma isn’t the only state with some of their best cities and towns off the beaten path. So far at Movoto Real Estate, we’ve shown you that the best places within a state can be the ones you least expect. Murray, Kentucky for example. Who knew?
Of course, residents in the City of Norman won’t be surprised to find it at the top of our list; but the competition was fierce. So, without further ado, here are the best 15 places in the Oklahoma:
1. City of Norman
2. City of Edmond
3. City of Moore
3. City of Yukon
5. City of Bethany
6. City of Mustang
7. City of Jenks
8. City of Del City
9. City of Bartlesville
9. City of Owasso
11. City of Midwest City
12. City of Altus
12. City of Stillwater
14. City of Woodward
15. City of Duncan
Why this order in particular? What’s with all of the ties? Keep on reading to find out the method behind our ranking, and also, just why each of these places were better than the rest.
How We Did It
Oklahoma may be where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat can surely smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain—but, before I go ahead and include all of “Oklahoma’s” lyrics, let’s go over the seven criteria we actually ended up using for our analysis. After all, the wavin’ wheat’s sweet smell isn’t all that measurable.
- Total Amenities
- Quality of Life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student to teacher ratio)
- Total Crimes
- Tax Rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute Time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
After we narrowed down our criteria, we looked at the U.S. Census data for all of the places in Oklahoma with populations over 10,000. This left us with a total of 43. From there, we ranked each place from one to 43 in these criteria, with one being the best possible score. Finally, we averaged each ranking for an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the winner.
If you are excited to see where your hometown ranked in our analysis, just hop down to the bottom of the post to see our overall rankings. Otherwise, we’ll take a look at each of our top 15, starting with our winner, Norman.
Why was Norman the best place in Oklahoma? This city near Oklahoma City scored high marks in four of our criteria: quality of life, tax rate, weather, and amenities. Among these high marks, the city’s quality of life was a standout, bringing home a No. 1 rank. According to the numbers, a great quality of life in Norman looked a little something like this: a low student to teacher ratio of just 17 to 1, a high median household income of $45,209 (that’s 16 percent higher than the rest of the state), a median home price of $143,200, and a median rent price of $698—24 percent higher than Oklahoma.
Also part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan area, Edmond, placed well in our ranking primarily for its high overall quality of life. Broken down, that meant Edmond had a high median home price of $189,700—the highest in the state and for the third highest median household income—$67,939. Edmond’s median rent price was also much higher than the average Oklahoma city; in fact, at $819 it was the third highest in the state.
While Norman may have Edmond just slightly beat in terms of weather and taxes—where Norman had an average summer temperature of 80, Edmond’s was 79, and their income tax was just a bit higher at 7.75 percent—Edmond was the clear winner when it came to safety, with a crime rate of just 2,071 crimes per 100,000 people; one of the lowest in the state.
The No. 3 spot on our list was a tie—the first among many in Oklahoma, which can only mean one thing: there are just too many wonderful cities. Moore scored well in our analysis for its low student to teacher ratio of just 17 to 1, its median rent price of $801, compared to Oklahoma’s average of $560, indicating a strong desirability to live in the area.
With a sales tax of just 8 percent, Moore came in fourth for its tax rate (another tie, as you’ll see), and with an average summer temperature of 79 and an air quality score of just 36 (the lower the better), it ranked well for weather overall. (The lower, the better for air quality scores!)
The other No. 3 on our list was Yukon. Yukon came in high on our list for its overall score in quality of life. In Yukon, that meant that residents had a comparatively low cost of living—a score of 82, where the national average is 100, a high median household income of $57,771, and a median rent price of $771. With just 2,309 crimes per 100,000 people, Yukon was the sixth safest place on our list, and with an average summer temperature of 79 and an air quality score of 36 (the lower the better), it tied for 2nd for its overall weather.
Just like the other cities of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan area on our list so far, Bethany had a lot going on for it. For starters, it ranked highly in terms of total amenities—an impressive 1,855, according to Yelp. Bethany also had a low cost of living, at least among our top 15, and in combination with its higher than average median household income of $42,147 (where Oklahoma’s was $38,790), it seems as though residents can certainly afford to enjoy all of the amenities in the city. These factors gave Bethany a high score for its overall quality of life ranking.
Bethany was also awarded points for its warm average summer temperatures and clean air score; but unlike some of the other places in the area, Bethany scored well for its low commute time—an average of just 22 minutes. To put this into perspective for you, it’s right about in the middle, where the shortest commute time in our analysis was in Altus at just 14 minutes, and the longest was in Choctaw, at 29 minutes.
Mustang came in high on our list of best places in Oklahoma primarily for its high score in quality of life. To break that down, Mustang had a median rent price of $857, a high median income of $58,672, and a high median home price of $125,700. Additionally, Mustang ranked well for its warm summer temperatures and air quality score of just 36 (lower being best); but what set it above from the rest of the places in the area, was its low unemployment rate—just 4.9 percent, where the Oklahoma average was 6.8 percent.
With over 1,320 total amenities and a high overall quality of life score in our analysis, it is no wonder Jenks rolled in at No. 7 on our list. In Jenks, a good quality of life looks like this: a median home price of $164,700, a median rent price of $866, and the very highest median household income in the state, $76,227. So, in short, not too shabby.
Jenks also had one of the lowest crime rates in our top 15, with just 2,274 crimes per 100,000 people, and with an average commute time of 22 minutes, Jenks was also one of the best in terms of time spent behind the wheel (or lack thereof).
8. Del City
With a cost living score of 78 and a sales tax rate of just 8 percent, Del City is by far one of the most affordable on our overall list. But this city impressed us with much more than money. It also had one of the better scores for its total number of amenities—1,486, according to Yelp—and for its low student to teacher ratio of just 17 to 1.
If this doesn’t seem like the ideal place to raise a family just yet—listen to this: Del City’s average commute time is just 21 minutes, versus some cities, like Guthrie where it is 27. As parents out there know, six minutes may not seem like a lot, but with a full car of kids and places to go, it can really make all the difference.
Bartlesville, the first No. 9 on the list, scored well in our analysis for its low sales tax rate of just 8 percent, an average commute time of just 20 minutes, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state—4.8 percent. To top it off, Bartlesville had one of the lowest student to teacher ratios of all of the places we looked at, just 15 to 1, giving this northern Oklahoma city an exceptional rank in education, and in our list overall.
Tying with Bartlesville, Owasso scored well on our list for a number of reasons—but most of them begin with a dollar sign (i.e., a high score in overall quality of life). Owasso came in among the best when it came to its median household income of $64,566, and also in the world of real estate, with a median home price of $146,500 and median rent price of $799—that’s 42 percent higher than Oklahoma.
With the lowest crime rate on the list, just 1,141 crimes per 100,000 people, Owasso residents can sleep soundly at night—no matter how much of that salary they keep stuffed under their mattresses.
11. Midwest City
Midwest City came in at the top of our list for an overall good quality of life score. With a cost of living score of just 79 and a sales tax rate of just 7.8 percent, it is among the least expensive on our overall list—and yet residents make a median household income of $42,117—8 percent higher than the state.
Plus, Midwesterners had a student to teacher ratio of just 17 to 1, making this city a great spot to raise a family.
The first No. 12 on our list, Altus, was first when it came to its cost of living score—just a 75 where the average is 100, which contributed to its overall score in quality of life. Unfortunately, Altus scored as one of the worst for its extremely high student to teacher ratio—26 to 1—and for an air quality score of 41, where 0 is the best; but Altus more than made up for this with the shortest average commute time in our ranking, just 14 minutes, a sales tax of just 8 percent, and an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent—one of the lowest in Oklahoma.
Tying with Altus in our ranking was Stillwater. This Payne County city had a low student to teacher ratio, just 17 to 1, a low unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent—the second lowest in our ranking, and a sales tax of just 8.2 percent, ranking it the ninth best on our list in terms of taxes.
Stillwater’s cherry on top was a short and sweet commute time of just 18 minutes—which we are sure residents must enjoy with the windows rolled down in the summer, with an ideal average temperature of 79 degrees.
Woodward ranked better than average for its overall quality of life score, due to a median household income of $45,133 (making it the 15th best-paid place in our study). This figure is even more impressive when you consider Woodward’s low sales tax, just 8.2 percent.
Woodward also had both one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, at just 3.7 percent, and one of the shortest commute times of all of our places, just 18 minutes—good news for all of those residents heading to work!
Bringing our list to an end, this Stephens County city had a good quality of life score, due to one of the lowest costs of living on our entire list—a score of just 75, where the average is 100. Duncan also seems to have plenty to do, with a total of 1,456 amenities, according to Yelp.
And while residents are out enjoying these restaurants, bars, cafes, and businesses—affordably, no doubt—they can also feel safe and secure, because Duncan came in as the seventh safest place in our overall list, with a crime rate of just 2,328 crimes per 100,000 people. To put that into perspective for you, take a look at Shawnee, whose crime rate is nearly 7,000 per 100,000.
You’re Doin’ Fine, Oklahoma!
Well, that’s what the musical’s famous song says anyway. But with some of the best overall qualities of life, the warmest temperatures and clearest skies, the lowest crime rates in the state, and tax rates so low they’re practically criminal, these 15 places are clearly doing more than fine—in fact, we think you’re doing pretty darn well.