Norman offers a winning combination of an affordable cost of living and a high-quality lifestyle. The renowned University of Oklahoma, located on the southwest side of town, infuses the city with scholarship, culture, and sports; covering the eastern section of the city, the enormous Lake Thunderbird provides terrific recreation.
The University of Oklahoma (OU) has a reputation for its excellent education and research programs – and Sooner football has the highest percentage of wins of any Division 1 school. When attending a game, the exuberant Sooner Pride of Oklahoma marching band is something to see! As a newcomer, as long as you cheer on the Sooners, locals will consider you one of the tribe. When you’re ready for an escape, in a mere twenty minutes you can be fishing on the shores of Lake Thunderbird or camping in one of its two state parks. If you like to hike, bike, fish, boat, camp, waterski, and swim, you’ll love spending time in this beautiful recreational area. If that sounds like paradise to you, then one of the licensed and insured Norman moving companies can help you settle into your new home.
Friendly residents add to Norman’s welcoming small-town atmosphere. And for such a small city, it’s impressive how much first-class fun happens throughout the year. Fairs, festivals, and all kinds of music and events keep locals splendidly entertained, often in a progressively-minded way as with the Groovefest Human Rights Music Festival.
Living in Norman, OK: What to Know Before Moving to Norman
Located twenty miles south of Oklahoma City, Norman is the county seat of Cleveland County. As a result of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run, Norman was settled by 150 hearty pioneers. The population has blossomed to about 123,471 residents, 32,000 of whom are University of Oklahoma students.
Pros and Cons
Will any of these pros or cons influence your move to Norman?
- Cost of living: Your overall costs will be about 10% lower than the national average.
- Housing costs: The median home value is about $64,000 lower than the US average.
- Economy: Diverse and strong economy plus a low unemployment rate.
- University of Oklahoma: This respected university adds scholarship and sophistication.
- Charm: Historic neighborhoods around the OU campus add charisma and character.
- Sizzling summers: The heat gears up early and lasts until mid-September.
- Twisters: Norman is right smack dab in the middle Tornado Alley.
- Flat: With west Norman on the prairie, there’s little geographic diversity in most of the city.
- Growth: As Norman grows, sprawl is becoming a problem.
- Property crime: The property crime rate is higher than the US average.
- Property tax: The Cleveland County property tax rate is 1.150%. If you own a home valued at $250,000, you’ll pay $2,875 in annual property tax.
- Sales tax: The combined Norman sales tax rate is 8.75%. The US average rate is 7.3%.
- State income tax: Oklahoma residents pay an average 5.0% state income tax.
About 61% of Norman residents are homeowners. Various websites quote different pricing, but according to the zillow.com February 2020 statistics, the housing market was hot – the median home value was $172,592, but the listed price of homes on the market was significantly higher at $245,990. Home values rose 3% in 2019, and models predict they’ll go up another 3.9% by the end of 2020.
Maybe you’ll prefer to rent. If so, count on a median rent price of $1,100, as of February 2020. If you’re looking for the most affordable areas of Norman, check out the charming Downtown neighborhoods of Original Townsite and First Courthouse, plus the southeast Norman area near Cedar Lane and Classen Blvd.
Cost of Living
More great news about living in Norman is that the overall cost of living is about 10% lower than the national average. The average national cost of living index is 100, and in Norman, it’s 89.4. The only expense that’s higher than the US average is health at 116.2. Otherwise, you’ll enjoy below-average index costs of groceries at 97.7, housing at 71.2, utilities at 98.7, transportation at 95.6, and miscellaneous (insurance, repairs, child care, etc.) at 89.2.
The epi.org Family Budget Calculator estimates how much you’d need to earn to enjoy a moderately comfortable lifestyle in Cleveland County. A family of four would need to bring in $6,960 per month, or $83,517 annually. In Norman, the family median income is $70,094, a fraction lower than the national average of $70,850.
Weather and Natural Disasters
In Norman’s temperate, humid subtropical climate zone, you’ll have hot, muggy summers; delightful falls; cold, windy, cloudy winters; and even though spring is beautiful, you’ll need to watch out for March – June twisters.
Summers can be sweltering. In 2011, daytime temps hovered above 100 from mid-June until early September. The hottest months are July and August, with July averaging 92 degrees and average lows of 71. August averages 93 degrees with lows also averaging 71. About 38 inches of rain falls annually. May and June are the wettest months; humidity gears up in June, July, and August.
The coldest months are December and January. You can expect average December highs of about 51 and lows of 29. In January you’ll have average highs of 50 and lows of 28. Winter months are typically cloudy with about 45% sunny days, and you might get a slight dusting of snow in December or January, but in typical years, it’ll be less than one inch.
One of the most tornado-prone regions of the world, Norman gets particularly intense and frequent twisters. The OU National Severe Storms Laboratory doesn’t just predict Norman weather but forecasts severe storms and tornados throughout the nation.
With Norman located in Tornado Alley, you’ll want to be on the alert for tornadoes from March through June. The additional natural disaster threats are extreme rain and hail, flooding, lightning, and wildfire. Be sure to check out the City of Norman Emergency Management Plan, where you can learn how to create a safety plan for you and your family.
Economy and Job Market
As a major research institution, the University of Oklahoma keeps the Norman economy healthy. The job market increased by 2.6% in 2019, and over the next ten years, it’s forecasted to grow by 33.9%, a bit higher than the US average rate of 33.5%. The city’s unemployment rate is 3.0% – 0.9% lower than the US rate of 3.9%.
Norman’s leading industrial sectors include Educational Services, Health Care and Social Assistance; Arts, Entertainment, Accommodation and Food Services; Retail Trade; Professional, Scientific, Management, Administrative, and Waste; and Public Administration. The major employers are the University of Oklahoma, Norman Regional Health System, Norman Public Schools, Johnson Controls, Griffin Memorial Hospital, Hitachi, Astellas Pharma Technologies, Albon Engineering, and Xyant Technology.
The City of Norman lists available positions on its human resources page. However, before you start your job search, be sure your resume is updated, and your social media presents well.
Traffic and Transportation
The University of Oklahoma operates Cleveland Area Rapid Transit (CART) with campus shuttles and extensive bus service throughout Norman and on up to Oklahoma City’s EMBARK transit hub. Even with a decent public transit system, cars rule in Norman. 80% of residents drive their car to work on their own and 9% carpool. Only 1.3% use public transportation.
Several significant thoroughfares conveniently run through Norman. I-35 runs south to Dallas and north to Oklahoma City then on to Wichita. I-40 runs west to Amarillo and east to Memphis. US Highway 77 runs north-south parallel to I-35. State Highway 9 runs east-west along the southern region of Norman and State Highway 77.
Walkscore.com reports a bike score of 58 and a walk score of 31. The best neighborhoods for walking are Old Silk Stocking, University, and Miller Historic District.
When it’s time to head out of town, you can choose Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, which runs daily train service to Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City. Or, if you’ll be flying, the closest international airport is Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport, 20 miles north.
What to Do
From arts and entertainment to outdoor adventure and sports, Norman has plenty of year-round activities for every interest. Just the festivals and music events alone are pretty impressive for a city the size of Norman.
- Culture, arts, and museums: Try to make time for the Second Friday Art Walk, 6-9 pm in the Walker Arts District, Downtown; the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History and Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, both on the OU campus; The Moore-Lindsay House Historical Museum; Catlett Music Center; and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts’ Schools of Dance, Musical Theatre, and Drama.
- Entertainment: Jazz in June showcases three nights of music in some of Norman’s favorite outdoor spaces. The Norman Music Festival takes place in August. More fun is to be had at The Norman Medieval Fair, Groovefest, The Chocolate Festival, May Fair, Summer Breeze Concert Series, Midsummer Nights’ Fair, The Norman Mardi Gras, and Main Street Christmas Holiday Parade. The Norman 89er Day Parade celebrates the Great Land Run of 1889.
- Outdoor adventures and parks: Three rec centers, three disc golf courses, a golf course, driving range, swim complex, and 32 tennis courts are available among 55 community and neighborhood parks. The Griffin Community Park Sports Complex, in particular, has 14 baseball/softball fields, 16 soccer fields, and four football fields. Lake Thunderbird offers options to hike, bike, fish, boat, camp, waterski, swim, or just relax in the shade.
- Sports: The University of Oklahoma Sooners are especially famous for their NCAA Division I football team, plus you can also cheer on men’s and women’s basketball, golf, cross country, tennis, track and field, and gymnastics.
Schools and Universities
The several districts that serve Norman include:
- Norman Public Schools: with 15 elementary, four middle, and two high schools
- Noble Public Schools: serving southern Norman with two elementary, one middle, and one high school
- Little Axe Public Schools: serving eastern Norman with one elementary, one middle, and one high school.
Robin Hills Public School District and Moor Public School District serve small portions of Norman. You can also choose from nine private schools, both secular and faith-based. The top schools, according to greatschools.org, are the 10/10 rated Cleveland Elementary School, McKinley Elementary School, and Norman North High School. Schools rated 9/10 include Whittier Middle School; and Roosevelt, Truman, and Washington Elementary Schools.
The highly respected University of Oklahoma, a public research institution, is Oklahoma’s largest university with the main campus in Norman and a satellite campus in Oklahoma City. OU is home to the renowned National Weather Center, and its Storm Prediction Center is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). OU also houses the National Severe Storms Laboratory. The Moore Norman Technology Center offers two- to four-semester career programs in a wide variety of fields.
The violent crime rate in Norman is very low. The US average rate is 22.7, and in Norman, the violent crime rate is 14.7. Property crime, however, is higher than average. The US average rate for property crime is 35.4, and in Norman, it’s 40.9. Crime appears to be higher in the city center along Main Street and just north, along N Porter Ave and E Davis Street.
We’ve provided Norman utility providers for your convenience. To keep your relocation running smoothly, be sure to set up your new accounts well before your move-in date.
- Gas service: Oklahoma Gas & Electric provides both gas and electric service. Open your account online or call 1-800-272-9741 Monday through Friday 8-5; Oklahoma Natural Gas, to set up service call 1-800-664-5463 Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7 pm.
- Electric service: Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, call 405-321-2024 to set up your new account; Oklahoma Gas & Electric provides both gas and electrical service. Open your account online or call 1-800-272-9741 Monday through Friday 8-5.
- Water service: The City of Norman provides water and sewer services. Call 405-366-5413 to set up your account. The city charges a $60 fee to set up your meter.
- Trash pick-up and recycling service: The City of Norman will provide your trash and recycling service. Call the sanitation department at 405-329-1023 to set up your service.
- Internet and cable service: Enter your new zip code on highspeedinternet.com. The site will show you all the providers who service your neighborhood, plus their various plans and rates.
Best Neighborhoods in Norman, OK
Whether you’re looking for a charming Downtown neighborhood close to the University of Oklahoma campus, or prefer to live in a suburb with a little more open space, Norman has a wide variety of communities for you to explore.
Miller Historic District
The charming Miller Historic District is a small triangular neighborhood directly east of University and about two minutes south of the Downtown neighborhoods. The boundaries include W Symmes St on the north, Classen Blvd on the east, and S Jones Ave and the Legacy Trail on the west.
Homes in Miller were built from 1903 through 1935, mainly for the University of Oklahoma faculty and prominent Norman citizens. The most common building styles were Bungalow and American Craftsman. In addition to finding a charming historic home, you can also find an apartment – many larger historical residences have been repurposed as multi-family units.
Residents love Miller’s convenience to the University, its historic allure, the beautiful mature trees, and the friendly, community atmosphere. When it’s time to go out for a meal, the tried and true Mont is popular for its Mexican and American menus, and Blu, a wine bar and upscale pub grub spot, is another favorite.
- Population: 1,637
- Median home value: $265,000
- Homeowners: 95%
- Median rent price: $1,100
- Schools: Lincoln Elementary School 6/10, Irving Middle School 5/10, Norman High School 8/10
The University neighborhood is directly south of Downtown and is bordered by W Main St on the north, S Webster and Asp Ave on the east, W Boyd St on the south, and S Flood Ave on the west.
You’ll find housing in apartments, townhouses, and some well-maintained lovely vintage homes with mature landscaping. Even though many students live in University, residents report that they enjoy the family-friendly vibe and community events and activities.
University is super-walkable and bikeable – the walk score is 79, and the bike score is 98! All kinds of amenities like grocery stores, pharmacies, cafes, and coffee spots are convenient – you can actually live here without a car.
Residents enjoy the tons of restaurants and casual cafes like La Baguette Bakery & Café, Library Bar & Grill, and Blackbird Gastropub.
- Population: 4,320
- Average home price: $399,900
- Homeowners: 40%
- Median rent price: $1,400
- Schools: McKinley Elementary School 10/10, Whittier Middle School 9/10, Norman High School 8/10
Old Silk Stocking District
Bordered by E Robinson St on the north, N Porter Ave on the east, W Daws St on the south, and Front St on the west, Old Silk Stocking is a charming Downtown neighborhood. Most housing consists of older three- and four-bedrooms homes with a lot of character, but you can also find some apartments. Beautiful, mature trees line many of the streets. In the early 20th century, the Old Silk Stocking District was Norman’s most exclusive neighborhood, so you can imagine that many homes are exceptional.
With a 71 walk score and 93 bike score, Old Silk Stocking is an easy neighborhood to live in without a car, although with the limited public transportation, you’ll need a car if you plan to commute. Residents love the family-friendly, close-knit community, but this neighborhood also appeals to single young professionals and college students.
Some of the most popular places for a meal are Ray’s BBQ and Tarahumara’s Mexican Café.
- Population: 5,589
- Average home price: $184,750
- Homeowners: 55%
- Median rent price: $1,020
- Schools: Jefferson Elementary School 8/10, Longfellow Middle School 7/10, Norman High School 8/10
Bordered by E Gray and E Main St on the north, Reed Ave on the east, Alameda St on the south, and S Porter on the west, Original Townsite is another neighborhood that is truly in the heart of Downtown. Housing consists mainly of very modest older homes, some ready for you to fix up with your own custom touches. Original Townsite, with its tree-lined streets, offers great affordability for such a convenient, safe neighborhood.
Locals love the ability to safely walk in the neighborhood, the high-quality schools, and great neighbors. In Original Townsite, the walk score is 65, and the bike score is 89. This neighborhood is ideal to consider if you’re buying your first home. University students, single young professionals, and families love living in Original Townsite.
The Diner, Van’s Pig Stands, and Gray Owl Coffee are some favorite spots that locals enjoy.
- Population: 1,361
- Average home price: $73,950
- Homeowners: 36%
- Median rent price: $910
- Schools: Jefferson Elementary School 8/10, Longfellow Middle School 7/10, Norman High School 9/10
First Courthouse border E Robinson St on the north, N Carter Ave on the east, E Gray St on the south, and N Porter Ave on the west. Homes here are older with a mix of some fixer-uppers and others that are well-cared-for and charming. With the occasional white picket fences and beautiful old trees, First Courthouse has a cozy, established feel.
Residents enjoy excellent schools, a peaceful atmosphere, dog-friendliness, and great neighbors. The Mercy Hospital complex and Griffin Community Park fill the northern section of First Courthouse. With a 60 walk score and 87 bike score, you’ll be able to run errands and go out for a bite without having to fire up your auto. The Garage for juicy burgers, Gaberino’s Homestyle Italian Restaurant, Braum’s Ice Cream & Burger Restaurant are a few spots that locals enjoy.
- Population: 1,214
- Average home price: $77,200
- Homeowners: 40%
- Median rent price: $900
- Schools: Jefferson Elementary School 8/10, Longfellow Middle School 7/10, Norman High School 8/10
Bordered by W Robinson St on the north, N Mercedes Dr on the east, W Main Street on the south, and 24th Ave NW on the west, Westwood Estates is located just seven minutes west of Downtown. Homes are generally older, modest, three-bedroom ranch-style residences. You can find some apartments closer to W Main Street and 24th Ave NW.
Interstate-35 is just a mile west for convenient commuting and access to Oklahoma City. The extensive Westwood Park, Westwood Park Golf Course, and Westwood Tennis Center provide terrific green space and recreation.
Residents like the safety, excellent schools, location, well-maintained yards, and friendly neighbors. W Main Street and the section of 24th Ave NW just north of the neighborhood offer convenient amenities and just about any type of shopping you can imagine. Some favorite spots for a meal are the family-friendly Koto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi and for some retro fast food, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.
- Population: 2,166
- Median home price: $114,900
- Homeowners: 50%
- Median rent price: $1,000
- Schools: Cleveland Elementary School 10/10, Alcott Middle School 7/10, Norman High School 8/10
Located about ten minutes northeast of Downtown, suburban Hall Park is bordered by E Rock Creek Rd on the north, 24th Ave NE on the east, E Robinson St on the south, and 12th Ave NE on the west. Hall Park was marketed as Oklahoma’s first ‘all-electric’ town back in the 1960s when it was a small unincorporated berg. Homes consist of three and four-bedroom, well-maintained residences, some on extensive properties. You’ll also be able to find some townhouses and apartments.
Northeast Lions Park, High Meadows Park, Creighton Park, and six lakes add to the beautiful green space and open feel. Hall Park is known for its friendly neighbors, safety, and excellent schools. Directly west, across 12th Ave NE, residents enjoy the extensive George M Sutton Wilderness Park with a disc golf course, soccer fields, and the Norman Community Dog Park.
Since it’s mainly residential, you’ll need a car to run errands, go out for a meal, and commute from Hall Park. Sprouts Farmers Market and Norman Farm Market are a few of the limited amenities.
- Population: 3,284
- Average home price: $300,000
- Homeowners: 75%
- Median rent price: $1,300
- Schools: Eisenhower Elementary School 7/10, Irving Middle School 5/10, Norman High School 8/10 or Norman North High School 10/10
Bordered by E Robinson St on the north, 36th Ave NE on the east, Alameda St on the south, and 24th Ave SE on the west, suburban Royal Oaks is about 12 minutes east of Downtown and directly southeast of Hall Park. Houses are mainly well-maintained three and four-bedroom, solidly-constructed homes, along with some new builds. Royal Oaks Park and a lake sit in the center of the neighborhood.
Royal Oaks is a family-friendly, safe, walkable neighborhood that’s popular with professionals and families. The schools are particularly highly rated. You’ll need a car to access amenities like grocery stores and restaurants along Alameda St. Some favorite places for a meal include Los Dos Amigos, Chelinos Mexican Restaurant, and Thai Kum Koon Restaurant.
- Population: 1,637
- Median home list price: $250,000
- Homeowners: 95%
- Median rent price: $1,200
- Schools: Eisenhower Elementary School 7/10, Irving Middle School 5/10, Norman High School 8/10, or Norman North High School 10/10.
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Art and Antiques
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