With its oil rigs, cowboy culture and football obsession, Odessa comes out as one of the best places to enjoy Texan culture. But the city has a lot more going for itself, including good jobs, educational opportunities and affordable living.
The city’s population grew by 20% over the past decade, reaching 120,000 in 2020. In fact, a couple of years ago, Odessa was identified as the country’s most prosperous city by RENTCafe, based on indicators such as population growth, income and poverty rate changes.
Well-paying jobs and affordable living costs are major selling points for Odessa
Odessa is part of the larger Midland-Odessa metro area, with a population of about 350,000 — an area informally known as the Petroplex. Well-paid jobs in oil, gas, energy, manufacturing and transportation are a major draw for people interested in relocating to the area. Big companies such Halliburton, Champion X, Anthem Oil & Gas and Chevron have a significant presence in the metro area.
These jobs are attracting young people, taking the median age in Odessa to only 30.6 years, significantly lower than the national average of 38. The annual median household income in Odessa is over $66,000 in Odessa, while the median property value is at $160,000. In other words, the home price to median household income ratio is at 2.4 in Odessa, compared to a 4.1 ratio nationally.
Rents are of interest for people planning to move to the area, as, generally, many choose to rent for a while before deciding to buy a property. The average rent is about $930 per month in Odessa, significantly lower than the national average of $1,400. Self storage is a service people use frequently while moving, and there’s no shortage of self storage facilities in Odessa. The average local price for a 10×10 unit hovers around $100 per month.
Here’s why Odessa is a great place for families
Whether you’re in the market for purchasing a home or renting an apartment, you’ll surely find something to suit your needs in Odessa. Some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods include Bounce, Warfield, Rocky Lane Road, Gardendale, State Loop and Andrew’s Highway. These areas feature a good mix of single-family homes, but there are also high-rise apartments and complexes that provide convenient and affordable housing options for those not looking to buy property yet.
The educational opportunities are also varied and designed to appease different types of requirements from parents and children alike. You can choose between excellent public schools, charter schools and private institutions. One of the best schools in the city is a charter school, the Harmony Science Academy. The school district manages about 35 in total, with some of them being alternatives of magnet schools. A host of private schools, including St. Mary’s Central Catholic School and Permian Basin Christian School, complete the educational offering in Odessa. In terms of higher studies, we can classify Odessa as a college town, as it hosts both the University of Texas Permian Basin and Odessa College.
However, beside affordable living and good schools, Odessa provides something else that’s equally precious for young families — the opportunity to spend plenty of time outdoors, doing fun activities. The weather in the area is accommodating, and you can be outdoors most of the year without worrying too much about temperature or rain. The city experiences only 15 inches of rain and two inches of snow per year, which is way lower than the national averages of 38 inches of rain and 28 inches of snow. The city also gets almost 260 sunny days per year, about 50 days more than the country’s average.
And all that good weather is not wasted, as there are some amazing places in Odessa where you can spend time outdoors with your young ones. McKinney Park has multiple recreational and sporting areas, from baseball and soccer fields to basketball and tennis courts, a playground and hiking and biking trails. Progressive Park is designed to accommodate children with special needs and offers a wide range of activities, toys and installations that are wheelchair accessible.
Monahans Sandhills State Park, located about 20 miles southwest of the city, makes a very interesting destination, as it’s a true desert environment with everchanging dunes. The winds are always sculpting new peaks and valleys, which means you can see something new and different every time you visit. Also, you can rent sand disks and slide down the dunes, which is definitely a fun activity for children and adults alike.
A meteor landed 62,000 years ago in what’s today known as Odessa, Texas, leaving a huge 30-mile crater behind. Today, that crater is only about 5 miles deep, but you can visit the Odessa Meteor Crater and its dedicated museum. It’s a great way to teach your children about science, and the site also offers a great view of local fauna and flora.
Local attractions you should not miss
If you think that moving to a relatively small Texan city means giving up on cultural activities, you’re wrong. You can go out for a night of thespian delight in Odessa, at the Globe of Great Southwest Theater, which was built as a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London. There’s also a replica of the home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, built nearby.
The second theater in Odessa is the Permian Playhouse, located on the University of Texas campus. Music fans can head to the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, home of the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale. As for fine arts, visit the Ellen Noel Art Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that hosts the artworks of over 400 American artists.
Odessa also remains true to its cowboy roots, which means you have the chance to enjoy livestock shows, live country music, horse shows and even a rodeo at the Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo.
Uncommon things that make Odessa stand out from the crowd
Odessa has plenty of local color, starting with its statue of the world’s largest jackrabbit. The 8-foot-tall statue was erected in 1962 and attracts tourists from all over the country. Since the first statue was built, jackrabbits multiplied in Odessa, with 37 statues now across the city. However, the first one remains the largest.
Beside the Globe Theater replica, Odessa residents have the chance to admire another replica of a famous historical site — that of Stonehenge, hosted by the University of Texas campus.
Odessa’s residents are huge football fans, and the well-known 2004 movie Friday Night Lights is inspired by the Permian High School’s Panthers football team and their state championship run.
Odessa has a lot working in its favor, from the dynamism of the economy and its affordability to a lifestyle that combines modernity with local traditions. Have you moved recently to Odessa, or are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!