Three years ago we thought we would settle in California–we thought somewhere in L.A. county–SimpleGuy would live his dream being a rich doctor in his home state, next to sand and palm trees. Boy, does life take you by surprise.

Stepping away from the baby stuff, I write on a personal note today, an endorsement for my new family-friendly town, Plano, Texas for those curious about our whereabouts. Texas has been our home now for the last year and a half. It’s no utopia, but compared to California, our home for the four years before our move, it felt like a new land of opportunity. We just found the overall feeling of the DFW metroplex and its people completely different, in a very good way.

Skyline_of_Plano_Texas First what I love:

1. Plano is surburbia at its best. It’s safe (top rated) and a clean, well-maintained city. I know some people don’t like how “clean cut” it is; they would rather it have more personality (you mean, unruly and dirty?). I admit when I was a young(er), I loved traveling with my family to all sorts of bustling metropolises “with personality.” Growing up in suburbia, I was enamored with the hip, trendy shiny lifestyle those busy places had to offer, but in reality, I was always relieved to go back to a safe home and now as a mom, I want my kids to have that same feeling of security where they live.800px-Hdr_plano Life is completely different with children—no more late nights at the movies, vacations where you go wherever whenever, or adventure hikes creeping through crevices in Moab, like back in the college days — but I don’t miss that.  Things are planned now — vacations equal a caravan of diapers and baby gear; we still stay up late but it’s at home now.

2. Plano is known for being business-friendly and for its quality education system. People rave about the public schools; they are top notch in Plano and nearby cities. There is an excellent climate for businesses which is why Plano is corporate headquarters for tons of large companies. There is an amazing high quality of life here.

3. Diversity in Plano is one of its cool factors. In California, the diversity feels segregated — there’s a Mexican part of town, a Black part of town, and an Asian part of town.  Here all races are represented, all living in a (relative) harmony, a thing unheard of in California. I am sure there are still racist people here and I am sure that there are cultural clashes happening somewhere but for the most part people are respectful and kind.

I very much appreciate the Ranch 99 and restaurants like the Royal Sichuan (Richardson), Jeng Chi (Richardson) and Taiwan Cafe (Plano), to name a few. And I am thinking of sending Baby to a bilingual Chinese/English preschool. Just having those kinds of opportunities available is refreshing.

ranch99plano4. People are Texan but not too Texan. They are friendly and freedom-loving. And I love that.They are generally a Christian population (but other religions are here too).  But there is also a good mix of transplants, both domestic and foreign, so the cowboy-mentality is kept to a minimum 🙂 I’m sure authentic Texans find this appalling, perhaps offensive, but it works for our family.

What I don’t love:

1. The weather is a bit temperamental here, but since I grew up in Utah, I am kind of used to this. It’s no California where there are two seasons (warm and warmer) and the winter lasts two weeks. The weather channel app is checked multiple times every day because when it rains, it pours; in California we never checked the weather, you just step outside to check if it’s raining or not and usually it was not. There are definitely seasonal changes in Texas. It gets hot in the summer but not as hot as Arizona. It gets cold in the winter but not as cold as northern Utah (my homeland). It’s much more humid than the desert West I grew up in. Spring and fall are definitely the best in terms of weather and definitely comparable to California.

2. It’s flat. Yes, there are no mountains. There are lakes when you drive out (within an hour of Plano) and it’s very green compared to the desert West, but there is little “scenery”. I miss the mountains in my backyard but I’ve gotten used to going without and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. Yes, I wish it were more scenic but I know I can always vacation in more rugged areas, luckily, lots of relatives provide that luxury for us. To me, the trade-off to gain what I love about Plano, is completely worth it to me. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of money for annual ski trip to Colorado or beach trip to California.

3. It’s far away from our family. This one still gets to me sometimes which part of my reason for writing this, to recruit friends and relatives to be closer to us! I want my kids to have a strong relationship with their family and relatives. I missed out on that because the majority of my extended family lived in Taiwan and China so I never got to know them and develop the kind of relationship I truly wanted with them. Luckily for us we have an airport close by for domestic and international travel. I know a lot of my family and friends are kind of stuck where they are, for many different reasons and I understand that, but if you ever find yourself looking into Plano, rest assured you will grow to love it as I have.

All in all, I love Plano and I’m glad we are here for this season in our lives. The list of reasons why I love this place keeps on growing!

My favorite spots in Plano and nearby:

Trader Joe’s, Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Central Market, Jusgo Supermarket, Ranch 99, Indopak Supermarket & Cafe, Winco, Daiso Japan, 85C Bakery,

In-n-Out, H&M, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Allen Premium Outlets, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Plano Library Parr/Haggard/Davis branches

Dallas World Aquarium, Dallas Arts District, Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas Arboretum and Children’s Garden

Pappadeaux, The Capital Grille, Taiwan Cafe, Fish Shack, Babe’s Chicken, Hard Eight BBQ, Salsa TexMex, Aroma Indian Cuisine, Sichuan Folk