How moving to the boonies became one big, surprising adventure


The wooded backyard of the house overlooks a natural spring, which fit the criteria for the author, pictured top, and his partner. Plus, the proximity to the Arts District is convenient for his work as an arts critic.

By Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

When my partner John and I started to hunt for a different residence, we knew three things: This would likely be our last move; we wanted some land and some water; and because I review classical music for (a Dallas Voice media partner), we had to be relatively close to the Arts District. Being on the west side of town would be a plus for the occasional trips to Fort Worth events. This we knew for sure.


Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

We started online. let us put in all our criteria and then sent us properties, on a daily basis, that fit our requirements: The top price we would pay for more than two acres with three bedrooms, two baths and water. We looked at quite a variety. One was a farm with donkeys and a pen for them that hadn’t been cleaned out for decades. Another was a small house with multiple additions in such a hallway-less manner that we would have to walk through one room to get to another. One placed the house just a few feet off a busy road with the acreage behind it. But in the end, nothing suited us.

When we first drove up to the house in DeSoto, we knew that was what we wanted. The house is situated in the middle of just less than three acres. The front yard is a field, which we are planting with wildflowers. The spring that feeds into 10 Mile Creek meanders across the back of the property, which is wooded with 92-year-old trees. Since the property slopes to the creek, the house is situated in treetops and the view out of the wall of windows is amazing. We paid less than half of what our Lake Highlands house sold for and taxes are much lower as well.

The thing is, we didn’t really check out the surrounding area before we made the offer, but it felt kinda country with such huge lots. We did meet our neighbors, a Syrian couple with grown children, who were very accepting of a gay couple moving next door. That was enough for us.

We later discovered that we were not exactly moving to the boonies. We can practically walk to Costco and any chain store you can name is within two miles in any direction. Cedar Hill, which is literally next door, has a stunning new outdoor shopping mall. DeSoto hosts a summer jazz festival and Duncanville is home to a well-known theater company. Everything from fine restaurants to all the flavors of fast food are within a four-mile radius.

For work, we found that we are just 17 minutes from the Meyerson Symphony Hall. Somehow it took longer to get there when we lived in Lake Highlands. Being only 40 minutes from Fort Worth’s Bass Hall and five minutes from Oak Cliff were major pluses.


Earthy interiors complement the woodsy surroundings just outside. (Photos courtesy Gregory Sullivan Isaacs)

In an unassuming suburb like DeSoto, our acceptance as the gay couple on the block has been natural and uneventful. The usual response has been “how long have you been together?” and our answer of “30 years” impresses every time. Sometimes the response is simply, “Oh.”

Still, the perception among our friends is that we have moved very far away.  Our closest friend, coming down to visit for the first time said, “I guess I should plan on spending the night.”

“Dude,” I said, “you are welcome to do so but it is only a 30 minutes drive to your house.”

DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Duncanville have turned out to be three lovely towns just southwest of Dallas. Where we are, we are still in Dallas County. Nearby Joe Pool Lake provides a nice touch the way White Rock Lake does for East Dallas, and the new Audubon Center is a marvel.

There are houses in all price ranges and situations. Just a few blocks from us, and on the same street, is a series of multi-million dollar mansions with modest ranch-style homes directly across the street from them.

We moved here because we fell in love with the house and the piece of property, but discovering the advantages of the area has been the real adventure for our lives here.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 2, 2012.