Thinking about moving to Dallas, Texas? You’re not alone. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the fourth largest metropolitan in the country. As a city, the population in Dallas soars to the third largest in Texas and the ninth largest in the country. The sheer number of people living here can be a pro or a con depending on your perspective.
Dallas is among a handful of other large, booming Texas cities like Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Are you familiar enough with Dallas to know if it is the ideal choice for your family? We understand that picking which city to reside in isn’t always a simple decision. Let’s face it, with so many viable options on the table, deciding on the best place to live in Texas is a challenge.
To help you know what living in Dallas is like, we’re exploring everything you need to know about this city before you relocate. What is the current state of the Dallas job market? How are the schools? Can I get around using public transportation? What do people do for fun (besides root for the Cowboys, of course)?
If Dallas is on your short list of places to relocate, you’ll want to keep reading to find out the ten things you need to know about living in Dallas.
1. Dallas is very, very big.
We know Dallas has a large population, but what about its size? Dallas is approximated 343 square miles.
To put that in perspective, Chicago only covers 234 square miles. Manhattan sits on a relatively minuscule 34-mile plot of land. That’s smaller than the land mass covered by the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) alone.
2. There are a lot of cool places to live in and around Dallas.
Researching neighborhoods can be overwhelming — so many opinions, so many numbers! You want to find someplace relatively affordable while enjoying the benefits of living in one of the coolest cities in the U.S.
To get your search started, check out some of the top Dallas neighborhoods then narrow your search down from there. We picked out a few that are well worth your research.
Top Dallas Neighborhoods:
- Colleyville. Homes with yards, a plummeting crime rate and an eye towards smart development — no wonder retirees and families are taking a closer look at this city of 24,000 just outside of Fort Worth and near DFW.
- Grapevine. “Parks, low taxes, and a solid school system keep residents happy,” Fox writes. “More than 20,000 visitors each year flock to the city’s many festivals and events. And aggressively attracting business long has been Grapevine’s approach.” Grapevine, unsurprisingly, is home to many wineries.
- Trophy Club. Cool name, first of all. Trophy Club has excellent schools and parks systems and a reputation as a golf haven. The town is growing quickly — 200 new houses a year — but the community (which is less than 45 years old!) on the outskirts of Fort Worth maintains its small-town feel.
- M Streets. “With its leafy, tree-lined streets and darling homes dating as far back as the 1920s, the M Streets continues to be a popular neighborhood for couples and young families who want to be close to downtown (Dallas) and near White Rock Lake,” Marta pens. “Greenville Avenue, which forms the M Streets eastern border, is the primary artery for the neighborhood, with shops, patio bars, and restaurants within easy walking distance.”
- Uptown. A little bit hipster with a good mix of parks, bars, restaurants, cafes, and clubs. It’s the kind of cool urban lifestyle you’d imagine in a movie or a sitcom (in the best possible way).
3. The cost of housing in Dallas is going up.
According to Zillow, the median home value in the Dallas/Fort Worth region is $227,395. Overall home values have increased by 12.3% in the past year. The trend is expected to continue with another six percent spike by the end of 2019.
Plan to rent? Be prepared to open your wallet — RentJungle.com reports that the rent on a one-bedroom Dallas apartment runs roughly $1,241 per month while a two-bedroom pad averages $1,435.
While rental prices are higher in Dallas than in-state rivals Houston and Austin, the costs pale in comparison to rental hellscapes in places like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, where $2,000 is not uncommon. Yikes!
4. Traffic is a part of life in Dallas.
Living in Dallas has its pros and cons. One con that residents of Dallas will complain about is rush hour traffic and for a good reason. Dallas is home to some of the most congested highways in the state.
Though workers have a more extended commute time than the national average, it could be significantly worse. According to INRIX, in 2017 Dallas ranked 28th for cities in the US with the most traffic. That ranking has improved substantially over their 2016 ranking of 16th.
Who has the most terrible commute in the Dallas area? Royse City, a small town of roughly 2,600 residents, located 34 miles east of Dallas. The average one-way commute time is nearly 36 minutes!
5. Public transportation is readily available (but do your homework).
The good news: The DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) system allows you to successfully navigate Dallas via 72 miles of light rail and 120 bus routes (see the section on commuter traffic below, and you will appreciate this note even more).
The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) connects downtown Dallas with downtown Fort Worth and includes stops at DFW and what is called the Mid-Cities — places like Grapevine, Southlake, Trophy Club, Irving, Grand Prairie and more — between the two metropolises.
If you’re interested in taking in a show, having dinner or doing a little exploring, the D-Link is a free DART service to downtown Dallas and the Oak Cliff area. D-Link buses run on Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
More free public transportation: the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority runs free vintage trolleys (the M-Line) through the hip, trendy Uptown neighborhood.
The bad news: DART can be a pain in the neck.
“DART’s bus routes are impractical, inefficient, difficult to understand, and dissuade broader ridership,” Peter Simek grouses in D Magazine. “DART has the dubious honor of being one of the most inefficient public transit systems in the world. A big part of the problem is that the public transportation system is incomprehensible unless you are forced to sit down and decipher its routes. Even then, routes tend to be inefficient.”
Harsh! Keep that warning in mind if you plan to make DART the backbone of your transportation plans — you may need to take some test runs before committing to DART when you’re on the clock.
6. Taxes work a little differently in Texas.
If you’re not from Texas, you may be surprised to learn that residents of the Lone Star State don’t pay state or local personal income taxes. Nice!
However: you DO pay property taxes and sales tax. Dave Downs explains how this system works:
Texas property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of the property by the total combined mil rate levied by the taxing authorities that have jurisdiction where the real estate is located. Texas state law defines the assessed value of real property as the market value of a property on January 1, the first day of the tax year. Property taxes typically are paid in a single annual payment that is due on or before December 31, the final day of the tax year.
You may experience a little sticker shock when you see your first property tax bill. Carol Christian of The Houston Chronicle writes, “While Texas has no state income tax and no property tax on vehicles, its residents pay one of the nation’s highest rates when it comes to taxes on real estate…Texans this year are paying an average of $3,327 in real estate taxes. It’s the fifth highest amount in the United States and 59 percent higher than the average American household’s real estate tax bill of $2,089.”
The state of Texas currently charges a 6.25% sales tax “on all retail sales, leases, rentals of most goods and taxable services,” explains the Comptroller of Public Accounts website. What are taxable services? You can see the entire list here.
Municipalities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts are also able to charge up to 2% in additional sales tax — and in the Dallas metro area, they do.
Sorry! If you thought you were moving to Texas to escapes taxes, you’re out of luck.
7. The job market in Dallas is the fastest growing in the country.
Although the historically significant oil industry has struggled, job growth in Texas has been steady, and incomes are competitive. In fact, the median household income in Dallas has risen to $62,673.
As far as the job market in Dallas goes, the metro has seen the highest job growth rate and the most jobs added from 2016 to 2017 and the trend is expected to continue. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex added 100,400 new jobs between 2016-2017, the most in the U.S.
Need a job? The five largest employers in the Dallas/Fort Worth region are:
- AMR Corporation. Roughly 24,700 people work for the parent corporation of American Airlines and US Airways, which is headquartered in Fort Worth.
- Bank of America. A cool 20,000 residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex are employed by the second-largest bank holding company in the U.S.
- Texas Health Resources, Inc. Healthcare is big business in Dallas, and THR — with over 19,000 employees — is the most extensive faith-based, nonprofit system in North Texas.
- The Dallas Independent School District. From teachers and administrators to the folks who scrape the gum off the chairs, over 18,300 people get their paychecks from Dallas ISD. The system is responsible for the education of 157,000 students in 220 schools.
- Baylor Health Care System. Most people outside of Dallas know Baylor as a college football powerhouse. The Waco, Texas-based institution also has a university medical center in Dallas that is considered one of the nation’s finest, employing over 17,000 people.
Other employers of note: AT&T, J.C. Penney, Lockheed Martin, JP Morgan Chase and Texas Instruments.
8. You can find excellent schools in and around Dallas.
Let’s start by noting that this is not a shot across Dallas’s bow — every city has its public education success stories and struggles. According to a new Dallas resident survey, the Dallas Public School System has received a rock-bottom rating.
But rather than focusing on the negative, here are a few of the top-rated schools in Dallas:
- Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet
- Uplift Education-North Hills Prep
- School for the Talented and Gifted
- Harry Stone Montessori Academy
9. There are plenty of things to do in Dallas.
The weather in Dallas makes spending time outdoors an enjoyable pastime, but there are plenty of cultural activities that make Dallas a pleasant place to live. If you are getting to know the city, check out the following:
- The AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas is a veritable cornucopia of theatre, music, opera, and dance.
- Venues like Trees, Prophet Bar, Club Dada and the South Side Music Hall bring in a mix of local and national indie and pop acts.
- The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the nation’s finest hubs of visual stimulation.
The list could go on for days: there’s a lot in Dallas to get your brain cells firing.
10. Crime can be an issue in Dallas.
…which, in a city of this size, is a bit like saying that there are some tall buildings in New York. Of course, there is crime in any major urban area.
NeighborhoodScout.com’s data shows that 7.67 Dallas city residents per 1,000 are the victims of violent crime and 34.79 residents per 1,000 are property crime victims.
Both of these numbers are well above the average for Texas of 4.34 and 27.6, respectively.
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We’d love to hear your thoughts on Dallas, other cities on your moving list, or someplace where you’ve recently relocated.
What do you love? Is there anything you would you change? What are some tips you would share with other people who may soon go through the same situation as you?
Let us know in the comments below.