Thinking about moving to Dallas, Texas? You’re not alone. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex encompasses 10 major cities and 13 counties. This makes it the largest metropolitan area in the southern United States. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to this booming, cosmopolitan city.
The sheer number of people living here can be a pro or a con depending on your perspective. But there’s no doubt about it: Dallas is booming. This is thanks to the explosion of cultural activities, sporting events, restaurant openings, and a highly active downtown business district revitalization.
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’s 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 can be a challenge.
Relocating to a new place can be both exhilarating—and incredibly stressful. To help you understand what living in Dallas is truly like, we’re exploring everything you need to know about the 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 Dallas Cowboys, of course)?
If you’re considering moving to Dallas, keep reading for the ten things you need to know about living in Big D.
1. Dallas is very, very big.
Everything is bigger in Texas, and that’s certainly true when it comes to Dallas’s population, growth, and size. In fact, the DFW area has grown by more than 1,206,599 new residents. In terms of population, it trails only Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
Dallas is approximately 343 square miles. To put that in perspective, Chicago covers 234 square miles. Manhattan sits on a relatively minuscule 34-mile plot of land. That’s smaller than the landmass 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 still enjoying the benefits of living in one of the coolest cities in the U.S.
To get your search started before moving to Dallas, check out some of the top Dallas neighborhoods. Then narrow it down from there. We picked out a few neighborhoods that are well worth your time.
Best Suburbs Around Dallas:
Located just a few miles north of Downtown Dallas, the vibrant town of Addison is a foodie’s dream. Filled with an assortment of restaurants, it is also the home of the annual Taste of Addison festival as well as KABOOM Town! 4th of July celebration and Oktoberfest. Close to the LBJ Freeway, the North Dallas Tollway, and President George Bush Turnpike, with numerous luxurious apartment complexes, Addison is perfect for young professionals.
The affluent community of Colleyville in northeast Tarrant County is just outside of Fort Worth, and near the DFW Airport. It is home to dozens of restaurants, attractions, and specialty and boutique shops at The Village at Colleyville. The homes are spacious with large yards, perfect for family barbecues. As the 11th safest city in Texas, no wonder retirees and families are taking a closer look at this city.
The residents of Grapevine move here for the parks, low taxes, and the great school system. The city knows how to entertain and draw a crowd. Grapevine, unsurprisingly, is home to many wineries, and it’s known as the Christmas capital of Texas. Tens of thousands of Dallas-area residents and visitors head to Grapevine for exciting annual festivals. Golfing, boating on Lake Grapevine, and shopping in historic downtown Grapevine are also a major draw.
Home to Frito-Lay, Toyota, and JC Penny, and Plano has an average household income of $330,000. This suburb located 17 miles north of Dallas has a thriving housing market. It also has beautiful neighborhoods like Willowbend, great shopping at Legacy West, and one of the best-regarded school districts in Texas. Plano ranked as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live.
As you may guess from its name, Trophy Club is one of the area’s most desirable suburbs. It boasts excellent schools, parks systems, and has a reputation of being a golf haven. The town is growing quickly. With more than 3,900 homes and apartments, and the median home value at $466,500, there are 200 new houses built per year. But the community on the outskirts of Fort Worth maintains its quaint, small-town feel.
Best Neighborhoods in Dallas
The Dallas Arboretum, Botanical Garden, and White Rock Lake make the picturesque East Dallas neighborhood of Lakewood a wonderful place to live. From historic mid-century modern homes to townhomes nestled near luscious green parks, Lakewood is a diverse area with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Located south of Downtown Dallas and across the Margaret Hunt-Hill Bridge, this newly revitalized neighborhood has great shopping, restaurants and live music venues. New apartment complexes and revitalized houses offer a variety of housing options.
Lower Greenville and the M Streets
Quaint tree-lined streets, a good mix of nightlife, and restaurants along Lower Greenville Avenue give the M Streets neighborhood its unique charm. Newly remodeled homes dating to the 1920s make the median housing price in this highly desirable neighborhood more than $435,000.
A hip and trendy area filled with popular restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs, Uptown is Dallas’ most walkable live-work-play community.
The lively bar and restaurant scene along McKinney Avenue attracts young singles, while 30-something professionals tend to settle in the modern townhomes near Knox and Cole Streets.
3. The cost of housing in Dallas is going up.
According to Zillow, the median home value in the Dallas/Fort Worth region is $256,000. Overall home values have increased by 2.4% percent, and the trend is expected to continue, considering that more people are craving a connected, urban lifestyle. Neighborhoods like Highland Park and suburbs like Frisco and Plano are some of the most desirable and expensive housing markets in the DFW area.
Are you planning to rent after moving to Dallas? Be prepared to open your wallet — RentJungle.com reports that the rent on a one-bedroom Dallas apartment can run as much as $1,234 per month, while a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,430, with even higher rents in popular neighborhoods and suburbs.
Rental prices in Dallas aren’t as high as in Austin, and prices pale in comparison to rental hellscapes in places like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, where $2,000/month is not uncommon.
4. Traffic is a part of life in Dallas.
One of the biggest cons of living in Dallas is traffic. The city is very spread out, which means that DFW residents tend to endure longer commutes than in many other cities.
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 a recent INRIX, in 2017 Dallas ranked 20th for cities in the U.S. with the most traffic, with an average of 63 hours per year of driving time spent in congestion.
Commuters traveling on Central Expressway (U.S. Highway 75), certain sections of the LBJ Freeway, George W. Bush Expressway, and the North Dallas Tollway will see heavy traffic, especially before and after work hours.
5. Public transportation is available (but do your homework).
There’s no doubt about it: Dallas is a car-centric city. However, Big D is also home to the country’s longest light rail system, the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), which allows you to successfully navigate Dallas via 72 miles of light rail and 120 bus routes (see the section on commuter traffic below).
The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) connects downtown Dallas with downtown Fort Worth and includes stops at DFW airport and the Mid-Cities — places like Grapevine, Southlake, Trophy Club, Irving, Grand Prairie, and more — between the two metropolises.
If you want to take in a concert or a show in the Arts District, have dinner in Trinity Groves or attend a hockey game at the American Airlines Center, rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are readily available and will help you avoid traffic and paying high parking fees in certain areas.
The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, free vintage trolleys (the M-Line), are a nice way to travel to the restaurants, bars, and clubs in the hip, trendy Uptown neighborhood.
A bit of a downside: DART can be tough to navigate. Routes can be difficult to understand and inefficient. If you’re new to the area and plan to get around by public transportation, be sure to purchase a DART pass and give yourself enough time to navigate the confusing options.
6. Taxes work a little differently in Texas.
If you’re new to 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, Texas residents do pay personal property taxes on home and auto, as well as sales tax. You may experience a little sticker shock when you see your first property tax bill. Texas residents pay some of the highest property tax bills in the country.
The state of Texas currently charges a 6.25% sales tax.
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.
Remember, someone has to pay taxes. If you don’t pay state or personal income taxes, you’re going to pay in another way.
7. The Dallas job market is full of opportunities.
Although the historically significant oil industry has struggled in recent years, job growth in Texas has seen steady growth, and incomes remain competitive. In fact, the median household income is $75,200 throughout Dallas County.
Among the country’s 12 largest metro areas, Dallas has had the highest percentage of job growth year over year at 2.4%, and the second-most jobs added (up 115,800) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Moving to Dallas without 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.
- 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.
These are a few of the employers that were voted Best Places to Work by the Dallas Business Journal: Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation, Stream Realty Partners, CBRE Commercial Real Estate, McKinney Independent School District, Pariveda Solutions, Thompson & Knight Law Firm, and Brinker International.
8. You can find excellent schools in and around Dallas.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is home to a slew of schooling options, from private to charter to public. In fact, DFW has some of the best public school districts in Texas, including the Grapevine-Colleyville, Plano, Frisco, and Highland Park ISDs. And, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on area job growth cited that the education/healthcare sector is one of the fastest-growing in the country. According to U.S. News & World Report, the Dallas-Ft. Worth area has 355 elementary, middle, and high schools, and 401 private schools. In fact, 69 high schools are recognized on U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools rankings.
The area is also home to 18 colleges and universities including Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of Texas at Dallas and University of Dallas.
9. There are plenty of things to do in Dallas.
Dallas is chock-full of exciting, noteworthy attractions, art museums, restaurants, shops, parks and more. After moving to Dallas, you’ll find a thriving arts district, high-class shopping in Uptown, Highland Park, and NorthPark Center. You’ll also find hip cafes and eateries in Bishop Arts and Trinity Groves, awesome music venues and art galleries in Deep Ellum, and of course, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. If really want to get to know the city, be sure to check out the following:
- The AT&T Performing Arts Center in Downtown Dallas is a veritable cornucopia of theatre, music, opera, and dance.
- Since the late 1800’s Deep Ellum has been known as the Dallas home of Blues and Jazz music. Live music venues and nightclubs like Adair’s Saloon, The Bomb Factory, Prophet Bar, Club Dada, and the Sons of Herman Hall bring in a mix of everything from honky-tonk and indie punk, to acoustic country and nationally known acts.
- The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a sixty-six-acre botanical garden bordering White Rock Lake. The beautiful background of the Arboretum is home to a popular summer concert series as well as several weddings each year.
- Dallas Arts District is one of the largest urban arts districts in the nation. With the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Trammell Crow Asian Arts Museum, the Winspear Opera House, and the Wyly Theater, the Arts District offers Dallas residents a wide array of cultural, artistic, and entertainment choices.
The list could go on for days. There’s so much to do in Dallas!
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 7.76 Dallas city residents per 1,000 are the victims of violent crime and 33.57 residents per 1,000 are property crime victims.
Both of these numbers are well above the average for Texas, which are 4.11 and 23.67, respectively.
Planning on moving to Dallas, TX?
Whatever your reason may be for relocating to Dallas, the moving process can be stressful. If you decide to move to the Big D, don’t hesitate to contact Life Storage for all your moving & storage needs. We offer a variety of storage units in Dallas, along with moving truck rental for your convenience.
- The Ultimate Moving Checklist
- Create a Realistic Moving Budget Using This Guide
- Find Storage Deals in Dallas, TX
- Revised on September 9, 2020, with new information from Dallas expert, Clara Mathews.
- Revised on November 6, 2019, with new information from Dallas expert, Justine Harrington.
- Originally published on May 15, 2018.