City Living Guide: What is it like to live in Dallas, Texas?
Dallas is renowned as a big city in a big state. However, you may be surprised to learn that Dallas isn’t the biggest city in Texas (it’s #3, behind Houston and San Antonio) and Texas isn’t the biggest state (#2, behind Alaska). The city is the ninth largest in the United States. Dallas is a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll, and a whole lot of history, arts, culture and business in the center of the fourth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States. In 2018, Homes.com ranked the country’s top 25 metropolitan areas on “family-friendliness.” Dallas came out on top.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Several freeways, more than 2 dozen airlines, diverse population
- 2. Growing population enjoys vibrant cultural scene
- 3. More sunny days than the national average
- 4. No personal income tax, great place for families
- 5. Outstanding healthcare facilities
- 6. Public, private education options abound
- 7. Average salaries higher than national average
- 8. Sprawling city with countless entertainment options
- 9. City’s positives outweigh drawbacks
- 10. 34 neighborhoods = a place for every taste
- 11. Home values keep rising (as of 2019)
- 12. Experienced local real estate agents can show you the ropes
1. Several freeways, more than 2 dozen airlines, diverse population
Dallas, home to 1.3 million people, sits on rolling plains in north-central Texas. The city is densely populated, with 3,761 people per square mile, which is well above the national average. Several freeways, Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport and Dallas Love Field serve the greater metropolitan area. Twenty-five passenger airlines operate at DFW, with flights that can reach any city in the continental United States within four hours. DFW is one of the most-visited airports in the world, with more than 69 million customers annually. Dallas Love Field, owned and managed by the city, serves commercial (Alaska, Delta and Southwest airlines) and corporate aircraft. Seven million passengers a year fly in or out of Love.
Public transportation includes light rail, commuter rail, bus routes and paratransit services. More than 220,000 passengers use Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) each day in its 700-square-mile service area.
2. Growing population enjoys vibrant cultural scene
Dallas’s population, which has grown 9.5% since 2010, is almost equally split between male and female. More than a quarter of the city’s residents are Hispanic or Latino. In fact, nearly 40% of the population speaks Spanish as their primary or secondary language. With a youthful population, the median age of Dallas residents is 32.5.
Texas may bring images of cattle and oil fields to mind, but there’s a whole lot of city stuff in Texas, too. And you’ll find a lot of it in Dallas. Some think of Dallas as a glitzy city—and there is evidence to support that: the city has a big restaurant, club, bar and live music scene in which high-income folks are likely to drop some serious dollars.
And there are some posh neighborhoods. Fortunately, wealthy Dallas residents are philanthropic, sharing their time, talent and treasures in support of the arts and charitable organizations. Galleries, museums and concert venues abound as do scenic community parks and gardens and beautifully preserved historic sites.
3. More sunny days than the national average
Dallas averages 234 sunny days per year. Think about that: 234 out of 365. Nice! That compares with the U.S. average of 205 sunny days annually. Of course, sun can mean heat. Summertime high temps in Dallas can be around 95 to 100 degrees. These hot spells generally are broken up after a few days by thunderstorms. It can get extremely humid in June, July and August. Things cool off in the winter, with January lows in the mid-30s. Periods of extreme cold do not last long.
You may think of Texas as arid, but Dallas gets its share of precipitation, at least in the form of rain, with an average of 39 inches of rain annually (1 inch more than the national average). Dallas averages 1 inch of snow each year, a substantial 27 inches less than the national average.
Dallas ranks 65 out of 100 on Sperling’s Comfort Index, which is based on the number of days annually within 70 to 80 degrees, with a penalty for days of oppressive humidity. Dallas’s score of 65 compares favorably with the national index of 54.
4. No personal income tax, great place for families
In ranking Dallas as the best U.S. metro area in which to raise a family, Homes.com considered the crime rate, cost of living, quality of K-12 schools, availability of parks and childcare services, and average commute times. Homes.com weights the factors, with school quality having the highest value and commute times the lowest.
You don’t have to have children to love Dallas. It is also a great city for singles and couples, with plenty of housing, entertainment and career choices. Texans do not pay state or local personal income taxes. If you move to Dallas, you will pay property taxes and sales tax.
Dallas residents’ median annual income is approximately $45,000, although one source places it at $15,000 higher. Unfortunately, Dallas’s crime rate is better than only 9% of U.S. cities. Dallas tallies 7.75 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, and 32.38 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The good news? Dallas’s police chief recently spoke out to reassure residents that law officers are proactively working to reduce crime in the city.
As in any major city, some neighborhoods are far safer than others, and residents can take precautions to minimize their chances of being victimized. In the city, the Crime Watch program encourages neighbors to work with law enforcement and other agencies to reduce residential crime—without becoming vigilantes, of course.
5. Outstanding healthcare facilities
Whether you have a Cadillac health insurance plan or no insurance coverage at all, you can find a clinic to meet your needs in Dallas. Specialty clinics offer services such as urgent care, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, cosmetic surgery, weight loss surgery, behavioral health and addiction therapies, orthopedic care, and much, much more. Dallas is home to several hospitals, including these that are highly rated for their specialty services by U.S. News & World Report:
- UT Southwestern Medical Center
- Baylor University Medical Center
- Medical City Dallas
- Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Several Dallas facilities provide long-term care for seniors and others who require skilled nursing services for an extended period. Short-stay rehabilitation centers and home care services are available throughout the city, too.
6. Public, private education options abound
The Dallas independent school district, which covers not only Dallas but several smaller communities, is the 14th largest public-school district in the United States. Some 155,000 students are enrolled in pre-K through 12th grade across 230 schools. The district is proud to note that it has seen continual gains in student achievement. Among the school district’s many specialized programs:
- “Two-Way Dual Language Program” in which English speakers can learn Spanish and Spanish speakers can learn English. Students learn to read, write and think in both languages
- Free breakfast and/or lunch during the summer at more than 150 schools, ensuring that no child goes hungry even when school is not in session
Dallas is home to myriad private schools, including Montessori, faith-based, alternative, special needs and college preparatory. Several of these schools have earned A+ ratings on Niche.com.
If you or your offspring are looking at post-secondary options, you have a lot to choose from in Dallas. Consider this small sampling:
- Dallas Baptist University is a nationally ranked Christ-centered university
- Southern Methodist University is a comprehensive research university and is nationally ranked
- Baylor University is a private Christian school and nationally ranked research institution that is widely known for its medical school
- The Art Institute of Dallas is a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design
- The University of Texas at Dallas offers top-ranked programs in several fields and is gaining status as a research university
7. Average salaries higher than national average
Dallas-Fort Worth has 25 Fortune 500 companies, the third-largest concentration in the nation, behind only New York City and Chicago. The region’s economy is fueled by the banking, commerce, energy, health care, medical research, telecommunications and transportation industries.
- The area’s 5 largest employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area:
- AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines and US Airways
- Bank of America, the second-largest bank holding company in the country
- Texas Health Resources, a nonprofit, faith-based healthcare system
- Dallas Independent School District
- Baylor Health Care System, which is based in Waco and operates its nationally recognized university medical center in Dallas
The Dallas unemployment rate of 3.6% mirrors the national rate. The average salary of $51,250 is $630 higher than the national average. Accountants, nurses, systems engineers and teachers are in high demand, as are retail workers. Technology positions are increasing.
8. Sprawling city with countless entertainment options
Dallas honors its history indoors and outdoors, including:
i. Bronze statues of longhorn cattle driven by cowboys on horseback on Pioneer Plaza near the Dallas Convention Center
ii. Fair Park, a 277-acre national historic landmark that is recognized for its Art Deco architecture
iii. White Rock Lake, where a dam and spillway were built in 1911 and much of the architecture was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps beginning in 1935
iv. Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, was built by the Works Progress Administration and named in honor of an early publisher of The Dallas Morning News; and in 2003, the City Council OK’d reconstructing the plaza to the way it appeared when the President was assassinated in 1963
v. Dallas Heritage Village is home to houses, churches, office buildings and stores dating to the Civil War era
vi. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is on the grounds of an estate built in 1940 and features a restored 21,000-square-foot house and 66 acres of flowers and trees
Professional sports teams provide plenty of excitement for fans:
a. Cowboy’s (football);
b. Mavericks (basketball),
c. Stars (hockey),
d. FC Dallas (soccer) and
e. Texas Rangers (baseball, based in nearby Arlington).
College sports also are wildly popular in the Dallas area, particularly the Division 1 Baylor Bears football team.
You can catch live music pretty much any time of the day or night in Dallas. For instance, the Rustic offers live music by local and national acts along with food—every day—on its outdoor patio. The historic Kessler Theater features music from nearly every genre—folk, jazz, rhythm and blues. Check out Sundown at Granada for farm-to-table food and live music six nights a week.
Local bands play jazz and soul weekly at Bucky Moonshine’s Southern Eats and Bar, a casual venue with a New Orleans vibe. Big names and not-so-big names, including an improv hip-hop group, play at the Three Links bar. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood featuring more than 20 music venues, 60 restaurants, 30 shops—and 40 murals.
If you’d like to sample Dallas culture minus the music, you may want to head out to one of the many galleries or museums. Here’s a sampling to get you started:
a. The Dallas Museum of Art, established in 1903, is a respected venue featuring contemporary work as well as pieces dating back to the ancient Mediterranean
b. 500X Gallery, housed in a former tire factory and air-conditioning warehouse, was launched some 35 years ago to exhibit the work of local artists
c. Conduit Gallery exhibits works by both promising young artists and those who are nationally known
d. Oliver Francis Gallery displays provocative works by artists from Berlin, Chicago, Mexico City, New York City, Paris and more
e. Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden includes a 4-acre garden, sculptures and an array of contemporary artwork
f. Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza examines the life and death of President John F. Kennedy
g. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has four themes: freedom, opportunity, compassion, and responsibility—and a special exhibit on the history of U.S. campaigns and elections
h. Frontiers of Flight Museum covers pilots, planes and rockets from the 1920s to today
Need something a little more high-energy than museums and galleries? How about an amusement park? Dallas has its share, including Zero Gravity Thrill, Bahama Beach Waterpark and SpeedZone. Six Flags is in nearby Arlington.
9. City’s positives outweigh drawbacks
Traffic can be a hassle; tornados sometimes occur; the crime rate is pretty high. If you love to be surrounded by people, the city’s population is a plus. If you prefer wide open spaces, the dense population is a drawback.
Dallas has numerous pros: moderate climate, low unemployment rate, a wide array of career options, excellent healthcare facilities, an incredible selection of public and private schools, professional and college sports, and a vibrant arts and culture scene.
The city has earned a livability score of 75 on a 100-point scale. U.S. News & World Report ranks Dallas as #9 on its Best Places to Retire List and #21 on Best Places to Live.
10. 34 neighborhoods = a place for every taste
We all wonder what to consider when buying a house and, in Dallas, your ideal neighborhood will be at the top of your list. This sprawling city is home to 34 neighborhoods, far too many to detail here. You’ll be able to find a good fit, whether you’re a single hipster, head of a growing family, an empty nester or a retiree. Here’s a sampler pack to get you started:
a) Pleasant Grove: This area, once an independent town, is known for close-knit, longtime residents who have a strong volunteer spirit with a median home value of $80,975
b) Casa View: In East Dallas with easy access to White Rock Lake and a median home value of $111,251
c) Lake Highlands: A large, affordable family neighborhood with numerous parks and trails and a median home price of $266,181
d) M Streets: Near downtown and White Rock Lake, your traditional neighborhood of 70-plus-year-old homes on tree-lined streets with a median home price of $368,998
e) Uptown: Bars, cafes, clubs and parks contribute to this neighborhood’s urban feel and the median home price here is $383,521
f) North Dallas: This wealthy area features beautiful estates, private schools and high-end retail stores and a median value of owner-occupied homes of $589,173.
We all love finding our dream home—a house that fits perfectly with what we wanted—but is that enough? There’s another factor to consider as well: your neighborhood. We might be clear on which cities we’d like to live in, but let’s think carefully about this question: Is this particular neighborhood a good fit? Here are 5 things that you should consider.
11. Home values keep rising (as of 2019)
From fixer-uppers to well-maintained historic homes to new construction, Dallas has them all. Dallas home values have increased by more than 12% in the past year and are expected to continue to rise. The median home value is in the low $200,000 range. Monthly one-bedroom apartment rent averages just over $1,200. If you are downsizing, prefer that others handle outside chores or need assistance with activities of daily living, you’ll find apartments and assisted-living facilities choices. Whether you are interested in a single-family home or buying a townhouse or condo, you’ll find lots of options in this Texas city.
Here are some important points to consider in making this substantial personal investment in real estate and a new home.
12. Experienced local real estate agents can show you the ropes
Real estate taxes in Texas are the 5th highest in the country, more than double what the average American homeowner pays. But remember, you’ve got an offset because there’s no personal income tax in Texas. Who better to help you navigate mortgage rates, real estate taxes and all the home search ropes than an experienced real estate agent? They’ll help you understand the buying or selling process so you’re well prepared for your transaction. Interview a few local realtors and select one with whom you feel comfortable. You can also check out here the best local real estate agents in Dallas to save you time.
You’re off to a great start in learning about Dallas. Please share this article with any friends or family who might find it useful. Best of luck!
There are more important factors in choosing a REAL real estate professional such as: personality, experience, reputation and local expertise. Here’s how to choose the right buyer’s agent or broker for yourself.