Many people associate Texas with cowboys, long-horned cattle and country music, but the Lone Star State is far more than just its country roots. While Austin has burst onto the scene in recent years because of its newly minted status as a tech hub, Dallas is another city well worth a second look. If you’re thinking about living in Dallas, here’s everything you need to know.
1. Living in Dallas: An Overview
Everything is bigger in Texas, and Dallas is no exception. Spread across nearly 400 square miles, Dallas is the third-largest city in the Lone Star State with a population of over 1.3 million…and that population is only continuing to grow. The Associate Press found that 4.2 million people have moved to Texas since 2010, a population growth of 16.4%.
Known for its arts district and cultural activities (which include the opera, symphony and ballet), Dallas is an up-and-coming city. And it’s popular with young working professionals — in fact, the median age is 32.9 years old.
- Population: 1,304,379 (2020)
- Diversity: 29.0% white (non-Hispanic), 24.3% Black or African American, 41.8% Hispanic, 34% Asian (non-Hispanic)
- Primary language: English
According to the U.S. Census, over 40% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, and 24.8% of the population was born in another country. In addition, 43.6% of people speak a language other than English at home, which makes Dallas a truly diverse place.
Weather in Dallas
- Highest temperature: 95°F (August)
- Lowest temperature: 64°F (January)
- Warmest months: June to September
- Coolest months: November to February
Summers in Dallas are typically hot and muggy, while winters can be chilly and windy. It is partly cloudy year-round, and April through October is known as the “wetter season” because of the possibility of rain and/or snow. In a given year, temperatures usually range from 39 to 96 degrees. The best time to visit for outdoor activities like hiking and swimming is from late May to late September.
2. What’s the Cost of Living in Dallas?
It’s not as expensive as Los Angeles or the San Francisco area, but according to Payscale, the city’s cost of living is 2% higher than the national average. Dallas’s housing costs are 5% higher than the national average, and utility prices are 4% higher. On the flip side, transportation expenses are 1% lower than the national average, and grocery prices are 5% lower. The average salary is $55,332.
- Housing: $370,000 median sale price (+9.9% year over year)
- Average number of days on the market: 29
- Rent (one-bedroom): $1,423 per month
- Utilities: $174.87 per month
How Expensive Is Renting in Dallas?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the owner-occupied housing unit rate in Dallas is just 40.9%, well below the national average of around 64%. The number of renters has increased significantly over the past decade as the cost of living has continued to rise. Downtown, Uptown, Oak Cliff and Lower Greenville are some of the most popular neighborhoods for renters.
3. The Best Neighborhoods in Dallas
Dallas is divided into 34 neighborhoods, which range from artsy enclaves to historic haunts that are perfect for young working professionals, families, retirees and everyone in between.
Recognized as one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Dallas, Greenville has an enviable mix of new luxury condos, historic homes and upscale restaurants and bars. The area is made up primarily of young working professionals and families.
- Population: 9,656
- Average household income: $100,699
- Cost of living: $445,174 for median home price; $1,416 for median rent
- Places to check out:
Ever since the TV show Dallas filmed in Highland Park in the 1980s, it has been known as one of the swankiest and most affluent neighborhoods in the city. The area is densely populated, with many residents of retirement age.
- Population: 9,168
- Average household income: $211,136
- Cost of living: $1.58 million for median home price; $2,275 for median rent
- Places to check out:
Oak Cliff is one of the few surviving Freedman’s towns in America (meaning it was founded by emancipated slaves after the Civil War). Today, the neighborhood is a melting pot made up of many people from diverse backgrounds.
- Population: 20,258
- Average household income: $50,045
- Cost of living: $117,453 for median home price; $951 for median rent
- Places to check out:
Like Oak Cliff, Deep Ellum got its start as a Freedman’s town, but it maintained its status as a central hub for the Black community in Dallas through the 1950s. Today, the neighborhood is known for its music scene, and it’s one of the best places in the city to go for a night out.
- Population: 6,448
- Average household income: $262,683
- Cost of living: $262,683 for median home price; $1,300 for median rent
- Places to check out:
Catering primarily to young professionals in search of urban attractions, Uptown has an eclectic mix of juice bars, coworking spaces, video arcades and dog parks.
4. What Are the Best High Schools in Dallas?
The Dallas Independent School District (which operates schools in most of Dallas County) is the second-largest school district in Texas. The district—which is responsible for over 153,000 students in 230 schools—is one of the “fastest-improving urban school districts” in the U.S. according to the Council of the Great City Schools. Here are five of the best public schools in Dallas:
5. The Job Market in Dallas, TX
In November 2021, Dallas became one of nine major metros in the U.S. to surpass the number of jobs it had before the pandemic. In the Dallas area, technology, defense and financial services are the biggest sectors.
Here are some places you can find open positions in Dallas:
6. The Best Things to Do in Dallas, TX
Whether you want to go line dancing or to the opera, you can do so in Dallas. Here are a few local attractions that you won’t want to miss.
- Cedar Ridge Preserve. If you’re hoping to find a bit more nature in the concrete jungle, head to Cedar Ridge Preserve. The Audubon nature preserve includes 9 miles of hiking trails that wind through the hill country.
- Ben Brook Stables. While you may not be a cowboy, you can pretend to be one for the day by going to the Ben Brook Stables. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, the friendly staff can help you find the mount that’s right for you and guide you on the winding trails around Lake Benbrook.
- Grapevine Wineries. Texas wines have been bursting onto the scene within the last decade, and you can explore some of the state’s best wineries in the suburb of Grapevine. Spend the afternoon stopping by various wineries before breaking for lunch or dinner (accompanied by generous pours, of course).
- Dallas Zoo. Texas state’s oldest and largest zoo, this popular establishment houses more than 2,000 animals and 406 species spread across 106 acres of land. You can download the Dallas Zoo app to help you navigate the zoo’s numerous exhibits, which include the sprawling Chimpanzee Forest, Endangered Tiger Habitat, Forest Aviary and Giants of the Savannah.
Parks and Attractions
- Texas Discovery Gardens. Set on 7.5 acres, Texas Discovery Gardens is a non-profit botanical garden with natural and adapted plants. After exploring the two-story butterfly house (which shows off hundreds of tropical butterflies), visitors can head outside to see the once-a-day release of butterflies into the conservatory.
- Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary. Looking for things to do with kids in Dallas? Head to the trails at the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can glimpse native plants and animals in their natural habitat, check out the pioneer village and even dig for fossils. The 289-acre preserve and museum also hosts several events, from photography contests to Boy Scout events.
- The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Located on the shore of White Rock Lake, this 66-acre botanical garden is a beloved local institution. From February 19 to April 20, the facility is hosting a “Birds in Paradise” spring festival. It will feature spring bulbs, Japanese cherry trees and thousands of azaleas in bloom.
- Six Flags Over Texas. This 212-acre rollercoaster haven just west of Dallas is an all-day thrill for families, with plenty of rides, live shows, restaurants and events to keep everyone entertained. Fun fact: it’s also the original amusement park in the Six Flags chain.
- Main Street Garden. This $17.5 million park in downtown Dallas replaced a block of commercial facilities and parking structures in 2007, offering residents a 1.75-acre green space replete with a shade structure, splash fountain, eatery, concert green and other amenities.
Places to Eat
- E Bar Tex Mex. It wouldn’t be Texas without Tex Mex, and this East Dallas outpost has some of the best. The trendy eatery has everything from queso and brisket tacos to chicken enchiladas and chili Relleno on its menu, so the hardest part is bound to be narrowing down your order for the night. Follow them on Instagram: @ebartexmex.
- Town Hearth. If you’re in search for a chic spot to celebrate an anniversary or work promotion, head to this see-and-be-seen establishment. Town Hearth is best known for its gigantic steaks and burgers, which can be paired with whiskey cocktails for a special meal. Follow them on Instagram: @townhearthdallas.
- Cattleack Barbecue. Picking a favorite barbecue spot in Dallas is pretty much like picking a favorite child. Still, if the famously long lines are any indication, Cattleack Barbecue is right up there on the list. Follow them on Instagram: @cattleackbbq.
- Royal China Restaurant. From hand-pulled noodles to classics such as pork belly with taro root, crystal shrimp, duck with leek, and out-of-this-world soup dumplings, Royal China Restaurant has been a Dallas favorite for more than 40 years and recognized by national magazines as the best Chinese spot in the city. Follow them on Instagram: @royaldallas_china.
- CAFEMANDU. Feast on chicken, pork or deep-fried vegan dumplings — also known as “momos” — at this Nepalese eatery. With its fresh, contemporary fare and flavorful twists on traditional staples, CAFEMANDU is a must-try for anyone in the Dallas area. Plus, every order gives back to the community: 1% of profits go to organizations preserving Nepalese art and culture, and first responders get 15% off. Follow them on Instagram: @cafemandu.
7. Transportation in Dallas
Dallas is home to the Dallas Area Rapid Transportation system (better known as DART, the longest light rail system in the country). The bus and connecting train system extend from downtown Dallas to many of the surrounding suburbs, and it continues to expand. If for some reason DART doesn’t take you where you need to go, you can hail a cab or ride-share service.
8. Planning Your Move
Thinking of moving to Dallas? Check out our guides to learn everything you need to know about packing, staging your home, and moving:
- Essential Tips for Packing and Moving While You Sell Your Old House
- Tips on Staging a Home for a Quick Sale
- The Essential Guide to Selling on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
Be sure to download our checklists, too: