Are you thinking about moving to Dallas? I might be able to help.
I ended up relocating to Dallas 8 years ago for a job and haven’t looked back since. The city is only getting more popular year by year, so I thought it’d be helpful to offer some insights for anyone debating a similar move.
Dallas exudes a youthful vibe that is ever-changing by the recent influx of new residents eager to call the city home. Even with the growing pains, Dallas remains true to its rich and storied culture, much like the rest of Texas.
It’s not all sunshine and barbecues in the Big D (yeah, unfortunately that’s our official nickname). As mentioned, I’ve lived here for the past 8 years and I’d like to share my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Dallas based on firsthand experience.
While reading this please keep in mind that not everyone feels the same way about living in Dallas. And that’s alright — heck, that’s what the comments are for. So without further ado, let’s cover the pros and cons of moving to Dallas.
Pros & Cons of Living in Dallas, Texas
Pros of Moving to Dallas
#1. The warmth and kindness of the people
The undeniable kindness of Texans is, hands down, my favorite thing about living in Dallas. I’ve moved around quite a bit before setting down in Dallas and have found it easier to make friends here than anywhere else I’ve lives.
Locals are generally laid back and strive to live a normal, no-frills life which gives daily life in Dallas a pretty easy-going and casual vibe.
I don’t want to mislead you though. I’d be lying if I told you that making friends in adulthood is ever easy (because it isn’t). It requires a lot of effort and legwork. However, If you’re open to striking up conversations and coming out of your comfort zone, you will find that Dallas is a very friendly city.
#2. There’s no state income tax in Texas
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of moving to Dallas is the lack of state income taxes in Texas. Your overall take home pay will be much higher if you live in a state without taxable income (we moved from NYC which meant a savings of nearly 10% in take-home pay).
Obviously all states collect taxes one way or another and Texas chooses to do so through sales and property taxes (property taxes in Texas are some of the highest in the country). But look at me getting ahead of myself, I’ll cover taxes in depth shortly.
#3. Year-round sunshine & mild winters
Have you ever heard someone complain about too much sunshine? Me neither, and one of the perks of living in Dallas is that so you can test this theory for yourself.
Winters in Texas are mild, warm and (very) sunny. Averaging 39 inches of rainfall a year, snow is rare, which is one of the biggest reasons so many people end up retiring in Texas. That sunshine is a blessing for the bones.
As you know, pleasant winters typically mean super-hot summers and there’s no need to sugarcoat that fact. Texas summers are blistering very hot and oppressively humid (we’ll cover this shortly, too). But I’d still happily sacrifice 3 months of hot temperatures for 9 months of sunny bliss.
Here’s a quick roundup of average daily temperatures in Dallas during every month of the year (highs/lows).
|January (56° / 37°)||July (96° / 77°)|
|February (61° / 41°)||August (96° / 77°)|
|March (69° / 49°)||September (89° / 69°)|
|April (77° / 56°)||October (79° / 58°)|
|May (84° / 65°)||November (67° / 47°)|
|June (92° / 73°)||December (58° / 39°)|
#4. Reasonable cost of living
Now, before I start hearing the sarcastic laughs, allow me to elaborate. The cost of living in the United States is becoming astronomical regardless of the state you call home. I can hardly recall a time when home prices weren’t on the rise, and don’t even get me started on the price of groceries lately.
However, there’s no denying that living in Dallas will be more affordable than living in many other US states. In fact, affordability was the biggest reason I ended up moving to Dallas. I’ve been priced out of every other major US city, so Dallas was a welcome change of pace.
Prior to moving to Dallas I considered the pros and cons seriously. And the way I saw it, I ultimately had two options:
- Sulk and power through 60+ hour work weeks without ever being in a position to (feasibly) buy a home.
- Move to Dallas where money goes further and home ownership is still an attainable goal. Granted, I know home prices have risen sharply, but it’s nothing compared to the prices we’ve seen in NYC and the Pacific Northwest.
All this to say, houses are affordable and everyday expenses (groceries, gas, restaurants) are below the national average. Which means you don’t need to work two jobs or have roommates to enjoy living in Dallas. Overall, my life feels more enjoyable simply because I can afford to live well.
#5. Healthy job economy
Millennials are moving to Dallas in hordes for many reasons. Chief among them is the healthy job economy in Dallas, which is ranked the 5th best city for job seekers.
The largest employers in Dallas include Walmart, American Airlines, Baylor Scott & White (healthcare), Bank of America and AT&T. You’ll be able to find jobs in transportation, technology, healthcare, manufacturing and finance.
The average salary in Dallas comes in around $65,000, but seems to be rising do to more companies showing interest in moving to Dallas.
#6. Dallas is diverse
In fact, 43.1% of residents speak a non-English language at home. With a population inching close to 1.3 million, that’s an incredible stat to consider! Expect to come across folks from all walks of life while living in Dallas.
Some folks have reached out and asked about the benefits of diversity so I did some more digging. Folks smarter and more articulate than myself have explained it better — this helpful (and short) article is a great place to start.
#7. Homes are still affordable in Texas
In wrapping up this section of the pros of living in Dallas, I’d like to elaborate more on home ownership for those that plan to move to Dallas to buy a home.
As mentioned earlier, buying a home is not attainable for most Americans anymore. The housing market across the nation has exploded to a point where starter homes aren’t even in the same timezone as affordable.
Dallas is a rare exception in this regard because median home prices clock in at $326,000, making them more affordable for young home buyers than say $934K (Seattle), $520K (Charleston) or $630K (Washington DC).
It’s possible to live near (or even within) the metro area because home prices aren’t absurd. When less than 50% of your paycheck goes to housing, I can tell you that this perk of living in Dallas can’t be overstated.
Cons of Living in Dallas
#1. You’ll need a car to get around
Most people that end up moving to Dallas learn the importance of having a car pretty quickly. Can you get by without a car? Sure, but you’ll spend a ton of time on public transportation and may find yourself frustrated (especially in the summer heat).
However, I do applaud those that opt for public transportation and The Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (locals call it DART) will get you most places you need to go (albeit slowly). Heck, if you live downtown, you may very well be able to depend on public transportation because all the lines feed into the downtown core.
But if you’re moving to the suburbs, owning a car while living in Dallas will make life way easier. The city is massive and it could take more than an hour to drive from one end to the other.
As such, budget for the costs of car ownership before moving to Dallas (insurance, maintenance, etc.) The one perk? Texas has some of the lowest gas prices in the country.
#2. Limited access to outdoor recreation
Here’s a con of living in Dallas that might ruffle some feathers — Dallas lacks outdoor recreation. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some outdoor adventure, but nothing that will satisfy the insatiable urge of a nature nut long term.
I’ve mentioned this to a few coworkers (some life-long locals, others recent transplants) and have typically received mixed results. Some lifelong locals get defensive while most recent transplants seem to agree.
Dallas has some pretty parks and some beautiful lakes (White Rock Lake and Lake Ray Hubbard deserve shout-out), but there’s no variety in terms of nature. Most spring and summer weekends are spent at the lake, which is nice but can get dull after a few weeks.
#3. The extreme weather conditions
If won’t take long after moving to Dallas, for you to realize the intense summer heat is no joke — largely due to the state’s close proximity to the equator.
The humidity and heat can be overwhelming and downright shocking for folks that move to Dallas before doing proper research.
Most Texans stay inside their AC’d homes and offices 24/7 during the summer months because the heat is intolerable. In fact, the hottest temperature on record in Dallas clocked in at 113°. Imagine!
It’s not uncommon for summer highs to exceed 100°F and thunderstorms are all but guaranteed come spring. What’s more, Dallas is prone to droughts, floods, hail, tornadoes and residual storms from hurricanes. Needless to say, you’ll need to have proper home insurance while living in Dallas.
#4. Flat landscape
There’s no nice way to put this, but living in Dallas means accepting a lack of scenery — the landscape is so dang flat (car trips get pretty boring quickly). You can drive for hours without seeing much and since the state is so large, you’ll probably be doing those long, dusty drives every now and then if you’re interested in exploring.
If you grew up in Dallas you may find comfort in the flat landscape, but if you’ve living in areas known for varied topographies, you may find life in Dallas lacking.
#5. The urban sprawl
Yet another thing that took getting used to after moving to Dallas is the crazy urban sprawl. It feels never-ending! Seriously, as soon as I leave the downtown core, I feel like I’m surrounded by parking lots and highways.
The downside of urban sprawl is the lack of walk-ability. It’s inevitable that folks would prefer hopping in the car over tying up their walking shoes. But it seems like the city is striving to improve by investing $5 Billion towards building the longest light rail system in the country.
#6. The property taxes are high
Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the country. Ouch.
The local government relies on property taxes to fund local services like improving road conditions, parks, public schools, libraries and public safety (police + firefighters). And since Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, that money has to come from somewhere.
Unfortunately housing prices are inflated at the moment and since property taxes are tied to home values, many locals are getting sticker shock when taxes come due. If you’re moving to Dallas with the hope of buying a home, use this handy calculator to determine your estimated property tax.
#7. Cockroaches become a part of your daily life
Dallas is hot and muggy, which creates the perfect climate for bugs to thrive. In fact, Dallas is the 8th worst city in the country for bugs.
But that’s not all. Texas is one of the buggiest states in America, to boot. Between the massive cockroaches, intolerable mosquitos and hellish fire ants, the constant bombardment of bugs is one of the biggest cons of moving to Dallas.
Neutral factors to consider before moving to Dallas, Texas
#1. The politics
Texas is a red state and even with the recent influx of liberals, Texans by and large tend to be proud Republicans. Expect to see republican-themed apparel and flags in every town, practically every storefront and every restaurant.
Those that sway with Republican policies will feel comfortable and welcomed while living in Texas. Liberals will also be welcomed, but it may be harder to find your footing for a while. However, it’s definitely possible and Texans are a kind bunch.
#2. Gun culture
As you probably know, Texas is a loud and proud gun carrying state. It’s not uncommon to see people openly carrying firearms while running errands. It took me a while to get used to this, but after living in Texas for 10+ years, I barely notice it now.
It’s not uncommon to get invited to gun ranges by friends and coworkers. Admittidely, this may take some getting used to if you’re moving to Texas from a more liberal city like NYC, LA or San Francisco.
#3. Football is a way of life
Texas has two religions: Religion and football. Everyone and their dog roots for one team or another so you better be prepared.
Texas has some pretty awesome professional sports teams and the Dallas Cowboys are a fun team to watch. The passion isn’t reserved just for professional teams though. You’ll need to pick a favorite college team and maybe a high school team for good measure.
The exhilarating sports scene is alive and well in Texas, make no mistake about it. It makes living in Texas very fun (especially during football season). Visit one of the local sports bars and see what all the fuss is about.
Pros & cons of living in Dallas (post summary)
- The people
- No state income tax
- No harsh winters
- Reasonable cost of living
- Healthy job economy
- Constant sunshine
- Dallas is diverse
- Homes are still affordable
- You’ll need a car to get around
- Limited access to outdoor recreation
- The extreme weather conditions
- Flat landscape
- The urban sprawl
- High property taxes
- Cockroaches and bugs
- The politics
- Gun culture
- Football is a way of life