This post was updated on March 24th, 2023 with most recent trends and data.
What’s Covered In This City Guide
- Dallas At-a-glance
- What it’s like to live in Dallas
- Economy and job outlook in Dallas
- Real estate in Dallas
- The top neighborhoods in Dallas
- How to get around in Dallas
- School and education snapshot
- Weather and climate in Dallas
- 10 can’t miss things to do in Dallas
Thinking about moving to Dallas?
Join the club. The Dallas area, including Fort Worth and the surrounding suburbs, gained nearly 6.5 million new residents in 2022, or an average of 540,000 people every month. Dallas is home to the annual State Fair of Texas, the birthplace of the frozen margarita, and is one of the top five cities in the U.S. for job growth.
First things first: Nobody wears cowboy hats in Dallas. For that, you go to Fort Worth. As for the eponymous show starring the fabled J.R., locals have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we are nothing like that; on the other hand, at least we’re famous.
Dallas is a conflicted place: sleek and pretty, yet secretly insecure. Proud and provincial, yet desperate to fit in. But with a population whose average age is 33, over a third with a college degree, and a renewal in the city’s core, the culture is starting to shift.
The Most Culturally Diverse Metro in the U.S.
Once centered in Deep Ellum, Dallas’ entertainment scene has expanded to neighborhoods such as Greenville Avenue, Uptown, Knox Henderson and Lakewood. Live music can be found in intimate brewpubs, at grand old theaters like the Majestic, the Granada and the Kessler, and at serious venues such as the Verizon in Grand Prairie and our outdoor arena, Dos Equis Pavilion.
While craft beer is still a big deal, a wave of new drinkeries have splashed across DFW, armed with unique personalities and sophisticated drinks: from the barbershop bar of High and Tight in Deep Ellum to the subterranean salon Midnight Rambler in the Joule Dallas hotel to Parker Barrows, the Oak Cliff Social Club named for Dallas’ most famous criminal couple, Bonnie and Clyde.
Restaurant chains were once the trademark of Dallas dining. The city birthed such concepts as Steak & Ale, Chili’s, Black Eyed Pea, T.G.I.Friday’s and Twin Peaks. But it also does barbecue, Southern/home-cooking, Tex-Mex, burgers, tacos and steak – steakhouses are a Dallas thing. The area boasts a dedicated vegan community, with two branches of the trail-blazing vegan Spiral Diner, which debuted in Fort Worth in 2002. And it serves some of the best authentic Neapolitan-style pizza in the country from the pizzeria Cane Rosso, featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives.
The Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks both play in American Airlines Center arena in Victory Park, easily accessed via the DART Rail green line train. FC Dallas is the professional soccer team and they play in Toyota Stadium. The Texas Rangers baseball team play at Globe Life Field and the Dallas Cowboys reside in “Jerry World”––AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Festival season seems to run all year long, beginning with the annual Dallas International Film Festival in the early spring. March brings the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Avenue, and then it’s on to the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival to Earth Day Texas in April, and the Wildflower Arts & Music Festival in Richardson in May.
Dallas Has One of the Top 5 Fastest-Growing Economies in the U.S.
Things are going swell in Dallas, with high-profile corporate relocations such as Toyota adding a layer of icing onto what is already a very sweet cake. Even in the face of a looming (maybe) recession, the Dallas-Fort Worth job market continued to grow in 2022. The region added 19,500 jobs in October and 255,000 jobs total for the year, far outpacing previous years’ job growth. Dallas-Fort Worth also added an all-time high for total employment at 4.19 million workers.
Dallas is headquarters for 300 companies that employ more than 1,000 people globally, and is home to 24 Fortune 500 countries, including 11 of Forbes’ largest privately held companies.
Major employers include CBRE, American Airlines, Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. A technology cluster north of Dallas in Richardson comprises the “Telecom Corridor,” home not only to tech companies such as AT&T, Fujitsu and Samsung Mobile but also headquarters for Fossil, Blue Cross Blue Shield and more.
Unemployment rate: 3.4% (as of October 2022)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,256 (as of January 2023)
Interesting Mix of Texas Pride and Cosmopolitan Offerings
U.S. News & World Reports says it best, “Offering both big-city excitement and quiet, suburban living, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area has an interesting mix of Texas pride and cosmopolitan offerings.” The 2020 census shows Dallas with a population of 1,304,379, which means it’s the ninth most populous city in the U.S. and the third largest city in Texas after Houston and San Antonio.
And although it’s true that everything is bigger in Texas (including the population in DFW), you actually don’t need to be a millionaire to live well in Dallas. The recommended household income for a one-bedroom house in Dallas is about $48,040 a year. Combine that with an average annual salary of $64,000 and you’ve got an affordable city to reside in. A family of four will pay roughly $4,000 in monthly living expenses while a single person can expect to pay $1,100 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
You will pay more for some things in Dallas as the cost of living is 4 percent higher than the national average and 13 percent higher than the state average but housing remains cheaper than cities on either coast. Add the fact that there’s no personal income tax and Dallas feels eminently more affordable than many other cities.
Many if not most of the people who live in Dallas actually live in one of its dozens of suburbs. But that’s changing as young people and empty nesters return to the core. Dallas proper is in the early days of a promising renaissance as old neighborhoods become new again. Read our guide to top Dallas neighborhoods, then consult our list of best Dallas realtors to help make your search easy.
Dallas Neighborhoods: As Diverse as the Population
If you’re looking to settle down in Dallas, the neighborhoods are as diverse as the population so the sky’s the limit! Over 1.3 million people live in the vibrant and fast-growing city, and more than 30 neighborhoods make up the center. Dallas Regional Chamber says “the city is rich in unique, walkable neighborhoods each with their own flair. From brunching in Bishop Arts to venturing through Victory Park, there’s an area fit for every lifestyle.” These are our top picks:
Bishop Arts: Trendy eateries, bars, shops, art galleries and performance venues all await you in Bishop Arts. There’s also a host of family-friendly events in this charming neighborhood only 10 minutes south of downtown.
Deep Ellum: This area used to be a mecca for jazz and blues artists back in the 1920s now it hosts an eclectic nightlife scene along with enjoyable eateries and one-of-a-kind shops. It’s definitely considered one of Dallas’ hippest ‘hoods.
Greenville Avenue: Young professionals flock to Greenville Avenue, which is an urban and upscale neighborhood in Dallas that is more expensive than some of the surrounding areas. The upside to Greenville Avenue is that it really does have it all from delicious restaurants to a festive bar scene.
Highland Park: Families who have a little more to spend on housing will love Highland Park, which is known for its luxury homes and beautiful residential streets. Take a Sunday stroll with the family or shop and dine, it’s all centrally located in Highland Park.
Lakewood: Get out of the city and nestle beside the shores of White Rock Lake. Lakewood is THE idyllic neighborhood for outdoor lovers, families and young professionals alike. You’ll find a laid-back atmosphere, tons of green spaces and nature aplenty.
Traffic in Dallas is Actually a Bright Spot
One of Dallas’ best traits is the ease of living, including a traffic situation that’s far less punishing than other major cities. Dallas has a budding public transit system, with 65 rail systems and four lines. Ridership on the network, which includes buses, DART light rail, and Trinity Railway Express commuter rail to Fort Worth, clocks in at more than 135,400 passengers per day. Recent bright spots include the opening of a station at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, allowing travelers to take a train from downtown to the airport in about 50 minutes.
Speaking of the airport, it’s one of the area’s big perks, putting major cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles within easy reach via nonstop flights.
Thousands Flock to Dallas Each Year for Educational Opportunities
The Dallas Independent School District is considered one of the fastest improving urban school districts in the country. You’ll also have your pick of some excellent charter schools that cater to gifted students and produce outstanding results.
In addition, thousands of Americans and people outside the U.S. flock to Dallas to attend one of the city’s universities, colleges or trade schools. Prospective students can choose from Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Dallas or University of Dallas, to name a few.
April Through June Count on Blissful Weather in Dallas
One of the best things about Dallas is its moderate weather. Autumn is pleasant, with cool-not-cold temperatures prevailing until the end of the year. Winter spawns a cold snap or two, a dusting of snow and freezing rain. This inevitably paralyzes a city unaccustomed to extreme weather, shutting down roads and sometimes electric power, too.
Spring can be crazy since North Texas is on the tornado circuit; massive rainstorms are not uncommon. But for the most part, April through June is bliss. Then comes summer. If you like it hot, you’re in luck: Through most of July and August, temperatures loiter around 100 or higher.
Summer average (June – Aug): 95°F high, 76°F low
Winter average (Dec – Feb): 58°F high, 39°F low
10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Dallas
From museums and rodeo to barbecue and football, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Big D, these are the 10 can’t miss choices:
- Are you a history buff? Visit the Sixth Floor Museum, which chronicles the life and assassination of JFK. The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is a close second for fascinating history.
- Seattle has the Space Needle, New York has the Empire State building, and Dallas has the Reunion Tower, which is a must-see.
- You’ve never been to a more iconic sports spaceship than AT&T Stadium, a $1.15 billion arena that has won multiple awards for its design.
- Visit all 66 acres of the Dallas Arboretum, one of the top botanical gardens in the world.
- Eat barbecue at the award-winning Pecan Lodge, which has out-of-this-world food.
- Don a cowboy hat and take in a rodeo at the historic 1908 Cowtown Coliseum, the site of the world’s first indoor rodeo.
- Take your pick of things to do in the 118-acre Arts District, which is the largest contiguous arts district in America. From museums, restaurants and theaters, this section of Dallas has got it all. Or hop on the McKinney Avenue Trolley which ambles up and down the area free of charge.
- Take in a guided tour of Southfork Ranch, the most famous white house west of Washington, D.C. and home to the dysfunctional Ewing clan of the hit Dallas tv show. Honorable mention stop: If you have the time, make plans to do the Bonnie and Clyde tour as well!
- Channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl and pay tribute to Texas’ equestrian history as you go through Texas Horse Park.
- Plan a shopping trip to Highland Park Village, which is the first outdoor shopping center in America, renowned for both Spanish-influenced architecture and haute couture (for those who fancy things that fancy).
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 12, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.