6 Things to Know Before Moving to Dallas

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Quick Facts About Dallas

In a city built on cotton, oil and cowboy cool, you might have built up certain expectations about the northern Texas city of Dallas. But don’t let the Hollywood swagger fool you — Dallas is a cosmopolitan cradle of invention and reinvention.  

As its industries have shifted over the years, Dallas has been uniquely able to pivot with the times. Just recently, Exxon Mobile announced it will be leaving the area for Houston. But at the same time, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex had already closed a deal to move the headquarters of ag giant caterpillar to Irving, further expanding the field of industries in its portfolio, which is already one of the country’s most diverse and robust. 10 Fortune 500 companies are located in Dallas alone, and even more are based in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. Businesses from financial services to aviation to technology are thriving in the area, which is a plus if you are moving to the city for your career. 

As the third-largest city in Texas, Dallas’ population of 1,288,457 has gained more than 90,000 people since 2010, but its growth has fallen off since 2020 — the city has actually lost about 16,000 residents in the last three years. The combined Dallas-Fort Worth population now sits at just over 2.2 million, thanks to the population gains Fort Worth has made over the same time period.  

There’s one fact about this city there’s no getting around: Dallas is big. This city comprises over 339 square miles — 39 more than New York City and over 100 square miles more than Chicago. But the population isn’t nearly as dense in Dallas: there are only 3,841.1 per square mile in this Texas titan, whereas the Windy City has over 12,000 and the Big Apple has over 29,000.  

Culturally, there is no city in America quite like Dallas. As big as the city’s footprint is in landmass and in business, the personalities in Dallas are even bigger. You’ll find big hearts, big ideas and even bigger opinions in this town. The city is rich in attractions, arts and entertainment, from its world-class museums to its rowdy Cowboys games. But thanks to the city’s cultural diversity, Dallas has never been a place to dig your heels in too deep — even if they are cowboy boots. 

If you think Dallas might be the right place for your family, learn more about the neighborhoods, weather and culture of this glamorous Southern city below.  

What You Need to Know About Living in Dallas

Cost of Living in Dallas

Though the cost of living in Texas is lower than the national average, don’t expect to reap the rewards as a resident of the Big D. The cost of living in Dallas is among the highest in the state — exceeding Fort Worth’s, Austin’s and Houston’s — and, by some calculations, it’s even more expensive than living in either Charlotte or Atlanta. That said, the expenses of residing in this metro area pale in comparison to coastal cities like Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco, especially when it comes to real estate: housing can be up to 80% cheaper in Dallas than it is in New York City.  

According to the 2021 Census, the median home value in Dallas was $230,000 —  the second-highest among major Texas cities. The median home price in the metro Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area was $375,000 in late 2022 (just above the U.S. average), but price growth is now slowing. 

One advantage of living in Dallas is that Texas, a proud Right to Work state, levies no state income tax —personal or corporate — but be warned — it does impose a gross receipts tax. Texas also imposes a 1.66% state property tax — the 6th-highest in the country — and Dallas County residents pay more than most counties in the state. With an average combined state and local sales tax rate of 8.2%, the Tax Foundation ranks Texas in 13th place on its overall State Business Climate Tax Index. 

Please note: We are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances. 

Dallas Economy 

Dallas’ economy is one of the most impressive in the nation, with a diverse roster of industries that includes 10 Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T and Southwest Airlines, with even more in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The tech-savvy region is the homebase of major players, like Kimberly-Clark, Texas Instruments, Neiman-Marcus, American Airlines, and Vistra Energy, drawing on the oil, technology, retail, transportation and aerospace depth in the state. The city of Irving (in between Dallas and Fort Worth) recently closed a deal to move the headquarters of ag giant Caterpillar to the region, further diversifying the field.  

The metro Dallas area added 211,000 non-farm jobs between 2022 and 2023 — an increase of 5.3% — which is nearly twice the national rate. The largest gains were in the region’s supersectors: professional & business services led the pack, followed by trade, transportation and utilities, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality, but all areas saw growth, including the government, which is the fourth-largest sector in Dallas’ economy. 

Unemployment in the metro area has fluctuated over the last six months, ranging from 3.1%  to 4.1%, but it rested at 3.9% in March 2023, a half-point higher than the U.S. average. Among already low-wage occupations, wages in the city are generally lower than the U.S. median. But higher-wage workers still tend to eke out a higher wage than the national average, particularly in management ($104,265 median salary), legal services ($95,179 median salary) and business/financial operations ($75,997 median salary).  

Among private-sector industries, the office & administrative support sector employs 559,838 people — the highest number of workers in any industry — followed by transportation and material moving (430,931), sales (426,319), food preparation and service (318,167), and management (309,690 ). Computer and information systems managers earn the Dallas area’s highest median wage: $159,024. 

Within the healthcare sector, practitioners and technicians earned a higher median wage than the national average: $72,119 in DFW compared with the U.S. rate of $69,874. But healthcare support workers earned a median wage of only $28,546 — $1,500 less than their national counterparts.  

Weather in Dallas

Located in north central Texas, the climate of the Dallas-Fort Worth area is sunny, windy and warm. The central corridor of Texas is actually part of the Great Plains, making Dallas drier than its rainier southeastern counterparts on the Gulf Coast, like Houston.  

Summers in Dallas are sweltering and humid, with an average low of 75 F and an average high of 95 F. Dallas has set a record high of over 100 F in eight months of the year — the hottest to date was a painful day in June of 1980, when thermometers hit 113 F degrees.  

In the wintertime, expect an average high between 55 F and 60 F and lows between 35 F and 40 F. Because snow is rare, winter can actually be one of the best times of the year in Dallas, especially if you’ve moved to the area from cooler climes.   

Rainfall in Dallas averages 37 inches a year, and snow is a rare occurrence. From April through August, thunderstorms are frequent, but most days in the year have a decent chance of sunshine. 

Getting Around in Dallas

Commuting in the nation’s fourth-largest metro area is by no means speedy, but with an average commute time of 27 minutes, it is quicker to get around the DFW Metroplex than getting around in any of the coastal giants or in Atlanta or Chicago, which has some of the nation’s worst traffic. Three interstates intersect in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — I-30, I-35 and I-40 — and 52.5% of Dallas commuters live in Dallas County.  

If you want to skip the traffic, you can join the 220,000 passengers who use Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to move around the 700-square-mile region on its buses and trains. DART boasts the longest light rail system in the country, with 163 trains and 65 stations along 93 miles of track. The city is also serviced by a streetcar network and commuter trains. 

Neighborhoods in Dallas 

vibe and identity  

While Dallas has certainly earned its cowboy reputation, the range of neighborhoods in this Southern stronghold is vast and varied. The Downtown scene is thriving, with businesses, arts venues and attractions galore, including the city’s aquarium and the historic farmer’s market. The design districts like Bishop Arts are a beacon for Texas makers, from letterpress printshops like We Are 1976!, which sells clever homewares and wearables, to furniture showrooms like {neighborhood}, which also showcases work by Texas artists. Oak Lawn is known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods in the country, and with its rainbow crosswalks, hoppin’ nightlife and excellent eateries, the district is one of the city’s most popular hangouts.  

The Uptown district is an upscale shopping and dining destination just north of downtown Dallas, with Mediterranean meccas like Baboush, made-from-scratch Vietnamese kitchens like Malai and cocktail lounges and sports bars in between. The area’s public transportation is supplemented by a streetcar service — the McKinney Avenue Trolley — which carries passengers along a 4.7-mile route in seven vintage cars with charming names like Petunia, Rosie and Matilda. On the neighborhood’s southern edge, Klyde Warren Park is a relaxing oasis where kids will beg to play on the 35-foot climbing tower or in the water features, adults can enjoy free yoga, Zumba and ballroom dancing classes. Even dogs have a dedicated greenspace here to bark and frolic. 

Outside the city, there are several suburban areas popular with residents of Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving, Arlington and Plano.  

Preston Highlands is an intimate community in Frisco, Texas (Collin County), roughly 33 miles north of Dallas. This district is known for its public schools in the Plano School District, its safety and its conveniences, including access to the Eldorado Parkway. Home values here average in the $550,000 range — an increase of 13.2% over the previous year. Much of the housing stock is relatively new construction with larger footprints designed for growing families who commute to the surrounding cities.  

Just west of the Dallas North Tollway, Prestonwood is a community of roughly 20,000 in Dallas County, just 20 miles northwest of the city. Situated between the popular Lake Lewisville recreation area and just minutes from the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Prestonwood is an upscale neighborhood with lots of amenities, including a country club. Homes average $463,000 in Prestonwood, and there are public schools specializing in science and engineering and the arts, and one for talented and gifted students. 

17 miles north of Dallas, the neighborhood of Campbell Green is a small, affluent area popular with Dallas commuters. With a median home value of $457,208, this area consistently ranks as one of the most popular districts in the northern Dallas suburbs. Public schools here are highly rated, and crime is relatively low. The southeastern edge of this neighborhood is anchored by the popular Campbell Green Park — a 17.5-acre recreational area with splashpads, pickleball, basketball and tennis courts as well as walking trails and soccer fields.  

Note: If you’re thinking of moving to Dallas, it’s important to thoroughly research neighborhoods or areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to live, make sure you understand the area’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Discover Where Dallas Locals Have Fun

If you move to Dallas, one thing is certain: you will never want for things to do, whether it be sports, the arts or just eating and drinking. This cultural center of the region is home to some of the best museums in the country, including the Crow Museum of Asian Art, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center — all of which are a part of the downtown Main Street District.  

One of the coolest establishments is the Museum of Street Culture, which presents exhibitions of art, artifacts, and interactive media from famous photographers like Mary Ellen Mark to underrecognized local artists.  

The Main Street District is also one of the best places to take in a performance. You can see a play at the Kitchen Dog Theatre, or a Broadway show at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The African American Museum of Dallas, which was founded in Fair Park in 1974, is another must-see. It is the only institution of its kind in the region, has an incredible collection of folk art and curates a wide range of fascinating exhibitions, like “Black Cowboys: An American Story.”  

Dallas is also an incredibly family-friendly city to explore. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science will take you from the origins of human existence to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Kids will especially enjoy exhibits like “The Science Behind Pixar,” where they can learn how their favorite characters are brought to life.  

At the Dallas World Aquarium, you can take your crew on the Cloud Forest Trek through the Columbian rainforest before you venture into the depths to make friends with potbellied seahorses, leafy seadragons and scorpionfish.  

If you’re a football fan, you’ll be in very good company at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. The city is also home to the basketball teams the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Wings, along with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, the Dallas Jackals — a rugby team — and the MLS team FC Dallas.  

Looking for a place to dig in after all this cultural excitement? Tex-Mex is the state staple, and you’ll find plenty of it in town, none tastier than Mariano’s Hacienda. If being the birthplace of the frozen margarita weren’t enough, they also have perfect queso, served with hand-cut chips, and their fajitas are prepared with house-made tortillas. There’s never an excuse to eat anything other than handmade in Texas.  

Barbeque is another essential Dallas dish, and a divisive one, at that — BBQ joints have the rivalry of sports teams, and you do not want to find yourself rooting for the wrong team. If you want to eat exceptional brisket in upscale digs, head straight to Oak’d, where you can wash everything down with an old fashioned and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. If it’s old-school style you’re after, Smokey John’s has been making the entire county drool for over 40 years.  

Of course, no meal is complete without a Dallas-size dessert, right? But why not make it the main event? After you’ve completed your cocktail course in the Deep Ellum district’s Truth & Alibi, stop by Emporium Pies for a slice of the Smooth Operator — a chocolate silk pie in a salty pretzel crust. Or, if your date night needs professional help, order the Dr. Love — this red velvet chess pie doesn’t make any promises it can’t keep.  

Prepare for the Big Move to Dallas

Working with a professional, long-distance moving company like United Van Lines can help make your cross-country move to Dallas a seamless experience. We provide customized, full-service moving packages and can take care of all your moving needs, including packing and unpacking, storage, debris removal, car shipping and more.  

Planning a local move? If you’re moving to Dallas from another city in Texas or you’re just moving across town, United Van Lines’ interstate Texas agents can provide local moving services/local movers who will help you move within the state independently under their own businesses and brands. 

Planning a DIY move to Dallas? United has a wealth of moving resources to help you, including moving checklists, packing tips, and regional guides.   

Still deciding where to move in the Lone Star State? Check out our Guide to Moving to Texas to learn about other Texas cities. When you’re ready to move, the MyUnited Move Portal is designed to manage all the details of your journey. Get a quote today on moving to Dallas. 

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