Moving to Dallas, TX? Read Our Ultimate Moving Guide
The one word you need to know if you’re thinking of making a residential move to Dallas is “sprawling.” The city is an impressive 385 square miles and the combined Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metro area, also known as the Metroplex, is more than 1,800 square miles. The population is booming, too, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with the area seeing a 146,000 population increase in 2017.
Everything may really be bigger in Texas, with Dallas leading the way. It has all you’d expect from the fourth-largest metropolis in the U.S., plus the challenges that come with big-city living. Read on for just some of what you need to know about moving to Dallas.
Prepare to Take the Wheel
When you move to Dallas, you’re going to need a car. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest inland metro area in the country. While public transportation choices are solid, it may not be enough for all of your needs. The good news is that major highways and interstates make it easy to find your way around, and the downtown districts of both Dallas and Fort Worth are highly walkable.
Your public transportation options include:
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART): This light rail system has 64 stations and four lines serving Dallas from the pre-dawn hours to midnight seven days a week.
- Trinity Railway Express: Trinity trains connect Dallas and Fort Worth (and points in between) every day except Sunday. It’s a good way to get from either city to DFW International Airport.
- DART Bus: Local and express routes run throughout the Metroplex, serving thousands of stops along the way. The system includes the D-Link, a free route with 19 stops in the downtown area. Get a DART pass to make paying fares easy.
- Trinity Metro: This is the bus system in Fort Worth run by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.
- DART M-Line Trolley: Slow down and take in the scenery with this throwback electric streetcar. It runs in central Dallas every day of the year, and it’s free!
Bring the Family
Dallas made the top of the list of family-friendly metro areas on Homes.com in 2018. The factors weighed included the quality of schools, park acreage, the availability of child care services, the cost of living, commute times and crime rates.
On the fun side, there’s plenty of it—the Dallas Museum of Art has great special programs for kids of all ages, Texas’s largest zoo has 106 acres to explore, and there are more than 400 parks maintained by the city, with trails, playgrounds and lakes throughout. Check out the year-round ice skating rink at the Galleria Dallas shopping mall or hop in the car and head to Arlington for the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park.
It’s Always “Game On” in Dallas-Fort Worth
Unless you’re moving to Dallas from an undiscovered island, you already have an idea of just how big sports are around here. It won’t take you long to understand that Texans throughout the state take their allegiance to sports team seriously, wearing the jerseys and flying the flags of their favorite teams even during the off season.
Major league teams include:
We have to mention another aspect of sports in Dallas, and that’s the venues. The AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play, is the largest domed structure in the world and cost $1.2 billion to build. The American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, occupies 12 acres and, according to Visit Dallas, is “the most technologically advanced sports arena in the country.”
Things to Do and See in the Dallas Area
Every city’s tourism office says there’s something for everyone to do in the city they promote, but in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it’s absolutely true. Kids, singles, seniors and everyone else has their choice of things to do and places to see.
These are just a very few to try when you move in:
- Dallas Arts District: According to its website, this is the largest contiguous urban arts district in America, covering more than 19 city blocks and 68 acres. It’s a hub of the visual and performing arts and it’s where you’ll find the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Klyde Warren Park, Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, and much more.
- Dallas World Aquarium: There’s marine life here, of course, but you can also see otters, penguins, tropical birds and much more as you make your way through a rainforest and aviary.
- Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: Escape the hot, dry summer in the green spaces of the arboretum, which take up 66 acres in White Rock Lake Park not far from downtown.
- Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District: If you’re new to the western way of life, you’ll get up to speed at this living museum. Weekend rodeos, daily cattle drivers, artifacts and a three-acre honky tonk—it’s all here!
Outdoor adventure awaits, with plenty of hiking trails around the city, including those within the 1,015 acres of White Rock Lake. You can even go on a wilderness retreat not far from downtown at the Cedar Ridge Preserve. More than 600 acres of wilderness is yours to explore, with butterfly gardens, native plant nurseries and more, all carefully managed by Audubon Dallas.
Higher Education in Dallas
Students from around the world come to the city’s colleges and universities seeking an education in engineering, the arts, life sciences and much more. Some of the most notable institutions in the Dallas area are research institutions such as the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas at Denton, and the University of Texas at Dallas.
Other major universities include:
The diversity of the city’s neighborhoods reflects the ethnic, cultural and historical diversity of its population. Fast growth is leading to the rediscovery of several districts, with new people and energy moving in. These are some of the most popular areas and their notable features.
If you want the pace of urban life and the chance to live, work and play in one place, downtown is for you. This is where you’ll find everything from office towers to gardens, modern apartments, and historic buildings being converted into residential living spaces. You’ll be just steps away from the famed Design District, art galleries, amazing restaurants and more.
This walkable neighborhood offers dining, shopping and easy access to the DART Rail and McKinney Avenue Trolley. Uptown is home to Oak Lawn, a district that once was “Little Mexico” until the hippies moved in during the sixties, and is now a center for the city’s gay population. Living options include everything from high-rise luxury apartments to older, renovated homes.
This once working-class, Hispanic neighborhood has caught the eye (and wallets) developers, who are investing in new residential construction. Future plans include retailers, office space, an urban farm and more.
The annexation of East Dallas (also known as Old East Dallas) just before the turn of the 20th century made Dallas the largest city in the state. East Dallas includes the Swiss Avenue Historic District with its renovated homes and apartments, and it’s a destination for checking out new restaurants and bars. The walkable Baylor District is also on the east side, anchored by Baylor University Medical Center.
Settled by formerly enslaved people after the Civil War, this community east of downtown is the dictionary definition of “eclectic.” Live in a new loft or apartment development amid funky art galleries, street murals, venues for offbeat music, and live theater.
Divided into North, East, Southeast, and Central Oak Cliff, this large community is home to a creative and diverse population. Notable spots include the University of North Texas, the Dallas Zoo, the 263-acre Kiest Park and the mid-century home neighborhood of Wynnewood North.
Urbanites love this neighborhood for its lofts, unusual office spaces and diverse population. It’s one of the city’s oldest districts, but today it’s on the rise with an influx of urban dwellers, creative businesses, lofts and more.
The Dallas Restaurant Scene
Naming one place as the best spot for food is subjective, of course, but Thrillist.com puts the state of Texas at the top of its list, noting that Dallas has perfected the “meat-centric steakhouse and hybrid, modern steakhouse.” There’s more than steak and BBQ (as fabulous as it is) to Dallas-Fort Worth dining, with more restaurants per capita than any other metro area in the U.S.
According to the Dallas Observer, here are some of the latest can’t-miss dining destinations:
Shopping in Dallas: From Upscale to Bargains
It’s been said that shopping is a contact sport in Dallas. You can find out first-hand at one of the many retail centers throughout the city, including:
- Highland Park Village: This top Dallas shopping spot is an open-air, Mediterranean-style center with high-end retail stores, a movie theater and restaurants.
- Dallas Design District: Browse art galleries and interior design showrooms in this urban enclave, or come for the great restaurants.
- NorthPark Center: Shop this enclosed mall for high-end choices in what Shopping Centers Today once called one of the “7 Retail Wonders of the Modern World” according to the shopping center’s website.
- The Galleria Dallas: Shopping in more than 200 stores and ice skating? Yes, it’s all here. All of the major retail brands have a store in this four-level indoor mall.
- West Village: You’ll find some brand names, such as Gap and Brooks Brothers, but you’ll also have quirky boutiques and shops around every corner in this highly walkable mixed-use urban development.
- Outlet shopping: Wear your comfortable shopping shoes for epic bargain hunting at Grapevine Mills and Allen Premium Outlets.
Important Dallas Links
Once you’re settled in, you’ll want to take care of some business, such as getting your new Texas driver’s license or find your local voting precinct. Use these links to learn more:
Driver’s licenses: The Texas Department of Public Safety has a handy search tool for locating the nearest driver’s license office. Look for the “Mega Centers” that let you get in line online before you go. You can also save yourself time by avoiding a long hold time on the phone by first checking out these Driver’s License FAQ.
Voter registration and voting locations: Everything you need to know about registering and voting can be found on the Dallas County Elections website.
Vehicle registration: The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a helpful “new to Texas” web page that explains all of the steps to becoming registered.
Utility companies: For electric services, check out Power to Choose, a website set up by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to help residents review their options. In Dallas and Fort Worth proper, the city provides water, sewage and trash collection services. Available cable services include the familiar names, such as AT&T, DISH Network and DIRECTV.
Call on Our Expert Dallas Movers
When you’re ready to move to the Dallas area, Suddath®‘s moving pros are ready to take you there. We have a complete range of residential moving services, whether you need to move to Dallas from another Texas city, another state, or even another country. Suddath has been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area for nearly a century with packing, loading, transportation, storage, and unpacking services. See what our satisfied Dallas customers have to say, then contact us for a free, no-obligation moving quote.
Moving to Dallas, TX : FAQ
If you’re moving to Dallas, be prepared to encounter rising housing costs. The upward trend in the price of houses—an increase of about 12% each year—is expected to last for the foreseeable future. Rents are high as well, with a one-bedroom apartment or condo coming in at around $1,250 a month, although they’re certainly not in the same league as other large cities such as Los Angeles or Boston.
According to SmartAsset.com, “Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the U.S.” with the average effective tax rate in the state at 1.86%, the sixth-highest in Texas. There are, however, several exemptions (such as the homestead exemption) that can ease your property tax burden.
On the plus side? There are no state or local personal incomes taxes in Texas.
The answer depends on which ranking source you trust and what your idea of a good retirement is. Analyses done by senior living communities that paint the city in a favorable light likely have some biases, while others, such as WalletHub, have Dallas high on some attributes and low on others. In 2018, WalletHub ranked Dallas a respectable #46 on its Best Places to Retire list of more than 180 cities, with affordability at #63, activities at #38, quality of life at #97 and health care at #107.
In general, you’ll need to consider factors such as property taxes (Texas has some of the country’s highest rates, although there are exemptions for seniors) and how to deal with long driving distances between “local” destinations in the 300-plus square miles of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If you’re looking to get away from snow, the winters are generally mild but the summers are hot, and the National Weather Service classifies the Dallas-Fort Worth climate as “humid subtropical.” You’ll need air conditioning in your home and your car, since temperatures above 100 degrees are common in summer.
U.S. News & World Report gives Dallas-Fort Worth a 7.1 out of 10 on its crime index, which translates into a lower crime rate than other metro areas of a similar size. The violent crime rate over time is just under the overall national rate.
Being in or near a big city like Dallas means you’ll have plenty of neighborhoods from which to choose and all of the resources you could ever need.
As for schools in Dallas, there’s good news and bad news, which isn’t a surprise considering the district has more than 350 public elementary, middle and high schools. In a recent survey, residents gave very low marks to the local school district, which has seen a drop in the number of students as charter schools are on the rise. On the bright side, there are some highly rated individual schools here, particularly among the magnet schools. The Science and Engineering Magnet School, the School for the Talented and Gifted, Booker T. Washington SPVA, and Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School are all very highly ranked in the state.
On the fun side, you may find there are too many good choices for things to do with kids in Dallas. Here are a few popular destinations, according to KidsOutAndAbout.com:
• The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary: There’s something for everyone within the attraction’s 289 acres. Education, conservation and preservation is the mission, with a focus on programs just for children.
• Grapevine Vintage Railroad: Train rides are just part of the fun here. There are special themed events throughout the year for kids and adults.
• JumpStreet Dallas: When the kids need room to let off some steam, take them to this 20,000-square-foot indoor trampoline park, which includes a separate play area for children under the age of 7.
• Bahama Beach: This family waterpark is just a few minutes south of downtown and offers season passes for unlimited visits during the park’s operational season and priority entrance on weekends.
• The Perot Museum of Nature and Science: A great place for hands-on fun and learning, the museum has 11 permanent exhibit halls and a constantly changing list of activities and experiences.
• Adventure Landing: A go-to spot for hosting birthday parties, the park has mini golf, an arcade, laser tag, go-karts, bumper boats and batting cages.
• Celebration Station: Get one of the birthday party packages, which include go-karts, paint ball, Playland rides, bungee jumping, pizza and just about everything else your small guests need for a great time.
• Frontiers of Flight Museum: The history of aviation comes to life here, from the Wright brothers’ first flight to the Apollo space program. There are more than 35,000 artifacts to see, 13 historical galleries, a Living History program and much more.
• SpeedZone Dallas: SpeedZone caters to both kids and adults, with drag racing, a family racetrack, mini golf, and Lil’ Thunder, go-karts just for younger kids.
The job market has been very positive in recent years, with job growth in Dallas topping the list of the fastest growing in the U.S. As of 2017, the median household income had risen to $62,673, above the national average. In between 2016 and 2017, the Metroplex added more than 100,000 new jobs, the most in the country.
There are a number of large employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including:
• Bank of America, the second-largest bank holding company in the nation
• AMR Corporation, the parent corporation of US Airways and American Airlines
• Baylor Health Care System
• The Dallas School District
• Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
• JP Morgan Chase & Co.
• The City of Dallas
• Texas Instruments
Dallas has its plusses and minuses just like every other large and growing city. If you’re trying to decide whether to make a residential move to Dallas, here are just a few things to consider:
• If you need to travel around the country for your job, Dallas is a good home base. Most of the popular North American destinations are within a four-hour flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with non-stop flights available to major international destinations.
• There are no state or local income taxes in Texas.
• Most days in Dallas are sunny, and the city won’t get more than an average of one inch of snow a year. There are four distinct seasons in Dallas, too.
• You may never run out of entertainment options in and around Dallas. Great restaurants, a very active arts scene, a lot of shopping spots, major sports events nearly every month of the year … the list goes on and on.
• VisitDallas notes that of all the large metro areas in the U.S., Dallas is not on a navigable body of water. (There aren’t any mountains, either!)
• Urban sprawl inevitably leads to traffic congestion in metro areas, and Dallas-Fort Worth is no exception. Roadways in the DFW Metroplex can’t keep up with the area’s rapid population growth. Plan your trips around town with some time built in for traffic jams and road construction.
• Yes, the weather is on the “pros” list due to relatively mild winters, but it also has a place on the flip side thanks to long, hot, humid summers and the threat of tornadoes in this part of the country.