You may be looking to move to a place with warmer weather, or you may seek a big city that offers just about everything, including a strong job market. Either way, Dallas should be a top contender on your list.
A major city with jobs in many industries, Dallas also offers affordability compared to many cities its size and has a reputation as a place full of opportunity. Before you make your decision, here's what you should know about moving to Dallas.
Should You Move to Dallas?
With a number of major employers either headquartered or with major operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, it's not hard to find yourself considering Dallas. Exxon Mobil, AT&T, American Airlines Group, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments and Tenet Healthcare are just a handful of the companies that call the Dallas area home.
Be it for work or other reasons, plenty of people are deciding to move to Dallas. Between 2013 and 2017, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area grew by 5.7% due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With a population of more than 7 million, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is the largest place to see such rapid growth during that period out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.
The area's median annual salary is $51,250, slightly above the national median of $50,620, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Considering that Texas does not collect income tax from residents, more of your money can be used to cover housing costs, entertainment and savings.
How to Move to Dallas
Finding a place to live when you're far away can be much easier if you tap the expertise of a local real estate agent who can help you find the right city, neighborhood and property within this expansive metro area.
Nitin Gupta, a Realtor with Competitive Edge Realty, based in Plano, Texas, says he focuses on the buyer's job location, budget, type of house desired and the list of amenities a person can or can't live without to narrow down the search.
Much of the initial house hunting happens online. "At least 50% (of relocating buyers) just come once, and we're able to find something. But that does take a lot of legwork in advance," Gupta says.
Here's what you need to know about moving to Dallas:
-- This big-city cost of living is relatively low.
-- Housing inventory is growing.
-- Cities and neighborhoods vary widely.
-- It's not the Wild West.
-- Prepare for high sales and property taxes.
-- You'll be driving a lot.
This Big-City Cost of Living Is Relatively Low
The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is the fourth-most populous in the U.S., following New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, but it's the most affordable option compared to the other three. Dallas-Fort Worth residents pay 22.63% of the area's median household income for housing, while in Chicago residents need 24.96% of their household income to cover the cost of living, and both New York and Los Angeles require roughly 30% each.
If purchasing a home is outside your budget, consider renting. The median monthly rent in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is $1,022, based on long-term data from real estate information company Zillow.
Housing Inventory Is Growing
The population growth that the Dallas area is experiencing would in many cities make it hard to afford a home, but this area has long been a leader in construction, helping keep supply and demand in balance.
That doesn't mean the Dallas area has been immune to the factors that drive up the cost of new home construction elsewhere. Development still tends to focus on high-priced homes.
"Texas has led the nation in new home construction for the last several years," Jim Gaines, chief economist for the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center, said in a press release. "However, as in other states, land costs, a shortage of labor, and development financing have been limitations on affordable residential development."
The Real Estate Center predicts that the Dallas area will likely see an 8.7% increase in new home construction permits in 2020, which will in turn increase the number of home sales as people continue to move to the area.
Cities and Neighborhoods Vary Widely
Everything from your cost of living to general experience can vary widely based on what city or neighborhood you decide to call home within the vast Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
In the city of Dallas, the median home price as of the end of October 2019 was $316,300, according to Zillow. In Fort Worth, the price was $224,500.
In smaller cities, you can find more luxury housing options and more entry-level choices, depending on what fits your budget. For example, the median sale price at the end of October 2019 in Garland was $204,300, while in Prosper it was $458,100.
With so many options, it's important to work with an agent who is familiar with the entire metro area, and who can help you narrow your search. Gupta notes some suburbs are better fits if you're looking for a new-construction house, because they're seeing significant development, while others offer the historic charm of older properties.
It's Not the Wild West
Before moving to Dallas, you don't need to stock up on cowboy hats and oversize belt buckles. Gupta says many people who haven't visited the city before expect "cowboys running around in Dallas, but it's actually very cosmopolitan."
You may find some Texas accents in Dallas, but the fact that the city attracts people from all over the country -- and the world -- means you may not even hear that as much as you would in other parts of Texas.
Prepare for High Sales and Property Taxes
There's no state income tax, but you'll find yourself paying more to the state in different ways. A house worth $129,700 in Dallas County, where Dallas is located, requires about $2,827 in annual property taxes, according to tax resource Tax-Rates.org.
The sales tax rate in both Dallas and Fort Worth is 8.25%, with 6.25% going to the state, and the remainder levied for individual local uses.
You'll Be Driving a Lot
Expect the drive from one end of the metro area to another to take a while, especially during rush hour. You likely won't be interested in traveling that far on a daily basis, though. As Gupta says: "You can drive for an hour and still be in the city of Dallas."
Dallas Area Rapid Transit offers multiple options for those looking to ditch the car, including local buses, multiple train lines and streetcar and trolley options to get around, travel between cities and commute to the airport. Still, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as little as 1% of the local population takes public transportation for their daily commute, while 91% report driving to and from work.