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Houston vs. Dallas: Which One is Better to Live in?

By Amanda Curry · Oct 11, 2016 · Real Estate

Houston vs. Dallas: Which One is Better to Live in?

Image courtesy of Flickr, rjones0856

Houston Vs. Dallas? If you are considering moving to either of these major metropolitan areas, we've created a resource to help you make the decision process a little easier.

The debate has raged for decades in Texas: Which is the better city, Dallas or Houston?

Although Houston and Dallas are fairly close in proximity (about 4 hours by car) and share the same state, they offer completely different living experiences.

One thing is for certain though - the locals in Houston and Dallas are die-hard about their towns - and for good reason! Both Texas cities have their perks, so it can be difficult to choose a place to settle down. If you are considering moving to either of these major metropolitan areas anytime soon, we've created a resource to help make the decision process a little easier.

Cost of Living

For many Americans, the cost of living is an important factor in deciding where to settle down. The cost of living in Dallas and Houston are pretty similar, however, Houston is a tiny bit more expensive - but nothing that should break the bank.

According to Numbeo.com, the world's largest database of user contributed data about cities, you would need around $4,242 in Houston, TX to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with $4,000 in Dallas, Texas (assuming you rent in both cities).

Here are other cost of living factors to consider:

  • Consumer Prices in Houston, TX are 5.35% higher than in Dallas, TX
  • Rent Prices in Houston, TX are 7.30% higher than in Dallas, TX
  • Restaurant Prices in Houston, TX are 9.27% higher than in Dallas, TX
  • Groceries Prices in Houston, TX are 10.95% higher than in Dallas, TX
  • Local Purchasing Power in Houston, TX is 10.26% lower than in Dallas, TX

Both areas are relatively inexpensive to live in. The C2ER Cost of Living Index 2013 Annual Average shows that Houston has the third lowest overall cost of living among the nation's 20 most populous metropolitan areas. The same study also shows that Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 5.6 percent below the average for all 308 urban areas, which is largely due in part to affordable housing costs.

The winner : Dallas wins in the case for offering a slightly more affordable cost of living.

Housing Costs

Another major perk of Houston and Dallas is the diverse and affordable real estate. Both areas are moderately affordable, with Houston housing costs hovering right above nationwide averages and Dallas housing costs falling a bit below.

The average price for a 2,400 square foot house in Houston, Texas is $293,324. In Dallas, the average price drops to $272,431.

The winner: Both areas offer affordable housing options, however, Dallas, Texas's falls about 12.7% below the nationwide average. If you are looking to get more home for your money, Dallas may be the best option for you and your family.

Food and Entertainment

Where you save in housing costs in Dallas, Texas, you may make up for it with the cost of food. Food costs 32% more in Dallas, Texas, so you won't be saving any cash on your trip to the grocery store.

Fortunately, each of these entertainment districts are about equal when it comes to costs in entertainment. Dallas price are only about 5% higher when compared to Houston.

Both areas offer lots of entertainment options, a plethora of cultural attractions and museums and a fine arts section.

If you are looking for rich culture in Houston, stroll through Houston's museum district where you'll find the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Zoo. You'll also find world-class performing arts such as the symphony, opera, theatre, and ballet.

Like Houston, Dallas has a vibrant Arts District, with the museum of art, operas, symphonies, and more.

The winner : For entertainment: it's a tie. Both areas offer great restaurants, shopping and nightlife. For food: Houston. With food costing a whopping 32% more in Dallas, Houston wins for food costs.

Climate and Nature

Although Houston and Dallas share the same state, they are extremely different in terms of weather and nature, which can play a part in the type of activities you prefer. Houston is located near the water in southeastern Texas near Galveston Bay, less than 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Dallas sits farther inland, about a four hour drive northwest of Houston. Both areas experience hot, steamy summer and mild to warm winters.

Both cities occasionally feel the effects of severe weather, but coastal Houston is more likely to be influenced by tropical storms and hurricanes. Dallas sometimes experiences snow - maybe one to two times a year - but nothing severe. If coastal hurricanes, supercell thunderstorms, and tornados are a concern for you, you may want to stay clear of Houston.

As for nature and things to do, if you prefer being close to a bay for swimming and boating purposes, Houston certainly has everything to offer you. However, Dallas has a variety of parks, including the Katy Trail, Klyde Warren Park, and Trinity River Center, which are worth noting. In addition, Dallas has many lakes, including White Rock Lake, Bachman Lake, and Lake Ray Hubbard, which can please anyone looking to relax and hang out by water.

The winner : It depends. Both areas have their perks and disadvantages. If you hate humidity, Dallas may be the location for you. If you love being by the water, Houston may be your city.

Traffic, Public Transportation and Walkability

The traffic and public transportation availability varies between these two metro areas. In both areas, the car is king and urban and suburban sprawl play a major part into the shaping of both cities.

As far as public transportation, Dallas wins. The North Texas metropolitan area has an extensive rail system, with 90 miles serving 62 stations. In comparison, Houston has 22 miles of track with 38 major stops. The extensive rail system in Dallas not only makes it easier for locals to get around, but it cuts down on traffic and pollution, two issues of which Houston has been battling for quite some time.

As for walkability, Houston and Dallas are very similar. Both Texas cities received scores of 48 and 45 respectively, which means that they are both car-dependent cities.

The winner : Dallas wins for offering an extensive rail system.

Job Market and Outlook

If you are looking for a job, which is prompting you to move to a new city, you may want to start your search in Dallas.

Houston lost out to nearly every major Texas metro and a number of smaller cities on WalletHub's list of 2016's Best and Worst Cities to Find a Job. The study compared job markets and socioeconomic environments across 150 of the most populated U.S. cities based on metrics such as job opportunities, employment growth, salary, housing affordability, safety and transportation costs.

Houston came no. 25 on the list and was ranked no. 16 in the job and market category but was brought down by its no. 98 socioeconomic environment rank. Unfortunately, Dallas didn't rank much higher at just one spot higher, No. 24, on the list. Dallas earned similar scores to Houston's with a No. 15 rank for job market and the No. 96 spot in the socioeconomic environment category.

Furthermore, according to Indeed's 2016 study of job postings per capita, your chances of finding a career may be better in Dallas. The study found that Dallas had 36 job postings per 1000 people, while Houston had 25 job postings per 1000 people.

The Bottom Line

As with any other major life decision, there are always going to be perks and disadvantages. We encourage you to take this information with a grain of salt and apply it to your own unique situation before making any life altering decisions like your residential status.


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