With a population of approximately 1.3 million, Dallas might initially seem intimidating for newcomers. That said, the Mercer 2023 Cost of Living survey ranking paints a more welcoming picture, placing Dallas 12th in the United States – and 53rd out of 227 expat destinations worldwide – suggesting a more moderate cost of living than some of its metropolitan counterparts.
For newcomers on a tight budget, Dallas's vastness can be advantageous. By doing comparative research and tapping into local communities, one can discover neighbourhoods, markets and services that suit their budget. Many Dallas residents use mobile apps or online platforms that offer deals or discounts on various aspects of daily life, from shopping to dining.
Cost of accommodation in Dallas
Dallas offers diverse living options, from contemporary apartments in the bustling downtown to historical homes, offering a peek into the city's past. Townhouses and single-family homes are familiar sights, but loft apartments and preserved historical homes could be ideal for those looking to blend modernity with a touch of history.
Like in most major cities, the price of paradise varies. Upscale neighbourhoods like Highland Park, University Park and Preston Hollow are the go-to for luxury, but for those looking for affordability without compromising quality, Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove and West Dallas beckon.
The old real estate adage, "location, location, location," rings true in Dallas. Other significant contributors to property pricing are the size of the dwelling and the amenities it offers. Those looking to save on accommodation should consider co-living spaces or renting a room rather than an entire apartment and keep an eye out for sublets or short-term lease options. Some areas outside the city centre offer more affordable rents and are still conveniently connected by public transport.
Other costs for new arrivals to Dallas to consider include a security deposit and monthly utility costs. Most landlords will require that their tenants pay a security deposit of one to two months' rent.
Cost of transport in Dallas
Getting around in Dallas is facilitated by an efficient transportation matrix. The city boasts a robust public transport system comprising buses, light rail, and commuter rail. Residents can save substantially by using public transportation with monthly or yearly transit passes, often at discounted rates. For those who prefer a more environmentally friendly or health-conscious commute, Dallas offers bike-sharing and car-sharing programmes.
Public transit is relatively affordable, and while many opt for personal vehicles, it's worth noting the associated costs. Factors like fuel and variable car insurance and parking fees (particularly in high-demand areas) can add up. For those who must drive, consider carpooling or using car-sharing services for occasional needs rather than maintaining a personal vehicle.
Cost of groceries in Dallas
Eating well in Dallas doesn't necessarily mean eating into one's savings. The city presents a mix of popular grocery chains like Kroger, Tom Thumb and Walmart. While prices vary slightly by location, on average, Dallas stays slightly below the national average for grocery costs.
Newcomers will find that while local markets offer occasional bargains, chain stores tend to be more consistent in offering value, and buying in bulk and using loyalty programmes at large grocery chains can lead to significant savings. Furthermore, choosing store-brand products instead of name brands can offer similar quality at a lower cost.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Dallas
The Dallas lifestyle is nothing short of a treasure trove for the culture vultures and foodies among new arrivals. Cultural landmarks like the Dallas Museum of Art offer a dose of refinement, while the Dallas Zoo promises wholesome family fun. For sports enthusiasts, venues such as the AT&T Stadium are the epicentre of excitement.
The culinary scene in Dallas ranges from modest, wallet-friendly eateries to gourmet paradises. Beyond dining, recreational pursuits like fitness centres or spas have a wide price range, often based on location and amenities.
Those on a tight budget could look for free or donation-based events, often listed on community boards or local websites. Many museums and attractions have discounted days or hours. Diners can try lunch specials, usually cheaper than dinner prices, or explore the myriad of food trucks serving delicious and affordable meals.
Cost of education in Dallas
For those relocating with families, Dallas's diverse educational offerings are a boon. From public schools to private institutions, charters and magnets, choices are abundant. For families looking to save, public schools are a cost-effective choice. Public libraries in Dallas also provide free educational resources, workshops and events for children and adults.
While public education is typically considered the cost-effective route, Dallas's private institutions, with their varied curricula and facilities, come at a premium. That said, many of these schools offer scholarships or financial aid, ensuring that bright young minds are never denied opportunities based on finances. Parents can also explore institutions that offer sliding scale fees or sibling discounts.
Cost of healthcare in Dallas
Ensuring good health in Dallas is underpinned by its comprehensive healthcare system. Public and private hospitals and clinics dot the city, with prestigious names like Baylor University Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center at the helm.
Insurance is a crucial consideration, and costs fluctuate based on factors like the plan type and an individual's profile. For those without the cushion of employer-sponsored insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a lifeline, offering a myriad of health insurance options.
Community health fairs often offer free screenings and essential services. Generic drugs, available at pharmacies, are usually much cheaper than branded alternatives. Some local clinics also operate on a sliding fee scale based on income.
Cost of living in Dallas chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Dallas for September 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)|
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre||USD 3,900|
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||USD 2,700|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre||USD 1,910|
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||USD 1,470|
|Food and drink|
|Dozen eggs||USD 3.47|
|Milk (1 litre)||USD 0.90|
|Rice (1kg)||USD 4.32|
|Loaf of white bread||USD 3.30|
|Chicken breasts (1kg)||USD 5.61|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||USD 10|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||USD 75|
|Big Mac Meal||USD 9|
|Coca-Cola (330ml)||USD 2.50|
|Bottle of beer (local)||USD 3.67|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||USD 0.20|
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||USD 66|
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)||USD 220|
|Taxi rate/km||USD 1.22|
|City-centre public transport fare||USD 3|
|Gasoline (per litre)||USD 0.88|
How do expats find the cost of living in Dallas?
"Almost everything is more expensive than in the Netherlands: groceries, clothes, hotels, drinks and healthcare. The only things we've found cheaper are cars, gas and labor. But since we pay way less tax here than in the Netherlands, we don't really mind." Read more in our interview with Conny, a Dutch expat living in Dallas.
►For more on managing your finances in the country, see Banking, Money and Taxes in the USA
Are you an expat living in Dallas?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dallas. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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