If you’re wondering where to live in the Lone Star State, Dallas and Houston are probably on your list. But which one is better?
Both are popular rival cities and have their pros and cons. Deciding where to live ultimately comes down to personal preference, but many factors can help influence your decision.
At a glance, Dallas is better for raising a family, with its resilient economy and lower crime rate. On the other hand, Houston has excellent healthcare, cost of living, and education.
This article compares Dallas and Houston across influencing factors when choosing where to live. Additionally, we included the safest neighborhoods and unique perks each city offers.
Dallas or Houston to Live: Similarities
Before we highlight the particular perks of living in Houston or Dallas, let’s look at what both cities have in common.
Both cities are relatively large, separated by merely 240 miles, but Houston is nearly twice the size of Dallas. Houston measures almost 700 square miles, while Dallas is about 300 square miles.
It’s pretty hot in both cities, but that’s common across Texas. Similarly, while Dallas summers get hot, humidity makes Houston’s heat more miserable.
People and Neighborhoods
There are lots of Republican residents in both cities. Suburban areas are dominant, and traffic is heavy in both Houston and Dallas.
State Income Tax
Both cities enjoy no state income tax, but property tax is another issue.
Pecan pie is popular in both cities. The pecan tree is Texas’ state tree, while the pecan nut is Dallas’ official nut.
|Summer||Higher temperature||Higher humidity|
|Size (across Texan cities)||3rd largest||The largest|
|Bodies of Water||Many lakes||A port|
|Education||Quality K12 schools||Quality universities|
Cost Of Living
Is it cheaper to live in Dallas or Houston? Dallas is 5.3% more expensive than Houston.
Here’s how much lower living in Houston is, compared to living in Dallas:
Raising A Family
In Home.com’s 2018 poll, Dallas ranked first out of 25 US cities in the family-friendliness category.
Kid-friendly destinations include the Dallas Arboretum, Perot Museum, Dallas Zoo, and Frontiers of Flight Museum.
Houston came close in the same poll, ranking third.
Popular family destinations are the Houston Zoo which houses over 6,000 animals, the hands-on Children’s Museum of Houston, and the Museum of Natural Science.
Which City Is More Fun?
‘Fun’ is in the eye of the beholder, and the cities of Houston and Dallas have distinct versions.
Dallas gives off a cosmopolitan vibe and is not very walkable. Think along the lines of cocktail lounges, designer wardrobes, flashy cars, and well-off people.
For an authentic Texan feel, drive toward the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Houston is traditionally Texan – cowboy boots and hats and old-money crowds. Living in the city also means you’re less than an hour away from the beach and a few hours from New Orleans. Rolling hills and lush forests are your neighbors, too.
Dallas’ dining options are more beef-favored, and many believe that the city invented Tex-Mex. If barbecue and steaks are your cravings, you’d feel at home in Dallas.
However, the city also has other palate options. Uchi Dallas has the best sushi, Rise is a French bistro, and Bubbas offers southern comfort food.
Dining at Houston is diverse. Close to the Mexican border and home to many Asian immigrants, many restaurants in the city have international influences.
From independent food trucks to high-end dining destinations, Houston offers overwhelming choices.
Le Colonial offers French and Vietnamese fusion, and Tiny Boxwoods Houston is among the popular dining destinations.
Dallas’ economic stamina is resilient. The city fluctuates around 21-23 Fortune 500 companies, including 3 of the top 10.
Despite a diverse economy, Houston relies heavily on the energy sector. How gas and oil behave in the market affects the city’s economic health.
Through a certain level of association, cities with the most wealthy residents may equate to more well-paying industries like technology, oil, and finance. This could translate to better job opportunities.
Houston has 14 billionaires with a combined net worth of $52.9 billion.
The Dallas Arboretum has 66 acres of well-maintained gardens. Its Pumpkin Village is widely popular for squash and pumpkins during fall, while tulips and cherry blossoms are sights to behold in spring.
The waterfalls in Prairie Creek Park are artificial beauties. There are short trails over bridges and through woods and wildflowers that populate the park.
White Rock Lake is a reservoir that spans over 1,000 acres, with biking and hiking trails that surround a lake. It’s also a perfect nature spot for having picnics or kayaking.
Buffalo Bayou is a 53-mile river running through Houston, ideal for kayaking while taking in the city’s skyline. Its park offers open spaces to have a picnic amidst scenic city views.
Bayou Bend Gardens, once part of a private property, exudes a secret-garden ambiance. It’s 14 acres of natural woodland with beautiful flowers, lush greeneries, and fountains.
Dallas spends 7.2% more per student than Houston, but the student-to-teacher ratio is 13.4% lower (fewer students per classroom).
The U. S. News and World Report ranks the University of Houston as the second most diverse research university in the US. The Institute of International Education mentions it among the top 25 US universities for international students. Similarly, Lone Star College ranks third among US community colleges for international students.
Baylor Dallas is known as a heavy acute leukemia center. The city also spread out the medical complexes of Baylor University Medical Center and UTSW/Parkland/Children’s Hospital. Active clinical research is ongoing at Methodist and Presbyterian Hospital.
According to Medbelle, a healthcare technology company, Dallas is the 13th Best Hospital City in the US.
The US News & World Report ranked The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Number 1 in cancer care 9 times out of the past 11 years.
Texas Children’s Hospital also ranked first across Texas, including the internationally acclaimed Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center (largest medical complex globally), and Kelsey Seybold.
Is Dallas safer than Houston? Let’s compare the cities’ crime rates with the US averages.
- Arts District
- Southwest Dallas
- Oak Lawn
- Northeast Dallas
- Sugar Land
Only In Dallas
Dallas Farmers Market
This local spot offers more than lunch, snacks, and coffee on weekends. Local vendors and boutique shops offer healthy sweets and souvenirs like jewelry, succulents, candles, and hats.
This quintessential Dallas spot has an observation deck that gives tourists a 360-degree view of Dallas’ skyline.
State Fair Of Texas
Located at Fair Park, it hosts events like BMX contests and Oktoberfest from the end of September to mid-October.
One of Texas’ favorite historic destinations, the Dealey Plaza Museum, displays the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.
Check out the Perot Museum of Science if you’re looking for interactive exhibits. Also, the Dallas Museum of Art and Dallas Aquarium are worth penciling down in your itinerary.
Only In Houston
Houston is home to talented artists of colorful murals. Across the street from Market Square Park, you’ll find the iconic “Houston Is Inspired” mural.
NASA Johnson Space Center
This is but one of the interesting museums to visit when in Houston. Houston’s Museum of Fine Art houses 70,000 cultural displays across multiple buildings within the museum.
Houston’s Museum District also includes the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
- FM 1960 – one of the largest urban roads in the US (47 miles spanning 26 zip codes)
- Astrodome – Eighth Wonder of the World
- The Port of Houston – the second largest port in the US
- Lakewood Church – US’ largest church (according to Forbes)
Conclusion: Dallas or Houston to Live: Which Is Better?
Deciding whether Houston or Dallas is the better choice to live in the Lone Star State isn’t easy because each city offers distinct experiences.
Dallas takes pride in its cosmopolitan Texan vibe, low crime rate, and resilient economy.
Houston is known for its cultural diversity, healthcare, and art scene.
Both cities have their strengths and weaknesses, and depending on what matters to you most, this article aims to nudge you toward an informed decision.