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Houston vs. Dallas: Which city is better?

Houston vs. Dallas Which city is better

Houston and Dallas are both popular cities in Texas. Both cities can be beautiful and good places to live. 

Houston is famous for its ethnic diversity. Their labor market is also developing after the onslaught of unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dallas, on the other hand, is famous for its southern charm. Additionally, the school system in Dallas is praised by many parents. 

The two cities contain plenty of services for people to utilize. For example, you can find luxury spas, recording studios, bookstores, and flower delivery services in either city.

However, we can’t deny that there are major differences between these two cities. If you’re looking to compare Houston and Dallas, you’re in the right place. 

After researching the two cities in-depth, we’ve compiled a series of comparisons to assist you with deciding which of these cities would be best to visit or for your new home. 

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Dallas

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Dallas

Although Houston is generally cheaper, the cost of living in both cities is close to the national average. The two cities are also similar in cost of living statistics. 

Both cities are in Texas, so residents pay no income and have an 8.25% sales tax. Other expenses, such as utilities, are slightly more expensive in Dallas than in Houston. 

However, housing is the biggest reason for the cost of living difference between the two cities. Yes, this includes corporate housing and apartments

Average home prices in Dallas are about 15% higher than in Houston. 

For example, the overall median condo price in Dallas is typically around $335,000, while the median condo price in Houston is closer to $285,000. 

Of course, prices can vary considerably in both metropolises due to size, location, and other factors.

The cost of living in Houston compared to Dallas is about 5%. This can vary from person to person depending on their housing plan, as home ownership is a major factor in these differences. 

For a more detailed comparison of the cost of living in Houston and Dallas, we saved you time and sourced the data below from Expatistan

It is a cost of living database consisting of user-contributed data from cities worldwide. 


Housing TypeHoustonDallas 
Monthly Rent for Fully Furnished Luxury Apartment (900 sqft)  $1675$2755
Monthly Rent for Normal Fully Furnished Apartment (900 sqft)$1253$2008
Utilities for One Month for Two People (90sqft) $237$264
Monthly Rent for Luxury Furnished Studio $1467$1664
Monthly Rent for Basic Studio$987$1347
Utilities per Month for One Person $122$182
Internet (one month 8mbps)$44$66
Cleaning Services Hourly Rate $25$31


Food TypeHoustonDallas 
Basic Meal$16$20
Expensive Restaurant$70$75
Chicken Breast (1lb) $4.16$7
Dozen of Eggs $3.29$3.65
1 Liter of Milk$.80$1
16 oz. of Local Cheese$6$7
1 kg of Potatoes$1.20$1.93
1 kg of Apples$2.65$4
One Bottle of Red Wine$16$15
16 oz Domestic Beer$2.53$6


Clothing Type HoustonDallas 
Business Shoes $115$128
Sport Shoes$103$89
High Retail Clothing  $50$55

Personal Care 

Personal Care
Type of Personal CareHoustonDallas 
Antibiotics (12 dozes)$21$30
Cold Medicine (6 days)$7$8
Doctors Visit (15 min)$100$84
Feminine Hygiene Products$10$8
Hair Shampoo/Conditioner$5$5.20
4 Rolls of Toilet Paper$4$3.46
Standard Haircut$22$26


Type of EntertainmentHoustonDallas 
Basic Dinner for 2 at Pub$48$50
2 Movie Tickets$26$28
2 Theater Tickets (best seats)$192$318
Luxury Dinner for 2 $80$81
One Cocktail Drink$11$14
Cappuccino in Expat Area $4.95$5.12
One Beer (1pt) at Pub $5.81$7

Our Verdict:

Although in some categories the prices in Houston and Dallas are similar, our overall verdict based on the data in the charts above is that Houston is a cheaper place to live for more permanent living.

Safety and Security in Houston vs. Dallas

Safety and Security in Houston vs. Dallas

Unfortunately, no matter where we live in the world we all have to deal with crime. So, it is wise to be aware of the crime rates when determining which city to live in.

Below are the violent crime rates and property crime rates of Houston and Dallas, TX, calculated by bestplaces, which uses FBI data to calculate current crime rates. 

Crime TypeHoustonDallas
Property Crime63.250.7
Violent Crime50.437

Our Verdict:

Unfortunately, because Houston is a popular city, the crime in Houston is high as noted in the table above. Therefore, Dallas may be a safer option for those wanting a more secure city. 

Still, there are plenty of safety precautions to take when living in Houston. Such as private security cameras, gates, etc. Taking the necessary precautions as you would no matter where you live can lessen the risks of crime.

Social Services in Houston vs. Dallas

Social Services in Houston vs. Dallas

We will tackle Houston and Dallas’s takes on the most important facets of social services: Education, Healthcare, and the Job Market.

Education in Houston vs. Dallas

Education in Houston vs. Dallas

When it comes to receiving a quality education, there’s no shortage of schools and options for families with children. 

After research on the education offered in Houston and Dallas, we’ve compiled what families should be aware of before deciding which city their children should go to school in. 

Houston Education

Because of Houston’s diversity, there are plenty of educational opportunities available to students. In Houston, there are more than 60 school districts, 200 private schools, and 781 state-approved charter schools.

In fact, one of the largest public school districts in Texas is the Houston Independent School District. Regarding universities and colleges, Houston has more than 40 schools available. 

If college or university is not for you, fear not because Houston also offers vocational and business schools specializing in specific trades. According to the National Center for Education, 20,000 students enroll in these specialized trace schools every year. 

For more education statistics see the chart below. All data is sourced from bestplaces

Houston Expenses
Expend. per Student$10,310
Education Expend. per Student$8295
Instructor Expend. Per Student$4770
Pupil/Teacher Ratio18.7
Students per Librarian 2323.2
Students per Counselor 1569.7

Dallas Education

Within the city of Dallas, there are 84 private schools and 367 public state charter-approved schools. Although Dallas has fewer schools, the school districts in Dallas provide more expenses for the students and teachers. 

Here is a more detailed educational expenses chart for the city of Dallas. 

Dallas Expenses
Expend. per Student$11,054
Education Expend. per Student$8298
Instructor Expend. Per Student$4809
Pupil/Teacher Ratio16.2
Students per Librarian 553.7
Students per Counselor 469.2

Healthcare in Houston vs. Dallas

Healthcare in Houston vs. Dallas

Houston is home to one of the best medical communities in the entire world. So, it is not surprising that Houston has large medical centers in the center of downtown.

The city of Houston provides various health facilities for dental, family planning, immunizations, and specialized healthcare for women, children, and infants as well. The onlyon to Houston healthcare is not many can afford quality healthcare services. 

On the other hand, Dallas is known for being the 13th best city in Texas for healthcare. Yes, Dallas does have some good hospitals within the city yet, according to research, their quality and efficiency of healthcare often do not meet patient standards. 

Job Market in Houston vs. Dallas

Job Market in Houston vs. Dallas

Dallas and Houston are on the rise with their job markets and are important centers of the Texas economy. Each of these growing cities is outpacing the rest regarding job growth. 

Houston’s heritage is an oil town. Today, Houston is home to 44 of the nation’s 113 publicly traded oil and gas companies. 

What makes Houston’s job market different from Dallas is that the city of Houston has had to work hard to attract businesses that don’t have anything to do with oil. 

Houston’s hard work has paid off, for they are home to the global headquarters of the third Fortune 500 company in the United States.

Dallas, in particular, is projected to add more than 10 percent more jobs than the national average. Most of Dallas’ job growth can be attributed to the technology sector. 

Dallas’s job market is growing due to growth in the aviation and real estate industries.

Houston Industries 

Houston is a major transportation hub. Houston is America’s number-one foreign trade port by tonnage. 

Other major industries include energy, healthcare, and tourism. 

Houston is also home to many major corporations, including Halliburton, NRG Energy, and Academy Sports & Outdoors. Houston’s largest employer is Walmart. 

For example, major Houston employers include United Airlines, Shell Oil Company, and Exxon-Mobil. 

Dallas Industries 

Dallas is America’s central freight hub with access to major airports, highways, and railroads. The DFW Metroplex has two major airports: Love Field in Dallas and DFW Airport in nearby Arlington. 

Companies in Dallas include GameStop, J.C. Penny, Atmos Energy, and AT&T. Other major employers include Lockheed Martin, Southwest Airlines, Walmart, and Texas Instruments. 

Overall Comparison of Social Services in Houston and Dallas 

The table below shows the overall comparison of the social services in the cities of Houston and Dallas. 

Education• Houston has a larger amount of schools available to residents, yet the school districts spend less on their teachers and students. • Dallas has fewer public and private schools, but they spend more on their teachers and students. 
Healthcare• Houston’s healthcare is ranked among the best internationally. 

• There are a variety of healthcare options available in Houston, but Houston’s healthcare is expensive. 
• Although the cost of Dallas Healthcare is considerably cheap, the quality of Dallas healthcare does not always seem to meet medical patient standards. 
Job Market• Houston’s job industries are on the rise after the COVID-19 pandemic, offering diverse choices for job seekers. • Dallas job industries center around transportation. Still, there are common jobs available such as in the Walmart industry. 

Our Verdict:

While there are few differences between the two cities, Houston has more schools, great healthcare, and plenty of job opportunities. 

On the other hand, Dallas seems to be better if cheap healthcare is your concern (although the quality of it may not be ideal at times).

Diversity and Demographics in Houston vs. Dallas

Diversity and Demographics in Houston vs. Dallas

Demographics refers to the entirety of a population within a city. Therefore, we’ve sourced demographic data of Houston and Dallas using bestplaces, which compiles the recent year’s census data. 

To better understand the difference in the demographics of the two cities, see the table below.

Population2,316,1201,343, 266
Population Density 3636.33955.2
Median age of population32.932.5
Female Population49. 9%50.4%
Male Population50.1%49.6%

Diversity, on the other hand, refers to ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. Here are some approximate numbers of the diversity within Houston and Dallas. 

The following stats are based on the recent census using bestplaces.

White 24.9%29.1%
Asian 6.6%3.3%
Black 22.4%24.0%
Two or More Races1.2%1.6%

Overall Diversity and Demographic Comparison of Houston and Dallas

Demographics• Houston is a populated city, so there is no doubt more to do within the city center.

• The city may be large, but its population density reveals that there is housing still available on the market today. 
• Dallas is a less populated city, but its population density is still high. It’s actually higher than Houston!
Diversity• The diversity in Houston is roughly the same as in Dallas.  • The diversity in Dallas is similar to that in Houston. 

Our Verdict:

The numbers don’t lie about Houston being a populated city. It has substantially more people than Dallas. 

Despite that, you’re more likely to bump elbows with someone in Dallas simply because actual population density is higher for Dallas. 

Dallas is the smaller city, after all, at about 999.5 km² against Houston’s 1722 km². This matters because it means Dallas’s population has to squeeze into a smaller space than Houston’s.

The question of which one is better depends on you. 

If you like the idea of more intimate city life, you will probably like the way communities in Dallas have more physical proximity to each other. If you prefer more space, Houston is probably better.

Transportation in Houston Vs. Dallas 

Transportation in Houston Vs. Dallas

Big cities in Texas are usually built with the driver in mind. Most Texans drive to work, sometimes driving long distances. 

This is especially true for residents of suburban areas. 

However, proper planning can significantly reduce driving commute time in Houston and Dallas. 

Houston Transportation

Driving during rush hour in Houston can be difficult. This is because traffic around the Galleria Mall can be very congested during peak hours. 

Loop 610 is considered the busiest freeway in Texas. So, you can choose the Sam Houston Parkway, which circles the city. 

If you’re into public transportation, at the heart of Houston is the MetroRail system that connects downtown to high-traffic areas like NRG Parks. Most of the city is served by a metro bus system that extends into the suburbs. 

By the way, the regular bus service to Galveston makes it perfect for a weekend getaway to one of Houston’s waterfront homes.

Dallas Transportation 

The traffic patterns in Dallas and the Greater DFW area vary depending on the time of day. Many area residents live in many suburbs and choose to work in one of the larger cities. 

This can cause traffic jams on both sides of the highway. Rush hour in Dallas can be busy, but traffic in the city isn’t as bad as in other cities in the United States. 

Even during rush hour, it usually takes an hour or a few minutes to get from one end of DFW to the other. 

The DFW Metroplex’s primary mode of public transportation is the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system, commonly referred to as DART. This train and bus system connects Dallas and Fort Worth, many suburbs, and DFW Airport. 

Dallas also has a trolley system that operates in the Arts District. 

Our Verdict:

Both Dallas and Houston have their share of traffic jams. Both also have decent public transportation solutions, fortunately, so transport is about equal in the two cities.

Houston Restaurants vs. Dallas Restaurants 

Houston Restaurants vs. Dallas Restaurants

It’s no secret that Houston is a boiling pot when it comes to culturally rich and diverse restaurants. 

From fine Italian dining, upscale steakhouses, and authentic street tacos, to delicious Asian-fusion meals—Houston has something for all food lovers. Of course, there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan restaurants throughout the city. 

However, Dallas is limited in its restaurant diversity and their prices are raised too. Yes, this means those normal two-dollar tacos at the local taco truck are more likely to be double the price. 

Recreation, & Leisure in Houston vs. Dallas

Recreation, & Leisure in Houston vs. Dallas

Living in a large city means you’ll never grow bored. Dallas and Houston are reputable large cities, but there are plenty of different activities to do in each city. 

Houston Recreation & Leisure

First of all, Houston has plenty to do outside. Residents of Houston can kayak in the many lakes and streams in the area.

Nearby beaches like Surfside Beach are also fun. Parents and children can spend a relaxing day at the different beaches in Houston. 

In addition, the Houston area has several nature preserves, including Big Thicket Park and Galveston Island State Park. 

One of Houston’s special events is at the Waugh Bridge, where hundreds of bats appear under the bridge at sunset.

Houston is also home to several sports teams. The Houston Texans play at NRG Stadium, whereas the MLB Houston Astros play at Minute Maid Park. 

NRG Stadium is in NRG Park, home to multiple sports venues and surrounded by bars and restaurants for game-day spectators, making it a popular landmark in Houston for outdoor outings.

Another sports team that calls Houston their home is the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Furthermore, Houston also is home to one of the two rugby stadiums in the United States. 

Even the nightlife in Houston is bustling. Anyone can admire the Houston Grand Opera or The Houston Ballet from the theatre district. 

Not to mention the variety of themed bars, with exotic cheap happy hours and live music. 

Additionally, wine lovers can pick and choose from their choice of wine-tasting bars throughout Houston. 

Some other must-see attractions in Houston are: 

  • Space Center Houston 
  • The Houston Zoo
  • Houston Museum of Science
  • The Museum of Fine Arts Houston  

Dallas Leisure & Recreation 

Dallas also has many unique experiences. Residents can enjoy walking, swimming, theater, food, drink, and more. 

Dallas residents have many opportunities to appreciate nature outdoors. It is also home to the Great Trinity Forest. 

By the way, Great Trinity Forest is one of the largest urban hardwood forests in the United States. 

North of town is the Heard Museum of Natural History and Wildlife Refuge, with over six miles of nature trails. The nearby Fort Worth Zoo has also been rated as one of the best in the world. 

Of course, Dallas also has their choice of sports. The DFW Metroplex has several professional teams. 

This city is home to the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks. Both teams play at the American Airlines Center. 

The surrounding Victory Park is full of sports bars and gets very busy on game days. 

The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers play in nearby Arlington, where visitors can enjoy live music, food, and games between the stadiums at the Texas Live Complex.

Nightlife is not dead in Dallas, either. A popular Dallas nightlife spot is the House of Blues. 

Billboard magazine named this music club in Victory Park, the fourth most popular music club in the United States. Another entertainment venue is the Gallery Roof Hall. 

Gallery Roof Hall is located above a city hotel. This bar offers drinks and snacks overlooking the city center and an infinity pool.

More attractions to see in Dallas are: 

  • The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
  • Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden
  • Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures

Overall Recreation & Leisure Comparison of Houston and Dallas

Recreation and Leisure• Houston has plenty of nightlife, sports teams, and a variety of must-see attractions for people of all ages to enjoy. 

• Houston’s Theater District is a great representation of Houston’s entertainment; perfect for any lover of the dramatic arts. 
• Dallas also has its fair share of sports teams and unique nature experiences. 

• Dallas has a prosperous music club great for dull nights when you need some entertainment. 

• Dallas’s bars and nightlife are limited. 

Our Verdict:

Houston and Dallas contain plenty of activities for anyone to enjoy their time in the city. Yet, if planning to stay longer than a few weeks, Houston contains more places to explore, see and do in all areas of recreation and leisure.

Conclusion: Which city is better?

So which city is better? 

It depends on what you want. For instance, in terms of cost of living, Houston is cheaper for permanent living than Dallas, offers more space thanks to being a larger city, and is particularly good for families with children thanks to its strong educational system. 

Houston’s job market is also on the rise, including virtual jobs. Additionally, the educational system in Houston is vast and diverse, matching its population demographics. 

But Dallas has areas where it wins too. 

For instance, healthcare tends to be cheaper in Dallas, and there’s absolutely no question of crime rates being lower, whether for violent or property crime. In that sense, even families may reconsider choosing Houston instead of Dallas then.

Ultimately, it depends on how you value the various factors involved. 

Whether you end up sending your movers to Houston or Dallas, though, you will still be moving to one of Texas’s best cities, so you shouldn’t lose either way. 

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