You’ve narrowed down the main reason why moving to Dallas is a great decision for you and have decided to make the big move but that was the easy part. Now you have the task of finding the best place to live in a large, sprawling metropolis like Dallas-Ft. Worth. A major part of a successful move to a new city is finding a good neighborhood. Before you begin your home search, you should find the community that best compliments your lifestyle and fits the needs of your family. To help you with your long-distance house hunt, here are some key factors to finding the best neighborhood in Dallas.
Rent or Buy?
First you’ll need to decide if renting or buying your next home is your best option. For a lot of people, renting is a great first step to discovering a new city. Many real estate agents recommend renting (at least for six months) first to get to know the area. Renting is also a good option if you have not had advance time to visit the area and select a home in a neighborhood that suits you. Also, the type of home you’re interested in may help narrow down your choice to rent or buy. If you definitely want an apartment/condo in a high-rise building, that might be available only to rent, not purchase.
Renting before you buy may also increase your chances of making a better home-buying decision. Though online real estate databases and virtual tours make it easier to shop for homes from afar, there’s still no replacement for inspecting a neighborhood (and a home) in person. Trying to buy a home while also juggling all the other issues involved with a move can be a rushed process that doesn’t produce optimal results. Once you have a rented home base in your new neighborhood, you’re likely to have more time, energy, and resources to devote to a thorough, well-researched home search.
If you are certain that you prefer to buy your home, choosing your new neighborhood can actually be more important than the structure itself. You can always do renovations to change a property’s style or features, but once you commit to a mortgage in a certain neighborhood, you could be stuck.
Make a List
Whether you decide to rent or buy, create a list of the characteristics of your ideal home. What type of home do you prefer a single-family home or a multi-unit dwelling like a condo or townhome? Think about what you’re really looking for in a new neighborhood. Is it close to your job or favorite retailers? Is it a new construction or a fixer-upper in a great location? How far are you willing to commute?
Decide if you want to live downtown (or nearby), or in a more suburban or rural area? There are certainly pros and cons to each option.
Downtown, you may be within walking distance to great restaurants, fun entertainment and, conveniently, your place of work. That being said, you could also deal with negatives like loud street noise or frequent construction.
In the suburbs, you could have more green space with a larger yard or parks and playgrounds. However, if you’ve decided you’re looking for a condo or townhouse rather than a single-family home, your options might be limited outside of downtown.
You will probably have to make a few compromises, so put the “must-haves” at the top of the list and the “would- like-to-haves” at the bottom.
Once you decide on the type of home you’d like, whether you are going to lease or buy, start researching neighborhoods that match your criteria. The Internet, of course, is the best place to start. It allows you to preview properties online first, before you try to arrange a visit. A lot of online listing sites have virtual tours, video content, and other features to help you screen properties to help you get a quick sense of specific areas, as well as see local housing prices.
Turning to social media connections, like Twitter and Facebook, is another good way to widen your circle and solicit the advice of your digital friends. You might be surprised to find that an old classmate went to college in the DFW area, or that a former coworker has friends in Dallas who can recommend an agent or provide information about specific neighborhoods. If you are moving because of your job, your new company may provide resources to assist you with relocation needs. Or, your new supervisor or coworker may be able to offer some insight on some of the surrounding communities near work.
Nevertheless, working with a real-estate agent is one of the best ways to determine the options available to you in the area. The agent will be familiar with master-planned communities and other neighborhoods throughout the Metroplex and they know about the prices and availability of the homes that you are interested in. They can help you set up appointments (if you are able to visit the area prior to your move), and offer advice about neighborhoods, schools, public transportation and other important quality-of-life details.
Most likely, you’ll have to condense your house hunting into a few days, so make sure to mention this to real estate agents before you select one. Ask them if they have experience helping long-distance clients, and find out if they can handle the compressed pace of your housing search.
Learn the Lay of the Land
Dallas communities are as diverse as the population. Areas like Downtown and Uptown attract those focused on urban living, while neighborhoods like Preston Hollow and Lakewood are right for people who want to be in town but have a little more space. Areas in southern Dallas are surrounded by nature; areas to the north are boomtowns with every modern convenience there is.
So, what makes one neighborhood better than another? Some factors might be cost of the homes; school district ratings; shopping, entertainment and dining; commute times to work and airports and unique features of each area.
Not sure what fits your lifestyle? Here are a few descriptions of some of the most popular neighborhoods in the Dallas area arranged by four lifestyle categories.
Families: The best of both worlds, with a peaceful suburban environment, great schools, and close-knit communities, while still offering all the desired amenities that the DFW area has to offer.
Young Professionals/Millennials: Neighborhoods that cater to an urban lifestyle, where residents often live, work and play, within these walkable, lively communities.
- Oak Lawn
- Mockingbird Station
Empty Nesters and Retirees: Lots of amenities that appeal to retirees and those looking to down-size, offering affordable living and a variety of homes ranging from cottage-style homes to modern townhomes.
High End, Luxury Living: Some of wealthiest neighborhoods that the DFW area has to offer.
- Highland Park
- University Park
Of course, the best neighborhood for you may be different from any of these areas listed. With nearly 40 suburbs in the Dallas area, you are sure to find a neighborhood to match your “must-haves” list and narrow down your top choices.
Zero In On the Area
Once you have the lay of the land and can narrow down the area for your home search, you can get specific about your likes and dislikes of each property. Learn more details about items such as the property taxes, new construction, local utilities and overall safety rating of each community you’ve selected.
Try to arrange a visit to the neighborhoods that made the top of your list. If you can’t visit in person, use Google Earth, to get a feel for the neighborhood and work with a reputable relator (or someone you trust) to help you with the house hunting quest.
And in case you weren’t aware, Texas is a deregulated state. So this means that you choose your own retail electricity provider in most of the DFW communities (there are a few districts in the DFW area that do not offer a choice in retail electricity services). Direct Energy offer customers a wide choice of plan options and innovative, energy management tools to help customers save money. If you are planning to move in the summer, be prepared for the Texas heat. Call Direct Energy to set up your services on your scheduled move-in date, so that you can unpack all of your belongings in a comfortable setting. Moving on a weekend? Direct Energy offers fixed-rate plans like Free Power Weekends (which provides the most free electricity supply on weekends from 6pm on Fri – 11:59 pm on Sun), so that you can use your electricity freely as you settle into your new residence.
Dallas is big and eclectic enough to provide the perfect home, in the best neighborhood just for you! Have fun exploring the city and finding your next home.