You’ve thought through all the reasons relocating to Dallas is a great decision for you and have decided to make the big move. That was the easy part.  Now you have the task of finding the best place to live in a 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 complements 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 for at least six months first to get to know the area.  Renting is also a good option if you have not had time to visit the area and select a home in a neighborhood that suits you.  The type of home you’re interested in may also help narrow down your choice to rent or buy. If you want an apartment in a high-rise building, you might find more available for rent than for purchase.

Renting before you buy may also increase your chances of making a better homebuying decision. Though online real estate databases and virtual tours make it easier to shop for homes from afar, there’s still no substitute for inspecting a neighborhood (and a home) in person. Trying to buy a home while also juggling all the other challenges 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 might 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. 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?

Would you prefer to live downtown (or nearby), or in a more suburban or rural area? There are certainly pros and cons to each option. Living downtown might put you within walking distance of great restaurants, fun entertainment and  your place of work. You might also have to 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’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 weigh out your “must-haves” and your “would- like-to-haves” and rank them accordingly.

Get Connected

Once you decide on the type of home you’d like and whether you are going to lease or buy, start researching neighborhoods that match your criteria.  The internet is the best place to start. You can preview properties online before you try to arrange a visit. Many online listings offer virtual tours, video content and other features to help you screen properties and 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 reach 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, and your new supervisor or coworker may be able to offer insight on some of the surrounding communities near work.

While your relationships can be a valuable resource, 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 will know the price range and availability of the type of home you are interested in.  If you’re able to visit the area prior to your move, an agent can help you set up appointments and offer advice about neighborhoods, schools, public transportation and other important quality-of-life details.

If you’re making a long-distance move, you’ll likely have to condense your house hunting into a few days, so make sure to mention this when you’re selecting a real estate agent.  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 available.

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 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.

  • Bluffview
  • Coppell
  • Murphy

Young Professionals/Millennials:  Neighborhoods that cater to an urban lifestyle, where residents often live, work and play all within these walkable, lively communities.

  • Uptown
  • Oak Lawn
  • Mockingbird Station

Empty Nesters and Retirees:  Lots of amenities that appeal to retirees and those looking to downsize, offering affordable living and a variety of homes ranging from cottage-style houses to modern townhomes.

  • Richardson
  • Rockwall
  • Duncanville

High-End Luxury Living:  Some of wealthiest neighborhoods that the DFW area has to offer.

  • Highland Park
  • University Park
  • Westlake

Of course, the best neighborhood for you may not be among the areas listed. With nearly 40 suburbs in the Dallas area, you are sure to find a neighborhood to match your “must-haves” list.

Zero In On the Area

Once you have the lay of the land and can narrow down locations for your home search, you can get specific about your likes and dislikes of each property. Research the details like property taxes, new construction, local utilities and the 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 area, and work with a reputable relator or someone you trust to help you with your house hunting quest.

And in case you weren’t aware, Texas is a deregulated state.  This means that you choose your own retail electricity provider in most of the DFW communities, although there are a few districts in the DFW area that do not offer a choice in retail electricity services.   Direct Energy offers customers a wide range 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 that gives you 12 months of free electricity every weekend, from 6 p.m. on Friday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday  so you can use your electricity freely as you settle into your new place.

Dallas is big and eclectic enough to provide the perfect home in the best neighborhood for you.  Have fun exploring the city and finding your next home!

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Powered by Direct Energy, the Relocation Guide provides helpful tips, resources, and information for your move to Houston or Dallas. Both cities are home to unique opportunities and cultures, so we’ve collected and curated recommendations to ensure a stress-free relocation. Read more here.