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The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Dallas: From Suburbs to Downtown

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Dallas, Texas, is a vibrant city with a thriving Arts District, major league sports, and top-notch colleges and universities. It was No. 4 in the nation for job growth as of the end of 2021, adding jobs in the technology, financial services, and defense industries. It’s no wonder the area’s population has been growing steadily over the past decade, with 120,000 people moving there in 2020 alone.

If you’ve been lured to Dallas by the culture and great job market, or have lived there for years and realize that now it’s time to buy a house, you’ve probably got a wishlist. Maybe you want to find a family-friendly neighborhood with parks and great schools, or you’re single and looking for great restaurants and nightlife. While you can find it all in Dallas, you need to know where to look for your particular version of “it all!”

We talked to agents, dug into research, and examined the numbers to identify the best neighborhoods for different types of buyers in Dallas.

Affordable, family-friendly, good for retirees: Richardson

To find affordable family housing, you’ll have to look a little further outside of Dallas proper. Richardson, a suburb known as the “Telecom Corridor” due to the presence of offices for technology companies like Verizon Business and Nortel, has a median home price of $417,000 as of April 2022.

Apartments and condos in Richardson typically have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, whereas homes have between three and four bedrooms with multiple bathrooms.

Kathy Murray is a top Dallas agent, selling 13% more homes than other agents in her area. According to her, “There’s a lot of older homes in Richardson, many of them are one-story and smaller,” and she says that retirees who want to downsize oftentimes move into those. The median monthly rent is $1,403, and there’s a larger population of renters in Richardson (41%) than in other neighborhoods on this list.

The suburb has excellent schools. According to A.J., a Dallas resident for 18 years, “RISD schools have long been a good selling point. The Richardson area is more of a suburb-based area with lots of yards.” But there’s plenty of other outdoor space, too.

Breckenridge Park has more than 400 acres that include trails, playgrounds, soccer and softball fields, and three ponds, and there are 38 other parks in Richardson. These parks have five swimming pools and several baby pools, as well as facilities for basketball, baseball, and soccer. There’s no shortage of ways to keep your kids busy!

Richardson is also a great area for retirees — according to the last census 14.5% of the population is over age 65, and it’s rated No. 5 on the list of best cities to retire in America. It’s easy to downsize to one of the modern condos or cute bungalows in Richardson. Retirees who are avid golfers can enjoy access to the Sherrill Park Golf Course and Canyon Creek Country Club and still get out to local arts and music festivals.

Dining options include the Alamo Drafthouse, where you can chow down on a chili dog and watch a movie, or grab a beer at one of the many bars and grills. Residents can hop on the DART light rail system and reach downtown Dallas in just 20 minutes — easy for commuters, young parents, or retirees wanting a taste of the city.

Family-friendly but pricey: Preston Hollow

If you’re prioritizing family-friendly, consider Preston Hollow. Homes in this area have bigger lots, perfect for swing sets. The area is near more than 30 private schools and excellent public schools. But it’s not cheap — the median list price is $1.7 million as of April 2022.

Murray says that, “there’s a lot of great architecture and styles available,” in the Preston Hollow area, and that “It’s also a very popular area to potentially tear down an older home and build a dream home.”

The majority of residents of Preston Hollow own, rather than rent. It’s very difficult to find monthly rent less than $1,500 a month, with 48% of renters paying more than $2,000 a month.

Most homes have between three and six bedrooms with a minimum of three baths, which fits a large family and gives the grandparents space when they come to visit. The square footage in condos ranges between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet, whereas single-family homes have anywhere between 3,000 and 12,000 square feet. Murray says that the difference in square footage in the housing stock depends on whether the home is older or has been torn down and rebuilt.

Older homes in this area, built in the 1920s and 1930s, have a stately appearance. Because it’s an older part of the city, yards back up to the streets, and there are few sidewalks.

The neighborhood has more than 16 parks with playgrounds, softball fields, tennis courts — many within walking distance of homes. Need to cool off on a hot day? Average temperatures hover above 90 degrees in the summer months, so you’ll be glad that you have access to 15 public and private swimming pools. Or, you can find some shade under the massive, old oak trees that line many streets.

The area is convenient to both shopping and major employers. According to Murray, “It’s also located near great shopping at Northpark Mall at Highland Park, accessible to major freeways and downtown Dallas.” Residents don’t necessarily have to work in Dallas, however, as Preston Hollow is “also a convenient reverse commute to the headquarters in Plano and Richardson.”

Fitting its family-friendly reputation, there aren’t many bars or nightclubs in the neighborhood — you’ll have to drive further into the city if you want a night out. For restaurants, don’t forget the barbeque — Smokey John’s and Sugarfire Smokehouse are two top-rated places to score smoked meats! But you’ll also find steakhouses, Chinese food, and grills. They’re all a quick drive outside of Preston Hollow.

While not the cheapest option in Dallas, Preston Hollow is a great place to live for families who can afford its price tag.

Foodies and shoppers: University Park

If you’re looking to be closer to downtown Dallas, Murray says that, “One of the most desirable areas is the Park Cities, which is the collective name for Highland Park in University Park.”

Again, the majority of residents in University Park (82%) own their homes, with the median home value around $1.3 million as of April 2022. The majority of renters pay more than $2,000 a month.

As of April 2022, single-family homes typically have four or more bedrooms and start at 3,500 square feet, ranging up to 5,000. There is the occasional multimillion dollar mansion listed for as much as $43 million if you can afford a jumbo mortgage. Condos are much smaller and more affordable — around two bedrooms and 900 square feet — if you have a small family but still want to send your kids to great schools.

Murray loves that the Park Cities have “a real neighborhood feel and they are incorporated cities with their own private police and fire departments.” It’s a safe area “known for many pocket parks, great schools, access to fine shopping and dining, and close proximity to downtown Dallas,” she adds.

There are 12 larger parks but just a few pools (and no public swimming pools). In the Northwest quadrant of University Park, you’ll find restaurants such as independent options Malai Kitchen or Hudson House, bars like The People’s Last Stand, and shopping — everything from wine markets to lounges to bars. It’s where University Park residents go to experience the nightlife.

Depending on where you live in University Park, you have quick access to State Loop 12, US 75, and the Dallas North Tollway for a smooth commute.

Young professionals: Deep Ellum

Looking for an area with more of an artsy, modern edge? Young professionals find their jam — literally — in Deep Ellum. Once an area of the city known for its jazz and blues artists, it’s been revitalized with newer condos, luxury apartments, and some single-family housing. “It’s a very historic area, one of the oldest areas of Dallas, and the first retail area,” says Murray. “It has an amazing history, a lot of older buildings are still there; they haven’t torn everything down.”

A.J. worked in the Deep Ellum area for nine years. He says that the vibe is very laid-back.  “There is street art and murals everywhere. Lots of art and music abound,” he says. “Folks are happy to have it be a different place from most of Dallas.”

Feed your artistic soul at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, the Deep Ellum Street Music and Tattoo Festival, or live music at The Bomb Factory and Trees. It’s known for its vibrant nightlife and younger, professional vibe — residents have a median age of 32.4, and most have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Younger residents appreciate that it’s “walkable to a lot of townhomes, condos, and downtown Dallas,” says Murray.

A.J. describes the restaurant scene as “Packed. It’s a very dense area for all kinds of cuisine — lots of good barbecue, burgers, pizza, Mexican, a few Izakaya and sushi places, vegan options, lots of bars, and many music venues.”

More residents rent than own (77%) in Deep Ellum, and there are few families with children (around 6%). Homes are cheaper, with a median home value of $262,683, and median rents are around $1,300. You’ll pay much more for a luxury apartment or condo, however.

You’ll find more dog parks than parks for children in Deep Ellum, though Main Street Garden Park is a highlight. It has a toddler play run, dog park, fountains, cafe, and even Wi-Fi.

If you’re a young professional moving to Dallas, Deep Ellum gives you nightlife, arts, and culture. As A.J. puts it, “There’s a very independent spirit in the neighborhood.”

Suburban dwellers: Coppell

The Dallas suburb of Coppell, just 30 minutes from downtown, is great for families looking for a lower cost of living. It’s also close to the airport and Fort Worth, expanding your commuting options. Coppell has nature, great schools, and is close enough to the city that you can still see a concert or have a night out on the town.

One of the big attractions of Coppell, Murray says, is that it’s close to Dallas-Fort-Worth International Airport, the medical district, and near highways. “Oftentimes you have doctors and pilots who live there,” she says. “It’s definitely a family-focused community.”

The median home price in Coppell is $525,000 as of April 2022, and most homes have four bedrooms and three baths — ideal for an average family. Most people in Coppell own rather than rent (72% owners). Rents are under $2,000 for most units, making it a more affordable area for renters.

Schools have an A+ rating, and the district is ranked fifth in Texas. Outdoor lovers have access to the 66-acre Coppell Nature Park, with nature trails, picnic areas, ponds and streams, as well as 19 other parks that offer playgrounds, fishing, sports fields, and more.There are a few pools, but most of the swimming is in ponds, lakes, and rivers. It won’t be hard to keep your children active in Coppell!

Restaurants and bars cluster around the Sandy Lake Crossing Shopping Area, where you can also find grocery stores and big box retailers. Murray points out that “It’s a ten-minute drive from Grapevine Mills Mall, the big discount shopping mall.” Locals can get great deals at Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Off Fifth, and more.

While Coppell is more suburban, it’s surrounded by several major highways that take you into the city. A.J. says that it’s quite nice, with lots of activities and a population of retirees, too.

Wherever you move to in Dallas, you’ll need a top agent to help you find the perfect home. A HomeLight agent has the deep market knowledge to find hidden gems and great deals and can help find the best home for your budget in Dallas.

Header Image Source: (Daniel Halseth / Unsplash)