From California to New York, it seems like everyone is packing up to head to the Lone Star state lately. But “everything’s bigger in Texas” isn’t just a saying — as the second-largest state in both area and population in the whole country, there’s a lot of room here to lay down your roots. So, with all that square footage, how do you go about finding the best place to rest your cowboy boots at night?
Enter Austin and Dallas, two of the top picks to touchdown in Texas. These big cities may have very different vibes, but they share one core commonality: they are both great spots to call home. Use our handy guide below to compare these locations, and help decide which scene works the best for you to settle down in. Just don’t forget to pick up a Stetson hat before the big move — you’ll want to look the part after all.
Related: Best Apartment Pools in Austin
Austin Vs. Dallas: Which City Is a Better Match for You?
Cost of Living & Housing Situation
The cost of living in Austin still remains fairly affordable — especially when compared to other major cities with a growing, young professional population, such as San Francisco or New York City. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment runs around $1500 a month, while you should expect to pay around $170 a month in utilities. When it comes to grubbing down, budget around $200 for groceries a month, or about $50 per meal eating out at a restaurant. With a jump in population, comes a jump in the price of owning a home as well. Therefore, the easiest, most affordable route for those moving to Austin right now is renting an apartment. For more on the cost of living and housing situations in Austin, be sure to check out our article on the topic.
The vast variety of areas to live in Dallas means there is somewhere for every budget and lifestyle. The average rent for a one-bedroom in the city is about $1545 per month, with lower-end spots costing about $1100 per month, and higher-end digs running around $2900 per month. Additionally, you should expect to spend an average of $230 per month for utilities and $250 per month for groceries. A night out on the town in Dallas will set you back about $50 for a meal and $5.50 for a beer. With increasing prices for both renting and owning in Dallas, it is important to consider a variety of factors, including how long you plan to stay in the city, before picking which option works best for you. For more on the cost of living and housing situations in Dallas, check out our article on the topic.
Lifestyle & Culture in Austin Vs. Dallas
“Keep Austin Weird” is the motto of the city and a great starting point for understanding the culture in the Lone Star capital. Austin is a little bit of southwestern charm and a little bit of hippie, mixed with a whole lot of rock and roll, all adding up to a place that is both in Texas, but unlike the rest of the state in general. The stopping grounds of outlaw country legends, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, still have a much-deserved reputation for great live, local music, whether it be at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, or the multiple dive bars that dot the streets. Austinites are also outdoor lovers, spending lots of their free time on the city-adjacent Lady Bird Lake, or hiking the trails of the nearby Greenbelt.
The popular 1980s television show, Dallas, depicts the city as the playground of the Texas elite, and that vibe is still very much found in the Dallas of today. Here, you’ll find folks dressed to the 9s at all times, even spotting belt buckles made from solid gold and stacks of tennis bracelets at high school football games. While the old money contingent maintains an indubitable presence in the city, there’s still a thriving subculture for when you need a break from the high-society atmosphere. The numerous art museums found around Dallas as well as the tattoo shops and breweries in the Deep Ellum neighborhood demonstrate that a creative, hipster current is still alive and well beneath all the high hair and diamonds.
Job Market in Austin Vs. Dallas
Like the city’s population, the job market in Austin continues on a growth trajectory. This year, the Wall Street Journal even named Austin as the spot with the second hottest job market in the entire country. The industry dominating the Austin job market today has to be technology, with Facebook, Google, and Tesla all carrying a heavy presence in the area. But, with three new film studios opening in the greater city limits over the next year, the entertainment industry is bound to become just as dominant of a force.
With a bunch of corporate giants basing their headquarters there, Dallas has always had a robust job market. And, as with Austin, and the rest of Texas, the opportunities for employment in the city continued to surge this year. The automotive industry is one of the top economic forces to be found, with Toyota and Nissan calling the metroplex home. Other big dog employers in the Dallas area include State Farm, AT&T, American Airlines, and Bank of America. Last but not least, you can also find FritoLay there — beloved as a key ingredient provider of the classic Texas dish, Frito Pie.
Traffic & Public Transportation Options
While Austin is primarily a city in which you need a car, there are still other choices should you not have one. Capital Metro buses offer by far the most location options throughout the greater city area. Additionally, they provide a light-rail service, MetroRail, which goes to Downtown Austin from a limited number of locations. Should you live close to Downtown, there are also plentiful bike routes and lots of rentable scooters to get your move on.
The sheer size of the Dallas Metro area is comparable to that of Los Angeles, the type so large that you could travel an hour, and still be in the city proper. Due to this, a car is an absolute necessity should you decide to live in this North Texas nexus. Should you be hard-pressed on the automotive front, however, there is also the DART Rail System. This light rail train contains four lines — Red, Blue, Green, and Orange — that cover 93 miles and service 63 stations.
Things to Do in Austin Vs. Dallas
Considering the city’s storied music history, one of the best things to do in Austin is catch a show. Whether you want to find your new favorite indie band at Hotel Vegas on the East Side, or two-step the night away to some country tunes at the legendary dance hall, the Broken Spoke, there are no bad sounds to be found on Austin’s streets. As home to the University of Texas at Austin, another city must-do would be attending a football game at the Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium. Wear burnt orange, and get full into the “hook’em” spirit as you watch the Longhorn line take on visiting teams.
In Dallas, you can dive deep into one of the 20th century’s most important historical events — the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The Oval Office tour continues with a stop at the George W. Bush Library, which examines the issues of the era in which the heir of this Texas dynasty led the nation. Should you be more in the mood for science than world events, head to the Perot Museum in the Victory Park neighborhood. Filled with multimedia exhibits and dinosaur fossils, this natural history museum is as entertaining to adults as it is to children.
Food Scene in Austin Vs. Dallas
Austin’s food scene is all about the two “Bs:” barbecue and breakfast tacos. For classic, old-school Texas brisket, head to Micklethwait Craft Meats. Or, you can taste more of the new-school flavor at local favorites, InterStellar BBQ and Leroy and Lewis Barbecue. The breakfast dish of choice in Austin comes on your choice of flour or corn tortilla — grab the city’s best bacon, egg, and cheese taco at Habanero Mexican Cafe, or enjoy a traditional migas at Veracruz All Natural.
Beef is king in Texas, and nowhere does that feel more true than in Dallas. The city is renowned for its sublime steakhouses, such as the newly opened up-and-comer, Stillwell’s, and the newly reopened local institution, Dakota’s. If you want a less costly cut of protein, Dallas also has a superb hamburger scene, producing some of the country’s premier patties. For that tried-and-true greasy goodness, bite into the crispy edges of a smash burger at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House. Conversely, you can level up your bun game with Meridian’s X-Tudo burger, which gives a modern, Brazilian twist to the classic comfort food dish.
For more information on these two cities, explore all of our articles on our Austin and Dallas pages. Once you choose one, you’ll want to narrow down your favorite neighborhoods. To do so, you can use our neighborhood guides for Austin and Dallas.
Ready to Move to Austin or Dallas?
If you want free help locating your next luxury apartment in one of these cities, you’re in luck. AptAmigo operates in both cities and knows the available buildings and their deals better than anyone else. Contact us for some 1-on-1 expert support during your next apartment hunt.