Dallas vs. Chicago: Which City Is Better to Live In?

dallas vs chicago

Dallas and Chicago are two cities that are currently undergoing a major renaissance. Top companies are moving back to these cities just because they can, and the truth is, it’s good for everyone. People are starting to move to these cities in record numbers. Some even have a choice on which city they can choose. Are you wondering which city is the best one for you?

Both Dallas and Chicago have a similarly average cost of living around the 100 to 105 index. Dallas has warmer weather, less public transportation, and less schools. However, Chicago has worse job rates, and colder weather. Crime rates appear to have mixed reports, with many claiming Dallas to have more activity. Oddly enough, most people seem to prefer Dallas.

These two cities are going to be in the headlines because they are starting to grow at an above-average rate. With that said, they tend to attract different types of people…

Which City Is Better: Dallas Or Chicago?

The general consensus is that Dallas tends to offer more opportunities and amenities than Chicago, which is why it’s had a much faster population growth. Here’s what you need to know…

We also recently wrote an article about Seattle vs. Chicago, in case you wanted to explore those cities. Want to live somewhere warmer instead? Check out our guide comparing Miami vs. Atlanta.

Quality Of Life

Multiple websites noted that the quality of life in Dallas is far higher than what you would get in Chicago, primarily due to better school systems and employment opportunities. Dallas also happens to be less expensive than Chicago, boasts a warmer climate, and also has lower housing costs. Chicago still has a notably better education scene and offers more doctors per square mile.

The overall quality of life seems to be better in Dallas, regardless. Pollution rates are lower in Dallas, taxes are lower, and people generally seem to be happier here. Since there is no income tax in Dallas, residents also get to keep a larger portion of their income.

Winner: Dallas

Cost Of Living

Both Dallas and Chicago are somewhat unique when it comes to the cost of living index that they offer. Unlike most cities, their cost of living falls fairly close to the national average. This gives both cities the advantage of having low prices for the basics, including things like food and real estate.

More specifically, Dallas has a cost of living index around 101 while Chicago has a cost of living around 105. This means that Dallas is 1 percent more expensive than the average place in America, while Chicago is 5 percent more expensive.

Winner: Dallas

Housing Costs

This was something we were kind of shocked to see. Both have similar prices when it comes to homeownership. However, the average price of a rental was shockingly different between the two cities. Clearly, it pays to own in Chicago.

Chicago Dallas
Average Cost Of An Apartment $1,862 $1,263
Median Home Price $365,000 $329,000

Winner: Dallas

Job Market

It’s no secret that Dallas recently attracted a slew of major companies from areas like Silicon Valley as well as New York City. Chicago has been getting some attention from these major Fortune 500-style companies, but not as much. The numbers tend to reflect this sentiment, too.

The expected 10-year job growth in Dallas is absolutely massive. With that said, wages are slightly higher in Chicago, so that’s something that you should take into account.

Chicago Dallas
Unemployment 4.6% 3.3%
Projected 10-Year Growth 25.7% 41.7%
Median Household Income $58,247 $52,580
Median Personal Income $31,613 $30,634

Culture

It’s hard to really pin down a lifestyle for Dallas, as the city is currently in flux. Most people agree that Dallas tends to have a friendlier outlook than Chicago. People are also more likely to have Republican outlooks in life here, though both cities are fairly liberal when push comes to shove. Both cities have a deep love of nightlife and sports, so it’s safe to say you’ll find a cool clique here.

Dallas is notorious for its good barbecue, burgers, and awesome Tex-Mex fare. (Hello, Whataburger!) Chicago, on the other hand, is notorious for its hot dogs and deep dish pizza. Even if you’re not a fan of the local fare, you’re going to appreciate how many upscale restaurants you can choose from.

Winner: Tied.

Leisure/Entertainment

Both Chicago and Dallas have a ton of venues for family-friendly fun, including zoos, world-class restaurants, and museums. They also both have major sports teams like the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys, complete with their own arenas. Of course, this makes them a great place to go touring for both locals and visitors.

When it comes to nightlife, both are considered to be major hotspots. Chicago is famous for Chicago house music, while Dallas is one of the biggest EDM hotspots around. If you’re a fan of country, you’ll love Dallas.

Winner: Tied.

Transportation

While Dallas is a bigger city by a long shot, Chicago has more amenities when it comes to public transit. It’s possible to live without a car here in many cases. Despite this, Chicago tends to have longer commuting times, by a lot. Chi-town currently ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to average commuting times, right behind three major cites in the NYC tristate areas.

Winner: Dallas

Demographics

If there’s one thing that both Dallas and Chicago can claim, it’s that they are both highly diverse regions. The overall makeup of both cities offer up a healthy balance of people from a wide range of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds. Moreover, both cities are famous for being quite LGBTQIA+ friendly, which is wonderful for people who want to have a nice, tolerant city.

Education

Education is a bit wonky when it comes to Chicago and Dallas. Dallas spends less on education but has smaller class sizes. Chicago spends more per student in the public school system, which leads to better graduation rates. Across the board, students are more likely to graduate high  school and go to college if they live in Chicago.

Counterintuitive as it may be for some, it’s clear that educational opportunities are better in Chi-town. That might be why there are more doctors per square mile here than in Texas. With that said, Texans love UTD—the University of Texas in Dallas. It’s a cornerstone of the culture in the area, especially among the youth.

Winner: Chicago

Weather

Chicago is known for bitter cold during the winters, not to mention high gusts of winds. Ergo, the Windy City. Dallas is known for having warm weather year-round, with extreme heat waves being possible in the summer. It’s up to you to decide what you would prefer here, since some of us aren’t in love with the heat.

Beaches

Dallas is right in the heart of Texas, far away from the coast. So, Dallas has no beaches to speak of. Chicago, on the other hand, does. The beaches in question are a part of the Great Lakes. During beach season, locals are allowed to take a swim if they want to. Overall, this is a good thing for people who enjoy a dip in the lake.

Pests

Texas has a pest problem. With the year-round warm weather comes another issue: insects. There are occasions where mayflies, mosquitoes, or even termites swarm the area. The locals even have a name for it: swarming season. If you are like the author of this article, the concept of having to deal with that would be enough to make you lose sleep at night.

Thankfully, swarming season is not usually as bad as the name sounds. It’s not like the entire city will be coated in bugs every year. Unfortunately, it still happens more than this author would feel comfy with seeing.

The Verdict

Overall, both cities have their own perks and pitfalls that make them highly attractive to families who want to change their lives for the better. That’s why they’re becoming so popular. However, the perks that living in Dallas offers makes it hard to turn down an offer to live there. People are friendly, commutes are quick, jobs are plentiful, and the BBQ is bangin’.

In the eyes of most people, Dallas is going to be a major winner. However, for the right person, Chicago can be a paradise too. It’s all about what you look for in life.

Related Questions

How much should you earn in order to live comfortably in Dallas? 

If there is one thing that most people will find wonderful about Dallas, it’s the low cost of living. If you want to have a two-bedroom apartment, you will need to earn at least $20 per hour for a basic lifestyle. The living wage in Dallas currently rests at $15.21 per hour for a single independent adult, which is really not that bad compared to the national average.

What is living in Chicago like?

Most people would describe it as a large, metro-style city that has a lot of value in education and industry. Of course, when you actually get there, you might notice something unusual about this area. Chicago still has a lot of the classic charm of the Midwest, especially when you sit down and talk to the locals nearby.

Because there is a heavy emphasis on the Midwest values people are raised with here, you might be pleasantly surprised by the culture here. It’s a pretty industrious, cool town to live in.

Is Dallas bad for traffic?

It depends on the frame of reference you are dealing with. Dallas has some of the most congested streets in the state of Texas. However, it is still a lot better than the traffic that you would find in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City. Even so, most Texans find themselves tearing out their hair when they get caught in the gridlock of Dallas traffic.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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