Although Dallas and Fort Worth exist together in the minds of many people, those who live here know each has a distinct personality. They are intertwined in many ways, including business and recreational opportunities and a shared airport, but each city is also ringed with unique suburbs, many of which qualify as major cities in their own right.
In land area, the U.S. Census Bureau’s designation of the Dallas-Fort Worth area comprises 13 counties with a total of 9,286 square miles, nearly the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware combined! The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area, known as the “Metroplex,” is the fourth largest in the United States and the fastest growing as well.
Dallas, the third-largest city in Texas, is the ninth largest in the country, with a 2020 population estimated to be 1.35 million. Fort Worth, its smaller neighbor, has a population just under 900,000, making it the fifth-largest city in Texas and the nation’s 13th largest. Arlington is the sometimes forgotten third large city of the DFW Metroplex. Well-known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers Baseball and Six Flags Over Texas, it is also home to some corporate headquarters and about 400,000 people. It is the seventh-largest city in Texas.
Beyond the Statistics
If you’re planning a move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where do you begin the search for a new home?
First, unless you work from home and plan to continue doing so, you will want to narrow your search to an area convenient to where you expect to work. The Metroplex is BIG. Distances here are measured in time, not miles. With a minimum of 60 miles from one heavily-populated edge of the Metroplex to the other ‒ in all directions ‒ getting to the “other side” can mean a trip that lasts for hours. No kidding!
A personal vehicle is a must. Although there are city buses and relatively new rail transit systems in the area, you’ll spend a lot of time in your car, not only commuting to work, but going shopping, meeting friends, dining out and enjoying your time off.
Luckily, business and employment centers are spread out across the Metroplex as well. There is little need to be close to an “urban core.” That’s the good news: It’s entirely possible to live near where you work. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to walk to work, nor will you usually want to walk to a neighborhood grocery or friendly eatery. The automobile rules, and residents simply get used to the traffic.
Moving to Fort Worth or Dallas
Fort Worth still feels like a small frontier town in some ways. It honors its “Cowtown” past and relishes its ties to the Old West. Urban high-rises rub shoulders with the distinctly folksy traditions of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Daily longhorn cattle drives occur along city streets in the Stockyards area! But the city also has a modern, artsy vibe, vibrant nightlife and an affinity for the river that meanders through its neighborhoods.
Sundance Square and the Fort Worth Water Gardens attract visitors and locals alike to linger, and Trinity River parks cater to joggers, cyclists and picnicking families. Near downtown, railroad tracks speed Amtrak passenger trains and loaded freight cars from coast to coast, and the city’s world-class cultural district features botanical gardens, highly regarded museums, a convention center, theater and performance hall, all grouped within park-like grounds.
The traditional charm of Fort Worth is exemplified by older neighborhoods adjacent to its cultural district and the Texas Christian University campus. Most of Fort Worth is situated in Tarrant County and served by the Fort Worth Independent School District for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Tarrant County College, with five campuses in various parts of the county, offers two-year associate degree programs and a variety of special services.
Fairmount National Historic District
Situated south of Interstate 30, this traditional neighborhood is an enclave of smaller, well-maintained homes in a mix of styles, many of them refurbished to integrate historic character and modern sensibility. The neighborhood is close to downtown offices, schools, shopping and entertainment. Getting away from the city for a weekend jaunt to a nearby lake or an Oklahoma casino is equally effortless. Public schools, part of the Fort Worth Independent School District, get a thumbs-up from parents, but many children are enrolled in private schools. The average price of recently sold homes is $313, or about $202 a square foot. Prices have increased substantially over the past year, and relatively few homes are on the market at any time.
Most of the homes were built in the early years of the 20th century. The neighborhood has an active Citizens on Patrol program, operated in conjunction with the Fort Worth Police Department in an effort to maintain a safe and family-friendly atmosphere, a good neighbor animal rescue program, a community garden, and several special events. The neighborhood association sponsors an annual tour of homes and a yearly yard sale that is always well-attended. Most Fairmount homes have inviting wraparound porches, and the neighborhood is extremely bike-friendly. But the private automobile is still the primary means of transportation.
Another popular Fort Worth neighborhood is Monticello, stretching along the Camp Bowie corridor, known for shopping, restaurants and entertainment. It is livelier and newer than other southside neighborhoods, and many of the homes are substantial, with brick siding, soaring rooflines and large landscaped lots. Prices reflect that, with available homes ranging from the mid-$300s to well over $1 million and up.
Yes, the small-town lifestyle can still be found in the shadow of a major city. Crowley, less than 20 minutes from downtown Fort Worth, proves the truth of that claim. With a current population only slightly over 15,000, Crowley is a diverse community that ranks high on the scale of “best places” in several categories: low crime rate, good schools, availability of jobs, affordability of housing, friendly people and amenities. Western Crowley abuts Lake Benbook, which offers abundant recreational opportunities. And it’s easy to get almost anywhere from Crowley. In fact, there’s one new tollway with almost no regular traffic. But, be assured that will probably not last.
Crowley has an unpretentious mix of newer homes in planned subdivisions and older houses on acreage lots with rural appeal. It is deemed a very competitive market, with the majority of homes selling at listing price or less than 1 percent below. It is not uncommon for homes to go under contract in only about three weeks. Newer planned subdivisions have homeowners associations, but monthly dues are reasonable. The median income of Crowley residents is approximately $72,800, and median home price is approximately $254,000.
Established as a part of the “New Town” movement in 1961, Flower Mound has come of age as a growing family-oriented community and a burgeoning commercial center. It is situated on the north shore of Lake Grapevine, south of Lake Lewisville, and it might almost be considered a “resort community.” The city lies approximately 10 miles northwest of Dallas, but it is almost equally accessible from both Dallas and Fort Worth. It is also only about 30 minutes to the south of Denton, home to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, with more than 50 colleges, universities and community college campuses nearby.
Flower Mound’s estimated 2020 population is approximately 77,300, but it is expected to be nearly 110,000 by 2040. It consistently ranks among the “best Dallas suburbs,” cited for its proximity to DFW International Airport, area medical services, and an exemplary school system. It was also named the 17th-safest city in the nation in 2015 by Neighborhood Scout. The city combines the best of urban and rural characteristics, with an emphasis on sustainability and casual lifestyle.
Recent average home sales have been around $415,000, but quick sales of property much, much higher are not at all uncommon. Median income in Flower Mound is nearly $135,000. Mortgage lenders look favorably on Flower Mound real estate, due to its consistent value, favorable tax structure and the value of city services.
Dallas: Still Growing
Even though the growth rate of Dallas has slowed considerably, its suburbs continue to burst existing boundaries and break records. Indeed, Metroplex communities extend nearly to the Oklahoma border. Plano, the star northern suburb, grew from a population of only about 17,000 in 1970 to almost 290,000 in 2020. Now, that growth is being replicated in other communities to the north of Big D, notably Allen, Frisco, Prosper, The Colony and others. Some of Plano’s former luster has been transferred to new suburbs that are just as inviting, but further from the Dallas core. The growth is nothing short of phenomenal, and no end is in sight.
Most of the city of Dallas neighborhoods are well-established with individual personalities, and property within the city limits continues to appreciate. Renovation activity is rampant in older areas.
Located in a close-to-downtown part of Dallas with legendary neighborhood names like Turtle Creek, Highland Park and Preston Hollow, Bluffview homes are highly prized, but the neighborhood itself is somewhat under the radar. Make no mistake: This is an area of million-dollar-plus homes, but that’s exactly why it’s worth considering if you have the financial resources. Close to downtown Dallas, adjacent to Love Field, the Southwest Airlines hub, and just a short drive from the campus of Southern Methodist University, living in Bluffview offers an easy commute to business centers like Las Colinas, the Dallas Trade Center, “edge” cities like Carrollton, Addison and Richardson, and nearby Parkland Hospital and medical teaching centers, in addition to the Dallas urban core and its high-rise offices.
In Bluffview, the average price is $470,000, but actual selling prices skew heavily upwards, and it would be difficult to find a home under $500,000, although prices have dropped a bit over the last year. Bluffview is within the Dallas Independent School District, and the Sudie L. Williams Talented and Gifted Academy is located here. The neighborhood is also home to some of the city’s most-esteemed private schools. Famed Northpark Shopping Center is nearby, and all the varied attractions of a world-class city are clustered in a tight ring around the neighborhood.
Once just another small town on the Texas prairie, with a long history, a quintessential town square, and a quirky vibe, McKinney has come of age, shedding its somewhat shabby past to become a modern city with a spirited aura and a bright future. McKinney was the nation’s fastest-growing city with a population under 50,000 between 2000 and 2003 and again in 2006. The 2010 census recorded the population as 131,117, and the 2020 estimate is more than 191,000. It is now the second-largest city in Collin County, after Plano, and the county seat.
Located 32 miles north of Dallas and approximately 58 miles from Lake Texoma, which straddles the border between Texas and Oklahoma, the drive time in either direction is about the same, making McKinney the perfect location for both city life and leisure-time getaways. Named the Number 1 Best Place in America to Live in 2014 by Money magazine, McKinney is justifiably proud of its reinvigorated historic downtown, its thriving business and economic climate, a modern national airport, and responsive local government.
McKinney features a mix of housing: Restored homes in the city’s historical district are highly prized, and newer subdivisions appeal to both active adults and young families. There are 32 highly rated schools in the district that serves McKinney, with a total enrollment of nearly 25,000 from pre-K to 12th grade. The McKinney campus of Collin College, which serves Collin and Rockwell County students, has an enrollment of more than 25,000 students.
Housing is available in many forms, from restored historic homes on tree-lined streets to sprawling planned communities with golf courses and abundant amenities. Craig Ranch, Eldorado and Stonebridge are subdivisions that can almost be considered cities in their own right. New residents looking for high quality of life can expect to find numerous options. Median listing price of homes in McKinney is in the high 300 range, while sales figures show an average of around $330,000. The market in recent years has been stable, and supply, so far, keeps pace with demand.
Once thought of as either a “country town” or a weekend retreat, Rockwall has become a prime location for residents interested in the good life. Stretching along the eastern shore of Lake Ray Hubbard, many of Rockwall’s homes boast scenic water views, while some sit on larger lots and retain a small-town country appeal.
The city’s 2020 population is estimated to be just over 45,000. Rockwall’s Main Street represents the historic heart of the city, and it’s a thriving business, shopping, dining and activity center for both residents and visitors. Weekly live music, a highly acclaimed seasonal farmer’s market, and a full roster of annual festivals are staples of the Rockwall lifestyle. It’s this small-town culture, along with its good schools, that attracts new residents, and the city has managed to control its growth to retain a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Parks and playgrounds, local marinas, fishing and watersports offer great leisure-time opportunities.
Median age is 37.6; median household income is slightly more than $92,000; and the median price of homes and condos in Rockwall hovers around $330,000. Lakeside communities and view lots, understandably, command higher prices.
Nationally known companies have relocated to Rockwall in the past decade, including bakeries, aerospace/defense firms, and fabrication and distribution firms. Two bridges traverse the lake, and many residents make the daily trek to Dallas or to its northern and western suburbs. The commute can range from approximately 20 minutes to an hour or even longer, depending on the route, the weather and the traffic.
A fast-growing southern suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, Mansfield’s growth is frequently compared to that of Plano to the north. In some ways, Mansfield represents the perfect location, virtually equidistant to Dallas and Fort Worth’s downtowns, and just south of Arlington.
About 71,000 people currently call Mansfield home, and it is primed for future growth. Known as an affluent suburb, Mansfield stretches into three counties, boasts modern infrastructure and roadways, excellent medical facilities, responsive city services and government. Residents have access to fine shopping, dining and entertainment, as well as nearby lakes and recreation. Local schools offer students great choice for academic programs at different levels. A focus on alternative education includes emphasis on technology, performing arts, and college-level academics at the intermediate level. There are 23 elementary schools, six intermediate schools, and six middle schools in the district.
As a southern suburb, Mansfield is also ideally situated for travel to Austin, Houston and San Antonio, as well as to the Texas Hill Country and the South Texas beaches. The average price of homes for sale in Mansfield is just over $300,000. Homes typically sell relatively quickly at close to listing price.
If a move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area is in your future, your only problem may be the effort it takes to narrow your home search to just one or two locations! Nice homes exist in all areas, and financing for new and previously owned homes is readily available. Reach out to us today to get one step closer to owning your dream home!
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