"My home in Dallas is wonderful. I can walk everywhere. It's a pretty good hidden secret, Dallas. There are wonderful restaurants and a wonderful nightlife. It's just a beautiful city to be in."
(Jodi Lyn O'Keefe)
Considered by many to be a frontier of the west (although folks in Fort Worth will likely have a different opinion about that), it’s not all about boots and cowboy hats in Dallas; some of the top names in fashion and cuisine have established Texas outposts, and as one of the top 10 largest cities in the country, Dallas’ many neighborhoods all have a distinct flavor and personality, leaving plenty of options open for everyone looking to call the “Big D” their home.
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For anyone new to the area, there are a number of cities surrounding Dallas that aren't, well, Dallas. In the manner of some New Jersey realtors who mislead couples into thinking that 45 minutes from “the city” isn't that bad, I’m here to tell you that 45 minutes is more like an hour and a half. Yes, it is that bad. Allen, Plano, Richardson, Frisco and McKinney are all great areas in their own right, but for the sake of shorter commute times, they won’t be covered. However, if commute time isn't an issue, then definitely do not cross them off your list.
Regardless of the neighborhood, one consistent feature of Dallas is the amazing and sometimes extremely hot weather - May through October, the average daily high tops 80 degrees. As a result of this many Dallas apartment communities focus on providing amenities to help their residents deal with the extreme heat. Almost every apartment in Dallas will come equipped with air conditioning and many of the communities have invested significantly in having great outdoor pool areas and indoor gyms for their residents to enjoy.
Using downtown as a reference point, let’s get to the Dallas neighborhoods.
Addison: With minimal traffic, Addison is located a quick 15 minutes north of downtown on the Tollway. Addison is actually a city in its’ own right, so technically it’s not a Dallas neighborhood; but since it’s so close, you might as well give it a look. Thankfully, Addison is home to tons of apartments. If you’re a recent graduate, you’ll definitely feel welcome among the large number of young professionals that already call the trendy Addison Circle area “home”. Apartment prices in Addison are varied and definitely dependent upon location and type; older complexes outside the Addison Circle area run around $600-$900 per month, whereas units within the actual Circle neighborhood itself start at about $800. Addison is also home to a large number of restaurants and bars, and totes some excellent shopping as well.
Deep Ellum: An artsy little enclave just east of downtown, Deep Ellum is literally on the easternmost edge of downtown Dallas. Deep Ellum is a historic little neighborhood with industrial roots and a gritty past. Happily, Deep Ellum today is yet again an arts and entertainment district with a quirky and independent personality. Most of the apartments in this area are loft-style, and, as such, tend to run a bit pricier than most other homes, usually upwards of $700. Thankfully, the price of your place will be complimented by the excellent batch of restaurants nearby, many of which have earned citywide recognition for their unique and delicious menus. Still not convinced? How about living just a few blocks from the Dallas Farmers Market? Yeah, we thought that sounded pretty nice too.
Downtown: Honestly, outside of Dallas, downtown doesn't have the most amazing reputation. Downtown is full of historical, Art Deco-style buildings that languished for years before developers saw the potential in converting them to residences. Downtown today is an entirely different area than it was even ten years ago. Zagat-rated restaurants dot Main Street and the flagship location of the celebrated luxury retailer Neiman Marcus all sit pretty in the downtown area. Buildings that once housed old telephone companies now offer sweeping views of the skyline from rooftop decks and pools. Many Downtown apartments are not near parks and as a result have gone out of their way to offer services to the pet friendly crowd. These apartments will often have dog parks and sometimes even contract with local dog walkers to provide in unit pet care. Downtown has been slowly luring people back over the past several years, and it now boasts a thriving nightlife for all you club fanatics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the gorgeously renovated apartments run a little steep, starting around $800 and running as high as $2,000.
Highland Park/University Park: Located approximately 5 minutes north of downtown, the Highland Park/University Park (“Park Cities”) area doesn't typically bring “apartments” to mind, but there are actually quite a few town homes, duplexes and condos in the area to explore. The closer you get to Southern Methodist University, the more town homes you’ll find, but they’re not exclusively student-housing, and the students who do live there aren't typically the rowdy, Animal House-style kids (they live on campus in the fraternity houses). Home to the country’s first outdoor shopping center, Highland Park Village, as well as the historic Snyder Plaza, this area features some of the best shopping and eating around. There’s usually a unit or two to be found, but beware: They go quickly and typically cost upwards of $1,000 per month for a one bedroom apartment, minimum.
Knox-Henderson: Situated a whopping 2 minutes south of the Park Cities and 5 minutes north of downtown, the Knox-Henderson area is where you’ll find an eclectic group of people. Apartments in this area are very near the Katy Trail, Dallas’ most popular jogging and biking trail, and are typically smaller, two and three story complexes, which are exceptionally well-kept. Since this area is getting close to the coveted Uptown district, rent runs from around $600 in one of the smaller, older complexes (old in this case does not mean dilapidated) to upwards of $1,200 in one of the über-trendy boutique-style apartments.
Oak Lawn: A couple blocks west of Uptown, Oak Lawn is Uptown’s quirky, free-spirited sister. A mixed crowd, this neighborhood isn't exclusively young people, old people or families; you’ll find a little bit of everything. There are extremely fancy (read: pricey) high-rises, quaint one-bedroom apartments and the odd town-home. This area is close to everything: downtown is a stone’s throw away, there’s easy access to the Tollway and Interstate 75 and there are restaurants galore. This area and Uptown are pretty sought-after, so you’ll need to do some digging to A) find what you want, and B) so you don’t get ripped off. Similar to the Knox-Henderson area, the older apartments in Oak Lawn are rather nice, so don’t be dissuaded by the date the complex was built, you’ll just need to do a little research. Expect rent to increase from around $700 for at older complex to close to $5,000 for a new town home.
Uptown: Ah, Uptown. Saved the best for last…or did I? If you’re young, don’t mind noise, and value being able to walk to and from bars and restaurants, then this is your best bet. If you would prefer a quieter locale, free of inebriated neighbors at late hours, guess what? It’s the best for you too. You see, Uptown is a small neighborhood approximately 3 minutes from downtown, but it is absolutely jam-packed with apartments and condos. There are trendy addresses that are too noisy to validate the cost, then there are the equally nice and equally convenient apartments across the street (any street, there are literally apartments everywhere) that are substantially less noisy and likely cost a little less. Uptown encompasses the hoppin' of section McKinney Avenue comes packed with no less than 50 bars and restaurants, selling everything from Jello-shots and French fries to Lychee martinis and gourmet sushi. Rent is reflective of how close you want to be to the action and what in unit amenities you want: $2,000 will get you a two bedroom apartment with a washer and dryer above a shopping center, whereas for a more modest $800 you can live a block and a half away and walk to the shopping center. The choice is entirely up to you.
Getting around the city
Dallas County is home to over two million residents spread out over a little less than 1,000 square miles. Being such a spread-out city, pedestrian traffic is more or less restricted to individual neighborhoods and shopping centers, and unless you’re fortunate enough to work within walking distance of the office, a method of transportation is a must. Most Dallas commuters chose to drive so Dallas area apartment communities are used to dealing with cars and offer a variety of parking options. These options range from first come first serve spaces to car ports to fully covered parking garages (sometimes even private garages), just know that you'll often pay extra for the additional privacy.
For anyone whose car has been incapacitated due to skyrocketing gas prices or any other unforeseen circumstance, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) buses and light-rail trains have strategically located stations with service across the city.
Dallas is connected by a series of highways, the main north-south thoroughfares being the Dallas North Tollway, Interstate 75 and Interstate 35, and the primary east-west arteries being Interstate 635 and Loop 12. For the sake of confusion, city planners across the country seem to have a predilection for naming major highways one thing on local signs and something completely different on non-local maps. The above-mentioned highways are referred to locally as, the Tollway, Central Expressway, 35, LBJ and Northwest Highway, respectively.
If your commute requires you to go south on the Tollway or south on Interstate 75 in the morning (or conversely, north on either of those highways in the evening), expect delays. It’s also typically a good bet to avoid Woodall Rodgers (which connects Interstates 75 and 35) in the morning and afternoon if you can. Interstate 653 is always bad (always, since the beginning of time, apparently), and a massive construction project has just begun that all but guarantees road rage-related delays for the next several years. Really.
Now that you've gotten the inside scoop, you’re set to go out and take this apartment-filled city by storm. Whether you pick Uptown, Downtown, or any other town, we’re sure you've got the proper tools to find the place that fits you best. Good luck and happy hunting!