Skyline view of Austin, Texas, at sunset.

City Guide / Austin

Dallas vs. Austin: Which City Is Right for You?

By Bri Hand | Feb 16, 2022

Texas is a state with a reputation even larger than its size. From the Alamo to Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains, there’s a lot that makes this state iconic—and even more that makes it such an exciting and popular place to live.

Two things that make Texas so great are its two major cities, Dallas and Austin. While both cities are bustling metropolitan hubs that combine the best of big-city life with the homespun charm of country living, they couldn’t be more different. 

If you’re thinking about moving to the Lonestar State, you probably have both Texas cities somewhere near the top of your list. But when it comes to comparing Dallas vs. Austin, how do you know which city is right for you? To help you with your decision, this guide will explore the characteristics of each city and what makes each of them unique. 

Dallas vs. Austin, TX: What sets them apart?

Both Dallas and Austin rank among the state’s most famous—and populated—cities, so it’s no wonder if you’re torn between the two. They’re both vibrant places to live with a lot to offer in terms of housing, entertainment, and cultural options. 

With that said, each city offers unique attractions for people looking to relocate, no matter what your vibe is. Here’s how they compare when it comes to things like cost of living, cultural and entertainment options, and outdoor activities: 

Cost of living in Dallas vs. Austin, TX

When thinking about relocating to Dallas vs. Austin, you should factor in the local cost of living before making your final decision. Cost of living refers to the total sum of all of those necessary living expenses, like food, clothing, housing, and transportation. 

Knowing how much your necessities will cost is essential when crafting a functional budget. So, what’s the cost of living like in Dallas and Austin? Compared to other cities of its size, Dallas is relatively inexpensive, with a cost of living below the national average. On the other hand, Austin is considerably more expensive, topping the cost of living in Dallas by more than 17%. And, compared to the national average, Austin is 30% more expensive. 

The food scenes in Dallas vs. Austin, TX

One of the coolest parts about getting to know a new city is sampling its restaurant options. From time-tested American barbecue to authentic Mexican cuisine—and everything in between—both Austin and Dallas are filled with endless possibilities. 

Each city offers its own take on dining, with unique culinary flourishes setting them apart. From the “best BBQ in the universe” of the legendary Franklin’s to the bold Tex-Mex dishes at Polvo’s, there’s something to please every Austinite. And, adventurous palates will never get bored there—this city is known for its many food trucks, which offer new and exciting takes on cuisines from all around the world.

Dallas also boasts an exciting culinary scene. For a fresh take on American fare, try the farm-to-table restaurant Petra and the Beast, or spend some time sampling the city’s wealth of breakfast burrito options. 

Nightlife in Dallas vs. Austin, TX

As a resident of Austin or Dallas, you’re bound to find plenty of nighttime entertainment options to satisfy your late-night cravings. If love a bustling nightlife scene, downtown Austin may well be the city for you. This city is classically referred to as the Live Music Capital of the World, with more than 250 live music venues in town featuring every genre of music imaginable. 

Austin’s most prominent venues, like the Germania Amphitheater and the Moody Center, are where you’ll catch the biggest acts that come through town, while smaller venues like Antone’s and The Continental Club elicit a more down-to-earth Austin experience.

For more nighttime fun, check out the bars in the Rainey Street District. Are you craving a nightclub atmosphere with strobe lights and a crowded dance floor? Buford’s on West 6th is the place to go to lose your inhibitions and dance the night away. The entire 6th Street District is known for its thrilling entertainment options.

However, don’t count Dallas out when it comes to having a good time. Venues like the Granada Theater and The Bomb Factory help hold down the city’s vibrant music scene, while places like Citizen offer a hip and trendy option for casual drinks or dancing. And, if you still have energy, be sure to check Cowboys Red River for an authentic Texas honky tonk experience. 

Cultural options in Dallas vs. Austin, TX

Dallas and Austin have a lot to offer when it comes to cultural options. There’s a lot to see and do, from museums to art galleries to points of historical interest.

When it comes to Austin, residents can explore a slew of attractions fit for those from all walks of life. Austin art buffs will thrill at the Blanton Museum of Art, located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, and The Contemporary Austin, which includes the outdoor sculpture park in West Austin. 

History fans will also love the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. The Mexic-Arte Museum also features many historical artifacts and exhibitions, including Los Pueblos Originarios, which honors tradition through photography shot by Mary J. Andrade. 

The Museum of Make Believe is dedicated to all things storytelling—with a whimsical twist. Travel from the streets of Austin to a magical emporium filled with enchanted forests, dreamy parlors, and eccentric puppetry.

In Dallas, some of the best cultural hotspots include:

  • The Sixth Floor Museum: Learn all about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at the site of the former Texas School Book Depository building. 
  • Dallas Museum of Art: The Dallas Museum of Art features works from all over the world and nearly every era, from post-war abstraction to post-impressionism. 
  • Frontiers of Flight Museum: The Dallas area is known as the aviation capital of the world, so it’s fitting that the city should be home to the Frontiers of Flight Museum. This museum highlights the history of aviation from the 1920s to today, focusing on World War II and Dallas’s role in aviation history. 

The city also boasts a nature and science museum and a plethora of innovative and exciting art galleries, like Nasher Sculpture Center.

Outdoor activities in Dallas vs. Austin, TX

Both Austin and Dallas have climates characterized by hot summers and mild winters, making outdoor activities integral to both cities. 

In Austin, you’ll have easy access to Lake Travis. In this resort-like area, you can spend the day swimming, boating, or even snorkeling, before enjoying dinner and drinks at the famous Oasis Restaurant. Austin is also a city made for cyclists, with urban routes and a more rugged wilderness and mountain trails. Prefer to spend your time outdoors on foot? Austin is a great city for walking, running, and hiking, too.

Dallas also has many attractions that will make you want to get out and about, including: 

  • The Dallas Zoo: As the largest zoo in the state, the Dallas Zoo boasts over 200 animal species and spectacular, authentic habitats. 
  • Running tours: Ranging from 3 to 18 miles, these tours let you exercise while learning all about Dallas’s history and architecture. 
  • Trinity Forest Adventure Park: Zipline through the trees at Dallas’s premier outdoor adventure destination, which features a variety of fun hurdles like wobble bridges, tightropes, ladders, cargo nets, and zip lines. 

Live your best Texas life with Landing

Whether you decide on quirky Austin or classic Dallas, you’ll need a place to stay once you get there. And with all the adjustments you’ll have to make to relocate to a new city, wouldn’t it be nice to have a place waiting for you when you arrive in town?

Enter Landing. With our flexible lease terms and a nationwide network of fully furnished apartments, we make it easy for you to relocate—whether that’s to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, or somewhere else in between. Say goodbye to difficult rentals and hello to Landing, a rental solution for those who can’t stay put. Browse our available apartments in Austin and Dallas today!

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.