The best neighborhoods in Dallas

Overhead view of Dallas neighborhoods

What neighborhoods in Dallas are best to live in? Here are 9 neighborhoods to consider when you’re buying a home in Dallas.

By Josh Potter

Choosing the right neighborhood in Dallas is essential because of how large the city is. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the best neighborhoods for dining, living, working, walkability and more.

Dallas is just what you’d expect from one of the biggest cities in one of the biggest states in the US. From the sports to the parties to the arts, Dallas is larger than life. 

Its size means Dallas is a sprawling city with thick traffic and rising home prices, too. There’s so much space between neighborhoods that each one can seem like its own separate city. 

You’ll want to make sure you’ve done your homework before choosing a place to live in Dallas. Here is the ultimate guide to the best neighborhoods in Dallas.

Lakewood

Any list of the best neighborhoods in Dallas includes Lakewood. An old, classic neighborhood with an up-and-coming vibe and new life, Lakewood wraps around the west shore of White Rock Lake just northeast of downtown, so it feels like a lakeside retreat.

In Lakewood you can find a sprawling estate or a lakeside cottage, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home that hasn’t been loved, maintained and cared for over many years. The schools in the area are some of the best in Dallas and, now, the kids who graduated from them are coming back in droves for that small-town feel in the heart of the big city.

Pros: Great location close to downtown with gorgeous homes in a naturally beautiful area near the water.

Cons: Higher property taxes and slightly above-average home prices for the area.

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North Oak Cliff

city people street building
Photo by Izaac Elms on Pexels.com

Some locals call North Oak Cliff “Dallas’s Brooklyn” as a compliment while others like to poke fun at it for its resemblance to New York City’s most trendy borough. Either way, no one can deny North Oak Cliff’s spectacular reversal in the last twenty years from a forgotten corner of the city to the center of Dallas’s food and entertainment life.

Most of the neighborhood’s most popular restaurants, boutiques and music venues are centered around the Bishop Arts District, right in the heart of the neighborhood. But beyond the Pinterest-worthy consignment shops and local, organic markets is an affordable community of single-family homes, updated since the neighborhood’s resurgence and ready for new life.

Pros: Walkable and trendy neighborhood with shops, restaurants and nightlife. 

Cons: Streets lined with popular destinations lead to crowds on weekends and limited parking. 

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Preston Hollow

Everything about Preston Hollow is built for comfort, convenience, and for you to feel like a celebrity. With some of the best private schools and most well-known Dallas residents, Preston Hollow is where you live when you’re ready for an upscale kind of life.

Tucked into the northern reaches of Dallas, Preston Hollow is set above and apart from the rest of the city, and it’s where some of Dallas’s most spectacular homes are built behind private gates and on private streets. Perhaps because an ex-president lives in one of the large estates in the neighborhood, Preston Hollow is known for its prestige but you can still find modest ranch style homes, too.

Residents like having easy access to downtown Dallas while still feeling as if their neighborhood is out of the way. Just don’t try to go anywhere in a hurry, because it’s tucked between major highways and traffic tends to be bumper-to-bumper out there.

Pros: Access to top-rated private and public schools with prestigious neighbors. 

Cons: Bad traffic and a northern location can make it feel isolated. 

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Highland Park

While there is never a shortage of luxury and prestige in Dallas, nowhere is that more true than in Highland Park, a city within a city so exclusive it’s not technically a part of Dallas at all. Highland Park, along with its neighbor to the north, University Park, is an independent municipality within Dallas’s borders.

A 2-square-mile perch on a hill above the rest of Dallas, Highland Park is an escape for Dallas’s wealthy and elite residents. High-end shopping and dining along with the area’s best schools make the neighborhood great for families who want big city amenities without big city problems.

Pros: A neighborhood known both for its schools and its beautiful green spaces. 

Cons: The average home price soars above the area’s median and becomes exclusive to more wealthy buyers. 

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Deep Ellum

blue and white concrete building during daytime
Photo by Corey Collins on Unsplash

No place in Dallas is so steeped in history and heritage as Deep Ellum. When it was first established in the 1880s, residents used to call it Deep Elm after Elm Street, which ran through the center of town. Back then, Deep Ellum was the desegregated commercial center of Dallas, where African Americans and immigrants worked together from the time Dallas’s first cotton gin was built to when Henry Ford built a Model-T plant there.

Now, its old factories and warehouses are home to the city’s most historic music venues, art galleries and theaters. Deep Ellum is the arts and culture hub of Dallas where experimentation and history live together in its music, food, architecture and residents.

Pros: A lively, big-city feel full of things to do in a historic part of the city. 

Cons: An up-and-coming part of the city, Deep Ellum still has a reputation for its crime rates. 

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University Park 

Like its extremely high-end neighbor, Highland Park, University Park is a city within a city. One of the two neighborhoods that make up the Park Cities area in a separate municipality within Dallas, University Park is best known as the home of Southern Methodist University.

This enclave is slightly more affordable than its sister city, but only slightly. The neat, manicured lawns and well-maintained homes make University Park ideal for residents looking for a small-town feel but want the benefit of award-winning schools where parents can work and live in the same area.

Pros: A small-town feel with big-city amenities, the neighborhood has some of the best schools in the area. 

Cons: Isolated from the rest of Dallas so parking, and access to shops and dining, can feel limited. 

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Uptown

Uptown Dallas is the entertainment district of downtown, where you can find everything from high-end hotels and swanky cocktail lounges to sports bars for when you just can’t beat the traffic to see the Dallas Cowboys play. Take the free trolley up McKinney Avenue, past posh boutiques next to western clothing and supply stores. Uptown has that big-city feel for the true urbanites who don’t want to walk far for fun and don’t want to stumble home over too great a distance when the fun ends.

Pros: Very convenient location with access to transportation and downtown amenities. 

Cons: It’s hard to find true locals at the bars and restaurants most popular with out-of-towners and cross-towners looking for a good time. 

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Oak Lawn

Don’t call Oak Lawn an extension of Uptown. Long the center of the LGBTQ+ community in Dallas, Oak Lawn has been made into an independent and unique borough as diverse in its offerings as in its homes and residents. Dive bars and cocktail lounges share real estate along Cedar Springs Road, where the Pride Parade goes. But head down Turtle Creek to get to the high-end homes and you can feel like you’ve gone from one city to another. There’s truly something for everyone in Oak Lawn, where everyone is welcome.

Pros: A neighborhood with both quiet streets and popular nightlife within blocks of each other. 

Cons: Traffic makes walking to many of the locations dicey and even fatal in a few instances. 

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M Streets

Look at a map and it’s obvious why this neighborhood is called M Streets. McCommas, Morningside, Merrimac, Mercedes, Monticello—you get the idea. What’s not obvious is that it’s location between downtown and the more spacious neighborhoods north and east makes M Streets perfect for young families who want the best of both worlds.

Living in M Streets means you’re within minutes of Uptown, downtown and the arts districts to the south and east. But M Streets is also slanting uphill toward Highland Park and Lakewood, where the streets are quieter and the schools are better. Perhaps the ‘M’ in M Streets actually refers to its perfect position right in the middle of everything.

Pros: A great, central location, residents can walk to most dining and shopping so they can avoid traffic. 

Cons: Commuters use the neighborhood to cut through when avoiding the highways. 

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Takeaway

Dallas is a big city with the personality and the real estate market to match. But Dallas also has a big heart. Just remember, there is something for everyone in the Big D if you just take some time to look and do your homework. The neighborhoods are all different and are spread out, and the homebuying competition can be fierce. But people like you are buying homes in Dallas every day. Big doesn’t have to mean intimidating. In Dallas, bigger is truly better. 

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FAQ about Dallas neighborhoods

What is the best place to live in Dallas? 

That depends. According to Say Yes To Dallas, Dallas has at least 25 different neighborhoods and those have subdivided neighborhoods within them as well. A neighborhood like Park Cities is actually two independent towns and neighborhoods: Highland Park and University Park. M Streets, too, has a northern and southern section. But each neighborhood is very different for a lot of different reasons so whether you’re looking for a downtown, big-city feel or a quaint, family-focused area, Dallas has it all. 

What is the safest area in Dallas? 

Overall, Dallas is a relatively safe city, getting a C grade from Crimegrade.org. The areas with the lowest general crime rates are to the north and northeast of downtown while the areas of the city close to the commercial and business centers see higher rates, though violent crime remains relatively average, when compared to other metro regions, in all areas. 

What is the most prestigious neighborhood in Dallas? 

Dallas has a lot of prestige all over with the money and the lifestyle to match. But certain neighborhoods stand out. The towns in Park Cities are so exclusive they don’t even share municipal government with the rest of Dallas and the home prices tower over other homes in the area. But if you measure prestige beyond just price, Preston Hollow wins out. This is where the big Texas tycoons throughout history have lived all the way from T. Boone Pickens to Ross Perot to Mark Cuban. You’ll have to clear the secret service, too, if you end up walking near George W. Bush’s compound in the area. 

What salary do I need to live in Dallas? 

According to Kera News, of North Texas, you need $57,984 to live comfortably in Dallas. Meanwhile, the local news in Dallas reported that you’d need closer to $113,000 to be “happy,” a measurement used to determine the amount of money you’d need so that money didn’t factor into everyday decisions or behaviors. However, the median income in Dallas is $52,580 so the real amount you’d need to live in Dallas and maintain a quality of life is somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000, depending on what you consider to be a quality life.


About the author: Josh Potter works for Flyhomes. He is a writer and journalist based in Seattle, Washington.

Cover photo by Huihui Zhang on Pexels.com

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