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Dallas vs. Chicago Which city is better to live in

Dallas vs. Chicago: Which city is better to live in? 

When it comes to choosing a place to call home, the decision is often a deeply personal one, rooted in a unique blend of preferences, aspirations, and priorities. 

Picture this: the bustling streets of Dallas, a city known for its vibrant energy, a melting pot of cultures, and a thriving business environment. 

Standing shoulder to shoulder with the iconic skyscrapers of Chicago, the “Windy City” is home to some of the world’s best architecture, art, and deep-dish pizza. 

Both cities offer a unique blend of opportunities, cultural richness, and unmistakable charm. 

But where should you plant your roots? That’s the question we’ll explore together in this article. 

By the end of this comparison, you’ll have a better sense of whether Dallas, with its Texan warmth and cosmopolitan charm, or Chicago, with its Midwestern heart and urban allure, align more with your vision of the perfect city to live in.

Dallas vs. Chicago: Which city is better? 

Dallas is better than Chicago because of its affordability and warmer weather. However, Chicago has a more vibrant culture, a lot of things to do, and world-class amenities.



Dallas has a warmer climate, with average temperatures ranging from 55 °F in the winter to 95 °F in the summer. 

In contrast, Chicago has a colder climate, with average temperatures ranging from 25 °F in the winter to 75 °F in the summer.

Dallas also has more sunny days than Chicago. It gets an average of 210 sunny days per year, while Chicago gets an average of 175 sunny days per year.

Cost of Living

According to NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator, the overall cost of living in Dallas is 4.8% lower than in Chicago. 

This means that if you need $3,650 to live comfortably in Chicago, you could live the same lifestyle in Dallas for $3,145.

Here is a breakdown of some specific costs in each city per month:

Expense Dallas Chicago 
Housing $1,495$1,650
Food $300$350
Utilities $150$200
Transportation $100$125
Education $600$700
Healthcare $400$500
Personal care$100$125
Total $3,145$3,650



Dallas and Chicago are two popular cities with different housing markets. In general, Dallas is more affordable than Chicago when it comes to housing.

The median home price in Dallas stands at $449,900, which is approximately $100,000 higher than the median home price in Chicago, set at $350,000. This signifies that the average cost of a home in Dallas exceeds that in Chicago.

When it comes to renting, the median monthly price for a one-bedroom apartment in Dallas is $1,495, slightly below the figure for Chicago, where it’s $1,650. Therefore, the average monthly rent in Dallas is approximately $155 less than in Chicago.

Aside from buying or renting a home, there are other housing-related expenses to consider. Property taxes and homeowners insurance tend to be more affordable in Texas compared to Illinois, which can help offset the higher housing costs in Dallas. 



In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American household spent around $7,800 on food. However, the specific costs can vary widely based on your location. 

For instance, in Dallas, the average household spent approximately $7,200 on food in 2021, while in Chicago, the figure was slightly higher at $7,600.

Several factors contribute to these discrepancies. One key factor is the cost of housing. 

Generally, housing costs in Chicago tend to be higher than those in Dallas, leaving residents with less disposable income for other expenses, including food.

The availability of fresh produce also plays a role. 

Chicago boasts numerous farmers’ markets and grocery stores that offer locally sourced fresh produce, which can often be more affordable. In contrast, Dallas may have a more limited supply of fresh produce, potentially leading to higher prices.

Moreover, restaurant costs make a difference. 

Chicago is renowned for its world-class dining establishments, which can be on the expensive side. In Dallas, the culinary scene is more diverse, featuring a wide range of restaurants with varying price points, from affordable to high-end options.



When it comes to the cost of living in any city, utility expenses can be a significant factor. 

While the average monthly utility bill for a household in Dallas is $256.91, it’s notably lower in Chicago, averaging $169.79. 

This means that the cost of utilities is approximately 40% higher in Dallas compared to Chicago.

There are several key reasons behind this variation in utility costs. 

First and foremost, Dallas boasts a hotter climate compared to Chicago. This difference in climate results in Dallas residents requiring more energy to cool their homes during the scorching summer months. 

The higher demand for cooling naturally drives up electricity costs.

Moreover, the urban layout of these two cities also contributes to the disparity in utility expenses. Dallas is known for being a more sprawling city compared to the more compact Chicago. 

Consequently, Dallas residents often find themselves having to cover longer distances when traveling, which in turn leads to increased energy consumption and higher energy bills.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the average monthly utility costs in Dallas and Chicago:

Utility Dallas Chicago 
Electricity $112.36$72.10
Natural gas $54.55$36.19
Water $39.00$33.50
Sewer $15.00$10.00
Garbage collection $16.00$18.00

As you can see, electricity is the biggest difference between the two cities. In Dallas, residents pay an average of $40 more per month for electricity compared to their counterparts in Chicago. 

This cost discrepancy can be attributed to the intense heat experienced in Dallas, which necessitates more extensive and prolonged use of air conditioning systems.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent $10,227 on transportation in 2022. This includes the cost of gasoline, public transportation, and vehicle maintenance.

Dallas and Chicago both have their own unique transportation challenges. Dallas is a sprawling city with a car culture, while Chicago has a more robust public transportation system. 


The average household in Dallas spends $1,025 per month on transportation. This is higher than the national average ($1,024 per month), and it’s due in part to the fact that Dallas is a car-dependent city. 

Only about 11% of Dallas residents use public transportation to get to work. 

The cost of gasoline is also a factor in Dallas’ high transportation costs. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Dallas is $3.01, which is higher than the national average of $2.98.

Public transportation in Chicago

Conversely, Chicago offers a different transportation landscape. The average household in Chicago spends $900 per month on transportation. 

This is lower than the national average ($1,024 per month), and it’s due to the fact that Chicago has a good public transportation system. About 25% of Chicago residents use public transportation to get to work. 

The cost of public transportation in Chicago is relatively affordable. A monthly pass for the CTA costs $75. 

The cost of gasoline is also lower in Chicago than in Dallas. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Chicago is $2.98, which is the same as the national average.

Choosing between Dallas and Chicago should be based on individual needs and preferences. 

Chicago is an excellent option for those seeking a city with an efficient public transportation system, while Dallas appeals to those who appreciate a car-oriented culture.



When it comes to public school tuition, Dallas charges $600 per month for a single student, while in Chicago, the cost is slightly higher at $700 per month for a single student, making it 16.7% more expensive in Chicago compared to Dallas.

Private school tuition is another consideration. In Dallas, it ranges from $10,000 to $40,000 per year, whereas in Chicago, it falls within the range of $15,000 to $50,000 per year, making private school tuition 50% higher in Chicago than in Dallas.

Moving on to college tuition, Dallas offers in-state students a yearly rate of $10,000, with out-of-state students paying $15,000 annually. In Chicago, in-state students pay $12,000 per year, and out-of-state students are charged $18,000 per year. 

Therefore, college tuition is 20% higher in Chicago compared to Dallas.

To help mitigate these education costs, financial aid options are available, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. It is essential for students to research these opportunities and apply for the aid they are eligible for.



In general, healthcare tends to be more expensive in Chicago compared to Dallas.

In a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, it was found that in 2023, the average annual healthcare costs for a single person in Dallas were approximately $5,400. 

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the average annual healthcare costs for a single person were around $6,000.

This means that residents of Chicago can expect to spend an average of $600 more per year on healthcare compared to their counterparts in Dallas.

Several factors contribute to the higher cost of healthcare in Chicago. One key factor is the presence of high-cost academic medical centers in the city. 

These medical institutions are renowned for their cutting-edge research and top-quality care, but they often charge premium prices for their services.

Another factor that drives up healthcare costs in Chicago is its higher population density when compared to Dallas. The larger population leads to increased demand for healthcare services, which, in turn, can lead to higher prices.

Furthermore, Chicago is home to a substantial number of high-income earners who can afford to pay for healthcare services. The presence of this affluent demographic also contributes to higher healthcare costs in the city.

Personal Care 

Personal Care

Dallas is known for being a relatively affordable city to live in, and this extends to personal care expenses as well. 

On average, the monthly cost of personal care in Dallas comes in at a budget-friendly $100. This comprehensive figure covers various aspects, such as haircuts, clothing, and entertainment.

In contrast, Chicago is considered a more expensive city to reside in, and naturally, personal care expenses are higher here. 

On average, Chicagoans can expect to spend around $150 per month on personal care. This amount encompasses the costs associated with haircuts, clothing, and entertainment.

Here is a breakdown of some specific personal care expenses in Dallas and Chicago: 

Expense Dallas Chicago 
Haircut $20$25
Clothing $50$75
Entertainment $30$50

As you can see, all categories are more expensive in Chicago. 

Job Opportunities 

Job Opportunities

Both Dallas and Chicago provide a wealth of job opportunities for individuals at different stages of their careers. 

For new graduates, Dallas stands out as a robust job market, particularly in the technology and healthcare sectors. 

In contrast, Chicago excels as a destination for new graduates looking to break into business and finance, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics industries.

As for experienced professionals, both cities maintain a diverse job landscape. 

Dallas tends to shine for those with experience in the energy and financial services sectors, offering numerous enticing opportunities. 

On the other hand, Chicago has become the preferred choice for experienced professionals in manufacturing, transportation, and logistics, as well as professional and business services, due to its well-established job market in these industries.

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