Texas showdown: Austin vs Dallas vs Houston

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Which is the best place to live?
Which is the best place to make money?
Which is the most fun?

Dallas: diversified businesses
Austin: tech concentration in Texas
Houston: energy industry concentration

Best place to live in Texas? Dallas Vs. Austin Vs Houston

Our users shared many detailed responses to this question below. One particularly insightful quote comes from user @BobTheBaker, an equity research associate.

BobtheBaker - Equity Research Associate:

Houston: If you are or want to be in oil you need to be here. Houston also has the best arts and food scene in (low end to mid end, you could argue Dallas has a better high end food scene) Texas. The most diverse city in Texas and I think the country. Worst part about Houston is the weather, the humidity is crippling. If you like organization (aka zoning laws), you will dislike Houston.

Dallas: Real Estate (Tramelle Crow and a bunch of other prestigious RE firms are headquartered here, Hines is in Houston though) and most finance outside of oil is here. There are more asset management firms, hedge funds, PE firms, and family offices in Dallas than any other city in Texas and it isn't even close. Dallas has better weather than Houston and is more organized.

Austin: The best city in the state to live in if you're a young professional imo. Just more "cool" and you can really feel the up and coming status of the city. If you don't like hipsters then stay away. Better low-mid end food than Dallas. Lakes and Texas hill country are in the area so the outdoors lifestyle is more attainable here. Worst city to make money in the state unless you are in tech. Best night-life in the state, although if you're over the age of 25 and don't want to be around drunk college kids (sixth street), Dallas/ Houston might be better.

Read more about these cities from our users below!

Learn more about living in Texas below.

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Comments (40)

Oct 9, 2017

This is all far too dependent on goals and industry.

Houston: If you are or want to be in oil you need to be here. Houston also has the best arts and food scene in (low end to mid end, you could argue Dallas has a better high end food scene) Texas. The most diverse city in Texas and I think the country. Worst part about Houston is the weather, the humidity is crippling. If you like organization (aka zoning laws), you will dislike Houston.

Dallas: Real Estate (Tramelle Crow and a bunch of other prestigious RE firms are headquartered here, Hines is in Houston though) and most finance outside of oil is here. There are more asset management firms, hedge funds, PE firms, and family offices in Dallas than any other city in Texas and it isn't even close. Dallas has better weather than Houston and is more organized.

Austin: The best city in the state to live in if you're a young professional imo. Just more "cool" and you can really feel the up and coming status of the city. If you don't like hipsters then stay away. Better low-mid end food than Dallas. Lakes and Texas hill country are in the area so the outdoors lifestyle is more attainable here. Worst city to make money in the state unless you are in tech. Best night-life in the state, although if you're over the age of 25 and don't want to be around drunk college kids (sixth street), Dallas/ Houston might be better.

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Oct 9, 2017

Houston's food scene is worse than Austin's mid-low end and a bit below Dallas's high end. TBH, I think Houston's food scene is actually below Dallas and Austin overall but it's still really good. Just my opinion though.

There's also plenty of places to go out for any age in Austin. Dirty 6th for college kids, West 6th for anyone between 25-35, Rainey for anyone, East 6th for really anyone and now Rock Rose is for any age too. Houston's bar scene is absolutely terrible and Dallas's is ok since you have Uptown, Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, and Addison. None of those are really great but all are pretty solid.

Oct 9, 2017

Regarding Houston's food scene, this is just wrong. Authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex, seafood, and cajun food are all superior to Austin. Indian, middle eastern, and east Asian food, it isn't even close. Houston has the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam, their Thai/ Filipino food is not far behind. If your definition of best food is Torchy's then sure, Austin beats it. I am talking authentic mom-and-pop shops here bro.

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Oct 9, 2017

Seafood, Cajun and SE Asian, you're totally right (you do have to try Sway though if you haven't). Can't agree on the others, though you could convince me on Indian (need to try more Indian food in Houston).

I love Ninfa's and El Tiempo (Lupe is in both) but Matt's El Rancho, Trudy's, Z'Tejas are all equally as good and that's not even talking tacos which Torchy's is down the list for tacos.

Fonda San Miguel is as legit and as delicious (and expensive) as it gets and there's some good legit Mexican on the East side of town.

Tarka is awesome and I'm so glad they opened up a location in the Heights. Clay Pit is like better Tarka and there's some other really good places like Asiana and Nasha.

Happy to here about some legit mom and pop Mexican/Indian in Houston though, never can get enough.

Oct 9, 2017

I don't want to go back and forth too much on food but Indian, Middle Eastern, SE Asian, Cajun, and Seafood are no doubters. There are also plenty of central american places that just aren't that available in Austin. Houston's diversity is reflected in its cuisine which is why I think its better. Austin has very good BBQ, Mexican/ Tex-Mex, east Asian but so does Houston. In the previous categories, Houston wins by a mile. Overall, Houston is the best food city in Texas and top 10 in the country.

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Oct 11, 2017

Respectfully disagree with Ninfas/El Tiemp = Matts/Trudys/Z'Tejas. The Ninfas family (her son started El Tiempo, I also think he might be an HBS grad) are the sovereign kings of Tex Mex in the state of Texas.

Oct 10, 2017

Sorry Dirty-G, I'm going to have to agree with Bob here. The food is significantly better in Houston/Dallas compared to Austin. I see Austin as having great low end food since half of it is catered to UT kids. Houston and Dallas go head to head in a lot of categories, but I think Houston takes the W by just a smidge.

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Oct 12, 2017
BobTheBaker:

Austin: The best city in the state to live in if you're a young professional imo. Just more "cool" and you can really feel the up and coming status of the city. If you don't like hipsters then stay away. Better low-mid end food than Dallas. Lakes and Texas hill country are in the area so the outdoors lifestyle is more attainable here. Worst city to make money in the state unless you are in tech. Best night-life in the state, although if you're over the age of 25 and don't want to be around drunk college kids (sixth street), Dallas/ Houston might be better.

If the city is growing rapidly, then it's a good place to make money in RE as well, if you have equity either in development or ownership.

Oct 9, 2017

Dallas is far superior to Austin for Real Estate.

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Best Response
Oct 9, 2017

I do love a good old Texas throwdown.

I've lived in every city long enough, and recently enough, to have an educated opinion.

Work (outside of O&G):
Dallas - RE, hedge funds, AM, big corporate, you name it and it's there
Austin - good amount of RE, large amount of tech, growing VC scene
Houston - plenty of RE, but not a whole lot outside of O&G

Work (O&G)
Houston - best in the world by miles

Dallas - NGP, Exxon HQ (though not their main offices), some other guys in Fort Worth (Oxy for one)
Austin - Trilantic has offices, Parsley is downtown, Statoil has offices off 360 but that's about it

Food:
Austin
Dallas/Houston

all really good, but I think the variety and quality in the Austin area wins out

Most fun:
Austin - so much to do outside, UT football, great bar scene
Dallas - a decent amount of outdoor activity, decent bars, Dallas sports, (lots of) good golf courses
Houston - there's stuff to do outside but it's just too hot, not a big fan of the bar scene though it's better than a lot of cities, everything being so spread out kinda sucks

Best Overall (if not O&G):
Austin - I'm biased since I went to school there but outside of crazy residential RE trends, it's just a great place to be. You can stay away from the hipsters if you want (though you can't completely but if you go to the Heights or Bishops Arts then you can't either) and if you're cool with doing something outside of high finance, you're fine.

If O&G:
Houston

If high finance (partially O&G at most):
Dallas

Truth be told, you can't go wrong with any of them.

Oct 11, 2017

Not to pick nits, but Oxy is definitely headquartered in Houston. The Bass family holds a shit load of sway in the Ft Worth O&G scene (in addition to all the other extending branches of the Bass Empire that reside there). Lots of smaller independents out there, though.

Oct 9, 2017

Good call, meant XTO.

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Oct 9, 2017

Dallas. Dallas. Dallas.

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Oct 9, 2017

Dallas was awesome when I visited.

If I lived in Texas, I would live in Dallas without hesitation.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
Oct 10, 2017
Yankee Doodle:

Dallas was awesome when I visited.

If I lived in Texas, I would live in Dallas without hesitation.

What's so awesome about Dallas? Doesn't it suck for single men who are not from Texas originally?

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Oct 10, 2017

If by "not from Texas" you mean, "Total Pussies" then yes, but that's no different from anywhere else.

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Oct 9, 2017

What's so awesome about Dallas is too vague to tackle, but I'll address your single men who are not from Texas question:

There are a lot of very good looking women down here, maybe only rivaled by Southern California or Scottsdale in terms of looks. Since we're in the south, women don't go outside without full makeup and outfit. To generalize, they're looking for their husband starting in college with serious social pressure to lock something down quickly and promptly. They are not as "interested" or "ambitious" as girls would be from the Northeast, but they're sport fans (especially college football) and they can cook! I've also noticed that they're willing to date down for a guy who matches values, makes a solid salary and falls in-line with their plan of Puppy (Golden Doodle is the Dallas dog) -> Move-in Together -> Engagement -> Kids. Transplant women don't necessarily abide to this, but it's the general culture that permeates.

For guys, you'll be fine if you play the game. Dallas' social scene is a bit vain and materialistic but as long as you're willing to maintain a good groom and wear a collar when you go out, you'll be just fine. If you're short and / or ugly, you score out of your league if you've got money or your family has money. Personal opinion but if you're a Caucasian male, you're at an advantage. If you're a tall, Caucasian male in Dallas, you'll have women tripping over themselves to breed with you. We've got a large African-American population that goes off on the weekends but after that, our diversity kinda falls off a cliff.

One final note I will say is that making friends is a bit difficult coming out here as it's very much a "no new friends" type of place. Find a group of friends, do shit with your group of friends and intermingle between groups.

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Oct 10, 2017
Dedline:

What's so awesome about Dallas is too vague to tackle, but I'll address your single men who are not from Texas question:

There are a lot of very good looking women down here, maybe only rivaled by Southern California or Scottsdale in terms of looks. Since we're in the south, women don't go outside without full makeup and outfit. To generalize, they're looking for their husband starting in college with serious social pressure to lock something down quickly and promptly. They are not as "interested" or "ambitious" as girls would be from the Northeast, but they're sport fans (especially college football) and they can cook! I've also noticed that they're willing to date down for a guy who matches values, makes a solid salary and falls in-line with their plan of Puppy (Golden Doodle is the Dallas dog) -> Move-in Together -> Engagement -> Kids. Transplant women don't necessarily abide to this, but it's the general culture that permeates.

For guys, you'll be fine if you play the game. Dallas' social scene is a bit vain and materialistic but as long as you're willing to maintain a good groom and wear a collar when you go out, you'll be just fine. If you're short and / or ugly, you score out of your league if you've got money or your family has money. Personal opinion but if you're a Caucasian male, you're at an advantage. If you're a tall, Caucasian male in Dallas, you'll have women tripping over themselves to breed with you. We've got a large African-American population that goes off on the weekends but after that, our diversity kinda falls off a cliff.

One final note I will say is that making friends is a bit difficult coming out here as it's very much a "no new friends" type of place. Find a group of friends, do shit with your group of friends and intermingle between groups.

Thanks for this summary. This is in line with everything I've heard about Dallas. I'm sure it's great for a lot of people so not bashing it. But as a single minority man who is not interested in marriage, Dallas is a dealbreaker. For me, only NYC/Chicago/LA make real sense.

Oct 9, 2017

It's harder as a minority but you'll do just fine in Dallas if you have game and solid looks/ swagger. The chics are pretty hot here. Not as much diversity as Houston tho (if you have a thing for Asians you def wanna be in Houston). Also, you don't have to be interested in marriage, just don't make it obvious.

Oct 12, 2017

Sound like a true TRP bro.

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.

Oct 9, 2017

It's all relative. For energy investment bankers, there's no place besides Houston.

For people who love scenery, Austin's winding hills (Travis County) are ideal.

For people who can settle for anything with a decent job. Dallas is survivable.

But all three suck imho. If I had all the money in the world I'd be living in the hills of Silicon Valley. Nothing beats the beauty of the bay.

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Oct 10, 2017

You'd need to make sure that you have all the time in the world too, that bay area traffic is atrocious.

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Oct 10, 2017

Dallas if you are a douchebag

Austin if you are a liberal hipster

Houston if you are a mature adult interested in living a peaceful, successful life filled with joy, faith, and community.

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Oct 10, 2017
realjackryan:

Dallas if you are a douchebag

Austin if you are a liberal hipster

Houston if you are a mature adult interested in living a peaceful, successful life filled with joy, faith, and community.

Just avoid Sisu, Sunday School, and the stretch of bars from Concrete Cowboy to Kung Fu and it isn't as douchey. The Knox-Henderson / M-Streets / Lakewood area is pretty awesome.

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Oct 10, 2017

Dallas if you're a fuccboi

Austin if you're a hipster

Houston, if you're a redneck Christian who loves Joel Osteen

There, corrected it for you

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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Oct 10, 2017

I used to live in Houston, not a huge fan to be honest. The no zoning laws make the city a sprawled out wasteland.

Oct 10, 2017

Isn't that what I said?

Oct 9, 2017

There are more cowboy types in Dallas/ Austin than Houston (as a % of the population). Dallas would definitely qualify as the most "bible belt" of all the cities (ie. alot of conservative cowboy-type protestants). It's the only major city that went Republican in the last election.

Oct 10, 2017

I personally never found Dallas to be too Christian. Perhaps that was because of my circle of mates? Cowboy types? Definitely.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Oct 10, 2017
BobTheBaker:

There are more cowboy types in Dallas/ Austin than Houston (as a % of the population). Dallas would definitely qualify as the most "bible belt" of all the cities (ie. alot of conservative cowboy-type protestants). It's the only major city that went Republican in the last election.

Incorrect. Hillary won Dallas County by 26 points against Trump. Dallas has not gone to a Republican in a presidential election since 2004 when George W Bush barely won it by 1.3%.

Obama and Hillary did better in Dallas than in Houston. So by going that metric, Dallas is more liberal.

Oct 9, 2017

Dallas county is a pretty small portion of Dallas bro. I meant the greater Dallas area

Oct 10, 2017
BobTheBaker:

Dallas county is a pretty small portion of Dallas bro. I meant the greater Dallas area

You wrote specifically that Dalls is "the only major CITY that went Republican in the last election." You are wrong. If your point was that the greater Dallas area including Tarrant County went Republican, that's a different point altogether, and you have said so specifically. But even when you include Tarrant, Hillary still got more votes, so you are wrong either way.

I have seen this pattern from you in multiple threads. Improve your reading comprehension, and back up your statements with data.

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Oct 9, 2017

This isn't worth arguing about. You're right. Please do address my arguments that you have issues with in the appropriate thread rather than throwing around accusations in this thread. "A pattern" - lol.

Oct 10, 2017

Yeah sorry it was Fr. Worth. Dallas is pretty blue, due to all the... um... Incentivized Democrats... in South Dallas.

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Oct 10, 2017

Bias: I live and work in Houston, 12-14 weekends a year in Austin/hill country usually

Love Houston, fantastic city to live in. We're about to pass up Chicago metro to take number 3 spot behind NYC and LA. Everything is growing ridiculously fast and you can visibly see the city diversifying away from oil and healthcare base.

Dining is great, everything from food truck food all the way to niche high end like coastal Spanish. Nightlife isn't anything like Miami, Vegas, NYC or LA BUT, efforts are being made. With high end nightclub and day clubs, rooftops, some new gastro pub / lounge hybrids popping up, it's progressing. Standard of living is awesome, but you'll arguably find that in other two cities. Wide variety of cultures and backgrounds here, which is a plus assuming you aren't an ethnocentric close-minded moron.

Downsides? As has been mentioned, no zoning. You will need a car to get to many places, even when situated in the "best" spots. Hot and humid 8/12 months.

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Oct 10, 2017

Gross Domestic Product by Metro Area for 2016: Dallas - $511bn, Houston - $478bn, Austin - $135bn

Oct 11, 2017

DFW - $511bn*
Fort Worth is very different than Dallas.

Oct 11, 2017

All of the major cities in Texas are great other than El Paso (for those who say its not a major city its top 20 in population), there is even a case to made for San Antonio depending on what you're looking for. Austin is a great emerging city, but doesn't have the job market of Houston or Dallas and is a much smaller feel. IMO Houston is the best of them all with Dallas finishing a close 2nd, followed up by Austin, Ft Worth, then San Antonio.

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Oct 12, 2017
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