IYKYKSay Yes To Dallas
Settling into a new community takes time and comes with a lot of questions. We have made it easy to help you get established, make connections, and feel at home in the Dallas Region.
GOVERNMENT OF TEXAS
The government of Texas operates under the Constitution of Texas and consists of a unitary democratic state government operating under a presidential system. The capital of Texas is located in Austin, Texas.
Texas has a total of 254 counties and each county is run by a five-member Commissioner’s Court consisting of four commissioners elected from single-member districts and a county judge elected at-large.
Texas is home to more than 1,200 municipalities with about 250 located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Texas doesn’t have townships; areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Cities are classified as either General Law or Charter/Home Rule.
In addition to cities and counties, Texas has several special districts. The most common is the Independent School District, which each have a board of trustees that is independent of any other governing authority. School district boundaries are not generally aligned with city or county boundaries in Texas. The Texas Education Agency governs public education in Texas. Other special districts include: river authorities, water supply districts, public hospitals, road districts, and community colleges.
When you move to Texas, you won’t pay a personal income tax at the state or local level. You also won’t pay a local occupation tax or local wage tax. This means more money in your paycheck. Instead, you pay for local government services, such as education, through local property taxes, sales taxes, and business taxes. It’s a balance, to be sure, but for people who are moving to the Dallas Region from high-income tax states, this change can feel like a financial windfall. Check out our cost calculator to see how the Dallas Region stacks up.
Texas does not collect personal income tax (state or local). Texas is one of only ten U.S. states with no state income tax.
The state sales tax rate in Texas is 6.250 percent. With local taxes, the total sales tax rate is between 6.250 percent and 8.250 percent.
Texas has no state property tax. Property taxes are levied by local taxing units (city, county, school district, and special districts).
For more information on taxes in the state of Texas, please visit the Texas Comptroller
The Texas Homestead Exemption reduces taxes by lowering a home’s taxable value. All school districts offer a $40,000 homestead exemption, and some taxing units offer a separate exemption based on a percentage of a home’s assessed value. The homestead exemption applies only if the property is the owner’s primary residence. There are additional exemptions for people over 65. Also under the Texas Homestead Exemption your residence is protected from the forced sale by creditors, with the exception of the lender, the IRS, or a contractor who works on your house and increases its value. When you buy a house, call the county appraisal district and ask for the forms for declaring your homestead.
For more information on the homestead exemption, please visit the Texas Comptroller
You have 90 days to obtain a Texas driver’s license after moving to the state. If you are over 18 and already have a valid, unexpired license from another state, you won’t have to take the driving or knowledge test. To obtain your new Texas license, you must:
- Submit an application to your local Department of Public Safety
- Provide proof of Texas residency
- Submit a valid form of ID, such as a passport, unexpired military ID card, or U.S. Citizen Identification Card
- Pay a $33 fee
In Texas, you are required to have liability car insurance. It’s OK if your auto insurance was issued by another state, but it will have to meet the minimum coverage required. In Texas, all drivers must have at least $25,000 in coverage for property damage, $30,000 for each injured person, and $60,000 for injuries per incident.
Vehicle inspections are still a part of the registration process and are performed at Official Vehicle Inspection Stations licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Inspections must be done 90 days of registering your vehicle. Emission testing is required in 17 Texas counties which must comply with federally mandated clear air requirements.
Texas residents must have their vehicle inspected within 90 days of renewing the state vehicle registration sticker. Under the one-sticker system, the registration sticker serves as both the inspection and registration. You can register your vehicle online, by mail, or in person.
Texas does not require drivers or passengers of motorcyclists to wear helmets. The state also does not require helmets for bicyclists. However, city regulations vary on the latter, and the city of Dallas requires helmets for bicyclists ages 17 and younger.
For more information on driving laws, please visit Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
There are no legal restrictions to purchasing a gun in Texas. You do not need to obtain a license to own a firearm or register a firearm that you own. It is legal to carry a shotgun or a rifle without having a handler’s license. Handguns can be carried in some places without a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
You may carry a concealed handgun in most places in Texas if you have a CHL, but you must carry the CHL with you. Texas has reciprocity agreements with 30 states. However, there are some places and circumstances you cannot carry a handgun legally even with a CHL. Owners of any establishment can prohibit handguns on their properties if they post a legal notice.
RIGHT TO WORK
Texas is a right-to-work state. That means you cannot be denied employment for participation or nonparticipation in a labor union/ organization. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for choosing to join or not join a union. Texas is also an employment-at-will state, which means the employer or employees can terminate employment at any time, for any reason, with a few exceptions.
For more information on labor laws, please visit Attorney General of Texas
USE & PURCHASE OF TOBACCO
You must be older than 21 years of age to purchase tobacco products in Texas.
Smoking is not allowed in public places in Dallas, including city parks, libraries, buses, or within 15 feet of any pedestrian entrance. The city of Dallas has also banned smoking in bars and restaurants. However, many of the surrounding communities do allow smoking in bars.
The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in Texas is 21. In Texas, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher is considered driving while intoxicated (DWI). It is illegal in Texas to have open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle while you are driving or parked on a public highway.
DRY VERSUS WET AREAS
A wet area is one in which sales of alcoholic beverages are permitted at all times. A dry area is one in which some or all alcoholic beverage sales are restricted some or all of the time. There are also partially wet areas in which beer and wine sales are legal, but the sale of liquor is not. DFW is a complicated patchwork of all of the above.
MARRIAGE & DIVORCE REQUIREMENTS
To get married in Texas, you need to be at least 18 years old. Apply in person at a Texas County Clerk’s Office to receive your marriage license. Texas is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove a wrongdoing to be granted a divorce. Texas does not stipulate that a couple must be separated for any period of time prior to getting a divorce.
COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
Texas recognizes common- law marriages. You and your partner simply need to either file a Declaration of Informal Marriage or agree that you are married, live together in Texas, and represent to other people that you are married to each other.
In Texas, domestic partnerships are not recognized at the state level. However, Bexar, El Paso, and Travis counties, along with most major cities in Texas (Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio), do recognize them.
For more information on marriage and divorce laws, please visit Texas Department of State Health Services
Texas does not require kindergarten. However, children ages 6 and over must attend school.
Texas requires students to take standardized tests in grades 3-8 and high school end-of-course (EOC) exams. The tests are called the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STARR) system. High school students complete EOC exams in Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History.
DECIDE WHEN YOU WANT TO MOVE
Moving can be both exciting and stressful as you pick up your entire life to start over something new. If you have the freedom to pick when you want to move, there are a few things to consider. If the cost is a factor, moving during the off-season, such as in spring or late fall, will give you the least expensive rates from moving companies. Try to avoid booking your move on the weekends, during the summer, or in the first of the month as rates can be their highest. If you have children in school, you may need to move during the summer as it’s least disruptive to them.
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and figured out when to move, use our 8-week moving checklist to help you plan an organized move to get you settled in your new place.
EIGHT WEEKS UNTIL MOVE:
GET ESTIMATES & MAKE LISTS
- Relocating for a job? Find out what expenses your employer will cover.
- If buying a home, contact a real estate agent in Dallas.
- Decide if you want to hire a moving company and start getting estimates.
SIX WEEKS UNTIL MOVE:
PURGE & START PACKING
- Begin organizing your closets and sorting out clothing, accessories, and shoes you do not want to keep.
- Choose what you can donate to charity and schedule a charity organization of your choice to pick them up (for example, Salvation Army or a veterans’ charity)
- Have a garage sale or sell online (on Craigslist or eBay) value items and things that are not worth the cost of moving, but which you don’t want to give away for free.
FOUR WEEKS UNTIL MOVE:
- Submit a change-of-address form. Go to your local post office and submit a change-of-address form in order to ensure that all your mail will be properly forwarded. You can do this online in order to save time.
- Request 1 or 2 days off from your work for date(s) planned for your move (unless you are changing jobs).
- Find a new primary doctor (and pediatrician, if you have children) and dentist to arrange for your medical records to be transferred.
- If you have children, check the pre-registration procedures for enrolling children in school.
- Talk to the current and future school/ daycare to transfer school records and make plans for a smooth transition.
THREE WEEKS UNTIL MOVE:
TAKE CARE OF SPEICLA ITEMS
- Gather important documents, jewelry, and valuables and pack them separately in your personal bags or ship with a trackable delivery with insurance.
- If you’re driving a long distance to your new home, have your car checked up and serviced for the long drive.
- Take an inventory of your most expensive or cherished possessions and take photos of them to have proof in case of damage.
TWO WEEKS UNTIL MOVE:
FINISH UP LOOSE ENDS
- Check the pre-registration procedures for enrolling children in school.
- Use up food from the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, to minimize waste.
- Double-check that you’ve updated your address everywhere where needed.
- Notify movers ahead of time if you’re moving big appliances which may need special handling; likewise, for gas appliances, consult your gas utility provider.
- Refill your medication and prescriptions and keep them easily accessible by packing them in your handbag.
- Keep some cash on hand for tips and small expenses, as you may not be able to pay by credit card everywhere.
- Update your shipping address on Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and other online shopping sites you use, and direct any scheduled or future shipments to the correct address.
ONE WEEK UNTIL MOVE:
TAKE CARE OF FINAL DETAILS
- Plan to transfer utilities. Call your utility companies—electricity, water, gas telephone, mobile, internet, TV cable, sewer, trash—and put in a request to turn off utilities at the old address on the day after you move.
- Pack a personal suitcase with toiletries, essentials, valuables, and comfortable clothes for each person in your household; keep these suitcases with you.
- Do a final box count to have an accurate count for your records and for the moving company if they request it.
- Confirm the important details with your moving company to avoid any last-minute misunderstandings: phone numbers on both sides, contact person’s name, destination address, date and time with the truck will arrive, etc.
YOU’RE OFF TO YOUR NEW HOME!
- First things first: meet the neighbors. Research shows that knowing people who live around you is good for both physical and mental health. Don’t wait for your neighbors to come to you—be your own welcome wagon.
- Read up on specific Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth laws that could impact you.
- Get your vehicle inspected. Texas requires an annual state emissions inspection. Many mechanic shops, gas stations, and oil change locations offer these inspections. Find one near you here. Be sure to take your driver’s license and proof of insurance.
- Get your Texas vehicle registration sticker and license plates. You can do this at your county tax assessor-collector’s office. You need to show proof of ownership, such as a registration or title from your previous home state, as well as proof of insurance.
- Apply for a Texas driver’s license at the Texas Department of Public Safety office in your area. To find the location nearest you, click here.
- If you’re going to commute to work via public transportation, find the nearest DART station of bus stops and plot your route. Buy passes and do a test ride.
- If you’ll commute by car, map out the first and secondary highway routes. If toll roads are in your future, get a TollTag. Test out your routes.
- Drive other stuff, too. DFW is a big place, and it can be difficult to budget for traffic. As you have time, pick a neighborhood that is not your own and drive to it. Do it a couple of times during different parts of the day. Then challenge yourself to get there and back home without using GPS. This will help you orient yourself to the area and make life easier when you need to get someplace out of your comfort zone.
- Print out emergency numbers, such as fire, ambulance, police, etc. Program these numbers into your phone as well.
- Locate the hospital emergency room nearest your home. Take a test drive to determine the fastest route before you need it. Likewise, find the nearest urgent care center to your home and office—and review your health insurance policy to discover what it covers.
- Find a new doctor. Find a new dentist. Find a new hairdresser. Find someone to fix your car when it breaks. Having the people you will need in place before you need them is peace of mind. A good way to do this is ask neighbors and co-workers for referrals.
- If you have kids, register them in school. If they’ll be walking to class, map out their routes and do a test run. If they’ll be taking the bus, find out the schedules and routes. If school has already started, arrange a parent-teacher conference to kick things off right.
- If you have a dog, scout out dog parks. Ask around for a veterinarian referral or check out a veterinarian’s office close to your home. Locate the all-night emergency vet clinic in your neighborhood.
- Get up to speed on current local news. Subscribe to the newspaper or a community magazine or bookmark related websites. Check your cable/ satellite/ digital channels for local news stations and program your radio with your favorites.
- Read up on our colorful past.
- Join a gym near your home or office. It’s a good way to meet people and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Alternatively, you may want to join a club, professional organization, or special interest group. DFW has an abundance of running clubs, book clubs, car clubs, environmental groups, theater troupes, etc. You’re sure to find something that suits your interests.
- If you’re keep on local politics, attend a local government meeting. Call the one in your community and ask about open meetings.
- Register to vote and locate your polling place. Click here.
- Get to know your new co-workers. Join an after-work happy hour or ask someone to lunch or coffee.
- If religion is an important part of your life, explore the churches, temples, or synagogues in Dallas-Fort Worth. Our area has a plentiful and diverse selection of places to worship, so if your first selection isn’t the right fit, there’s likely another choice just around the corner.
- Get outside. DFW has a lot to offer an outdoors enthusiast, including hiking trails, cycling paths, running trails, lakes, parks, and more. Visit our parks & outdoors page here.
- Support the home team. Whatever your interest—football, basketball, baseball, hockey—we’ve got game (and a lot of trophies)! It’s also fun to connect with your college alumni group so you can support your teams. It’s a good way to meet people with a background similar to yours and feel more at home.
- Volunteer. It’s a good idea to give back, and helping in your new community is a great way to meet like-minded people.
- Get some sleep. Moving is stressful. Take care of yourself.