Photo courtesy of Simpson Property Group

We all know what renters dream about when they’re not thinking about the logistics of owning a home: low rent prices with the perfect amount of space. In cities across Dallas-Fort Worth, that’s getting harder and harder to come by.

In fact, for renters who have a budget of $1,500 a month, the average apartment size they can get in Dallas spans about 805 square feet. That’s according to a new study by apartment rental marketplace RentCafe.

If you head to a suburb like Mesquite, Garland, or Arlington, residents can get the most bang for their buck with an average apartment size well into the 900-square-foot range.

Mesquite residents, by far, get the most space, at 999 square feet, whereas renters in the latter two cities get an average of 937 and 928 square feet for the same budget.

Renters might consider looking to Fort Worth as well, where they can get an apartment that’s an average of 909 square feet (almost 100 more than Dallas) with $1,500 a month.

The worst offenders that have the smallest space for the price are Plano and Frisco. Plano renters have to make do with an average apartment size of 766 square feet, while Frisco renters get even less space, at 740 square feet. That’s more than 200 square feet less than an apartment in Mesquite.

RentCafe’s study looked at data from their sister site, Yardi Matrix, to determine the average size and price per square foot for a $1,500 monthly budget in 200 of the largest American cities.

Here’s how much space you can rent for $1,500 in other Dallas-Fort Worth-area cities:

  • Grand Prairie – 873 square feet
  • Denton – 868 square feet
  • Irving – 848 square feet
  • McKinney – 809 square feet

Elsewhere in Texas, apartments in the Rio Grande Valley have the best price per square foot in the state. McAllen residents get the most space out of any other Texas city with an average apartment size of 1,471 square feet. Renters in Brownsville, which is 60 miles east on the border, can get a similarly sized apartment that’s 1,307 square feet for the same $1,500 a month budget.

Much like Mesquite, Houston residents can find apartments that are just under 1,000 square feet for the same budget. But that doesn’t go nearly as far in Austin, where renters can find apartments that are an average of 714 square feet.

The full report can be found on rentcafe.com.

Photo courtesy of City of Plano

Here's what it takes to be a middle class earner in Dallas-Fort Worth, new report finds


In a world where a six figure salary doesn’t go as far as it used to, how much money do you need to make to be deemed middle class? Out of 13 Texas cities and 100 total in the United States, a Dallas suburb has one of the highest middle class income ceilings in the nation.

Plano has the ninth highest income ceiling for American middle class earners, according to a new study by SmartAsset. To define the term “middle class” and determine income limits, analysts looked at data from the Census Bureau's 2021 one-year American Community Survey to find the median income for households in every state. They also looked at income data from 100 of the largest American cities.

Middle class earners in Plano would need to make between $63,651 and $190,004 a year, with the median household income coming out to $95,002 a year.

Several of the country’s best employers are located in Plano and in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, as discovered by Forbes, which is a helpful boost to the local economy. The study additionally discovered Plano has the lowest average home value out of the top 10 cities (mostly from California and Arizona) at $487,000.

Plano was the only Texas city to make the top 10, with Austin coming in second at No. 23. An Austinite would need to make a minimum of $53,293 to be considered middle class. Other Texas cities included in the study are Corpus Christi (No. 63), San Antonio (No. 77), Lubbock (No. 78), Laredo (No. 84), and El Paso (No. 87).

Here’s what it takes to be middle class in other Dallas-Fort Worth cities:

  • No. 38 – Irving: between $47,128 and $140,680 a year
  • No. 44 – Fort Worth: between $45,717 and $136,470 a year
  • No. 59 – Garland: between $41,277 and $123,214 a year
  • No. 62 – Arlington: between $40,126 and $119,778 a year
  • No. 72 – Dallas: between $38,857 and $115,990 a year

Four of the top 10 cities with the highest middle class income ceilings are in California (no surprise there) and three of the four are in the Bay Area. The report found that tech cities like those in the Bay Area are notoriously the most difficult to attain a middle class status. California’s overall high cost-of-living means residents in the No. 1 city of Fremont would need to make between $104,499 and $311,936 a year to be labeled middle class.

The top 10 cities with the highest middle class ceilings are:

  • No. 1 – Fremont, California
  • No. 2 – San Jose, California
  • No. 3 – Arlington, Virginia
  • No. 4 – San Francisco
  • No. 5 – Seattle
  • No. 6 – Irvine, California
  • No. 7 – Gilbert, Arizona
  • No. 8 – Scottsdale, Arizona
  • No. 9 – Plano
  • No. 10 – Chandler, Arizona

The full report and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com.

Photo by Farhan on Unsplash

Dallas suburb stalled by 3rd worst commute in the U.S., report says

Road warriors

Here's something that'll make residents of Garland downright honkin' mad: Workers there have the third worst daily commute in the nation. So says a new report by SmartAsset.

The financial services website compared data from the 100 largest U.S. cities and ranked the worst commutes by six factors: percentage of workers who commute; average travel time to work; transportation as a percentage of income; percentage of workers with a commute longer than 60 minutes; and five-year change in both travel time and percentage of workers with long commutes.

Garland ranked No. 3 worst, only out-trafficked by two California cities - Stockton and Bakersfield - which came in first and second, respectively.

Of the Dallas suburb, SmartAsset writes, "The majority of workers in Garland, Texas, are commuters (86.1%). And they average the seventh-highest commute time (roughly 30 minutes vs. the national average of 25.6 minutes). About 9.1% of commuters, however, experience drives over one hour (12th-highest). Overall, the average commute time has increased by 2.37% between 2016 and 2021."

The dubious distinction may be no surprise to Garland-area road warriors who have to contend with 24/7 traffic created by the never-ending construction, lane blocks, and shoulder closures on I-635 through northeast Dallas.

The only other Texas city to land in the top 10 is El Paso, which comes in seventh. The city ranks second overall for transportation costs relative to income, with commuters paying 14.13% of their median household income for transportation in the city and surrounding areas, SmartAsset says.

Texas' two biggest cities, Houston and Dallas, (somehow!) tied for No. 23. The average commute time in Dallas is 25.7 minutes; in Houston, it's 26.1 minutes. But in Dallas, more workers (6.5%) have a "severe" commute of 60 minutes or more; in Houston, it's 5.8%. Houstonians spend a tiny bit more of their income on transportation costs than Dallas drivers do (9.9% vs. 9%).

Notably, Dallas and Houston ranked worse than notoriously traffic-jammed Los Angeles, which came in at No. 25.

Elsewhere in North Texas and around the state, city rankings were:

  • Arlington, No. 33
  • Fort Worth, No. 47
  • Irving, No. 50
  • Plano, No. 52
  • San Antonio, No. 55
  • Lubbock, No. 61
  • Austin, No. 64
  • Corpus Christi, No. 78
  • Laredo, No. 81

Interestingly, SmartAsset notes, despite the rise in remote work the past few years, the average commute time went down by only one minute in five years. The national average decreased from 26.6 minutes in 2016 to 25.6 minutes in 2021, they say, while the percentage of remote workers has tripled in about half the time.

"Workers in 2023 will average almost 222 hours (or a little over nine days) driving to and from work," the report says. "And these hours spent in transit cost commuters more than just their time. The price of fuel, public transit passes and other commuter-related costs can add up quickly."

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

American doll store relocates flagship from one Dallas mall to another

Shopping News

A doll store is moving from one Dallas mall to another, but this is American Girl, the doll store-combination-restaurant-combination-kiddie-salon chain, and it's the store's only location in Dallas, as well as the only location in Texas, as well as one of a limited number of stores across the U.S. Thus this story.

The store is departing its current location at Galleria Dallas and relocating to The Shops at Park Lane where it will establish a new flagship in a two-story space between Nordstrom Rack and opposite HomeGoods. According to a release, it will open in early 2024.

In addition to carrying American Girl dolls, the new store will feature a full-service restaurant, personal shopping, and both doll and girl hairstyling, manicures, and ear piercing at the Dolled Up Salon.

The Dallas store originally opened at the Galleria in November 2007.

Headquartered in Wisconsin, the chain was founded in 1986 and became a subsidiary of Mattel in 1998. Their website says they have 12 retail stores plus a digital site where their $100-and-up dolls are sold, but their retail site shows nine U.S. locations in cities such as Chicago, Orlando, Nashville, and Los Angeles, and no stand-alone locations in Canada.

A story on Patch puts the number at 10 outlets in the U.S. and six in Canada, with a few permanent closures that occurred during the pandemic. American Girl did not respond to an inquiry for comment.

The company professes that its mission is to build girls of strong character and help them reach their full potential, but a story on Money.com notes that the company's practice of selling dolls in limited quantities means that they can be worth "big money," especially on sites like Amazon and eBay, where "some American Girl doll sellers can really rake in cash."

Dolls start at $98 and if you choose the popular customization option, where you can create a doll in your own image, it's $220, plus the additional cost of buying your own matching outfit, ranging from $60 to $135.

These are the 18 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

The last weekend of September was already a big one in Dallas because of the start of the State Fair of Texas. But this year that major event will be competing with a ton of other big happenings, including seven concerts with notable names, the start of six local theater productions, a symphony concert, and a trio of comedy performances.

Big Tex and State Fair of Texas at sunset
Photo courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
The State Fair of Texas starts its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 29.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, September 28

Luke Bryan in concert
Since his debut album in 2011, country singer Luke Bryan has been as consistent as they come, with each of his five albums featuring all-original songs going to No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts and making at least the top 5 on the Billboard 200. He's also upped his profile by appearing on The Voice and, since 2018, serving as a judge on American Idol. He'll play at Dos Equis Pavilion in support of his 2022 compilation album, Prayin' In A Deer Stand.

Wilco in concert
Alt-rock band Wilco is one of those groups who has always scored well with music critics and its loyal fanbase, even if their albums have rarely become big hits. They have released 13 albums over 28 years, including the new Cousin, with their heyday coming from 2004-2011, when they had four straight top 10 albums on the Billboard 200. They'll play at South Side Ballroom.

Undermain Theatre presents Bondage
Bondage, making its regional premiere at Undermain Theatre, takes place pre-Emancipation on a small island in the South. With the onset of puberty, Zuri must use her wits to outsmart the twisted desires of a drunken master and a sadistic mistress on a haunted plantation. Hierarchies of race and gender collide in this AfroSurreal tale of an enslaved girl who dares to follow her own instincts toward liberation by any means. The production will run through October 15.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents "Copland and Liszt"
"Copland and Liszt," featuring conductor Fabio Luisi, clarinetist Anthony McGill, tenor Carl Tanner, and the Dallas Symphony Chorus, will include William Schuman's American Festival Overture, Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, and Liszt's A Faust Symphony. It will be performed on Thursday and Sunday only at Meyerson Symphony Center.

Theatre Three presents Lizzie: The Musical
Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in the late summer of 1892. Lizzie: The Musical explores the mind of Borden and speculates on the motivations she may have had: overwhelming oppression, abuse, and madness. By her side is her older sister Emma, maid Bridget, and neighbor Alice. Together, the four women tell the story of why the legend of Lizzie Borden was born with an electric punk rock score. The production runs at Theatre Three through October 29.

Friday, September 29

State Fair of Texas
The 24-day, four-weekend extravaganza that is the State Fair of Texas returns, with its impressive butter sculptures, nightly fireworks, oodles of fried food, and more. Visitors can try all the new concoctions, check out the Midway, enjoy free concerts from artists like Lonestar, Ceelo Green, and Lil Jon, or take a trip to the top of the Top 'o Texas Tower. Just make sure you don't pay full price for your tickets! The Fair goes on at Fair Park through October 22.

Pink in concert
It can be difficult for a singer to maintain a certain image over a long period of time, but Pink - or, if you prefer, P!nk - has managed to do just that. She's stuck with her version of pop/rock for over 20 years, and her fans have rewarded her by pushing her to the top of the charts with every album, including the new Trustfall. She'll play at Globe Life Field in Arlington as part of her Summer Carnival Tour, joined by Brandi Carlile, Grouplove, and KidCutUp.

Company of Rowlett Performers presents Arsenic and Old Lace
Drama critic Mortimer Brewster’s engagement announcement is upended when he discovers a corpse in his elderly aunts’ window seat. Mortimer rushes to tell Abby and Martha before they stumble upon the body themselves, only to learn that the two old women aren’t just aware of the dead man in their parlor - they killed him. Arsenic and Old Lace is a classic black comedy about the only thing more deadly than poison: family. The production runs through October 8 at Garland Civic Theatre.

Cara Mía Theatre presents We Have Iré
We Have Iré is a bilingual musical play about the triumphant journeys of artists from Cuba’s countryside to the United States and back. Brought together by their common pursuit of achieving their dreams, their stories come to life through Afro-Caribbean music, contemporary dance, spoken word, storytelling, and jazz. Cara Mía Theatre will put on three performances through Sunday at Latino Cultural Center.

Art Centre Theatre presents Fire Bringer
At the dawn of humanity, one tribe of cave-people survives the many trials of prehistoric life under the wise leadership of Jemilla, The Peacemaker. But one member of the tribe doesn't seem to fit in: Zazzalil. While out hatching her latest scheme, Zazzalil stumbles upon the most important discovery in history. One that will pit her tribe against wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and change the world forever. The production, featuring separate adult and teen casts, runs through October 15 at Art Centre Theatre in Plano.

Texas Theatre presents Christopher Titus
Christopher Titus is a prolific stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and producer. He is currently performing his ninth 90-minute special "Stories I Shouldn't Tell, while his most recent hit special, “Amerigeddon,” is available on Amazon. He also has a podcast,The Armageddon Update/Titus Podcast. He'll perform at Texas Theatre.

Russell Peters: "Act Your Age World Tour"
Canadian comedian Russell Peters holds the distinction of being the first comedian to get a Netflix stand-up special with 2013's Notorious. He's gone on to have another Netflix special and one for Amazon Prime Video, starred in a variety of movies and TV shows, and toured the world. Peters will be at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie as part of his "Act Your Age World Tour," in which he gives his hilarious takes on cancel culture, aging, and the current state of the world.

Girls Gotta Eat: "Snack City Tour"
Ashley and Rayna from the comedy podcast Girls Gotta Eat come to Dallas as part of their "Snack City Tour," in which they and special guests will answer burning questions about sex, dating, and relationships in a one-of-a-kind, interactive experience. No one leaves without a fresh outlook on dating and at least one new ab from laughing. They'll perform at Majestic Theatre.

Theatre Coppell presents The Mousetrap
In The Mousetrap, a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie, a group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at a remote countryside guesthouse as news spreads of a murder in London. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst. One by one, the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts. The production runs through October 15 at Coppell Arts Center.

Saturday, September 30

Maluma in concert
Colombian rapper/singer Maluma has been near or at the top of the Billboard Latin charts since his 2015 sophomore album, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy. Since then he's collaborated with a bunch of other big artists, including Marc Anthony, Jason Derulo, Shakira, Madonna, and The Weeknd, as well as Jennifer Lopez, with whom he co-starred in the 2022 film Marry Me. He'll perform at American Airlines Center in support of his new album, Don Juan.

RBD in concert
Mexican Latin pop group RBD was huge in their native country and across Latin and South America in the 2000s, starting with their 2004 debut album, Rebelde. The group, which gained popularity due to them starring on the telenovela of the same name, would go on to release five albums (including versions in both Portuguese and English) before disbanding in 2009. Now they've reunited to celebrate that first album and more with the Soy Rebelde Tour. They'll perform at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Sunday, October 1

Depeche Mode in concert
There are few bands who have been able to maintain both the passion and popularity to keep a career going for over 40 years, but Depeche Mode is one of those rare acts. They have released 15 albums since 1981, including the new Memento Mori, with every one of them since 1990 making the top 15 in both their native UK and the U.S. They'll play at American Airlines Center.

Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service in concert
It's rare for a singer to be well-known for two different groups, but Ben Gibbard has accomplished that feat. For 25 years, he's headed up Death Cab for Cutie, which reached its peak with 2005's Plans, featuring the hit "Soul Meets Body." But he also did a side project in 2003 with producer Jimmy Tamborello and Jenny Lewis called The Postal Service, producing a single album, Give Up, which featured the ubiquitous hit "Such Great Heights." The two bands will join forces for a special concert at Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie.

Prominent Hill Country winery cracks open new tasting room in Fredericksburg

Winery news

One of the most prominent names in Hill Country wines has uncorked a new tasting room in Fredericksburg. On September 22, Grape Creek Vineyard’s owners, Brian and Jennifer Heath, cut the ribbon to their latest property, Invention Vineyards, at 4222 S. State Hwy. 16.

Heath Family Brands has used the name for some time, first as a vintage from the Grape Creek portfolio. A 2022 purchase of Slate Mill Wine Collective cleared the way for Invention to be born as its own estate label.

Under longtime winemaker Jason Eglert, Invention crafts mostly Texas blends. The line also includes several single-varietal wines, focusing on Old World grapes like Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, and Viognier.

The property echoes that approach. The tasting room is on the former 35-acre site of Pioneer Flour Mills founder Carl Hilmar Guenther’s original mill. The entrepreneur did business in Fredericksburg for eight years before volatile weather conditions prompted a move to San Antonio.

A handful of Guenther’s original stone buildings still stand near the entry to Invention, but new construction houses the brand’s tasting room and state-of-the-art production facility. Nodding to the original structures, the rustic-industrial facility utilizes weathered brick and a corrugated roof.

Though the business has been open during the build-out, the grand opening marked the first opportunity for guests to see the completed compound.

For hours, memberships, tastings, and more, visit the website.