What’s the Cost of Senior Living in Dallas?

Cost of living is one of the first things most of us think of when we’re considering a retirement destination, and while Dallas isn’t the cheapest place to live, it’s a standout in some areas that matter to people looking to stretch their nest egg as far as possible.

Forbes figures the overall cost of living in Dallas as of August 2017 at 8.4% above the nationwide average, but the city (along with a good chunk of Texas) is among the few places anywhere where utility customers can get free electricity at night. Like other Texans, Dallas residents don’t pay a state income tax. Let’s look at some key expense areas.

Housing costs in Dallas

Rents and home prices are on an upward trend in Dallas, and that’s not expected to change any time soon. Job growth and a steady stream of new residents are keeping housing costs on the rise. The median home price in the Dallas-Plano-Irving area is $240,600 as of August 2017. The average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom Dallas-area apartment is $1,267 as of July 2017.

Those relatively high rates can be offset in part by lower electricity costs. Thanks to a surplus of power generated by wind turbines at night, many Dallas-area utility providers sell plans that include free power between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Some plans also offer free power on weekends. (The catch: daytime rates may be higher than with traditional billing plans.) For people who don’t mind running their washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher at night, the savings can add up.

Food costs in Dallas

Dallas residents’ spending on food is in line with the national average, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also found that Dallasites spend more on dining out and less on groceries than the average American. When they do go to the store, Dallas-area grocery shoppers pay an average of $2.53 for a gallon of milk, $1.89 for a dozen eggs, and $2.86 for a pound of boneless chicken breasts. (August 2017)

Transportation costs in Dallas

Overall transportation prices are slightly higher for Dallas than the national average, accounting for just over 18% of the average household’s budget, although retirees can probably count on spending less because they don’t have a workday commute. Gas prices in Dallas range from $1.99 to $2.29 per gallon as of August 2017. Car owners can expect to pay between $1,395 and $1,806 per year for auto insurance (as of February 2016), depending on which part of Dallas they live in. It almost goes without saying that you should shop around for the most affordable coverage you can find and ask about safe-driver discount options. If you don’t have a daily commute, you may be able to lower your rate by choosing a policy based on the actual number of miles you drive.

Prefer to ride? DART offers discounted fares to riders age 65 and older with a DART Senior Photo ID. You can also buy a year-long regional senior transportation pass for $480.

What can you enjoy for free in Dallas?

Not everything in Dallas comes with a price tag. D-Link is a free public shuttle for visiting the Bishop Arts District, downtown, and the West End. General admission to the Dallas Museum of Art is always free, and senior discounts are available for special exhibits. Main Street Garden Park is a stylish green space for people-watching and relaxing. The city visitors’ bureau has more free fun ideas here.

Senior care costs in Dallas

Senior care expenses are a mixed bag in Dallas. The yearly cost of assisted living facilities in 2016 was higher in Dallas ($44,400) than the national median ($43,539), but nursing home costs are markedly lower than average. The national median costs for semi-private and private nursing home rooms in 2016 were $82,125 and $92,378, respectively. In Dallas, the median costs were $54,933 and $73,913. Dallas adult day care costs slightly less than the national median, and home health care services were on par with it.

How much does health care cost in Dallas?

Medicare spending per person is higher in Dallas County than the state and national averages. In 2014, Medicare paid $11,663 per Dallas County beneficiary, compared to $10,572 per person in Texas overall and $9,500 per person nationally.

Because Dallas is one of the nation’s more expensive markets for health care, it’s a good idea to budget carefully for any deductibles and co-insurance you’ll pay out of pocket. That’s especially important if you choose providers who accept Medicare but not at the fee-for-service rate, because you will be responsible for paying the difference between the Medicare reimbursement amount and the allowed charge.

How much does Dallas in-home care cost?

Home is where a lot of us are most comfortable, and our attachment to home seems to grow as we age. AARP’s 2014 survey of senior attitudes found that 71% of adults between ages 50 and 64 want to age in place. The number rose to 87% among adults age 65 and older. Luckily for Dallas-area seniors and their families, the Metroplex has many resources to help older adults enjoy their homes safely for as long as possible, at a cost that’s much lower than nursing home care.

Fast facts on in-home care

  • There are more than 30 in-home care agencies in Dallas, and more than 15 in Fort Worth.
  • All in-home care agencies must be licensed and certified by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).
  • State-supported in-home help is available for some low-income seniors and those at risk for being placed in a nursing home.
  • More than 814,000 Americans worked as home health aides in 2016, and about 67,000 of them were in Texas.
  • The 2016 mean annual wage for Texas home health aides was $22,600.

Homemaking rates and services in Dallas

The median cost in 2016 for Dallas-area homemaking services was $125 per day. That’s for a full day’s work; the rate adds up to $3,813 for a month and $45,760 per year (based on Genworth’s 44-hour workweek for 52 weeks).

What do you get for that money? Homemaking service providers tackle the chores you have trouble with, usually grocery shopping, driving to and from doctor appointments, planning and cooking meals, and light cleaning. Other homemaking services may include:

  • Help with grooming and dressing
  • Social time together playing cards, writing letters, or scrapbooking old photos and keepsakes
  • Home safety checks to identify and remove or repair slip and fall hazards
  • Reminders to take prescribed medication and to stay hydrated
  • Light care for pets and houseplants
  • Communication with family members about the client’s health and mood

Homemaking services are a good fit for seniors who can manage their own health but have mobility impairments, and for seniors who prefer to have company during the day.

Home health aide rates and services in Dallas

In some cities, home health aide rates are slightly higher than homemaker rates, but in Dallas, the median rate is the same, $125 per day. Compare that to the local daily median rates for nursing home care: $151 for semi-private and $203 for private rooms.

Home health aide services include the types of non-medical chores and errands that homemaker aides provide, and they can also do blood pressure and pulse checks, bandage and check wounds, and help with mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs.

Home health aides who work for home care agencies in Texas must meet certain training and experience requirements set by the state. These include classroom and clinical experience under a registered nurse’s or licensed vocational nurse’s supervision, or at least one year of care experience in a hospital or nursing home or with another agency. Home health aides are trained in infection control, safe patient transfer techniques, senior nutrition, safety and emergency procedures, communication, and seniors’ rights.

Paying for in-home care

If you have a doctor-verified condition that requires you to need help with activities of daily living or health care, your long-term care insurance may pay for an in-home health aide. Seniors who qualify for Medicaid may be eligible for in-home services through Texas DADS. Wartime veterans and widows who qualify for the VA Aid & Attendance pension can spend that benefit on in-home care. Depending on your needs and the programs you’re using, you may be able to use your policy or benefits to pay a family member or friend the market rate for care.

Seniors who own a home, don’t have long-term care insurance and are ineligible for state and federal benefit programs may want to consider a getting a reverse mortgage or cashing out a life insurance policy to pay for in-home care. Both options can free up funds–and both carry with tax and inheritance ramifications, so get advice from your tax preparer, estate attorney, and financial planner before committing to a decision.

How Much Do Dallas Nursing Homes Cost?

Nursing home care in Dallas is generally more affordable than nursing home care nationwide, although the city is home to some pricey luxury senior communities, too.

Fast facts on Texas nursing homes

  • More than 93,000 Texans lived in nursing homes in 2014, up from almost 86,000 in 2004.
  • Texas has the 3rd highest nursing home population among the states, behind New York and California.
  • More than 60% of surveyed Texans over age 50 think the state should increase funding for long-term care.
  • More than 70% of the Texans surveyed think long-term care workers should be paid more.

Nursing home rates in Dallas

Nursing home care isn’t inexpensive anywhere, but median rates in Dallas, Fort Worth and the surrounding cities are relatively low. The 2016 national median rate for a private nursing home room was $92,378 per year, and the rate for a semi-private room was $82,125. In the Metroplex, the median rate for private nursing home care was $73,913 per year, and the semi-private rate was $54,933.

Costs vary from home to home, of course, and families who need nursing care for a loved one have more than 40 options within the city of Dallas, plus facilities in Plano, Richardson, Garland, Arlington, and other nearby communities.

Reduce costs and paying for nursing home care

One way to reduce the cost of skilled nursing care is to accept a semi-private room rather than a private one. A roommate can also help you get to know other residents and staff members in the community.

Whether you choose a private or semi-private room, you may be wondering how to fund it. Ideally, you (or your loved one) have a long-term care insurance policy to cover skilled nursing care. If so, keep the policy paid up and make sure you understand its coverage terms and limits. If you don’t have long-term care insurance, there are other options.

Low-income seniors without many assets besides a home and car may qualify for Medicaid—2/3 of the nursing home residents in Texas get assistance from the program. Wartime veterans and their widows may qualify for the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension; contact the VA’s Houston benefit office to learn more about eligibility requirements.

Senior homeowners may be able to take out a reverse mortgage and use the equity in their homes to pay for nursing home care. Cashing out a life insurance policy may also be a possibility. In these cases, it’s important to talk things over with your tax advisor, estate planner, and lawyer to make sure you understand the taxes, fees, and other responsibilities involved. The AG’s office offers seniors help to navigate the reverse mortgage process. The Texas Department of Insurance outlines state rules and offers guidance on cashing out policies.
Learn more about Dallas Retirement Planning:

Find assisted living in Dallas near you. For detailed information about options in your area, contact SeniorAdvisor.com’s trained advisors at 1-800-805-3621.