Everything is bigger and, as it turns out, better, in Texas. Over the past couple of years, the Lone Star State has ranked among the top states for relocation. In 2021, Texas gained the most residents, according to data from the United States Postal Service, and in 2022, it came in second after Florida. And while everyone has different reasons for moving, general factors such as a stable economy, a high number of well-paying jobs, safety, good schools, and recreational opportunities certainly make the decision easier. And Texas delivers in all of these areas.
With hundreds of miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, two majestic national parks (Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains), more than 40 mountain ranges, scenic vistas, popular festivals, and top-rated entertainment, Texans can count themselves pretty lucky.
If you'd like to join them, read on for eight of the best places to live in Texas, according to real estate experts.
Known for its booming economy; excellent education, entertainment, and recreational opportunities; diverse dining scene, and sunny weather, Austinis one of the most popular cities in Texas — and the country. In fact, it was the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020, adding more than half a million new residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Within the last five years, Austin's fun and laid-back vibe has attracted more new residents from states such as California (Los Angeles, in particular) and New York (New York City). The only downside is that the real estate market has become competitive, but not as much as in major metro areas on the East and West coasts.
"Right now is a great time to be a homebuyer in Austin," Suellen Young, a realtor at Moreland Properties, told Travel + Leisure. "Recent higher interest rates have caused many potential buyers to hit pause on their search. As a result, qualified buyers face less competition and have greater negotiating power than at any time since the pandemic."
The city's many neighborhoods have something to offer every type of buyer. East and South Austin, as well as the downtown area, with their hip restaurants, music venues, and bars, are ideal for those wanting to be in the heart of the action. Tarrytown and Westlake are more affluent and family-friendly, with tree-lined streets and great schools, according to Joe Keenan, a real estate agent with Realty Austin.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fabulous communities in Austin and surrounding areas," Keenan said.
Founded as a Spanish settlement more than 300 years ago, San Antonio attracts new residents with its diverse culture, historic downtown area, and burgeoning economy. The former Texas capital welcomed more than 13,000 new residents between 2020 and 2021, the most of all U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more.
"We have excellent food, museums, theaters, and many cultural celebrations such as Fiesta. The traffic in San Antonio is mild compared to other major cities, and one can travel by car to nearby lakes, the wine region in Fredericksburg, or the Texas coast," Jennifer Shemwell, CEO of Phyllis Browning Company, shared with T+L.
Shemwell also explained that the local real estate market seems immune to the market swings rocking other metro areas.
"San Antonio has a special energy to it that seems to rise above whatever is going on in other places. The market does not go up or down with extreme swings, but seems to stay steady, regardless of the political or economic climate. It's a good time to buy for those who find their target property, as San Antonio is gaining in popularity among other Texas cities," she added.
With an unemployment rate below four percent, indicating a steady decline since 2020, when it peaked at 13.3, it's no wonder Houston's population continues to grow, outpacing most major metro areas in the country.
Newcomers benefit from excellent health and medical care, a vibrant arts, performance, museum scene, and plenty of parks and gardens. Houston's median home sale price was $293,000 in January 2023, which is much more affordable than other major metro areas across the county, making it ideal for first-time homebuyers or real estate investors.
"Right now, there are several neighborhoods in Houston that are particularly hot for homebuyers," Nancy Almodovar, CEO and broker at Nan and Company Properties, told T+L. "The Heights, Montrose, and Midtown are all highly sought-after areas, with strong demand for housing and a great variety of amenities. In these neighborhoods, you'll find a mix of historic homes and new constructions, as well as plenty of local businesses and entertainment options."
Together, the Dallas and Fort Worth metro areas offer big-city living to those who crave excitement and top-notch entertainment, as well as a laid-back lifestyle to residents wanting a slower pace. The area is home to at least a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and AT&T, resulting in a thriving economy and low unemployment rate (three percent as of December 2022). The region is also home to many A-graded public schools and plenty of well-maintained parks, including White Rock Lake, a reservoir and a favorite place for locals to relax, paddleboard, sail, or jog around.
"Dallas is an easy travel base, being halfway between the Gulf Coast beaches and Colorado mountains. It's also centrally located in the U.S., making it a short flight to go any direction in the U.S. — north, south, east, or west," Amy Timmerman, a realtor with Dave Perry-Miller, said.
She added that the local real estate market has seen a continual climb in appreciation and is projected to continue in the same direction.
"Lake Highlands is an incredible neighborhood to consider in Dallas. It's not only home to one of the top high school basketball teams in the country, but it's truly a small town in the big city. Close to White Rock Lake, nature, parks, and creeks, it's a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts. It's also a short trip to downtown Dallas, the world-famous Northpark Center, and the newer business developments just north of Dallas," Timmerman explained.
If you never want to travel far to hit a dreamy stretch of golden sand, then Corpus Christi is your place. This Gulf of Mexico city has proven a popular home base for residents seeking an outstanding work-life balance — and coastal amenities. Boating, fishing, and beachcombing are favorite pastimes here. As the home of the Texas State Aquarium, the waterfront campus of Texas A&M, and many museums and arts institutions, Corpus Christi is a great spot for families, young professionals, and, increasingly, retirees.
"Housing is as diverse as our city, and since we are a city that wraps around water, our housing offers great variety, from new traditional subdivisions to waterfront living on the canals at Padre Island. Although the interest rates increased, we have seen housing activity remain stable," Karen King, a Group One Real Estate broker, explained. "Island homes are very popular and have become an upper-end market. Condos come in all sizes and prices, but single-family homes on the Island start in the $300,000 range."
As one of Texas's wealthiest communities, Southlake offers an exceptional standard of living a mere 30-minute commute from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The destination is especially popular with families, as it falls in one of the top-rated school districts in Texas and offers residents access to several beautiful parks and Grapevine Lake. At the heart of Southlake, though, is its town square, with high-end shops, excellent dining, and family-friendly entertainment.
However, real estate in Southlake doesn't come cheap. "Values in Southlake now start in the $800,000s and go up from there. For a new construction home, expect to pay more than $3.5 million in the area. Most existing homes, though, sell between $1 and $2 million," Kim Bedwell, a broker at Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty, said, noting that despite the high prices, the current market is still very strong and multiple offers for a single listing are still standard.
Tyler may be known as the "Rose Capital of America" (the 14-acre municipal rose garden with more than 35,000 rose bushes is a sight to behold), but the city has plenty more in store for its residents. Tyler had the fastest-growing job market in the Lone Star state in 2021, with health care providers leading the list of biggest employers in the area.
There are other alluring factors in East Texas's largest community, too. "We have 25 city parks, including Tyler State Park, which offers 985 acres of outdoor activities. Tyler is surrounded by 25 prime sporting lakes offering wonderful opportunities for fishing and boating and a variety of golf courses," Jana Dillard of Staples Sotheby's International Realty, noted. And for residents 21 and older, Tyler also offers a vibrant brewery, winery, and distillery scene.
According to Dillard, the local real estate market "has something for everyone." She explained, "From historic brick street homes to new developments, to golf course homes and lake homes, the choices are diverse. Tyler continues to be a sought-after destination for both full-time homeowners, as well as second homeowners."
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A low cost of living, record unemployment (just 2.9 percent in December 2022), and an affordable real estate market have made Lubbock one of the best places to live in Texas. The city, home to about 300,000 residents, ranked sixth for the best business climate in mid-sized metro areas in the country, and was one of the top places to start a business in Texas.
"Between the uninterrupted horizons, there's rich Western history colliding with a thriving metropolitan filled with creative expressions of fine wine, eclectic food, craft beer, world-class art, and musical heritage," Kerri Thompson, a real estate agent at WestMark, Realtors, told T+L.
Thompson noted that even though the average sales home price has risen 17.25 percent since last year, homes in this West Texas city are still affordable. The current median list price for a single-family home is $273,700, according to data from Movoto.
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