The sprawling Lone Star State is the second largest state in terms of area and population. Warm weather for outdoor activities, a healthy economy and an explosive food scene (Thrillist ranked Texas No. 1 for food in 50 states in 2018) are just a few of the things that draw people to this diverse melting pot.
Thinking of becoming a Texan yourself? You’re not alone. The population is expected to double to 54.4 million by 2050. Fortunately, Texas has plenty of room so that everyone can have some leeway. Read on for our picks of the best places to live in Texas.
The trendy, urban and progressive capital of Texas is one of America’s fastest growing big cities, and for young professionals, Austin is perhaps the best city to live in Texas. The Austinites keep it weird in the “live music capital of the world” with music rooms, food scenes and outdoor recreation opportunities in the wazoo. Hosting the South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL) music festivals, Austin has more concert halls than any other city in the United States. You can’t walk far into the cradle of the breakfast taco without hitting a food truck, happy hour, or brunch. Central Texas-style breasts at staple foods like Franklin Barbecue reign supreme on the barbecue scene, while breweries like Austin Beerworks and Hops & Grain Brewing keep craft beer flowing.
Numerous terraces suitable for doggies offer the ideal place to sip authentic margaritas in the sun. Neighborhoods like “Dirty Sixth” in downtown, East Austin, South Congress and Rainey Street have surely been specially designed for bars.
Located right across downtown Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park offers a green oasis where you can play disc golf, listen to free live music, or cool off in Barton Springs, a natural “blue hole” in the heart of the city. The Barton Creek Greenbelt offers urban hikes, while Lake Travis is the best for boating. Nicknamed the 360 Bridge, the Pennybacker Bridge Overlook offers a magnificent view of Lake Austin, downtown and the surrounding hills.
Whether you have holes in the soles or are more affluent, the Austin shopping scene covers you. Browse boutiques like Allen’s Boots on South Congress Ave., place a few labels in the city’s many Goodwill stores, try out trends at The Arboretum, or create high-end designer storefronts at the ever-changing retail epicenter growth that is The Domain.
Just south of the estate, the city’s first pro-sports team, Austin FC, launches its first football season in the spring of 2021. Baseball fans can watch a minor league game at nearby Round Rock, while that UT Austin is entertaining Longhorn fans. Division I college sports. Fantastic Formula 1 cars ride the Circuit of the Americas, which also hosts outdoor concerts. The city’s central location makes it easy to get to any other major city in Texas by car, but to get out of the state, you can also fly to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport .
The next on our list of the best places to live in Texas is Dallas. The “Big D” may be the origin of the “everything is bigger in Texas” trope. It’s a good thing Dallas continues to add surrounding cities like Arlington to its metropolitan area because ⅓ of Texas transplants choose to settle in Dallas-Fort Worth. More than a million people have moved to Dallas neighborhoods in the past decade, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country.
What draws everyone to this successful beta + global city? Its array of pro-sports teams, its rock-bottom economy and the fact that it is home to the country’s largest urban arts district are just some of the many reasons to move to Dallas. Thanks to the Dallas Cowboys, football is the city’s favorite season, but it is also home to the Rangers (MLB), Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL), and the women’s professional football team. FC Dallas and even NASCAR events in Texas. Motor Speedway.
You may think they are all oil lords, but the most dominant sectors of the city’s economy are actually defense, financial services, information technology, telecommunications and transportation. AT&T and Southwest Airlines are 2 of 9 Fortune 500 companies headquartered within the city limits.
Dallas is also big on culture. The museums, places and galleries of the Dallas Arts District occupy 68 acres of the downtown area. The performing arts and visual arts district is home to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Theater Center, to name a few.
With 17 regional shopping centers, DFW metroplex is also a big consumerism. From the boutiques of Bishop Arts District to the many retail stores and restaurants in Highland Park Village, there is no shortage of places to swipe your credit card.
Dallas also has more restaurants per capita than any other major metropolitan area in the United States. For Tex-Mex, head to Gabriela & Sofia’s in North Dallas, or the fun and kitschy El Vecino in Uptown, where you can enjoy fajitas and margaritas on the balcony. For barbecue, look no further than Pecan Lodge in the heart of the Deep Ellum district. One of the trendiest neighborhoods for young professionals, Deep Ellum is also home to Dallas’ first craft brewery.
In addition to the country’s oldest state fair, Dallas offers many outdoor activities, including fishing, skiing, and boating on Lake Lewisville, Ray Hubbard Lake, and White Rock Lake – some of the 13 lakes in the region.
Its central location allows for a quick trip (less than four hours) to Austin, Houston and Oklahoma City. Reach the rest of the country in four hours or less by plane from Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), Southwest Airlines hub or Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which serves as the international hub for American Airlines. DFW is the second largest airport in the country, behind Denver. In real Dallas, “the bigger the better,” the airport has its own zip code and is literally bigger than Manhattan.
Often considered the “largest small town in Texas” due to its easy-going neighborhood vibe, the metropolitan area of San Antonio-New Braunfels. After the Spurs have won a big game, everyone sounds their car horn and the city feels like a giant party. San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas (behind Houston) and the seventh largest city in America. Hispanic residents make up more than half of the region’s population, making Spanglish the city’s non-official language. Numerous military bases throughout the region house soldiers and women. Joint Base San Antonio primarily serves the Air Force and is one of the largest military bases in the country. The city’s rich history, diversity and theme parks attract visitors and residents.
Remember the Alamo? Soldiers from the Republic of Texas held a final battle against Mexican troops in 1836 in the heart of downtown San Antonio. As part of the city’s proud military history, the Alamo is now the most visited historic monument in the state. Nearby, the River Walk attracts millions of tourists as an urban waterway lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. (Pro tip: get your head size margaritas at Cafe Ole.)
Another downtown landmark is San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest state church in Texas and the oldest cathedral in the United States. Buy the historic market square or El Mercado, the downtown Mexican-style outdoor market. No longer a brewery, Pearl Brewery is a popular place to go. The market with shops, restaurants and a farmers market occupies 22 acres along the San Antonio River.
Explore the San Antonio Mission National Historic Park by bike or ride coasters at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. If you plan on going around SeaWorld San Antonio under the scorching sun, also buy tickets to cool off at the water park. Beat the warmth of Texas at the nearby New Braunfels Schlitterbahn Water Park or cool off down the Comal River. Fun fact: New Braunfels is also home to the world’s largest convenience store, Texas’ own Buc-ee.
Two expensive chains in Texas, Whataburger and H-E-B, both have their headquarters in San Antonio. Instead of bread baskets, the best restaurants in town serve fries and salsa. It is also home to Bohanan’s, which is arguably the state’s best meat-centered steakhouse. Across the street, see a group at the Aztec Theater. Also located in the city center, the historic Majestic Theater hosts concerts, comedies, dance performances and musicals. A venerable cultural oasis in the Texas desert, San Antonio is also home to the remarkable Blue Star art complex, the Gemini Ink literary center, an exceptional children’s museum (The DoSeum), the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), the Witte Museum, and the first modern art museum in Texas, the McNay Art Museum.
Located in one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, Alamo Heights, the museum houses works by Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollack and Vincent van Gogh. Alamo Heights is also where you can find the largest public park in the city. Brackenridge Park is over 100 years old and includes nearly 350 hectares of walking / biking, fishing, playgrounds, many picnic spots, the San Antonio Zoo, the San Antonio Botanical Garden and Japanese tea gardens. It even has its own golf course!
Spanning 627 square miles, America’s fourth largest city (in terms of population) has more to offer than NASA and oil. Named after General Sam Houston who helped Texas gain independence from Mexico, H-town is a growing and ethnically diverse city with a thriving job market, impressive food scene, cost of living affordable and lots to do. Located on the Gulf Coast, the city of Bayou also happens to be the birthplace of Queen Bey. If you’re looking to make friends, live inside The Loop (aka Interstate 610), which forms a border between downtown and the surrounding suburbs. If you’re more of a suburban type, Sugar Land is your new favorite neighborhood.
Green spaces, museums, cafes, cocktail bars like Anvil Bar & Refuge and other trendy independent businesses make Montrose one of the trendiest areas in the city. It is also the epicenter of Houston’s emerging culinary scene. You can find barbecues and tacos under one roof in the booth room. For a world-class dinner, the Viet-Cajun po-boys or the Czech kolaches go to the East End district, which is one of the top five neighborhoods for newcomers. Eight Row Flint, an ice house on Yale Street, offers a winning combination of whiskey mash and masa.
Houston has over 50,000 acres of park space, including Buffalo Bayou Park and Discovery Green, Memorial Park, Houston Arboretum and George Bush Park. The nearby Galveston Beach is ideal for getaways in warm weather.
Houston’s three professional sports teams – Rockets (NBA), Texans (NFL) and Astros (MLB) – are located downtown. Many museums and theaters are also located in the relatively compact downtown area of the city. The theater district is home to the famous Houston Grand Opera company. The Johnson Space Center, the Downtown Aquarium and the Houston Zoo all offer family fun.
With everything from home furnishings to high-end designers, it’s also the style capital of Texas. Kuhl-Linscomb is a 100,000 square foot “lifestyle emporium” comprising apothecaries, cosmetics, children’s toys, lighting, rugs, books, jewelry, candles, etc. The River Oaks neighborhood offers everything luxurious, Hermes and Harry Winston. Stock up on western clothing at the Lucchese flagship store in Highland Village. Buy until you drop at the 2.4 million square foot Galleria Mall. Saks and Nordstrom anchor the retail giant, which is complemented by high-end designers such as Louis Vuitton and Dior. Although Texas has no income tax, unfortunately there is a sales tax.
Besides oil and gas, aerospace, health care and manufacturing are all the main industries that make Houston’s economy prosper. Two large airports make it easier to leave the city for national and international travel. The George H. Bush Intercontinental Airport (north of the city) is a United Airlines hub and the William P. Hobby International Airport serves as a hub for Southwest Airlines.
Do you think one of these cities is right for you? Search thousands of apartments for rent on Zumper in some of the best places to live in Texas and find the one for you.