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13 Things to Know Before Moving to San Antonio, TX

By: Susan Finch
October 5, 2021

San Antonio is a win for renters looking for an urban lifestyle with a small-town feel. The city boasts a pedestrian-friendly promenade filled with cafes, art galleries, and bars, a relatively affordable cost of living, and a sparkling River Walk. Whether you want to live in the middle of Downtown or in an idyllic neighborhood with nature trails, you can find it in San Antonio.

Not sure where to start your journey? Don't worry; we did all the research for you. Here's everything you need to know before you move to San Antonio.

1. What it's Like Living in San Antonio?

San Antonio, Texas, welcomes 1,547,253 to its Lone Star State riverfront. San Antonio's nickname, Alamo City, reflects a historical backdrop developing into an attractive place to live, work, and play among its urban amenities.

The city is famous for its historic Spanish colonial missions and mouth-watering cuisine. Foodies love San Antonio's eclectic offering of Tex-Mex, BBQ, food trucks, and farm-to-table dishes. Whether you're a college student or retiree, there's a place for you in San Antonio.

San Antonio was founded in 1718 and became famous for the 18th-century Battle at the Alamo. During the Reconstruction Era, developers brought the first railroad to San Antonio to connect it to major markets and port cities. Although San Antonio has long held a sizable Hispanic population, it was also home to an influx of Germans immigrants during the early 1900s. It was common for locals to speak "Texas German" with a southern twang. And yes, you might still hear the rallying cry, “Remember the Alamo!”

San Antonio ranks among the best places to live and retire. Its historical roots, laid-back vibe, lower cost of living, and nearly year-round sunshine attract newcomers looking to call the Lone Star State their new home. With a bustling River Walk and plenty to do along the promenade, you're never far from fun and entertainment in San Antonio.

2. Cost of Living in San Antonio

According to research from Payscale, the cost of living in San Antonio is 14% lower, and housing is 24% lower than the national average!

Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to San Antonio, as reported by Payscale:

  • Energy bill: $147.04
  • Loaf of bread: $2.75
  • Doctor's visit: $100.52
  • $2.31 for a gallon of gas

Rental trends show the average rent in San Antonio is steadily rising. As of today, it costs $1,077 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,375 for a two-bedroom apartment. To comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio, your income should be around $32,310 a year or $15.53 an hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll need to earn at least $41,250 a year or $19.83 an hour.

The Census Bureau reports that the median income in San Antonio was ​​$52,455 in 2019, compared to the median income of $61,874 in the rest of Texas. The lower cost of living offsets many of the expenses you'll find in other cities like Dallas.

While these numbers give a taste of the cost of living in San Antonio, they are not the same thing as a basic living wage. Living above the poverty threshold in San Antonio and making a good living requires $13.47 an hour for a full-time employed single individual with no children. You'll need to earn more to enjoy an active lifestyle to hit the pubs, cafes, galleries, and shopping around San Antonio.

3. What to Know About Taxes

Newcomers love the tax structure in Texas and how it impacts their annual returns. Texas is among nine states without income tax. In fact, the Texas Constitution forbids personal income taxes, and Social Security retirement benefits, pension income, and retirement income are not taxed at the state level.

There is a downside to enjoying all of that tax-free status, however. The Lone Star State has a state sales tax rate of 6.25%, although counties and cities can impose additional local and use taxes to make the combined total tax rate as high as 8.25%.

4. Who's Moving to San Antonio?

San Antonio attracts new renters from across the Lone Star State. People from Houston, Austin, and Dallas are thinking about or already moving to San Antonio, TX. On the other hand, renters in San Antonio are also searching for apartments in the same cities: Houston, Austin, and Dallas.

For more information, read our Renter Migration Report.

If you're interested in moving to a new state, read our Step-by-Step Guide.

5. San Antonio Job Market and Economy

San Antonio's job market is holding strong with growth in bioscience, renewable energy, and manufacturing. It's also a military town with nearby Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis, and Randolph Air Force Base. Together they form the Joint Base San Antonio and attract military personnel and families.

The city is poised for growth, attracting millennials and college grads looking for new opportunities. According to research from Best Places, the job market is set to increase by 39.6% over the next decade, which is higher than the US average of 33.5%.

San Antonio's strong economy is also a win for job seekers looking to stand out against the competition. Even during the pandemic, San Antonio's unemployment rate fell and held steady, with a rate lower than the statewide and national unemployment rates. With an affordable cost of living, you can enjoy an active lifestyle around San Antonio while earning a reasonable salary.

6. Public Transportation in San Antonio

The Lone Star State is a car town, and San Antonio is no exception. There are some ways to enjoy a car-free lifestyle with some creative planning. You can make the most out of your time by living and working Downtown. It’s the best neighborhood to ditch the car to enjoy the pedestrian-friendly area.

Locals take advantage of the VIA Metropolitan Transit to get around San Antonio by bus. Express buses also run along the highways and will even take visitors and locals to theme parks.

Bus service is a frugal transportation option around San Antonio. A regular bus ride is $1.30, with express service at $2.60. Locals can save more with a 31-day pass for $38 or an annual pass starting at $365.

Taxis are the most expensive transportation option in San Antonio, though taxi stands are common around major hotels and the Amtrak station. Lyft, Uber, and the new GetMe are available for quick and affordable rideshare.

Train travel is also an option for commuters and day-trippers around the Lone Star State and beyond. San Antonio lies on Amtrack's Texas Eagle Line, connecting the city to Dallas and Austin, as well as areas as far as Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis.

Biking and walking are also favorites around San Antonio. Parts of the River Walk are bikeable, and trails lead to the San Antonio Zoo and the Japanese gardens. Although the city isn't known for its robust bike system and friendliness, the surrounding area offers 75-miles of multi-use trails.

Single adults without children should expect to spend about $5,113 for transportation in San Antonio annually. If you live in a household with two adults with one child, you'll pay an additional $11,672 for transportation.

7. The Weather in San Antonio

San Antonio is known for nearly year-round sunshine and temperate weather. Like the rest of Texas, San Antonio gets hot and humid during the summer months, and spring and Fall are the best months to stay outdoors.

Winters in San Antonio feel like a trip to the beach for northern transplants with temperatures hovering in the high 30s or low 40s. Snow is a rarity but occasionally happens and shuts down the city while locals marvel at the dusting of white.

8. Things to Do Around San Antonio

San Antonio earned a reputation for historic charm with a modern twist. The River Walk is among the most popular attractions in San Antonio for both locals and visitors. It was once a depression-era project that turned the soul of the city into pubs, cafes, shopping, and galleries. The Alamo is also a must-see, with the oldest unrestored stone church in the country, and it remains an active parish in the city.

Beyond the River and outdoor wonders, we recommend visiting the Witte Museum along the waterfront. The natural history museum features dinosaur fossils, a gallery theater, interactive screens, and hands-on exhibits. SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas are also popular draws for theme park lovers.

Beat the heat in San Antonio with the Natural Bridge Canyons, where you can explore large underground chambers and formations. The largest room spans larger than a football field. The Alamo isn't the only mission and outdoor area to explore around San Antonio. Mission San Jose and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park also attract visitors to its historic grounds.

The Texas desert may be hot and known for its prickly pear and cactus, but you can still explore a Japanese Tea Garden dating back over 100 years. The San Antonio Botanical Garden also walks visitors through the rainforest, desert, and garden areas.

9. Food Scene and Nightlife in San Antonio

San Antonio's food scene rapidly grew and took everyone by surprise, becoming a full-fledged foodie's destination. The city became the second US city to be designated a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, a branch of the organization that designates World Heritage Sites.

Locals savor fried oysters, chorizo, Tex Mex, burgers, and more, flooding San Antonio's first food hall with award-winning restaurants. The Food Hall at Bottling Department is a destination in itself and housed in a historic brewery turned community food gathering space.

San Antonio’s bar scene is also thriving, with stops like Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen. You'll find other thriving nightlife options along the River Walk too, like Mad Dogs British Pub with DJs and live entertainment. On the Bend Live Jazz, the Bier Garten Riverwalk, and tequila lounges also welcome night dwellers looking for beer, food, and fun.

10. Major Annual Events in San Antonio

The most famous event in San Antonio is Fiesta, which means “party” in Spanish. The annual celebration kicked off in 1891 to honor the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo and San Jacinto. The 10-day festival features evening boat parades, events, a 5k, and The Battle of Flowers, the only parade in the country directed entirely by women.

Whether it's your first rodeo or you have dozens under your belt, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is a must-see. Two million people attend every February to see local cowboys and cowgirls racing around on barrel horses while an impressive line-up of musicians plays.

The colorful Dia de Los Muertos brightens up the streets with concerts and fun. The family-friendly event also includes performances and the Catrinas on the River river parade.

11. San Antonio Sports Scene

San Antonio is a sports town with die-hard fans cheering for the Spurs, Rampage, San Antonio FC, and Missions. As the seventh most populous city in the US and still growing, locals are itching to get more sports franchises in San Antonio. Basketball season is the major draw with a frenzy over the NBA winning team, the Spurs.

College sports are also popular with the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners playing at the Alamodome. It was previously the home to the San Antonio Spurs before they moved to the AT&T Center.

12. Top Universities in San Antonio

Higher education opportunities are in demand and readily available around San Antonio. Locals have their choice between the University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio College, and private options like Trinity University.

College students live on-campus, situated between the historic West Side neighborhood and Downtown. The area is near cultural and historical hot spots, while pubs and dining draw a college crowd.

13. What Neighborhood in San Antonio Should You Call Home?

Moving to San Antonio means choosing between historical, cultural, and trendy neighborhoods. Not sure where to start? Here are a few options to fuel your apartment search.

Downtown

Downtown San Antonio attracts locals looking to live, work, and play in one place. The neighborhood is popular with renters who love walking and biking, although public transportation and a downtown streetcar is available. As developers continue to invest in urban Downtown San Antonio, more nightlife, pubs, shopping, and galleries are popping up.

Lone Star

Lone Star, San Antonio is an up-and-coming district popular with start-ups and for those looking for a like-minded community. Locals stroll to dining, pubs and make the 1.5-mile trek to Downtown for more options. The area is rapidly growing and evolving into a vibrant community where residents take advantage of San Antonio's urban amenities.

Heritage

The family-friendly neighborhood of Heritage is a popular option for young professionals and couples. Well-regarded schools, shopping, eateries, and coffee shops are never far away.

Lackland Terrace

Affordable rents are the mainstay of Lackland Terrace, with a quick commute to Downtown San Antonio. There's also a robust Hispanic presence with plentiful Mexican eateries, bakeries, and shops serving up authentic meals and treats.

Learn more about the best neighborhoods in San Antonio here.

Final Thoughts

Ready to move to San Antonio? Start apartment hunting with Apartment List and learn which San Antonio neighborhood is best for you!

If San Antonio doesn't seem like the right place for you, consider other places to live in Texas.

Dallas:

Houston:

Austin:

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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