Living in Texas: 21 Things to Know Before Moving to Texas
Texas ranks among the fastest-growing states in the US, and for a good reason. An affordable cost of living, temperate weather, promising job market, and plenty to see and do makes Texas a win for newcomers.
Moving to Texas
Before you pack up and move to some of the best places in Texas, learn more about the Lone Star State. Here are 20 things you should know before moving to Texas.
1. What it's Like Living in Texas
Texas has a population of 28.7 million residents. Its size is the second largest after Alaska and its population is the second largest after California. Texas is home to 35.8% non-English speakers. Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese) are all spoken here.
Texas was founded in 1861 after it was annexed during the Mexican-American War. Since then, Texas has grown into a state with a diverse economy.
It’s home to many Fortune 500 companies. Those include Exxon Mobil, Sysco, and AT&T. Texas has also continued to grow its tourism, agriculture, and aerospace industries. The NASA Johnson Space Center is located here!
It’s also become a tech hub. Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have built their regional offices here. Remote workers also thrive in Texas, and in Austin specifically, as Austin was ranked #6 in our Best Cities for Remote Workers report.
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Texas has a little bit of everything. So, it’s appealing for many people who are looking to move.
2. Cost of Living in Texas
The cost of living in Texas can be reasonable, based on where you live.
According to PayScale, the cost of living in Austin is 3% lower than the national average. However, housing is 2% higher.
Similarly, the cost of living in Houston is 2% lower, yet housing is 5% higher than the national average. And in Dallas, the cost of living is 2% higher and housing is 5% higher than the national average. So, your costs will really depend on what Texas city you choose to move to.
Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to Austin, Texas, as reported by PayScale:
- Energy bill: $147.04
- Loaf of bread: $2.92
- Doctor's Visit: $110.05
- $2.44 for a gallon of gas
Compare these numbers with Houston and Dallas by reading about what it’s like moving to Houston or Dallas.
The median rent in Austin dipped to $1,224 for a one-bedroom apartment. The median rent on a two-bedroom stands at $1,495.
Those prices will look steeper than areas a few hours from the city. Yet in Houston, the median rent is $910 for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s $1,083 for a two-bedroom.
In Dallas, the median rent is a little pricier at $994 for a one-bedroom and $1,193 for a two-bedroom.
The median household income varies by city, but it’s $60,629 in Texas. This is around $4,000 less than the national average of $64,324.
3. Taxes are Lower than You Would Expect
Texas is among only a handful of states where there's no personal income tax or state income tax. It's also known as the fifth-lowest overall tax burden per capita in the country.
However, there’s a trade-off. Homeowners in Texas pay some of the highest property taxes in the country.
There's more good news. Sales taxes aren't as high as you would expect in Texas. Residents have more incentive to shop and set up businesses.
The lower cost of living ultimately means more money to spend on a nicer apartment or home. It's part of the reason you'll meet so many Californians moving to Texas. Welcome them with a warm and welcoming, "Hey, y’all!"
4. Texas Boasts an Impressive Job Market
You can carve out an ambitious career in Texas among its 57 different Fortune 500 companies. If you want to score a technology job, head to "Silicon Hills" in Austin and enjoy an urban lifestyle without San Francisco and the Bay Area's skyrocketing expenses.
You'll also find premier employers spanning across several Texas cities. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is located in Houston, Austin, and Plano. The company also announced a relocation of its global headquarters from San Jose to Houston, Texas, with thousands of employees to follow.
Beyond the tech sector, you can pursue your aspirations in energy, steel, banking, and tourism. The space industry also has an impressive presence in Texas. There are employers including Space Center Houston and the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site.
5. The Weather Is Hot, Y'all
Texas is one of the hottest states in the country. In fact, it’s hotter than hot. Some areas, like San Antonio and Dallas, reach average temperatures of 100 degrees during its scorching summer months.
Not everyone minds the heat, especially with pools in so many apartment complexes. And if you live in Houston, you're only about an hour from Galveston's beaches.
The upside is, you'll enjoy mild winters in Texas. It has average temperatures in the 50s and 60s that rarely dip below freezing.
6. You'll Pay Less for Electricity than You Expect
Electric bills may spike during hot and humid summer months. However, you’ll still pay less for utilities than you’d likely expect.
Locals are allowed to choose their energy supplier in Texas due to a deregulated marketplace. You get to pick the best deal. You can even switch to different providers and take advantage of new promotions.
7. Texans Take Education Seriously
Texas is home to scores of higher learning opportunities, including some of the largest public universities around. Locals have their pick of top-notch schools like the University of Texas - Austin and Texas A&M University and mid-sized private institutions.
Texas is also family-friendly. It’s easy to find quality public and private schools for kids with diverse learning opportunities.
8. Texas is Diverse
WalletHub named Texas one of the best places to find diversity in the nation. The state is home to racial and ethnic diversity. There are multiple languages spoken and cultures practiced. The abundance of premier universities and growing tech jobs also attracts newcomers from all walks of life looking for new opportunities.
9. Texas Goes Big on Sports
Texas likes to do things big, including sports. The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans draw in massive crowds ready to defend their state pride.
Football is always a frenzy in Texas. The city of Decatur even voted to reschedule Halloween in 2014 to accommodate a sporting event.
Beyond Dallas and Houston, the San Antonio Spurs and Austin's University of Texas Longhorns are also contenders for serious sports fanatics.
10. Traffic Is Challenging in Texas
Big, booming traffic is just part of life when you move to Texas. Cities are spread out. You still need a car even if you live near Dallas’s robust transportation system. But if you're a remote worker, you won't have to deal with traffic on the regular. Austin is one of the best cities for remote workers.
Expect to spend time dealing with extended hours in traffic unless you live, work, and play in the same area and don’t mind sticking around. Make sure to stock up on your favorite audiobooks and podcasts. That’ll help you to pass the time and enjoy the downtime.
11. Texas is Perfect for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Texas' year-round, temperate weather makes it a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike and bike your way through the state during mild months. Then, hit the lakes or beaches during hot summers.
There's something for every outdoor lover in Texas, starting with Dallas. Head 20 minutes outside of Downtown Dallas to Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve for 755 feet of elevation and 9 miles of trails and hills.
Or, spend the afternoon at the "Central Park of Dallas" at White Rock Lake Park. There, you can participate in bird watching, hiking, biking, and a large lake.
If you live in Houston and love the water, you’re in luck. Take refuge in Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston for 53 miles of kayaking.
Surfing enthusiasts make the hour drive to Jamaica Beach in Galveston to ride the waves and get a reprieve from city living.
In Austin, you can hike at Lady Bird Lake for waterside views and glimpses of the skyline. During summer, locals cool off at the historic Barton Springs Pool situated in Zilker Park's 360-acres. The underground springs stay 68 degrees year-round.
Over in San Antonio, the famous riverwalk attracts visitors to Texas's number one attraction, complete with dining, shopping, and cultural experiences. Or, tap into the calming, zen energy at the Japanese Tea Garden.
12. Many Texas Neighborhoods are Surprisingly Walkable
Despite all the traffic, there are some areas of Texas where you can largely get around on foot if you pick the right neighborhood. Houston neighborhoods and Dallas neighborhoods near the city centers have great walkability.
University Park near Dallas is also a haven for urban walkers. It’s home to Southern Methodist University, restaurants, amenities, and greenspace.
13. Texas is Home to the Largest Known Bat Colony in North America
Believe it or not, a favorite pastime in Austin is bat watching. It's home to the largest known bat colony in North America. The free-tailed bats migrate every spring from central Mexico on their Southwestern US tour that delights locals.
Stop by the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. There, the migrating bats put on a show for their human neighbors.
14. You Can Wear a Cowboy Hat and a Suit in Texas
Cowboy hats certainly aren't required around Texas. However, you can wear one, and no one will blink.
It's also not uncommon to see business people in suits donning a cowboy hat as they walk down city streets. Just tip your hat and say hello to offer some Southern hospitality.
15. Texas Boasts the Largest Light-Rail System in the Country
Despite its lack of public transportation, Texas is still home to the most extensive light-rail system in the country. Dallas's DART light-rail system spans 85 miles across 61 stations.
You can even reach the suburbs via light-rail. That’ll cut down on your daily commute in all that Texas traffic.
16. Texas is the Second Biggest State in the Country
We already mentioned Texas likes to do everything big, right? Texas boasts the second-largest land area in the United States. It comprises 7.07% of the United States.
Alaska ranks first and makes up 17.53% of the country's land area. The abundance of land is probably why housing and rents are so affordable. The state is also home to King Ranch, a site that's bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island.
17. Texas is the Second Most Populous State in the Country
The Lone Star State isn’t just big, it’s also the second most populous state in the country. Only California is more populated.
Several Texan cities also rank as some of the most populous areas in the US. Those include Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, with the best Austin neighborhoods increasingly growing.
18. Texas Embraces Its Art Scene
Texas is home to more arts and culture opportunities than people realize. Stroll down the San Antonio Riverwalk to browse galleries and art openings while live music drifts over the water.
Or, visit over 150 museums around Houston, particularly in the famous Museum District. Austin locals keep their creative spirits flowing with live music. The Dallas Arts District bustles with performing arts venues and galleries.
19. BBQ and Tex-Mex Is Practically a Texas Pastime
Texans take their food seriously. You won't have to go far to stumble across mouthwatering BBQ and Tex Mex.
Start with Franklin BBQ in Austin and eat your heart out. You can also sink your teeth into brisket, chili, and Frito pie to savor the iconic tastes of Texas.
Dallas's Tolbert restaurant is known for its flavorful chili, the official state dish of Texas. The restaurant is even credited with helping chili orbit into superstar status.
Today, cooking and eating chili is practically a competitive sport. It goes hand-in-hand with tailgating and football.
20. Texas is a Foodie's Paradise
Texas’ rapidly growing reputation as a foodie haven extends beyond its iconic dishes. There's more to taste than BBQ and Tex Mex around the Lone Star State.
Fine dining, fusion-themed dishes, and James Beard award-winning restaurants bring new flavor to cities from Houston to Dallas and beyond. Iconic hotspots, like Lulu's Bakery and Cafe, embody the "the bigger, the better" mentality in Texas with their impressive five-pound cinnamon rolls.
Of course, Texas won't be outdone when it comes to imbibing. Dallas's Mariano's Mexican Cuisine was the birthplace of the first margarita machine in the world. The staff transformed an ice cream machine to produce margaritas to keep up with the demand for this wildly popular drink.
21. Live Music is Plentiful Across the Lone Star State
Live music thrives around Texas. Austin holds the title of "Live Music Capital of the World."
But it's not just about the Austin City Limits Music Festival, South By Southwest, and The Continental Club.
You can also enjoy live music over a casual brunch, in line at the coffee shop, in the middle of the day for a snack, and just about any time of day or night.
Beyond Austin's city limits, you can enjoy live music across Texas. San Antonio boasts a renowned live music and entertainment district. There’s also two-setting blues and Americana in New Braunfels.
Or, head out for an evening in Dallas to soak up live music and DJs spinning the hours away at nightclubs like Candleroom and Townhouse. Over in Houston, tap your foot to the beat at Axelrod or the Continental Club.
Finding Your Texas Apartment
Ready to head south to the Lone Star State? With affordable rents, a booming job market, and a rapidly growing food scene, there’s something for everyone in Texas. Register with Apartment List today and start apartment hunting in Texas.
You can also learn more about:
- Things to Know Before Moving to Dallas
- Cost of Living in Dallas
- Average Rent in Dallas & Rental Price Trends
- Best Neighborhoods in Dallas
- Things to Know Before Moving to Houston
- Cost of Living in Houston
- Average Rent in Houston & Rental Price Trends
- Best Neighborhoods in Houston
- Things to Know Before Moving to Austin
- Cost of Living in Austin
- Average Rent in Austin & Rental Price Trends
- Best Neighborhoods in Austin
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of moving to Texas?
The biggest benefit is the fact that the state of Texas doesn’t levy an income tax. Additionally, Texas’ warm weather, growing job market, and affordable cost of living make it an incredibly attractive option for new residents.
What are the pros and cons of living in Texas?
Like any state, Texas has a unique set of pros and cons. Generally, Texas residents enjoy the state’s lack of an income tax, promising job market, thriving entertainment scene, affordability, and warm weather. On the flip side, many residents feel that the state’s heat is excessive, sports team following is too extreme, and traffic is impossible to navigate. That said, whether Texas is the right state for you, depends on your preferences.
What’s the best city to move to in Texas?
The top four cities in Texas are Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. That said, Texas is massive. There are many different cities to choose from if you are making the move to Texas.
What’s it like living in Texas?
Living in Texas is quite a ride. With 28.7 million residents, Texas has many major cities and a ton of Southern charm. As an industrial hub, Texas boasts a ton of Fortune 500 companies headquartered or operating regional facilities in the state. Additionally, the entertainment industry within Texas is thriving with the NASA Johnson Space Center making waves.
What are the taxes in Texas?
Texas is one of the few states that does not levy a state income tax. That said, Texas’ property taxes are relatively high, which balances out when you consider the state’s sales tax rate.
What jobs are popular in Texas?
There are many thriving job industries in Texas, including tech, retail, and agriculture. More impressively, there are tons of major businesses headquartered in Texas, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Space Center Houston, and SpaceX.
What universities are in Texas?
There are many universities in Texas, the most popular of which include the University of Texas - Austin and Texas A&M University and mid-sized private institutions. That said, there are many more universities and higher education institutions across the state.
What are things to do in Texas?
There are many things to do in Texas, starting with attending the state's many professional sporting events. Dive bars, nightclubs, museums, and green spaces make Texas one of the most entertaining destinations in the nation.