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20 Things to Know Before Moving to Texas

By: Susan Finch
December 8, 2020

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.

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. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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!"

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Texas Housing is Surprisingly Affordable

Texas is a melting pot of newcomers seeking affordable housing without compromising on world-class amenities. Despite its booming cities, the average cost of a new home in Texas runs $291,663. The median price of $240,000.

Renters are also at an advantage when moving to the Lone Star State. Here's what you can expect to pay for rent in these major Texas cities:

  • Average Dallas rents: $978 for a one-bedroom and $1,173 for a two-bedroom apartment
  • Average Houston rents: $902 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,073 for a two-bedroom apartment
  • Average Austin rents: $1,182 for a one-bedroom and $1,444 for a two-bedroom apartment
  • Average San Antonio rents: $895 for a one-bedroom and $1,086 for a two-bedroom apartment

Compared to rents in San Francisco and New York, rents in Texas are pretty reasonable. Some Texas cities even dip below the national average.

For example, San Antonio's average rent of $1,086 also dips below the national average. And Houston's cost of living is also low, with median two-bedroom rent of $1,073 falling below the national average of $1,095.

9. 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.

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.

10. 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.

Dallas

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.

Houston

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.

Austin

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.

San Antonio

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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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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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