Curious about what living in Texas looks like — beyond its two most hyped cities? Sure, Austin and Houston get a lot of love in Texas, but there’s plenty of Lone Star State to go around. And we’re happy to give you a closer look at a handful of our other favorite Texas cities to live in. 

Moving solo or with the kids in tow? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Want a city where you don’t need a car? There are options. Hungry for a superb dining and entertainment scene? We’ll cover that, too. 

Aside from just being cool places to live, we’ll also go over a few of the need-to-know basics like overall city vibe, housing costs and options, things to do, job market, city size, and what it’s like to live in each spot, depending on what you’re looking for. 

Here’s a look at the best places to live in Texas — that aren’t you-know-where. Follow us, we promise we won’t lead you astray. 

Before we dive in, though, let’s look at a few frequently asked questions: 

  • What is the safest city in Texas to live in? According to 2021 rankings from Safewise.com, Trophy Club jumped three spots from last year, making it the safest city in the state.
  • Where is the most affordable place to live in Texas? This answer varies, depending on who you ask and how they are measuring affordability. Is it with home prices? Rent costs? City tax rates? Overall cost of living? It’s also important to note the most affordable or cheapest places to live aren’t always the best — they can have high crime rates, be extremely rural, or lack desirable amenities. 
  • Where should I move in Texas? Choosing where to live is a deeply personal decision. We suggest making a list of your top priorities — affordability, sense of community, good schools, stellar public transportation, good job market, etc. — and evaluate your options based on these criteria. 
  • Where should you not live in Texas? First things first, don’t move anywhere that doesn’t meet the majority of your criteria or doesn’t feel safe. Beyond this, take into account any possibilities of natural disasters like hurricanes along the coast or flash floods, proximity to necessities, and other big deal breakers you might have to determine your no-go cities. 
Condos in Dallas, TX
Condos in Dallas, TX

6 of the Best Places To Live In Texas 

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Texas is huge! If we talked about all the great Texan towns you might enjoy living in, we’d be here for days. So before we go stepping on anyone’s toes, know that we recognize there are heaps of great cities in this southern state. We’ve just narrowed it down to a handful of our favorites (and some of the most popular) to give you a good running start in your search. 

As far as pricing goes, it’s worth keeping in mind how housing costs stack up against the national averages. According to RENTCafé, the average national monthly rent in June 2021 was $1,482. And Zillow put the typical value of a home in the U.S. a little above $293,000 (an increase of 15% over the previous year).  

Dallas, Texas is one of the best places to live in Texas.

Dallas, Texas

As the ninth-largest city in the country, Dallas makes good on the Texan promise of going big. This metropolis offers a little bit of everything — making it a perfect pick for folks who love to sample the buffet of life. 

With nearly 40 colleges and universities and public schools with an overall B- grade from Niche, Dallas couldn’t hide its studious side if it tried. And as such, the city is one of the best places to live in Texas for families and college students. 

In addition to education, top industries in town include business and financial services, health services, and information technologies. Although markets were affected by COVID-19, the city boasts one of the fastest job market recoveries for a metro area. 

And as expected, a city as diverse as Dallas serves up a heaping variety of housing options. There is something for everyone here, from historic homes to high-rise apartments — and they are all fairly affordable. According to Zillow, as of June 2021, the typical home value in Dallas is just shy of $267,000, around $26,000 less than the national typical home value. Average rent comes in at $1,338 per month, according to RENTCafé as of June 2021, though it has a range that can reach more than $2,600. 

Want to learn more about Dallas? Get the gist of what you need to know with this “Dallas Starter Pack” collection of blogs: 
Top 15 Things to Know About Living in Dallas
Dallas Moving Guide
Best Dallas Suburbs

The city’s decent public transit system can get you around in a pinch, but it’s still best (and most convenient) to have a car. Plus, it’ll make it easier and quicker to get around to sample everything the city has to offer, from live shows at the AT&T Performing Arts Center or a Dallas Cowboys game to grabbing top Tex-Mex at Meso Maya Comida y Copas and family outings to the Dallas Zoo. 

The Shops at Legacy in Plano
The Shops at Legacy in Plano

Plano, Texas

Plano is a well-manicured suburb in the Dallas Metro Area located 20 miles north of the city. It has a dense suburban vibe and population of more than 287,000, based on 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. And according to Niche, Plano is one of the top five cities to buy a house in the country — unsurprising once you learn this suburb scores big on everything from schools to nightlife to safety. Plus, in Plano, you’re close to all the big-city amenities in nearby Dallas.

However, expect to pay more than what you’ll find in Dallas. According to Zillow, the typical home value in this popular suburb as of June 2021 is a little over $419,000 — nearly 43% higher than the typical national home value, and about 57% higher than typical home values in Dallas. Rent is also more expensive, almost on target with the national average at $1,488 per month, according to RENTCafé as of June 2021. 

And as for getting around? You’ll definitely need a car in this suburban spot. In fact, folks commuting into Dallas can expect a 25-minute drive at the very least, traffic notwithstanding. 

Life in Plano may be quiet, but it’s certainly not boring. Locals pass the time hiking on the many nearby trails, shopping in antique shops, visiting museums, and eating their way through the town’s tasty restaurants. Bonus? It’s also less than 30 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. 

El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Straddling the borders of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico, El Paso is a destination for delicious Mexican food and rich Hispanic culture. It’s also one of the most affordable cities on our list. According to Zillow, the typical home value as of June 2021 is just under $166,000 — about 43.5% lower than the national typical home value. Renters also benefit from similar savings on average rent prices. According to RENTCafé as of June 2021, the average El Paso rent comes in at $853 per month. 

It’s worth noting, however, that the city’s good affordability can be offset by its lower earning potential. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 report, the median household income in El Paso was only $47,568, compared to the national median of $62,843. The top industries center around food, government, and trade and transportation. 

And speaking of transportation, here’s something to consider: A pro for some and a con for others, this western-most Texan town is far, and we mean far, from any other cities. San Antonio, the closest big city, is an eight-hour drive away. Still, the city’s above-average schools, good nightlife, sense of community, and diversity are big draws for everyone from families to professionals. 

Make no mistake, El Paso locals make the most of their city, hitting up the downtown area and popping through the different districts, visiting the city’s many cultural spots, like the El Paso Museum of Art, Plaza Theatre, and the 19th-century adobe-style Magoffin Home State Historic Site; hiking or rock climbing in nearby parks; and getting their fill of the city’s famous Mexican food, along with other international tastes like Greek at Zino’s or Spanish tapas at Tabla.  

Corpus Christi, Texas is one of the best places to live in Texas.
Corpus Christi Marina

Corpus Christi, Texas

Anyone looking for a hint of island life should put Corpus Christi on their list. Nestled in southeastern Texas along the Gulf of Mexico, this coastal city has been a long-time favorite for spring breakers — but there’s so much more to offer in the state’s eighth-largest city. 

Weather here is sunny and humid, though the breeze off the water does help to keep temps a bit cooler than you’ll find inland. Summer highs can boil at more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but the flipside has winter temps around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Vibes here are chill and relaxed, and there’s never a lack of things to do. In fact, Niche rates Corpus Christi as an overall B+, giving it above-average grades for its schools, nightlife, diversity, and as a place for families. 

Top Corpus Christi industries include petrochemical, military, and tourism — and who doesn’t want to live where other people vacation? Luckily, it’s pretty affordable, too. As of June 2021, the typical home value is about $189,500, according to Zillow, and the average rent is $1,055 per month, according to RENTCafé — both lower than the national numbers. It’s a great spot for anyone looking for waterfront living without the usual huge hike in housing prices. 

Why do we especially love Corpus Christi? Because you can really get the most of the outdoors here, thanks to gulf and bay access, the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center, the Padre Island National Seashore (home to endangered sea turtles), and a plentiful number of parks (75% of residents here live within a 10-minute walk to a park). If you move here, you’ll want to make sure to have a car, though, since the city isn’t quite set up for a carless life. 

Fort Worth, Texas is one of the best places to live in Texas.
A horse grazes within the city limits of Fort Worth with the city in the background.

Fort Worth, Texas

Looking for a city that can cater to the cowboy and the city person in you? Loop your lasso around Fort Worth. This North Central Texas city is often spoken in the same breath as Dallas (which is just 40 miles to the east), but the truth is that these two spots are worlds apart. 

Despite being the 12th-largest city in the U.S., Fort Worth maintains a smaller-town vibe, affordable cost of living, and a seamless stitching of cowboy charm and urban sophistication. We love that this is a place where one can soak in culture at top-notch museums, sip craft cocktails, or nosh upscale eats and kick up some dirt at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, catch a legit rodeo or wild west show, and go to a honky-tonk at Billy Bob’s Texas

And as you wander around town, know that Austin ain’t the only place where Texas gets weird. Fort Worth’s quirky residents, rebounding post-pandemic job market, and cowboy-meets-cultured vibe attract young professionals, singles, and families alike. 

Feelin’ good about Fort Worth? Check out our guide to The Best Neighborhoods in Fort Worth to help you pinpoint your perfect place. 

Fort Worth also has a wide variety of housing options, from bungalows and ranch-style single-family homes to condos, high-rise apartments, and townhomes in various styles. According to Zillow, the typical home value in Fort Worth, as of June 2021, clocked in at just over $255,000 — up a whopping 18.3% over the previous year.  Average rent in Fort Worth comes in a couple hundred below the national average at $1,238 per month, according to RENTCafé as of June 2021. And schools? According to Niche, the public schools here are only slightly above average, coming in with an overall C+.

Homes in Las Colinas, Irving, Texas
Homes in Las Colinas, Irving

Irving, Texas

Irving is popular among families and young professionals looking for a relaxed and communal suburban feel — without sacrificing proximity to big-city amenities. Another perk of being just 12 miles northwest of Dallas? Irving has a lot of Dallas commuters, adding diversity to the city’s population of nearly a quarter-million

In fact, Niche gives Irving an A+ for diversity. It’s also ranked in the top 30 best cities in America to buy a house. Irving also receives good marks for its schools, nightlife, and family-friendliness. As far as owning a car is concerned, Irving is only a 15-minute drive to Downtown Dallas (or you can take the DART), but you’ll still probably need to own a car for day-to-day convenience. 

According to Zillow, the typical home value in Irving is nearly $280,000, as of June 2021. Interestingly, while Irving’s typical home value is just 4.7% below national numbers, RENTCafé lists the average monthly rent at $1,270, 14.3% lower than the national rent average. 

And although the culture and amenities of Dallas are nearby, life in Irving offers plenty of things to do in its own rite. Art is big here, and not just when it comes to the famous Mustang of Las Colinas sculpture that gallops through the fountain in William’s Square. 

Take in more sculptures over at the 10-acre Irving Arts Center (along with theaters hosting live performances and a handful of galleries), a performance of the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, and access to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple that is open to the public. There are also tons of tasty food spots, outdoor activities, and community events. Oh, it’s also just 15 minutes to DFW International Airport. 

First time moving to the Lone Star State? Find out what you need to know with our Texas Moving Guide.
A couple hugging in front of their PODS portable moving container.

Planning Your Move

Whether you’re relocating locally or heading across the country, using portable moving containers is a great move. When you move with PODS, you can ditch the driving and extra costs for gas and hotels and have the freedom to load and unload on your schedule. We also offer flexible scheduling, which can come in handy for those last-minute or unforeseen challenges. No matter which of these Texas cities you end up in, PODS has locations all over the Lone Star State (and the rest of the U.S. as well as Canada) to help make your move as easy as possible. 

Want more inside scoop on moving like a pro? Check out our other articles on Containing the Chaos. From packing tricks to storage tips, we’ve got you covered!  

Katherine Alex Beaven is a frequent contributor to the PODS blog who has moved 20+ times because she loves to experience new places.