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:
Q: What is the safest city in Texas to live in?
A: According to 2022 rankings from Safewise.com, Trophy Club is the safest city in Texas, followed by Fulshear, then Fairview.
Q: Where is the most affordable place to live in Texas?
A: As far as cities on our list go, El Paso, Lubbock, and Corpus Christi have the lowest costs of living. Keep in mind that your own cost of living will vary depending on whether you rent or buy a home, drive or use public transportation, as well as other aspects of your personal lifestyle.
Q: Where should I move in Texas?
A: 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.
Q: Where should you not live in Texas?
A: 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.
9 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 Rent.com, the national median monthly rent was $2,002 in September — an 8.8% rise from this time last year. And Zillow put the typical value of a home in the U.S. a little below $360,000 — an increase of 14.9% over the previous year.
Texas comes in well below both of those numbers, with a median rent of just $1,608 (up about 12% year-over-year), and home values at about $316,000 (up 17.7%) according to Zillow.
1. 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, so you have plenty of options when it comes to employment.
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 September 2022, the typical home value in Dallas is just shy of $330,000, around $29,000 less than the national typical home value. Average monthly rent in July 2022 was $1,568, according to RENTCafe — though the average rent in certain Dallas neighborhoods is closer to $3,100.
|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 Mexican cuisine at Meso Maya Comida y Copas and family outings to the Dallas Zoo.
2. 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 288,000, based on 2021 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 and family-friendliness to nightlife and diversity. 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 September 2022 is a little over $530,000 — about 48% higher than the typical national home value, and about 68% higher than typical home values in Texas. Rent is also more expensive, but a little less than the national average, at $1,824 per month, according to RENTCafe as of July 2022.
And as for getting around? You’ll definitely need a car in this suburban spot. In fact, folks commuting into Downtown Dallas can expect a 30-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.
3. 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 September 2022 is just about $204,000 — about 57% lower than the national typical home value. Renters also benefit from similar savings on average rent prices. According to RENTCafe as of July 2022, the average El Paso rent comes in at $978 per month.
It’s worth noting, however, that the city’s good affordability can be offset by its lower earning potential. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in El Paso is only $48,866, compared to the national median of $64,994. 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.
4. 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 September 2022, the typical home value is about $218,000, according to Zillow, and the average rent is $1,149 per month, according to RENTCafe — 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 car-free life.
5. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
River walks are found across the United States, but perhaps none of them are more iconic than San Antonio’s. The 15-mile-long stretch of street along the San Antonio River attracts both locals and tourists to the tune of millions per year, and if you’ve had the pleasure to visit, that’s no surprise. The River Walk is simply breathtaking.
Beyond a picturesque place to spend your evenings, San Antonio has tons to offer its residents. For the working crowd, the city is a scientist’s dream, as major industries include Healthcare and Bioscience, Aerospace, IT and Cybersecurity, and the New Energy Economy. Additionally, as is the case in any city worth its salt, there’s a thriving retail, professional services, and leisure & hospitality industry.
The cost of living in San Antonio is slightly lower than the average cost of living in Texas, and significantly lower than the national average. And according to Zillow as of September 2022, the typical San Antonio home value is about $300,000 — roughly $16,000 less than the rest of the state. Rentals here go for about $1,280 a month on average, according to July 2022 data from RENTCafe. Perfect for those looking to live a Texas-sized city life without paying the premiums in Dallas, Austin, and Houston.
Speaking of other major Texas cities, San Antonio is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Austin, and a leap away from Houston. Dallas is a bit further, but doable in a day if you start early. So, if you’re in the mood to catch a Cowboys or Texans game, it’s accessible to you. If fall Saturdays are more your speed, both UT and A&M are about an hour-and-a-half away. Of course, you can always stay local for the Spurs if basketball’s your game.
6. 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 32 miles to the east), but the truth is that these two spots are worlds apart.
Despite being the 13th-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, healthy 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 September 2022, clocked in at just under $327,000 — up a whopping 19.5% over the previous year. Average rent in Fort Worth comes in well below the national average at $1,423 per month, according to RENTCafe as of July 2022. And schools? According to Niche, the public schools here are only slightly above average, coming in with an overall C+.
7. 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 more than a quarter-million.
In fact, Niche gives Irving an A+ for diversity. It’s also ranked in the top 40 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 20-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 $345,000, as of September 2022. Interestingly, while Irving’s typical home value is just 3.6% below national numbers, RENTCafe lists the average monthly rent at $1,503, 25% lower than the national median monthly rent.
And although the culture and amenities of Dallas are nearby, life in Irving offers plenty of things to do in its own right. 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.|
8. ARLINGTON, TEXAS
For those of you who can’t decide between living in Dallas and living in Fort Worth, Arlington may be the place for you. Located about 24 minutes from Downtown Dallas and 20 minutes from Downtown Fort Worth, this metroplex staple makes visiting either DFW hub easy-peasy.
Arlington is an impressive city all on its own, and you definitely don’t have to leave the city limits to have a good time. This city of nearly 400,000 is home to the AT&T stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) and Six Flags Over Texas (the original Six Flags).
With 4,700 acres of parkland, 49 tennis courts, 21 basketball courts, 53 miles of park trails (and more), fans of the outdoors can feel right at home in Arlington. You can hike along the Trinity River and through the woods at River Legacy Park, or play a game of the increasingly popular disc golf at Veterans Park.
Arlington covers nearly 99 square miles and is serviced by the Arlington ISD (Independent School District), the 17th most diverse school district in Texas. The city was given an overall A- grade by Niche.com, with a B for its public schools and an A+ for diversity. Many college-age students are attracted to the city in pursuit of higher education at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) — a Texas Tier One university known for its excellence in academics and research.
The typical home value in Arlington has been climbing over the last several years (like in most cities). In September 2022, it hit $332,592 — up 18.2% from the year before! Still, that’s lower than the national average of $357,810. And though most Arlington residents own their homes, about 44% are renters. The average rental is 827 square feet and goes for about $1,300 a month.
|Special Shout Out: Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens (Dallas + Fort Worth + Arlington — get it?) are two little “cities within a city.” Located in midwest Arlington on the Fort Worth side, they offer a small-town feel with close proximity to happenin’ bars, restaurants, and music venues. Definitely worth checking out!|
9. LUBBOCK, TEXAS
In northwest Texas, two hours south of Amarillo, you’ll find the city of Lubbock. Originally a simple college town, this South Plains hub is now home to around 261,000 people across generations. At an elevation of just over 3,200 feet and far from the coast, residents in Lubbock experience a dry climate of mild winters and hot summers with very little rainfall. This beautifully rugged, dry, and dusty region is prone to tornadoes and dust storms at certain times of the year.
This desert city boasts a lively music and arts scene, delicious eats, and an array of family-friendly activities. Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University (and more than 40,000 students), one of the largest in the U.S. Tech occupies 1,900 acres of land and is the only university in Texas that includes a law school, medical school, undergraduate and graduate university in the same campus. It offers about 100 master’s degree and 60 doctoral degree programs.
Cultural interests collide in Lubbock, which is known for a few interesting things: being the hometown of Buddy Holly, the top producer of wine grapes in the state, and a true “honest-to-goodness” cowboy town.
- You can visit the huge Buddy Holly Statue or the Buddy Holly Center, where you can view a vast collection of the singer’s personal belongings, including his guitar, iconic clothes, and record collection. Or stick around for the annual Bud Fest celebration!
- Check out the cowboy culture at the National Cowboy Symposium, an annual must-see event for any old western fans that includes cowboy cookoffs, horse parades, live music, and Native American art exhibits (and more, of course).
- Finally, for all you winos out there, you can sample award winning vino on a tour of the Llano Estacado Winery, the second oldest in the state.
As of September 2022, the typical home value in Lubbock is $210,000, significantly less than the national average. Surprisingly, only 52% of residents own their homes here. Another 48% rent with an average cost of $1,082 per month (and an average rental size of 918 square feet).
Niche.com gives Lubbock an overall grade of A- (not bad!), and applies the same rating to its public schools and the local nightlife.
What About Austin and Houston?
Oka-a-a-ay. We know we said we weren’t going to talk about these two popular Texas cities (since everyone else does), but let’s face it — they’re well-loved for a reason and we’ve got to give the people what they want. So, without further adieu, let’s talk about Austin and Houston.
10. Austin, Texas
Austin is an amazing city to live in — if what it offers is what you’re looking for. From all four seasons, excellent public transportation, great schools, and a strong job market, to a thriving live music scene, incredible restaurants, and gorgeous greenspaces — Austin really is the good kind of weird. People here are young, social, and hip, and there are a lot of them — which means crowds and traffic (perhaps one of the few downsides to living in Austin).
Being such a popular place to live has also made Austin an expensive place to live. Austin’s cost of living is about 37% higher than the rest of Texas overall, and 30% higher than the national average. The main reason for this is housing — which is 89% more expensive compared to the rest of the country. The typical home value in Austin is $630,677, as of September 2022, and the average rent across the city is $1,826, as of July 2022. However, average rent in Downtown Austin jumps to nearly $3,400 a month (eek!).
11. Houston, Texas
If you take I-45 south from Dallas and drive (and drive and drive), you’ll find yourself in lovely Houston. This culture-rich metropolis is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and — with all that it offers its residents — we’re not surprised. World-class dining, pro sports teams, rave-worthy Texas BBQ, and enough entertainment options to make your head spin — if you decide to call Houston home, nobody would blame you.
Housing costs in “Space City” are generally decent, with the typical home value sitting below the national average at $272,639, as of September 2022. According to RENTcafe, the average monthly rent in Houston was about $1,300 in July 2022 (not bad!). Of course, there are pricey parts of town where you’ll see that average rent increase by more than $800 a month.
While housing costs in Houston are lower than in Texas overall, the cost of living in this southern city is a little higher — especially when it comes to groceries and transportation. Overall, Houston offers a big bang for your buck, so if you can take the heat and humidity (and traffic), this Texan city may be just the ticket.
PLANNING YOUR MOVE
Whether you’re relocating locally or heading across the country, using portable moving containers is a great way to go about it. 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 the PODS Blog. From packing tricks to storage tips, we’ve got you covered!|
Alex Keight is a frequent contributor to the PODS blog who has moved 20+ times because she loves to experience new places.