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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including your options for where to live. With more than 1,200 incorporated cities, according to the state comptroller’s office, picking the perfect place to land in the Lone Star State might feel a bit overwhelming.
With big cities like Houston and Dallas, a booming tech and creative scene in Austin, calming beach vibes on the Gulf Coast and small-town charm throughout West Texas, you have a wide range of house-hunting choices. If you’re chasing professional opportunities, more than 50 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here. And if you aren’t worried about working anymore, no problem: Texas landed in the number-seven slot on our most recent rundown of the best states for retirees.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer with a growing family or looking to downsize and soak in the sunshine, start your search with our five best places to live in Texas:
- Round Rock
- San Antonio
1. Round Rock
Around 15 miles north of Austin, Round Rock isn’t just the best place to live in Texas — based on our scoring model, this is the best place to live in the entire country. While it’s relatively small, with just over 120,000 residents, it has big employment opportunities thanks to companies like Amazon, UPS and Dell Technologies, which is headquartered here. And while residents have easy access to Austin’s famed entertainment scene, they don’t have to head there to have fun. Round Rock has its own buzzing downtown, with delicious dining, monthly art shows and outdoor concerts.
- Median home sale price: $495,000
- Cost of living: 91.5 (national average is 100)
- Average salary: $64,913
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Total employees year-over-year: +8.6%
- Well-being: 67.0 out of 100
- Diversity: 65.9 out of 100
- Net migration: +1.8% population increase year-over-year
Why it stands out: A combination of affordability and access. While Austin’s prices have skyrocketed recently, buying a home in Round Rock is much more feasible. A low cost of living and the highest rate of employee growth on our list are also appealing — plus, residents here pay some of the lowest property tax rates and utility costs in the region.
If you’re thinking about living in the enormously sprawling Dallas–Fort Worth metro area, you can simplify your search now: Just look in Arlington. Located in-between the two bigger cities, Arlington offers easy access to career opportunities at major companies like Southwest Airlines, AT&T and Texas Instruments. It’s a great place for living an active lifestyle, with more than 4,600 acres of parks and a hopping nightlife scene. Plus, this is where you’ll be able to cheer on the region’s pro sports teams: The home fields of the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers are both actually located in Arlington.
- Median home sale price: $353,000
- Cost of living: 92.1 (national average is 100)
- Average salary: $61,554
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Total employees year-over-year: +7.3%
- Well-being: 66.3 out of 100
- Diversity: 73.4 out of 100
- Net migration: +0.8% population increase year-over-year
Why it stands out: The median sale price of a home in Arlington is more than $30,000 cheaper than the national median, which in April 2023 was $388,800. But paying a smaller price tag doesn’t mean smaller career opportunities. If you want to join DFW’s booming business community, Arlington is a great place to land.
Midland is best known as the business center of the Permian Basin — aka Texas oil country — but this West Texas town has more than just oil. With performing arts groups like the Permian Basin Opera and the Midland-Odessa Symphony and minor league baseball and soccer teams, this small city has a big-time feel. And with surprisingly low housing prices combined with a very high average annual salary, your money will go a long way here.
- Median home sale price: $260,000
- Cost of living: 91.3 (national average is 100)
- Average salary: $124,667
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Total employees year-over-year: +4.3%
- Well-being: 66.5 out of 100
- Diversity: 62.2 out of 100
- Net migration: -2.2% population decrease year-over-year
Why it stands out: Midland’s average salary of nearly $125,000 looks more like the kind of money you might make in a tech hub like San Francisco or Seattle. However, you’ll pay a fraction of the cost to live here. The median sale price for a home here is the lowest on our list and more than $100,000 lower than the nationwide median. You might be able to live like royalty!
Anyone moving to Houston will join a slew of major businesses that have already made the jump, including Hewlett-Packard, NRG Energy, Axiom Space and Roboze. This city isn’t just about work, though. With more than 11,000 dining and nightlife spots, more than 125 miles of biking and hiking trails and year-round professional sports action, Houston is a place to play, too. And its cost of living is remarkably low considering its size: By population, Houston is the fourth-largest city in America.
- Median home sale price: $315,000
- Cost of living: 93.5 (national average is 100)
- Average salary: $59,893
- Unemployment rate: 4.8%
- Total employees year-over-year: +6.1%
- Well-being: 66.0 out of 100
- Diversity: 77.8 out of 100
- Net migration: +0.4% population increase year-over-year
Why it stands out: Houston isn’t just the most diverse city on our list — it’s one of the most diverse cities in the entire country. Nearly 25 percent of the population was born outside the U.S., and more than 145 different languages are spoken here, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. So not only will you get to meet different people from different backgrounds who can expand your view of the world, you’ll also get to sample food from just about every region of the globe. Yum.
5. San Antonio
Around 100 miles southwest of the Austin/Round Rock area, historic San Antonio is home to Texas’s only UNESCO World Heritage site: The Alamo. On a more modern note, this city is working to establish itself as a tech-industry outpost, too: It saw an 80 percent increase in tech jobs between 2021 and 2022, according to a recent report. Residents enjoy an incredible food scene and a very welcoming vibe: San Antonio ranks in the top five of Condé Nast Traveler’s friendliest cities in the entire country.
- Median home sale price: $295,000
- Cost of living: 90.5 (national average is 100)
- Average salary: $50,022
- Unemployment rate: 3.5%
- Total employees year-over-year: +4.5%
- Well-being: 65.6 out of 100
- Diversity: 67.6 out of 100
- Net migration: +1.0% population increase year-over-year
Why it stands out: San Antonio boasts low housing prices and the lowest cost of living of any of the cities on our list, nearly 10 full points below the national average. That’s probably part of why people are flocking here: In recent years, San Antonio has ranked among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.
Choosing the best place to live is a very personal decision: It all depends on you and your individual circumstances. To help you decide, we’ve utilized data across five important categories to determine the Bankrate Best Places to Live lists: well-being, job markets, affordability, migration and diversity.
We sourced data from several trusted sources, including Sharecare, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Council for Community and Economic Research and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Below, find the formula that we utilized to calculate the weighted sum score for each city:
Weighted sum score = (Well-being * 0.30) + (Unemployment rate * -0.20) + (Total employees year-over-year * 0.05) + (Cost of living * -0.10) + (Average income * 0.05) + (Median home sale price * -0.05) + (Net migration * 0.15) + (Diversity * 0.10)
For more information about our data sources, what the individual data points mean, how they are weighted and more, visit the full Bankrate Best Places to Live Methodology.