Since the early days of the pandemic, the big story has been about individuals and families packing up and relocating, but businesses have also decided to plant roots elsewhere. In a lot of cases, they’ve wound up in Texas. Samsung, Tesla, Oracle and Honeywell are just a few of the big names that have established or expanded operations in the state in the past two years. Those companies aren’t just betting on a good business environment; they also know that the quality of life in Texas offers the kind of supersized appeal that’ll help employees enjoy their time away from work, too. If Texas is calling your name, here are our picks for the top five places to put on your list.
Best places to live in Texas in 2022
Job market: 9/10
The capital of Texas is the capital of our list of best places to live in the state. From SXSW in the spring to Austin City Limits in the fall and every night in between on Sixth Street and South Congress, you can hear the best music in the world here. When you’re not in a club for a show, you can be outdoors hiking, biking or relaxing on one of the city’s patios, thanks to more than 300 days of sunshine and an average temperature of 68 degrees.
You can also pick from some of the best companies to work for, including Dell, Whole Foods, Apple and Tesla. It’s not cheap to live in the city center, though, so you might want to expand your real estate search to neighboring cities. The good news is, you might be able to avoid spending all your time in a car: Austin’s MetroRail service extends 32 miles from downtown.
2. San Antonio
Job market: 7/10
Ninety minutes south of Austin, you’ll find the more affordable home of San Antonio, where the future looks very bright. The Greater San Antonio Regional Economic Partnership forecasts more than 10 percent job growth in bioscience and healthcare in the area between 2020 and 2024, and the city is also becoming a hub for top tech and cybersecurity talent.
From cheering on the Spurs in NBA action to strolling the 15-mile scenic riverwalk downtown, the city has plenty to do, see and, most importantly, eat. This is a celebrated culinary destination with Mexican and Latin American flavors, authentic Texas barbecue and more to please every appetite.
Job market: 6/10
Phillips 66, Hewlett Packard, Waste Management and more — more than 20 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Houston, making this city an ideal place to start or continue to grow your career. When you’re not in the office, there’s no shortage of fun thanks to a packed calendar of annual festivals to attend, major league sports teams to root for and a collection of museums to learn about everything from cowboy history to printing.
While the Houston of today looks appealing, the city of the future looks even bigger and better. By 2030, the city expects to welcome more than 1.2 million new residents, according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.
Job market: 6/10
If you’re deciding between Dallas and Fort Worth, you might opt to live in Arlington instead. The often-forgotten little brother of the massive DFW region, Arlington is nestled directly between the two cities, and it beats both when it comes to your budget. The median sale price of a home in Arlington stood at $300,000 as of December 2021, according to Redfin, which is more affordable than either of the bigger siblings.
If you’re a sports fan, Arlington is home to the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers, which both play in the city. Outside of cheering on your favorite Texas team, the city hosts the South Street Art Festival each year and a recurring craft beer, wine and cocktail festival. While the nightlife and dining options aren’t as expansive in Arlington, you’re just a few miles away from whatever suits your appetite in Dallas or Fort Worth.
5. College Station
Job market: 5/10
If you want a smaller city in the everything-is-bigger-here state, College Station is a solid bet. Home to Texas A&M University, this city — along with its smaller neighbor, Bryan — offers a chance to enjoy campus energy and escape big-city costs.
Ultimately, the reason it isn’t higher on our list is simply because the other cities here have more leading companies and employment opportunities than College Station. Still, the region, known as the Brazos Valley, offers something for everyone: cheering on the Aggies, enjoying the performing arts at the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, visiting the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and more.
To determine the best places to live in Texas, we evaluated data from the biggest cities in the state to get a clear picture of where you’re likely to find employment opportunities while also enjoying your time away from the office. What makes a city ideal for you will not be a perfect match for someone else, but there are common factors most everyone looks for when searching for a new place to call home. We assessed these areas:
- What it costs – We compared each city’s cost of living data from the Economic Policy Institute with per capita personal income from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to get a sense of how far a dollar can stretch. Then, we considered year-over-year home price data from real estate brokerage Redfin to learn where the real estate market is especially competitive. With today’s market, we believe it’s important to identify places where buying a home is still within reach, particularly for first-time homebuyers.
- How it feels – We looked at overall wellbeing based on the Sharecare Community Well-Being Index; employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the leading companies that are headquartered or have big operations in these places; culture and outdoor opportunities based on information from each city’s convention and visitors bureau; and safety, including crime rates.
- Who’s moving there — All of these cities have experienced a positive net migration in the past year, which means that more people are moving in than moving out.
Keep in mind: This list is simply a place to start for your search. There are plenty of smaller cities, towns and villages in Texas where you might feel right at home. While you’re comparing different places to call home, compare the best mortgage lenders in Texas to figure out who can help you make buying that home a reality.