Every US state has unique elements, but few carry such a bold and immediately recognizable character as Texas. By far the largest of the 48 contiguous states, the Lone Star State is brimming with vast metropolises, vibrant border towns, and beachside getaways. There is something out there for practically anyone looking for a great place to live in Texas.
As inviting a place as Texas may be to live, its vast selection of cities and towns, which number more than 1,200, can make for an overwhelming search. Of course, the whole state offers classic Texas energy and southern charm, but its vast size houses many unique regions and subcultures. To help narrow down the search, consider some of these options for the best places to live in Texas.
El Paso is a city with a rich culture and history at the far western tip of Texas, bordering Ciudad Juárez to the south. Sun City, as many call it, boasts warm desert weather year-round and an abundance of outdoor activity options.
For those planning to spend their golden years in Texas, El Paso has been named one of the best places to retire in the entire country. In addition to its variety of available activities and agreeable weather, the city’s affordability makes it a prime candidate for getting the most out of post-employment life.
Beyond its reputation as a beautiful vacation spot, several factors make Corpus Christi one of the best places to live in Texas.
Corpus Christi is home to the Padre Island National Seashore and nine unique beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. The so-called “Sparkling City by the Sea” blends the vibrance of one the best beach towns in Texas with a welcoming small-town charm. Its population of roughly 300,000 people offers plenty of fresh faces without sacrificing the warmth of a small Texas community.
Though geographically toward the bottom tip of the state, Brownsville is a contender for the top spot of best cities to live in Texas. Its mild sub-tropical climate accommodates plenty of natural attractions and comfortable livability year-round.
Brownsville could be a great economical choice for a place to live. In addition to its relatively low cost of living, the area has numerous promising employment opportunities, such as SpaceX.
This border town is also close to South Padre Island, an enviable beach destination to have right in your backyard. With beaches, historical sites, and plenty of nature to explore, Brownsville residents rarely run short of fun things to do.
Fort Worth and its twin City, Dallas, make up one of the country’s largest and most populous metro areas. Home to roughly 8 million residents and several suburbs alongside the core cities, residents of the area will never lack for urban attractions, nightlife, job opportunities, and amenities.
Pro sports fans can take pride in the region’s highly competitive franchises, the Cowboys and the Mavericks.
Fort Worth is slightly smaller than its sibling, giving it a slight edge as a great place to live in a few ways. Quieter areas and marginally better affordability allow newcomers to the city to soak in all the delights and benefits of the Dallas-Fort Worth area with much less hassle.
The geographic and economic center of the Texas panhandle, Amarillo, is a unique place to visit and a great place to live. Amarillo serves as a midway point between Albuquerque to the west, and Oklahoma City to the east, making it a popular stop for travelers of all kinds.
In addition to the benefits of many small cities in Texas, such as warm weather and a reasonable cost of living, Amarillo also offers a local flavor unlike anywhere else. Among its unique attractions is The Big Texan Steak Ranch, which famously offers a free 72-oz steak and several sides to any visitor brave and hungry enough to finish the meal within an allotted time.
Amarillo is also home to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the site of the second-biggest canyon in the country. It is second only to the Grand Canyon in scale and is a breathtaking vista in its own right.
It is likely no surprise to see Austin among the top places to live in Texas. In addition to being the state’s capital, Austin has rapidly grown into one of the most desirable cities in the country in recent years.
Favorable corporate taxes have incentivized many massive employers, particularly from the tech industry, to relocate their headquarters to Austin. As a result, these employers continue to stimulate job growth in the area and attract a large and diverse population to move to the city from across the country. In turn, this population contributes to the expansion of countless other local businesses and gives the area a thriving social and cultural scene.
Austin is the top college town in the country, further contributing to a growing population full of fresh and diverse ideas. The annual South by Southwest or SXSW festival attracts nationwide attention and is a hub for creativity and innovation in the arts, sciences, and media.
As the largest city in the area, San Antonio brings big-city energy to the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It joins another of the best places to live in Texas, Fort Worth, as one of the fastest-growing cities in the US.
San Antonio offers easy access to other great Texas destinations, including Austin, San Marcos, and Corpus Christi, but locals won’t have to go far to have a good time. Residents have many activities and attractions to keep them busy, including a flavorful arts district, multiple theme parks, and The Alamo.
In a state with plenty of great seaside towns and destinations, Galveston still stands out as one of the top places to live in Texas for summertime vibes and beach culture.
This small town can give the feeling of being on vacation all year round. In addition to consistently beautiful weather and mild winters, the city hosts sandcastle competitions, a lively boardwalk, and summer festivals. Galveston also has plenty to offer beyond its shores, including options for hiking, camping, and more to explore at Galveston Island State Park.
Houston is an excellent option for those seeking mega-metropolitan life in the Lone Star State. Even compared to the many other big cities in Texas, Houston stands tall. It is the 4th-most populous city in the country, trailing only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago with its more than two million residents.
Houston may not be one of the most affordable places to live in Texas, but you don’t need a high net worth to afford living in the Bayou City, either. Furthermore, job opportunities and high median salaries may help to offset high housing costs and other expenses.
Located an hour and a half east of Houston, Beaumont balances the inviting coziness of a small town with access to big-city amenities. Likewise, its proximity to the Louisiana border gives Beaumont a cultural mashup of Texas pride and Cajun flavor.
Beaumont is an ideal location for fans of aquatic sports and waterside activities. Between the Neches River, Lake Sabine, and access to the Gulf of Mexico, there are plenty of ways to pass the time on, in, or by the water.
The abundance of culture and leisure activities join a low cost of living and median home price as factors that make Beaumont one of the best places to retire in Texas.
Located just south of Beaumont, Port Arthur boasts a similar appeal—access to Houston, the Gulf, and a blend of Texas charm and Louisiana intrigue. Yet, at the same time, the city offers much that gives it a unique character and flavor. Another of the state’s magnificent beach towns, Port Arthur is a vibrant yet affordable place to live.
Port Arthur may be quieter than some of the more prominent Texas cities, but don’t let that fool you. It is a former oil refining boom town and has a rich history and culture to show for it. Tourists and residents alike have abundant options for food, historical sites, and nature to explore.
Narrowing Down the Best Places to Live in Texas
Each of Texas’ hundreds of cities is unique, and so are its millions of residents. As a result, there’s no one correct choice for the best place to live in Texas because each person has unique needs, preferences, and styles. The good news is there is a bounty of great options.
Texas is famously one of the proudest states in the union, with a collective culture and shared traits that you can find in every corner of the state. However, what makes Texas such a fascinating place is not just its unity but also its diversity.
From energetic college towns to seaside escapes and from small-town comfort to bustling metropolitan buzz, this state has something to offer everyone. Students, families, retirees, professionals, and people of every stripe should have no trouble finding their next home in one of the best places to live in Texas.
Sam is the founder of the personal finance and self-improvement blog Smarter and Harder. His mission is to start exciting new conversations that empower people to improve their work, lives, and money, and hopefully have a fantastic time doing it. In all things, he strives to lead with positivity, understanding, and more than a bit of enthusiasm.