Living in Texas is an ideal choice for millions of people, regardless of whether they were born here or are transplants. In fact, Texas is the second most populous state in the nation behind California. According to the 2016 estimate from the US Census, nearly 28 million people call Texas home, and that number is multiplying by the day.
This steady population growth over the past decade has sprouted tons of good areas to live in Texas. So many in fact that ultimately picking a place to live in Texas might seem overwhelming at first. There are so many large-scale metropolitans and small towns that are worth considering.
That’s why we wanted to dig deeper into some of these areas to come up with a list of the best places to live in Texas. Do you agree with the finalists? The best way to get to know whether an area is a good place to live is through first or second-hand experience. Let us know your favorite Texas towns in the comments below and let us know how we missed the mark.
What It’s Like Living in Texas
Before we reveal the results, let’s first explore how living in Texas is different than living in other parts of the country.
Texas is known for a lot of things, depending on who you ask and what part of the state they reside. Ask a resident that question in Austin or Denton, and they might say the state is known for its music. Someone living in San Antonio might reference The Alamo or the rivers. Houston? The Astros. Whatever it is that makes Texas famous is as varied as the people that live here.
Of course, some stereotypes come with living in Texas, like cowboys, cows crossing the road, and that everything feels like the Wild West. While there may be more pickup trucks per capita than other states, any longtime resident will tell you that there’s a lot more to Texas than ranches and tumbleweeds. Below are some more broad qualities Texas is known for.
Reasons to move to Texas:
- Texas is one of the seven states that have no state income tax.
- There are lower energy costs due to oil, gas and wind resources.
- Fewer regulations and taxes draw high-paying jobs to Texas.
- Though house prices are rising, the median home cost is $172,600, which is currently 18.5% less than the national average.
- Everything is bigger in Texas, including a cattle ranch larger than the state of Rhode Island. Quality beef and barbeque are abundant here.
- Football is celebrated at every level, including high school, college and pro.
Best Places to Live in Texas
For anyone thinking of moving to Texas without much familiarity with the state, start broad and then narrow down your search from there. First, consider some of the top cities in Texas. Once you have a general sense of which metropolitan best suits you and your family, start researching a distinct neighborhood within that metro.
Top 10 Texas Cities
To come up with our top ten, we used data to determine how each city stacked up against one another.
Here’s what we did:
- First, we examined the most densely populated areas in the state.
- Then, we explored which of these were the fastest growing cities in Texas based on population growth between 2010 – 2016.
- Next, we pulled from a variety of data sources to come up with a quality of life and affordability ranking.
See the data and more on our methodology below.
Our top ten combines some larger cities with some up and coming suburbs. Be sure to share your experiences with any of these areas in the comments section.
- Population: 134,610
- Growth: 21.1%
- Median Home Price: $260,000
This midsized Texas city is located midway between Fort Worth and El Paso. As the name might suggest, this area sprung its roots in the middle of nowhere. The recent oil boom has brought both wealth and jobs to the city, which accounts for much of the population growth here over the last decade.
The access to higher paying jobs makes Midland’s desert landscape and high temperatures more tolerable for some residents, particularly families looking to settle down. If living in the desert seems boring, that’s not necessarily the case. There are plenty of things to do in Midland.
- Population: 163,656
- Growth: 39.8%
- Median Home Price: $395,900
Located just about 30 miles away from Dallas, Frisco is one of the fastest growing small cities in Texas. As far as the cost of living is concerned, Frisco ranked #1 for highest median income and is in very last place for the median home price, which means you’ll make a lot living here, but you’ll also pay a lot to buy into the housing market.
With explosive growth the past decade, traffic is indeed a headache during rush hour, and city lots are smaller than other parts of Texas. But all things considered, Frisco is down to earth, family-friendly and packed with amenities. As far as crime is concerned, Frisco ranked #1 as the city with the least amount of violent crime. If safety is high on your priority list, consider this Texas town.
- Population: 172,298
- Growth: 31.5%
- Median Home Price: $301,500
Safe, family-friendly, and small town are a few ways residents describe living in McKinney, Texas. The city’s tagline is “unique by nature,” which speaks to the wide range of outdoor activities and parks available here.
Depending on where in McKinney you reside, you’ll have access to both the McKinney school district and the Frisco school district, both of which are highly acclaimed. Despite the suburban-like growth, there is a historic downtown area with unique shops, restaurants and family-centered activities.
- Population: 947,890
- Growth: 16.9%
- Median Home Price: $334,400
Austin has become synonymous with being a desirable place to live. Over the last two decades, more and more people have become familiar with Austin as a quirky, liberal city in the middle of what is predominantly a conservative state.
Being home to nearly 1 million residents does come with its drawbacks, however. Namely, getting around in Austin can be a pretty painful experience. But pair a slow commute with great jobs and an exhilarating nightlife, and you can see why so many millennials opt to call Austin home.
- Population: 238,289
- Growth: 10.2%
- Median Home Price: $188,300
Being close to Dallas and Fort Worth has its advantages, but many people move to Irving for the quiet tree-lined streets and close-knit community feel. Diverse, friendly and family focused, the small geographic area feels jam-packed with a variety of cultural experiences. Quality schools help drive more people to the area as well.
Single people beware: if you’re looking to get out every night, you might want to reside elsewhere because the nightlife in Irving is lacking. However, if you’re moving there for a job, a 20-30 minute commute to downtown Dallas for a weekend out might suffice.
- Population: 133,808
- Growth: 15.1%
- Median Home Price: $218,661
Would you want to live in one of the most desirable college towns in Texas? As another small city in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Denton helps residents get away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas. There’s no doubt that college students and young families love everything Denton has to offer.
In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 45,000 college students go to universities within Denton. From a wide variety of food options to the prolific nightlife, this North Texas city has a lot going for it. Many musicians find their start in Denton, which has become is known for its growing music scene.
- Population: 286,057
- Growth: 10.1%
- Median Home Price: $334,500
Of the many suburbs in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Plano is one of the older ones. Manicured yards with mature trees and large houses keep this city feeling very much like a picturesque neighborhood out of a movie.
As a bonus, living outside Dallas means you’ll get more home for your buck. Also, unlike some suburbs in Texas, you’ll have plenty to do right within the city without needing to travel outside of Plano.
8. San Antonio
- Population: 1,492,510
- Growth: 12.4%
- Median Home Price: $167,100
Tourists from around the globe fall in love with San Antonio for its historical significance and idyllic River Walk. But what about residents moving to San Antonio for the first time? For being such a large city, San Antonio feels like an escape from hectic city life because of its overall slower pace and vacation-like atmosphere.
On the opposite side, the nightlife is arguably less than ideal, but there is a bounty of restaurants, festivals and cultural experiences to keep you busy.
- Population: 142,212
- Growth: 9%
- Median Home Price: $123,800
What McAllen lacks regarding jobs and unemployment rate, it makes up for in overall quality of life. Surprisingly, McAllen ranked last in unemployment, but it ranked second for the least amount of violent crimes. If you are okay with living on a modest income, your money will go a long way in this city.
A single-family home in a quality neighborhood can be found for less than $150,000. Compare that to cities like Frisco with median home values hovering around $400,000, and living in McAllen seems like a steal. Unlike some other Texas towns, McAllen has an ideal mix of nightlife and family-friendly activities, making it a small town with a big city feel.
10. Fort Worth
- Population: 854,113
- Growth: 14.7%
- Median Home Price: $217,100
If you want to find an area of Texas that still has some of its old country roots showing, Fort Worth might be the city for you. From stockyards to worn down brick roads and an overall country aesthetic, there is a lot to appreciate about the vibe here. Though this city might be combined with Dallas as part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the two couldn’t be more distinct.
Moving to Fort Worth will set you right in the middle of cowboy culture without completely stripping you of modern conveniences. Quality food and music make growing up in Fort Worth an unforgettable experience.
Methodology and Results
Want to take a look at how these Texas cities were ranked? We decided to base the majority of our ranking on the area’s overall growth, which is an essential signifier in determining how popular an area is becoming. Next, we analyzed data and put them into either an affordability or quality of life bucket, which were evenly weighted.
For each data point, we ranked the areas 1—25, one being the best and 25 being the worst. We then weighed these rankings to come up with an overall score. The lower the score, the higher the city was on our list.
Here’s how we weighed each factor:
- Growth (40%): This ranking includes each city’s population growth between 2010 and 2016.
- Affordability (30%): To determine a city’s overall affordability, we weighted median home cost (40%), median income (40%), and the unemployment rate (20%) to come up with rank.
- Quality of Life (30%): Commute times (40%), violent crime rate* (40%), and walkability (20%) were the three data points used to determine the overall quality of life ranking. *Violent crime rate computes the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Other Good Areas to Live in Texas
Unfortunately not every area made the cut, but at Life Storage, we’re big fans of Texas. Over the past few decades, we’ve gotten to know some small towns as well as some large cities, and we have some of our favorites to share.
Visit us in any of the following Texas towns:
We hope you found this guide helpful, particularly if you’re planning a move to Texas anytime soon. If you’re a current resident, we’d love to hear about your experience living in Texas and find out about some facts and neighborhoods we missed. Touch base in the comments below!