Skip to main content

Are you going to be moving to the state of Texas soon? Perhaps you are starting to look at the different places around the Lone Star State where you might want to live. Should you opt for one of the small towns, or should you instead look for a more heavily populated city? Well, the answer to this question is going to vary substantially based on what you want out of your living situation.

Why Is Texas So Popular?

It’s a large state, so you have what feels like countless options thanks to the various big cities and small towns. There’s something for everyone. But what is it about the state that makes so many people decide to pick up and move there?

For starters, you will find that the housing prices tend to be lower than what you will find in most of the other large cities across the country like San Francisco. In San Francisco, CA, you will have to deal with an outrageously high cost of living. You won’t have that trouble in places like San Antonio or Corpus Christi. The cost of living is lower, there are job opportunities, good schools, and plenty of outdoor activities, as well as cultural events.

As touched on, you also have a lot of variety when it comes to the various types of places you can live. Small cities and metro areas, suburbs, places on the coast like Corpus Christi, homes out in the deserts, forests, etc. There truly are housing options for everyone in the great state of Texas.

Still, you have to determine whether the small town life is right for you, or if you prefer large cities like San Antonio or Fort Worth. Below, we will be looking at some of the key differences, so you can make a more informed decision and find an affordable place where you can relax and enjoy life.

What to Expect from Large Cities

Large cities could be a good option when you are looking for a new place to call home. They have some great job opportunities, culture, diverse populations, wonderful entertainment, and so much more to offer. You will find that cities in Texas will generally have everything you could need or want.

The four largest cities in Texas include Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect from each big city.


Houston is affordable and has a growing job market. It’s the fourth most populated city in the country with 2.3 million and the most populous city in the state. This city, located next to the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay, is often considered one of the best places to live in the state thanks to the quality of life, affordable cost of living, and the welcoming people. One of the interesting things about Houston is that there are no zoning restrictions in the city. This means there is a mixture of buildings and businesses throughout the city.

You will also find a host of fun and interesting things to do in the area. From checking out the local rodeos to exploring the NASA Johnson Space Center, there are things to see, do, and enjoy for all residents. You will also enjoy a host of different types of restaurants for those days when you don’t want to cook at home.

During the weekdays, you can even visit six miles of underground tunnels beneath Houston that are just 20 feet below the streets. It’s a fast and easy way to get around the city, joining many of the most popular areas in the city. Of course, the tunnels are closed on weekends, at night, and on national holidays.

San Antonio

You could also start a new life here. This big city, located in the South Central part of Texas, is the seventh most-populated city in the United States with 1.59 million people. It also happens to be one of the safest large cities in the country. It’s become popular with families, retirees, and young professionals.

As with other larger cities, you can find an affordable cost of living and a booming job market. Some of the popular industries here include bioscience, manufacturing, renewable energy, healthcare, and tourism. It’s also near several military bases.

For those who know history, you’ll recognize that it’s also the home of the Alamo. Of course, there are plenty of other historic sites to be appreciated by locals and tourists alike. Some of these historic places include the San Antonio Missions National Park, Spanish Governor’s Palace, and the San Fernando Cathedral. One of the best things about San Antonio, though, is the Riverwalk. It’s a popular destination for residents and visitors. There are museums, places to dine, and more.

Those who want to live in the area will find good schools, friendly people, and a wide range of housing options from which they can choose.


Dallas is one of the most famous cities in the country, and it happens to be the ninth largest. There was even a television show named after the city, which has a population of around 1.3 million. You will find quite a few nice neighborhoods and communities in Dallas, along with beautiful scenery. Again, you will notice the affordable cost of living when comparing it to other big cities in the country. The good home prices, the friendly atmosphere, and the job market help to make it a popular choice.

The summers here get quite hot, but you can find some great places to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Some popular places to visit nearby include the Great Trinity Forest, Lakeside Park, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Of course, you can also take in a Dallas Cowboys game.

Families will be happy to know there are good schools in the area, and eight out of the top 20 schools in the state are in the Dallas area. There are also plenty of opportunities for higher education here.


Austin is popular with young people, artists, musicians, and all manner of creatives. It is the 10th largest city in the country and has just shy of a million residents. Many people love the laid-back nature of the city. Many people feel this is the best place to live in Texas given the cost of living, job growth, great attractions, and the music and art scene.

Austin is known for more than just art and music, though. It’s also become a booming technology scene and has received the nickname Silicon Hills. It’s more affordable than Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area.

There are also plenty of other good reasons to consider moving to Austin. It has some fantastic outdoor spaces in and around the city including places like Lady Bird Lake, the Colorado River, Mount Bonell, and Zilker Park. There is great food and places to enjoy as a resident or visitor.

Parents will be pleased to know that the public school system in Austin was named one of the best in the country. Their children will receive a good education. You can also find university options in the area.

If you want the big city life, then you will certainly want to consider one of these great cities rather than one of the smaller towns. Let’s get a look at what helps to make these large metropolitan areas such good options.

Good Job Opportunities Are More Common in Larger Cities

One of the reasons that cities tend to be popular is because they often have more job opportunities than smaller towns and even some of the mid-size towns. Some of the industries in and around the cities include oil and gas, IT, hospitality, health, and energy. Of course, these are just some of the larger types of employers you will find in the cities. There are plenty of other job options available, and Texas will always welcome entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses.

Culture and Sports in the Larger Cities

One of the nice things about living in large cities is that there is never a dull minute. Throughout the four cities mentioned above and other cities in the state, you will find a wealth of things to see, do, and enjoy in these communities. You can find a wide range of museums, sports, historic sites, the state fair in Dallas each year, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Austin City Limits, and so much more.

Of course, you also have to realize that Texas is a massive state. Getting from one of the large cities to the next can be quite a drive, so make sure you choose the city that’s right for you. Do a little extra research on the city you are considering.

There Is More Hustle and Bustle in Large Cities

Although you will find that living in larger cities is going to be highly convenient, there is also a lot more going on… which can be both good and bad. If you are the sort of person who loves living close to other people and who wants to spend time out with friends and family enjoying shopping, dining, theater, sports, etc., then a big city could be an ideal option.

Of course, not everyone wants to be around people quite so much. Fortunately, there are other options, as we will see below.

Consider the Suburban Life

What if you like the convenience of city life, but you don’t want to raise your children in the heart of the city? Maybe you want a location that’s a little quieter for yourself. In those cases, you might want to check out some of the suburbs on the outskirts of these cities.

They tend to be smaller and quieter, but they are still just a short drive into the city for work, entertainment, airports, etc. This option could make more sense to a lot of people who want to find a house rather than a condo or an apartment, as well. Even though you might like the look of the house, you should still check out the suburban neighborhood to make sure it will fit well with your lifestyle.

What to Expect from Small Cities and Mid-Sized Cities

Maybe you do like the thought of having everything be nice and convenient, so you can reach what you need with a relatively short drive. If you don’t want as many people as you will find in one of the larger cities in Texas, you can always check out some of the options for mid-size towns.

These are often the “outer suburbs” of some of the larger towns we’ve discussed. There are quite a few good options to consider across the state. Let’s look at some of them.

Some of the Best Mid-Sized Cities in Texas

One smaller city you might want to consider is Waco. The perception of this city has changed in recent years. Today, it is seen as a family friendly location that has some wonderful cultural landmarks, a nice community, and Baylor University. The population is around 137,000.

Lubbock is another well-known town in the state. It’s home to Texas Tech University and is quite a bit larger than Waco. The population is around 257,000 people. One of Lubbock’s claims to fame is that it is the birthplace of Buddy Holly.

Fort Worth is a popular option, too, and it’s located just 40 miles east of Dallas. Fort Worth is a city with a population of 892,000. It’s almost large enough to be considered a big city, but it still has some of that midsize charm that a lot of people love.

Some of the other locations that are well-known and are considered to be mid-sized cities include El Paso and Galveston. All of these locations are well worth checking out when you are thinking about moving to Texas.

Not As Busy as a Larger City But You Still Have What You Need

You will find that cities with census bureau data similar to what you see from the towns mentioned above aren’t going to be as hectic as places like Dallas. These are still cities, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the things you want and need from them. Places like El Paso and Lubbock tend to be a good middle ground between larger urban areas and rural areas.

You will also find that although the mid-size cities are more diverse than a lot of the small towns, they tend not to be as diverse as large cities.

What to Expect from Small Towns

What about the small town life? Maybe you like things to be a little more relaxed, and you don’t want to be around large crowds. You want more than concrete and skyscrapers. You want the peace that can come from living in a small town. Whereas larger locations can offer convenience, cultural activities, and similar benefits, rural life has other advantages.

One of the first things you will note about small towns is that the cost of living tends to be even better. The home prices, rental costs, and even the cost of a lot of goods and services tend to be lower. Many will find that there can be some fantastic financial advantages when it comes to moving to small towns. However, it’s about more than just the finances.

Small towns are in rural areas, which means you are closer to natural beauty. Sure, a lot of the larger cities have green spaces, and you can drive out to enjoy nature… but you are right amidst the natural beauty in rural towns.

There are fewer people, and this will often mean less crime. It doesn’t mean that there is no crime in small towns. It simply means that in many rural places, the crime rate will be lower. This means that the auto and home insurance premiums will often be lower for rural residents, as well. This sense of peace and security is nice and something that you can expect with the small town life.

There is also a sense of familiarity that you start to feel the longer you live in the small town. Most people who live in these types of locations develop a strong sense of community. They know one another and it can provide a more close-knit feeling among the residents.

Are There Drawbacks to Small Towns?

Of course, just as there are some wonderful benefits to small town rural life, there are also some potential drawbacks.

For starters, you might find that it is more difficult to find well-paying jobs. Most of the best jobs are going to be in the areas with a higher population, naturally. Even though the living expenses are lower, it also means that there might not be as many jobs that pay a lot. However, what you can do is make the commute from the small town to your work in one of the larger locales. Another option might be to start a business of your own.

Something else that some people might not like is the fact that they are likely going to need a car to get around. If you are used to living in a city with a lot of public transportation, then you might not like the idea of going to a small town. There tends not to be much in the way of transportation for the public in many of these places. Therefore, you will likely need to have a car or someone who can drive you around.

It can seem as though there is less to do when you live in a small town. That’s because it tends to be true for the most part. Depending on the size of the town, you might not have a movie theater and you might only have a couple of places to dine and one grocery store. Things aren’t quite as convenient, and there could be far less in terms of entertainment. If this is important to you, then having a car (as mentioned) to get out of town and explore or visit a larger city will be essential.

Remember the benefit of familiarity we discussed earlier. This can also be a drawback. When everyone in town knows your name and what you are doing, it can feel as though you have no privacy. It can seem like your business is not fully your own any longer, and this can be disconcerting for a lot of people who are accustomed to other types of environments.

What do you think about living in little towns? There is a lot to like about them, but the rural life isn’t for everyone. If you feel that the pros outweigh the cons, check out a few of the small town options below.

Great Small Towns in Texas

One of the best things about Texas is that there are countless small towns from which you can choose all around the state. Whether you prefer living down on the Gulf Coast or you prefer the woods to the east, there are some fantastic places available. Let’s look at just a couple of the potential options.

Marfa is a fun little town with a population of fewer than 1,500 people according to census data. This West Texas town has a nice arts community and some lovely little museums. The low population can give you the true feeling of living a rural life.

Maybe you like the idea of heading to a beach town instead. Port Aransas is a nice place with around 18 miles of beach and around 4,200 people. It’s located on Mustang Island and is great for those who might be thinking about retiring near the water, but who can’t stomach the idea of living in Florida.

West University Place is a bit larger, but it’s still a small town. The population here is 15,500 as of census bureau information from 2020. It is located within the Houston-Sugar Land metropolitan area.

Things You Should Always Keep in Mind When Choosing a New Home

What’s right for you? The big city or a little town? How about something in between, or perhaps the suburbs? Regardless, there are things you need to do before you choose a home in any location.

Research is essential.

Most people already know that they need to put in a lot of effort when it comes to choosing the property, but they don’t always put as much thought into looking into the neighborhood and town. Make sure you learn as much as possible about the place you will be living. What is the crime rate? What are the schools like? What is the neighborhood really like? Are there things to do and places to visit in the area?

The more you know about the location around the home you are considering the easier it will be for you to make an informed decision. A little bit of research really does go a long way.

What Else Does Texas Offer?

Why else should Texas be the place you consider when you are moving? Let’s look at a few of those reasons.

In Texas, there are no state property taxes, which can make living there even more affordable. This is one of the reasons that a lot of people like to live in the state.

They also enjoy that they can pick and choose their energy provider in most areas. This simply isn’t possible in a lot of states, where you are stuck with whichever energy provider is located in your area. You don’t have to stay with that provider permanently either. You can switch when your contract runs out.

People love the diverse cultures, the sports, and the variety of natural beauty in the state. It’s truly a remarkable place, and it might be somewhere that you want to call home.

Whether it’s the small town life you are seeking or you eschew the rural life for the bright lights of a big city, there’s a place in Texas for you. Just take the time to consider whether you might want to live in a city or out in the country in a small town.