What's it like to live in McAllen, TX?

Joey Gomez

Profile written by local expert:

Joey Gomez

Despite its reputation as a mere border town, McAllen, Texas, is a very vibrant metro area and a major center for retail, international trade, tourism and manufacturing. A high quality of life, an abundance of medical facilities and young, bicultural communities are additional draws.

McAllen brandishes a warm and receptive population. Every year, thousands of winter Texans arrive to the Rio Grande Valley, where McAllen is located, during the mild fall and winter seasons, injecting more than $760 million into the local economy.

The metro area is also a haven for those crossing the border from Mexico to Texas, and many Mexican Nationals come for the day to shop and enjoy McAllen. But in 2017, Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 138,000 undocumented people in the Rio Grande Valley. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley along with the Sacred Heart Church in McAllen help thousands of people looking to make a new life for themselves in the U.S. As a result, Hispanic culture is strong in the area and celebrated.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

McAllen, Texas is ranked:

#115 in Best Places to Live

#28 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

McAllen, TX Quick Stats

  • 828,334

    Metro Population

  • $34,930

    Average Annual Salary

  • 85.9° / 65.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 28.8

    Median Age

  • N/A

    Median Home Price

  • 22.2 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 7.6%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $677

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.9 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in McAllen, TX?

McAllen is one of the least expensive metro areas to live in the nation. Residents spend less than the national median sale price on home purchases, as well as less than the national average on everyday expenses like food, transportation and heath care.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.6 /10

How we calculate this.

McAllen offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in McAllen, TX.


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What's the weather like in McAllen, TX?

McAllen experiences year-round sunshine, and residents enjoy the 80-degree winters. On the flip side, the summers are scorching. High humidity is also prevalent throughout the year, and like all metro areas in the state, rain is rare.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

1.2 in


2.3 in


2.6 in


4.5 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around McAllen, TX?

McAllen residents rely heavily on cars to get around. Even so, the median commute time from home to work is just 22 minutes. For those who don't own a car or live near the city center, the Metro McAllen public transportation intracity buses run on seven routes throughout the metro area and offer paratransit services. The metro region has emphasized its green agenda by introducing a couple electric buses. The buses feature a zero-emission propulsion system and charge wirelessly. The buses are the first of their kind in Texas.

Plus, the metro area's bike-share program, B-cycle, is a low-cost public transit option for citizens. Roughly eighty bicycles are stationed in eight locations around the region, providing a convenient and healthy transportation option.

The McAllen International Airport, which recently underwent a major expansion, is just 2 miles from the city center. The airport is serviced by major airlines like American Airlines and United Airlines, which offer daily flights to both national and international destinations including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Las Vegas and Mexico City. Ground transport is provided by charter bus companies like Greyhound.

Commuting in McAllen, TX

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.9 minutes

4.2 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in McAllen, TX?

McAllen's population is young: Nearly 40 percent of the population is younger than 20. Thanks to the metro area's location along the U.S.-Mexico border, the community is largely bilingual and bicultural.

However, the region is also one of the poorest and most densely populated in Texas. Nearly 26 percent of people in McAllen live in poverty, which is much higher than the statewide average of roughly 16 percent.

In the region, Catholicism is the predominant religion.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

Fewer single people in McAllen than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in McAllen, TX?

Located 70 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, McAllen attracts those who enjoy the water. Weekend pastimes range from pedal boating or kayaking in the metro area's Town Lake at Fireman's Park to taking day trips to the beach. But there are other ways in McAllen to enjoy the outdoors. Since the Rio Grande Valley is a major bird migration corridor, bird-watching is a popular activity, too.

McAllen is often referred to as the retail center of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico. In fact, the region's La Plaza Mall is very successful and is positioned near a border entrance with Mexico. McAllen also has the largest single-floor public library in the nation, offering everything from a children's play area to an art gallery to a cafe. And the metro area's International Museum of Art & Science is an interesting excursion for adults and kids alike.

Annual festivals, including the state's biggest lighted holiday parade and the Palmfest International Folklife Celebration in the fall, draw residents together. As far as nightlife goes, a mix of nightclubs, pubs and trendy restaurants comprise the metro region's entertainment district on 17th Street.