The Best Places to Live in Texas in 2020

See how metro areas in the Lone Star State stack up.

U.S. News & World Report

The Best Places to Live in Texas in 2020

barn & buckboard wagon by rural road in Texas
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Which spots in Texas are the best?

Even if you know what part of Texas you want to call home, you may still need a little help deciding which city or metro area to put down roots. Within the largest state by area in the contiguous U.S., you’ve got plenty of options. Of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Texas is home to 10 of them. We’ve compiled the details from the Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings – determined by factors such as the local job market, affordability, average commute time and desirability – to help you decide which major metro area in the Lone Star State is best for you.

Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas, on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
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Brownsville

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 138
Metro Population: 421,750
Median Home Value: $110,164*
Average Annual Salary: $35,230

This city on the southern tip of Texas borders Mexico and touches the Gulf of Mexico, making it a destination for many vacationers looking to enjoy the beaches of South Padre Island. However, with a declining population due to net migration and an average annual salary $16,000 below the national average of $51,960, Brownsville finds itself at No. 138 out of 150 on the overall Best Places to Live ranking, placing it last on this list.

(*The median home price for Brownsville was not available, so median home value is listed.)

Next:

Which spots in Texas are the best?

Even if you know what part of Texas you want to call home, you may still need a little help deciding which city or metro area to put down roots. Within the largest state by area in the contiguous U.S., you’ve got plenty of options. Of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Texas is home to 10 of them. We’ve compiled the details from the Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings – determined by factors such as the local job market, affordability, average commute time and desirability – to help you decide which major metro area in the Lone Star State is best for you.

Brownsville

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 138
Metro Population: 421,750
Median Home Value: $110,164*
Average Annual Salary: $35,230

This city on the southern tip of Texas borders Mexico and touches the Gulf of Mexico, making it a destination for many vacationers looking to enjoy the beaches of South Padre Island. However, with a declining population due to net migration and an average annual salary $16,000 below the national average of $51,960, Brownsville finds itself at No. 138 out of 150 on the overall Best Places to Live ranking, placing it last on this list.

(*The median home price for Brownsville was not available, so median home value is listed.)

McAllen

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 136
Metro Population: 849,389
Median Home Value: $151,280*
Average Annual Salary: $36,700

McAllen may not be on the beach, but its location on the southern border of Texas with Mexico makes it a popular destination for many retirees embracing the snowbird life and moving south for the winter. While McAllen struggles with high unemployment and declining population like Brownsville, U.S. residents find it to be a slightly more desirable place to live, according to a SurveyMonkey analysis of 3,000 people asking where they would prefer to live out of the metro areas on the Best Places to Live list.

(*The median home price for McAllen was not available, so median home value is listed.)

El Paso

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 130
Metro Population: 841,752
Median Home Price: $146,450
Average Annual Salary: $39,100

On the westernmost edge of Texas, El Paso ranks 17th out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. in the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index, which measures residents’ satisfaction with their hometown, physical health and the area’s economic stability. Despite that, a declining population due to net migration and low average annual salary contribute to El Paso’s rank at No. 130 on the Best Places to Live list. Having decreased by 2.65% between 2014 and 2018 due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, El Paso’s population is the fifth-fastest declining out of the 150 places on the list.

Beaumont

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 124
Metro Population: 409,693
Median Home Value: $128,215*
Average Annual Salary: $49,150

Close to Louisiana, Beaumont takes the No. 124 spot in the overall Best Places to Live ranking. Beaumont residents have a higher average annual salary than McAllen or Brownsville at $49,900 and a lower cost of living – spending just 22% of their household income on mortgage payments, rent and property taxes. Beaumont’s population remained fairly flat between 2014 and 2018 due to net migration and saw an increase of just 0.14%.

(*The median home price for Beaumont was not available, so median home value is listed.)

Corpus Christi

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 122
Metro Population: 452,295
Median Home Value: $175,845*
Average Annual Salary: $43,960

Home of one of the largest shipping ports in the U.S., Corpus Christi has seen slight growth in population due to net migration – 0.24% between 2014 and 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Corpus Christi residents also have a short morning commute to work, with an average of just 20.2 minutes from door to door, making it the sixth-shortest commute out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., tied with Brownsville and Eugene, Oregon.

(*The median home price for Corpus Christi was not available, so median home value is listed.)

Killeen

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 110
Metro Population: 438,265
Median Home Price: $153,133
Average Annual Salary: $43,990

Home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Hood military base, Killeen is a relatively affordable metro area, with residents spending 22.75% of the median annual household income on living expenses. When it comes to people moving into and out of the area, Killeen nearly broke even between 2014 and 2018: The metro area population decreased by 0.07% during this time due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

San Antonio

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 41
Metro Population: 2,426,204
Median Home Price: $212,992
Average Annual Salary: $46,650

Founded in 1718, San Antonio is the No. 4 best place to live in Texas. People are flocking to the city for its low cost of living and healthy job market, among other reasons. Between 2014 and 2018, the San Antonio metro area population grew by 5.34% due to net migration. San Antonio’s pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.1% was well below the national rate of 3.7%, though the average annual salary, at $46,650, is below the national average of $51,960.

Houston

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 27
Metro Population: 6,779,104
Median Home Price: $224,408
Average Annual Salary: $54,290

The second-largest metro area in Texas, Houston ranks No. 27 on the overall Best Places to Live list, thanks in part to its rapid population growth due to net migration, relatively low cost of living and flourishing job market. Houston residents also make more money than those in many other areas of the state, with an average annual salary of $54,290. Houston area residents spend 22.81% of the area median household income on housing expenses.

Dallas-Fort Worth

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 24
Metro Population: 7,255,028
Median Home Price: $255,033
Average Annual Salary: $52,590

With a slightly larger population than Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth also benefits from a high average annual salary, strong job market and relatively low cost of living. With a median home price of $255,033, homebuyers in the area should expect higher prices than many other parts of Texas. The Dallas-Fort Worth area also ranks 32nd out of the 150 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list for desirability. Many people are acting on that desire and moving to Dallas-Fort Worth, as the metro area’s population grew by 4.84% between 2014 and 2018 due to net migration.

Austin

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 3
Metro Population: 2,058,351
Median Home Price: $313,308
Average Annual Salary: $53,810

It’s no surprise that the state’s capital city takes the top spot in Texas, ranking third on the overall Best Places to Live list. Austin has emerged as a major tech hub in the U.S. in recent years, serving as a more affordable option for tech startups and major companies seeking an alternative to Silicon Valley. The area's rapid growth has increased the cost of living, however, which contributed to its fall from the No. 1 spot on the Best Places to Live list in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Still, residents spend just over 23.4% of the median household income on living expenses.

Here are the 10 best places to live in Texas:

  • Austin.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • Houston.
  • San Antonio.
  • Killeen.
  • Corpus Christi.
  • Beaumont.
  • El Paso.
  • McAllen.
  • Brownsville.

See rankings.

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Updated on Oct. 27, 2020: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.