The Best Places to Live in Texas

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

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |Dec. 21, 2018, at 3:05 p.m.

The Best Places to Live in Texas

Slideshow

Which spots in Texas are the best?

The Austin Texas Sunrise of 2017 The Travel Destination Cityscape Skyline - Sunrise Cityscape Austin Texas at Golden Hour Above Tranquil Lady Bird Lake 2017

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Even if you know what part of the country you prefer to call home, you may still need a little help deciding which city or metro area to put down roots. When it comes to Texas, the largest state by area in the continental U.S., you’ve got plenty of options. Of the 125 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 in the Lone Star State is best for you.

10. Brownsville

10. Brownsville

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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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 121
Metro Population: 418,785
Median Home Value: $93,200*
Median Annual Salary: $34,350

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, a median annual salary $15,000 below the national average of $49,630 and an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, Brownsville finds itself at No. 121 out of 125 on the overall Best Places to Live list, making it the last of 10 places in Texas.

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

9. McAllen

9. McAllen

McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the twenty-second most populous city in Texas.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 115
Metro Population: 828,334
Median Home Value: $133,800*
Median Annual Salary: $34,930

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 winter. While McAllen struggles with high unemployment and a declining population like Brownsville, U.S. residents find it to be a more desirable place to live, according to a Google Consumer Survey of 2,500 people.

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

8. Beaumont

8. Beaumont

Beaumont is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 113
Metro Population: 406,506
Median Home Value: $109,500*
Median Annual Salary: $47,030

Close to Louisiana, Beaumont takes the No. 113 spot in the overall Best Places to Live rankings. With a higher median annual salary than McAllen or Brownsville, Beaumont residents have a lower cost of living – spending just 29 percent of their household income on a mortgage payment, rent, utilities and property taxes.

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

7. Corpus Christi

7. Corpus Christi

Paradise palm Trees and golden towers along Corpus Christi , TX Bayfront at sunrise with marina and the water still with a reflecting cityscape painted in golden hour , Marina , boats , and Bay with Gulf of mexico and sea wall . The refineries and in the background and thousands of new Wind Turbines line the background.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 106
Metro Population: 447,102
Median Home Value: $149,900*
Median Annual Salary: $43,810

Home of one of the largest shipping ports in the U.S., Corpus Christi has seen small growth in population due to net migration – nearly 2.5 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Corpus Christi residents also have a short morning commute to work, with an average of just 20.4 minutes from door to door, making it the sixth-shortest commute out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.

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

6. El Paso

6. El Paso

El Paso, Texas

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 105
Metro Population: 837,073
Median Home Price: $137,842
Median Annual Salary: $37,440

On the other side of the state at the westernmost edge of Texas, El Paso ranks first out of the 125 most populous places in the Gallup-Sharecare 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, low median annual salary and above-average unemployment rate (4.7 percent) contribute to its rank as No. 105 on the Best Places to Live list.

5. Killeen

5. Killeen

Texas town

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 90
Metro Population: 426,926
Median Home Value: $134,000*
Median Annual Salary: $40,700

Home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Hood military base, Killeen is a relatively affordable metro area, with residents spending just over 27 percent of the median household income on living expenses. The Killeen area also benefits from a low unemployment rate of just 4.2 percent.

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

4. Houston

4. Houston

Texas town

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 26
Metro Population: 6,482,592
Median Home Price: $216,575
Median Annual Salary: $52,870

The second-largest metro area in Texas, Houston ranks No. 26 on the overall Best Places to Live list thanks in part to its rapid growth in population due to net migration, relatively low cost of living and flourishing job market. Houston residents also make more money, with a median annual salary of $52,870, more than $3,000 above the national average of $49,630.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth

3. Dallas-Fort Worth

Texas town

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 18
Metro Population: 6,957,123
Median Home Price: $210,181
Median Annual Salary: $50,350

With a slightly larger population than Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth also benefits from a high median annual salary, strong job market and relatively low cost of living. The Dallas-Fort Worth area also ranks 10th out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

2. San Antonio

2. San Antonio

Texas town

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 14
Metro Population: 2,332,345
Median Home Price: $200,667
Median Annual Salary: $45,210

Founded in 1718, San Antonio is the No. 2 best place to live in Texas. People are flocking to the old city for its low cost of living and healthy job market, among other reasons. Between 2012 and 2016, the San Antonio metro area grew in population by more than 6.5 percent due to net migration alone.

1. Austin

1. Austin

Aerial view of Capitol building in Austin the Capital of Texas.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 1
Metro Population: 1,942,615
Median Home Price: $278,608
Median Annual Salary: $50,830

It’s no surprise the capital city of Austin takes the top spot both in Texas and the overall Best Places to Live list. Austin has emerged as a major tech hub in the U.S. in recent years – a more affordable option for tech startups and major companies seeking an alternative to Silicon Valley. The rapid growth has increased the cost of living, however, as homebuyers compete with each other for ever-pricier homes. Still, residents spend just over 27 percent of the median household income on living expenses.

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Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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