Thinking about living in Texas? With tons of outdoor recreation, top-rated colleges, employment opportunities with Fortune 500 companies, and some of the best BBQ and Mexican cuisine in the nation, the Lone Star State might just be the perfect place for you to call home. But with the median home price in Texas around $275,000 and median rent around $1,500, finding an area that fits your budget and your desired amenities can be tricky. However, if you’re willing to live in a smaller city outside of big cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin, then you’ll able to find an affordable spot with lots to do. Here are the seven best places to live in Texas for an affordable price!
- El Paso
Home Price: $83,800 median purchase price; $644 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 37% of cities in the U.S.
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
The largest city in the Rio Grande Valley and one of the cheapest places to live in Texas, Brownsville is ideal for singles, young professionals, families, and retirees looking for spacious condos and luxury homes in a city with beautiful weather year-round. Brownsville’s average 223 days of sunshine and location along the Mexico border have both brought great economic growth through international trading and the citrus industry. Education and tourism are also big draws to the area with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley situated near Downtown Brownsville and South Padre Island less than an hour away.
Things to Do in Brownsville
Visit the Palo Alto Battlefield, the site where the first major battle of the Mexican-American War was fought. Travel to Boca Chica State Park and build a sandcastle, go surfing, or have a picnic on the dunes. Take the kids to the Children’s Museum of Brownsville to learn about dental hygiene, farming, and the weather. Be a part of Charro Days Fiesta, a celebration of two cultures and two nations with parades, costumes, fireworks, live music, and more! Grab a burger and fried pickles at Brownsville hot spot The Vermillion. Dig into spinach dip, fried chicken, and paninis at Cobbleheads. Indulge authentic Mexican dishes like al pastor tacos, frijoles, and steak fajitas at El Ultimo Taco Taqueria. Get a pint with some friends after work at Shenanigan’s Irish Pub, or head to The Bar for country Tuesdays and ice cold beer.
Home Price: $119,300 median purchase price; $769 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 34% of cities in the U.S.
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Located along the Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico borders, El Paso is one of best cities to live in Texas without breaking the bank. Not only does the area offer a colorful arts scene and tons of outdoor activities, but it also has quirky places to dine or have a fun night out. Jobs in El Paso are plentiful, too, as the region represents one of the largest manufacturing centers in the U.S.—not to mention, The University of Texas El Paso brings in residents interested in the education field.
Things to Do in El Paso
Visit the El Paso Zoo to see meerkats, tamarins, and elephants. Spend the day hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing at Franklin Mountains State Park. Get your arts fix with a Broadway show at the Plaza Theatre or while browsing through Spanish Colonial art exhibits at the El Paso Museum of Art. Listen to local artists and big-name performers in hip-hop, rock, and EDM at the Neon Desert Music Festival. Stop by The Hoppy Monk and try unique brunch dishes like Pineapple Downside Up Pancakes, Eggs in Purgatory, and Blueberry Stout French Toast. Indulge in a Ahi Tuna Tostada or Chile Bomb Burger with a side of Sweet Potato Waffle Fries with Marshmallow sauce at Crave Kitchen & Bar. Feast on some of the best Mexican food in El Paso at local favorite L&J Cafe. Or sip on cocktails like the Venetian Spritz and Deep Blue Sea and enjoy small plates like Roasted Quail and Bruschetta at Tabla.
Home Price: $154,400 median purchase price; $865 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 16% of cities in the U.S.
Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
You won’t find beachfront homes in Texas for as cheap as you can in Galveston! About two hours south of Houston tucked along the Gulf of Mexico, this hidden gem has housing 14% lower than the national average, making it one of the more affordable places to live Texas. The Port of Galveston and American National Insurance Company headquarters create tons of the jobs in the area, and tourism is a major source of economic growth due to Galveston being a top location for cruise ships to stop.
Things to Do in Galveston
Stop by Moody Gardens, where you’ll get to have an underwater virtual reality experience, race across zip lines, explore a giant aquarium, and more inside three glass pyramids. Get your adrenaline pumping with high-flying amusement rides at Pleasure Pier or speedy water slides at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Play beach volleyball or swim at Stewart Beach. Shop for everything from antique home decor and leather journals to surfboards and running shoes in the 70-block Historic Downtown Galveston. Order bacon-wrapped shrimp on a bed of onion rings and a turkey burger at The Spot. Enjoy fresh shrimp cocktail, oysters, and other seafood favorites at Shrimp ‘N Stuff. Have a delicious brunch of Corned Beef Hash Tacos or Crustless Quiche on the outdoor patio at Mosquito Cafe. Indulge in a specialty cocktail from the rotating menu at Daiquiri Time Out. Or participate in drag bingo and Tequila Tuesdays at Rumors Beach Bar.
Home Price: $81,900 median purchase price; $696 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 21% of cities in the U.S.
Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
If you’re looking for the cheapest cities in Texas, look no further than Harlingen! Located just 30 minutes outside of Brownsville, the “Tropical Playground of Texas” has a cozy, small-town feel while having all the amenities of a big city. Families with young kids will love Harlingen’s great schools and close proximity to outdoor recreation like the Laguna Atacosa National Wildlife Refuge. And students and young professionals will enjoy the job opportunities brought to the area with UTRGV School of Medicine, United Healthcare, Penske Logistics, and Panasonic.
Things to Do in Harlingen
Head to Lon C. Hill Park to water hummingbirds and butterflies flutter in the garden, have a cookout at the barbecue pits, or frolic through the splash pad. Let your furry friend run laps in the dog park, swim laps at the aquatic center, or play catch on one of the five baseball fields at Victor Park. Attend the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival to listen to presentations by birding professionals, observe over 200 different types of birds, and hear live mariachi music. Shop until you drop in stores like Foot Locker, Express, and Fragranza at Valle Vista Mall. Venture to Downtown Harlingen for unique boutiques like Frank’s Record Shop, Second Chance Thrift Shop, and Trinkets & Friends! Feast on Chicken Parmigiana Pizza, Stromboli, or Chicken Roulade at Stefano’s Brooklyn Pizza. Indulge in stuffed avocados, beef fajitas, and fried ice cream at La Playa Mexican Cafe. Order delicious smoked brisket, pinto bean soup, or a hearty ribeye from Longhorn Cattle company. Kick back with some sangria after work at Carlito’s Wine House. Or get together with some friends on the weekend at dive bar Local Lounge.
Home Price: $161,700 median purchase price; $1,026 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 44% of cities in the U.S
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Lewisville is a relaxing oasis in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and it’s one of most affordable cities in Texas. Not only does the area offer less than an hour commute to DFW for jobs and exciting amenities, but it also has tons of fantastic local hot spots for having fun, trying new cuisine, and throwing back a few drinks within walking or biking distance of your front door. Residents also have the luxury of being surrounded by lush parks and the beautiful Lewisville Lake, so enjoying the Texas weather is a must!
Things to Do in Lewisville
Explore the geocache trail, admire the stars on the prairie, or go kayaking in the Lewisville Lake at the LLELA Nature Preserve. Hit the links to practice your swing, do cannonballs in the pool, or sit down for luxury dining at the members-only The Lakes Castle Hills. Experience the Lewisville art scene at the Lewisville Colorpalooza, an event that has sidewalk chalk displays, tie-dye stations, glass-blowing demonstrations, and live music. Watch ballerinas leap across the stage at the MCL Grand Theater. Put on your cowboy boots and head to Old Town Lewisville for inflatable obstacle courses, blacksmith demonstrations, and more at the Western Days Festival. Stop by local favorite Tierney’s Cafe & Tavern and sample popular dishes like Potato Chip Chicken or Famous Catfish Platter. Fill up on St. Louis ribs, saucy brisket sandwiches, and fried okra at family-owned Big Jack’s BBQ. Catch a game on TV and enjoy a cold beer or watch local bands rock out at Hat Tricks. Or have a cold draft beer and pick out your favorite power ballad for karaoke at Daddy Rabbit’s Pub.
Home Price: $117,500 median purchase price; $739 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 45% of cities in the U.S
Unemployment Rate: 4.8%
Recognized as one of the best places to retire and one of best cities in the U.S. for affordability, McAllen is the place to settle down in if you’re searching for a city that will provide a high quality of life with a low cost of living. Families and retirees who move here will find that housing is 32% lower than the national average, which means finding a luxurious four-bedroom house with a big yard to fit your budget is easy! McAllen’s location along the Mexico border brings lots of culture and diversity to the community and countless jobs for those in the agriculture, trade, tourism, and manufacturing industries as well.
Things to Do in McAllen
Play sand volleyball or have a family barbecue Fireman’s Park. Beat the Texas heat and splash around at the McAllen Municipal Swimming Pool. Or cool down indoors while exploring Latin American folk art, lithographs by Pablo Picasso, and interactive science exhibits at the International Museum of Art & Science. Navigate the nature trails, admire the Cactus Garden, and learn about the flora and fauna in Southern Texas at Quinta Mazatlan. Peruse the La Plaza Mall for items at boutiques and big-name brands like Fossil, BCBG, and Kendra Scott. Sit on the outdoor patio to share brick-oven pizzas like the Smoked Salmon and drink a Cucumber Mango Rita at Republic of the Rio Grande. Try Cajun-inspired dishes like Fried Gator, Crawfish Etouffee, or Red Snapper Rockefeller at Dirty Al’s Bayou Grill. Or bust a move on the dance floor and travel back in time at Deloreans for a thrilling night out.
Home Price: $126,100 median purchase price; $821 median monthly rent
Crime Rate: Safer than 31% of cities in the U.S.
Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
Family-friendly activities, comfort food, and spending the day outside is what one of the most affordable cities in Texas is all about. Temple’s reputation as a regional medical hub is a big draw for people interested in that field, as Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, and Texas A&M University Health Science Center are all stationed here. In addition, Temple is within an hour of Austin, within two hours of Dallas-Fort Worth, and within three hours of both San Antonio and Houston, so weekend getaways in the big city are easy!
Things to Do in Temple
Set up a tee time and try to get a hole in one at Sammons Golf Links. Go boating around Belton Lake, lie on the beach to relax, or have a cookout with friends at Temple Lake Park. Let the Temple Symphony Orchestra move you with their classical performances. Support the arts and view the latest musical production put on by local thespians at Temple Civic Theatre. Attend the Bloomin Temple Festival, a two-day event with carnival rides, live music, food trucks, and more. Make Megg’s Cafe your new go-to brunch spot with farm-to-table dishes like Southern Style Poutine and Biscuit & Gravy Benedict. Fill up on Chicken Tikka Masala and Garlic Naan at Roopa’s Kitchen. Visit Central Texas favorite Old Jody’s and try the popular Chicken Fried Steak, Stew & Cornbread, or Meatloaf. Shoot some pool or get up on stage to perform your favorite song for the crowd at Future Cues. Or listen to live music from local, regional, and national artists while sipping on a Ski Boat Blonde Ale at O’Briens Irish Pub.
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City statistics from AreaVibes