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15 Things to Know About Living in San Antonio

Moving to San Antonio? Even as the third-fastest growing and seventh-largest city in the U.S., this southern Texas city still offers residents a small-town feel! San Antonio boasts affordable living, delicious food, family-friendly activities, and so much more. Check out these 15 things to know about living in Alamo City!

Experience Life on the Affordable Side

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Although San Antonio isn’t a small city, it’s usually compared to big Texas cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin, which can be more expensive. Comparatively, the San Antonio cost of living as 10% lower than the national average combined with no state income tax helps residents keep their budgets happy. San Antonio’s strong real estate market—with home prices averaging at $121,000 and a median monthly rent of $882—add to this Texas city’s affordability. Looking for the best neighborhoods in San Antonio to buy a home? Areas like Alamo Heights, Tobin Hill, and Monte Vista are popular places to live for singles and young professionals—whereas neighborhoods like Stone Oak, Terrell Hills, and Oak Park-Northwood are great San Antonio neighborhoods for raising a family.

Explore Careers in San Antonio

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If you’re moving to San Antonio in search of a new career, you can find great job opportunities across industries like bioscience, financial services, manufacturing, and more. In particular, the city’s technology industry is booming, with Downtown San Antonio making efforts to establish a tech district. Additionally, locals have convenient access to a variety of companies headquartered in San Antonio, like H-E-B, USSA, Valero, Southwest Research Institute, Whataburger, and Air Force Federal Credit Union. And that doesn’t even include all of the careers available through Joint Base San Antonio, where thousands of civilians work alongside current and retired military members!

Live in Military City, USA

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The patriotic atmosphere and multiple military bases in San Antonio have earned the city the nickname “Military City, USA”. The biggest base in the area is Joint Base San Antonio, which consists of Randolph AFB, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, and Camp Bullis. In addition, San Antonio is home to Brooke Army Medical Center, the Department of Defense’s largest medical center and the military’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. San Antonio is also one of the best cities for military retirees, with dozens of VA hospitals and clinics within the San Antonio area!

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Pursue a Degree at San Antonio Colleges & Universities

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If you’re moving to San Antonio to pursue a higher education, you’ll find tons of schools throughout the area. University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) boasts a college experience full of team spirit—while Texas A&M University-San Antonio is recognized as the only Purple Heart University in the city. The area’s private colleges, like St. Mary’s University and Trinity University, are known for their health services, law, engineering, and business degree programs. Through the Alamo Colleges District, you can attend community colleges such as San Antonio College, Northwest Vista College, and St. Philip’s College—where you can work toward vocational and technical degrees before heading into the workforce. No matter what kind of education you’re hoping to find, San Antonio colleges provide unique, valuable experiences!

Learn About Local History

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San Antonio’s military, religious, and colonial history is rich and interesting for history lovers. The city has long been associated with The Alamo, hence its “Alamo City” nickname. Once a Spanish mission, this tourist attraction is better known as a bloody battle site from the days of the Texas Revolution. But the Alamo was only one of five San Antonio missions and is just the beginning of the history you can experience in the city. Today, you’ll find historic architecture everywhere—from Randolph Air Force Base’s Taj Mahal, to Downtown San Antonio’s Tower of the Americas. Visit San Fernando Cathedral, Mission San Jose’s Rose Window, and the Spanish Governor’s Palace to learn more about the area’s Spanish influence. Or discover Texas history at local museums like The Witte Museum and UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.

Bask in the Great Outdoors

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With hot summers and mild winters, there’s plenty of time throughout the year to visit San Antonio’s outdoor attractions! Play a game of doubles, go swimming at the pool, or take a stroll at San Pedro Springs Park—the oldest park in San Antonio! Have a picnic with the family, walk one of the many trails, tee off at Brackenridge Park Golf Course, or visit the Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park. Go fishing, watch the kiddos go down the slide, and swim at Woodlawn Lake Park. Marvel at more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats ascending for the night at Bracken Cave Preserve. Looking for something on the spooky side? Book a Ghost City Tour and explore the most haunted city in Texas with these guided walking tours through historic San Antonio sites. And don’t forget to visit Denman Estate Park to see an incredible monument handcrafted by artisans in Gwangju, South Korea—one of San Antonio’s sister cities.

Discover Family-Friendly Attractions

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There’s plenty of family fun in San Antonio! Have an In-Water Beluga Interaction, visit Flamingo Cove and Turtle Reef, or find thrill on the rides and attractions at SeaWorld! See exotic animals like the spectacled bear, watch a film at the Project Selva 4D Theater, or sign the kids up for summer camp at the San Antonio Zoo. Ride the Carousel, take flight at Rocket’s Sky Flight Adventure, or enjoy annual events like Pickles y Sombreros at Morgan’s Wonderland! Attend a play or enroll the kids up in creative theatre camps at the Magik Theatre. Bring the kiddos for a day of fun and learning with interactive exhibits like Semmes Foundation Spy Academy or Imagine It! at popular children’s museum, The DoSeum. Or explore the stunning formations below the earth’s surface on the Discovery Tour, dig for gems and fossils at Natural Bridge Mining Co., and more just outside the city at Natural Bridge Caverns.

Visit the San Antonio River Walk

It might have the reputation of being a tourist hot spot, but the San Antonio River Walk offers so much more! Check out Go Rio Cruises to float down the San Antonio River on a narrated cruise, river shuttle, or dinner cruise. Enjoy local eats such as Guacamole for Two paired with a Prickly Pear Margarita at Boudro’s Texas Bistro. Attend annual events like the Labor Day River Walk Artisan Show or the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony. Spend the day exploring La Villita Historic Arts Village, where you can visit shops and galleries and attend lively events throughout the year. Or send the kids off to run through the splash pad and play on the playground at Yanaguana Garden, see the breathtaking views at the top of Tower of the Americas, and more when you visit Hemisfair Park.

Take In the Innovative Arts Scene

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See local productions of musicals and plays like Grease and Meet Me in St. Louis at the Wonder Theatre. Browse through rotating collections like Big Little Stage and Beyond Reality at the McNay Art Museum, the first Modern art museum in Texas! Admire the works of Texan, national, and international artists or attend events like the Annual Rooftop Brunch at Artpace. See historical artwork and artifacts, look at the bronzed figures of the American West in the McNutt Sculpture Garden, and more at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Laugh the night away with a comedy show, sing your heart out at a concert, or attend a performance by Ballet San Antonio at the Tobin Center. And, of course, you’ll have to pay a visit to the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), which houses all kinds of unique exhibitions—from Latin American art to Modernist photography.

Saddle Up for the San Antonio Rodeo

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One of the most popular events in San Antonio is the annual rodeo! Every February, for 18 days, more than one million people attend the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo for family entertainment, live music, and livestock shows. Watch teams of cowboys compete against each other in a variety of events, from calf roping to the rescue race, at the Ranch Rodeo. Make sure to stop by crowd-favorite event, Mutton Bustin’, where little ones try to hold on tight to their sheep for a six-second ride. And don’t forget to explore the fairgrounds and attend nightly rodeo concerts!

Party at Fiesta San Antonio

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Started in 1891 as a celebration honoring the heroes of the Alamo, Fiesta San Antonio has become the city’s signature event! Held annually in April, over three million people take part in this 11-day festival, which features several parades and events—including San Antonio Lutheran Coronation, Ford Mariachi Festival, and the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. While it’s just one of many events in San Antonio, be sure to mark your calendars for this one—you won’t want to miss out on the coronation of Miss Fiesta San Antonio, the distribution of the cascarones, the dancing, or the candy!

Support San Antonio Sports

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The lively pro basketball scene is one of the best things about living in San Antonio! Take pride in watching the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) get a slam dunk at AT&T Center. If NBA basketball isn’t your go-to, there are plenty of other sports to keep you entertained! Experience “America’s favorite pastime” when attending a San Antonio Missions (MiLB) game at Wolff Stadium. Cheer on the San Antonio FC (USL) at Toyota Field. Or catch the UTSA Roadrunners (NCAA) and other collegiate football teams compete at the famed Alamo Bowl!

Try Tex-Mex in San Antonio

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Texas is famous for its Tex-Mex dishes, but did you know San Antonio helped kick-start the cuisine’s claim to fame? Start your morning with Huevos Rancheros, Chorizo & Eggs, or Papas Rancheras Breakfast Tacos at Teka Molino. Order brunch favorites like the Brunch Nachos, Benedictos Divorciados, or Poblano De Queso at La Fonda—San Antonio’s oldest Mexican restaurant. Devour Chile Con Queso, a Fajita Plate, or El Cholo Loco for lunch at The Original Mexican Restaurant. Order a Green Enchilada or Grilled Beef and Cheese Tostada paired with a Spicy Tamarindo while you take in the seaside village vibe at Costa Pacifica. Try the Poblano Dinner, Tacos del Mercado, or Mexican Fajita Plate from Mi Tierra Cafe. Or enjoy Tacos Nortenos, Chicken Tortilla Soup, or the Cheese Enchilada Dinner while dining at Henry’s Puffy Tacos—and keep an eye out for the Puffy Taco mascot!

Check Out the San Antonio Food Scene

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San Antonio is one of two U.S. cities designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, meaning Tex-Mex certainly isn’t the only cuisine you’ll be able to enjoy! Devour delicious breakfast staples or a stack of the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes or Apple Cinnamon Pancakes at Pancake Joe’s. Try the Fish & Chips, Braised Short Rib & Garlic Mash, or Bogside Smash Burger when you stop by Francis Bogside, an Irish pub. Enjoy Caribbean street foods by creating your own bowl or wrap at Mi Roti, or order Cochinita Pobil Chilaquiles and Chilango Tacos at Chilaquil, both found in the Bottling Department Food Hall at Pearl—San Antonio’s historic district. Order Fried Octopus, Loaded Margherita Pizza, or Mushroom & Sweet Pea Risotto from Zocca Cuisine D’Italia. Chow down Smoked Edamame or Curry BBQ Bowls like the Curry Queso Hot Dog or the Brisket Smoke Show at Curry Boys BBQ. And treat yourself to a scoop of Mexican Raspberry Ice Cream, Scottish Cookie Gelato, or Peach Sorbet at Justin’s Ice Cream Company.

Hit Up San Antonio Nightlife

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If you’re ready to hit the town with your friends, check out San Antonio’s nightlife! Kick back and relax while enjoying classic cocktails like a Mint Julep or Manhattan, or sip on a glass of Fog Bank Pinot Noir at Bar Mon Ami. Show off your karaoke skills, dance the night away, or attend weekly drag shows at the three-level Bonham Exchange. Order appetizers paired with drinks like the Rye Old Fashioned, Scottish Peach, and the Orange Delight at historic The Menger Bar—once frequented by Teddy Roosevelt! Listen to live jazz music while enjoying large plates like the Jazz Burger or Pasta Ragu and sipping cocktails like Desert Rose and Bananas in Havana at JazzTX. Want to spice up your night with a themed bar? Check out El Luchador, a San Antonio hot spot complete with Mexican wrestling masks as decor! Or travel back to the Prohibition era with drinks like the Monte Carlo, Queen’s Road, or Bleeding Sunset at San Antonio Hidden Gem Bar 1919, located in the Blue Star Arts Complex.

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Moving to San Antonio soon? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities throughout the San Antonio area that can help with your transition. Find a storage unit near you!

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.