Want to live in a big city with a small town vibe? San Antonio might be exactly what you’re looking for! The seventh largest city in the U.S. offers affordable living, family-friendly activities, excellent food, and so much more. If you’re thinking about moving down south, Alamo City may be the place for you. Check out these 15 things to know about living in San Antonio!
Experience Life on the Affordable Side
Although San Antonio isn’t a small city, it’s usually compared to its big city siblings Dallas, Houston, and Austin, which can be more expensive. Comparatively, the San Antonio cost of living is much lower—12% lower than the national average, actually. The median home price is $121,100, and the median monthly rent is $882. Looking for the best neighborhoods in San Antonio to buy a home? Areas like Alamo Heights, Tobin Hill, and Monte Vista are popular among singles and young professionals, whereas neighborhoods like Northwest Crossing, Terrell Hills, and Oak Park-Northwood are great places for raising a family.
A Booming Job Market
Searching for a new career? Not only is Alamo City’s unemployment rate 3% lower than the national average, but San Antonio is also the home base for companies like Air Force Federal Credit Union, H-E-B, iHeartMedia, Whataburger, Valero, and the Southwest Research Institute, meaning jobs are abundant. 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!
Welcome to Military City, USA
The patriotic atmosphere and multiple military stations in San Antonio have earned the city the nickname of “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 a few military training camps with a combined population of about 300,000. In addition, the area is home to 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 places for military to retire in the U.S. with 15 VA facilities within 50 miles of the city and no state income tax!
Head Back to School
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 boasts a college experience full of team spirit, while Texas A&M University-San Antonio is recognized as the only Purple Heart University in San Antonio. Private schools like St. Mary’s University and Trinity University are known for their nursing, law, engineering, and business degree programs, while community colleges like San Antonio College and Mt. San Antonio College are great places to get 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 experiences!
A Haven for History Buffs
San Antonio’s military, religious, and colonial history is rich and interesting for history-lovers of all ages. 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 San Antonio! 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 José’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, The Briscoe Western Art Museum, and UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.
Bask in the Great Outdoors
Get to know San Antonio by visiting the area’s outdoor attractions! Stroll through San Pedro Springs Park, the second oldest park in the U.S. that boasts a swimming pool, gazebo, tennis courts, and more. Enjoy a year-round garden and floral display, ponds filled with koi, and a 60-foot waterfall while winding through shaded paths at the Japanese Tea Garden. Don’t forget to visit Denman Estate Park, home to an incredible monument handcrafted by artisans in San Antonio’s sister city Gwangju, South Korea. Make sure to stop by the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest commercial cave system in Texas. Or check out Bracken Cave to see the largest gathering of mammals on the planet as 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats ascend for the night.
Family Fun for All Ages
Looking for things to do with kids in San Antonio? SeaWorld has three locations in the U.S., and its Texas location is the biggest! See exotic animals like the clouded leopard and Nile crocodiles at the San Antonio Zoo. Other attractions for San Antonio family fun include theme parks like Aquatica, Six Flags Fiesta, and Morgan’s Wonderland. For more local flavor, take the family to the Pearl Weekend Market to check out a beloved San Antonio farmers market and snag some fresh produce. Kids will love the annual strawberry festival each spring, too!
Support San Antonio Sports
One of the best things about living in San Antonio is you’ll have a pro basketball team to cheer on! The San Antonio Spurs is a source of pride for local residents and out-of-towners alike. If NBA basketball isn’t your go-to, San Antonio has plenty of other sports to keep you entertained! Watch the San Antonio Missions (MiLB) hit a home run at Wolff Stadium. Cheer on the San Antonio FC (USL) at Toyota Field. Or catch the UTSA Roadrunners (NCAA) and other collegiate football teams when they compete at the Alamo Bowl!
Saddle Up for the Rodeo
Every February, be sure to check out the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo! Two million people come to this event for family entertainment, live music, and livestock shows. The festivities kick off with the Guinness-recognized world’s largest breakfast, The Cowboy Breakfast. It’s a must-experience meal for anyone living in San Antonio! After this Texas-sized breakfast (which feeds approximately 40,000 people), you can head on down to the rodeo to watch professional cowpokes wrangle steeds and steers!
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! Stay at Hotel Havana or Westin Hotel for a relaxing staycation in Downtown San Antonio. Check out the river boat tours from Go Rio Cruises for beautiful views of the river through a narrated cruise or a river shuttle. Enjoy table-side chips and guacamole and a prickly pear margarita when you visit Boudro’s Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk. Share dinner with the kids in a tropical atmosphere at Rainforest Cafe. Explore La Villita Historic Arts Village, where you can find live music and cultural festivals throughout the year. Or visit Hemisfair Park to walk through the gardens, see the Tower of the Americas, or catch a family-friendly show at The Magik Theatre.
Try the Local Cuisine
Ready to try some of the best food in San Antonio? Chow down on some breakfast tacos at Taco Taco Café. Devour delicious breakfast staples at Pancake Joe’s like their Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes. Stop by Bakery Lorraine for macarons or Lick for a cold chocolate scoop. Try authentic mainstays like Enchiladas Verde, Chicken Flautas, or Spicy Chicken Mole at Jacala. Get your fill of chips and dip and Carne Guisada Tacos at The Original Blanco Cafe. Interested in something more unique? Check out Francis Bogside, an Irish pub with craft cocktails and an Irish-Texan menu. Or head over to the Bottling Department at Pearl, a trendy food hall located in the historic district of San Antonio that features local vendors serving everything from ramen to macarons!
Party at Fiesta San Antonio
Started in 1891 as a celebration honoring the heroes of the Alamo, Fiesta San Antonio has become the city’s largest and most popular event! Held annually in April, over three million people take part in this 11-day festival, which features several parades, including one along the San Antonio River Walk (so the floats really do float!). It’s San Antonio’s signature festival, and you don’t want to miss the coronation of Miss Fiesta San Antonio, the distribution of the cascarones, the dancing, or the candy!
Hit Up the San Antonio Nightlife
If you’re ready to hit the town with your friends, check out San Antonio nightlife! Head over to The Bonham Exchange, where you can party, show off your karaoke skills, and dance the night away. Looking for something a little less modern? Try the historic The Menger Bar, once frequented by Teddy Roosevelt. Bar 414 is known around the area for their prohibition-themed decor and cocktails. Those looking to have a relaxed evening can head to the Soho Wine & Martini Bar for premium cocktails in Downtown San Antonio, and those looking for live music can check out Jazz, TX or Howl at the Moon. Want to change up your night with a themed bar? Check out El Luchador, a luchador-themed San Antonio hot spot complete with Mexican wrestling masks as decor!
An Innovative Arts Scene
San Antonio is home to incredible art and artists. The San Antonio Central Library (also known as The Big Enchilada) is a fantastic example of a building housing art while being art itself. Majestic Theater and Woodlawn Theatre are prime spots for experiencing Broadway productions, concerts, and more. Art connoisseurs will love the various collections at the McNay Museum of Modern Art, the first modern art museum in Texas. See the works of performance artists and other artists in residence at Artpace. And, of course, there’s San Antonio Museum of Art, which houses all kinds of unique exhibitions from Latin American art to modernist photography.
Get to Know San Antonio’s Hidden Gems
Apart from the big attractions in San Antonio, there are plenty of quirky spots to make you feel a little less like a tourist. From recurring art events like First Fridays to festivals like Chalk It Up, you can find all kinds of fun San Antonio events every weekend! Get a rush of adrenaline with indoor skydiving, if you dare. For something a little calmer (albeit stranger), head to Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum. Grab a bite to eat and watch the races—the turtle races, that is—at Little Woodrow’s. Spend some time at PuroSlam, a nationally-recognized competitive poetry slam where audience members are the judges (and they don’t go easy). Take a selfie at the Giant Justins—also known as the world’s largest cowboy boots—or at Flower Vault, a space decorated for maximum photographic appeal.
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