Moving to San Antonio, TX

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San Antonio At-A-Glance

With year-round blue skies, a rich cultural history, and a welcoming vibe lauded by Travel and Leisure, it’s understandable that most people think of San Antonio chiefly as a tourist destination. UNESCO’s designation of five frontier missions—including the Alamo—as a “World Heritage Site” only adds to that perception.

In contrast with similar large-scale metropolitan areas, San Antonio has a lower cost of living, a thriving job market, and a competitive housing market ideal for first-time homebuyers and retirees. Plus, from downtown digs and older homes in Monte Vista and Alamo Heights to popular suburban communities like Stone Oak and Terrel Hills, there’s an array of neighborhoods available for young professionals, families, and empty nesters alike.

Officially the city covers 505 square miles. The downtown is nested at the core of two concentric loops, 410 and 1604. According to city leaders, the 5-year forecast for the downtown area includes nearly 60 projects worth over $3 billion in construction.  

America’s 7th Largest City is More Than the Alamo

According to the U.S. Census data collected between 2020 and 2021, more people moved to San Antonio than anywhere else in the country. More than 13,000 people relocated to the Texas city, which was the most for cities with populations of 50,000 or more. 

Locals know that America’s seventh largest city has more than the legendary Alamo to recommend it. For starters, diversity is woven into the city and reflected in food, language, art, and architecture. There’s variety in social experiences, too.

Wherever you settle in San Antonio, you’ll be within an hour of hiking the hill country, sampling a glass from area wineries, enjoying the goings-on at the historic Pearl Brewery, catching a Spurs game or live music performance at the Alamodome, savoring enchiladas on the River Walk, or watching a colorful April Fiesta parade.

For the young at heart, there are several area amusement parks, including SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas as well as the world’s first-ever completely ultra-accessible™ park, Morgan’s Wonderland. Up for a road trip? You can reach the beach in less than a couple of hours.

San Antonio: A Diverse, Progressive and Global Competitive City

The world may know San Antonio as “The Alamo City,” but boosters frequently refer to it as “Military City USA.” Given that there’s been a military presence in the area for 300 years (including the current U.S. Department of Defense’s largest medical center), it’s no surprise to find a sizable community of locals employed at Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, and Randolph Air Force Base. The aerospace industry remains a dominant strength in San Antonio with the presence of several aviation and aerospace corporations, including the military. 

Non-military industries thrive here, as well, especially: hospitality and entertainment; manufacturing; biotechnology and biomedicine; energy (including businesses related to the Eagle Ford Shale); and information technology. Cybersecurity is a growing economic sector with The University of Texas at San Antonio’s cyber security program landing at the top of several national “best of” lists. And the city is positioning itself to be at the forefront of the new energy economy, committing to investing in employment opportunities in green industries. Major corporations include USAA, Valero Energy, iHeartMedia, Rackspace Technology, and HEB.

Unemployment rate: 3.2% (as of December 2022)

Average weekly wages for all industries: $995 (as of May 2021)

You’ll Find Affordable Living in San Antonio

Good news for those interested in moving to San Antonio: housing costs are relatively reasonable for a city this size. And not just because there’s no state income tax in Texas! San Antonio has a cost of living that ranges from 12-14 percent lower than the national average, which means it’s more affordable than living in Austin, Houston or Dallas. Plus, with a lower cost of living compared with the national average, you can expect everything from groceries, entertainment and restaurants to cost less when living in San Antonio. 

Renters can expect to pay a little more than $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. The average home price in San Antonio is roughly $300,000. According to the San Antonio Business Journal, “the movement of higher income earners to San Antonio and low mortgage rates had a lot to do with why housing demand was so intense over the past couple of years.” The “fervent buying activity” meant prices skyrocketed, leading to a 39 percent average increase in median home prices across the city. 

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Trendy, Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods for Everyone 

San Antonio is so much more than The Alamo AND the River Walk! From trendy, walkable communities to safe, family-friendly suburbs, these neighborhoods offer something for everyone:

Olmos Park

If you’re looking for a small-town feel with proximity to the big city, Olmos Park is a good choice. It’s a friendly, welcoming and safe spot in San Antonio. Oh, and did we mention the tree-lined streets? 

Alamo Heights

Natural beauty plus art and culture is the best way to describe Alamo Heights, a neighborhood just five miles north of the downtown area. Alamo Heights also has a good school system and historic architecture, making it a highly desirable spot for both young professionals and families.

Pearl District

An up-and-coming hot spot is the Pearl District, which hosts enviable entertainment, restaurants, breweries, bars, and more. The best part? It’s a mix of urban culture and outdoors, giving it a highly walkable feel along (more) tree-lined streets. 

Southtown

Southtown, the neighborhood just south of downtown, is a hidden gem full of history and character. You won’t find it on any of the neighborhood “best of” lists, which is exactly what makes it so appealing. 

Castle Hills

Locals would hail Castle Hills as THE ideal place for family-friendly options and a genuine community feel. Home to more than 25 parks, you’ll get plenty of outdoor time in a safe, friendly atmosphere. 

San Antonio Traffic is Bad But Could Be Worse

There’s a running joke in San Antonio that if you think the traffic is bad, just remember it could be Houston’s traffic. Even so, San Antonio drivers lose 32 minutes every day to being tied up in traffic. According to the latest traffic report by Inrix, a U.S. company that analyzes transportation data, San Antonio ranked in the top 30 worst cities for traffic in 2022. 

How does that translate into money? On average, drivers lose $504 annually because of sitting in traffic. The report doesn’t bode well for Texas in general with four of the state’s cities landing on the top-30 ranking. 

The highway system in San Antonio is well maintained but, like most major cities, it’s beginning to feel the strain of population growth and urban sprawl. There’s been abundant roadwork in recent years, and a plan for increasing reliance on public transportation and bicycles. To that end, the city has developed green belts and linear parks designed to connect communities through bike and hike trails.

The Go-To Location for Innovative Programs in Higher Ed

In general, the San Antonio public school system has ranked toward the bottom compared with other bigger cities in Texas. However, in recent years the city has invested substantially in the education system, including a $1.3 billion package in 2021 to renovate 36 campuses to help position San Antonio as a hub for premier K-12 education. 

Colleges in the area routinely rank near the top of lists for innovative programs involving cyber security, technology, and aerospace. The University of Texas San Antonio consistently ranks high among the nation’s top universities for studying cybersecurity. Trinity University, Texas Lutheran University, and St. Mary’s University are also excellent choices for higher education.

San Antonio Weather: Snow Cones Over Snow Plows

It’s South Central Texas, so San Antonio is H-O-T for a big chunk of the year. While there are bouts of dry weather and the occasional extended drought, newcomers are surprised sometimes by the summer humidity. This makes sense when you factor in that the city center is only a few hundred miles from Texas Gulf Coast beaches. 

Officially, San Antonio has a “humid subtropical climate” and averages 32.91 inches of rain per year, but there’s a lot of variability in the landscape and vegetation across the city. Areas close to downtown can appear more tropical. The further north and west you travel, for example, the more apt you are to see cacti and scrub trees.

The upside to the summer heat is that winters are mild, with the occasional January ice storm shutting the city down for a day or two every few years. Given the warm, sunny weather, snow cones and margaritas are more popular than snow plows and shovels.

Summer average (June – Aug): 94℉ high, 73℉ low

Winter average (Dec – Feb): 65℉ high, 41℉ low

10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in San Antonio

In recent years, San Antonio has solidified its reputation as a prime destination, these are the 10 unmissable things to do here:

  1. Visit the Pearl District, a charming cultural hot spot home to great food, music and architecture. 
  2. Stroll along the River Walk, lit up like a cultural wonderland, which is a must-see visit for its shops, museums, restaurants and more. 
  3. Take a river taxi and float down to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which has an art collection spanning 5,000 years from antique to contemporary. 
  4. Sign up for a tour to see the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest known commercial caverns in Texas. You’ll venture 180 feet below ground to see ancient formations and large caves. 
  5. Plan a day trip to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which covers 38 acres of land and features exotic plants, desert greenery and a vast rose garden. 
  6. Save up and stop by El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the United States, and a central staple of the San Antonio cultural experience. 
  7. Plan your trip to San Antonio so that you can attend the annual Fiesta festival, which honors the heroes from the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. You’ll have your pick of more than 50 events to attend during the festival. 
  8. Take a dip in one of the nation’s best swimming spots at San Pedro Springs Park, the second oldest park in all of the U.S. 
  9. If history is your jam, visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park or the Quadrangle Fort Sam Houston. Both places will recount history about one of the oldest cities in the U.S. 
  10. Spend the day at Morgan’s Wonderland, which is the first and only ultra-accessible theme park in the U.S. 

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