Everything You Need to Know Before Moving to San Antonio

San Antonio residents use the Spanish phrase “puro San Antonio ” to acknowledge the things that make our community distinct. There is no shortage of culture, food, or activities here. San Antonio is the home of Six Flags Fiesta Texas, world famous art museums, and multiple NBA championships, to name a few.

Moving to San Antonio

“Hey Baby Que Paso?” The Alamo isn’t the only destination in San Antonio! The city is full of unique neighborhoods to call home. Here are just a few to consider.

  • Alamo Heights: Considered one of the older and more affluent neighborhoods. It’s actually a city but it sits inside San Antonio just north of downtown. Visit the Mcnay Art Museum to see an amazing collection.
  • Downtown Area: Here you will find the Alamo and the Riverwalk, two of Texas’s top tourist attractions that everyone should visit at least once, or twice. Delicious Mexican food, one of the oldest hat makers in Texas, and the longest wooden bar in Texas.
  • Monte Vista: Centrally located historic district and affluent neighborhood. Other than the San Antonio Zoo, there aren’t many attractions. But if you like driving around looking at beautiful old houses this is the perfect neighborhood.
  • Southtown: Just south of Downtown San Antonio, Southtown is great place to visit galleries, bars, restaurants, all of which you can do while biking.

San Antonio at a Glance

Although you can count on chips and salsa to always be a staple in San Antonio, the fourth largest city in Texas, you can expect the population and cost of living to fluctuate in the future.  If you are considering relocating to San Antonio, here are some current stats for the city.

  • Population: 1,564,490 (worldpopulationreview.com)
  • Cost of living: 10.9% lower than the national average (Salary.com)
  • Median 1-bedroom apartment cost: $800 (Renthop.com)
  • Average salary: $63,000/yr (payscale.com)

For the latest updates on the coronavirus COVID-19, visit the SAN ANTONIO HEALTH DEPARTMENT website.

20 Things to Know Before Moving to San Antonio

San Antonio has a distinct culture that can be intimidating for newcomers. No hay problema! The 20 tips below will prepare you well to step right into the Alamo City like you were always here.

1. We LOVE our Spurs.

The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have a reputation for grace, dignity, and professionalism that rivals their stellar record on the basketball court, Los Spurs enjoy near universal respect and praise. For hardcore Texas sports fans, the team and its long-running success (almost) make up for the absence of a professional football team.

2. Tacos. Breakfast tacos.

We’ll steer clear of the infamous 2016 Taco War between San Antonio and Austin, but you can trust that breakfast tacos are plentiful in San Antonio and come with a wonderful array of ingredients, from bean and cheese to chorizo and nopalitos. Look for the ones made with homemade tortillas for the most authentic Tex-Mex culinary experience.

3. Everyone shops at the same grocery store.

Okay, maybe not the identical physical store, but collectively San Antonian’s do the bulk of their shopping at the same chain: H-E-B. In 1905, Florence Butt started the local grocery company in Kerrville. Today it is headquartered in San Antonio and boasts over 350 grocery stores across Texas and northeast Mexico. (Bonus: you can count on them to make a proper foodie fuss every summer when hatch chile season arrives. Hatch chile and lime cream-filled cookies, anyone?)

4. Fiesta Fantasma

San Antonio is an old city with a complex and rich history–a perfect recipe for ghosts! Many of the old hotels in downtown San Antonio have been the location of unexplained phenomena and strange sightings. Some of the most haunted include The Menger Hotel, Saint Anthony Hotel, and The Crockett Hotel.

5. Brace yourself for “cedar fever.”

Unfortunately, the pollen generated by our hardy, drought tolerant “cedar” trees (Juniperus ashei) creates upper respiratory problems in late fall and early winter. Sneezing and malaise are common reactions, and sinus infections are frequent complications. The tree’s jumbo-sized pollen grains are notorious among allergists nationwide for creating discomfort in people otherwise resistant to seasonal and environmental allergies.

6. We have an array of education choices.

San Antonio has some great public and private schools. But did you know we’re an incubator when it comes to charter schools and homeschooling? Both alternatives have experienced an uptick in interest over the last decades. Major universities like UTSA, Trinity University, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Our Lady of the Lake, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio College, St. Mary’s, and our extensive community college system, provide life-long learning options.

7. Hit the trail

Under the leadership of recent mayors, the city has expanded hike and bike trail options, refashioning several open spaces into a series of connected linear parks. Paired with gorgeous existing parks and nature preserves—not to mention the annual Rock N Roll Marathon, area horseback riding businesses, and the YMCA’s Síclovía San Antonio events, we’ve got the outdoorsy stuff covered.

8. Amuse yourself

There’s Sea World, Fiesta Texas, and the world-famous Schlitterbahn waterpark in nearby New Braunfels, but we’re also home to Morgan’s Wonderland, the first-ever amusement park designed primarily for people with disabilities. Meanwhile our cultural landscape features a number of art museums, the outstanding Blue Star arts complex, Gemini Ink literary center, and an outstanding children’s museum as well as a world-renowned zoo.

9. About that question of faith . . .

If you didn’t grow up in the Bible Belt, then the question “Do you have a church home?” probably seems downright rude. Most of the time it’s intended to be on par with asking someone where they live or where they went to college. A polite, pat response—or skillful change of topic—will usually put the matter to rest.

10. Beach or hills? Choose your pleasure.

Gulf Coast beaches are a couple of hours away and rugged hill country parks and resort communities are even closer. Your weekend getaway awaits!

11. ¡Viva Fiesta!

Held every spring, Fiesta is a citywide, 11-day cultural party. The origins date back to 1891, making it one of the country’s oldest festivals. Special events and parades are held across town, and city schools close one Friday to allow young revelers to attend the Battle of Flowers parade. Be sure to keep an eye out for the highly collectible Fiesta medals, too.

12. Watch for flying eggs!

Cascarones, colorful dyed eggshells filled with bright confetti, start flying between friends and loved ones at Easter and continue through Fiesta season. They’re popular with all ages and make a nifty treat in holiday baskets, if that’s one of your family traditions. You can purchase cascarones  in large bags from pop-up vendors in the spring or you can grab a few cartons at H-E-B.

13. Red + Blue = Purple

When it comes to national politics, Bexar County has the distinction of being a “blue” county in a “red” state. We’ve got some vocal libertarians in the mix, too. For some of us, this political diversity is welcome because it discourages rampant divisiveness and encourages more thoughtful discussions. Plus, it’s harder to overgeneralize about “the other party” if you know—and like—someone who supports it.

14. Welcome to wine country

Move over Napa Valley. Just north of the city is the upstart Texas Wine Trail, featuring over 51 homegrown operations. Most wineries have tasting rooms, so designate a driver and head on out.

15. Know your history

There are five Spanish missions in San Antonio. The most famous is The Alamo, and while most people get their picture taken in front of it and yell “Remember the Alamo,” it is important to understand why these missions were erected in the first place. These five San Antonio missions were a part of a massive Spanish Catholic colonization amongst natives in this country.

16. Holiday tamales? Yes, please!

The savory Mexican dish made of steamed, stuffed corn masa is available 24/7/365 at Alamo City restaurants and grocers. Come December, however, residents start making and purchasing their favorite tamales in earnest. You’ll see platters of them presented triumphantly alongside turkey and ham on holiday tables.

17. Turn Around Don’t Drown

Heavy rains don’t happen often in San Antonio, but when they do occur they can turn deadly for motorists and passengers. That’s because Mother Nature’s Central Texas drainage system gets easily overwhelmed. Even a little water on Texas roadways can set a driver up to lose control, sweeping them off the road in a surging current of water. Regional safety experts routinely promote the National Weather Service’s trademarked phrase to encourage people to back away from rising water on bridges and roads.

18. Chips and salsa are our bread and butter

You’re far more likely to be offered a pre-meal serving of chips and salsa in San Antonio restaurants than complimentary bread and butter. After all, this is a Texan town with Mexican roots. Who’s complaining? No one. Have a margarita!

19. Our summers are, well, hot.

Obviously. We’re in South Central Texas, right? Each year is different, but the worst of the triple-digit heat and bright, blazing sunshine routinely comes in July and leaves by mid-September. That’s the toughest part of the year, yes, but the discomfort is offset by mild winters and glorious spring and autumn weather. Keep that fact in mind every August, breath deeply, and grab a margarita (or snow cone) and head to the pool to beat the heat.

20. San Antonio is the biggest small town in Texas.

Boosters promote us as a “City on the Rise” and point to all sorts of data about our growth and potential, but residents know that our best asset is our easygoing, neighborly vibe. On holidays you’ll find people from all walks of life filling local parks, celebrating our warmth and hospitality with open-air barbecues. On downtown’s famous River Walk in early December, locals outnumber tourists as we gather to take in the gorgeous holiday lights. There’s Fiesta and the annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, too, both of which pull people together. And when our Spurs win BIG? The whole city can feel like one big neighborhood block party.

Pamela Price