Whether you spun a globe and your finger stopped right on Texas, or you’ve been dreaming of making the move for a while and just need a little push, we’re here to help.
We’ve handcrafted the ultimate guide to one of the ultimate states in the country, just for you. It’s full of super-useful facts about daily life, a look at the local likes and loves, and even some bizarre trivia, just for fun. And in the end we hope you feel better about your decision.
Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.
Learn the Basics about: Texas
The nickname of The Lone Star State for Texas pays homage to the state’s former status as an independent republic. And you’ll see the star on just about everything in Texas, from the flags on people’s homes, to truck mud, flaps to ankle tattoos.
Texas is the second largest state in the nation based on both size and population. It’s so big, in fact, that Texas alone makes up about 14% of the country's total area.
And with that comes a state that’s home to all sorts of different terrain, cultures, lifestyles, values and more. It’s pretty much like a bunch of separate states all wrapped into one. Out west you’ve got all those ranches, farms and oil land (aka Texas Tea). Down south, you’ve got San Antonio and a big, tasty mixture of Texas with some spicy Mexican culture.
Then out east is pretty much all pine forests as far as the eyes can see, with Houston (the state's largest city) down on the southeast coast, right on the Gulf of Mexico. And finally, you’ve got a stretch from the center to the north of Texas with prairies, lakes and the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
Dallas alone is the state’s third-largest city, but it’s got suburbs that are home to hundreds of thousands of people, and many have their own well-populated suburbs. It just goes on and on. The metroplex is where a ton of the action is. Many large companies have their global headquarters here and you can’t drop a penny without hitting a fancy luxury car.
With all that space, and for many other reasons, Texas is one of the most moved-to states. In fact, the Texas population has grown remarkably fast over the past century. In 1900, the state population was only 3 million. In less than 100 years, the population ballooned to more than 20 million (it’s currently at 28,704,330). Heck, 399,734 people became official Texans in 2017 alone.
So there’s got to be some big reason all these people are moving their herds to Texas. Let’s talk about a few key factors that make Texas such a hot spot.
Job Market in Texas
Maybe you’re transferring your career to the land where everything’s bigger, but for those who are looking for a whole new start, we’ve got a few things to talk about, starting with some numbers.
The current unemployment rate in Texas is 4.0%, just below the national average of 4.1%—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the minimum wage is tied with the federal minimum, at $7.25/hour.
And thanks to the state's generous size, there’s no shortage of opportunities for people looking for a career in basically anything, except maybe ice making. Like we said earlier, the west is more rural, North Central Dallas is way more metropolitan, and there’s a lot of everything in between.
Now, some of the fastest-growing fields ‘round Texas currently are: wind turbine technician, statistician, occupational therapist, nurse practitioner, rod buster (that sounds awesome), diagnostic medical sonographer and physical therapist. But if you’re really shootin’ big, the highest-paying jobs are: anesthesiologist, CEO, surgeon, OB/GYN, airline pilot, psychiatrist and pediatrician.
So there really are tons of great opportunities out there in The Lone Star State, and in pretty much every sector imaginable. What else could you possibly need? Oh yeah, what about a house.
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Housing in Texas
Unless you've just inherited Southfork Ranch (site of the hit '80s show Dallas), you'll most likely be looking for a place to hang your hat when you get to town. So then, what could the housing market possibly look like in Texas?
To start, home values currently average around $186,700, and values have risen 6.7% over the past year—great for sellers and investors. And the median price of homes listed on the market is $279,500. But if you’re more of a minimal-commitment kinda guy or gal, renting a home in the state will set you back about $1,575/month on average.
But if apartment life is more your game, you might be surprised to hear that rent in Texas isn’t as pricey as you'd think, with all of those major cities and everything. Take Dallas, for example: you'll find one-bedrooms here going for an average of $1,050/month—not bad, eh? Of course, it is Dallas, and you can easily find something for 10 times that amount, if you want.
In Austin, the state capital and home to the University of Texas, you'll find one-bedrooms for around $1,130/month. San Antonio, Fort Worth and Houston are also pretty reasonable, with one-bedrooms ranging from $848/month to $967/month on average. But if you really want to open up your budget, head up to the Panhandle, where rent is a super-reasonable $612/month in Amarillo.
If you're on the hunt for a newer place to make your own, you're in luck— the major decade of housing development in The Lone Star State was the 2000s. But there's also a ton of brand-new development going on at the moment. You'll find most of it around the major metropolitan areas, like Dallas and Fort Worth, with Austin, San Antonio and Houston coming in pretty hot for new homes, too. The rest of the state is developing a little slower, however.
Now, you may not always have the freedom to decide where you’re moving to, but if you do, it’s always a good idea to see the whole picture before working with a real estate agent or apartment broker. They’ll help you take it from there.
Texas Local Culture
Texans describe themselves as friendly to their neighbors, polite and proper (they pepper in "sir" and "ma'am" like their next breath depended on it). They’re diehard sports fans, too (especially football—high school, college and professional). Texans are also fiercely patriotic, in what is commonly referred to as a “red state.”
Seriously, Texas pride is strong here - to the point of being extreme. Even some current (and former) residents pointed out that Texans will defend their state to their last breath. But no matter how the conversation goes, it always ends with a polite little “Bless your heart.”
Because the state is so incredibly huge (we're talkin' massive, really), locals say that many people here lead a "rural and isolated lifestyle." As a result, Texans tend to be quite talkative—even with strangers. Not only will residents here wave to you as you drive past, but they're also likely to strike up long conversations in places like the grocery store checkout line or at a stoplight, whether you're old friends or not.
Though the "Old West" is long gone, the cowboy lifestyle still lives on in The Lone Star State. Like we said, out west is very rural with farms and ranches all over the place. But no matter where you are in the state, cowboy hats and boots are a regular sight.
Now, it's important to keep in mind that Texans aren’t all cowboys. In fact, far from it. With so many millions of people in the state, it’s actually extremely diverse. One local said that the population is so diverse because Texas is made up of "pretty much anyone who can stand the heat." Considering the impressive population growth rate, we believe it.
Lone Star State Trivia
Texas is home to three of the top 10 most populous cities in the US—Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. The state also holds five out of 10 of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.
Barbeque and Tex-Mex (also referred to as "Mexican food done right") are huge here in The Lone Star State. Texans are crazy for steak, and really any meat in general. They make their tacos in the traditional way, too—with a squeeze of lime and topped with cilantro.
So don't go moseying into a Tex-Mex establishment expecting your meal to taste just like the tacos your Scandinavian mother makes on Tuesday nights. When you try them, you will definitely find yourself pleasantly surprised, and probably a convert.
They say that "everything is bigger in Texas," and this includes their highways and speed limits, too. The highest speed limit in the state is 85 mph, and of course some even push that further. So keep your eyes open. Traffic in the state is also said to be terrible, with so many major metropolitan areas located so close together. It can take more than an hour to run a simple errand in any of the major cities, regardless of the time of day.
You'll find dozens of major tech companies in The Lone Star State, including: HP, Google, PayPal, Facebook, 3M, Apple Inc. and IBM Corp. In fact, Austin has been referred to as "the next Silicon Valley." All these big-name giants prove that Texas is a good place to relocate if you're looking to start up a successful business, or you'd like to work for a long-running mega-corp.
Not only is oil a major industry in Texas, but there are also lots of wind farms in the state. The sustainable energy industry has helped create a number of new job opportunities in the last few years. Who knows what’s next on that front, but they’ve definitely got the space for whatever it is.
We mentioned earlier that Texans are crazy about their sports, and the show/book/movie (all of the same title) Friday Night Lights is proof of that. The story follows a high school football team's journey to the state championship, and it's a favorite among locals. Additionally, Dallas and King of the Hill have immortalized the state on the silver screen.
Texas is also the birthplace of a long list of celebrities from all walks of fame, including: Patrick Swayze, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Steve Martin, Matthew McConaughey, Howard Hughes, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farrah Fawcett, Kelly Clarkson and Buddy Holly.
Can't-Miss Texas Fun + Activities
So what is it that Texans do when they're not lasso-ing things or running the next big tech company? Well, tons of stuff, really.
Here are just a few of the state's don't-miss sights and activities:
- Houston Tunnel System: A great way to escape the heat, this is basically an underground mall in Houston. The underground tunnel system is climate-controlled and links 95 city blocks below the streets of the downtown area. You'll find shops, newsstands, restaurants, banks, food courts, dry cleaners and copy centers. If you're looking to get some exercise and stay entertained without sweatin' like a hog, this is the place for you.
- Munster Mansion: Located in Waxahachie, this Victorian mansion was meticulously modeled after the mid-1960s TV series, The Munsters. A Texas couple watched the entire series to gather their plans to create the house, and every room featured on the TV show is included. There's a coffin-shaped phone booth, and the stairs actually lift to reveal the family's fire-breathing pet, Spot the Dragon. The family only gives tours in October, so plan to visit near Halloween.
- Cadillac Ranch: We saw this attraction and immediately thought "That's so Texas" that we had to include it on our list. Located just west of Amarillo, this artistic sculpture features 10 Cadillacs half-buried in a dusty field, nose down. It was built in 1974 and is a monument to the "Golden Age" of the American automobile. The cars are covered in graffiti (which is sometimes done on a theme by the original artist, such as all pink for Breast Cancer Awareness), and visitors are encouraged to bring their own spray paint to add to it. The view of the cars with a grand Texas sunset in the background truly is a sight to be seen.
- Palo Duro Canyon: Known as "The Grand Canyon of Texas", this spectacle is located in the heart of the Texas Panhandle, near Canyon. Formed by the Red River, it's the second largest and longest canyon in the US at 120 miles long, and sometimes reaches 20 miles across. Visitors can drive down to the floor of the canyon, or bring their horse to ride the trails. The most prominent feature is known as the Lighthouse formation, and it's not a spot to be missed.
- National Museum of Health and Medical Science: If you've always wanted to see the human body as a literal work of art, you can do that in Houston. Visitors walk through a giant brain and an eyeball, and experience the human body as an educational and interactive, much larger-than-life artwork. There's even an exhibit featuring a giant beating heart.
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Pros and Cons of Living in The Lone Star State
A move to Texas is definitely a big one, so why just take our word for it. We’ve put together a list of pros and cons of Texas life straight from the mouths of real-life Texans.
Pros (as agreed upon by certified Texans themselves):
- Opportunities: With the presence of so many major tech companies in the state, including Google and PayPal, to say that there are tons of job opportunities here is an understatement. Whether you want to work for an existing giant corporation or become the next Steve Jobs and start your own, there are plenty of chances for you to make it in "the next Silicon Valley." (Of course, there are plenty of non-tech jobs in the state, too.)
- Four major metropolitans: Texas has four, count 'em, four major metropolitan areas within its borders—that's a lot! Between Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, your big city plate will seriously be overflowing. Obviously, being in such close proximity to so many metropolitans creates great opportunities for jobs and entertainment, as well as places to meet people and raise a family. Plus, you have convenient access to pretty much anything you could ever need—shops, restaurants, concert venues and more. Who could complain?
- Sunsets: Texans proudly claim to have the most beautiful sunsets on the planet. We’re sure the sunrises are nice too, but we’re not big morning people.
Cons (as agreed upon by certified Texans themselves):
- The heat: To say it’s hot here is a bit of an understatement. Waco set the all-time Texas high temperature record in 2018 of 114 degrees Fahrenheit. So, not only is it hot, but it's actually getting even hotter! Coupled with the heat itself is intense humidity—the kind that'll have your clothes stuck to you like your date at a horror movie within minutes.
- Tornadoes and hurricanes: Part of Texas is located in what the US refers to as "Tornado Alley." As of fall 2018, six tornadoes had already been reported in the state. As for hurricanes, most everyone heard about the infamous Hurricane Harvey, which struck in 2017 and was said to be tied with Hurricane Katrina as the "costliest tropical cyclone on record." Houston's metropolitan area was hit the hardest by the storm, and more than $125 billion in damage resulted from its torrential downpours.
- Mosquitoes: These pests are a real problem here. It's so bad, in fact, that there are actually trucks that drive around releasing bug spray in giant clouds to try to curb the numbers of these backyard party crashers.
For fun, we’ve put together a few strange (to say the least) laws that are still in existence down in Texas.
- Here are a few from onlyinyourstate:
- Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas. Apparently due to one of the volumes' containing a recipe for make-at-home beer, the entire series is banned in the state. One recipe spoiled it for the rest.
- It's illegal to milk someone else's cow. Get your own cow, pal.
- It's illegal to sell your own eye. We didn’t see that one coming.
- Criminals must give their victims 24 hours' notice before they act. Texas will accept this notice given either orally or in writing.
Off to Texas
Well, there you have it—the unique, and large, world of Texas. We’ve talked about size, the local job scene, a bit of history, what to do, what to eat, where to go, some pros, a few cons, and even added a bit of weird stuff to cleanse the palate. And despite all that, there’s just no way we could have possibly covered it all. But hopefully we got you rolling down the right path.
Now it’s up to you to get your bags all packed, make housing arrangements, send out resumes, and throw away all your sweaters. Good luck on the road, and make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.
NOTE: if you decide Texas isn't right for you, we've covered all the other states, too, to help you find YOUR perfect spot. If size isn’t exactly your thing, have you thought about Rhode Island?