Best Affordable Places to Live in Texas in 2023

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    (Last Updated – 10/2023)

    As one of the largest states in the United States, Texas offers a lot of options for great places to live. Home to two of the most populous cities in the country (Houston and Dallas), Texas also has several other large metro areas as well as a plethora of small and medium-sized towns. The cost of living in Texas is 7% lower than the national average.

    Best Places to Live in Texas

    No matter what you’re looking for, you’re likely to be able to find it in Texas. Big cities, rural ranches and everything in between — The Lone Star State has something for everyone. Texas also features a wide range of natural beauty, from beaches on the Gulf of Mexico to the Texas Hill Country on the western side of the state.

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    Affordable

    Best Affordable Places to Live in Texas

    If cost is top of mind, take a look at some of the cities mentioned below to determine where the best place to live in Texas might be for you and your family. To arrive at this list, we considered the overall cost of living for a location, as well as rent prices, home values, property taxes, and other factors. Utilities are driving up the overall cost of living in Texas, but it still remains quite affordable.

    1. Nacogdoches

    Nacogdoches, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Marti157900

    Nacogdoches, the eponymous county seat of Nacogdoches County, is a small town in East Texas, near the Louisiana border. The home of Stephen F. Austin University features a historic downtown area. With settlement in the area dating back 10,000 years, the city boasts of being the “oldest town in Texas.”

    Population: 31,990

    Median Household Income: $36,434

    Cost of Living: 87.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,000

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.14

    Average Property Tax: $960

    Housing Affordability: As with many rural towns in Texas, housing in Nacogdoches is fairly affordable, with the median rent price well below that of other Texan towns. The median home price to income ratio is also in line with the national average. Plus, you might be able to take advantage of some of the first-time homebuyer programs in Texas.

    2. Harlingen

    Harlingen, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DavieJones13

    Harlingen is a city in Cameron County in South Texas. Part of the Brownsville–Harlingen metropolitan area, Harlingen is close to both the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Mexican border. It is a gateway to South Padre Island, the largest stretch of undeveloped ocean beach in North America, and its location in the Rio Grande Valley makes it a popular destination for birders.

    Population: 71,678

    Median Household Income: $46,507

    Cost of Living: 77.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,200

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.76

    Average Property Tax: $1,306

    Housing Affordability: The Brownsville — Harlingen metropolitan area is one of the most affordable in the entire country, with a cost of living 23% below the national average. The average Harlingen home value is $174,679 and housing is quite affordable in Harlingen as compared to other areas of Texas or the nation.

    3. Odessa

    Odessa, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DenisTangneyJr

    Odessa is the county seat of Ector County and is located in West Texas, near the state’s border with New Mexico. Odessa is the fictional setting of the popular book and movie Friday Night Lights. You can also check out the replica of Stonehenge, located at the University of Texas Permian Basin.

    Population: 112,906

    Median Household Income: $66,769

    Cost of Living: 92.2% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,700

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.16

    Average Property Tax: $1,061

    Housing Affordability: Housing in Odessa is quite affordable no matter whether you’re looking to buy or rent. In either case, you’re likely to find great options that fit your budget. The average Odessa home value is $211,197, well under the national average value, which tops $348,000.

    4. Amarillo

    Amarillo, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DenisTangneyJr

    Located in the Texas Panhandle in northern Texas, Amarillo is the gateway to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. You can also visit the Cadillac Ranch (a famous art installation of buried graffiti-decorated cars) or check out Historic Route 66. The area is rich with agriculture, but biosciences, technology, and aerospace companies are also increasingly calling the region home.

    Population: 201,291

    Median Household Income: $55,174

    Cost of Living: 84.2% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,200

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.55

    Average Property Tax: $1,415

    Housing Affordability: Both the median rent price and home price-to-income ratio in Amarillo are below the national averages. That means that (as in many areas in Texas) you should be able to find an affordable home no matter if you’re looking to rent or buy.

    5. Abilene

    Abilene, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Aaron Yoder

    Located alongside Interstate 20 about three hours west of Dallas, Abilene hosts Dyess Air Force Base and is the county seat of Taylor County. It features a historic downtown where visitors enjoy the restored Paramount Theatre and Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra. Rodeo is a popular event in the spring and fall.

    Population: 127,385

    Median Household Income: $54,493

    Cost of Living: 90.8% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,295

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.57

    Average Property Tax: $1,366

    Housing Affordability: Abilene features an overall cost of living about 10% lower than the national average. So whether you are looking to buy or rent, you should be able to find something in the Abilene area.

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    Best Places to Live in Texas for Families

    1. Leander

    Leander, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/RoschetzkyIstockPhoto

    Located in the booming Austin metropolitan area, Leander was the fastest-growing city in the United States between 2018 and 2019. Nature enthusiasts can take advantage of the nearby Colorado River as well as Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, and you are also close enough to Austin to enjoy all of the perks of a larger metro area.

    Population: 74,375

    Median Household Income: $117,090

    Cost of Living: 101.0% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,300

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.99

    Average Property Tax: $3,817

    Housing Affordability: The median home value in Leander tops $450,000 and is above the national average, but proximity to the Austin job market also helps ensure household income here is above average also. One of our best tips to qualify for a mortgage is to make sure that your income matches the prices of homes where you’re looking to live. If you’re not ready to purchase a home, you might consider renting until you know that you’re ready to buy.

    2. The Woodlands

    The Woodlands, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/GJGK Photography

    The Woodlands is a census-designated place in Montgomery County in the northern exurbs of Houston. A master-planned community, it features eight different villages, with each village further subdivided into neighborhoods. The area is known for its parks and boasts 220 miles of biking and hiking trails which is one reason it would likely make anybody’s list of best places to live in Texas for families.

    Population: 114,436

    Median Household Income: $130,011

    Cost of Living: 92.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,475

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.00

    Average Property Tax: $3,123

    Housing Affordability: The median home value and median household income in The Woodlands are both above the national average, but the overall cost of living is still below average.

    3. Frisco

    Frisco, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Jean Burbano

    Frisco is a large suburb in the northern reaches of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, alongside Lewisville Lake. Residents can take advantage of the Frisco Heritage Museum, the National Videogame Museum, or the Sci-Tech Discovery Center. Kids especially love TrainTopia, a 2,500-square-foot miniature train display.

    Population: 219,587

    Median Household Income: $134,210

    Cost of Living: 102.5% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,850

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.33

    Average Property Tax: $3,822

    Housing Affordability: Housing in Frisco can be expensive, with prices for both home purchases and median rents above the national average. However, even with that factored in, the overall cost of living in the area is right around average.

    4. Southlake

    Southlake, Texas

    Photo credit: Flickr/Steven Martin , CCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

    Another option in the Dallas area is Southlake, an affluent suburb of Dallas located primarily in Tarrant County. Southlake is located in between Dallas and Fort Worth, near the sprawling DFW airport campus. In addition to having easy access to one of the nation’s largest airports, residents can take advantage of recreation opportunities on Grapevine Lake.

    Population: 31,102

    Median Household Income: $239,833

    Cost of Living: 102.5% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $6,000

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.02

    Average Property Tax: $3,193

    Housing Affordability: As one of the most affluent areas in all of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Southlake can have expensive housing. But if you want to be close to a major city and its booming technology economy, it’s a great choice. (Families are drawn to the area’s Carroll school district, which is well rated.) You’ll want to explore different types of mortgage loans to find a housing option that suits your family. If you want to purchase a home above the current FHA dollar limit, you may need to apply for a jumbo mortgage loan.

    5. Round Rock

    Round Rock, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/SWCargill

    If you’re looking to be a part of the Austin metropolitan area but are seeking something outside Austin proper, Round Rock may be an option worth considering. Round Rock is located about 20 miles northeast of Austin and is named for The Round Rock, a large stone in Brushy Creek where 19th century travelers made low-water crossings via wagon. Today, it lands on lists of best places in Texas to live for families because of its abundance of parks, sports and recreation facilities, and other activities for kids.

    Population: 126,697

    Median Household Income: $86,587

    Cost of Living: 101.0% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,800

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.25

    Average Property Tax: $3,817

    Housing Affordability: As is the case with many areas in Texas, Round Rock has fairly affordable housing. Plus, as a relatively large city, you have several options, so you’re likely to find something to suit what you’re looking for. Both the median rent price and the home price-to-income ratio are below national averages.

    Best Places to Live in Texas for Young Adults

    1. Austin

    Austin, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/simonkr

    As the capital of Texas, Austin is also home to the University of Texas’s flagship campus. Known for its eclectic live-music scene with rock, country, and blues, Austin (unofficial slogan “keep Austin weird”) is sure to entertain young adults looking for a lively nightlife.

    Population: 974,447

    Median Household Income: $78,965

    Cost of Living: 101.0% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,300

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.83

    Average Property Tax: $3,972

    Housing Affordability: While the overall cost of living in Austin is right around the national average, the housing boom has definitely hit Austin hard. Home prices and median rents have increased significantly over the past several years. Still, since it’s such a large area, there are pockets of affordability.

    2. New Braunfels

    New Braunfels, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/dszc

    Located northeast of San Antonio on the way to Austin, New Braunfels sits at the confluence of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. Nature enthusiasts can visit the underground limestone caves at Natural Bridge Caverns. If you’re looking for a more relaxing outing, check out the Schlitterbahn water park.

    Population: 104,707

    Median Household Income: $76,890

    Cost of Living: 92.0% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,950

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.18

    Average Property Tax: $2,782

    Housing Affordability: Housing follows the overall cost of living in the New Braunfels/San Antonio metro area, which sits at about 8% below average. Both the median rent price and home price-to-income ratio are below the national median values.

    3. Dallas

    Dallas, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Art Wager

    Anchoring the largest metro area in Texas (and 4th largest nationwide), Dallas has something for everyone so it’s not surprising it’s on a list of best places to live in Texas for young adults. Whether you’re looking to commune with nature, seeking a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene, or want access to major sports, the Dallas area has options for everyone. And with more companies, including Oracle and HPE, moving their corporate offices in the area, there is a busy job market, particularly in tech.

    Population: 1,299,544

    Median Household Income: $58,231

    Cost of Living: 102.5% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,000

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.95

    Average Property Tax: $2,827

    Housing Affordability: Dallas is one of the few metro areas in Texas that has an overall cost of living above the national average. Still, when you compare the cost of living by state, Dallas remains quite affordable as compared to metro areas in other parts of the country.

    4. Plano

    Plano, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Gary Fink

    If you want to live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex but aren’t interested in living in Dallas proper, the northern suburb of Plano may be another option. Check out the Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve, the restored 19th-century Heritage Farmstead Museum or the Interurban Railway Museum. And you still have easy access to all that Dallas has to offer, just a short drive away.

    Population: 289,547

    Median Household Income: $99,729

    Cost of Living: 121.2% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,625

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.59

    Average Property Tax: $4,351

    Housing Affordability: Although it’s “only” a suburb of Dallas, Plano is still quite large. That means that there’s a wide range of housing options, from apartments, to townhomes to sprawling estates. The home price-to-income ratio of 3.59 is slightly below the national average.

    5. Houston

    Houston, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Kruck20

    Boasting the nation’s 5th largest metro area (just behind Dallas-Fort Worth), Houston is another Texas city that has options for everyone. While Houston is most closely linked with the NASA Space Center, it also features an arts scene including the Theater District and the Houston Grand Opera.

    Population: 2,302,878

    Median Household Income: $56,019

    Cost of Living: 92.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,800

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.58

    Average Property Tax: $3,040

    Housing Affordability: Houston is one of the rare large cities in the country that has an overall cost of living below the national average. To see what type of home mortgage loan you might qualify for, consider getting prequalified for a home loan before you get serious about your home search.

    Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

    Best Places to Live in Texas for Retirees

    Some of the best places to live in Michigan for retirees are the locations that have low average property taxes, affordable rent prices, and lots of fun things to do in your time off.

    1. Katy

    Katy, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/simonkr

    If you’re interested in the Houston area, but don’t want to live in Houston proper, you might consider the suburb of Katy. Katy sits near the intersection of Fort Bend, Waller and Harris counties, to the west of Houston

    Population: 25,253

    Median Household Income: $115,250

    Cost of Living: 92.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,350

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.52

    Average Property Tax: $3,114

    Housing Affordability: The home price-to-income ratio in Katy is quite low, meaning that home prices are relatively low compared to the median household income. With average home values slightly north of $400,000, Katy is more affordable than many Houston-area suburbs.

    2. Fredericksburg

    Fredericksburg, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DutcherAerials

    Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is known for its German heritage, punctuated with the Marktplatz town square and the Vereins Kirche pioneer museum. Military history buffs can visit the National Museum of the Pacific War located in Fredericksburg, the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Retirees might especially appreciate that the city has a well-rated medical center and is also less than two hours from Austin.

    Population: 11,257

    Median Household Income: $54,771

    Cost of Living: 101.9% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,300

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.80

    Average Property Tax: $2,209

    Housing Affordability: The cost of living in Fredericksburg is slightly above the national average, which is above the cost of living of many other cities in Texas. The average home is around $540,000. Depending on what kind of housing you’re looking for and your retirement income, you may want to also take advantage of our home loan help center.

    3. Killeen

    Killeen is a city in Central Texas that is home to the sprawling Fort Hood army base. The Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area is a great draw for nature lovers, and the Mayborn Science Theater offers planetarium shows on a 60-foot domed screen.

    Population: 159,172

    Median Household Income: $52,072

    Cost of Living: 92.8% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,300

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.83

    Average Property Tax: $2,135

    Housing Affordability: Both the median rent price and home price-to-income ratio in Killeen are significantly below the national average. That means that whether you are looking to rent or buy, you’re likely to find something that fits your budget.

    4. El Paso

    El Paso, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

    El Paso, nicknamed Sun City, is the most populous city in West Texas, near both the Mexican and New Mexican border. The bicultural city boasts great weather and retirees enjoy golf and museums of art and archaeology. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, is a short drive away.

    Population: 677,456

    Median Household Income: $51,325

    Cost of Living: 89.7% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,608

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.68

    Average Property Tax: $2,126

    Housing Affordability: The overall cost of living in El Paso is about 10% below the national average. The home price-to-income ratio and median rent prices are also both lower than those of other areas. This, combined with El Paso being a relatively large city, means that you’re likely to find affordable housing no matter if you’re looking to buy or rent.

    5. McAllen

    McAllen, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DenisTangneyJr

    McAllen is one of the larger cities in Southern Texas, directly across the national border from Reynosa, Mexico. Residents and visitors can check out the International Museum of Art & Science, the McAllen Heritage Center, and Quinta Mazatlan, a Spanish Revival mansion in an area with woodlands and several species of bird life.

    Population: 144,579

    Median Household Income: $52,422

    Cost of Living: 79.3% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,500

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.64

    Average Property Tax: $1,402

    Housing Affordability: Housing in McAllen is quite affordable, along with an overall cost of living well below the national average. The average home value is around $214,000 and there are many retirement communities with rents in the $700-$900 per month range.

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    Best Places to Live in Texas Near the Beach

    1. Corpus Christi

    Corpus Christi, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Jennifer Coulter

    Corpus Christi is a beach town located in southern Texas directly on the Gulf of Mexico. The Padre Island National Seashore acts as a barrier island protecting Corpus Christi Bay, and it’s home to both endangered sea turtles as well as several species of migratory birds.

    Population: 316,239

    Median Household Income: $59,993

    Cost of Living: 89.9% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,400

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.62

    Average Property Tax: $2,047

    Housing Affordability: For a populated town with direct ocean access, Corpus Christi is surprisingly affordable. The overall cost of living, median rent price and home price-to-income ratio are all below the national average. Coupled with the fact that it’s a large metro area, this means that you’re likely to be able to find affordable housing that fits your needs.

    2. Port Isabel

    Port Isabel, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/Hundley_Photography

    Port Isabel is located in Cameron County and is one of the last beach cities in southern Texas before you get to the Mexican border. Port Isabel is sheltered from the Gulf due to the Padre Island barrier island, directly across from the town of South Padre Island.

    Population: 5,108

    Median Household Income: $36,649

    Cost of Living: 77.1% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $2,000

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.54

    Average Property Tax: $1,306

    Housing Affordability: If you want to live on the beach in South Texas but don’t want to pay the prices of nearby South Padre Island, Port Isabel can be another option. The median rent price and home price-to-island ratio are both below average.

    3. Freeport

    Freeport, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/brucemaloneatx

    Freeport is located in Brazoria County on the Gulf of Mexico south of Houston. In addition to enjoying access to the Gulf of Mexico, outdoor enthusiasts can also take advantage of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area.

    Population: 10,546

    Median Household Income: $46,071

    Cost of Living: 83.8% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $995

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 1.97

    Average Property Tax: $2,851

    Housing Affordability: Housing is fairly affordable in Freeport, no matter if you’re looking to buy or rent. Freeport is one of the few cities in Texas with a median rent price under $1,000.

    4. Rockport

    Rockport, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/jerryhopman

    Rockport is a beach town in southern Texas, just to the north of the larger city of Corpus Christi. Visitors and residents can explore the Texas Maritime Museum, the Rockport Center for the Arts or the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

    Population: 10,713

    Median Household Income: $62,103

    Cost of Living: 88.2% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,250

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.43

    Average Property Tax: $1,670

    Housing Affordability: Housing in Rockport is fairly affordable, no matter if you’re looking to buy or to rent. Both the home price-to-income ratio as well as the median rent price are below the national averages.

    5. Galveston

    Galveston, Texas

    Photo credit: iStock/DenisTangneyJr

    Galveston is an island city located on the Gulf of Mexico near Houston. The giant glass pyramids of Moody Gardens are one of the top attractions here, and visitors can check out sharks, monkeys, and other animals. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is another popular spot for tourists and residents, allowing you to soak in the sun or take in restaurants and carnival rides.

    Population: 53,089

    Median Household Income: $52,899

    Cost of Living: 93.7% of U.S. average

    Median Rent Price: $1,700

    Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.08

    Average Property Tax: $2,836

    Housing Affordability: Housing is fairly affordable in the Galveston area, no matter if you’re looking to buy or rent. The overall cost of living is about 6% lower than the national average, meaning that your money will stretch further. This can help you find an affordable place to live for whatever your specific financial circumstances are.


    The Takeaway

    Whether you are looking for a quiet bedroom community with good schools or a bustling nightlife and cultural scene, you’re sure to find a place that you love in Texas, one of the largest and most populous states in the country. Texas also features a below average cost of living, with even many large cities and metropolitan areas having housing and overall costs right around the national average. That means your income may be able to stretch even further, allowing you a better bang for your buck.

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    FAQ

    What Texas town has the lowest cost of living?

    Texas features a variety of different towns and cities that are quite affordable. Among the metropolitan areas in Texas, the Brownsville — Harlingen Metro Area ranks as the most affordable, with a cost of living factor of 77.1. That means that overall, it is 23% cheaper to live in Brownsville or Harlingen than the national average.

    Where is the cheapest place to live in TX?

    Texas is the largest state in the 48 contiguous U.S. states. While you may be able to find the absolute cheapest places to live in the remote reaches of Texas, you should also consider access to amenities in your home search. The good news is that the cost of living in Texas as a whole is below the national average — so no matter where you decide to live, your money will likely stretch further than in other states.


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