OFB 50 States Project: Texas

OFB 50 States Project: Texas

In The OFB 50 States Project, you the readers spill the beans about your state: the good, the bad, and the delicious. And thus provide “forever place” seekers (like yours truly) a useful resource in their search. We’d love to hear about your state! To be a part of this project, click here to fill out the form!

The Facts

Low State Taxes Ranking:  6

Low Cost of Living Ranking:  3

State Economy Ranking:  5

Average Temperatures (Austin):

  • Winter:  62°
  • Spring:  80°
  • Summer:  95°
  • Fall:  82°

The Nickname

The Lone Star State

The Short of It

The state of Texas is brought to you by the following awesome OFB readers:
1) Rebecca F.  //  2) Miranda  //  3) Stefanie R.  //  4) Kristan  //  5) Tiffany  //  6) Amanda H.  //
7) Lindsay H.  //  8) Dave G.  //  9) Jodi T.

What food best represents Texas?

  • Tex-Mex 1, 2, 3, 6, 
  • BBQ 4, 7, 8, 9
  • Steak 5

What song best represents Texas?

  • If It Wasn’t for Texas – George Strait 2
  • God Bless Texas – Little Texas 3, 6
  • You Ain’t Met My Texas Yet – Josh Abbott Band 4
  • Deep in the Heart of Texas 5
  • I Like Texas – Pat Green 8

How does TX refer to a carbonated beverage drink?

  • Coke 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
  • Soda 7

If you could take a friend to one place in TX, where would it be?

  • Marfa, Texas 1
  • San Antonio 3, 9
  • Hill country! Wildflowers, gorgeous trees, rolling hills — perfection! 4
  • Austin 8 Food trucks 5 On a Saturday Night 6
  • Enchanted Rock 7

View from Enchanted Rock View from Enchanted Rock (photo by catierhodes)

The Long of It

Biggest misconception about TX?

  • We’re all Republicans. 1
  • That we all wear boots and ride horses (although you will see that here). That we’re all hardcore conservative Republicans and we just LOVE ‘Dubya’. That all the women love their big hair and bigger bling. That we all own guns (we do have a lot though). That we all have thick accents and say “Y’all”. (Okay, that one might be true…) That we all love country music and know how to two-step and square dance. That we all own some type of livestock. That we all love football and hold Friday nights second only to the sacredness of Sunday mornings. That we’re all devout Christians who aren’t accepting of other faiths. That all anybody eats is BBQ. We have some vegans and vegetarians but we’re working on that problem now… 😉 2
  • Everyone rides a horse to work, wears a cowboy hat, have beauty-pageant sized hair and has an oil well in the backyard. 4, 6, 8, 9
  • A lot of people assume Texas is full of gun-toting conservatives, cacti, oil wells, and flat dry land. In all honesty, those assumptions are entirely incorrect, but they don’t apply to the entire state. Texas is HUGE and diverse regionally. In Austin, where I live, we’re in the heart of Hill Country. The land is hardly flat… we have beautiful rolling hills, canyons, rivers and lakes. Austin is also a liberal oasis in a conservative state. You’ll find more tattooed musicians, vegans, triathletes, and crafty artists here than you will BBQ-obsessed, camo-clad southerners. 7

Best aspect about living in TX?

  • The people. We’re real friendly. The mild winters. You’ll never have to shovel snow and if there is even 1 inch of sleet on the ground, it is perfectly acceptable to call into work. You’re kids with also not have to go to school that day either. The variety. You can find almost anything in this state. The pride. People from Texas are in love with their home state and aren’t afraid to let others know (some to a fault). The culture. It often surprises visitors. The music. We’ve been lucky to cultivate some amazing musicians and singers over the years (and not just country). The history. The attractions. We have professional teams out the wazoo. You’ll find amusement parks, world class museums, major concerts year-round, an epic state fair, top rated restaurants, etc. You won’t be bored. The great outdoors (lakes, rivers, hiking and biking trails, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf). The food. Oh, the food. If you need more convincing…. 50 Sure Signs that Texas is Actually Utopia2
  • I would say the family-friendly atmosphere. The huge employment opportunities, low-cost of living (my 1700 sq. foot home cost $116,000), great dining and entertainment, unique shopping, award-winning schools and public parks, and the ability to say that you’re a Texan. 3
  • It’s got a little bit of everything! Gorgeous scenery, whether you want mountains (west Texas), beach (Galveston/South Padre), hills (central Texas), or endless flat landscape with nothing for miles (most of west/northwest Texas). The food is fabulous, and if you’ve never had Tex-Mex, you’ve never lived. Also, I love all the history that our state has — I mean, how many states legitimately used to be a sovereign nation of their own? 4
  • High income & low living costs, friendly people, easy to drive around all the major cities. 5
  • There’s so much to see! Every region is special. We have beaches, hills, deserts, and forests all in one state. The best aspect of Austin specifically, in my opinion, is the variety of outdoor recreation available. And all so accessible! On any given weekend, you’ll find my boyfriend and I hiking, swimming, climbing, biking or paddle-boarding. I LOVE that I live in a city where I can be rock climbing on the Greenbelt not 10 minutes after leaving work. 7

Worst aspect about living in TX?

  • THE HEAT! Especially during the summer. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8
  • The weather extremes! Crazy high temps in the summer (usually up to 110) and we can have some pretty extreme winters as well, with freezing temperatures accompanied not by snow, but by ice and howling winds… or maybe that’s just my part of Texas 😉 4
  • Texas is BIG, so you have to get used to driving long distances. I grew up on the East Coast, and I definitely miss being able to hop in a car and arrive in New York City 4 hours later. In Texas, 4 hours will get you to… Texas. 7
  • Property taxes surprise some people, but you get a lot for your money versus some other states. 8

Summarize your feelings about Texas in five words.

  • Cool but looking for new. 1
  • Texas, I love you! (LOTS) 2
  • Everything is bigger in Texas. 3
  • The best state ever, period. 4
  • I’m always drawn back here. 5
  • Nowhere else can be home! 6
  • Creative, diverse, affordable, proud, united. 7
  • Big, friendly, diverse, proud, independent. 8
  • Love it. Born and Bred. 9

Our Freaking Take

WOAH Nelly! That there is quite the raving review. Either this state’s reviewers are freaking persuasive or Texas is amaze-balls. Regardless, I think we’re pretty sold. From the objective stats (notice that all of the economic rankings are green and the weather are orange/red?!… that’s our kinda state) to the subjective responses, we’re ready to pack up the truck and pick out our horses. I’ll admit, I was pretty disappointed to have my “everyone rides horses — even horses ride horses” perception popped. Joanna and I have never visited the state, so it’s high time for us to get down there and pay a visit. For those keeping score at home, Texas is probably #1 on our forever place candidate list now. Time will tell if another contender steps up during the 50 State Project and messes with Texas.

How did these answers line up with your perception of Texas? Have your thoughts on the state changed after reading this? Could you see it fitting your forever-place bill? 

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  • Reply Brian May 31, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I thought eveyone in Texas had an unhealthy love of Dr Pepper and not a single person mentioned it. I am saddened by this.

    In all seriousness, I could live in Texas (well maybe not West Texas, or any of the border towns). I have a lot of friends from there and it really is a nice place.

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Weird, you’re right. I didn’t think about that. I, too, feel the sad. DP is nectar of the gods in our home.

      • Reply Miranda June 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        Haha. Yes, it’s true that DP is the soft drink of choice for many, but the real “nectar of the gods” (<—love that) here in Texas is good 'ol SWEET TEA! And that's of course, if we're not talking about the hard stuff, because beer would reign supreme. And let's not forget the ever-popular and refreshing margaritas!

  • Reply Thomas | Your Daily Finance May 31, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Funny I just spoke with a friend earlier this week who was wanting to move to Houston. This a great resource for him. Thought steak or bbq would be 1 for food. Tex Mex I need to try it.

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      I think I’d prefer real Mexican or at least California Mexican over Tex-Mex, but steak/BBQ trumps everything.

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone May 31, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I agree with the friendliness of Texans! Texas has grown on me. I’m liberal, hate guns, and hate Southern accents, so I used to think that I also hated Texas, but I’ve seen the positives as well: Friendly people, people who are not afraid of my massive dog, and charming little places like San Antonio and Fredricksburg. Texas has some good things!

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      It’s hard to hate a place with nice people. Especially when they throw a sweet little drawl on the end of their niceness. Joanna knows how to bring the Southern charm drawl when needed.

  • Reply Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies May 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Yay for Texas! My sister had a rough transition moving there, but I was actually disappointed when she left San Antonio before I had a chance to visit as I’ve heard it’s awesome.
    I was less nuts about Houston, but I loved traveling to Austin for work!

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      All this love for San Antonio has me scratching my head. I’ve heard tons about Austin and DFW, but nothing until this post about San Antonio. Sounds like it needs to be added to the road trip pit stop list.

  • Reply Meghan May 31, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I think that Austin is the only place I could live in Texas. I’ve been to all the other major cities. Maybe I missed the best parts of San Antonio?

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      The majority of my friends that are living or have lived in Texas made Austin home. And from the sounds of it, it’s the place to be.

  • Reply Chris May 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Since I’m 10 minutes away from the border I sometimes feel more like I’m part of Texas than New Mexico. West Texas is a treat especially Amarillo and the canyon. Texas is actually in my top 5 for places to move. I wasn’t a fan of San Antonio to live though. It was nice to visit but entirely too hot and humid for me.

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      You’re probably in that wonderful desert heat, huh? Having spent the last few years on the east coast, I’ve gotten used to the humidity, but I’d still take dry heat every day of the week over the muggy thick stuff.

  • Reply Tara May 31, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    As someone who grew up in Dallas, Tx and went to college in Austin, I do love the state. After college, I moved to New York and haven’t returned. My dad is originally from New Jersey so I have a lot of family in the area which is why I plan on staying in the northeast and not returning to Texas. But while I love Texas and it’ll always be a part of me, there are some things I definitely don’t miss and the HEAT is number 1.

    Before you consider any move to Texas, make sure you take into consideration HOW hot it is and how you are sweating from the walk from your car to the strip mall store entrance. My birthday is in July and if it weren’t for the fact that I had a pool in my backyard, my parties growing up would all be indoors. Here in NYC, we didn’t need air conditioning until last week… you’d have sweated through your clothes for months if you waited that long without using your a/c in Texas.

    Now if you love the heat and humidity, more power to you! Go for it– things are cheaper (although home purchases and housing rentals are pricey in Austin) and people are nice. But I always suggest any person interested in moving to Texas spends a July/August in whatever Texas city they’re interested in moving to. (That alone convinced me that I could never move to New Orleans, despite my love of the city.)

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Haha. Very fair assessment. I love your suggestion, too. If you’re planning on moving somewhere and you think it might be long-term, it’s probably best to visit for a few weeks in the thick of their worst season. Joanna and I are actually pretty good with heat. We’re not huge fans of humidity, but we’ll bear it if it means t-shirts the majority of the year.

      • Reply Rebecca June 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

        If you don’t like humidity, stay out of Houston!

    • Reply Executioner June 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I agree completely with this assessment. As another former Texan who moved to the northeast, I do not miss the hot part of the year (April-October).

      While I personally have good memories of Texas, on reflection I’ve come to realize that TX is one of the more polarizing areas of the country. If you fit into the mold of what the majority of Texans expects of you, you will find nothing but warmth and friendliness in abundance. But if you stray from the mold, people will pick up the welcome mat and not hesitate to tell you that maybe you would be more comfortable living elsewhere. This is less true in the larger urban centers and among the younger generation, but the undercurrent is still there and still very pronounced. In my experience living in other states, there are many parts of the country that are more tolerant of diverse attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, etc.

      • Reply Johnny June 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm

        Interesting perspective. My career usually takes me to the the urban centers, so we’re more accustomed with communities with people from all walks of life. But I can see where some areas might not be as welcome to change/difference of opinion.

  • Reply Tania May 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve lived in Houston, Austin, Houston again and will soon move to Dallas. Austin is my home away from home and THE BEST city to live in Texas by far. It’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird” because it’s known for a myriad of eccentricities that it posseses. It’s both a young town and a family friendlly place with tons to do for both groups. Austin has a festival for EVERYTHING (Eeyore’s Fest anyone?) almost to the point of ridiculousness, but that’s what makes it such an interesting city. It’s the “Live Music Capitol” of the world and hosts ACL and SouthBySouthwest music festivals along with being able to listen to live music on any given night. Yes, Texas is HOT but YES there are TONS of natural lakes and streams to cool off in. Hiking, biking, climbing, oh my! There’s tons of activities during both the day and night and food trucks galore. One day when life allows me, I’ll be able to move back to Austin. Sigh – Austin, I heart you.

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      That’s one thing I was surprised by reading all the reviews and your comment — all the outdoor activities. For whatever reason, I just imagined a barren desert wasteland with very little in the way of hiking and climbing. Having that available nearby is definitely on our list of wants, so Texas is sitting pretty.

  • Reply EcoCatLady May 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    OK, y’all have done a lot to redeem your state in my mind. I admit that growing up in Colorado, from my perspective Texans were all rich idiots who couldn’t ski, but didn’t let that stop them from clogging up the slopes and showing off all of their fancy schmancy equipment that none of us could ever hope to afford.

    I suppose my idea of Texans got a bit more positive when I got involved in the music scene and fell in love with some Texas singer-songwriters – Tish Hinojosa anyone? But still, when folks start talking about seceding from the union, my general reaction has been “Please go now!”

    I’m really glad to know that there are some more, ahem, reasonable people there too. Perhaps it would help if I had visited someplace other than Midland! 🙂

    • Reply Johnny May 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Agreed. I feel like the Texans on here did a great job of dispelling the myths and selling the perks of living in the future Republic of Texas.

      • Reply Miranda June 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        Believe me. Many of us were very much embarrassed by the “We’re seceding” crowd, too. But such is life in a state with so much “personality”. Sometimes you just have to laugh and know that there will be a more interesting news day tomorrow.

  • Reply Sweta May 31, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I’d be happy to babysit that adorable baby of yours if yall ever move to Austin.

    As a non-Republican, I’m glad someone addressed the fact that we aren’t all Republicans.

    • Reply Johnny June 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Your name is now on our list of willing babysitters. We’ll give you a shout when we’re a little closer than 1000+ miles away. 🙂

  • Reply Brenton H. June 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

    It’s all about San Antonio. That is probably one of best cities in the WORLD to visit. As for the rest of Texas, meh. Though, I did enjoy taking a tour of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. Pretended to catch the game-winning touchdown pass in the back of the end zone like when BYU upset Oklahoma a few years back. Also, people tend to be very nice.

    • Reply Johnny June 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Alright, you’ve convinced us. We’ll pay San Antonio a visit.

      I hope you also reenacted the Max Hall “We’re gonna win!” strut heading into halftime. Always a pleasure to hear from you man.

  • Reply Budget and the Beach June 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I love this series! There are a lot of Texas transplants living here in Cali, and they all speak of their home state as if it were the most special place on earth. Most want to go back at some point to be “near their family,” so it seems that’s pretty important. Austin has also been on my shortlist, but what keeps me from moving there is the landlocked factor again, and the summer heat. I mean I like it warm, but I love the ocean breeze. And when I was in Austin in the month of October I had the WORST allergies…which I don’t have at all in LA. So it’s a tough call. LOVE the cost of housing though!

    • Reply Johnny June 3, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      I totally get the landlocked thing. Ocean breeze is nice, but I get so tired of the marine layer every.single.day. But I didn’t even consider that Texas had allergies. I’m dealing with some killllller allergies out here. My CA immune system just wasn’t built for all this pollen-y nature.

  • Reply Amanda June 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    We visited Texas the last week in September and it was HOT. Most of our events were outside so there was a lot of sweating going on. I’m used to humidity, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it – and I would hate using my AC so many months of the year. I’m really a windows open kinda person. But enough of my complaints – I’m glad you’re one step closer to finding a forever place 🙂

    • Reply Johnny June 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      I’m torn, because I really do love heat. But I really don’t like sweating. Or A/C. But all things considered, I’ll take sweating and A/C bills if it means never taking a coat out of my closer again.

      • Reply Miranda June 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        Two words my friend: Average billing.

  • Reply Karen December 27, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I’ve lived just outside of Houston my whole life, and one of the top two reasons I haven’t pursued moving anywhere else is the cost of living factor (family connections is the other). We live in a 3400+ sf home in a gated community, and we can afford to do so. Yes, there is humidity, and it isn’t always fun to deal with, but there’s also so much more that Texas offers that we can overlook the heat. You just learn to do indoor stuff like museums in August and save visits to the zoo or overnight camping trips for the fall/winter; thankfully our weather allows us to do so. Our high today was 62 degrees with beautiful sunny skies. Because of our mild winters we are able to have a very extended growing season for our vegetable garden (we hardly ever buy tomatoes at the grocery store).

    Houston is the largest city in the state, so there is traffic to deal with, but I do think that the cost of living is better here than Dallas or Austin/San Antonio/Hill Country. Those places are wonderful to visit, though – I’ve been to both areas within the past 3 months myself. Throughout the state there are wonderful places to participate in all kinds of outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, biking; there are fantastic restaurants and shopping galore; museums both large and small, sophisticated and quirky; tremendous housing opportunities, especially in the suburbs; a number of educational institutions, both public and private; and world-class hospitals – something I think gets overlooked too easily.

    We have visited a lot of states, and I will concede that visually-speaking Houston does not compare with the beauty found in eastern Tennessee or the beaches of Florida or even the rolling hills of our own Hill Country. I personally find the woods in East Texas much more enjoyable than the barren-ness of West Texas, but I do know many people who find beauty in that terrain too.

    Another negative for some people is the fact that mass transportation in Houston to the suburbs is limited; I do think Dallas has done a better job with this than Houston has. (Neither my husband nor I have to drive through traffic though – we both work less than 10 minutes of our home). But our dear friends who live in a Dalls suburb paid $100,000 more for their house than we did with a difference of less than 80 sf of space. Dallas does have more winter weather than we do too (we aren’t fans of cold – I don’t even own a coat).

    San Antonio is a wonderful place to go for a weekend away, and Austin has such an interesting diversity of lifestyles that it’s slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’ says it all. Dallas seems to be the focal point for people living outside of the state, but Houston is the place to go for both medicine and those working in the oil business and all of their related industries. I don’t have a good-enough connection other sections of the state to compare them; El Paso is more than 700 miles away!

    No matter what area of the state you are drawn to, my vote is Texas – ‘it’s a whole other country’.

    • Reply Johnny December 30, 2013 at 1:07 am

      Fantastic write-up, Karen! We love hearing about each of these states straight from the source. For all the pros you listed (especially the not owning a coat bit), we love love love the idea of Texas. We almost pulled the trigger on it with our recent move, but career-wise, I had better options at the time elsewhere. But believe you me, it’ll be at the top of our list the next time a move is on the horizon.

      And it was great to read more about Houston, which from other Texans we’ve spoken to, seems to be underrated in many respects. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Mo July 11, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    San Antonio is OK to visit but not to live in. It’s large and sprawling but quite poor. You can see a few sights downtown but you’ll also see the tons of empty buildings. The city has well over a million people and it has a bad public transit system. Most of the city is poor except for the snobs who live in the newly created and named “Far North Central.”

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