Dreaming of lower taxes, cheaper cost of living, and roomier digs? Perhaps it’s time to join the thousands of other Californians who are fleeing the Golden State for greener pastures in Texas. The Lone Star State is one of the most popular inbound states in the country for many excellent reasons –several booming metropolitan areas, low living costs, no income taxes, incredible employment opportunities, and a robust economy, to name a few. But, before you pack up your overpriced Cali apartment and hit the road to Texas joining the ranks of fellow Californians moving to Texas, there are a few things you should know.
What to Know Before Moving to Texas
California and Texas might rival each other as two of the largest states in the U.S. (regarding both population and size), but that’s about where the similarities end. From the cost of living to culture, these two states have several differences but are both great places to live. If you’re considering making a move from California to Texas, here’s what you need to know before you leap:
Cost of Living
California is a significantly more expensive place to live in than Texas is. MIT maintains a living wage calculator that determines the cost of living in any given state or city. According to the six metrics that this calculator tracks – child care, health care, shelter, food, transportation, and other – California is more expensive across the board. For example, for a family with two adults and two children living in California, it takes an earned income of approximately $79,000 to cover all the necessary living expenses. For the same family in Texas, the wage calculator predicts they would only need a salary of $61,000 to pay those same living costs. But it’s important to recognize that circumstances are essential here. Expenses can vary wildly depending on where in these states you decide to settle down. For example, living in urban Austin is far more expensive than living in a more rural town. So, make sure to evaluate your expenses, income, and the cost of living in your transplant city before making a move.
The Job Market and Economy
California and Texas have the two largest economies in the U.S. If they were sovereign countries, California would be the fifth largest economy in the world, while Texas would rank as the 10th largest. Both states’ economies are comprised of a diverse set of industries and enjoy low unemployment rates and high job growth rates. In 2017, California’s job growth was just 2.1% compared to the Lone Star State’s 2.7% growth. As of June 2018, Texas’ unemployment rate was just 4%, while California’s was 4.2%. Texas has several booming and diverse industries that fuel its economy, including technology, agriculture, energy (it’s an oil and gas powerhouse), and healthcare, to name a few. No matter what type of job you’re seeking, chances are there’s a place for you to pursue your chosen career in Texas.
Sometimes it can feel like the most populated parts of California, that are along the coast, have one season that lasts all year long. While the more remote, inland portions of the Golden State see all the seasons, for most people, California’s climate is synonymous with perpetually blue, sun-filled skies and mild, just-right temperatures. The coast’s moderate climate is ideal for those who enjoy California’s many beaches year-round, and you might be dreaming of California weather after your move to Texas.
Overall, Texas experiences more seasonal fluctuations than California and enjoys a reputation for famously variable weather conditions. Summers in the Lone Star State can be downright suffocating, with highs well into the triple digits and equally oppressive humidity. While most of Texas has relatively mild winters, the northern reaches of the state do get snow in the winter months. And while California is susceptible to earthquakes and wildfires, Texas is vulnerable to hurricanes and tornadoes.
California and Texas both have vibrant food cultures, and while they may look similar on the surface, you can expect some dramatic differences regarding actual flavors. Thanks to their shared borders with Mexico, both states boast significant Latino populations. In both states, you’ll find that love for tacos and other varieties of Mexican food are an integral part of the culture. But California street tacos with their stripped-down ingredients and fresh flavors are a far cry from the saucy, decadent Tex-Mex platters prevalent in the Texas culinary scene. As far as food goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. Fried foods and rich courses are plentiful here, and its barbecued ribs and brisket are some of the best in the world. While you’ll find fewer health-conscious restaurants, vegetarian options, and fresh seafood than you will in California, there’s still plenty of ways to eat healthier in the Lone Star State, especially in fit cities like Austin.
The great outdoors is one of the most significant selling points of both the Golden State and the Lone Star State, but they manifest in different ways. While Texas has 367 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, the beaches here can’t hold a candle to those in California. Plus, Texas is such a large state that the location of many of the bigger cities makes a beach-bound day trip impossible. When moving from California, you’ll be trading the quaint beach towns and dramatic cliffs for everything from the mountainous terrain of far West Texas, to stretches of seemingly endless plains, to the breathtaking hill country. Though you may want to leave your surfboard in California, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors in Texas, including hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking.
Los Angeles is notorious for its urban sprawl and lack of quality public transit. Unfortunately, Texas cities like Dallas and Houston draw similar criticisms for their lack of reliable public transportation and terrible traffic jams. Whether you’re living in Texas or California, a car may be a necessity, and you can’t expect to find the sort of comprehensive transit systems that you’d enjoy in a city like New York or London. However, while you will probably still have to drive yourself to work, in your new home state, you might spend less time in the car every day. In Texas, the average commute time is 26.5 minutes, which is about three minutes faster than California’s average commute time of 29.4 minutes.
Where Should I Move? The Nine Best Places to Live in Texas
Thanks to its history, some folks might picture Texas as vast ranch land where everyone rides horses and struts around in cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats. While there are still plenty of ranches, real-life cowboys, and quaint small towns, modern Texas has some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Looking for the perfect place to call home? Check out these nine popular locales:
The city of Austin is something of an outlier in the Texas landscape. It’s a liberal bastion with an eclectic mix of people, and it’s also a hub of both entertainment and culture. Austin, nicknamed the Music Capital of the World, has over 250 music venues and hosts the annual South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Festivals. Both festivals draw tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the world. In addition to its thriving music scene, Austin is also a growing tech hub that has attracted companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple to open additional offices here. The tech environment draws talent from around the country, which also supports Austin’s thriving start-up scene. All this business is excellent for the city’s economy. Austin saw a 22% growth in GDP from 2008 to 2012. One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Austin is equally as appealing to young professionals, eccentric artists, and families.
The influx of people into Austin over the past couple of decades has driven up housing prices across the metro area. Since Austin is getting more expensive, many people are looking for more affordable places to live outside of Austin proper. One of the favorite destinations as of late is Georgetown. This sleepy town, which has long lived in the shadow of Austin, has seen significant growth in the past few years. In 2016, census data revealed it was the fastest growing city in the nation. Georgetown sits just thirty miles north of Austin along the I-35 corridor. Formerly an agrarian community, modern Georgetown features a lovely town square and several neighborhoods with hiking and walking trails. Those looking for expansive lots without having to sacrifice access to urban amenities will find a lot of options here. While the entertainment of Austin is just a short drive away, Georgetown also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Christmas Stroll and the Red Poppy Festival.
Affordability is also one of the most significant selling points of San Antonio. The 2014 list of Yahoo Finance’s Most Affordable Cities to Live In ranked San Antonio at six and the median price for a home here is a mere $220,320. That affordability has been a significant factor in driving newcomers to the city. In 2017, more people moved to San Antonio than to any other city in the country. Despite its growth, the town is still small enough that it doesn’t experience the severe traffic problems you’ll find in larger Texas cities. San Antonio is also an appealing place to do business – big names like Rackspace and Frost Bank have headquarters here. And with multiple military bases in the area, military and federal jobs are abundant. But San Antonio isn’t all work and no play. There’s plenty to do here to keep everyone in the family entertained. When San Antonio residents aren’t working, you can find them enjoying a Spurs game, strolling the famed Riverwalk, or chowing down on some of Texas’ best Mexican food.
Local employer Magnolia Market – made famous by the TV show “Fixer Uppers” – has had a significant impact on the tourism and retail industry for Waco, but it isn’t the only reason this once sleepy town is seeing a renaissance. Providence Healthcare Network and Baylor University both support the growing workforce of Waco, while the eminently affordable housing market makes buying a property a reasonable choice even for younger millennials. Just don’t expect a city with the scaling sprawl of Houston. Due to quality civic engineering, a robust public transit system, and a more modest population, you can get practically anywhere in the city within 20 minutes. While Waco is a modern city with modern amenities, it also boasts 416 acres of park space situated right in its downtown area.
If you think of Fort Worth as just a bland city living in Dallas’ shadow, you’re missing out. Things move just a little slower in Fort Worth than in Dallas, and that’s reflected in the must more manageable traffic. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a world-class city. It’s ranked fourth in the United States for density of Fortune 500 companies, and it has everything you could expect regarding culture, art, music, and fine dining. They love cowboy culture here, and the kitschy Fort Worth Stockyards are maybe the only urban district in the world where you can get a genuine taste for what life on the range was like.
Plano may not be the first city you think of when planning a move, but this suburb just north of Dallas saw a 17 percent growth from 2000 to 2010. It also scored a position on Livability’s Top 100 Places to Live list for 2017. The median annual income sits comfortably above the average, and it is home to the headquarters of major corporations like J.C. Penny, Pizza Hut, and Toyota. What’s especially great about Plano is how well connected it is – a light rail connects the city directly to Dallas, making it easy for commuters to get to and from work. Young families will enjoy the impressive Plano public school system, four full-service libraries, and 84 parks within the city limits. The city is also incredibly welcoming to seniors, and it provides residents with access to 81 different hospitals.
El Paso sits directly across the border from the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, which gives it a unique culture. Though it’s the home of Tex-Mex, the town is also a hub for cuisine from all over the world and dishes up lively nightlife. If your tastes are less urban, you’ll find plenty of hiking and biking trails winding through the nearby Franklin Mountains State Park. Residents of El Paso enjoy low living costs and a booming real estate market. Entrepreneur Magazine also rated El Paso as the number one mid-sized city for entrepreneurs, reflected the fact that this city is an excellent place for doing business. Major employers include the federal government (Fort Bliss), Tenet Hospitals, the University of Texas at El Paso, and local school districts.
In 2017, the city of Dallas enjoyed the highest population growth rate in the United States and the second highest job rate growth behind Atlanta. While the cost of housing is a little higher than average, most other living expenses in this city are affordable. Dallas also enjoys the third highest average salaries in the U.S. Those looking for educational opportunities will find two of the ten best public high schools in the country as well as great higher education at Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University (in Ft. Worth). Then there’s the food. This city has the highest number of restaurants per capita in the country. If you’re looking to work off the pounds you’ll gain from eating out, the climate is generally mild throughout the year, making it appealing to jump on the Katy Trail for a run or bike. Its expansive art district is also beautiful and pedestrian friendly.
For years, the people of Fredericksburg were primarily German immigrants who refused to speak English, instead opting to communicate only in their native tongue. While modern residents have adopted English, the town’s German heritage is indisputable. A popular tourist destination, this town, just two hours west of Austin, draws over a million visitors every year who come to stroll the shops in its historic district, throw back pints of beer at Oktoberfest, and enjoy the dozens of local vineyards. Nearby Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet high and is a popular attraction for local hikers, climbers, and campers. With just over 10,000 residents, Fredericksburg is a great place to settle down if you’re looking for a slower paced home that still has the modern amenities you need.
What Are the Top Benefits of Moving from California to Texas
People have been moving out of California en masse for years. The Califonia Exodus does not mean that the Golden State doesn’t have plenty to offer. From its fabulous weather and great beaches to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the bevy of theme parks, California is still one of the top destinations in the United States. But as California’s appeal slowly shrinks, Texas’ is only growing. If you’ve been considering making a move to the Lone Star State, there are plenty of persuasive arguments to make a case for moving. Here are the top 5:
Texas is Uniformly More Affordable than CA
MIT’s index of living wages evaluates costs according to six criteria like housing and child care, and Texas routinely beats out California by every metric. Costs can vary some depending on the city or town you live in, but Texas tends to be cheaper across the board. A big part of this comes down to the state’s lack of income tax. California, by comparison, has the highest income tax rates in the country. And, while the cost of living is lower in Texas, the household incomes are still relatively high. A recent study found that three Texas metro areas occupy the top ten list for highest average household income in the country.
It Makes Good Business Sense
Texas’ dismissive approach to taxation affects more than just personal finances. The state is famously friendly to business interests. While this means that the state offers a minimum wage on par with the federal rate, it’s a great place to settle down if you’re an entrepreneur. Many businesses are privileged with a tax rate as low as .5%, and 1% is the standard for franchise operations. Back in the day, oil drilling bolstered Texas’ economy, but today it enjoys a more diversified economy. The IT, healthcare, education, tourism, and banking are all major industries that play a part in Texas’ low unemployment rates.
The Culture is Loud and Vibrant
Southern hospitality is alive in Texas, but it has a personality all its own. You can expect friendliness from most Texans, along with a bit of pride. After all, everything is more significant (and better) in the Lone Star State. While the state has Southern roots, Texas also shares a border with Mexico, which means Mexican culture is an intrinsic part of Texas heritage. Tex-Mex has combined Southern and South of the Border traditions into a milieu that’s wholly distinct.
You Can Look Forward to Diverse Geography
Its beach culture defines California, but it’s much harder to pin down the geographic identity of Texas. That’s in large part because of how big the state is. A trip across the countryside will present you with everything from snowy mountains to verdant fields of farmland to pristine beaches stretched across the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re someone who likes to go out and enjoy the great outdoors, there are plenty of options to scratch that itch within Texas.
It’s a Family-Friendly State
Texas is proud of its family values, and that has seeped its way into practically every aspect of its infrastructure. The low housing rates and booming economy have played a large part in the influx of new families, and the education system has worked hard to catch up. While it doesn’t offer the best education system in the United States, Texas’ K-12 students tend to outperform their Californian peers in most aspects.
Checklist for Planning a Long Distance Move from CA to TX
You have decided to move from California to Texas, and you likely have high hopes for how this new chapter in your life will unfold. However, there are many tasks to complete before, during, and after your relocation. Follow this checklist to keep your move organized, efficient, and less stressful.
Decide on a moving date
One of the first steps when planning a cross-country move is determining which time of year you are moving. After considering work and school schedules, add that date on your calendar as soon as possible! The longer you have to prepare, the easier your move will be.
Determine your budget
Moving a long distance is expensive. Decide how much money you have available for your move and how much the move will cost. Some expenses to consider include hiring a cross country moving company, moving helpers (labor cost), packing supplies, utility connections, travel costs, and housing rental deposits.
You will need to line up a place to live in your new Texas locale. Research online and through realtors to find the best options within your price range and requirements. If possible, travel to the Lone Star State to look at possible housing options.
There are many ways you could move your belongings, including hiring moving companies, renting a shipping container, and renting a moving truck. Research your options and determine which works best for your needs and budget.
Gather moving supplies
You will need various packing supplies for your move. These items include boxes, tape, scissors, packing paper and more. Begin accumulating those supplies as far in advance as possible. Set them aside as you purchase or collect them, so they will be ready when you start packing.
Moving several belongings over a long distance is more expensive and makes packing and unpacking much more time-consuming. As many days or weeks as possible before your moving day, begin to declutter whatever you can by deciding what items you do not want or need. Sell or donate those items.
Contact all your utility companies, including phone, Internet, gas and electric service to let them know when to stop providing service at your current address. Also, contact utility companies to start timely service at your new home.
Contact your local post office to let it know which date to stop delivering mail to your current address and let it know what your new address is. Also, contact all the people and companies who send you mail to give them your new address. You can do many of these tasks online through websites.
Make travel arrangements
Whether you are flying or driving to Texas, you need to make plans to get yourself, your family members, and your pets from California to your new home. Line up flights and hotels as far in advance as possible.
Organize and pack belongings
Days or weeks before your moving day, organize and pack the belongings that you plan to move. When you pack a little at a time, the process is much less overwhelming. Make sure to protect fragile items with plenty of packing paper.
Customize this checklist to your specific requirements by adding more “to do” items as needed. By planning and following this checklist, you will be making your long-distance move less stressful and even more fun. For a more accurate estimate regarding the cost of moving from California to Texas, fill out our simple moving quote form at the top of this page.