Thinking of making the big move to the Alamo City? Make sure that you read this article beforehand for all the tea on Texas’ crown jewel. San Antonio is a cultural hub for South Texas, a vibrant and exciting place brimming with life and color, and steeped in history. We want to let you know what is in store for you at one of the most iconic large cities in the United States.
In this article, you will find out what you need to know about the housing market and how affordable homes still are here. You’ll learn how to get along as a tried-and-true Texan. You have probably heard that the Mexican food here is fantastic, and it certainly is. Seriously, you must try some traditional enchiladas; they are, in and of themselves, reason enough to move here. Grab some nachos and a cold one or try a classic staple: barbacoa meat and a Big Red soda. As if that were not enough to convince you to make the move, there is also the hopping nightlife, the wide range of live music and theater venues, a robust, diverse economy, the thriving art scene, and the plethora of possible outdoor activities.
Whether you are visiting the legendary Alamo Plaza or lounging with a cocktail in hand at a downtown rooftop bar or hiking one of San Antonio’s many trail systems, there is something in this city for everyone. The best of San Antonio combines the diverse cultural and entertainment opportunities of city life with an intimate feel of small-town hospitality. Finding your niche here is as easy as stepping outside to explore the many offerings of the city. This guide is intended to help newcomers explore the city and find their niche and the comfort of their new home.
A Few Interesting Facts About San Antonio:
- Population: 1.493 million people (2016)
- Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (March 2019)
- Median Home Price: $217,200 (February 2019)
- Median Household Income: $56,774 (2018)
- Elevation: 650 ft (198 m)
- Mayor: Ron Nirenberg
- Primary Airport: San Antonio International Airport
- Average Commute Time: 24.7 minutes
1. There is Something Here for Everyone
If you have ever visited the city of San Antonio, you know that the majesty of the city begins with the skyline. As you approach the city center either by road or by plane, the distinctive skyline heralds your arrival. The iconic Tower of the Americas looms over the city like a beacon to newcomers. San Antonio is a city where the old and the new are blended in a seamless tapestry of vibrant culture. It is a sensual city – a city brimming with sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and scents. San Antonio is a city of food and drink, music and color, art and history, resounding beauty and friendly faces.
Perhaps there is no better way of getting to know this amazing town than by walking down the rainbow-lit sidewalks of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Take in the lively notes of the mariachi band playing a sweet cancion. After taking in the sights and sounds, stop in at any of the delectable Mexican restaurants – practically the official cuisine of the city. Enjoy a cold margarita and feast on enchiladas, taquitos, and mouth-watering nachos compuestos.
Though there is an astonishing amount of activities to do in San Antonio –whether it is dining out, going to the movies, visiting Six Flags Fiesta Texas or SeaWorld, hiking one of the many trail systems throughout the city, enjoying one of the many bars, clubs, and nightlife spots around town, shopping at one of the many malls and retail centers, or catching an exhibit at one of the world-class art museums – there is something here for everyone young and old, families or lone travelers. One of the first things you will notice in San Antonio is the friendliness of the local population. This is a welcoming city, and because of that welcoming attitude, there is a diversity here that cannot be overstated.
In the same way that America itself is a melting pot of cultures, this city is its own melting pot – a confluence of cultures and traditions of Mexican, Spanish, Native American, German, Czech, French, Irish, and Middle Eastern influences. Think of the city as a collage, an evolving work of impressionist art, where every dab of color represents a cultural influence. Put together, these influences form a rich tapestry of color, and it is upon this backdrop of color that you, good traveler, are invited to live the rest of your life, enriched by the beauty of what surrounds you!
2. San Antonio Jobs are Plentiful
San Antonio can maintain a healthy economy despite outside fluctuations in the jobs market precisely because the economy here is rooted in diversity. IT, cybersecurity, medical, aviation, oil and gas, energy, military –all are major industries here in San Antonio! The unemployment rate has remained at approximately at 3.5% for years, making this city one of the true job seeker markets in the nation. Additionally, wages for San Antonio workers have been on the rise, having reached an average of $24.12 an hour, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Overall, there are plenty of employment opportunities for newcomers and professionals who are seeking employment in the area.
One of the highlights of this city’s economy are the job opportunities for veterans. San Antonio is a true military town, with a total of seven military installations in town, including Randolph Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, and Fort Sam Houston. As such, there are many privately-owned companies here that make it a top priority to recruit military and veteran job-seeking candidates. Heck, I’m a 13-year Air Force veteran myself–us military folks tend to make San Antonio our permanent home.
For my military brethren, feel free to reach out for anything. Aside from being well versed in all the fun and headaches that come with PCS’ing, I’m also a Hometown Heroes certified agent. Under Hometown Heroes, the following groups are eligible for exclusive real estate savings: military, medical, first responders, non-profits, educators, and government employees.
3. San Antonio is VERY Friendly
Try sneezing on the streets of San Antonio. Four strangers will say “bless you.” San Antonio takes pride in being friendly and hospitable, and not without results: in 2016, Travel + Leisure rated San Antonio as the #1 friendliest city in the entire nation! Since then, San Antonio has remained in the top 5 of the friendliest cities in the United States. However, don’t take our word for it; a simple stroll down the Riverwalk is enough to showcase that good old-fashioned Texas hospitality for which we San Antonians are famous. It’s a Texas thing. We believe in chivalry down here in South Texas. Gentlemen open doors for ladies. Passers-by are greeted with a cheerful, “Howdy!”
In this sense, San Antonio is a big city with small-town vibes. Maybe people are chill here because of the tacos and beer. Maybe it’s the warm weather or the affordability. Whatever it is, one thing is certain: there is no easier place to make friends than in this city. The friendly vibes don’t stop at San Antonio either; neighboring cities also rank as among the friendliest in the nation, including Houston and Fort Worth. Whether you spend the weekend in town or decide to head out on a little road trip, you are sure to encounter this unique brand of Southern hospitality wherever your heart takes you.
4. It’s Family-Friendly
Thinking of packing up the spouse and kids for the big move? According to a Homes.com survey, San Antonio is the fifth best city to raise a family in the nation. That’s a pretty big deal. Out of all the cities in the entire country, families around the United States are choosing the Alamo City in which to love, care for, nurture, and grow their families. They are choosing to live here for several reasons. For instance, in order to determine the rankings of the cities, Homes.com analyzed the crime rates, costs of living, availability of childcare, and commute times, number of park areas, and quality of the schools. These are the areas in which San Antonio excels and distinguishes itself from other cities in America.
In terms of activities and things-to-do around town, the city can’t be beat. With state-of-the-art amusement parks, water parks, museums, art galleries, theaters, music venues, arcades, zoos and aquariums, shopping centers, and other attractions, there is no shortage of culture and opportunity for fun, family-friendly entertainment. There is even a children’s museum called the DoSeum that provides an interactive education that will excite and educate the little ones!
5. San Antonio is an Affordable Housing Market
According to the San Antonio Board of Realtors, the San Antonio market is on the up. More than 32,000 homes were sold last year in the metro area. This is a significant increase from last year’s sales. In fact, it seems as if San Antonio outdoes itself every year in home sales. The average sale price of a home here is $259,000. These numbers are encouraging for people looking into getting into the market. New homebuyers are not dissuaded from jumping into what is one of the most affordable housing markets, not only in Texas, but also in the entire United States.
With job growth on the up as well, we can only expect this trend to continue. People want to move here. The local economy is strong. The military opportunities are also a factor. And it’s affordable, which is what really matters. Put simply, San Antonio is a desirable place to buy and sell a home.
6. The History is Rich
As one of the key cities of the Texas South, San Antonio has a long and fascinating history. The timeline of San Antonio history goes all the way back to the age of the indigenous cultures that first populated this area – the Payaya Indians. The Spanish settlement of the land saw the construction of missions, like the Alamo, which were used as outposts to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. The study of San Antonio history is the study of the settlement of the American Southwest and the confluence of major forces like Spain, Mexico, and the Texan rebels.
Over the years, Texas became a melting pot of cultures. European immigrants sought land here and, in the process, brought their cultures and traditions into the region. What has emerged is a rich and vibrant tapestry of culture and history that offers a unique perspective on the American condition. With its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, there is no shortage of diversity or cultural richness. It is a historian’s dream city, and anyone with any interest in culture, diversity, or historical richness would be proud to call this city home.
7. Food, Food, and More Food!
As a major city made up of many diverse cultures, it goes without saying that San Antonio boasts a hearty appetite when it comes to food. There are so many options to choose from. Whether you are in the mood for Mexican food or Indian, Mediterranean or Cajun, trendy fusion cuisine or greasy spoons, San Antonio has it all. Nachos, fried oysters, barbacoa grilled cheese sandwiches, pork carnitas and street tacos are just a few of the many, many highlights of the city’s culinary scene. The San Antonio food scene is so eclectic and varied that in 2017, UNESCO designated it as a Creative City of Gastronomy. That’s kind of a big deal. The many different food-related festivals throughout the year here are a testament to that diversity.
If you are looking for a good place to eat, San Antonio has you covered. If, however, you are looking to cook your own culinary masterwork, San Antonio still has you covered. H-E-B, the local grocery chain is a staple of most San Antonio households. There are also many specialty and organic and local options for grocery shopping, including Whole Foods, Central Market (owned by H-E-B), Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Natural Grocers. There are also numerous farmer’s markets and produce and meat markets all throughout town. It’s a food lover’s paradise!
8. It’s Party Town!
If there’s one thing San Antonians know how to do, it’s how to let loose. No one can throw a party quite like us. Whether it’s celebrating the latest Spurs basketball game win or ringing in Fiesta season (and if you have never heard of Fiesta before, you’re in for a big surprise), San Antonians will always find a good opportunity to live life to the fullest. As for the nightlife options in San Antonio, take your pick! From upscale rooftop bars to the always reliable hole-in-the wall to the most happening parties, dances, and music concerts, there is something here for everyone.
For a night out on the town, there are some great bars and clubs downtown and along the Riverwalk. As a newcomer to the city, you will want to check out the Riverwalk as a great venue for entertainment, food, and drinks. It’s also just flat-out beautiful, especially at night when it is illuminated, and the weather is mild. You can stroll along the walkway and stop in at whatever restaurant or bar piques your fancy. Be sure to check out San Antonio’s newest brewpub, Back Unturned Brewing Company. For the most elaborate and delicious cocktails in town, you will also want to check out The Esquire Tavern, SoHo Wine & Martini Bar, Paramour, and any of the other top bars in San Antonio. Cheers!
9. We are Super Dog-Friendly
As is the case with any large city, there is plenty of opportunity here for people on the market for a new, furry addition to the family. Rescue opportunities are plentiful as well as breeder options. The city’s major shelters, like The San Antonio Humane Society or the Animal Defense League of Texas. There are also numerous pet stores and specialty pet stores throughout the city, allowing pet owners plenty of choices for finding the right food and products for their fur baby.
However, where San Antonio really shines is in the availability of dog-friendly establishments and resources. Dog parks, boarding facilities, and pet-focused activities are all apart of the San Antonio culture. For an up-to-date list of the best dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, events, and services, BringFido is your go-to source for information. Hang-out spots like The Cove and The Friendly Spot offer patio areas for you to sit at with your four-legged companion as you drink a beer or chow down on a burger or some yummy fish tacos (seriously, check out The Cove’s menu; it’s well renowned for their fish tacos).
10. It’s a Great Place to Get Fit and Stay Fit
Now don’t get me wrong; you can stuff yourself to your heart’s content here in San Antonio given its diverse food scene. It really is a food lover’s paradise. But, by the same token, there are plenty of healthy options out there for the more health-conscious person. Restaurants like Pharm Table, which serves organic, seasonal, and locally sourced food, and Green Vegetarian are standouts. No matter what your diet or lifestyle is, there is an option here for everyone when it comes to dining.
Additionally, there are a plethora of outdoor (and indoor) physical activities for people to use to get in shape. Local gyms and fitness studios, walking parks and hiking trails, trampoline parks, vitamin and health stores, personal training services, nutritionists, and other resources abound in the city. There really is no excuse for not getting back in shape! All the tools and resources you could ever need are right here at your disposal. Let’s get healthy and stay healthy!
Here is our list of the top 5 parks and nature preserve areas in San Antonio:
- Phil Hardberger Park
- Brackenridge Park
- Woodlawn Lake Park
- Eisenhower Park
- Friedrich Wilderness Park
11. The Weather is Perfect for Getting Your Tan On
Native Texans know what a hot summer is all about! Sunny days are a specialty of San Antonio weather. Of course, with that type of weather comes a host of poolside activities. That’s why San Antonio is home to four major water parks: Splashtown, Schlitterbahn (which is technically located in neighboring New Braunfels), Six Flags Fiesta Texas (which is also a theme park), and SeaWorld (also an amusement park). Seriously, it does get hot here.
If you’re not too into driving in the snow or if you just get cold easily, this is your city. Autumns here are mild; winters are cold, but short-lived, and even then, they aren’t nearly as cold as they are farther north. According to U.S. Climate Data, the average annual high temperature here in San Antonio is 79.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average annual low temperature is 57.6 degrees. The average annual rainfall is just under 33 inches.
Just a warning though: beware the humidity!
12. It’s a Safe City
Crime rates are declining each year thanks to initiatives by local government leaders. However, as with any large city, there are precautions one should always take. Play it safe. Fortunately, because of the rapid economic development and growth here, there are very few areas around town that are hotbeds of crime. People can go out for jogs in neighborhoods and enjoy their lives in peace thanks to the development of the city and its infrastructure. Also, we have to give a shout out to the San Antonio Police Department, which does an outstanding job of keeping our city safe. Current Chief of Police, William McManus issued the following statement regarding crime in San Antonio: “2018 marked the second consecutive year that San Antonio witnessed a significant crime decrease with a 16% reduction in Part I crimes compared to 2017. This reduction is a testament to the commitment of the SAPD and community members such as you. The progress we have seen can be attributed to the continued endeavors of our patrol officers who respond to over a million calls for service annually, the SAFFE Program which maintains a strong relationship with our neighborhoods, the detectives and follow-up units that work tirelessly to bring criminals to justice and the targeted mission of the Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF)”
“Together, our officers and our community partners have made San Antonio one of the safest large cities in the nation – citywide, 89% of registered neighborhoods saw a decrease in violent crime and 73% of registered neighborhoods saw a decrease in property crime compared to 2017. While these numbers are strong, there is no finish line. Our officers are eager to work with you this upcoming year to tackle the issues important to you and your neighbors. Each year, I attend dozens of community meetings, where we discuss a variety of public safety-related topics. The conversations that I have with you reinforce our belief that we are most successful when we collaborate with the community to develop innovative responses to the pressing issues facing San Antonio.”
The SAPD website offers tons of resources for newcomers to the city on how to stay safe. Check it out for more information.
13. The Schools Are Great
We have already mentioned how San Antonio was ranked among the top family-friendly cities in the nation. One of the key metrics used to arrive at that ranking was the number of schools in the city and the performance data for those schools. School districts like Alamo Heights Independent School District, Northside Independent School District, North East Independent School District, Fort Sam Houston Independent School District, Boerne Independent School District and many charter schools, such as BASIS, have made significant strides in revitalizing the state of education in San Antonio.
San Antonio is also home to 31 higher-education facilities, including two major public universities, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas A&M University – San Antonio, and the Alamo Community College District’s five college campuses. There are also four major private universities in the city, including Trinity University, St. Mary’s University, the University of the Incarnate Word, and Our Lady of the Lake University. All these options offer San Antonians the opportunity to gain an education to transform their lives and job prospects in a positive way.
14. Road Trips Baby!
San Antonio is situated perfectly within the Lone Star State for you to be able to pack a bag and head out on a road trip. The neighboring city of Austin is perfect for a day trip – just an hour away. The beach of Corpus Christi is just a couple of hours away. The cities of Dallas and Houston are not too far away either. Even closer are the towns of New Braunfels, Bandera, Canyon Lake, Gruene (pronounced like “green”), and San Marcos. The Texas Hill Country that surrounds San Antonio is full of exciting attractions like state parks, swimming holes and rivers, and little towns (think BBQ and antique shopping). There is no shortage of fun stuff to do in this region!
15. Go Spurs Go!
If that line means nothing to you right now, it will soon enough. If there’s one thing that unites all San Antonians together it’s the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. People here take their Spurs very seriously, and I mean very seriously. The chant, “Go Spurs Go!” is practically a mantra for the city’s enthusiastic sports fans. As a newcomer to the city, you will find no shortage of opportunities to celebrate the wins of the players in silver and black. Hopefully, you can even attend a game at the AT&T Center and see the team play live.
If basketball isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other sports teams in San Antonio to get your fan pride flowing! Local sports nuts love to head out to Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium to watch the San Antonio Missions, a minor league baseball team, play ball. If soccer is more your thing, you can always check out the season schedule for San Antonio FC, the city’s professional soccer team. We even have an ice hockey team called the San Antonio Rampage that is a part of the American Hockey League.
The bottom line is that you will have no shortage of opportunities here to sit back and enjoy a game, whatever sport piques your fancy! You will not be alone, either! This is Texas. You don’t mess with our sports!
Some Parting Words Before You Make the Big Move
This is an exciting moment in your life. Relocating to a new city is a big step in anyone’s life, and we know how stressful that can be. Hopefully, this article provides you with a few resources for you to begin your new life in this wonderful city. And San Antonio really is a wonderful city! It is a unique and vibrant place that will offer you every opportunity to live your life to the fullest and to raise your family.
Welcome to your new home.
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