Here’s why everyone is moving to the Texas Hill Country: a story of Califorians, avocado toast, the Dixie Chicks, and chickens

Has it felt like everyone is moving to Texas? Have you ever met someone living in Austin who is actually from Austin? Texans may not love that their state is getting overrun, but can we blame people for wanting to move to the greatest state?

Anyone who’s visited Texas has come across our deeply rooted state pride. Whether you’ve spent a couple days or decades here, I’m sure you can see why. We have Tex-Mex, beautiful sunsets, BBQ that melts in your mouth and rich culture. And I don’t know about you, but if you’ve ever had a tortilla north of Texas, you’ve probably rushed back south. It’s no wonder that Texas has seen high migration patterns from other states over the past two decades.

The Perks

No income tax and low tax burdens

As the saying goes, two things are inevitable: death and taxes. State income tax, however, can be avoided depending on where you call home. Across the 50 states, additional state income tax varies from 0% to well over 10%. Median states such as Kentucky have a 5% tax rate with California, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii taxing over the 10% mark (source). For Texans, state income tax is nonexistent. As more workplaces go remote, more employees are eyeing states like Texas to keep an extra 5-10% of their income. According to the Tax Foundation, Texas is ranked 46th out of all 50 states from highest to lowest tax burden overall with local and state taxes 15% lower than national averages.

Affordable Housing

Texas is ranked 17th in on the list of most affordable places to live, with housing prices below the national average. This means that your housing budget can go further here than 33 other states in the US (source). Even more so when you start to look outside of major city hubs and build homes in the Hill Country outside of the Austin and San Antonio city limits.

Larger Lots Sizes

It’s not just Californians craving a little more breathing room. After suffering through lockdowns and two years of hybrid work environments, home owners are craving the wide open spaces and bigger lots the hill country can offer *queue dixie chicks*. Once you leave the city limits, it becomes significantly easier to find larger lots, especially lots with mature trees. But even within the cities themselves, you can find bigger lots than most major cities in the rest of the country. Austin ranks 3rd for largest lot sizes in the US and San Antonio ranks 7th (source).

Natural Beauty

While some people’s imaginations of Texas conjure images of arid land and rolling tumbleweeds, the geography varies across the massive state. The Hill Country in particular is a hidden gem and arguably the best place to move within the state. The scenic Hill Country is filled with rivers, lakes, natural springs, climbing spots, hilltop sunsets, a rugged beauty and even underground caverns. Top spots include Barton Springs, Zilker park, the Comal River, and Natural Bridge Caverns. The heart of Texas rivals any state, boasting a variety of natural attractions to visit.

Urban Attractions

For the city folk, the Hill Country offers shopping and live music in Austin and the riverwalk and Mexican cuisine just south in San Antonio. San Antonio’s city attractions vary from modern attractions such as interactive children’s museums to Spanish missions that have stood for generations. In the middle of downtown San Antonio you can find street tacos across from the Alamo, mariachi bands playing in bars and a plethora of historical museums. Follow the river walk a little more, and you can find The Pearl. Standing since 1883, the Pearl began as a brewery. After 118 years of brewing, it was purchased in 2001 with the goal to create a cultural hub filled with unique cuisine, eclectic shopping and a high end boutique hotel. The Pearl now boasts a lively community, weekend markets, and serves as a destination for San Antonioans and travelers alike (source).

Just north up I-35 you can find live music across every genre in the Texas capitol. Austin possesses a vibrant food and bar scene. Many businesses refurbish former homes into retail and restaurant spaces, filling the city with both modern and historic design. Austin is certainly a place for foodies, with food truck parks scattering the city offering every cuisine imaginable. With upscale shopping options at The Domain and music on every corner of 6th street, the city is full of urban entertainment options.

The appeal of Austin

Have you ever sat in Dallas traffic? If so, Austin commutes may feel like a breeze and an easy sacrifice for the vibrant local culture. According to the US News and World Report, Austin has been ranked first on the list of best places to live in the US for several years. Visitors and residents may have seen Austin as a top spot for young professionals, but US news ranked Austin 11th in the US for retirees citing weather and culture as reasons for the high rank.

Less Limiting HOAs

And speaking of chickens, remember in 2020 when no one could find eggs? Backyard chicken coops sprung up but many homeowners have since found their HOA’s trying to evict their feathery neighbors. Some people go the route of trying to get their chickens certified as emotional support animals. Hey, a good omelet is good for anyone’s mental health. Finding communities without HOA restrictions is another option. Independent Texans head to the Hill Country where people are moving to enjoy less restrictive policies on everything from hens to backyard brush fires.

Getting away from the city lights

As home and rent prices rise in the major cities of Austin and San Antonio, many people are seeking land to build in between these two bustling cities. Just off the highway between these two cities are towns with tons of character, history, and vibrant communities selling large lots to build on. A lot in New Braunfels near Texas’s oldest bakery and the clear Comal River offers countryside charm within 45 minutes from the Alamo and surrounding high rises. San Marcus is home to Texas State University and just a short drive from Gruene Hall. This dancehall is the oldest in Texas and has been graced by Texas Country royalty.

Living near the office kept many Texans from enjoying these historic towns and stuck in the city. But the boom of remote work has allowed many Texans to build their dream home in the country while working their dream job from a home office. And not a moment too soon with gas prices making me regret purchasing a diesel vehicle.

We have wine

You don’t have to go all the way to California to tour a winery, the Texas Hill Country has its own wine growing region. The tiny town of Fredericksburg offers local charm and is one of the few cities where it is legal to sip a pinot noir or local pint of beer as you stroll down the charming streets to shop at local boutiques or savor authentic German food. The Hill Country wine region is actually the third largest in the US and the largest in Texas, making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway without having to buy a plane ticket.

Other Factors

Tech Jobs (here comes California)

While Texas has been known for oil (and NASA), Austin is a burgeoning tech hub with major companies announcing plans to move their headquarters to the capital. As high paying tech jobs increase, so does the number of Califorinans migrating to Texas. Like many others, The Golden State has gone remote and its workforce is realizing that everything is bigger in Texas, especially the amount of home they can get with tech salaries.

Challenges buying a first home

Certain corners of the internet claim that millennials couldn’t afford to buy homes because of how much avocado toast they purchase at brunch. While this has been formally debunked by economists as a cheapshot millennial joke, early shutdowns in the pandemic did prevent people from their usual spending habits. Combined with an influx of pandemic related aid and historically low mortgage rates, many people found their bank accounts flush with extra cash. With leftover brunch money, the masses took to zillow. Summer of 2019 in particular marked the beginning of  a coming of age moment for many young millennials purchasing their first homes between 2019 and 2020.

Unfortunately, this resulted in record housing shortages and houses selling significantly above asking prices. This pushed many people to skip the process of trying to outbid 20+ offers in favor of building their own piece of paradise. As interest rates were favorable and people found themselves able to afford down payments, first time homeowners started buying in the Texas Hill Country wherever they found available lots and lumber.

While no list can be fully comprehensive and cover all the reasons people are moving to the Hill Country, this is an excellent start to many of the reasons we love building homes here.

Use our contact page if you’d like to hear more about building your dream home in the Texas Hill Country.