San Antonio at a Glance
As the site of one of the nation’s foundational battles, San Antonio’s past will always loom large in its present. But the Alamo City is more than just a historic site — it’s a vibrant, multifaceted city that draws scores of tourists and throngs of new residents every year.
Some newcomers are drawn to the topography of South Texas Plains, a vibrant terrain which spills out of the hill country and flows all the way to the Rio Grande with an earthy, mysterious draw. Palm trees and live oaks shrouded in Spanish moss yield to vibrant cenizo, big bluestem grasses and flowering red yucca. Other new residents are lured by San Antonio’s cultural treasures — the architecture, the museums and the world-renowned food scene. Certainly, many San Antonians have connections to the military — the Joint Base San Antonio is one of the centers of the American armed forces, and it’s why this Texas town is also known as Military City, U.S.A.
But once you’re settled here, you’ll quickly discover what San Antonio really is — a big city with an even bigger heart. This is a tight-knit community where roots run deep and cultures come together.
If you’re considering a move to Texas, make sure San Antonio is on your list. Learn more about this historic city below and read about all the Lone Star State has to offer in our Moving Guide to Texas.
What It’s Like Living in San Antonio
As the second-largest city in Texas, San Antonio is now home to 1.47 million people — a gain of nearly 40,000 since 2020. Nearly 66% of San Antonians now identify as Hispanic or Latinx — more than any other major city in the state, where the average is 40%. While San Antonio still very much reflects its Spanish Colonial and Mexican legacies, from the architecture to the cuisine, the city’s diverse international influences, from German to Irish to Czech, makes for a cultural scene like no other.
San Antonio is an outgoing place — locals and tourists enjoy the city’s many vibrant festivals and events throughout the year, from Fiesta to rodeos to Diwali, a particularly special event since San Antonio is the sister city of Chennai, India.
This city was also designed for the outdoors. The historic River Walk brings nature and the city into harmony, creating an inviting downtown environment to gather, relax and explore. At the Historic Market Square — a traditional mercado that dates back to 1730 — you’ll find handcrafted jewelry and clothing to leather goods and fine art. On the east side of the city, the iconic Hays Street Bridge gives pedestrians one of the best views of the city, making it a favorite spot for prom pics and even urban yoga classes. When you need a respite from city life, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Tea Garden, along with many municipal parks, can bring some welcome calm to your day.
Whether you’re museum-hopping or relaxing with a much-deserved margarita, you’ll find that San Antonio always has something wonderful in store for you.
Lower Cost of Living Than Other Texas’ Big Cities
San Antonians enjoy a lower cost of living than most Texas residents, so you won’t get stuck paying big city prices in this south-central town. The residents of Houston, Ft. Worth, Dallas and Austin all pay far more for real estate than residents of San Antonio, where the median home value is just $167,700 and rent averages just under $1,100/month.
Getting from home to work in San Antonio is, unfortunately, just as much of a hassle as it is elsewhere in the state. 80% of San Antonians use a car to get to work, so commute times average 25.8 minutes, just 3 minutes less than Houston’s. Another downside? San Antonio is one of the only cities of its size to have no light rail service, leaving residents with only one public transportation option: bus service on VIA. Rates are affordable, though — a day pass costs $2.75, and an annual pass costs only a dollar a day, but it’s still not the most appealing option for people who can afford a car. Gas prices in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, are some of the lowest in the state, currently running at just over $3.00/gallon.
One benefit San Antonio shares with other cities across the state are low income taxes — San Antonians do not pay state income taxes, either personal or corporate. But there are additional sales and property taxes levied by the city and state that can cut into those savings. Texans pay a 1.66% state property tax, and there is an additional .55% property tax imposed by the city as well as an 8.25% sales and use tax.
Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.
The Job Market is Still Recovering and Promising
With major attractions like the River Walk and The Alamo and San Antonio Missions (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), tourism is a Texas-sized industry in San Antonio, generating upwards of $16.2 billion and drawing over 30 million visitors to the city each year. Although the industry suffered huge losses during the pandemic, tourist numbers have rebounded strongly and spurred the opening of 10 new hotels and 70 new restaurants.
The unemployment rate in San Antonio is now on par with U.S. averages, resting at 3.8% in May 2023. Non-farm job growth was in the black, with this area of the labor force expanding 4.6% overall since May of 2022. The Mining & Logging (+10.8%) industry, followed by Leisure & Hospitality (+8.0%), Financial Services (+5.4%) and Information (+6.0%) showed the biggest gains in the job market.
Still, after Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry, the Government is still the city’s biggest employment sector — no surprise for the Military City, U.S.A. The Joint Base San Antonio — comprising Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis, Randolph Air Force Base and Lackland Air Force Base, as well as the San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Martindale Army Airfield — generates upwards of $39 million to the economy each year and employs more than 82,000 individuals directly. The military is also a population stabilizer — more than 90,000 veterans reside in San Antonio and the JBSA supports more than 266 mission partners. This economic powerhouse is also a leader in technological innovation — the JBSA collaborated with Boeing to deliver the first F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Navy.
Relatedly, Aerospace is one of San Antonio’s industry leaders in the private sector, as are Healthcare/Bioscience, IT/Cybersecurity and the emerging field of New Energy. Boeing, Booz | Allen | Hamilton, Fidelis Cybersecurity and Kawasaki Robotics all have bases at Port San Antonio, as does the DeLorean Motor Company — for those of you looking to travel back to the future.
Those hoping to pursue a career in the city won’t have to travel far for an education, either — the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Texas A&M University – San Antonio and the Alamo Colleges District turn out a well-trained workforce for industry. H-E-B recently pledged $2 million to support experiential STEM programs at UTSA’s designed to fast-track students into high-paying jobs.
Expect Hundreds of Sunny Days
San Antonio is one of the hottest cities in America, and we don’t just mean that metaphorically. On the Scoville scale, the Alamo City comes in somewhere between the Devil’s Tongue pepper and the habanero, depending on which of the seven months of San Antonio summer you’re in.
The average high from April-May will be a tolerable, jalapeño level of 80 F, but you can look forward to highs over 90 F from June-September, when daytime temps can easily blow past the ghost pepper realm and straight into the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, like they did in 2022, when there were a record-setting 58 days of temps over 100 F.
San Antonians do get a winter reprieve from this punishing, atmospheric capsaicin — from November-March, temperatures will hold steady between 40 F and 60 F — the bell pepper’s thermometric — and you’ll rarely have to worry about shoveling snow or donning unflattering parkas in the Alamo City.
You will need a rain coat, though. When you’re not enjoying one of the city’s 250 sunny days, you can look forward to cooling off in the 32 inches of annual rain a year, which keeps residents from turning into dried chiles.
Some of the Top Neighborhoods in San Antonio
When it’s time to get down to brass tacks and decide where to live in San Antonio, the city has dozens of neighborhoods and suburbs with styles and identities all their own. As the seventh-largest city in America, you’ll find dense urban areas brimming with activity, and far-flung suburban districts with an easier pace.
Loved by locals, Downtown San Antonio is a business district that can also be crowded with tourists, which makes for a lively, entertainment-rich environment. Young professionals love the active scene and the walkability of the downtown lifestyle. You’ll find apartments and condos from traditional to trendy here and even the occasional detached single-family home. Housing in the city accommodates a wide range of budgets, starting at $200K and exceeding $2 million, depending on the amenities. Cool neighborhoods surround the official Downtown district, too, like the Southtown Arts District, where the contemporary art center Ruby City is located, or the Cultural Corridor, where you can play at the DoSeum and dine and one of the exceptional spots at Pearl, a reimagined brewery from 1883.
The Northeast/Inner Loop is a park-centric, family-friendly spot located conveniently near Randolph Air Force Base. You can take a family bike ride along the Salado Creek Trails, which connect to over 80 miles of greenways throughout the city. The Texas Transportation Museum will be a hit with loco-philes, and pint-size engineers will not be able to pry themselves away from the 1,300-ft., G-Scale model train. The actual train rides are also a big hit. Housing in this area is modestly priced, ranging from small apartments (<$100K) to new single-families (>$300K).
Those who work near the University of Texas at San Antonio or the South Texas Medical Center — one of the state’s foremost research hubs — may want to consider the Tanglewood Ridge neighborhood. This far northwestern suburb is convenient to highways, big box stores and familiar favorite restaurants, but it also offers easy access to the Leon Creek Greenway trails and the beautiful Banberger Nature Park. Single-family homes are plentiful in this area, ranging from quintessential ranches to new construction, and prices are generally affordable.
If you’re moving here for a post at Fort Sam Houston, you’ll find an array of neighborhoods bordering the base to suit your needs, whether that’s a small apartment for a new recruit or a house for a growing family. To the south, in the Eastside/Dignowity District, you can see performances at the Carver Community Cultural Center and then feast on the finest pork chops and oxtails in the state at Mrs. Kitchen. To the north, in Alamo Heights, you’ll find sophisticated eateries in the historic district and popular shops at the Alamo Quarry Market.
Note: If you’re planning to move to San Antonio, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information.
There are Plenty of Exciting Experiences for Everyone
From the city center to the outer burbs, there is plenty to see and do in the cultural mecca of San Antonio. In addition to seeing The Alamo and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, one of the best places to get started is at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. This city treasure is located right on the River Walk in downtown San Antonio, and you can learn about the complex history of the city and, really, the entire U.S. here. Each fall, the Briscoe hosts the Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival, which features performances, crafting demonstrations and activities, workshops and food.
Other must-see spots downtown include the city’s new aquarium, Sea Life San Antonio, the Mexican Cultural Institute (in Hemisfair) and the Spanish Governor’s Palace, which was built in 1749 and is now one of the oldest residences still standing in the state.
If you’ve got family visiting and want to give them a quick and fun tour of the city, hop on one of the colorful barges for a boat cruise down the San Antonio River, where your captain will give you a quick historical tour of the area.
When it comes to indoor events, the AT&T Center is really the center of the action downtown. It’s where the bootheels meet the bulls at the annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and the b-ballers hit the hoops at San Antonio Spurs games.
Since you’re moving to Military City, U.S.A., a visit to Fort Sam Houston is a must. The delightfully lo-fi US Army Medical Department Museum elucidates military medical history dating back to 1775 — a date we’d avoid setting your DeLorean to if you need medical attention. Horse-drawn ambulance, anyone? That’s a hard no thank-you. The Fort’s other must-see is the historic Clock Tower, but you will use that merely an excuse to peruse the campus, where you will meet the Fort’s resident white peafowl. Fair warning: you will gasp when you see them — they are startlingly gorgeous! They may give you some side-eye for being underdressed. In your defense, not everyone can pull off a white gown with a train of feathers on an ordinary Tuesday.
If your kids are climbing the walls, there are plenty of spots to take them to burn off some energy. Aspiring Ninja Warriors can literally climb the walls at the LiggettVille Adventure Center, where all the action is indoors, praise the lord and pass the peas, because indoors = air conditioning and air conditioning = heaven in this hot-as-a-chiltepin Texas town. Everyone will dig LiggettVille’s ropes courses and ziplines, and you’ll also win major street cred with the under-60” set for having brought them here. Just remember, everyone looks equally bad in a harness.
When it’s time to eat, you won’t find better Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex or Southwest-Mex anywhere in the state — or maybe just anywhere period. In Southtown, a pilgrimage to Rosario’s ComidaMex — a 25,000sf palace of made-from-scratch favorites — is a must. Start with the pozole, then move onto the Carne de Puerco en Chile Cascabel and finish with the coconut flan and some churros for the table.
Barbeque is another must-eat San Antonio standard. While Esaul Ramos may have left his hometown temporarily to work in the state capital, everyone was delighted by the return of the San Antonio BBQ scene’s prodigal son, now the two-time James Beard-nominated pitmaster of 2M Smokehouse. You’ll have no regrets ordering their pulled pork sandwich with a side of pickled nopales and chicharoni macaroni.
But San Antonio is more than just standards. It’s been designated as a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, and its culinary arts sector has been expanding by 12% a year. At the historic Pearl, you can sample the best foods from around the world (and tuck in some boutique shopping in between treats). There’s the impeccable Mediterranean fair of Ladino, where the muhammara is made with Texas pecans. And then there’s the new Asian American menu of Best Quality Daughter, where the Southern flavors shine through in the mochi cheddar hush puppies and the orange chicken-fried skirt steak.
If you find yourself in the Westside neighborhood and in need of Texas-style pick-me-up — stop by Shotgun House Coffee Roasters, a hub for adult beverages, from caffeinated concoctions to liquor. This innovative roastery is located inside Warehouse 5, a sewing factory turned creative performance venue. Other fun, after-dark haunts include George’s Keep, a well-appointed bar in the Éilan Hotel in the northwestern suburbs, and the Japanese gastropub Hanzo, which makes a mean lychee-infused martini.
How to Move to San Antonio
If you’re ready to call the Alamo City home, hiring a trusted, reliable mover like Mayflower can help make your relocation to San Antonio easier. A national moving company like Mayflower, who provides customizable, full moving services and a dedicated moving coordinator for you, coupled with the digital Mayflower Move Portal, can make your move experience smooth and worry-free.
Are you moving cross-country to San Antonio? Mayflower’s long-distance movers can help you move from anywhere in the country. Our agents can help you with full-service moving services and custom moving packages for San Antonio, including packing and unpacking services, storage, car shipping, debris removal and more.
Are you moving locally to San Antonio? Mayflower can also help you with local moves/movers in San Antonio and the state of Texas. Our San Antonio Movers perform local moves in Texas independently under their own brands and business names.
Planning to move yourself to San Antonio? Mayflower’s helpful moving checklists and packing tips are designed with the DIY mover in mind but can help everyone stay on track for their journey.
Still unsure where you’re moving in Texas? Check out Mayflower’s Moving Guide to Texas to learn about popular cities, favorite attractions and tips on living in the Lone Star State.