It’s no secret that Texas has become a migration magnet, with net domestic migration averaging about 108,000 people per year between 2000 and 2021, and international migration averaging about 83,000 people annually. Over a 20-year time span, the total population of the Lone Star State has grown from 21 million to slightly more than 30 million.
The booming job market, relatively low cost of living and high quality of life are key factors that have attracted immigrants from across the United States and the world. But if you’re considering a move to central Texas, it’s wise to consider which city is the best choice for you, your family, and your lifestyle. There are lots of great cities to call home in Texas, but here are a few that should make it to the top of your list.
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Located just 20 miles north of Austin, Round Rock has consistently been one of the top places to live not only in Central Texas, but in the United States. In 2019, the city was ranked number two on Money Magazine’s list of the top 100 places to live in the U.S. Dell Technologies calls Round Rock home and is the largest employer in the area, contributing to the healthy median household income of $86,587 in the city. Meanwhile, home prices are still affordable in comparison to other tech hubs across the country at a median price of $485,000, and Round Rock ISD boasts one of the best public school systems in the area.
This small city is found about 30 miles east of Austin, and while it might be known as the most historic small town in Texas, it’s seen amazing economic growth over the past few years while maintaining its old school charm. The downtown area is home to live performances, music and art tours, as well as historic tours. If you love to spend time outdoors, there’s also plenty of activities to choose from, including horseback riding, canoeing on the Colorado River, hiking and even ziplining. With a median home price of $450,000, this cute little town is more affordable than other cities close to the capitol city, while also providing quick access to Austin’s cultural activities and its international airport.
Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Fixer Upper may have put Waco the map in recent years, but it’s been a great place to raise a family for decades. Located about halfway between Austin and Dallas with quick access to both major cities, Waco is also known as the Heart of Texas. The city has a cost of living 8% below the state average, and a median home price of $199,000. With excellent public schools in the area, a growing economy and lots of fun activities for adults and kids alike, it’s a great place to live for the whole family.
This city was named the fastest growing city in the United States for a reason. Georgetown offers good jobs, safe neighborhoods, 30 parks and 9 miles of hike and bike trails, and events for the whole family. It is the county seat of Williamson County, and home to “The Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.” The city boasts a small-town feel, while also offering a wide variety of excellent culinary and cultural experiences that you might expect to find in a bigger metropolis.
At a mere 25 minutes from downtown Austin, Pflugerville has become a popular destination for families and young professionals. Home prices are more affordable in this community, at a median price of $391,200, and there is a wide variety of new construction to choose from. Aside from a reasonable cost of living and proximity to Austin, Pflugerville is known for its beautiful outdoor walking and biking trails, a stunning lake and plenty of shopping and restaurants.
Located about 30 minutes south of Waco, Texas and on the eastern side of Lake Belton, Temple is an affordable place to raise a family. The city’s cost of living index is 4 percent below the state average, largely due to the low median home price of $208,500. Temple has a great public school system, plenty of outdoor activities, and a diverse food scene featuring a variety of Mexican and Italian restaurant choices.
The smallest city included on this list, Salado has a population of a mere 2,370. It may be small, but Salado has a wonderfully tight knit community and has been a magnet for families and retirees alike due to its beautiful scenery and historic downtown. The city is home to some great schools, and if you’re an avid golfer, the city’s renowned golf courses are an added draw. Local community events like the Salado Christmas Stroll bring visitors from all over Central Texas.
Found on the outskirts of Austin, Cedar Park is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Austin. In fact, its location makes it an easy commute for many professionals and students to their jobs in the larger Austin area, or to one of the many universities located nearby. There are plenty of beautiful parks and trails around the city where you can enjoy the sunny weather, and the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park attracts world-renowned acts and is home to a variety of sporting events, such as hockey and basketball.
Finally, no list of the best cities to move to in Central Texas would be complete without the state capital, Austin. Sure, the city’s booming economy—with job growth expected to be 47 percent over the next 10 years—is a driving factor in attracting new residents. However, it’s the great weather year-round, a culture that celebrates the arts, an unrivaled food scene, lively music and nightlife, as well as easy access to the outdoors that ensures new arrivals stay put.
Spoiled for Choice
It’s no secret the Lone Star State is booming, with many moving here from across the country to take advantage of benefits such as the growing economy, the family-friendly cities and the balmy weather. Central Texas has plenty of great places to live—the hardest part is choosing the best one for you!