San Antonio is often referred to as the “biggest small town in Texas” because of its easy going, neighborly vibe. It’s home to The Alamo, the River Walk, and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. If you’re thinking about calling it home, too, here are some thingSan Antonio is often called the “biggest small town in Texas” because of its easy-going, neighborly vibe. It’s home to The Alamo, the River Walk, and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. If you’re considering calling it home, too, here are some things to know before moving to San Antonio.s you should know first.
1. It’s rich in Hispanic culture
It’s no surprise that South Central Texas has a large Hispanic population, but it might shock you to discover that Hispanic residents make up nearly 65% of San Antonio’s population. Spanglish is the city’s unofficial language. Lots of signs and grocery store product labels are in both English and Spanish.
We’ll get you started: chanclas are flip-flops. And “puro” (pronounced poo-row) means pure. As in, getting a drink at an icehouse (formerly a place to buy ice off the block, now just refers to watering holes) is “puro” San Antonio. And while we’re on the subject – do not call it San Antone. That’s not a thing.
2. Step out of the shower and you’ll start sweating
On the “bright” side, there are 300 days of sunshine every year, and hardly a winter to speak of. But when July and August come around and the mercury rises to triple-digits, it feels like you’re actually on Mercury. That’s why we invented air-conditioning and swimming pools. Once you get accustomed to the sweltering Texas heat, you’ll be reaching for a sweatshirt when temps drop below 74 degrees.
3. The Tex-Mex food is incredible
You haven’t lived until you’ve had a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast taco with fresh salsa on a corn tortilla. Restaurants serve chips and salsa instead of bread baskets. And everything (carnitas, carne asada, barbacoa) comes with tortillas.
Tamales are very popular in San Antonio too. You can pretty much use the traditional Latin American dish as currency. Need someone to watch your kid for the afternoon? Ask nicely and bring a dozen of the steamed, stuffed corn masa treats. Margaritas are plentiful and authentic (no neon mix!), as is the BBQ. Texas just knows how to do it–low and slow. Plus, you’ll never have to suffer a sub-par fast food burger again thanks to Whataburger, the popular chain headquartered in San Antonio.
4. H-E-B takes care of your grocery needs
While we’re on the subject of food, meet your new BFF, H-E-B. Florence Butt started the local grocery company in Kerrville, TX in 1905 and no one ever made fun of her name again. The Texas chain is now headquartered in San Antonio. You’ll never want to step foot in another grocery store again. Just wait for hatch chili season.
5. You’ll want to keep your car to get around
San Antonio is America’s seventh-largest city and the second-largest city in Texas, after Houston. The San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area’s population of 2.51 million is growing every day, and those people like to drive everywhere. You will need a car to get around the sprawling city, whether you live in the Loop (410 Loop) or out in the ‘burbs (outside the Loop), the Pearl District, or the King William neighborhood.
There isn’t a metro, but there is a bike-sharing system and a bus system called VIA Metropolitan, with 89 bus lines and a streetcar downtown. Commute times in the city average about 25 minutes. Turn signals are rarely used, there’s no such thing as merging rules, and Texans plain ol’ forget how to drive during storms.
6. Texan cities make great weekend getaways
Texas is a big state. Once you’re in the center, it’s kind of hard to get out without going to the airport. The good news is there are tons of great places to visit within driving distance, like Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, and the coastal beach cities of Galveston and Port Aransas. Or, just head north to Hill Country and spend the day winery-hopping the Texas Wine Trail. Plus, since Texas has no state income tax, you’ll have a little extra cash for that weekend getaway.
7. There’s so much to do
Why leave when there’s so much to do? The Alamo, Texas’ top tourist attraction, is in the heart of downtown San Antonio. You might as well spring for season passes since SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas are right around the corner. The San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio Botanical Garden, and San Antonio Zoo are also worth checking out.
8. Join in the fun of Fiesta San Antonio
What started as a parade honoring the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto in 1891 has turned into an 11-day citywide festival held every spring. Like most festivals, Fiesta San Antonio can be expensive and overcrowded, but it’s always worth it. Don’t miss the Battle of Flowers parade, and keep an eye out for Fiesta medals. The more you collect, the more San Antonian you are. Giant, crazy fiesta hats are a thing too. Don’t worry if someone breaks an egg over your head; it’s probably just a confetti-filled cascarone.
9. Don’t bother supporting any team but the Spurs
Football plays no part in San Antonio life. When it comes to sports, there is only the Spurs. The San Antonio NBA team has won five championships since 1999, and locals won’t let you forget it. After a big win, everyone beeps their car horns and the city feels like one giant block party.
10. San Antonio is a military city
San Antonio has a proud military history, a strong commitment to servicemen and women, and tons of bases. Joint Base San Antonio primarily serves the Air Force and is one of the largest military bases in the country. Make sure to show your respect when you meet current and former military personnel around town.
FAQs: Moving to San Antonio
San Antonio has a low cost of living, so it’s a great move if you’ve got a limited budget. The city has a cost of living index of 89.8. That’s not just lower than the national average, it’s also 4.4 points lower than the Texas index. You’ll find all your essentials, from groceries to utilities and health care are cheaper in San Antonio.
Rent is also incredibly affordable, with the average one-bedroom apartment costing $1,160 a month and the average two-bedroom apartment priced at $1,440. San Antonio doesn’t even crack the top 60 most expensive rental markets in the country. It’s cheaper than many other Texas cities, including Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas, Plano, and Austin.
The right San Antonio neighborhood depends on your budget and how you want to spend time in the city. If you want to be close to the action, get a place downtown. It has the most expensive properties, but as the city is so affordable what your money buys may surprise you. You’ll also save money on commuting. The Medical Center District is popular among students and young professionals. The great schools and friendly locals make suburbs like Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, and Olmos Park popular with families.
Even locals don’t get used to the San Antonio heat, so make sure your place has air conditioning. Heat is also important. You might not use it often, but it’ll help you feel comfortable on chilly winter nights. There aren’t a lot of laundromats outside the downtown area either, so laundry facilities are important unless you’re based in the city center.
Now that you know all about this historic city, you’re all ready to take it on. Find an awesome San Antonio apartment before you move and you’ll be ready to hit the town once you step off the plane.
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