Texas is one of the most popular states for retirement because of its mild climate, low cost of living, and small tax burden. Four Texas towns, Grand Prairie, Garland, Plano, and Irving ranked in the top 20 on WalletHub’s 2014 list of the 150 best cities to retire in.
The saying is “Everything is big in Texas”. Texas is the second largest state in area. It has something for most everyone: large, exciting cities, charming small towns, wide open spaces, and friendly, laid-back people. There are vibrant, fast-growing urban areas and slower-paced rural communities. There are also hundreds of active senior adult communities.
The climate is humid-sub tropical. The southern and eastern regions are strongly influenced by the Gulf of Mexico. Summers are hot and humid with regular thunderstorms. Winters are mild, particularly in southern Texas. The north is prone to tornadoes in the spring and summer.
The overall cost of living in the Lone Star State is 10% below the national average. The median home price in 2015 was $146,100 which was well below the national median.
There are some areas that are much less expensive than the U.S. average, while affluent suburbs of Dallas and Houston can be much higher than average. The Dallas-Fort Worth median home price topped $200,000 for the first time in 2015. The Texas population is one of the fastest growing in the country; as the population is rapidly growing, so are home prices.
The total tax burden in Texas is 8.4% which is low compared to other states with large metropolitan areas. The Lone Star State has the 43rd highest tax burden in the country. A big reason is that Texas has no income tax. The state sales tax is 6.25%, but in many local districts it is increased to 8.25%. Texas has no inheritance or estate taxes.
Property taxes, though, are among the highest in the nation. Texas residents in 2015 paid an average of $3,327 in real estate taxes, which is the fifth highest in the United States and 59 percent higher than the average American property tax rate. Texas is the only southern state with property taxes in the top 10 in the country.
A mid-size town of 100,000 in northeast Texas, Tyler is one of the larger population centers in a part of Texas that has many small towns and communities.
Tyler is called the “Rose Capital of the World” because of its many rose bushes and because it is home to the largest rose garden in America. The Rose Museum in town depicts the rose industry and its importance in the local area.
Tyler is also a regional educational and technology center. It hosts four colleges and universities with 20,000 students, the University of Texas Health Science Center and College of Engineering, two regional, billion-dollar healthcare facilities, and multiple technology startups. Tyler is the host for more than 20,000 higher education students, a College of Engineering, and a University Health Science Center.
The Texas Rose Festival in Tyler draws thousands of tourists to Tyler each October. The festival celebrates rose-growing in the area and includes a parade and the coronation of the Rose Queen. The Rose Museum features the history of the Festival. Another major event is the East Texas State Fair, held each fall, which features food, live music, and a variety of entertainment such as acrobatics, magic, dog performances, a carnival, an alligator show, and a marketplace.
The 85-acre Caldwell Zoo has animals from all over the world including two white tigers and the largest African elephant in North America. There is also the Cotton Belt Railroad Depot Museum and the Smith County Historical Society museum and archives which depicts and preserves the history of the area.
For outdoor recreation, Tyler State Park is just outside of town where visitors can camp, hike, picnic, and boat and swim in Lake Tyler. Also a few miles from town is The WaterPark @ The Villages, a year-round, indoor water park. There are several walking trails in town, including the “Azalea Trail” that showcases homes and lots decorated with azalea shrubs. Tyler has four hospitals and many direct care clinics.
Located in north central Texas, Abilene is a city of 120,000 with many attractions and events. Abilene has 29 parks comprising 1,200 acres and three athletic complexes. The popular Abilene Zoo has several hundred animals ranging from local Texas wildlife like skunks, armadillos, and river otters to black rhinos and South American maned wolves. The Grace Museum houses five art galleries displaying temporary exhibits and selections from its permanent art collection. The Center for Contemporary Arts has five galleries with rotating exhibits by local and national artists. The Paramount Theatre and Abilene Philharmonic have regular live performances.
Abilene hosts many annual events. The West Texas Fair & Rodeo, a ten-day festival in mid-September, features exhibits and entertainment celebrating west Texas. The Western Heritage Classic in early May includes a rodeo, campfire cook-off, sheepdog trials, horseshoe making competition, cowboy poetry, and Western art show.
Artwalk is held monthly in downtown Abilene and features local musicians and performers, arts and crafts booths, and free admission to local museums. Other regular events include the Abilene Gem and Mineral Show and the West Texas Book and Music Festival. Abilene has two medical centers, and a medical and dental clinic specifically for low-income individuals and people without health insurance.
San Angelo, population 97,000 is a cultural center on the west side of Texas, near the Concho River. San Angelo is home to many art galleries and museums. The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts draws 85,000 visitors annually and hosts the National Ceramic Competition. The Chicken Farm Art Center houses 15 artist galleries in northwest San Angelo. The weekly San Angelo Art Walk features tours of the many downtown art galleries.
The San Angelo Symphony Orchestra has regular concerts during the year including the July 3 performance on the outdoor River Stage on the Concho River that brings 20,000 visitors. Angelo Civic Theater, the oldest civic theater in Texas originally built in 1885 presents five local plays to 15,000 people. The San Angelo Ballet also gives regular performances. Angelo State University gives six plays and numerous musical performances throughout the year. These performances as well as the university art gallery are open to the public.
The city maintains 32 parks with a total of over 375 acres. The city also maintains a 33-acre municipal golf course along the river, 25 playgrounds, and 25 ball fields. San Angelo State Park is a 7,677-acre park for camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, and swimming. The San Angelo Nature Center is an educational center open to the public that features many native and exotic animals and includes a 260-acre wetland.
The self-described “Live Music Capital of the World” has become one of the most popular retirement destinations in the country. The 11th most populous city in the U.S. with 913,000 people, Austin attracts many retirees because of its good weather, many annual events, an abundance of parks and green spaces, and low rate of violent crime. The FBI ranked Austin as the second-safest major city in the country for the year 2012.
Austin hosts many annual events, the most well-known of which are the three-day Austin City Limits music festival each fall and the film-media-technology-music conference each spring that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.
There are also many other musical events throughout the year. Austin also has more live music venues per person than any other American city and there are multiple places to hear live music on any night of the week. The Austin Symphony Orchestra and Austin Lyric Opera give regular performances. Ballet Austin is the fourth largest ballet academy in the country.
Austin also has an active live theater scene, with many live performance stages and groups. The Paramount Theater and the 2,300-seat Long Center are leading venues for film screenings and live performances in town.
The city maintains 50 swimming pools and many parks throughout the city. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department received the Excellence in Aquatics award in 1999 and the Gold Medal Awards in 2004 from the National Recreation and Park Association. The most popular park is Zilker Park, which contains the nation’s largest natural, spring-fed swimming pool in an urban area.
On the downside, Austin’s infrastructure has not grown to keep pace with the expanding population, so that it has one of the worst traffic problems in the U.S.
Austin is close to other attractive retirement places including Georgetown to the north and San Antonio to the south.
Click here for a news report about retirees moving to Austin.
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