We've found yet another thing Texans are good at---cheap living. According to the latest list compiled by the business digest Kiplinger's, Texas has three of the top 10 most affordable cities in America. The list examined 308 urban areas with populations over 50,000 based on several factors for cost of living, including housing, food, utilities, transportation, and health care. Harlingen ranked first on the list, with the cost of living more than 18% below the national average. Wichita Falls was 8th and Temple 9th on the list. Other Texas cities like San Marcos, McAllen, San Antonio and even Houston ranked high for affordability.
The biggest factor on the list, and in all of these Texas cities, is affordable housing. "Housing prices in Texas never really inflated that much to the extent that other cities in the country did," says Bert Sperling with BestPlaces.net. "So it's a very manageable place to live as far as home prices." Texas also has two of the other ingredients for attracting people and living at a reasonable cost--lots of land and lots of jobs. "There's always room to expand in Texas, and people are taking advantage of that," says Sperling. "There are more jobs right now as a whole, as far as raw numbers, in Texas." Indeed, the healthy Texas economy spurred by low taxes, low regulation and new jobs in the oil and gas industries, is driving many people to the Lone Star State.
Kiplinger's pointed out that affordable doesn't always equate with thriving. In Harlingen, the cheapest city in the country, the median household income is very low and the poverty rate is more than double the national number. Temple, in 9th place, actually had the highest average household income of any city in the top 10, at just over $51,000 annually. Nevertheless, income rate is not the deciding factor for the throngs flocking to the Lone Star State. "When it comes down to places to live, the most important things on people's minds right now are housing costs and availability of jobs," says Sperling. "And those are two categories in which Texas across the board is doing really well."