Cheapest Places To Live: Texas

cheapest places to live - texas?One of the most popular articles on Frugal Zeitgeist is about the Cheapest Places To Live. Since publishing that article and a few similar articles (see related posts below for more info) I have received many comments and emails regarding how great it is to live in Texas on a budget. Texas came in at number 2 on my original post but I thought it would be awesome to publish some of the readers real experiences, as I have never been to Texas, and go into a little more detail.

Reader Comments and Mail About Cheap Living In Texas:

Comments from previous blog posts:

“I found Texas to be very reasonable I had a PULTE premiere home built for $188000. The taxes were $4400 every thing else was inexpensive beer in a restaurant was between 2.50 and 3.00 mexican food was good and cheap. people were friendly and didn’t beep the horn if you didnt jump at a light. there is no state tax but off the book jobs don’t exist. Car insurance was half the price of New York and electric was less than New York.”
- Kevin M
(Kevin also mentioned some bad things about the schools and cops but that’s a personal thing to judge I guess!

“I currently live in Texas, born and raised, and the housing is extremely cheap here. I work in the culinary industry, and have been recently looking for a place up north to broaden my experience. From what I’ve seen, the cost of living is just ridiculous. I guess it’s just because I’m used to everything being so cheap down here, but I’m seriously starting to reconsider, because I wont have much cash left over at the end of the month for anything other than eating, and gas money. Some of the other comments kind of put Texas in a bad light though. I have done a lot of traveling, and I’ve found that generally speaking the people here are very nice. It’s a family friendly atmosphere, and it’s very community based. I also am an Atheist, and even though most people here are Christian I have never in anyway felt pressured to adopt Christianity. Of course you might find someone every now and then that wants to strike up an argument, but I’ve found that if you just say you would rather not talk about it because it only causes stress, they will generally agree and you can go back to having a good time. Also, with the “corrupt” police issue, I can say from experience that police here are not corrupt. They are however very strict, and can at times be overly intimidating. If you don’t break the law, you wont have anything to worry about. One of my best friends that lived down here for most of his life recently moved up to Maine, and he said that the police up there were much worse. Overall it’s a very friendly place to live, and I plan on staying.

P.S. I almost forgot about the heat issue. Yes it does get hot…it’s Texas. There are only a few days a year that it can really get to you though, and there is no shortage of swimming pools with plenty of people willing to share them. Personally I would rather deal with a few hot days at the pool, and a nice tan, than an entire winter of painful cold, and messy snow”
-Jason

Email sent to me:

Jason who left the comment above also sent me a really insightful email after I asked him for more info.

“I’m really glad that you are interested in doing a followup on Texas. I can’t really give you specific information on anything, but I can give you some prices from some of my personal experiences, and some approximations from people I have known. I currently live in a small city called Weatherford just about 20 miles west of Fort Worth. Right now I’m living in a 3 bed, 2 bath 1700 square foot home with 12ft. ceilings on a 1/2 acre lot, which I know we payed $122,000 for. It’s about 3 blocks away from the city center in a good neighborhood, so it would be one of the more prime locations. As far as apartments go, I just moved out of a 2 bed, 2 bath 972 square foot apartment with washer and dryer included in Dallas for $700 total, so I alone was only paying $350 a month. What really dropped my jaw though was what I saw on HGTV. There was a family (husband, wife, and 4 kids) living in a cramped apartment, and paying over $1300 a month. That was bad enough, but the show was about them wanting to move out to a house in the suburbs. So they start looking around at houses with an average of 1400 square feet, and they are listed at approximately $500,000. This blew my mind because they were actually happy about it, and you can get a house that sized here for $100,000. They were talking about how spacious it was, and the whole time I couldn’t help wanting to tell them what they were missing. I had a friend in high school whose family was considered one of the most wealthy in the city, and they had a 4 bed, 3 bath 5186 square foot house with a 2 story guest house, tennis court, swimming pool, 2 sand volleyball courts, a pond, and a fort for the kids that cost them $500,000. I know it probably sounds like I’m making that up because it’s so over the top, but I’m not. So you can see why I was so blown away seeing people settle for such a cramped space, when they could have had, and deserved so much more for the same price. I know that comparing prices to New York isn’t very relevant because they are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but I’m still in a slight amount of shock about that. Back on topic. From what I have seen, small to medium sized cities are the cheapest, with a much nicer environment. The big cities can be a little more expensive, but still generally cheaper than most. If you go too small you can run into more of what people want to avoid about Texas. Cities ranging from 20,000 to 150,000 people are definitely the way too go. They are friendly, and thriving cities with lower costs than the big ones. There are quite a few small cities around Texas, including one 5 miles out of Weatherford that aren’t being effected by the recession at all, and are actually improving. I’ve been considering using some of my culinary funds to start up a real estate development side project, and that would be the perfect place to do something like that.”

Is Texas Really One Of The Cheapest Places To Live?

The current minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 but it rises and falls with the federal minimum wage. A 35 hour work week would bring you $1,087 in a 30 day month (pre tax). Luckily Texas has no income Tax so you just have to pay the Feds and total sales tax only works out to about 8.25% which is pretty cool.

Rentals.com shows homes for rent in Houston (which should be one of the most expensive areas) at as low as $300 per month for a studio and many 2-3 bed available in the $800-$1200 range.

Homes.com shows many 2-3 bed homes in Houston available for as low as $50,000. I am not sure these homes are fantastic but it seems you can certainly pick up a nice place for around $100,000 (please correct me if I am wrong here).

Most people I talk to report groceries to be much cheaper than up north and entertainment such as alcohol, restaurants and cinema seems to be very affordable.

Texas, it seems, is indeed an affordable place to live and you may even be able to scrape by on minimum wage if you live alone.

Negatives of Budget Living in Texas

It’s likely that the best budget places to will also be in the less desirable areas and not in the major cities with the better job options. A few people have reported that the police are very hard ass (but you’re not going to do anything wrong, right?) and some areas report higher crime than USA average.

The biggest complaint is the heat! I am currently living in Cairo, Egypt and I can really feel for Texan’s who grew up dealing with this crazy heat every summer of their lives. Texas experiences most of the summer in the 80-100 range which is pretty darn hot. Howver this past winter they did get some unusual amounts of snow.

Discussion….

Finding the actual cheapest place to live is not possible as so much is relative. However Texas seems fairly affordable in the scheme of things but I have never spent anytime there to be sure…. This is where you come in.

I would love to get your thoughts and comments or anything, just mail me forest.parks@gmail.com or ideally leave a comment below.

I will be on vacation until April 10th, all comments will be answered on my return, unless I find time to pop into an Internet cafe :)

40 thoughts on “Cheapest Places To Live: Texas”

  1. Texas eh? I’ve never been, but one of my concerns would be the heat. We just spent a summer in the South of France where it was 95-100 degrees most days, with no AC etc. This was ok-ish, but it put a real crimp in our exercise style. We like biking, hiking, running etc and these were only enjoyable in the early morning. AND drought conditions can make hiking a serious fire hazard.

    The minimum wage sounds kinda low for me, but I’m coming from a CA background where live is more expensive. You know, Texas doesn’t sound half bad for someone who is trying to live for very little because they’ve retired or have a mobile business. Then you can benefit from the cheap cost of living without taking a hit in the salary department . . . and possibly leave in the summer!
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Have you ever felt poor? =-.

    1. Hey Simple in France…. Yes the heat is probably a huge drain at times, I live in Cairo right now so I know all about the heat!! You soon become a night owl!

      I think for jobs Austin is getting a lot of good press for the tech companies, especially with companies like Texas Instruments well established there. They are also having a rather large green revolution with things like wind farms.

  2. I lived in Houston, TX for a couple of years and left in 2003. The first summer that I was there, I had my jeep that I’d brought from Canada when we moved. It didn’t have A/C, but you get acclimated to the climate when you don’t have it. Yes, lots of people down there have full A/C, but many only have portable or one room A/C units. Or they sit on their front (shaded) porch in the evenings rather than hole up in their house.

    To cut down on A/C costs in our apartment, we went to the pool pretty much every day after work to cool down. Like anywhere with a less temperate climate, you just base your activities around the weather. In Canada that means bundling up and staying inside for the colder times of the year and in TX it means not going jogging at 2 p.m. in the summer.

    My salary there was the equivalent to what I would have made in Canada at the time we moved. But the cost of living was considerably lower. Contrary to popular opinion, the taxes on my income were NOT hugely different than they were in Canada.

    I never look at minimum wage as an indicator of how much I can personally earn since I haven’t earned minimum wage since I was 17 years old.

    I saved as much as possible while we were down there and converted my nest egg at rates > $1.50 CAD/USD upon returning home. Easiest profit I’ve ever made and a great incentive to save.

    The one thing that would make me hesitate to move is the health insurance factor. That seems to be a deal-breaker for many older retirees that would use the system more. Our family had health issues that cropped up in TX that we never had in a drier climate that disappeared when we moved back to a drier climate. Because of the higher humidity and increased mold I think it’s a trigger for allergies for many.

    1. Thanks for the inside info…. I lived in Montreal for 2 years so know all about the Canada winter! I also live in Cairo now so know about the heat too!

      Health is always a factor that needs considering, especially in USA where premiums can be so high.

  3. Interesting article. Texas is actually one of the places we talk about when we consider moving from California. The Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio is supposed to be very nice with lots of vineyards. And Austin has quite a few Tech companies and is supposed to be a thriving economy. I’ve only been to Austin once so I’d need to go back and really check it out before we truly considered it.
    .-= Mrs. Frugal´s last blog ..Net Worth and Goals: March 2010 – Up 5.8% and making great progress! =-.

    1. Thanks Mrs Frugal, It’s funny because Texas gets such a bad rap but when you look into it, it really has some beautiful surroundings and some great industry (that isn’t oil based only).

  4. Texas is Texas!! i’m a bonafied born and raised texan. i lived in south carolina and virginia for a few years in my 20′s, and couldn’t wait to get back home. the cost of living in other states is dreadful. upon returnng home i bought a 4bd 3bth house on a 1/2 acr corner lot, for only 119,000.(by the way this was a custombuild) my mother bought a 3b/2b with a 1/4 ac lot for 78,000. that you really can’t beat with a stick. the homes are stick not mobil, no tires here:) anyway what’s best about texas is the wide open spaces, you can see miles froma hill top, or ride a motorcycle on a flat strech of road for ever, oh and because we only get about 6 weeks of really cold weather, you can ride almost year round. the auto insurance is reasonable too, i have a house and 2 cars on my policy and it only runs about 1800 a year. during this economic down turn it seems that most texans are getting along much better than the rest of the country. sure we have a few up’s and down’s but all in all it’s great. we also have very different regions here, so if you like tree’s east texas, if you like mountains we got’um too, desert in big bend is pretty, nothing like the hill country in the fall, and of course the central plains are wonderful. lakes abound here, rivers are plentiful and the coastal areas are nice too, i feel that we have a little bit of everything for everybody so if your looking to move or visit somewhere check us out, you might find you’ll love it

    1. Thanks very very much, all this great info makes me want to at least pay a visit to Texas as soon as I can.

  5. (but your not going to do anything wrong, right?)

    Just wanted to let you know that your is possessive, the correct word should be you’re since it means you are.

  6. you canNOT buy a “nice” house for $100,000 if you want to live in a neighborhood that is not drug infested. there are brand new homes being built for this, but i substitute taught in these areas before becoming a teacher and there is no way in hell i would live there. new house or no. if you want a nice, older home for about $140k, you will live far out and be fine. heckuva commute, though. it would be 1.5 hours into my job and about 2 hours to get home. traffic is awful. so we get by in our tiny apt inside the loop for about $1000 all utilities included.

    1. Hey Laura,

      I have never myself been to Texas so was just going on info from my readers. Thank you for adding some more insight to the conversation.

      $1k a month isn’t superbly cheap for a little place :(, Much more expensive than my research has shown so far! Just shows how much real experience matters.

      Thanks very much.

  7. I live in Austin, Texas. And find the cost of living very affordable for such a bustling city. Currently live in 4 bedroom and 2 bath apartment for $800, although its a few miles out of the city. Moved from central Austin and a 2/1 that was $640. Of couse downtown living would be more expensive. There are plenty of nice places to live in Texas, with Austin being one of the pricer cities. If you can get past the heat and the allergies, its an awesome state to live in.

    1. Hey Sarah, thanks for the comment…. That’s a nice price for the size. I am interested how many miles you live out and how long your commute takes as someone else mentioned this can sometimes be a problem…. I guess if you work out of city it’s no issue!

  8. Hi Forest. I live about 12 miles northeast of downtown Austin. The commute can be a bit frightening if you have to use Hwy 290 or Interstate 35. Iam currently a full-time college student so I do not have a daily commute, and when I did it was about 30 to 35 minutes. Not too bad, right? I know a lot of people that put up with the commute in order to purchase homes slighty outside the city. Home prices are nearly cut in half in places such as Manor, Elgin, Kyle, and Buda. And you still have all the amenities of a major metro area.

    1. I lived in London all my life…. a 35min commute is a dream :). I’ll definitely have to visit there one day.

      Thanks for your information, very useful to hear directly from people in the loop.

  9. I live in in suburbs of North Dallas in a 120k 1700 sf home.
    I am kind of surprise at people who say that it’s so hot here, since many of the places i have lived in the US are much hotter.
    When i visited my sister for the first time in Valley Center California, i was shocked at how hot it was there. Californian’s are always saying how mild their weather is and while i was there temperatures peaked at about 99 degrees.
    The whole week temperatures were well above 85 degrees.
    I had to stay at a hotel with my kids because my sister and her hubby insisted that air conditioning wasn’t needed to sleep and that electric is expensive in Cali so they don’t use AC.
    They felt that opening a window was sufficient (nevermind the coyotes howling nearby)
    Basically, they were “diluting” themselves believing that no AC was needed. Perhaps not needed closer to the coast but inland is another story.
    Many parts of California is just as hot or hotter than in Texas.
    I also lived in NYC where temperature could easily rise into the 90s in the summer.
    Also lived in Florida where 80 degrees made it feel like 110 due to the humidity.

    1. Hey Jax, thanks a million for this info, always great to get inside perspectives. I live in Cairo right now and think I can handle anything now :)

  10. “you canNOT buy a “nice” house for $100,000 if you want to live in a neighborhood that is not drug infested. ”

    Laura,
    I disagree. don’t know where in Texas you lived, but i can tell you that there are quite a few places in Texas that are GORGEOUS and SAFE where you can buy a home for about 100k.
    We live in a very nice neighborhood on the west side of McKinney Texas and we purchased our home 2 years ago for 120k.
    We also have quite a few cops, teachers and firemen that live in our neighborhood. Before i purchased i conducted a criminal offender check of the neighborhood, interviewed police officers that worked here and all said the same thing Crime rate was quite low. Just as i suspected.
    The neighborhood and surrounding areas were just too “pristine” and well kept.
    Neighborhoods in Texas with high crime rate and drugs dealers are not too difficult to spot.
    For the most part the infrastructure tends to be a mess and the neighborhood just looks run down The schools are in shambles. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice a neighborhood falling apart.
    Also, in those neighborhoods property values are significantly lower. You can pick up a home for less than 70K.

    1. I liein the M streets neighorhod. A well established neighborhood and here the house are older but well kept, but in the mix of these really nice homes are the ones you wish were not there but are Mckinney is great, but it is not an estabished older nighborhood. It is all newer development over the past 10-12 yrs
      Lower parts of even Former President Bush has some not so great looking homes in his neighborhood. Every major city will have the “run down areas” but do not be fooled more an more “drug dealers” are moving into the “nicer neighborhoods” just like yours, And no one is the wiser.

  11. I lived in Beaumont for 43 years, then 12 in Los Angeles, 3 in New Mexico, and have been in southern New York state for 2. Everyplace has advantages and disadvantages. I have to say that I have enjoyed elements of everywhere I have lived. Having said that my feeling is that it is hard to beat Texas living for any number of reasons which have been disccused on this thread. Will I move back to Texas? I really don’t know, my wife has input into that decision. Overall I don’t think you can beat Texas living and the state is so diverse you can find whatever style suits you best. When I lived in Los Angeles I always said that I believe folks in LA know it is cheaper to live in Texas, they just don’t realize how much cheaper it is. They would be amazed.

    1. Hey Bluedog, the more I read and research about this the more Texas keeps coming up. Really seems like it has some good things going for it right now. You have moved around a lot so great to have some insight from someone like you.

      Thanks.

  12. Texas sure is a much affordable place to live as compared to the North. Daily living expenses are lower, stuff like gas, car insurance, entertainment are more affordable here; people are friendlier and I love being here.

  13. STOP. Do not come to Texas. It’s an awful place. You would not like it. It’s not the place for you. Go to New York or California, or Vermont or Oregon, but definitely not Texas. There is no room here.

  14. I currently live in Dallas Tx moved here from Ft Laudedale FLA a little over a year ago. I have lived in Louisville KY both carolina’s, Virginia and grew up in Erie PA.
    I have to say that Texas is rather on the inexpensiveside to live. Fort Worth is a little cheaper for rent and home prices.
    I currenly am renting a 900sqft 1br/1bth with a quaint coutyard and very close to food shopping, malls,al kinds of resturants, SMU and TXU and the great commuter trains can tae you just about everywhere. I work for a large Mortgage Company and the amountof home you get for the smaller prices are amazing. Jbs are sustainable and the schools are great. You get the big city and the ‘burbs’ all wrapped into one. I am a mover. I like to move every 2-4 years. I have to say I may stay a few more years here. I really feel at home here. :)

      1. I liked Dallas quite a bit- very diverse city and we paid under $700 for a 2 bedroom apt. in Richardson North Dalls area. I found it very clean and groceries, gas were a lot cheaper then many places. just last year I got a half gallon of milk for a dollar, I come back to Kansas City and its twice that. People are nice and friendly, the city is spread out, I got lost more than a few times, but it has totally awesome shopping and some really great neighborhoods.

  15. I think i may give texas a try,i have may around $1,500.00 to start a new live and hope i can make it on $674.00 a month,i also make a little extra cash selling books and autographed photo on ebay,so i wopn’t know till i take that leap. thank you so very much for the help. daniel perry from middletown ohio.

  16. whew it sure is hot in texas and yes some people are right i live by the coast 30 mins from houston and galveston in a small redneck town called santa fe ha it’s bad here drug situation? i go to the high school here and drug’s fill this place nice neighborhoods though better than the town i moved from clute, texas everyone stay away as this is the ghettoist drug filled town in the south and there you would get beat up for being white in the wrong side of the town happened to me twice texas isn’t a oasis gas is pretty high but other than that it is pretty nice oh and the heat i hate it everyone does ha you get used to it though until it seems TO GET HOTTER AND HOTTER EVERY YEAR!!!!!! I’ve seen snow once in my life it is very hot here and if you can’t take average of 80′s in the winter and 105 in the summer stay away we have enough people complaining about it anyway.

  17. Great news for the locality of Texas! In this price hiking age everyone is looking for the cheaper schemes and became economical to lead the life more comfortably so this news is much attractive for the people of low income. Thanks for inform.

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