Texas seems to have been the talk of the town lately. The local economy is booming, with a 3% GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2023, performing better than the nation as a whole for the fourth quarter in a row. All the state’s major cities manage to combine vibrant job markets with quality housing and rich entertainment scenes. It may come as no surprise, then, that in-migration is flying high with the local population now passing the 30 million threshold.

Among the most popular interstate migration routes, California to Texas is the busiest, rivaled only by New York to Florida. According to our most recent research into CA-to-TX migration trends, roughly 300 people a day make the switch, resulting in roughly 111,000 annual relocations.

Most people move for employment, for the prospect of a more relaxed lifestyle or for economic reasons. While many people achieve this very successfully, moving is rarely straightforward and knowing what other side issues might arise is always helpful. We wanted to shed extra light on what Texas looks like for former Californians and how the Lone Star State differs from the Golden State in some essential aspects, including housing costs and jobs. We looked at the latest data and we also talked to people who have walked the walk.

Here’s a list of things you should know – with both pros and cons – before making the switch from the Golden State to Texas:

1. Homebuying

Undeniably, housing is one of the big factors drawing Californians to the Lone Star State.

Pro: More affordable house prices in Texas

Texas has a clear edge over California in this case – based on listing prices, its homes are, on average, cheaper by $282K than Californian ones, that’s 70% less. And the savings are even more spectacular on some specific moving routes. If you’re swapping San Jose for Dallas, you get to save over $1M, with home prices in the counties anchoring these two cities resulting in a pricing difference of roughly 258%. Going from San Mateo County to Travis County, where Austin is located, saves Californians close to $1.3M in home prices, a saving of 243%.

Family home in North Austin, Texas
Family home in North Austin, Texas

All the 25 most popular moving routes from California to Texas yield significant savings for potential homebuyers.

Not only are homes cheaper in Texas, but you might well be able to find something exactly to your taste. That’s partly because Texas has had a housing construction boom in the last decade, with five Lone Star State cities emerging as the most active real estate markets in the decade between 2012 and 2023. Based on the issuing of permits, Houston came first for single family home construction (55K permits), while other cities such as Fort Worth (50K permits), Austin (37K permits) and San Antonio (34K permits) also saw their residential inventory swell for potential homebuyers.

Con: It can get competitive in Texas as most big cities are trying to accommodate more residents

Texas’s real estate market is booming, with substantial demand, and that also impacts prices. The median price of a house in Texas spiked by 54% in the past five years, even more than in California where it went up 42%. Also, with the high influx of people moving to Texas, expect to see a more competitive housing market than in other states, even though it is currently experiencing a lull as a result of higher interest rates and a general economic landscape that can disadvantage homebuying.

Another thing to consider is whether you qualify for a mortgage with a down payment. What does that look like? In a previous study on savings made by Californians moving to Texas, we considered a 20% down payment, a 6% interest rate, and a maximum of 25% of the household income used to cover mortgage payments. While most Californians moving to Texas have incomes that meet these requirements, those relocating from LA county to Travis county might need to stretch their budgets as they miss the 25% mortgage-to-income threshold by roughly $20K.

2. Renting is more affordable in TX than in CA

Moving from California to Texas also spells good news if you’re a renter: You can save over $1,000 in rent on a lot of the moving routes, spending 25% or less of your income on your rental payments.

When you move from Los Angeles County to El Paso, rent differences amount to over $1,500/month. Similarly, if you’re moving from San Diego to San Antonio, you’d pay $1,400/month less in rent. Except for the Los Angeles and Collin counties moving route, Californians pay over 50% more rent in the Golden State compared to their new Texas counties.

3. Home sizes

While knowing that you can get a home for less in Texas is appealing, you might also want to know how that translates to the living space you will be enjoying.

Single family homes are larger in Texas

Paying less for your single family home is a truly attractive perk, but getting more living space seems like an even more inviting benefit. Texas homes are generally 17% larger than their Californian counterparts, but the differences grow more significant as you look into specific routes. If you move from Los Angeles County to Collin County, you get the most spectacular space gains, amounting to over 1,000 square feet. Two other moving routes – Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties to Collin County – can also net homes for new Texans that are 1,000 square feet larger than their Californian counterparts.

Texas apartments are generally larger, although not by much

In the case of apartments, the adage “everything is bigger in Texas” only partially checks out. While homebuyers get to enjoy a lot more space in Texas compared to California, that isn’t always the case for renters living in apartments. Texas apartments are, on average, a mere 6% larger than those in California. Californians heading from Los Angeles to Collin County gain 124 square feet more in their Lone Star apartment, whereas moving between LA and Denton counties also gets apartment renters 95 more square feet of living space.

Two of the most popular CA to TX moving routes give you less space in the Lone Star State

While most moving routes yield a little extra living space upon arrival in a Texas apartment, there are two routes where the opposite is true. Swapping Orange County for Travis and Dallas counties would give you less space when moving from California for Texas. Apartments in Orange County average 870 square feet whereas Dallas County apartments offer about 860 square feet of space.

4. Self storage is widely available and also cheaper in Texas

If you’re a fan of airy living spaces, self storage can help you keep your home neat and tidy. The good thing about Texas is that you’d have no trouble finding a unit tailored to your needs, as the Lone Star State is one the best-supplied self storage markets in the country. As opposed to California, which features 6.3 sq. ft. of space per person, Texas’s corresponding figure is 10.3 sq. ft. Moreover, Dallas, TX (74M sq. ft.), and Houston, TX (72M sq. ft.), lead the country for total self storage inventory.

In terms of pricing, Texas generally comes with cheaper rates. For instance, renting a storage unit in Houston, TX, costs $97/month, while a San Antonio, TX, storage unit goes for $111/month. If you’re looking at an Austin, TX, storage unit ($121/month) or a Dallas, TX, storage unit ($115/month), rates are equally convenient.

California, on the other hand, has some of the priciest self storage in the country. A storage unit in San Francisco calls for $269 whereas average storage prices in San Rafael jumped the $300 mark.

5. Utility costs are lower in Texas than in California

Utilities also cost 20% less in Texas than in California. That’s a huge cut in your expenses, especially given that Texas is located in an equally hot climate where using air conditioning for extended periods of the year means you have high energy consumption.

How much would you have to pay for electricity in Texas? The average energy bill there is $154 per month and natural gas calls for about $56 a month. Compared to other states, Texas is one of the least expensive for energy bills.

6. Taxes

Taxes are another layer of expenses you should consider when swapping California for Texas.

Pro: No income tax

Texas has a no income tax policy, which makes it a very attractive state for many workers looking to save a little extra cash from their paycheck.

Filling in the income tax online return form for payment
Woman filling in the income tax online return form for payment

Con: Higher property taxes

On the flipside, property taxes are higher than in other places. According to the Tax Foundation, Texas has a median tax property of around $2,200, a rate of 1.6%, one of the highest in the country. Three counties – Collin, Fort Bend and Travis – have some of the highest property taxes in the state, exceeding $6,000. Make sure to factor in the property taxes at your chosen location when you’re moving to Texas, so you can fully balance your budget.

7. Job market and businesses

Getting a job to support yourself or starting a business could be on your mind as you transition to Texas living.

The business sector is thriving in Texas

Texas is booming in terms of job opportunities, with tech, health care, construction, finance, retail, leisure and hospitality among the top performing markets. The state is also home to several Fortune 500 companies in these fields. Think AT&T, American Airlines, Exxon Mobile, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and others. Also, Amazon has brought 20K jobs to the Dallas job market, with about 2,000 more corporate jobs in 2019 alone. Regardless of the moving route you pick, assuming you’re choosing a big city, you’re likely to find plenty of employment opportunities — Texas has recently been featured on top 10 best states for remote work.

The Lone Star State's strong employment situation is in fact among the biggest incentives attracting Californians. “Texas offers a booming job market and countless opportunities across various industries. As someone looking to advance my career, the thriving job market in Texas was incredibly appealing. I found a wealth of job prospects and a business-friendly environment that fostered growth and innovation,” said Jarir Mallah, owner of Ling App. Moving to Texas made sense to him for its overall atmosphere. “While California undoubtedly has its charms, I found Texas to be a compelling alternative. The diverse cities, vibrant culture, and warm climate added to the allure. I was ready for a change, and Texas offered a unique blend of urban sophistication and Southern hospitality,” he added.

The presence of a thriving business environment is simply the other side of the same coin. Opportunities for employees exist because they’re created by businesses that thrive in Texas. That’s thanks to the no-income tax policy and the predictable regulatory structure that helps to maintain and grow the business community. Michelle Chenault, business owner at M Chenault Management Consulting, chimes in with some thoughts on the subject: “Texas had so much to offer me as an entrepreneur. In the few months leading up to COVID-19 shutting down the world, I attended many entrepreneur/small business-centered events. As a result, I built an invaluable network that helped keep me in business during the shutdown.”

Employees leaving the office
Employees leaving the office.

8. The people

Good housing and job opportunities might be essential to make a livelihood anywhere, but social aspects also contribute to quality of life.

Moving to Texas can also lead to a more socially fulfilling life. That’s because Southern hospitality is right at home here and most cities in Texas showcase a strong sense of community. After making the move from California to Texas, Nancy Fagan from the Relationship Resolution Center found a very warm community which only made adjustment easier. “The people are incredibly nice and hospitable,” Nancy said. “That has been the best part about living in Texas. People are very inclusive and accepting so we had no problem meeting friends.” The welcoming atmosphere is not just anecdotal as a study seems to confirm it – Texas cities such as Houston and Austin popped up among the most neighborly cities in the U.S.

Personal experiences may of course differ, but for the most part, the Lone Star State succeeds in providing a nurturing environment for newcomers and existing residents alike. “Texas is an excellent alternative to California because it focuses on family, education, the outdoors, and business,” said Michelle Chenault. “These are desirable values for a state. Along with the fact that residential property is larger and more affordable, apartments are larger and more affordable, gas is cheaper, and schools are well-kept”.

All in all, Texas is shaping up to be a great state for many Californians looking for greener pastures, if you’re counting the many perks that matter most to people ranging from housing and job opportunities to a friendly tax system and welcoming people.

Methodology

This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

We turned to our list of the 25 most popular California to Texas moving routes to gauge how counties in the two states fared in terms of listing prices and home space, for both homeowners and renters.

Data on moving routes came from the IPUMS Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) tool (2017-2021 data set).

IPUMS means Integrated Public Use Microdata Series and it provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS is a part of the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation at the University of Minnesota. Authors: Steven Ruggles, Sarah Flood, Matthew Sobek, Danika Brockman, Grace Cooper, Stephanie Richards, and Megan Schouweiler. IPUMS USA: Version 13.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2023. https://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V13.0

For data on home prices, we turned to Point2 listings from April 2023.

Data on apartment rents and self storage (rates for a 10’x10’ unit) came from StorageCafe’s sister division Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sectors.

Savings for homebuyers and renters resulted from both the numerical and percentage differences between home listings and apartments for rent in the top California to Texas migration routes. We made a similar calculation to come up with the space differences between single family homes and rentals in both states.

Fair use and distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.

Author

Mirela is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for Yardi. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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