Best Places to Retire in Texas

retire in Texas

Looking for the best places to retire in Texas?

Looking for the best places to retire? Regardless of where you live and where you retire, there is a lot to think about regarding your retirement years. Determining your retirement lifestyle is an important step in deciding the best place to retire. This article will address the retirement lifestyle as well as the advantages of retirement in Texas and the best places to retire in Texas.

Maybe you are an empty nester focusing on retirement or you are ready to retire and transition to a simpler lifestyle. Perhaps you are approaching retirement and behind on funds to make it work. There is a lot to consider for a retirement that is both rewarding and financially comfortable.

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Texini Editor

Best Places to Live in Texas for Retirees

Texas has many great places to live for retirees. Regardless of whether you prefer the mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts, forests, beaches, hills, swamps, canyons, plateaus, natural springs, wetlands, or prairies, Texas has it. Texas is a big place and has a total of 267,339 square miles. Regardless of what lifestyle you prefer, Texas has it and more, with its diverse culture, down-home feel, friendly people,

Some of the best places in Texas to retire are cities with accessible transportation, walkability, and lower cost of living. There are cities both large and small that make great retirement locations in Texas. In fact, 10 Texas Cities placed in the top 100 best places to retire in the US. Cities such as Dallas – Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso as well as other Texas towns and cities make great retirement locations. Jump to recommended cities.

Start by determining your main priority and your core reason for retiring. Maybe you have existing health concerns that are hampering your ability to work or perhaps like most people you are at “that age” and ready to transition into retirement. Some of you may just be tired of the rat race and looking for early retirement.  

You may have heard the phrase ‘age in place’. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” So retirement and subsequent aging in place should provide you with all of the above. How do you get to your sweet spot of aging in place?

Retirement Financial Planning
Online Resources for Retirement Financial Planning

If your current living circumstances do not provide for aging in place you can make a start by finding a relatively inexpensive city and or state with adequate health care to consider retiring to. We will not address how to get there financially but rather how to make the most of your retirement regardless of your financial status. There are many great resources online for planning and addressing the financial aspects of retirement.

Many retirees want to travel the world while others want to pursue hobbies and the simpler pleasures of life. Your retirement budget will dictate what you can do financially so be realistic about what you want to get out of your retirement. Maybe you want to relocate to an area with a balmy climate, and access to the ocean, or other waterways.

Opportunity to make your Life Experiences Count

Your retirement should, at the core, offer the opportunity to make your life experiences count. Rather than a big home, fancy car, or other possessions, think about what experiences will make your life more fulfilling. This will be different for everyone and you should try to be clear about what life experiences you want your retirement to provide. Remember retirement is a lifestyle.

Best Places to Retire in Texas
Sunny Day Activities

Retirement should provide you with less stress, a lower cost of living if possible, and a healthy less stressful lifestyle. Perhaps you want more leisure time but still want to work part-time or volunteer. There are many aspects of retirement to consider. Maybe you want to pursue a business of your own. A change of lifestyle can mean many things.

Some of you may want to spend more time outdoors, while others may want to keep up with technology, make new friends or learn something new. A good question to ask yourself is if money was no object what would you really want to do?

Retiring does not mean you should quit planning for the future. Staying healthy, keeping a daily schedule, and planning activities are important. Staying active, having plans, and having a daily routine, all lead to a longer, healthier life with more time to enjoy those later years of life in style.

Best Places to Retire in Texas
Backyard Hang Out

Like many of us hanging out in the backyard in your hammock, no watch, no shoes, no worries just enjoying the quiet and relaxing maybe your ultimate retirement dream, or even that old cliche of the rocking chair on the porch. Gardening, BBQs, family get-togethers, relaxing, and socializing can be very rewarding. If it makes you happy, go for it!

You may want to consider being close to family if spending time with grandchildren is a priority or if health concerns make relying on family a necessity. Do you want to continue to be a homeowner? Are you considering 55-plus communities or assisted living? There are many factors for you to consider.

Nationally 56% of homeowners 65 and older have no mortgage. If you fall into that category then consider your expenses such as property tax, insurance, and maintenance costs. Perhaps you have no mortgage, but your current home may be more than you need or can take care of in the future. Downsizing works for many and if you fall into this category then relocation may make sense for your retirement future.

You might even be considering a tiny house with more of a connection to the community and simple sustainable living. Tiny home life also offers a blueprint to get closer to nature by utilizing your outdoor space on a larger scope, while minimizing your interior with a focus on functionality. Texini was named a top tiny home expert by Redfin. Check out the article we were featured in: [The Art of Tiny House Living: Simplify, Downsize, and Thrive | Redfin]

Perhaps you no longer want to be tied down to a property with upkeep and are considering renting. Renting makes sense for many retirees and should certainly be considered. The pros of renting include fewer insurance costs, no maintenance costs, flexible location, and selling a mortgage-free home can provide additional cash for investments. Renting also offers the option to explore rent-only, assisted living, and independent living communities.

Depending on where you live, relocating to a state with an overall lower cost of living and lower taxes could be a benefit to you in your retirement years.

Best Places to Retire in Texas
Retirement Texas Style

Is Texas a Good Place to Retire?

Is Texas a good place to retire? Retirement in Texas can be very rewarding. Texas offers a lot of space with a landmass of 267,339 square miles. Texas also has a diverse terrain including plains, mountains, deserts, forests, beaches, hills, rivers, lakes, swamps, canyons, plateaus, natural springs, wetlands, and prairies.

Texas can be a great place to retire. Perhaps you already live in Texas but are looking to relocate inside of Texas. Texas has a lot to offer retirees. Texas generally has a warm climate which is better for your health than living in a colder environment especially as you age. There are many areas in Texas that offer mild winters. There is an abundance of retirement communities in Texas as well.

The Texas State Park system includes 89 state parks, natural areas, and historical sites to explore. If you are 65 or older you qualify for the Senior Partial Passport discounts at Texas state parks that charge entry fees. The discount can be applied by the senior citizen to one additional person to assist them. Just imagine Texas is your backyard and you have a discount pass to enjoy!

The US National Park Service oversees 16 National Parks in the state of Texas. Included in their lineup is the San Antonio Missions which boasts The Mission Reach Hike and Bike Trail, a pedestrian route connecting all four missions. Find a map here.

Texas Culture of Diversity

Texas is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse states in the nation. Texas is considered to be one of the leading major cultural influencers in our greater American culture. As such, one of the major perks of retiring in Texas is its culture of diversity. Foodies will love Tex Mex Food and worldwide cuisines. Texans love to celebrate, and we do it in style. You will not find a community in Texas big or small that does not embrace its cultural heritage whether it be in local activities, festivals, foods, arts & crafts, or other events.

Tex Mex Food
Tex Mex Food

There is no state income tax in Texas, so you do not have to pay state taxes on social security, pensions, 401(k), and IRA distributions. Property taxes in Texas can be higher than the national average, however, depending on your age that amount can drop.  If you intend to take a homestead exemption available to those 65 or older then your property tax rate and taxes may drop dramatically.

The over 65 homestead exemption in Texas permanently freezes the amount paid for school taxes and provides a drop by up to 20% of the appraised value of the home. In addition, seniors who qualify may defer their taxes. What that means is property taxes are still accessed but are not due until the homeowner moves or dies.  

Senior Citizens Can Go Back to School in Texas for Free

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will let you earn up to six credits per semester for free if you are at least 65 years old.

Sec. 54.365. SENIOR CITIZENS; OPTIONAL BENEFIT. (a) In this section, “senior citizen” means a person 65 years of age or older.

EDUCATION CODE

TITLE 3. HIGHER EDUCATION

SUBTITLE A. HIGHER EDUCATION IN GENERAL

CHAPTER 54. TUITION AND FEES

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Read more about getting a higher education, free to senior citizens 65 or older in Texas here.

Ten Texas Cities in the Top 100 Best Places to Retire in the US

10 Top Best Places to Retire in Texas, Best Places to Live in Texas for Retirees

The US News and World Report for 2020 – 2021 report placed 10 Texas cities in the top 100 best places to retire in the US. Dallas – Fort Worth placed #17, followed by Houston at #22, San Antonio at #24,  Austin at #29,  El Paso at #31, Corpus Christi at #48, McAllen at #65, Beaumont at #85, and Brownsville at #97.

Unless you want to live in the inner city a vehicle is essential in most areas. Public transportation can be lacking in many areas of Texas just due to the size of the state. However, most larger cities have adequate public transportation and senior services that can assist. Cities to consider if you do not want the expense of a vehicle are Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin, and Houston which all have more than adequate public transportation.

The Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex #17, is located in North Texas with a combined population of over 7 million. The Dallas Metro area is serviced by the Dallas mass transit system Dart. Dart offers both bus or rail access to Dallas and 12 surrounding cities. Fort Worth’s Trinity Metro provides bus, vanpools, and rail options making it easy to travel by public transport. It also offers a train connecting Downtown Fort Worth to Dallas.

There are many dedicated retirement communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Retirement communities offer a setting designed for older people who would like to socialize in a safe, secure location without the burden of maintaining a household. Generally, these communities are open to senior citizens of a certain age, which may vary by location.

There are many notable suburban areas in and around the DFW Metroplex that will appeal to retirees if living in the inner city is not your style. Denton, Texas is approximately 30 miles north of Dallas and offers the A train a 21-mile commuter rail connecting with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Green Line in Carrollton, Texas.

Passengers can then transfer to DART’s Green Line, which provides access to DART’s Red, Orange, and Blue Lines and the Fort Worth Trinity Railway Express. Denton has 2 universities, 2 major hospitals, a healthy music scene, 38 parks, and 27 trails as well as yearly events and festivals.

Houston #22, an inland port city, is the fourth most populous city in the US and the largest city in Texas. The city itself located in southeastern Texas has a lower cost of living, state-of-the-art hospitals, and a mass transit system called METRO short for Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. Houston is a widely diverse city offering cuisine from all over the world.

Houston proper has a vibrant nightlife, Space Center Houston, the Houston Zoo, the Museum district, the Miller Outdoor Theatre, and Hermann Park. The yearly Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo and it is an event you have to attend at least once. Chances are though you will go back again and again.

Another notable smaller community for retirees is Katy just west of Houston. Katy has a state-of-the-art hospital and all the amenities that retirees are looking for. They have a park-and-ride location that connects with Houston by METRO bus if traveling to the city of Houston is a priority for you.

Biking in Best Places to Retire in Texas
Biking in Best Places to Retire in Texas

Austin #29, is a city in central Texas with over 2 million inhabitants. Located in the Texas Hill Country region Austin is an outdoor paradise with state parks, swimming holes, 314 city parks, over 32 trails covering 128 miles, and more. Austin offers a multitude of hiking, biking, and water activities. It is the fastest-growing city in Texas as of this writing.

Music lovers will love the Austin music scene. Austin is known as the live music capital of the world and there is no shortage of entertainment. You will find live music in normal places as well as grocery stores, outdoors, and even the airport, with over 250 live music venues. Retire in Austin TX and you will always have something to do that is for sure.

Austin currently has Capital Metro Bus System and a 32-mile Metro Rail system. Pedicabs and carts pulled by local cyclists can be found in many areas as well, that can access areas of the city where cars cannot travel. They offer tours of the city, are available during many special city events, and can be booked for personal events.

With the approval of Austin’s first mass transit system in November of 2020, project-connect by MetroRail will begin the process of implementing a light rail infrastructure throughout the city that will greatly enhance its appeal to retirees.

According to city officials, the passing of Proposition A will revolutionize Austin’s transportation infrastructure. In fact, as approved, Austin’s first mass transit system and implementation over the coming decade might put Austin at the top of your list of possibilities for retirement in Texas.

San Antonio #24, is a city in south-central Texas about 80 miles south of Austin. The San Antonio metro area has fewer than 2,500,000 inhabitants. The city proper has more than 1.5 million inhabitants. San Antonio’s mass transit system of buses is VIA Metropolitan Transit.

Downtown San Antonio is great for retirees. It is accessible by car or mass transit system and totally walkable. Living in the downtown area should appeal to retirees as it has many restaurants, charming historic areas including the Alamo, shopping, and of course the Riverwalk.

Scenic Texas Hill Country 
San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio River Walk

The downtown area offers ongoing entertainment venues, libraries, coffee shops, and pubs, as well as plenty of activities. With activities in the area, such as yoga, hiking, and golfing you will have plenty to keep you busy, all within walking distance in downtown San Antonio. Moreover, San Antonio has many active 55-plus communities throughout the city and surrounding communities.

If the suburbs are more your style there are plenty of great neighborhoods to consider. The cost of living in San Antonio is lower than in some parts of Texas. A vehicle might be advisable in many areas if you want to be mobile to access all San Antonio and the surrounding areas have to offer.

One smaller community to consider in the proximity of San Antonio is New Braunfels. With fewer than 90,000 inhabitants it sits on the edge of the Hill Country with great ambiance and tons of activities. New Braunfels is approximately 30 miles north of downtown San Antonio. Read more about New Braunfels here.

El Paso #31, is a city in far west Texas and borders Mexico. The city of fewer than one million inhabitants has a low cost of living making it a great place to retire. Its sister city across the border Ciudad Juárez has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants.

El Paso’s current mass transit system Sun Metro provides bus transportation throughout the city and is currently expanding its system with a Rapid Transit System called Brio. The BRIO Montana Corridor is scheduled to be operational in late 2022.

El Paso is also known as Sun City and typically has upwards of 300 days of sun a year. Bordered by the Rio Grande River with canoeing and whitewater rafting it is a great area for outdoor activities. Downtown El Paso has many restaurants offering a large culinary variety with some of the best Mexican and Tex-Mex Food in the nation. Downtown also has malls, shops, museums, and hosts both seasonal as well as yearly festivals and events.

Scenic Texas Hill Country 
El Paso, Texas
El Paso, Texas

El Paso has 287 city parks and green spaces. The city zoo, El Paso Zoo, is 35 acres of green space and animals. The Guadalupe Mountains National Park 110 miles east of the city offers a spectacular day trip. Just minutes away another day trip awaits in Juárez, Mexico. As of this writing non-essential travel is being restricted through the second half of 2021. ‘Know before you go’ is the word of the day and traveling with someone familiar with Juárez is also recommended.

El Pasoans enjoy a slower pace of life than many of the larger Texas cities. It is one of the lowest-cost cities in the nation. It is also one of the safest cities, compared with other cities having over a half-million population per current statistics.

Beach Living for Texas Retirees

Beach Living offers more opportunities for the best places to retire in Texas.

Corpus Christi is in the top 100 best US cities to retire in at #48. Corpus Christi is a laid-back, unique city of fewer than 350,000 inhabitants with a lower cost of living and optimal healthcare facilities. Corpus has over 190 city parks and green spaces for your enjoyment.

The city of Corpus Christi has a convenient, and affordable bus system run by the Corpus Christi Regional Transit Authority. With its many museums, the Texas State Aquarium, and Corpus Christi Bay pedestrian-only beach areas Corpus is an ideal retirement location. It also offers easy access to Mustang Island and Padre Island.

Brownsville is another larger city that made the top 100 best US cities to retire in at #97. Brownsville is considered a gulf coast border town of fewer than 200,000 inhabitants. Brownsville is bordered by Matamoros, Mexico. Brownsville has a city zoo, the Gladys Porter Zoo, and 32 city parks. Also located nearby is the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

A short 8 miles southeast of Brownsville is the Sabal Palm Sanctuary a 557-acre nature reserve and bird sanctuary and another mile down is the Resaca de la Palma State Park, a 1,200-acre semi-tropical, quiet, nature retreat, and World Birding Center. Adjacent to Brownsville 22 miles to the east is Boca Chica State Park and the beaches of Del Mar and Boca Chica which include swimming, birding, camping, fishing, and surfing.

The Texas Gulf Coast spans 350 miles of coastline and has many viable larger cities and small towns for you to retire in. There are many great coastal locations on the Texas Gulf Coast to consider.

Galveston, with upwards of 50,000 inhabitants, offers a scenic coastal setting with lots of amenities and a reasonable cost of living for most retirees. As a tourist destination, it offers many activities, bars, and restaurants as well as is a walking-friendly community. If you want a relaxing environment with fresh sea air, beautiful coastal sunrises, with room to walk and explore your community then the island of Galveston has a lot to offer.

best places to retire in Texas
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay, Texas – Best places to retire in Texas

There are also many small-town gems of the best places to retire in Texas for retirees on the Texas Gulf Coast. Our pick for the best small town on the Texas Gulf Coast to retire to is Port Aransas. Located on Mustang Island, Port Aransas offers lots of sunshine and salt air, as well as 18 miles of beach great for long walks and enjoying the outdoors. Read more about Port Aransas here.

Depending on your finances a good option to consider is seasonal living. You could locate your main home in a smaller Texas community with lower property taxes and purchase a seasonal home. The purchase of a seasonal home that you can rent out when you will not be there, near the beach, for instance, would offer opportunities for a variety of life experiences and an additional stream of income.

The Texas Hill Country Living for Retirees

Small towns offer another option for the best places to retire in Texas.

Texas is a diverse state with many smaller communities that are affordable and more peaceful than the big city. In fact, Texas is a utopia of potential retirement options for small-town living in your later years. Factors to consider when retiring to a smaller community are access to a local hospital within driving distance, well-stocked grocery stores, lack of public transportation, and availability of senior services.

best places to retire in Texas
Scenic Texas Hill Country
Scenic Texas Hill CountryBest places to retire in Texas

A sampling of small towns to consider for retirement in the Texas Hill Country region of Texas include Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Burnet, and Brady. It is hard to beat the beauty of the scenic Texas Hill Country making it an ideal spot for retirees. Fishing, hiking, biking, and abundant wildlife are readily available in this region of Texas. There is an abundance of quaint small-town communities in the Hill Country that offer a variety of experiences. Retirees can enjoy antiquing, theatre, shopping, restaurants, taverns, wineries, festivals, and other events.

More Best Places to Retire in Texas Best

McAllen, #65 in the top 100 best US cities to retire in, is a city of fewer than 150,000 inhabitants located on the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. The cost of living is low and it has plenty of amenities and attractions. The total McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area has a total population of upwards of 800,000. This area has state-of-the-art hospitals and major universities.

McAllen is a border city and the Hidalgo Reynosa bridge connects McAllen and Hidalgo to downtown Reynosa, Mexico which makes a great day trip when no travel restrictions are in place. ‘Know before you go’ is the word of the day and if possible having someone with you who knows Reynosa would be a plus.

Another nearby city that is a good retirement pick is Pharr, Texas with less than 75,000 inhabitants. Pharr is also a border town connecting with the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. Read more about Pharr here.

The city of Beaumont, at #85 of the top 100 best US cities to retire in, is a smaller city with less than 120,000 inhabitants and a low cost of living. Located in Southeastern Texas, Beaumont has 40 city parks and playscapes. If you like a smaller city with lots of charm, that is quiet and has plenty of things to do then the city of Beaumont offers all that and more. Beaumont with its museums, statues, a quaint historic district with old mansions, wetlands, and a boardwalk provides a relaxing pace of life for your retirement years.

Another sampling of small towns retirees should consider include Granbury located in North Texas, Monahans located in West Texas, Mineola in East Texas, and Yoakum located in Southeastern Texas between San Antonio and Houston.

Mineola is a small community just 26 miles north of Tyler, Texas. According to recent rankings, Mineola, Texas has been named one of the best places to live in East Texas. It is also one of our best places to retire in East Texas! With a population of under 5,000, this small town offers retirees a lively downtown scene complete with fashion shops, a winery, and yoga studios. The Historic Downtown District has been beautifully restored and is home to antique shops, local restaurants, rustic bars, and cozy cafes, making it the perfect place to enjoy retirement in style.

I have to add that my home is in a small town in Texas, even though I spend part of the year working in a large metroplex area. My home is where I will retire and even though the population is less than 3,000 inhabitants I am within short walking distance of the city library, city park, a convenience store, and the general hospital.

My small town has a fully stocked grocery store, a golf course, several feed seed-type stores, a local meat market, a hardware store as well as an entertainment venue, and a first-run movie theatre. Read more about the best small towns in Texas and discover the benefits of small-town living.

Best Places to Retire in Texas
Best Places to Retire in Texas

In Conclusion, Best Places to Retire in Texas

In Conclusion, retirement lifestyles cover a large variety of aspects depending on your individual wants and needs. There are many paths to a high-quality life on a retirement budget in the future. Finding the right path for you is key to your happiness in retirement.

Maybe you want to take this time to reinvent yourself, go back to school, start a new business, work part-time, travel, or volunteer. Or perhaps staying at home, gardening, puttering around the house, finding new hobbies, lying on the beach every day, or participating in local sports or golfing is more your style. Maybe you want to write, create art, learn to play an instrument, go for long walks, or ride your bike.

Is Texas a good place to retire? Texas cities and towns offer a multitude of opportunities for you to enjoy your retirement style no matter what style that is. If you do not currently reside in Texas you might want to consider a road trip to see what our great state has to offer.

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  1. Is Texas a good place to retire?

    Mild weather, low taxes, and a low cost of living are just a few reasons why Texas is a good place to retire. Texas does not have a state income tax and Texas does not impose a state tax on pensions, social security, or other forms of retirement.

  2. What Texas cities should retirees consider for a low cost of living?

    Texas cities with a low cost of living, which could be attractive to retirees are Harlingen, McAllen, Killeen, Temple, Wichita Falls, Beaumont, Brownsville, Laredo, Tyler, and San Angelo.

Kay Keeton, Ed.

Editor in Chief, Kay Keeton - Texas Lifestyle Expert. Kay is a designer turned author, marketer, storyteller, and influencer. A sixth-generation Texan, Kay is both an authority as well as being passionate about sharing her home state of Texas's diverse culture and lifestyle. Kay is a content writer and editor of content for various local and national online publications.

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