The Honest Pros and Cons of Living in San Antonio

living in san antonio pros and cons

Considering living in San Antonio?

Finding an honest local’s perspective ain’t easy.

Most people simply know San Antonio as “that place with The Alamo.” If they’re really well-traveled, they might remember San Antonio as “that place with the River Walk.” But the chances any of those people actually ventured outside the tourist spots to provide honest feedback on life in San Antonio? Unlikely.

But fear not!

I’ve lived in San Antonio for going on 12 years. Before that, I lived in Dallas for a decade. And along the way, I’ve traveled all over Texas.

All that to say that I feel like I’ve got a pretty decent perspective of all there is to know about San Antonio. (The good AND the bad.)

After immersing myself in San Antonio for the past few decades, I’m ready to share everything you need to know before moving here.

The Pros Of Living In San Antonio

Over the past dozen years, here are the 5 things I’ve come to love the most about this bustling city.

1. The traffic isn’t as bad as other Texas cities

In terms of population, San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the US. While we certainly get our fair share of rush hour traffic, it pales in comparison to other major cities in Texas. Austin, Dallas, and Houston are infamous for hours-long traffic jams. I would argue that, for a city of its size, San Antonio has comparatively better traffic than other major Texas metros.

2. Lower cost of living

San Antonio is much cheaper than other Texas cities! When I moved here from Dallas, I was shocked at the home prices and rent. At the time, I got a one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio for $600; that same apartment would have been $800 – $1,000 elsewhere. And this isn’t just in my head: Dallas is 13% more expensive than San Antonio. 

If you’re considering moving to San Antonio from a high cost of living area, the median home cost will make your jaw drop to the floor. When a friend from Chicago asked me about Texas home prices, he nearly fell out of his chair when I said I paid $145,000 for my home.

While real estate is hot in San Antonio right now, you can still buy a very nice home for $250,000 today. So if you’re looking for a cheap place to live, San Antonio definitely fits the bill!

3. Amazing food

When I moved to San Antonio in 2010, I had never eaten a breakfast taco before. I quickly realized I was missing out!

San Antonio has outstanding Tex-Mex food. This is definitely a city of morning people, and you’re bound to find a taqueria on almost every street corner. Every San Antonian swears their taqueria is the best one and the heated banter over tacos just adds to this city’s charm.

But San Antonio is about much more than Tex-Mex. It’s home to a thriving foodie scene that’s less snobby than what you would find in Dallas or Austin. The Pearl area is home to modern restaurants that won’t bust your budget and our city hosts a handful of food festivals every year. I’m not biased here, either: WalletHub and Travel + Leisure recently ranked San Antonio the #25 overall foodie city in the country.

For some of San Antonio’s under the radar food types, don’t miss our guides, including:

4. Nature spaces

pros of living in san antonio

There are so many beautiful hidden gems in San Antonio, but the greenways and nature spaces really take the cake. I only learned about the San Antonio greenway because of my husband, who loves cycling down the lush paths after work.

The greenway is a nearly 20-mile paved trail that winds throughout the city, curving along the river and twisting through dense patches of forest. If you love skateboarding, cycling, rollerblading, or just going on scenic walks, San Antonio has trails you’ll love.

If the greenway isn’t your thing, San Antonio also has a number of amazing public parks. Hardberger is my favorite because of its amenities and nationally recognized land bridge. I almost got married at the sprawling Brackenridge Park, but Woodlawn Lake is also a beautiful destination.

The San Antonio heat might get me down in the summers, but with outdoor spaces like these, San Antonians are happy to ignore the sweat on our brows and enjoy the great outdoors.

5. The San Antonio community

There’s just something about San Antonio. It definitely has a small, hometown feel—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into old friends and friends-of-friends in this huge city! But as one of the largest cities in the US, San Antonio also has all of the amenities of big-city living, too.

Community really is at the heart of everything we do here. Whether you’re celebrating Fiesta with a corn cup or rooting for Los Spurs, there’s something inherently friendly and familiar about San Antonio. It’s hard not to get involved when you live in San Antonio, so if you want to live in a friendly city that connects people, San Antonio is the place.

The Cons Of Living In San Antonio

As much as San Antonians love bragging about our town, there are a few things that we would change about living in The Alamo City.

1. The weather

People like to say that the average temperature in San Antonio is 75 degrees. That’s mathematically true, but I’m going to be honest: it’s as hot as you-know-where in the summer. It’s not unheard of for the heat index to reach well over 110 degrees from July to September.

While the heat is terrible, I was prepared for it when I moved to SA. But I wasn’t prepared for other weather-related issues. For one, San Antonio is a valley. That means it floods like crazy any time it rains. When Hurricane Harvey hit, the flooding was so bad that it washed out roads, totaled cars, and flooded homes.

And did you know that San Antonio is one of the worst cities in the US for allergy sufferers? I’m on a daily Zyrtec regimen and have to take my inhaler with me everywhere I go. My husband’s allergies were so bad that he had to get allergy shots! The San Antonio pollen is no joke, so prepare yourself for a ton of sniffles if you move here.

2. Crumbling public transportation

Dallas really spoiled me with its DART light rail system. I expected San Antonio would have an equally efficient form of public transportation, but if I’m honest, it’s not very good. San Antonio uses a bus system called VIA. These buses are notoriously late, dirty, and slow.

While the greenway is a great asset to cyclists, San Antonio isn’t friendly to cyclists, either. It wants to be, but we just don’t have the infrastructure to do it properly. Cyclists die on San Antonio roads every year because of careless drivers and a lack of safe infrastructure.

To be honest, San Antonio is a commuter city. You really do need a car to get around the city safely and quickly.

3. Poverty and crime

While the lower cost of living is a huge plus for San Antonio, it reflects an ugly truth about our city: San Antonio is one of the poorest metro areas in the United States. Some areas of our city (Alamo Heights) are insanely rich, while other areas (The South Side) are very poor.

Because of poverty and inequity, we also see our fair share of crime. You have a 1 in 23 chance of being a victim of a property crime in San Antonio. And I should know: my car’s been broken into twice since I moved here. Most of the crimes here are property-related, but violent crime does happen in our large city.

This is definitely not a city where people leave their homes or cars unlocked. No matter where you live in the city, it’s a good idea to secure your belongings.

4. Tourist traps

cons of living in san antonio

When I was a kid, we used to visit San Antonio to take in the fun sites like the Alamo and Sea World. But now that I live here, I avoid these places like the plague. San Antonio is a huge city with so much to see, but the downtown areas are a huge, overpriced tourist trap.

If you suggest meeting at the River Walk to San Antonio natives, you’re going to get a few eye rolls. San Antonio loves our River Walk but it can be crowded because of the tourist traffic.

5. Current Housing shortage

It seems like everyone got the memo that housing is cheap in San Antonio. Because more people are moving to San Antonio lately, we’ve been experiencing a housing shortage. My husband and I count ourselves lucky that we were even able to buy a house because of how competitive the market is!

There are still apartments for rent and homes for sale, but you can expect to spend more time looking for a property in San Antonio. If you’re bidding on a competitive property, be prepared to spend more because of our low housing inventory.

Conclusion – So, is San Antonio a nice place to live?

I obviously think so! Otherwise I wouldn’t have called this place my home for the past 12 years.

While San Antonio isn’t perfect (no city is…) it’s a very livable city, with good parks, a great community, lots of amazing food, and a certain special charm that will draw you in and win your heart.

I should know!