Why Texas Cities Have Been Booming Since the Pandemic

From cities to up-and-coming suburbs, these places are putting the Lone Star State on the map for people looking for a new place to put down roots.

It might be hard to even imagine cities “booming” right now, as large cities were the first places to be absolutely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and some continue to see large outbreaks. In fact, here are some of the major ways city life could change after coronavirus.

But amid the pandemic, other things are happening: People are reprioritizing and making major life changes, and that includes moving. With the ability (and, in many cases, requirement) to work remotely, people with the means are realizing that they can work from anywhere. And some cities in the Lone Star State have seen a surge in interested parties moving there—not just individuals but companies as well. In particular, tech companies are venturing to Texas to the point where it’s started to achieve Silicon Valley status.

The rise of “Tech-sas”

One big name that encompasses this entire trend is Elon Musk himself. In December, Musk announced that he left Silicon Valley, the previously undisputed champion of the wealthy tech company world, for Texas. But Musk himself joined, not started, this trend: Thirty-nine tech companies have moved to the Austin, Texas, area this year alone, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Among the companies that now operate out of this area of Texas, nicknamed “Silicon Hills,” are Oracle, 8VC, and Hewlett Packard Enterprises. Learn the story of how a blog made Austin one of the Nicest Places in America.

Why now?

Well, the pandemic has changed the working world for better or for worse. With a new “work-from-anywhere” lifestyle rising among well-off, white collar workers, people are taking their business elsewhere, literally. Texas in particular has no personal income tax, and its real estate prices are a far cry from the sky-high costs of living and working in Silicon Valley. Other tech big wigs, including Musk, were critical of the way California and the city of San Francisco, where Silicon Valley is located, handled the pandemic.

But for others setting their sights on Austin, it’s more about the charms of the city itself. “It’s got a great local flavor, a great music scene, it’s an outdoors city. That’s where people want to be,” Laura Huffman, president and CEO of the Austin Chamber, told CNN. “I think 2020 has taught us all that we have more choice when it comes to where we live.” She also cites the diverse populace of Austin as a reason tech companies might seek out potential employees there. It’s a Democratic city in the otherwise pretty steadfastly red Texas, with 47 percent of its population possessing bachelor’s degrees. Find out which states have seen the most COVID-19–related hirings.

Techies aren’t the only ones

But if you’re starting to think Texas has nothing to offer if you’re not a tech billionaire, think again! Austin in particular has been a rising star of the Lone Star State for years now, placing in the top three on the 2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Places to Live in the U.S. four years in a row. (In fact, it placed first the past three years and dropped to third this year—but, unsurprisingly, this was a year with a massive amount of shake-up.)

And smaller, lesser-known Texas towns are gathering notoriety, too. WalletHub recently determined “2020’s Best Small Cities in America,” assessing 1,268 cities between 25,000 and 100,000 in population. And three members of the top ten were cities in Texas. Sugar Land, located just southwest of Houston, placed fifth; Southlake was eighth; and Cedar Park was ninth. Southlake is northeast of Fort Worth, and Cedar Park is northwest of…wait for it…Austin. Find out more small American cities to move to before they get too crowded.

So what’s so great about these small cities? Well, this survey took lots of different factors into account. WalletHub ranked the cities based on five factors: affordability, economic health, education and health, quality of life, and safety, using “43 relevant metrics” to give each city a score in that area. Check out WalletHub’s full survey. None of these, though, are the nicest place in Texas—find out Reader’s Digest‘s Nicest Place in Texas.

Sources:

  • The Houston Chronicle: “Sugar Land named one of America’s best small cities in new study”
  • WalletHub: “2020’s Best Small Cities in America”
  • Today: “These are the best places to live in the US (even during a pandemic)”
  • U.S. News & World Report: “Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-21”
  • CNN Business: “Elon Musk is leaving Silicon Valley for Texas. These millionaires and companies are joining him”
  • CNN Business: “Elon Musk says he has moved to Texas”
  • Yahoo Finance: “As Oracle Becomes Latest Company To Move To Texas, Governor Says He’s Been Talking With ‘CEOs Across Country’”
  • Observer: “Why Elon Musk And Other Tech Billionaires Are Leaving Silicon Valley For Texas”

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.