Home Moving City Guides 14 Things to Know About Living in San Antonio

14 Things to Know About Living in San Antonio

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By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com

San Antonio, Texas, is one of the largest cities in the United States, and it continues to grow each year. Home to major industries, members of our nation’s military, and delicious Tex-Mex, it’s no wonder Alamo City residents are die-hard in their love and pride of this city. If you’re thinking about moving to San Antonio, here are some things you should definitely know ahead of time.

1. SAN ANTONIO IS EXPANDING FAST.

San Antonio, TX
Photo by Katie Haugland

While it’s listed as the seventh largest city in the U.S. with more than 1.3 million residents, San Antonio is still growing. In fact, it jumped ten places in Forbes’ America’s Fastest-Growing Cities list between 2014 and 2015. People move to San Antonio for a number of reasons, including the job growth rate of 3.06% combined with an unemployment rate of 4.56%, which is well below the national average of 5.7%. San Antonio hosts six Fortune 500 companies: iHeartMedia, Inc., CST Brands, Inc., NuStar Energy, L.P., Tesoro Corporation, USAA, and Valero Energy Corp. It’s also home to H-E-B, the 14th largest private company in the United States, and every San Antonio native’s favorite place to buy groceries.

2. AFFORDABLE SAN ANTONE LIVING.

House in San Antonio, TX
Photo by Nan Palmero

Though San Antonio appears among the ten largest cities in the country, it’s actually affordable to live in the area. According to Sperling’s Best Places, San Antonio has a cost of living index of 92, eight points lower than the national average of 100. This score takes into account a number of factors, such as grocery expenses, health costs, housing, utilities, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs. Also, the median home cost in San Antonio is around $169,600. Compared to #1 New York City and #2 Los Angeles, where average prices fall between $560,000 and $1.2 million, San Antonio is extremely affordable for a large city.

3. MILITARY CITY, USA.

Fort Sam Houston on Joint Base San Antonio
Photo by Army Medicine

San Antonio’s history with the Texas military dates back to 1835 when Texas forces took over the then Spanish-held Alamo. In fact, there’s been a military presence in the area for nearly 300 years. Currently, the city is home to Joint Base San Antonio, which consists of the U.S. Army’s Fort Sam Houston and the U.S. Air Force’s Lackland AFB and Randolph AFB. This base has a population of 80,000, as well as up to 138,000 military students across the three installations. Also, Joint Base San Antonio houses The San Antonio Military Medical Center, part of the U.S. Army Medical Command.

Stationed at Joint Base San Antonio? Learn about the conveniences self storage can offer military members. 

4. A DIVERSE POPULATION.

San Antonio, TX Diversity
Photo by Nan Palmero

The majority of San Antonio’s population is Hispanic and falls between the ages of newborn to 64 (the largest being the 18-64 age group with a median age of 32.8). Not to mention, the male and female demographics are neck and neck with females slightly edging out males at 51%. In other words, if you’re looking for a city with plenty of diversity, San Antonio may be perfect for you.

5. VALUES OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

Trinity University Campus in San Antonio, TX
Photo by Ed Castillo

San Antonio is home to 31 universities and colleges, educating more than 100,000 students. This includes public universities like Texas A&M University-San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio, and University of Health Science Center at San Antonio, as well as private institutions like Trinity University, Our Lady of Lake University, University of Incarnate Word, and many more. Whether you’re looking for an art school, a community college, or the standard four-year university, San Antonio has it.

6. A BIG CITY OF SMALL COMMUNITIES.

River Walk in San Antonio
Photo by Stuart Seeger

While residents love San Antone as a whole, each of its 14 neighborhood offers something unique for locals and visitors to enjoy. For instance, natives, transplants, and tourists alike enjoy Downtown San Antonio’s restaurants and shops, as well as other major attractions like the San Antonio River Walk, Tower of the Americas, and, of course, the Alamo. More artistic crowds will enjoy Southtown’s diverse community, art galleries, and restaurants spread among renovated Victorian-era homes. And families coming to the area will enjoy Alamo Heights, which is known for its wholesome feel and the Alamo Heights Independent School District, which is recognized statewide for its athletic programs.

7. DON’T MESS WITH TEX-MEX.

Los Barrios in San Antonio, TX
Photo by y6y6y6

Once your relocation to San Antonio is complete, you have to get out and enjoy the food! While there are plenty of fine restaurants and flavors to enjoy, San Antonio is widely known for its Mexican and Tex-Mex dining. Locals recommend Los Barrios on Blanco Road for a great night out. Be sure to try the smoky-flavored salsa while you’re waiting for the nationally-known “puffy tacos” and wash it all down with a frozen margarita. For a night along the River Walk, head downtown to Acenar on E. Houston Street. The guacamole is made fresh at your table, and you can partake in their selection of shrimp or fish tacos.

8. GO SPURS.

San Antonio Spurs Play the Los Angeles Lakers
Photo by Katie Haugland

San Antonio is home a number of sports teams, such as the San Antonio Missions (Minor League Baseball), San Antonio Scorpions (North American Soccer League), San Antonio Talons (Arena Football League), and San Antonio Silver Stars (WNBA). While these teams are supported, the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs are the undisputed home team of Alamo City. Win or lose, locals will always love the Silver and Black. Also, this love is shared among players Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan—affectionately referred to as The Big Three—who have only played for San Antonio during their time in the NBA.

9. SAN ANTONIO STOCK SHOW & RODEO.

San Antonio Rodeo
Photo by Roy Montgomery

Since its founding in 1950, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has grown to be one of the largest events in the area with more than one million attendees each February. Visitors can attend the event and enjoy live music from national stars like Hunter Hayes and Keith Urban, explore a variety of food options, shop local vendors, and learn more about animals and agriculture. While there is a rodeo and horse show, this event is so much more, as it allows residents to give back to the community—the annual event has given more than $147.9 million to Texas youth through grants and scholarships.

10. TIME FOR A FIESTA.

Fiesta San Antonio
Photo by Larry Johnson

One of the main events in Alamo City is Fiesta, a massive celebration each spring that has been going on since 1891. It originally started with a single parade to honor those who fought in the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Fiesta San Antonio has since grown to a 17-day event, which includes hundreds of activities, attractions, and festivities—though the two biggest events are still its parades. Each year, the Battle of Flowers Parade draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to San Antonio (and it’s still the only parade produced entirely by women). Just as many people attend the Fiesta Flambeau to see a nighttime parade with lights on floats, dancers, and band instruments.

11. VISIT THE SAN FERNANDO CATHEDRAL.

San Antonio - San Fernando Cathedral
Photo by Nan Palmero

At the heart of historic San Antonio in the Main Plaza sits the oldest-operating Roman Catholic sanctuary in North America—the San Fernando Cathedral. This church predates the State of Texas with construction on the structure starting in 1738 under Spanish rule. Despite being the mother church for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, the San Fernando Cathedral opens its doors to believers of all denominations, as well as those who simply wish to see a beautiful structure found on the National Register of Historic Places.

12. DITCH THE CAR, RIDE A BIKE.

B-Cycle San Antonio
Photo by Paul Sableman

Speaking of the San Fernando Cathedral, the location is also near the starting point of a major bike trail that runs through San Antonio. The Mission Trail is roughly 20 miles and runs all the way to Southtown. The city offers a number of other bike paths for people to enjoy, too. For instance, if you want to take a quick tour of Downtown San Antonio, hit up the two-mile Alamo HemisFair Out & Back trail. For those who don’t have a bike, San Antonio offers B-Cycle stations throughout the city. You can purchase a membership, check in at a station, grab a bike, and go! Just remember to return it to a station when you’re done.

13. THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

San Antonio's Eisenhower Park
Photo by David Leo Veksler

Should you ever want to get out of the city, just take a short drive north to Hill Country. This area is home to a number of small towns where you can cruise down Main Street, pick your way through antique shops, enjoy 35 different wineries, or take a tour of a vineyard. And if you really want to escape civilization, check out Eisenhower Park. Locals love this park, as it provides paved trails for walking and bicycling, as well as unpaved trails for hiking and a greater chance to experience the wildlife.

14. FRIENDLY LOCAL ADVICE.

Downtown San Antonio
Photo by LearningLark

One of the best things about San Antonio is its residents will always give you a hello and friendly advice. For instance, locals will say they love eating breakfast tacos, and you can find them almost anywhere, like Tacos N Salsa (just west of Shavano Park) or Pete’s Tako House downtown. Another thing San Antonio residents love is fresh produce, and they’ll often point you toward Chicho Boys Fruit Market on Laredo Street in Avenida Guadalupe. Lastly (but no less important), don’t be offended by the lack of turn signals used when San Antonio drivers merge or turn—locals say you’ll get used to it soon enough!

Is there anything we left out? Tell us what you think makes living in San Antonio special!

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If you’re moving to San Antonio and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in San Antonio, Texas.

All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.

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  • Edward Lozano

    As a native, I can definitely testify to #8…especially when coffee is free after Spurs playoff victories!

    • Lynn Knapik

      They forgot to mention the 5 NBA Championships. Kinda important to the locals.

  • M.

    Cheers to the affordable living! One of the best parts about San Antonio. With homes like these, http://www.drhorton.com/Texas/San-Antonio.aspx you really can have the best of living near a large city with all the small-town charm and affordable prices!

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