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Affordable Snowbird Destinations in Texas 

Snowbirds flock to Texas because of the mild winters, beautiful landscapes, and an endless number of activities. As the second-largest U.S. state, snowbirds have plenty of locations to pick from in Texas. 

Depending on your interests and climate preference, you'll generally enjoy sunshine and mild days (the mid 50s to 70s) from November through March in the “Lone Star State.”

While freezing temperatures and snow do happen in Texas, you'll avoid months of gray skies, scraping frosty windshields, and shoveling feet of snow.

And the good news?

Whether you want a popular destination near sandy beaches or prefer the slower pace of a rural town, there are affordable places to comfortably snowbird on a budget in Texas. 

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Using Cost of Living Data to Find Affordable Locations In Texas

Comparing the cost of living in different areas can help you limit what you spend as a snowbird.

While your expenses may not double as you enjoy the snowbird lifestyle, you want to avoid inflating your lifestyle and taking on debt.

Using the Salary.com cost of living calculator is one way to narrow down Texas locations that are more affordable to live in compared to national averages. 

The following expense categories that are common to everyone are used to determine the Salary.com cost of living (CoL) index:

  1. housing
  2. food
  3. healthcare
  4. transportation
  5. energy

Local salary data is also used for various locations, so that cost of living estimates are more precise. 

18 of the Most Affordable Major Cities in Texas

When you compare the cost of living in many major cities in Texas with national averages, you'll find that they are significantly less expensive. 

We've chosen to highlight the 18 metropolitan areas at least 10% below national averages. Here, snowbirds can enjoy some of the most budget-friendly destinations in Texas.

The list starts with a city that has the lowest cost of living.

1. Harlingen

Harlingen is one of the smaller cities on our list, with a population of around 70,000.

You'll get a bigger city feel and many of the same opportunities in Harlingen while avoiding some of what turns people off about major metropolitan areas.

Located in southern Texas, Harlingen is in the central region of the Rio Grande Valley. For those looking to stroll miles of beach, It's a short half hour drive to the Gulf Coast.

Some of the top attractions in the area include the Iwo Jima Memorial and Museum, Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, and the World Birding Center.

You can also enjoy strolling through the Jackson Market Street Days or check out festivals like Riofest.

For those who love the outdoors, temperatures are in the low to mid-70s, with just a few days of rain during the winter months in Harlingen. 

You can learn more about this south Texas city and all it offers at Visit Harlingen.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Harlingen is a whopping 26.6% lower than the national average.

2. McAllen

Another southern Texas city to consider is McAllen. With a population of almost 150,000, McAllen is more than double the size of the nearby city of Harlingen.

McAllen is located about an hour inland from the gulf shores. But you'll still find plenty of popular attractions in your snowbird winter home.

You'll enjoy arts and entertainment, festivals, historical sites, and plenty of outdoor recreation in and around McAllen.

The International Museum of Arts & Sciences, the Nuevo Santander Gallery, the McAllen Nature Center, and the 17th Street Entertainment District are popular attractions.

Warmer climates and little rain greet Winter Texans in McAllen. Daily high temperatures hover in the low 70s, making this city one of the popular snowbird destinations in Texas. 

Check out the Visitor's Guide on Visit McAllen to learn more about the history of the city and all it has to offer.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in McAllen is 23.6% lower than the national average.

3. Brownsville

Southern Texas tops the list of the regions with the lost cost of living. Right on the border of Mexico, Brownsville is another metropolitan area where you can enjoy warm weather during the snowbird season.

You'll be just a few miles from the gulf coast in Brownsville. You can enjoy miles of shoreline at South Padre Island or visit the popular attractions in and around the city itself.

These include:

In this city of 185,000 people, there's always something to keep an active snowbird busy in Brownsville!

Skip the cold weather and enjoy average winter temperatures in the low 70s. You won't have much need for an umbrella in Brownsville, either.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Brownsville is 22.6% lower than the national average.

4. Laredo

Laredo is one of the largest cities in Texas and may be an ideal destination for snowbirds. With a population of 250,000, Laredo sits along the Rio Grande and is on the border of Mexico.

The climate in Laredo is similar to other cities in South Texas. You'll enjoy a warm environment with sunny days and average temperatures in the low 70s from December through March.

While your access to beaches may be limited, this diverse region has plenty of shopping, restaurants, and outdoor activities. 

Visit Laredo is a great resource to learn more about the pace of life, real estate options, and regional recreational activities. The events calendar on the site updates regularly with a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy all Laredo has to offer.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Laredo is 19.4% lower than the national average.

5. Waco   

140,000 people enjoy lower living costs and call the city of Waco their home. This central Texas metro is about 90 minutes south of the Dallas-Fort Worth region and is considered one of the favorite destinations for snowbirds.

Waco could be your ideal destination if you aren't interested in beach towns. This city for snowbirds has a cooler climate than southern Texas, with average winter temperatures in the upper 50s and low 60s during the winter months.

Sunny and mainly dry days make for excellent exploring conditions if you choose Waco for your annual migration!

The Waco Mammoth National Monument, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Waco Suspension bridge are popular attractions.

If you have house guests during your snowbird travel, you may also enjoy venturing to the Dr. Pepper Museum or the Cameron Park Zoo.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Waco is 19.1% lower than the national average.

6. Killeen

The city of Killeen is the central Texas home of the Fort Hood military base. Similar in size to Waco, 150,000 people have primary residence in Killeen. 

Killeen is an ideal location for those who want to save money while enjoying the snowbird lifestyle and good quality of life.

While not as warm as southern coastal cities, you'll have a warm climate in the mid 50s to lower 60s and only a few days of rain each month.

There are Good Sam RV Parks in and near Killeen and motorhome parks where you may find affordable rental communities too.

Museums, recreation areas, and a planetarium are family attractions that everyone will enjoy.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Killeen is 18.2% lower than the national average.

7. Temple

The city of Temple is one of the smaller metro regions that makes the list of cheapest snowbird destinations in Texas.

Having a population of 85,000 people, Temple is located between Waco and Killeen in central Texas. 

With its roots as a railroad town, you can visit museums and historic homes in Temple. As you escape from winter blues, you can also enjoy wineries, parks, shopping areas, and golf courses.

Put on a light jacket or sweatshirt because average winter temperatures are cooler, with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s. Mostly dry days will allow you to do whatever activities you enjoy.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Temple is 18.0% lower than the national average.

8. El Paso

With a population of 675,000, El Paso is one of the largest cities in Texas and is ranked in the top 25 in the United States.

This metropolitan area is in western Texas, just a short drive from the Mexican border.

Average temperatures in El Paso are in the 60s during winter months, and residents enjoy dry conditions with only 1-2 days of rain per month.

This destination for snowbirds is perfect if you seek sunshine!

The scenery is beautiful around El Paso. Top local attractions include the Scenic Drive Overlook, Franklin Mountains State Park, and Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.

You can also visit the El Paso Zoo, Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museum, the El Paso Municipal Rose Gardens, and more.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in El Paso is 15.8% lower than the national average.

9. Amarillo

One of the popular snowbird destinations in north Texas (Panhandle region) is the city of Amarillo.

With a population of about 200,000 people, Amarillo offers a different snowbird lifestyle than some other Texas regions.

Average winter temperatures are in the low 50s, and there is very little rain in Amarillo. But it's still much better than cloudy skies, wind, and snow in northern destinations! 

There are several ranches, museums, gardens, and historic attractions to take in during your days in Amarillo.

Don't miss the Cadillac Ranch, and make sure to spend time in the Route 66 historic district.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Amarillo is 15.4% lower than the national average. 

10. Abilene

The city of Abilene is located in west central Texas and has a population of approximately 125,000 people.

Dyess Air Force Base is in Abilene, and the military families and retirees enjoy strong support in the region.

Popular attractions in Abilene include the interactive museum Frontier Texas!, the Morgan Jones Planetarium, Fort Phantom Hill, and the Grace Museum.

A 3-day exploration of the Texas Fort Trail is highlighted on the Abilene Tourism website. The city also offers plenty of restaurant options, and there are wineries and craft breweries to enjoy.

Average winter temperatures in the low 60s and just a couple of days of rain each month make this a great snowbird destination for those looking for active lifestyle communities.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Abilene is 15.0% lower than the national average.

11. Wichita Falls

One major city in the north central part of Texas that is a destination for snowbirds is Wichita Falls.

This affordable metro area near Sheppard Air Force Based has a population of just over 100,000 people and is the government seat for the county.

According to Rent.com, the average rent for a two bedroom is less than $1,000.

If you are an RV'er, you can also consider a monthly reservation at the Burkburnett/Witchita Falls KOA Journey campground.

Riverbend Nature Center, the Backdoor Theater, and the Museum of North Texas history are popular attractions. And if wrestling interests you, don't miss the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.

While popular destinations for snowbirds will get crowded with seasonal visitors and tourists, you can live a relaxed lifestyle and become part of the community in Wichita Falls.

Needing a raincoat is rare, and a sweater or light jacket will get you through most winter days in this region.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Wichita Falls is 14.8% lower than the national average.

12. Port Arthur

If you're trying to choose a snowbird destination and want close access to beaches, then Port Arthur might be an excellent location for you.

Located in southeastern Texas near the Louisiana border and the Gulf of Mexico, this is a favorite destination for sun lovers.

Enjoy the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Seam Rim and Sabine Pass Battleground State Parks, and the Veterans Memorial Park and Bridge.

Recreational activities include birding, fishing, biking, and more. You're in Cajun country in Port Arthur! Take in the Heritage Trail and Festival.

Average winter temperatures are in the mid 60s, with a day or two of rain some weeks. That's warm enough to walk miles of amazing beaches within an hour's drive of Port Arthur.

You may also appreciate that this city only has about 55,000 residents.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Port Arthur is 13.8% lower than the national average.

13. Beaumont

One of the cheapest snowbird cities in southeastern Texas is Beaumont. Located just 20 miles north of Port Arthur, Beaumont has a population twice its size. 

There are plenty of museums in Beaumont, including:

  • Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum
  • McFaddin-Ward House museum
  • Fire Museum of Texas
  • Clifton Steamboat Museum
  • Texas Energy Museum, and more.

And for the kids, there is the Beaumont Children's Museum!

Beaumont is a great city for snowbirds who enjoy the outdoors. With daytime average winter temperatures in the mid 60s, you can comfortably hike, golf, shop, and more in Beaumont. 

The Beaumont Convention and Visitor's Center Bureau website has a great deal of information for those considering a seasonal home in this region.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Beaumont is 13.6% lower than the national average.

14. Corpus Christi  

If you're searching for a big city feel but want miles of beach close by, a great southern Texas destination for snowbirds is Corpus Christi. 

With over 300,000 residents, Corpus Christi sits in a bay near popular Padre and Mustang Islands.

You can stroll the Padre Island National Seashore, visit the Texas Aquarium, or tour the USS Lexington Museum.

Corpus Christi also has beaches, botanical gardens, science centers, parks, and more.

Average winter temperatures are in the mid 60s, and you'll get six or seven days of rain each month. While that's more precipitation than many Texas cities on this list, it's a trade-off for it being slightly warmer and nearer the gulf shores.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Corpus Christi is 13.5% lower than the national average.

15. Midland

If you prefer western Texas, the city of Midland is another good option for budget-friendly snowbird travel.

With a population of over 165,000, Midland has a lot to offer its residents and the snowbirds who are attracted to this part of the state.

The Midland Army Airfield Museum, the Museum of the Southwest, and the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Library, and Hall of Fame are all major attractions in Midland. You can also visit George W. Bush's Childhood Home.

Winters are in the low 60s in Midland, and it rarely rains. This makes it a perfect snowbird destination to enjoy the outdoors.

On the Midlands event calendar, you'll find plenty of recreational activities, along with farmer's markets, dance classes, bridge club events, and more.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Midland is 12.4% lower than the national average.

16. Odessa

Odessa has about 50,000 fewer residents (population 110,000) and is just down the road from Midland in west Texas. It shares the same climate – primarily dry days and moderate temperatures (60's) throughout the winter months.

The Visitor's Guide to Odessa has a great list of activities to do and explains everything you could want to know about spending time in this Texas city.

Snowbirds visiting in January can catch a rodeo while in town. The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo is held yearly at the Ector County Coliseum in Odessa.

 According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Odessa is also 12.4% lower than the national average.

17. Lubbock

One of the larger Texas cities on the affordable cost of living list is Lubbock. Located in northwest Texas, Lubbock has a population of over 300,000

If you're looking for an RV park, you're in luck in Lubbock. You'll find several parks in the western and southern parts of the city, and a few sprinkled north and east of the metro region too.

Lubbock has diverse attractions and is the home of the Buddy Holly Center and the National Ranching Heritage Center.

There's also the Science Spectrum Museum, the Silent Wings Museum, and the American Wind Power Center. Another highlight is a visit to Prairie Dog Town!

You'll experience a cooler snowbird season in Lubbock, with winter months mainly in the mid to upper 50s. But a bonus is that you'll rarely ever have to worry about rain.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in Lubbock is 11.6% lower than the national average.

18. San Antonio

South Central Texas is where you'll find one of the biggest cities in the state. San Antonio is ranked number two in terms of population, with close to 1.5 million residents.

Many snowbirds love the weather in San Antonio. Winters are mild, with highs in the mid 60s and an average of one day of rain per week.

San Antonio has attractions for everyone. Some of the most popular include:

  • San Antonio River Walk
  • Natural Bridge Caverns
  • The Alamo
  • Japanese Tea Gardens
  • Mission San Jose
  • Witte Museum

Family favorites include the San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, and the DoSeum Museum for Kids.

According to Salary.com, the cost of living in San Antonio is 10.9% lower than the national average.

How to Find Budget-Friendly Smaller Cities in Texas

If you'd rather avoid the larger cities, there are dozens of smaller, budget-friendly towns in Texas.

Many of these locations are an easy commute to a metro center, so you can enjoy a quieter lifestyle while still having access to a bustling city.

On the Salary.com page that has all of the data on the cost of living, scroll down and look for the word “Expand” on the right side of the page.

When you click on “Expand,” – you'll see an entire list of Texas cities. Click on any city you might consider to get that location's cost of living data.

While you might not be able to afford a beach house, you'll likely be able to find an affordable snowbird location near a beach town or the major cities that are on our list.

For example, Bandera and Stockdale are cities close to San Antonio, and each has a cost of living index 11.7% lower than national averages. 

Snowbirding in Affordable Locations in Texas

A number of larger cities in southern Texas made the list of affordable places.

They make great destinations for sun lovers who want to keep expenses low and enjoy the state's highest average temperatures during winter.

From December through March, the sun shines most days in Texas and temperatures average about 70 degrees.

But U.S. and Canadian Snowbirds can also enjoy outdoor activities and moderate climates in other regions of the state.

Ideal destinations for “Winter Texans” include plenty of outdoor space, national parks, beautiful beaches, manicured golf courses, outlet shopping malls, and more.

There's plenty to keep snowbirds busy as they embrace warmer weather in Texas during the winter season.

You can spend more freely on the things you enjoy when your major cost of living expenses are lower each month.

If you are familiar with the region, what would you consider your favorite snowbird destinations in Texas? Are there snowbird hotspots we should know about? Where would you avoid going during snowbird season in the Lone Star State?

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