Ask Anyone What They Like About Texas
You ask me what I like about Texas
I tell you it's the wide open spaces!
It's everything between the Sabine and the Rio Grande.
It's the Llano Estacado,
It's the Brazos and the Colorado;
Spirit of the people down here who share this land!
It's another burrito, it's a cold Lone Star in my hand
It's a quarter for the jukebox, boys,
Play the sons of the mothers of the bunkhouse band!
The words of the lyrical genius Gary P. Nunn help sum up at least a portion of the appeal of Texas. Those who visit here for the first time can’t forget it. Many get it in their blood and want to stay. I’ve really come to have a deeper understanding of this since I began selling real estate. The people I have encountered who’ve come here from all over the country to make a new home in Texas are just awestruck. I get it. I’m from here. Generations of my family were born here. And even I can find something new that leaves me going “Wow”!
For seven years in a row now, Texas has attracted more that half a million new residents annually. The reasons vary, but one of the more common reasons people give for coming here are taxes. We have no state income tax, but our property taxes are quite high. Revenue to run state and local government comes from basically two sources: sales tax and property tax. Most counties are already at the cap of 8.25 percent on sales taxes. Compare that to Sacramento, CA at 8.75% and Los Angeles at 9.5%, and the cost of all goods and services are much higher on the west coast. People I’ve talked to from California, for example, are more than willing to trade the tax-burdened Golden State for Texas. The median home price in California was over $790,000 in 2021 and will likely break the $825,000 mark in 2022. In Texas, the median price remains below $250,000.
But it’s not just finances bringing people to Texas. Texas has a reputation for being big on personal freedoms. While we are very much about freedom, we still rank 21st in the nation overall, according to a Cato Institute report released last year by the DC-based libertarian think tank. That same report ranks us 49th in personal freedoms, but it really depends on your view of just how far personal freedoms should go. I’ve long held the belief that the less government you have in your life, the better. The perception, at least, exists that Texas is a “freer” state than others, but we have some work to do.
Not long ago, I encountered a couple from New York who were somewhat taken aback by the friendly nature of Texas. They said they didn’t know quite how to act when they were walking down a street in San Antonio and complete strangers said “hi” or gestured with a wave or tip of the hat. The man told me that you never see that kind of behavior in NYC and rarely in his hometown of Albany. I explained that Texas is just, overall, a friendly place. We’re taught from a young age to greet even strangers with kindness and a welcoming attitude. No, not everyone here is so friendly. We have our fair share of cold-hearted and less-than-friendly types, but they are the exception, not the rule. I’ll talk to anyone, a personal trait that serves me well as a talk show host.
My encounter last year with a couple from Michigan was such a fun conversation. I’ve never met two people so giddy over a move. It helped that they had a relative in Wichita Falls, transplanted here by the Air Force. They’d bought a home in Denton and were visiting family up here. I overheard a bit of their conversation at a restaurant and, being the extrovert that I am, decided to say hello and drop off my business card to them on the way out. That turned into a 20-minute conversation about how they had come to move to Texas and why. All the aforementioned reasons played a role for them, but one more was food. They gushed over the food, particularly the BBQ they’d enjoyed in Denton, Wichita Falls and Austin. They couldn’t get enough of it and were amazed at the variety and quality of dining options they’d found. They were all about trying out the “local” flavors, so I gave them a few tips on where to try next. They found a great home, great jobs, started a business in our state and fell in love with BBQ and Tex-Mex that you can’t get in Michigan. Adieu, Wolverine State!
Some native Texans are a little nervous about the hundreds of thousands of people flocking to our state every year. We’ve adopted some new credos like “Don’t California My Texas” and “Leave Your Leftism Back Home”. And while there is a bit of fear that some will come here to try and turn Texas blue, it’s important to recognize that many of these people are fleeing the oppressive, authoritarian nature of left-leaning politics and out of control taxation and costs of living for our state. They’ll most likely assimilate, just as our forefathers did. After all, most of us are descended from folks who also came here from elsewhere. My family’s roots go back to Louisiana, Tennessee, and the Carolinas six and seven generations ago. And even further back still to England, France, Germany, and Ireland.
Those relocating to Texas from within the United States already enjoy a level of freedom few in the world can boast about. But coming to a place that once was itself another country, a place that is physically larger than some countries in the world and most states in the U.S. and boasts the 9th largest economy in the world by GDP, it’s no wonder that so many people, not just in America, but globally, are in awe of our state. So, welcome to Texas! Remember to tip your hat to the ladies, tip your waitress generously and take a tip from me: take in all you can, cause it’s a big place.
Oh, and a little sidebar: All y’all is plural for y’all.