Is San Antonio the Best Texas City?

In San Antonio, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and parks that make it one of the main tourist destinations in the world. Despite being dubbed “The Most Boring City” so many times over the years, its devotees have become more defensive than ever. Charles Barkley turned the mockery of the city of San Antonio into nighttime theater during the Spurs playoffs and no one blinked nationwide.

San Antonio

is not praised for being cheap, but for its “daring public art” and Texas seafood “approved by food lovers”.

The new Hotel Emma is a boutique retreat in a 19th-century building that is unlike anything the tourist and family-friendly area of River Walk has ever seen before. On the other hand, if you live in Iceland, San Antonio might seem magical from afar. There's no question that Alamo City is under a new spotlight now. Ready or not, the hipsters are coming.

During my recent stay in Texas, residents often asked me which of their major cities I liked best: Austin, Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio. They were curious about this since I was an outsider who lived for one month each of the four of us. Until this point, the question always focused less on which city had the best economy and more on quality of life and street reputation: where would I really like to live? San Antonio is the oldest of the four cities and is home to many historic events in Texas history, including the fight for Mexican independence. A slower pace of economic development has helped it maintain its old world charm.

The city mixes historic Spanish, German, Mexican and Southwestern architectural motifs amidst charming public spaces such as the Paseo del Rio. It also has less traffic, fewer skyscrapers, greater family orientation, a more stable population, and less glitz and glamor than other cities in Texas. In many parameters (employment growth, wage growth, population growth and overall economic performance), it is catching up with and, in some cases, surpassing other cities. This is evident in the structure built with a mix of new condominiums in the center of the city and large communities planned according to a master plan; and in the demography which is increasingly rich and international.

Austin has political DNA that reflects “the story of two cities: one of the parties is dedicated to attracting jobs and outside companies; meanwhile, the progressive wing, in theory, likes these ideas but will not accept them”. This attitude has shaped the city as a rapidly growing population must compete for scarce resources. The housing stock has been limited by regulations that inflate prices meaning that the richest demographic groups move while the poorest are excluded from prices. Austin is also less willing than others to increase road capacity which causes the worst traffic in Texas according to Forbes.

Of course this slower-growth mentality has advantages such as more conservation reserves meaning that one can drive several miles east or west and quickly enter beautiful rural Texas. Overall San Antonio could be described as a city that successfully combines two worlds; it maintains a small-town atmosphere while offering big-city perspectives. It has less traffic, fewer skyscrapers, greater family orientation, a more stable population, and less glitz and glamor than other cities in Texas making it an attractive option for those looking for quality of life and street reputation.