When moving to a new place, there’s only so much information you can get from Google and websites selling you on an area. So I’m getting real with you and telling you the top responses from over 900 responses to this question I asked my community: What do you wish you would’ve known before moving to Texas?
1. Watering your foundation.
Our soil moves a lot and the key to avoiding foundation issues is to maintain a consistent moisture level in the soil around your foundation. Okay, so you don’t exactly water your foundation.
We can get some really long, hot, dry weather spells. When that happens, the soil around your home will start to dry out and pull away from your foundation. Then it rains, and the soil swells and pushes against your foundation.
The best thing to do is to maintain the moisture level around your home to reduce the amount of movement over time. The way we do this is with soaker hoses or landscape watering that is placed close enough to the home to water the ground next to the foundation.
We have three cities that rank on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of Top 20 Allergy Capitals of 2021. McAllen ranks as the 4th worst, San Antonio as the 14th, and Dallas as the 19th. Texas had the highest number of major cities with the top ‘Allergy Capital’ ratings.
Our long periods of warmer temperatures give plants more time to grow. When the wind picks up it moves all that pollen through the air and into our lungs. (deep breath)
In fact, I remember reading an article from DMagazine about this very issue.
It talked about how the allergies forced a dining critic to move out of town. The article was from 2011 and at that time Dallas ranked #35 on AAFA’s Top Allergy Capitals list. Remember, I just told you Dallas is now 19th… so thing are not getting any better. So who will fare well in this environment? Allergists, of course.
In the responses I received from my question, many people commented on the number of tornadoes we get as a big surprise. According to a 20-year annual tornado average compiled by the National Centers for Environmental Information, Texas does average the most tornadoes every year with 155. Kansas is behind us with 96. And tornadoes hit anywhere from rural farms to big cities.
Once a month we test our tornado sirens. If it’s a regular Wednesday at noon and you hear a siren and think it might be an air raid approaching. Nope. It’s our tornado siren testing.
If you’re a roofing company, Texas is a good place to be. Texas ranks #1 in the number of hail claims with 637,977 claims from 2017 to 2019. This is why we are ranked as the fifth most expensive state in the country for home insurance.
5. Crazy Weather
Some call it bipolar. The joke is, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours. You can even experience all four seasons in one week here. And that could not have been truer than this year when we went from -2 degrees on February 16 to 81 degrees exactly one week later.
6. How hot it gets.
How hot does it get? It gets hot as a billy goat in a pepper patch. Hot as a stolen tamale. Hotter than blue blazes. Hotter than a fur coat in Marfa. That’s how we say, “Hot,” in Texas.
We did set a record in 2018 in Dallas and had a high of 112 degrees. That is rare and in the summer our highs are generally in the high nineties. The highest record temperature for Texas was set in 1936 and tied in 1994 at 120 degrees.
7. How cold it gets.
In the winter we can get into the 20s and even in the high teens, but that is rare. Unless you’re in the panhandle, every few years we might get snow. More than snow we get ice. When that happens (whether ice or snow) the whole city shuts down for the most part. We don’t know how to drive on this stuff.
On the bright side we take advantage of every bit of a snow day we’re given, even if we don't have the right type of clothes to be outside in sub-freezing temperatures. It's so rare, we make do with what we have!
8. Apparently, we’re bad drivers!
When I asked the question, I had a huge number of responses about how bad us Texans are at driving!
Not knowing any different, I wasn’t sure how to take this information. Good ‘ole Google helped me out. According to Insurify, Texas ranks #10 in the states with the BEST drivers. Huh!? You guys, that’s not so bad. However, the report does point out that our rate of vehicle-related fatalities is greater than the national average. Ouch. What brings us back up is the fact our percentage of drivers with speeding tickets or at-fault accidents are below the national average.
Side note, if you’re referring to our interstate roads, we just say the number. For example, you might say, “Take the 30 and exit at the 75.” We say, “Take 30 and exit 75.”
9. Fire Ants
These little critters hail from South America and aren’t native to Texas. Regardless, they’re here and they’re not likely to go away. They now infest the eastern two-thirds of the state and some urban areas in western Texas.
According to Orkin, Dallas ranks #6 in their “Top 50 Mosquitos List.” Houston comes in at #12, Austin at #38, and San Antonio at #47.
Mosquitos last almost year-round here since our weather is so warm.
So, if you decide to move here, I hope you like the smell of citronella!
11. People are surprised at how green it is.
This surprised me. Growing up in Houston and living in the DFW area, I’ve always thought we’re a green state. Sure, there are areas where lush green landscaping is sparse like the plains and Big Bend Country.
But we also have the Piney Woods, prairies, and lakes.
12. If you have kids, Friday night high school football really is a big deal.
14. Property taxes are high but on the bright side we don’t have a state income tax! I made a whole video about Taxes in Texas. Check that out to learn more about our taxes. Bottom line, because we don’t have a state income tax, it’s still more advantageous for many people to move to Texas
15. We know barbecue. And y’all, barbecue is not the same as grilling. Grilling is what you cook on a grill. Sure, you can throw some barbecue sauce on it, but that does not make it barbecue.
Barbecue is a long, slow process that uses indirect heat generated from burning wood like pecan or mesquite to cook meat. In my humble opinion, brisket reigns supreme.
16. Fixin’ To
What am I talking about? In Texas, we have a lot of different ways of saying things. We can talk fast and tend merge words together to create our own. Take for example our phrase, “Fixin’ to”. It’s what you say when you’re about to do something. Like, “I’m fixing to go to the store, do you need anything?” If you’re in a hurry, you’ll shorten it even more to ’fixinna’ as in, “We’re fixinna be late, get your shoes on and lets go!”
This is when you're going to do something. Siri now recognizes it as a word and doesn't even attempt to make it proper on my phone when I'm talking to text.
As in, if I want a flavored soda, I'm going to tell you that I want a coke but I intend for your follow-up question to be, "What kind?" To which I'll answer, "A Dr Pepper, please."
So when you actually want a Coca Cola brand coke, don't be surprised when the server asks you to clarify your selection.
Oh Texmex, how I love thee. Texmex is a type of cuisine that’s a Texas’ take on Mexican cuisine. If you like quesadillas, nachos, and chili con queso… then you like TexMex. We have so many options for TexMex dining in Texas, it’s like there’s a TexMex restaurant almost on every corner. Who has the best? Oh boy.. now that’s a question to ask if you want to see a heated debate.
20. We are hard core about our Texas pride.
We love our state and are proud when we can claim that we were born and raised in Texas. And if you’re one of those folks who says you got here as fast as you could, we’re happy to have you.
So, that’s the list. If you’re considering a move to Texas and have questions about what you should know before moving and buying a house here, just ask! You can call or text at 214-803-4444 or email me at email@example.com.
Jennifer Shannon is a Texas real estate agent and broker, licensed since 2006.