Mention to anyone that you’re moving to the great state of Texas, and it’s likely that they’ll assume you’re heading to the big city of Houston, the capital city of Austin, or the booming financial hub of Dallas. Those who are really in the know about Texas geography may even venture to guess that you’re moving to San Antonio, El Paso, or Corpus Christi. But very few – if any – will be familiar with the state’s southernmost hidden gem: the Rio Grande Valley.
And you know what? That’s exactly how the locals like it!
Texas’s Rio Grande Valley boasts warm and tropical weather, endless expanses of untouched nature, diverse cities and towns, and some of the lowest costs of living in the nation. If you’ll soon be making a move to the Rio Grande Valley, here are ten reasons you’ll be sure to fall in love with your new home.
1. Unparalleled Natural Beauty
The Valley is home to some of the most well-preserved nature centers, state parks, and wildlife refuges in the state of Texas, thanks in part to its unique tropical climate. One of the most beloved natural attractions in the area is the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, which is made up of over 2,000 acres of wildlife and was founded to protect the many migratory bird species that flock to the region.
Other opportunities to reconnect with nature in the RGV include:
- Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
- Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
- Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
- Sabal Palm Grove Wildlife Sanctuary
2. Recreational Hunting and Fishing
The Rio Grande Valley is a true outdoorsman’s paradise. Falcon State Park provides access to one of the best freshwater fishing lakes in South Texas, attracting fisherman from across the state.
There are also many hunting opportunities in The Valley’s various nature reserves, including the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Here, hunters have access to approximately 6,000 acres that are open for big game hunting, including hunting of white tailed deer, nilgai antelope, and feral hogs.
3. Seaside Getaways
While most of the region’s natural reserves are made up of forests, plains, and wetlands, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the Rio Grande Valley’s incredible coastline! Wherever your new home in the Rio Grande Valley is located, you can be sure you’ll never be too far from the widest, cleanest white-sand beaches in Texas.
South Padre Island is a true tropical getaway destination, with blue water, palm-fringed beaches, and plenty of seaside activities and adventures. Nearby Brazos Island is uninhabited, but boasts several scenic beaches for day-trippers. To mix a bit of history and architecture into your beach getaway, don’t miss the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse.
4. One-of-a-Kind Blended Culture
Thanks to The Valley’s close proximity to Mexico, the region has a unique, one-of-a-kind culture that isn’t found anywhere else in the world. Here, the cuisines, customs, history, and traditions of Texas and Mexico meet, and form a brand new culture that the locals are proud to take part in.
For one thing, most residents of the Rio Grande Valley are bilingual, and can comfortably switch between English and Spanish in a single conversation…and sometimes, even mid-sentence! If you skipped one too many Spanish classes back in high school, don’t worry – “Spanglish” is a fully acceptable form of communication.
The Rio Grande Valley is also home to a unique array of foods and treats, best referred to as “Texas Tropics” cuisine. This includes “raspas,” which are a type of shaved ice dessert with fruit syrup (usually exotic flavors like mango, tamarind, or lychee) and sometimes condensed milk. Local favorite raspa flavors include chamoy (a combination of apricot, chile, lime, salt, and other spices) and pickadilly (pickle vinegar and relish mixed with chile).
And don’t forget about the breakfast tacos, fresh ceviche, brisket, ribs, pan dulce, and mangonadas (frozen mangos, lime, and chamoy)!
5. Weekend Trips to Mexico
If that’s not quite enough Mexican culture for you, why not just pop down to the southern side of the border for a quick weekend getaway? Many Rio Grande Valley residents frequently make short trips into Mexico to shop, eat, and sightsee.
Visit authentic Mexican markets to shop for handmade goods like pottery, blankets, and clothing, and to experience real-deal Mexican cuisine from street vendors. For travel fanatics, having another country and culture so close to your doorstep is a dream come true!
6. Low Cost of Living
Not only does the Rio Grande Valley have some of the lowest costs of living in all of Texas, but also within the U.S. as a whole! CBS recently rounded up their list of the 10 cheapest places to live in the US, and 2 out of the 10 cities on that list are located within the RGV–with the cities being ranked numbers 1 and 3, no less!
In Harlingen, the town with the nation’s lowest cost of living, the after-tax cost to maintain a standard of living enjoyed by the average professional is roughly 17% lower than the national average. In McAllen, the third cheapest city on the list, the average cost of a home is $178,000, while a two-bedroom/two-bath apartment rents for $708. What a deal, eh?
7. Year-Round Warm Weather
Hate winter weather? You’ll fit in just fine in the RGV! Winters here are short and mild, with average temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, each year between October and April the local population increases by roughly 150,000 people, thanks to the “Winter Texans” who flock south to The Valley from the northern U.S. and Canada to escape the cold winter months.
You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see palm trees and fresh fruit stands lining the sides of the roads, regardless of whether it’s January or July.
8. Wonderful Retirement Locations
Warm weather, low cost of living, friendly people, and a unique cultural scene…sure sounds like the perfect combination for a retirement destination, right? In fact, many Americans aged 55 and up do choose to move down to the RGV to enjoy their golden years, where they can fish, golf, birdwatch, visit the beach, and settle into a community where they’ll feel at home.
Many RGV cities and towns, such as Harlingen, have even been recognized nationally for their prime retirement potential.
9. Countless Cultural Activities
While nature and the great outdoors are certainly one of the biggest draws to the Rio Grande Valley, that’s far from all there is to it! Each city within the RGV has its own set of cultural activities and traditions, including festivals, annual events, museums, art galleries, sporting events, and live entertainment.
- Fiesta Edinburg is a week-long celebration that commemorates the founding history of Edinburg
- Charro Days is an elaborate four-day festival with costumes and parades between Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico
- Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale in McAllen
- Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts
- Camille Lightner Playhouse in Brownsville
- Brownsville Museum of Fine Art
- Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito
- …and the list goes on!
10. A Contagious Sense of Community Pride
Above all, the absolute best part of moving to the Rio Grande Valley is the feeling of joining a community that’s proud of its unique heritage, history, and quirks. It’s true that the Rio Grande Valley is like no place else on earth, and RGV residents – whether they’ve lived there their entire lives, or only for a short whole – are fierce defenders of their local communities.
It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to The Valley for a job, to be with family, or for any other reason – soon enough, breakfast tacos, piccadilly raspas, Spanglish, cowboy boots, birdwatching, and regular getaways to the beach and/or to Mexico will become second nature to you…and it’ll be the best feeling in the world.
Whether you’re moving to Brownsville, Edinburg, San Benito, McAllen, San Juan, or somewhere else, you too will find that it won’t take long for the Rio Grande Valley to make its way permanently into your heart.
Need help moving your family or business to the greater Rio Grande Valley area? Gulf Moving Systems has been an expert in moving, packing, and storage within the RGV for more than 40 years. Call us at 956-399-7513 or use our contact form for a free moving quote!