Retire in the Texas Hill Country: The Natives are Friendly
by Brenda K Oswalt
I keep reading all kinds of articles about how great it would be to move to another country to experience a new culture and to retire on a shoestring. Guess what? Texas has both.
Why drag yourself to a different country when one of the best places to embrace a great standard of living is right here in the states? Texas is a unique culture all its own and, yet, there usually isn’t much of a language barrier. And, your money goes far in this state.
Popular Place to Retire
Texas is a powerful and beautiful part of the world with miles and miles of scenic beauty and honest-to-God down home hospitality. This state has been rated the #2 place in the USA for retirement, and visiting the Hill Country of Texas can certainly show visitors why. Nope, I’m not telling you about Texas because I’m a slick-talking real estate agent. I’m telling you about Texas because I live in the Hill Country and I love it.
The Beauty of the Hill Country
Texas is called “The Wildflower State”. In the spring, the fields and meadows are covered with a magnificent layer of Texas Bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes and other wildflowers, like buttercups. Short daytrips or gourmet-infused overnight excursions can bring the reality of the fragrant and beautiful natural blossoms close to home. Our American ancestors fought and died for this ground, and no matter what state you come from, you can feel its humbling power. In a sense, it is true patriotism at its best.
What is the Texas Hill Country?
The Texas Hill Country "officially" starts around Austin, Texas. Heading west and south from Austin, the Hill Country includes San Antonio to the west and Brenham, Texas to the east (sometimes referred to as the base of the hill country) and a 300-mile wide area including the small towns of Wimberley, Kerrville, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Dripping Springs, Blanco, Bandera and west to Uvalde. It includes the counties of Gillespie, Kerr, Bandera and Kendall.
Check out Brenham, Texas. Out on Highway 290, you can take the Brenham business loop and stop in the Boomer town of Brenham, which has the distinction of not changing much in 60 years. Take a leisurely walk around the square and snap a picture of the courthouse. (Texas is noted for its courthouses.) Drive downtown a bit to 102 S. Ross Street and enjoy a wonderful lunch at Volare Italian Restaurant.
Texas Has Great Food
Silvio DiGennaro, a native of Matera, Italy, made Volare an instant success when he chose to open up in 1997. The prices are unbelievably low and the food is pure “classical Italian”. And, do have dessert. The spumoni is to die for. Texas is known for its great barbeque, shrimp, chili, and a regional pastry known as kolache, which is Czech or German in origin. Good and plentiful food is the norm in Texas.
Back on the Road Again
Back on 290, head toward Austin, and you’ll get a sense of what the Texas hill country is all about. Meander here and there and follow a state road that speaks to you. Grab a soda and a kolache or a German sausage sandwich from one of the many roadside cafes. Nearby Canyon Lake provides year round canoeing and camping. And, hiking trails abound.
Get a Feel for Texan Culture
Round Top is known for its huge antique-barn weekend sales. Spend a night by the river in Gruene or New Braunfels, and if it’s summer, relax in the coolness of a mesquite tree and have a cold one. Prices are so economical; your retirement dollar is happily stretched beyond your needs. Wineries are all over, so stick to the house wine at any restaurant; it’s always a real deal. Local breweries and vineyards offer free tasting on a regular basis, and many weekend wine festivals light up the food lover’s seasonal palate.
The housing market in the Hill Country is wonderful. Average houses are in the $180,000 range, and, of course, if you’re looking for a huge spread, you can go for a ranch. It’ll cost more up front, but you’ll find it’s really worth it, because in Texas you can defer your homeowner’s taxes. Just file for the Homeowner’s Exemption and, if you have a partner, put the house in both your names. As long as one of you is at least 65 and living, no property taxes are due. When you die, the heirs will be responsible for taxes and the few hundred bucks of interest per year, but the house will surely have appreciated enough to pay for it. Steady property appreciation is common here, not boom and bust.
No State Income Tax and Great Weather
There is no state income tax in Texas, and paying only the normal 6.5% sales tax makes the state a haven for budget-conscious retirees. Boomers love Texas because it is just plain fun with a capital “F” for fantastic. We have something going on all the time, and your Social Security check goes far. The weather varies from one part of Texas to another, but the reason the Hill Country is so popular is that it doesn’t get frigid in the winter, and the summers are hot, but breezier and dryer than other parts of the state. We think the weather is close to heaven.
Texans are a Friendly, Patriotic Bunch
Nobody beats a Texan for friendliness. It seems to be born and bred into them, and friendliness is a part of the unique culture that has helped shape Texas. From the Battle of the Alamo, for which each state in the union had a representative who fought there, to the vast open land and solid infrastructure that provides not only the basic necessities but a true American tapestry of cultural richness, retirees find that Texas adds value to their lives. Texas is the top choice for active and patriotic boomers. You can travel all over the world and it would be hard to find anyone who didn’t recognize a Texan.
More Articles for Baby Boomer Women and Retirement:
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons and Flickr Commons.
- Main Photo: Zereshk Wikimedia.
- Why You Should Retire in Texas: Smalloy Flickr.
- Mouseover for other credits.
- If you came here for picture of bluebonnets, see Texas Wildflowers. I took the photo down for technical reasons, but I know the image is still out there on Pinterest. The bluebonnet photo was used with permission from Rich Olivieri.
Find out more about climate, tax rates, housing, safety, medical facilities, amenities, and friendliness:
- USNews.com Retirement in New Braunfels, Texas
- Overview of Cities in Texas for Retirees
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