Time Magazine: Why Texas is Our Future

Highlights from the Time Magazine Article published in October 2013.

So why are more Americans moving to Texas than to any other state?

Author of the article, Tyler Cowen, believes the real reason people are moving to Texas from all over America is that our state offers a “radically cheaper way to live and do business.”

Time Magazine Why Texas is Our FutureMore Opportunities for the Middle Class

More and more workers are leaving the middle class – headed both up and down – and fewer workers are moving into it.

As a 2010 report by the Department of Commerce found, looking at economic data from the past two decades, “The prices for three large components of middle-class expenses have increased faster than income: the cost of college, the cost of health care and the cost of a house.”

Texas isn’t immune to any of this, of course.  But it just may be the friendliest state for those who worry about their prospects in this new normal.  For starters, the job scene is markedly better.  And more crucially, it’s cheaper to live in Texas and cheaper to thrive there too.

Gone to Texas

In 2012 alone, total migration to Texas from the other 49 states in the union was 106,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Since 2000, 1 million more people have moved to Texas from other states than have left.

Jed Kolko, chief economist for San Francisco says, “Home prices, more than any other factor, cause people to leave.”

Why is California, for instance, so expensive and Texas so cheap?  “God wanted California to be expensive,” Kolko says, with its ideal climate and attractive but limited real estate squeezed between the mountains and the ocean.  The demand for a piece of the California dream was destined to be expensive, and lawmakers passed strict building codes to add to the bottom line.

Texans might argue that they have some beautiful real estate too, but in the wide-open spaces surrounding the state’s major urban areas, there is no ocean to constrict growth, and there are far fewer stringent rules.  There are no zoning laws in many unincorporated areas beyond the booming urban centers, where Texas has lots of land.

The Texas Model

Of course, it’s not just cheap living that draws people to Texas.  It’s also jobs.  In the past 12 months, Texas has added 274,700 new jobs – that’s 12% of all jobs added nationwide and 51,000 more than California added.

In a Moody’s Analytics study, seven of the top 10 cities for projected job growth through 2015 will be in Texas.  Four Texas cities topped the list: Austin, McAllen, Houston, and Fort Worth.

Texas Monthly senior editor Erica Grieder credits the “Texas Model” in her recent book, Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn From the Strange Genius of Texas.  “The Texas model basically calls for low taxes and low services,” she says.  “In a sense, it’s just a limited-government approach.”

The New Cowboys

“The world of work is changing, and what we are learning is it’s no longer about the 9-to-5, it’s about the work itself,” says Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk, a global job marketplace that sells tools to allow businesses to hire and manage remote workers.  “Millennials, they are about how to make an impact… They want freedom in their lives, and they are more about that than they do the financial awards.”

In the coming decades, some people may even go to extremes in low-cost living, like making their home in micro-houses or going off the grid entirely.

The Trail Ahead

There are also many small but important ways in which states and cities can adjust in order to incorporate some of the lessons Texas has to teach.

For instance, states could deregulate building so that rents and home prices could be much lower.

Likewise, it would be a tremendous boon for low-skilled workers if we scaled back much of the occupational licensing that exists at the state and local levels.

A little more freedom in strategically targeted areas – that is, a little more Texas – could go a long way.


Read the article in its entirety by clicking on the below PDF pages.

If you have a subscription to Time, read it here: Why Texas Is Our Future – TIME,9171,2154995,00.html#ixzz2sD1Q9Y9D