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Alamo City goes 'boom' | The people behind the population explosion in San Antonio

Sixty-six people move to the Alamo City every day, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities, with an average of 66 people moving here every day. 

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and Philadelphia—those are the only six cities with a population larger than San Antonio, which ranks at No. 7 with just over 1.5 million people. But if approximately 66 people continue to move into San Antonio every single day for the next year or two, the city will likely pass Philadelphia and ascend on the list, taking over the No. 6. spot. 

But who are these 66 people, and why are they moving here? We went searching for answers.

"(It's folks from all over the country by the way," said Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. "Not just from California, although we do get a healthy dose of people coming from California. But we've actually had people coming from the East Coast, too."

Why California? 

"You see a lot of people from California that are trying to get into a place that's got a lower cost of living," said Brian Barron of Lennar San Antonio, a home-building company. "Which we've clearly got here in San Antonio, as a competitive edge."

It's such an advantage that Lennar has dozens of new home communities across the city, including Elm Valley on the west side just inside loop 410. 

"When you come to San Antonio, we've got a low tax rate, a low-cost of living," he said. "So it's been highly desirable for them to come and relocate their families here."

So is it really all about the Benjamins? 

"The cost of living has something to do with it, but you have to couple that with the opportunities for jobs," Perez added. 

So now we know the why. But who are these 66? 

"We've got students. We've got professionals. We've got midlife career people. We've got young professionals," Perez said. 

Barron added: "We have a lot of first-time buyers who are coming in who don't have any kids but are ready to start a family that millennial who is just getting married."

We found two recent transplants. Maxwell Swanson moved here from Granbury, Texas with his girlfriend two years ago.

"I met a guy who told me about an apprenticeship program down here being an electrician," he said. 

Anthony Bower moved to the Alamo City with his wife, three of his four kids and two dogs in November of 2018 from Kansas City, Missouri. 

"I moved here with my wife. She was promoted in her role and that led to a relocation to San Antonio," he said.  

Bower said they picked San Antonio over Houston, adding, "This just seemed to be the better of the two as far as family-friendly (cities)."

Both say the growth they've seen in the short time they've been here is astounding. Swanson said multiple new apartment complexes have been constructed since he arrived, and Bower said new shopping centers and neighborhoods have popped up within a half-mile of his home. 

The only downside, they say, is the traffic. 

"By the time they get 281 done, it'll be obsolete really, and 35 is kind of a mess," Swanson said.

Bower added, "But it's fun to watch the city pop-up around you."

Both agree with Perez's assessment of San Antonio, who called it the seventh-largest city with a hometown feel. 

"Really it feels like a small town," Swanson said. "It doesn't feel like a big city like Dallas or Houston." 

Bower added, "Honestly, it's a big small town. That's really what the vibe is. People are very friendly."

Happy people, low cost of living, affordable housing, jobs, jobs, jobs—all reasons why San Antonio keeps growing.


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