As a younger generation move to the Valley, it seems they are more frugal when it comes to where they go. They want to have a great time, but they don't want to spend the money they've saved and earned to go just toward living expenses. They want to live it up – from dances and shows to trips to South Padre Island and Nuevo Progreso, Mexico and, of course all the free events that take place on a daily occurrence at the RV resorts.
Progreso is as much a Winter Texan hotspot as any place on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. Arts, crafts, medicine as well as deliciously prepared adult beverages (which some may consider medicine) and a world of exquisite fajitas, enchiladas and other Mexican fare call out to visitors from the north on a regular basis. Some will drive across and park on the one main street that is crammed with shops, restaurants and pharmacies on both sides of the road. Others will take the short walk across the Progreso International Bridge and enjoy the small tourist destination that way.
The annual “Best Places to Live” index regularly has cities such as Harlingen, McAllen and Mission in their top 100 in the nation, and top 15 in Texas. The median cost of homes is usually the greatest contributor to that, and other, indexes but other categories that rank high include cost of groceries, health care, utilities and housing in general.
This year’s new report by Porch looking at cost-of-living differences at the state and metro levels throughout the United States has the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area as the fifth most affordable place to live in their midsize U.S. metro category. This is partly based on how far a dollar can go in the area compared to other metro areas in the U.S.
“As a Winter Texan, we enjoy the weather, cost of living, fresh fruit, veggies. There's great medical care and in 10 hours by plane we can be back in Alaska,” said one Winter Texan – and Arizona is closer to them.
While the cost of living is very economical for the area, the Winter Texan parks offer a whole other type of economies. Entertainers from Nashville, Vegas and Branson, MO will enjoy the low cost of living while putting on shows here during the winter months; some entertainers – affectionately known as “Wintertainers™” - will perform at 40, 50 or more RV and mobile home parks/resorts. The usual charge per person is only $7 or $8. For a two-hour show, sometimes with 250 or more in attendance, it's a win-win for everyone. Even the lunch specials offer amazing prices – all you can eat pancake breakfasts for as little as $4, or a burger, fries and a drink for $5 are just two examples.
Talking about “win-win,” there may not be a better area in the nation that offers such a wide variety of products as the local pulgas, known everywhere else as flea markets. The Don-Wes Flea Market is truly one of a kind.
When you first pull in, you may not be wowed because, well, it is a flea market. As soon as you step inside the covered area, however, treasures are everywhere. There's Amish cheeses and homemade jellies and jams from Wisconsin (Winter Texan proud), fruits and veggies (also at several farmer's markets). There's jewelry, gadgets, clothes – even a doggy day spa. In other words, you can find everything you want – and some things you didn't realize you wanted at these flea markets.
Finally, the big sell when it comes to the economical reasons, the lots and homes themselves are sold at amazingly low prices. When a Winter Texan decides to not return for health or family reasons (plenty of new grandchildren for example), they will sell or lease their lots/RVs and/or mobile homes. Newcomers can usually find amazing deals on homes, many fully furnished.
While the low cost of living is just one of the reasons Winter Texans love the Valley, it surely is an important one, as it allows retirees to stretch their retirement income and enjoy those golden years.
“We've worked a lot of years and sacrificed so many things for this time,” said Debbie Lorenz, who has lived in the Valley with her husband Arnie for several years. Their northern home is in Malden, IL. “We've planned accordingly for this part of our lives. We are enjoying it and are determined to keep right on enjoying it.”