The Texas Hill Country is a popular tourist destination, especially in spring when the meadows are awash in bluebonnets and other wildflowers. The area has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, as retirees, artists and young families flee ever-growing cities for a more peaceful life in a smaller community. Wimberley is one such community that still feels like a small town but has enough happening that it may be the next Hill Country boom town. It’s situated on the picturesque Blanco River and Cypress Creek, and it has a historic town square with 65 shops.
Wimberley is known far and wide for its Market Days, held the first Saturday of every month from April through December. The outdoor market gives local vendors a place to sell a variety of wares, including crafts, food, artwork, antiques and furniture — it’s a great venue for the self-employed.
The area is renowned for peaches and pecans — you can pick up some at the Wednesday farmers market or the Hill Country Natural Foods store. Both sell all sorts of locally grown products. Destination farms in the area feature wine, lavender, olive oil, flowers and vegetables.
“The climate is fabulous for almost year-round gardening here,” says Frank Arnosky of Arnosky Family Farms. “We can grow cool season crops all winter long.”
Pamela Arnosky, Frank’s wife, adds: “The best gardening in the Hill Country is along the creek bottoms, and there are numerous pockets of good soil located along the ephemeral creeks. The hilltops are rocky, but the views are lovely! We have days here when the climate is crisp and dry like New Mexico. On wet days, the weather is reminiscent of western North Carolina!”
The Arnoskys found the Wimberley area to be the perfect place to homestead. They came 20 years ago, lived in a tent while they built their house, started a farm and home-schooled their four children. Today they sell vegetables, flowers, bedding plants and other farm produce at farmers markets and to numerous local grocery stores.
Doug Stewart, a real estate agent and 35 year resident of the Texas Hill Country, says that land prices have been rising because Wimberley is close to Austin and San Antonio. Current prices are $6,000 to $8,000 per acre, with waterfront land much more expensive.
Stewart recommends that prospective homesteaders work closely with a real estate agent who knows the soils in the area, and advises that fertile soil increases as the landscape transitions from the Hill Country to the black soil east of Interstate 35.
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Climate: hot summers; mild winters; enough rain for things to grow
Cost of living index: 93.8
Median home price: $190,300
Alternative energy: net metering and renewable energy incentives
Don’t miss: The Corral Theatre, an outdoor movie theater with showings at “dark:30 p.m.” on Fridays and weekends through most of the summer. Bring your own lawn chair.