Wow! Who could choose the best lake in Texas? This is a hard one to answer. Texas has 188 lakes that cover 5,000 acres or more and most are much larger. Texas claims 7,000 lakes, but most of them would not be lakes with names we would recognize. Texas is comprised of ten ecoregions designated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and five distinctive gardening zones. 

By far, we can think of way more than the ten best lakes to live on in Texas or maybe more. Texas Outside takes a look at the best lake in each gardening zone in Texas for the purposes of answering this question. Most of the water bodies in Texas that we call lakes are actually reservoirs, a water body made by damming up a river. The Texas gardening zones:

Zone 1 contains the oasis of Lake Meredith, the beautiful refreshing body of water in the arid, windswept harshness of the Texas panhandle. Wildlife and humans dearly love the hidden coves occupied by Lake Meredith, which were cut through the Texas High Plains by the Canadian River. Lake Meredith is a well-needed and much loved haven for migratory birds and resident birds, wildlife, and the people living in this mean climate. 

Zone II is hard to choose from because it contains Toledo Bend, Caddo Lake, Lake Texoma, and Possum Kingdom Lake. Then, it is hard to choose between Possum Kingdom and Lake Texoma. However, Possum Kingdom Lake is the best lake to live on in Zone II for its beauty, lake life, wildlife, entertainment, and seclusion from the big cities.  

In Zone III, the very best lake is Lake Travis, hands down! There, you feel you are out in the middle of nowhere, right next to one of the most exciting cities in the Southwest, Austin, Texas. At some locations on Lake Travis, you would never know you were only 30 minutes away from Austin. There is so much to do and see on Lake Travis and Lake Travis is simply gorgeous! Lake Travis is the best the Hill Country offers! 

It has to be Lake Corpus Christi, as the best lake to live on in Zone IV. Lake Corpus Christi rests in one of the last remaining stands of the South Texas brush country. It has sandy beaches galore surrounded by flat coastal prairie lands, mesquite trees, and amazing cacti. But much better yet, it is less than one hour away from the romantic Corpus Christi Bay and Padre Island, Mustang Island, and Port Aransas. You get a lake, an ocean, and paradise islands all in one package at Lake Corpus Christi!

Zone V is full of ocean and desert, but only fruits grow and not too many lakes exist in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The International Falcon Reservoir that shares a border and water rights with Old Mexico and is the absolute best for lakes in this region. It is the best lake to live on if you love solitude and thriving Tex/Mex culture, along with its cuisine. Lake Falcon is an archeologist’s dream and full of prehistoric discoveries. It lies in one of the most beautiful parts of Texas and a reminder of the day before we belonged to France, then Spain, then Mexico, then Texas, and then the U.S. 

What is the Cheapest Lake to Live on in Texas? is going to answer that question for us. There are only a few extremely affordable lake communities and towns near lakes of Texas. According to neighborhoods, the following lakes and towns are the cheapest lakes to live on in Texas. 

The cheapest lakes and towns near them to live on in Texas are Lake Austin and Matagorda, Lake Buchanan and Buchanan Dam, Caddo Lake and Karnack, Canyon Lake and Fischer/Sattler, Lake Cypress Springs and Scroggins, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Granbury, and Lake Texoma and Denison, Gainesville, and Sherman. 

Where Are the Most Affordable Lake Homes in Texas? 

Texas Outside mentioned above the cheapest lakes to live on in Texas, so it would follow that those lakes, communities, and towns would have the most affordable lake homes. However, it depends on what you think is affordable and what you want in a lake home. 

It depends if you want to live in a cabin or solid home with all the modern conveniences on where the most affordable lake homes in Texas are. You can surely find a small cabin on a small piece of lake property for an extremely low price on the lakes referred to above, and if you do your research, also at many other lakes in Texas. 

If you are not a cabin dweller, and you want a home in an upscale community on a lake, you can compare the home prices at different lakes. For example, lake homes at Lake Travis frequently sell in the million dollar range. But just 50 miles northwest of Austin, is the little town of Marble Falls, right on one of the most beautiful sections of the Colorado River. The list price of a home for $559,550 in Marble Falls will come with much more square footage and land than you would get for the same price at Lake Travis.

Gated Lake Communities in Texas

There is only one lake in Texas that is entirely gated that Texas Outside knows of, Lake Kiowa in Cooke County, Texas. But almost every lake that is within 100 miles of a city in Texas has a gated community, or even more than one. It is best to do your research online in the area where you want live and, at the same time, contact a well-respected realtor in that area.  

Do your research on realtors and ask for references before working with one to find a gated lake home community that fits your lifestyle. Of course, you know what you are buying with a new home. But what if the lake you want to live on has not approved any new developments or housing communities? You are looking at an older home to buy.

This is why you need to do your due diligence in researching. Even with a well-respected realtor, you must depend on a home inspection service when buying a “used” home, and a title company for the property records. Realtors want to work with their title companies and home inspectors. You also have to research the home inspection company and title company for references. 

It is too risky to buy an older home without researching and asking for references when you are looking at an investment in a gated community. Then there are the HOAs. Oh the nightmares some homeowners have faced in gated communities with Home Owner’s Associations. You have to do your research with the HOA too. You must research that gated community’s laws. It is daunting work. 

Be aggressive and always ask questions and for many references with every step of your gated lake community home buying process. 

Kendall Davis
Author: Kendall Davis

Author: Kendall Davis Company: Lumini Services Kendall currently lives on the shores of Lake Texoma in Texas. She traveled across two-thirds of the U.S. for many years camping at lakes, rivers, and three oceans before motels and hotels if at all possible, and she continuously saw God's presence in nature. Writing for Lakehub allows Kendall to share her experience with God's creations.

Join the Texas Outside newsletter