McAllen, Texas is located just five miles from the U.S./Mexico border and has a population of about 130,000 people. The weather tends to be hot and humid, with summer temperatures averaging in the 90s in the summer, and the winters are very mild, averaging in the 70s. There is a lot of humidity, and the annual rainfall averages 26 inches. McAllen is very proud of its arts and promotion of local artists. It embraces its diversity and celebrates it in many ways. Anyone moving to McAllen will find a city that is working hard to make it a wonderful place for every citizen.
The median family income in McAllen is slightly lower than that of the state average. The cost of living in McAllen is quite a bit lower than the national average. The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, currently at only 7.6 percent. Due to the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, trade, tourism and retail has increased tremendously in McAllen. Due to the fact that Reynosa, Mexico is only four miles away, many companies have moved to McAllen to do business with Mexico, and many Mexican Nationals cross the border to shop and eat in McAllen. Payscale.com named McAllen fourth on a list of the top ten cities in the nation for having the best available jobs.
The area around McAllen had been settled by the Spanish on both sides of the Rio Grande River. In 1797, a ranch was started at the site of McAllen by Jose Manuel Gomez. His great-granddaughter Salome inherited the ranch and land in the early 1800s, and she married a Texas businessman, John Young. Young died in 1859, and Salome married John McAllen in 1861, the ranch and surrounding area became known as the McAllen Ranch. In 1904, the railroad arrived. The end of that year, the township was established and named after McAllen. That, coupled with an irrigation canal that was completed in 1908 helped the small community to grow. In 1911, the town was incorporated. The discovery of oil in the Reynosa, Mexico area created a rush of people from the interior of Mexico to work in Reynosa and this greatly increased the retail and tourism businesses in McAllen. During the 1980s, McAllen's designation as a Foreign Trade Zone made it the third largest ports-of-entry from Mexico to the states.
McAllen is one of the country's premiere places for bird watching. It is on the migratory routes for many endangered and rare birds. There are several sites for bird watching in McAllen, but the foremost one is Quinta Mazatlan, a 1930s country estate featuring an adobe hacienda. There are numerous art galleries there, and there is an art walk on the first Friday of every month from September until May. In April there is the Vida Verde Festival which is a celebration of nature. In October, the PalmFest International Folklife Celebration is dedicated to culture, music and local cuisine. Plus, there are many historical buildings, museums and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.