The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Following our intuition took us halfway across the country and brought us to our new home, San Antone. Moving to Texas was not in our original plan. We were supposed to be in Puerto Rico in our beautiful beach house with a patio, hammocks, drinks … OK, I won’t complain. Let me tell you why we’re glad we listened to our intuition.  

We’re from a town called Rockville, Maryland, where Nicole was a Spanish teacher and I owned an entertainment business. We both had side hustles to keep up but realized we were missing out on what mattered most: family. So I started working from home to save on daycare and she went part-time. Still, something was off. We listened to our guts and felt a deep family experience was missing. So in mid-June 2019, we sold our house, along with all of our things, and planned to move to Puerto Rico by September.

But first, a road trip to see family in Florida and Texas.

By the time we got to Texas in early August, Puerto Rico was less of a reality and more of a dream due to factors out of our control. We looked inward, listened to our guts again, and decided to turn our little family into full-blown Texans. During our time visiting friends in Austin, this idea didn’t go so well. It reminded us too much of D.C. But it was a two-week trip down to San Antonio that changed everything, for all of us, forever.

Our visit to San Antonio turned into an indefinite stay. By early September, we were living at our friend’s house and had enrolled our kids in school. We explored the city and found one thing after another we loved. The Missions, the Pearl, the River Walk — not to mention all of the delicious places to eat. But it was the people that solidified our plans of making San Antonio home.

It might not be Puerto Rico, with the pristine beaches and reggaeton music blasting from car stereos, but we discovered the stunning beauty of the Texas Hill Country and an appreciation for cumbia and country music.

Angel Santiago and Nicole Santiago pick out some of their favorite sweet treats at Texas Grounds cafe in Helotes Wednesday.
Angel and Nicole Santiago pick out some of their favorite sweet treats at Texas Grounds Coffee Co. in Helotes. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

On Halloween 2019, the Santiagos moved into their new River City home in a quiet neighborhood on the Northwest Side. We call this home our Covid House, as within six months we were all quarantined and making use of every foot of this house. But after two years we realized our kids needed a family community with kids riding bikes and playing in the streets. We weren’t sure if that still existed and struggled to find anything until we visited The Enclave at Laurel Canyon in Helotes. 

Turning into The Enclave, you instantly feel the small-town charm Helotes offers. From the oversized central park and pool surrounded by mature trees to the kids riding bikes (they still do this!) and the wide and clean streets dotted with beautifully manicured homes, this secluded Hill Country neighborhood was exactly what we deserved.

Angel Santiago and Nicole Santiago enjoy lavender lattes at Texas Grounds cafe in Old Town Helotes Wednesday.
Angel and Nicole Santiago enjoy lavender lattes at Texas Grounds Coffee Co. in Old Town Helotes. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Over the last year, days have been filled watching the kids play in the streets with our friendly neighbors, sometimes with a beer in hand, and no worries in the world (except for the occasional passing car). We also love hanging in Old Town Helotes from time to time, which is super cute. Nothing like enjoying a fresh cup of coffee from Texas Grounds while antiquing. 

Not sure how long it takes to officially be considered Texans, but I think we’re there, y’all! Nicole started her own educational therapy business helping families navigate their educational journey through executive functioning. Her business was recently awarded a contract to work with North East Independent School District schools and families. I’m involved in the local foodie scene as a Yelp Elite, working with eateries on events and promotions. I highly recommend El Chaparral, Casa Pasta, and B-Daddy’s BBQ when dining in Helotes.

My youngest children attend Great Heart Invictus and my eldest is a sophomore at O’Connor High School. With summer trips planned to Corpus Christi, South Padre Island, and tubing all of the nearby rivers with a little barbecue along the way, pretty sure we can’t get more Texan than that! We’re living a life that makes us stop and count our Texas blessings.