My journey to San Antonio began in 2009 when I made my first big career decision: to move here for a job opportunity. I was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley and, though San Antonio wasn’t too far, it felt like foreign territory to me.

My work site was right smack in the middle of downtown San Antonio, but all apartments in the area were well beyond my price range. So I spent a whole week visiting apartments all over San Antonio until I found a good fit on the South Side.  

The apartment manager was my age, also a single parent, and gave me some great resources and recommendations for daycare for my boys. I hadn’t felt that type of friendliness in any of the other apartment complexes I had visited. The feeling I had while driving along Military Road reminded me a lot of my hometown in the RGV. I saw many Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, taco trucks, H-E-Bs with Mexican food, and I knew this was the area where I wanted to start my new life with my two boys. When I got a call that two daycare slots opened up for my boys in the area, I took it as another sign that I was meant to be here. 

And I honestly would not live anywhere else. I love the culture and strong sense of community here. I connected well with neighbors in that first apartment and later in our South Southwest home. It was amazing for a family just starting out in a new city to have the kind of support we received from our community from the beginning. One neighbor would even help put my trash can out when I would forget to do it on my way to work. 

From Southtown to South San Antonio, you can find several great restaurants, bars, billiards, shopping, art murals, community events and local artists. This is the reason I try to highlight a lot of South Side’s food scene on social media. I want to highlight the hidden gems of this community and help spread the word about the amazing businesses we have on this side of town. 

With so many taco stands and food trucks offering delicious food from different Latino cultures, there’s something to satisfy any craving. Plus, the famous paleteros who pass by our house every other day carry all the snacks we love, from hot Cheetos with cheese to raspas.

Driving down Commercial Avenue and Pleasanton Road you have a pick of all types of mechanics with different expertise. In fact, I don’t think I’ve known anyone that hasn’t taken their vehicle to a mechanic or tire shop somewhere on the South Side. We also have cheaper gas prices most of the time.

The best part of living here, though, is seeing my children grow up with some great teachers, some great coaches, and some great friends. I also love that they get to practice a bit of their Spanish with people at restaurants or corner stores. When we first moved here, it gave me comfort to know that my children were going to grow up in a diverse educational system, with a community that is proud and full of life. 

From left to right: Jude Leal, 11, Evan Garza, 17 ,Rocco Garza, 16, Angela Bazaldua, and Felipe Leal Bazaldua, enjoy hanging out in their backyard on the South side Tuesday.
From left to right: Jude Leal, 11, Evan Garza, 17 ,Rocco Garza, 16, Angela Bazaldua, and Felipe Leal Bazaldua, enjoy hanging out in their backyard on the South Side. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

When I found out about the spontaneous parades that happen down Military Road after a Spurs win, I thought I had met my partying people! Then you have the Frontier Bowl and other neighborhood block parties that bring people together. There really has never been a dull moment moving to San Antonio. 

Despite all there is to love about the South Side, there are certainly challenges as well. The socioeconomic struggles are evident here, and the infrastructure does need more attention from the city. Here, like in much of San Antonio, you’ll notice a big need for bike lanes and sidewalks to make neighborhoods and businesses accessible.

Even with the infrastructure limitations, our community makes the most of what we have. If you go to any one of the local parks, you’ll see people having parties, playing sports, and kids just being kids. You’ll see people walking down the streets, using public transportation and supporting one another’s businesses. That’s why when people ask me where in San Antonio I would recommend for them to live, I always recommend the South Side.