Boca Chica beach facing the Gulf of Mexico in southern Texas on the border with Mexico
Northern Exposure by JR/Shutterstock.com
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Is Texas East Coast or West Coast?

By Sasha Yanshin | Updated on 12 December 2019

The debate of East Coast vs West Coast will never end as people compare the music, food, cities, weather, way of life and even accents between the two sides to the United States. Texas is a large state and has coastline so is it East Coast or West Coast?

Texas is neither West Coast nor East Coast – the U.S. Census Bureau places it in the South Region and it is in the Central timezone. Geographically, it can be argued to be East Coast due to its Gulf of Mexico coastline, but culturally it is much closer to the West Coast.

To find out exactly what makes Texas East Coast, West Coast or neither, we'll have to dive into the details.

Is Texas on the East Coast geographically?

Proponents of Texas being an East Coast state will usually go for the Geography argument as the main argument for which coast Texas should belong to.

Texas is a huge state and has a long coastline that runs all the way from Louisiana to the east to the border with Mexico in the south. There's amazing beaches, long National and State parks along the barrier islands and major cities like Galvestson and Corpus Christi along this coast.

The Gulf of Mexico is technically classified as a ocean basin and a sea of the Atlantic ocean which is the ocean sitting along the east coast of the United States, separating it from Europe and Africa.

Map of Texas showing the Gulf of Mexico coastline and position relative to neighbor states
Texas has a long coastline in the Gulf of Mexico that links to the Atlantic.
Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com

This, some people would say, is irrefutable proof of the fact that Texas is in fact an East Coast State. The state has a coast and it faces east, sharing the same ocean as other east coast states.

Another popular geographical argument that frequently comes up is that Texas is east of the Continental Divide, thereby placing it in the eastern part of the country. Whether you believe that to be a valid way of splitting up the states into East and West Coasts is up to you!

How are East Coast and West Coast actually defined?

If Geography was the only definitive way to determine things like East Coast and West Coast definitions, this question would have a very short and simple answer.

The good news is, the definition of East and West Coast is usually a fair bit more complicated depending on what you use as the basis for making that determination.

Wikipedia, Cambridge Dictionary and even the most upvoted answer on the Urban Dictionary website all agree that the East Coast definition covers the Eastern Seabord states from Maine to Florida only. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, which all have coastlines along the Gulf are not included.

At the same time, the definitions of the West Coast by all of the above agree to include only California, Oregon and Washington State.

It might now sound like the issue is resolved and clearly Texas is neither West Coast, nor East Coast if you use the dictionary definitions of what the two terms actually mean and which states they include.

But then again, ask someone from Vermont, West Virginia or the District of Columbia whether they consider themselves to be East Coast and you can see how the technical definition can get murky. By the same token, Nevada and Arizona are definitely not West Coast.

Less strict definitions of the coasts focus on the industry, culture, food, climate and even the style of rap music so could thees shed a bit more light on whether Texas is part of either of the two Coasts?

American and Texas State flags flying at the Texas State Capitol building in Austin
The Texas State Capitol in Austin is almost halfway between the East Coast and West Coast.
CrackerClips Stock Media

Is Texas actually more West Coast than East Coast?

If you start with food, then Texas continues feeling distinctly East Coast. The famous Texas barbecue comes in different styles and flavors and BBQ is a Deep South culinary tradition with the Carolinas arguably the original and most famous states for their unique ways of grilling meat.

In this sense, Texas is very much an East Coast state.

But then consider things like the climate, way of life, music and even industry and you may just change your mind.

East Coast states in New England and all the way down to Virginia have strong seasonal climates with hot summers and freezing cold snowy winters. Sure, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida are exceptions, but that's the overall East Coast feel.

West Coast is famous for t-shirt weather all year round with occasional drizzle marking the arrival of winter. A glass of wine on the veranda in your shorts is how you spend a February weekend in San Diego.

In this respect, Texas feels a lot more West Coast than East Coast. There might be a day or two in the entire year when you hit freezing temperatures and it might feel icy, but generally the weather ranges from warm and pleasant through to mighty hot which aligns it a lot more with states to its west rather than east.

In recent years Texas has become a hub for tech companies and innovation centers. Austin is the fastest growing city in the country, fueled by huge investment in the tech sector and underpinned by its large university population.

Some of the biggest tech companies in the world including Rackspace, HostGator and HomeAway have recently grown in Texas and giants such as Google and Microsoft have expanded their presence in Austin's Silicon Hills and other cities across the state.

With the East Coast being known for its finance and bricks and mortar industries and Silicon Valley, Seattle and Los Angeles pioneering technology, Texas feels a lot more West Coast than East Coast when you look at it this way too.

How Texas is neither West Coast nor East Coast

It may be a good conversation among friends or you might find yourself genuinely trying to figure out whether Texas is an East Coast or West Coast state.

However, just take a look at the map of the United States and find the huge state of Texas slat bang in the middle, in the south of the country. Does every state have to be part of either the East or West Coast? If so, where does Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas fit in?

Most will agree that there is a large number of states in the central part of the USA that are neither East Coast nor West Coast. Whether you look at culture, geography or any other measure, the United States is such a vast and rich country, you don't have to pigeon hole every part into one of just two camps.

Country and Blues music dominate in Texas, so the distinction between rap styles and cultures doesn't apply.

In fact, Texas don't see themselves as part of any kind of group of states. The Lone Star State moniker is no accident and Texas has long toyed with the idea of going at it alone outside of the union, although this train of thought never gets substantial public support.

If you're trying to figure out whether Texas is East Coast or West Coast, perhaps the correct answer is that Texas is neither and is actually part of a one state member club called Texas Coast.