People are moving to Austin, Texas, for many reasons: the glorious weather, the warmth and friendliness of the people, the promising job market and the one-of-a-kind culture. You can’t go wrong with planting roots in the live music capital of the world.
On average, around 100 people move to Austin every day—and for good reason. Centered in the heart of Texas, the city has recently transformed from a sleepy college town to one of the largest, most vibrant cities in the U.S. Austin was even ranked as the number one best place to live on U.S. News’ Best Places to Live in the USA list.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re relocating for a career or family, or you simply want to experience Austin’s creativity and coolness for yourself, the capital city is waiting for you. Here’s everything you need to know about moving to Austin, TX.
Moving to Austin, TX: The Basics
Austin is the third-largest city in the United States and the third largest state capital. It’s no secret that Austin is a great place to be. More people are moving here every day, and that growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. It’s been projected that the area could grow by more than 80 percent by 2030.
Here’s what you can expect in the ATX:
Population: 2.25 million
Average age: 37.4
Average home price: $407,400
Average rent: $1,174
Average salary: $59,136
According to a RedFin survey, Austin is one of many inland metro areas that have experienced a population boom. RedFin found that people in high-tax coastal cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, are the ones searching for homes in cheaper areas. In fact, the top five cities people are moving from include:
What’s the weather like in Austin?
The weather in Austin is beautiful, but the heat definitely takes some getting used to. The warmest days occur in August, when temperatures average around 98°F. It’s not unheard of for temperatures to rise well above 100°F, with the city’s hottest day on record reaching 112°F.
Throughout the year, the metro area experiences fairly mild weather. However, to survive the city’s blasing-hot summers, you’ll need air conditioning and a map of all the best simming holes and spring-fed pools in the Austin area.
Here’s what you can expect year-round from the weather in Austin:
- Winter: Average temperatures hover around 50°F in the winter, with highs nearing the 60s and 70s. While some nights can dip to 40°F, you’ll rarely have to reach for your parka and snow boots. Austin normally averages just one snow flurry per year when the temperature drops to below freezing.
- Spring: Springtime in Austin is warm, mild and enjoyable. Temperatures average around 67°F, with highs nearing the 80s.
- Summer: Austin summers can be brutal, with lows reaching 70°F and highs nearing 100°F. The key is to seek shade, find a pool and invest in air conditioning. With seven months of the year seeing temperatures of at least 80°F, it will definitely pay off in the long run!
- Fall: Similar to spring, the fall season in Austin averages around 68°F. Lows range anywhere from 50°F to 65°F, and while high temperatures are warm, they still don’t compare to the scorching heat during summer.
Understanding Austin’s Neighborhoods
Regardless of what you’re looking for in a home, there is a perfect neighborhood for everyone looking to move to Austin. Every neighborhood has its specific charms; it comes down to interests, price, amenities and commuting distance.
Here’s what you need to know about Austin’s main neighborhoods.
The heart of Austin beats in the Downtown area. If you’re someone who loves dining, live music and elegant condo living, Downtown is the place for you. While it comes with a hefty price tag, the downtown area is the cultural epicenter of it all. Here you’ll find a plethora of well-known restaurants, buzzworthy bars on Rainey Street and beyond, the Red River Cultural District, bustling Sixth Street and tons of apartments and condos to choose from.
Running through the heart of the city is Lady Bird Lake, which offers plenty of activities in the form of canoes, paddle boats and over 10 miles of hike-and-bike trails and lovely views. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, a live music fanatic or someone who appreciates an urban stroll, you’ll love being able to call downtown Austin home.
Average Rent in Downtown Austin: $2,300
North Austin is a great choice for those looking to be out of the suburbs, but who still prefer proximity to the downtown area. Residents can still reap the benefits of the downtown vibe without the high costs.
If you’re relocating to Austin, you’ll want to get familiar with the most popular spots in the North Austin area such as North Loop and Anderson Lane. Here you’ll find strips of brightly colored buildings, award-winning breweries, restaurants, bars and vintage shops with locally sourced goods. Step into Room Service Vintage for funky home decor, relax with a good book at Cherrywood Coffeehouse, and enjoy a late-night live blues performance at the legendary Skylark lounge.
Idyllic homes range from single-story houses to modern apartment complexes within walking distance of plenty of fun activities and entertainment. This area is relatively affordable (for Austin!) which makes it such a desirable place to live.
Average Rent in North Austin: $1,500
Over the last decade, East Austin has rapidly transformed into one of the city’s trendiest, most diverse neighborhoods. As one of the fastest-growing areas in Austin, the eclectic East Side offers a balance of culture and rich history mixed with new, vibrant bars, eateries and shops.
East 6th Street is bursting with personality and flavor: Try the famous Don Juan taco at Juan in a Million, go two-stepping at The White Horse (a hipster honky-tonk), sip mezcal cocktails at Whisler’s, and check out the exciting collection of art galleries and studios, like Canopy and grayDUCK.
East Austin is where you’ll find hipster urban development at its finest. For those who appreciate walkability, food trucks and endless coffee shops and bars, it’s the perfect place to settle down.
The area is still up-and-coming, although rent has skyrocketed-now is the time to search for homes before it becomes more expensive. The further north and east you travel, the more family-friendly the area becomes. East Austin also boasts proximity to downtown and major highways, including I-35.
Average Rent in East Austin: $1,700
South Austin is a veritable melting pot of old-school Austin and new, trendy establishments, with a family-friendly atmosphere and numerous places to explore. While the roads are fairly narrow and congested most of the time, you’ll never run out of fun things to do in South Austin.
South Congress (SoCo) is a popular strip of restaurants, music, entertainment and shopping. This is where Austinites take out-of-towners, to try on cowboy boots at Allen’s Boots, shop for Mexican folk art, chow down on tacos at Guero’s, and get super-charged on iced turbos at Jo’s Coffee. You’ll also find that locals in this area tend to stay south of Lady Bird Lake, which draws a boundary between North and South Austin.
South Austin has recently seen tremendous growth while being able to keep its “Keep Austin Weird” feel. This area of Austin is where people from all around the globe prefer to live. Home and apartment prices in this area are on the expensive end, but prices will become more affordable as you travel south.
Average Rent in South Austin: $1,300
If you prefer to live in the picturesque countryside with gorgeous rolling hills, West Austin is definitely the neighborhood for you. If you drive down loop 360, you’ll experience more of Austin’s natural, lush beauty as opposed to skyscrapers and bumper-to-bumper traffic. This wealthy and reputable area offers breathtaking views, great schools, golf courses and plenty of residential developments. Homes range from beautiful Victorians to rolling estates.
West Austin is also home to two different lakes, Lake Travis and Lake Austin, which bring in more expensive real estate for buyers versus renters. West Austin is popular among families who prefer to be by the lake, and it’s a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Average Rent in West Austin: $2,200
Cost of Living in Austin, TX
Austin is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. With tons of local attractions and a great economy, the city is bringing in new residents by the thousands. The rising population has caused issues for home buyers, however, with housing prices rising well above the national average.
“Austin has a rep of just being so expensive,” notes local photographer Hunter Lawrence. “You can get pretty discouraged looking at the market here sometimes. But even if moving to Austin seems intimidating from afar, the reality is that it’s so much more approachable once you’re in it.”
While Austin rent may be the highest in Texas, it’s slightly more affordable when compared to the national average. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin runs around $1,165 and a two-bedroom runs for around $1,716. Cost is nowhere near as cringe-worthy as San Francisco or New York, where one-bedroom apartments can run as high as $3,200. When looking for a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home in Austin, you’ll want to stick to your budget. On the plus side, Austinites also have low state and local tax rates.
Here are some average costs you can anticipate after moving to Austin:
- Bread: $3.23
- Dozen eggs: $1.78
- Gallon of milk: $1.82
- Gallon of gas: $1.80
- Lunch: $15
- Public transportation pass: $60
- Movie ticket: $12
Employment in Austin, TX
Let’s face it: People want to plant roots in Austin. Combine the city’s cutting-edge restaurants, bars and music scene with its warm, temperate climate, plentiful urban nature and booming tech communities and you can see why so many people move here each year.
In fact, Austin is now mainly known for being a tech hub. Due to the large number of tech companies in the area, it’s referred to as “Silicon Hills.” The technology companies in Austin account for the majority of tech-related revenue in the entire state of Texas, behind the DFW area.
Tech companies that have set up shop in the Austin area include:
- Cisco Systems
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly wages in the Austin area are around $1,116, while average weekly wages in the U.S. are around $1,021. While Austin comes with a reputation for being expensive, the area offers a fairly low cost of living and fantastic employment opportunities.
“Austin’s enormous population growth continues to be driven mainly by in-migrating households drawn here by sustained, robust job creation and a high quality of life,” Austin demographer Ryan Robinson told bizjournals.com. “I keep looking for the crest of this huge wave of growth we’re riding, and I just don’t see it yet, especially in light of this new data which strongly suggests we are still Boomtown, USA.”
Austin also offers diverse employment opportunities for more than just tech. Other major sectors include health care, education, entertainment, business and government. Nearly 10 percent of the population works in engineering and tech, which is twice as high as the national average.
Getting Around Austin, TX
Whether you’re commuting to work, sightseeing or enjoying a night on the town, there are plenty of methods of transportation for getting around Austin. Austinites love to travel by car (State Highway 130 offers roads up to 85 mph!), but if you don’t have a vehicle, there are several other ways to get where you’re going.
- Capital Metro: Austin’s public transit system is the easiest way to explore downtown and the greater Austin area. It operates more than 80 bus routes and a 32-mile rail line, and single rides start at $1.25.
- MetroRail: MetroRail is a 26-mile line that runs between Leander and Downtown Austin during the week, and from Lakeline to Downtown on Saturdays. It offers comfortable and reliable service and costs $3.50 per ride.
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: If you need to fly to or from Austin, the airport is just a few miles from downtown and has over 500 daily flights.
- Ridesharing: Uber and Lyft are both popular in the Austin area, as is the local rideshare app, RideAustin. RideAustin is a community-based, nonprofit organization serving Greater Austin. Riders download the app and pay 99 cents per mile; they can then choose between SUV, premium and luxury rates.
- Biking: Downtown Austin also heavily promotes biking. Austin BCycle offers kiosks throughout the downtown area that can be accessed through memberships. There are several membership options, including Pay-as-you-ride, Explorer, the ACL Pass, and the Local365 Pass.
- Micro mobility: Micro mobility refers to skateboards, scooters and other compact devices designed for personal mobility, of which there are a few options in Austin. Bird, JUMP, Lime, Lyft, OjO, Spin and VeoRide offer scooters and e-bikes for rent.
When it comes to getting around Austin, here’s our tip: Map out your commutes. Traffic isn’t as bad as major cities like New York or Los Angeles, but it can still be chaotic. Since the city has a very limited public transportation system and most people seem to prefer to drive themselves, it helps to map out your commute ahead of time, to ensure a timely arrival.
Buying a Home in Austin
With a median home price of $407,400, Austin real estate isn’t cheap, though when compared to major hubs for tech and business elsewhere in the country (like New York City, San Francisco and Seattle), it does look downright affordable. While the cost of living in Austin is three percent lower than the national average, some areas can still be much more expensive than others. That’s why it’s important to consider all factors before purchasing a house. Some of those factors include:
- Size. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How much living space is ideal for you and your family? Costs can vary significantly. Since you want to eventually increase profit (especially in a hot real estate market), consider this before viewing any homes that are available.
- Neighborhood. With different vibes, communities and costs, it’s important to understand the different neighborhoods in Austin before buying a home. Which would be the best fit for you and your family? As you begin the house-hunting process, speak with professionals in the area who can help steer you in the right direction based on your specific situation.
- Distance. The average commute in Austin is just under a half-hour. How far will you be traveling for work, school and other activities? It might save you money to have a longer commute, but it might also be more of a hassle to have to travel further every day. Narrow your home search by what you feel is most efficient (and comfortable) for you.
If you haven’t jumped into the world of homeownership, you might be better off buying one sooner than later. Given Austin’s tight seller’s market (and that Austin’s population could double over the next ten years), buying now could be a wise investment in the future.
If you’re wondering if a particular neighborhood is right for you, try speaking with the community’s residents. Stop at local parks, playgrounds and popular spots to ask whether your potential neighbors are happy there. Taking extra measures to explore the pros and cons of Austin neighborhoods could help immensely in finding your new home.
Education in Austin
Austin is an educated town with plenty of diverse options, including 29 public school districts, 27 charter school districts and over 100 private schools. In addition, the city is home to the University of Texas and 26 other public and private universities and colleges.
Recreation Options in Austin
People in Austin love to eat, drink, see live music and be outside. Knowing where all the hottest foodie spots, bars, concert venues and hiking trails are is a way of life here. On any given day in the city, you’ll see hordes of people swimming laps in Barton Springs Pool, trail-running on the Greenbelt, sipping local brews on patios and splurging on fine cuisine (and eating all the tacos), everywhere you look.
Planning on moving to Austin, TX?
Whatever your reason may be for relocating to Austin, the moving process can be a seriously stressful experience. If you need assistance during your move, Life Storage offers various self storage in Austin, along with moving truck rental for your convenience.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 11, 2017, and was revised on October 29, 2019, with new information from Austin expert, Justine Harrington.