- Strong Job Market
- Great Live Music Scene
- Amazing Food Scene
- No State Income Tax
- Southern Charm
1. Strong Job Market
One of the best things about living in Austin is the strong job market. Over the past ten years, Austin has become a major tech hub and has the second-hottest job market in the US, after Nashville, Tennessee. Beyond tech, residents will also find employment in manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, data management, media, and other competitive industries. The Austin metro area job market is also expected to see a 26% increase between 2020 and 2030, which means an additional 180,000 jobs. Residents can find employment at major companies like Tesla, Apple, IBM, Dell, and Samsung, as well as Ascension Seton Healthcare, the City of Austin, or the University of Texas at Austin. So regardless of your professional background, you’ll find plenty of opportunities in Austin.
2. Great Live Music Scene
Austin is also famous for its live music scene, and you can see performances from amazing local musicians and notable acts nearly every night of the week. Top venues for seeing live music include the Continental Club, Stubbs BBQ, Antone’s, and Cheer Up Charlies. There are more than 250 live music venues in the city of Austin, earning it the nickname the Live Music Capital of the World. If you aren’t sure where to go, just take a stroll down South Congress Avenue, and you’re sure to hear live music coming from one of the many venues in the area. Sixth Street is also a major hub of nightlife, and you’ll find plenty of bars and clubs with live musicians.
3. Amazing Food Scene
Another fantastic cultural benefit of living in Austin is the food. Austin is famous for its BBQ and Tex-Mex, although you’ll find cuisine from various cultures ranging from Asian to New American. It’s also well known for its food trucks, and you’ll find several laidback venues offering outdoor dining with causal bites and craft beers. Franklin BBQ is a local favorite, serving pulled pork, brisket, and other smoked meats. Matt’s El-Rancho is another popular spot serving authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. For food trucks, you can head down to the East Side Food Park or the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery to sample anything from Crepes to Thai food.
4. No State Income Tax
The low taxes are another major benefit of living in Austin that attracts residents fleeing from coastal cities like New York and California. It also has a low sales tax, which helps balance the relatively high property taxes. The sales tax in Austin is 8.25%, which includes a 6.25% state tax, 1% city tax, and 1% metro transit authority tax. Property taxes vary depending on where you live, but neighborhoods like Cedar Park, South Austin, and Sunset Valley tend to have the lowest rates. The low taxes and business-friendly environment are what have attracted so many new companies, especially startups, which helps support a strong job market. So, if you’re looking for affordable taxes and easy access to employment opportunities, Austin is a wise choice.
5. Southern Charm
Austin is well known for its friendly neighbors and inviting community. It has an undeniable southern charm and a laidback lifestyle that offers a smart alternative to fast-paced cities like New York and LA. National Geographic named the Austin-Round Rock metro area as one of the happiest places in the country based on a Gallup poll featuring questions about financial, physical, and mental well-being. Although the recent influx of new residents has some Austin natives slightly annoyed, overall, it’s still a happy welcoming city with a unique magic that offers balance and a relaxed pace of life.
- Rapid Population Growth
- Lack of Public Transportation
- Brutally Hot Summers
- Lack of Diversity
- Rising Cost of Living
1. Rapid Population Growth
One of the major drawbacks of living in Austin is that everyone wants to move there. The city of Austin saw a 33% increase in population between 2010 and 2010, and it’s estimated that it’s even grown by over 2% in 2023 alone. Although population growth is healthy for the city, it has negatively affected some residents due to overcrowding in popular areas and skyrocketing property values. Some native Austinites are biased against out-of-towners flocking to the city and making things more expensive. So, if you plan on joining that wave of transplants, you may get a few dirty looks from locals.
2. Lack of Public Transportation
For a major metropolitan area, Austin could have a better public transportation system, and it remains a car-centric culture. Its Capital Metro system includes buses and a rail line, but many residents report it’s slow and inefficient. Most Austin residents will need a car to travel around the city regularly, which has led to a traffic problem, especially with the uptick of new residents. The traffic in Austin is ranked among the worst in the country, up there with cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. So, if you plan on driving to work, leave a few minutes early to account for the traffic.
3. Brutally Hot Summers
Although the weather in Austin is pleasant throughout most of the year, it can sometimes get brutal, especially in the summer. It’s known for its hot, oppressive summers, and it can routinely get over 100°F with intense humidity. For those not used to the heat, June through August can be unbearable, especially for newcomers who are more accustomed to the coast. However, the winters are typically short and mild and rarely get below 40°F. But you don’t get as many distinct seasons as in other parts of the country, as the winters are brief, and the spring and fall tend to feel similar. But some residents may see the lack of winter as a positive, and when it’s not rainy or oppressively hot, the weather in Austin is typically mild. So, if you can cope with the humidity and intense summer heat, Austin is still a pleasant place to live.
4. Lack of Diversity
Austin is also known for being one of the least diverse cities in the US. The population of Austin is 66% white and doesn’t offer the same cultural diversity many people expect when visiting a metropolitan city. Although there is some Latino and Asian influence, Austin’s core identity remains somewhat culturally homogenous. That’s beginning to change as more diverse communities relocate to the city. But you won’t find the same variety of ethnic enclaves and unique food options as in cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami. The good news is that it’s beginning to change and become more of a melting-pot culture. However, the recent wave of gentrification may work against that trend, especially as the cost-of-living increases.
5. Rising Cost of Living
Many residents have fled to Austin in search of affordable living, but the sudden influx of new residents has increased the overall cost of living. The cost of living in Austin increased by 17.2% between 2010 and 2020, and that trend has only been exacerbated by its sudden population growth. Housing also increased by 20.7%, while utilities increased by 13.4%. However, there are signs that prices are beginning to cool down. Austin home prices are down by 16.3% since last year. However, values are still up considerably from pre-pandemic levels, and it’s the 5th most expensive city in the US for renters. Due to its lack of state income tax, it’s still more affordable than many major cities, and its high wages help offset some of the additional costs. But if you are moving to Austin to save money, you’ll want to consider these rising costs.
Austin is a great place to live because it offers a growing economy, authentic culture, and distinct charm. It attracts residents from all over the country who are tired of the overcrowding and expensive taxes in coastal cities and want a change of pace.
You should consider moving to Austin if you’re looking for a calm pace of life with easy access to entertainment and employment opportunities. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States for a reason and offers a more affordable alternative to the traditional urban experience. However, the population growth is beginning to shift the city’s character, so if you plan on moving to Austin, don’t expect to have it all to yourself.