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Cost of Living in Austin, TX 2021

By: Emily Kho
June 4, 2021

It’s no secret that Austin is a booming city known for its incredible live music venues and outstanding food. Austin is a city for everyone, with a blend of unique,collaborative tech culture and outdoorsy types who enjoy the city’s parks, river access, hiking, and biking. Of course, you can’t forget about the Congress Bridge Bats, the largest urban bat colony in the country, consisting of somewhere around 1.5 million winged creatures.

The city is so widely known for its quirky and fascinating qualities, which is why the city’s slogan has been “Keep Austin Weird” for the last twenty years. According to US News & World Report, this weirdness presents itself in charm, as Austin was recently ranked the No. 1 Best Place to Live, according to US News & World Report.

Whether you’re looking to move to Austin to be a part of the tech scene, enjoy nature, or some combination of both, you’ll want to get a good idea of what the costs will look like. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Austin to better understand how much you need to live there.

Austin Housing Costs

Across the nation, many cities have experienced significant drops in rent prices as a direct result of the pandemic. As things begin reopening, we will start to see increases once again, with Austin the following suit. According to the latest Rent Report on Austin, the median rent index is $1,267 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,548 for a two-bedroom.

Rent prices took a significant hit, decreasing steadily from April 2020 through the end of the year. At the start of the new year, though, rates began taking a notable turn and continue to trend in that direction. Overall, the city's year-over-year rent growth still falls slightly below the state average of 1.7%. At 1.5%, Austin falls below the national average of 2.3% by -0.8%.

Austin is comparable to another tech hub, Denver, Colorado, with slightly less expensive housing costs. Denver’s median rent index is $1,308 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,603 for a two-bedroom. Another famous tech city is Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is even more expensive than Austin and Denver. Cambridge's median rent index is $2,042 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,458 for a two-bedroom.

The Austin housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $521,833. These prices fall just between competing areas like Denver, with a median price index of $517,766, and Cambridge at $915,209.

For more information on the average rent in Austin, read our blog.

Austin Transportation

Austin’s official public transportation operator is the Capital Metro Bus System, which covers 535-square miles in its service area. Capital Metro Bus System, or CapMetro, spans across 1,600 bus stops with 82 routes throughout Central Texas.

Tickets for CapMetro, including MetroRapid limited-stop, MetroFlyer, MetroExpress, and University of Texas Shuttle routes, can be purchased individually at $2.50 for day passes and $7 for commuter services. You can buy local day passes, or commuter passes online.

In addition to the CapMetro, Austin also offers a MetroRail, which crosses a 32-mile line from Leander to the Convention Center near downtown Austin. MetroRail operates every day except Sundays from 7 am until 1:30 or 2:30 am. You can also purchase tickets for the MetroRail online, which run $7 per day pass.

While public transportation in Austin is highly dependable, other modes of transportation are available, such as ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Additional transportation methods include taxis, car rentals, and chauffeur services, although these tend to be costly in comparison.

If you're a single adult with no children, you'll spend about $5,113 for transportation in Austin over a year. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $13,896 for transportation in one year. Gasoline prices are around $2.09 per gallon, significantly lower than the national average of $3.04.

Austin Food Costs

Austin offers countless dining options, from hip gastropubs to family-friendly spots and upscale restaurants. Eating out in Austin will cost an average of $15 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will run $50 without alcohol or dessert.

If you're a single adult without children, you can expect to pay at least $3,177 on food per year. If you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $9,305 per year for food.

You can anticipate around the national average or slightly below for food items regarding grocery market pricing. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $3.13 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.58.

Austin Healthcare Costs

When planning your budget in Austin, you will also want to account for proper medical care. A single adult without children will pay around $2,760 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $8,694.

Austin Utilities

While winters in Austin remain temperate for the most part, the coldest days of the year falling in January with an average overnight temperature of 40°, summers are known for being very hot and humid. August is the hottest month, where the average daytime high is typically 95.6°.

To combat the warmer, humid months of the year, you'll need to account for higher utilities in the summer. Austin’s basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $142.75 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment.

Adding on the Internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $62.11 for a total of $204.86 each month.

You can find out more information about how much utilities will cost in an apartment before you move.

Austin Fitness and Entertainment

If you plan to keep fit, you’ll want to consider club membership costs. The monthly fee for a fitness club membership for one adult is $39.73.

Otherwise, when weather permits, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of Austin outdoors. Enjoy hiking trails across the city like Lady Bird Lake Trail, Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, or Twin Falls.

There is plenty of entertainment throughout the city, and a seat at the local cinema will cost you $12 without snacks or drinks. You can also save a few bucks by checking out one of the seven public parks in Austin, including Mueller Lake Park, Mayfield Park, Nature Preserve, or Zilker Metropolitan Park.

Other Expenses to Consider in Austin

Texas is known for being a tax-friendly state because it does not collect any income tax. Homebuyers also benefit further as the state does not have property taxes.

Unfortunately for renters, Austin tax is higher than the national average of 7.12%. Austin’s sales tax is currently 8.25%, which combines the state, county, and city rates.

Aside from taxes, anyone moving out of state will need to consider costs associated with cross-country movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. These moves also often require additional fees such as apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons.

Furnishing your home is another considerable expense, which can add up quickly. Thankfully, you can easily find tips and tricks on decorating your apartment on a budget.

Your recommended salary in Austin depends entirely on the type of lifestyle you plan to lead. The living wage in Austin is $13.63 per hour, which is the basic wage needed to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities. Keep in mind that a living wage does not account for any extra costs like dining and entertainment.

The average salary index in Austin is $72,000 per year, which is roughly $19.43 per hour.

Remember that living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different things. To determine your recommended salary, you can follow the 30% rule for rent.

You should not be spending more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent according to the 30% rule. For example, if your rent is close to the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin and costs $1,300, according to the 30% rule, your monthly wages should be at least $3,900 a month, or an annual salary of $46,800.

This recommended salary is for a very basic lifestyle while in Austin. Suppose you know that you will have many additional living costs, including dining, entertainment, etc. In that case, you’ll need to anticipate these needs and search for a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or in a perfect world, both.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Austin are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Computer and Mathematical, and Architecture and Engineering positions, respectively.

Job Market in Austin

Although the cost of living can be high in Austin, thankfully, the job market matches accordingly. The unemployment rate in Austin is lower than the national average, currently at 2.7%, and the income rate is higher than the national average, currently at $53,810.

Austin has been nicknamed “Silicon Hills” as a reference to the tech hub it became in the early 1990s, playing on the more famously known Silicon Valley of Northern California. Google opened a headquarters in Austin in 2007, which became a major employment source for the city.

Aside from tech, many Austin residents are government employees, as there are state agency headquarters located throughout the town. The University of Texas is another major employment source for the city. With over 24,000 faculty and staff, UT is one of the largest public universities in the country.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in moving to Austin, a city full of life, nature, and weirdness, Austin might be the place for you. Find which Austin neighborhood is best for you and learn how to apartment hunt in Austin. Then, register with Apartment List today and start checking out the thousands of available apartments to rent in Austin!

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Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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