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12 Things to Know Before Moving to Austin, Texas in 2020

By: Susan Finch
July 17, 2020

Live music, unbelievable food, endless sunshine, and a thriving tech market put Austin on the map as a desirable place to call home, and for good reason. Austin's reasonable cost of living and vibrant culture now frequently attracts transplants from California and New York who are looking for balance.

But what makes Austin so special? Should you consider moving to this major city with year-round live music? Here are 12 things to know before moving to Austin, Texas.

1. Cost of Living in Austin, Texas

Compared to the rest of Texas, Austin is on the expensive side. However, the city is still a bargain compared to bustling cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and beyond.

According to PayScale, the cost of living in Austin is 3% lower than the national average. However, housing is 2% higher.

Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to Austin, as reported by PayScale:

  • Energy bill: $147.04
  • Loaf of bread: $2.92
  • Doctor's Visit: $110.05
  • $2.44 for a gallon of gas

The average rent in Austin dipped to $1,177 for a one-bedroom apartment, with average rent on a two-bedroom running $1,452. Those prices will look steeper than areas a few hours from the city.

But there’s good news. The median income in Austin is a healthy $76,925, as reported by the Austin Chamber of Commerce. By comparison, the median household income is $60,629 in the rest of Texas.

2. Weather in Austin, Texas

Depending on who you ask, the weather in Austin is incredible. It comes with some unique benefits.

For starters, Austin earned the nickname of "Violet Crown City" for its purplish light gliding over the hills on winter evenings.

Weather in Austin also tends to be more moderate compared to other Texas cities like Houston and Dallas. The gentle rolling hills around Austin could help curb the heat in comparison to Texas' notoriously flat landscape.

According to TripSavvy, you can expect relatively moderate seasons in Austin, except for the scorching summer heat. Here's a breakdown of what to expect and how to plan:

  • Fall is perfect for hitting the outdoors while dressed in layers in anticipation of a chilly day. September still feels like summertime with temperatures in the 90s and lows dipping into the 50s by November.
  • Winter is sunny with averages in the mid- to high-60s. Lows dip into the 40s. However, Austin locals should still wear a jacket and bring along an umbrella.
  • Spring is humid with averages from the low-70s to high-80s and may require layers and a lightweight jacket.
  • Summer is humid, hot, and requires swimsuits and sunglasses. Expect temperatures to soar into the upper-90s and beyond.

Whether you love the summer heat or will tolerate it if you must, plan on finding an apartment complex with central air conditioning and a swimming pool. Fortunately, most Austin apartment complexes offer amenities to beat the heat. They’re a must during the peak of Austin's summers.

3. Austin's Job Market is Booming

Moving to Austin offers a thriving job market that’s steadily booming with a growing tech industry. The tech company cluster is nicknamed Silicon Hills, hosting companies like Google, Facebook, AMD, PayPal, Intel, Indeed, and many others.

Aside from the tech sector, Austin also boasts top industries in business services, government, education, and health services.

Even if you don't work in tech, Austin’s focus on this cutting-edge industry brings an entrepreneurial spirit and energy to the city. It feels like anything is possible when you live in Austin.

4. Austin's Food Scene is Foodie-Approved

Like most of Texas, moving to Austin is a foodie’s paradise. Barbecue and Tex-Mex are the local favorite cuisines, highlighted by the world-famous Franklin Barbecue. Do yourself a favor and make your first meal in Austin their brisket.

Food trucks are also on the rise in Austin. There are dedicated food truck parks to entice a playful palate.

We could dedicate an entire guidebook to all things food trucks, so there's no shortage of where to eat. For starters, sample the dozens of food trucks and trailers at 5000 Burnet Food Park with Hawaiian, Venezuelan, Latino, drip coffee, and more with a generous BYOB policy.

5. Public Transportation and Driving in Austin

Driving is still the norm in Austin, despite its reputation for traffic. Austin is frequently voted one of the worst cities for traffic.

It’s on a par with New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Depending on where you live in Austin, you can easily double or triple your trip time.

There’s some traffic relief with public transit options that make it easier to get around. Hop on the Capital Metro for downtown and the greater Austin area. Single rides start at $1.25.

The Metro Rail runs through Downtown Austin and Leander throughout the week. It reaches Lakeline on Saturdays at $3.50 a ride.

A monthly pass on the Capitol Metro runs $41.25. That makes it a good deal for anyone who doesn't want to deal with traffic or is looking to save.

To get outside the city center or head to San Antonio, locals head to State Highway 130 where it's all about speed. The highway is known as the nation's fastest highway with a speed limit of 85 mph. It helps relieve congestion between Austin and San Antonio.

6. Austin Requires a Temporary Parking Permit for Movers

Before moving to Austin and hiring a moving company or truck, make sure you have your parking permit in place. Texans are required to secure a temporary parking permit for all movers. If a moving truck just shows up and tries to park on residential streets, they could get fined or asked to move.

Save yourself the headache and secure a permit through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

7. Austin is Home to Many Massive Festivals

Did we mention all the music festivals around Austin? South by Southwest, or "South By," is among the most highly anticipated and popular events around town. This 10-day event celebrates music, film and tech and brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The Old Settler's Music Festival and Austin City Limits also inspires music lovers to come out in droves.

Beyond the focus on music, Austin is also home to the Austin Food and Wine Festival. That represents the best restaurants and chefs from Central Texas and beyond.

For a cinema fix, Fantastic Fest features action, sci-fi, horror, and more. It’s one of the largest genre film festivals in the U.S.

8. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World

Austin is celebrated as the Live Music Capital of the World and home to the longest-running music series in TV history, Austin City Limits at Moody Theater. Locals have no shortage of nightlife and live music to choose from.

South Congress Street boasts the Continental Club. It opened its doors in 1955 for an intimate music experience with just 200 people.

Over at the Mohawk, lively crowds fill the ground floor. You can also get some fresh air on the rooftop patio with a birds-eye space for viewing the show. But for all-night music, drinking, and dancing, Six Street attracts a younger crowd with traffic closed for pedestrians Thursday through Saturday nights.

South Congress or SoCo is home to music venues and restaurants. It’s one of the most photographed streets in the city with its vibrant art.

Beyond the nightlife, you can also hear live music at a lazy Sunday brunch or coffee shop. Live music really is everywhere when you live in Austin.

9. Austin Natives Know How to Beat the Heat

Austin summers can feel unbearably hot when first moving to Austin. However, there are still ways the natives beat the heat and have fun while doing it.

Make the trek to Barton Springs next to Zilker Park for a 3-acre pool with water sprouting out from underground springs. The water is refreshing, but warm. That makes it a popular destination year-round with thousands of visitors.

You can also rent a boat at Zilker Park and glide out along the waters of Barton Creek and the Colorado River.

10. Austin is a College Town

Austin isn't just a playground for young professionals and millennials. It's also a beacon for the college-bound.

According to WalletHub, Austin is the number-one college town in the country. Aspiring students have their choice of the University of Texas, St. Edward's University, and Huston-Tillotson University, among dozens of others. With a quality education and backdrop to play hard, Austin is an irresistible choice for higher education.

Whether you're in college or not, the Texas Longhorns sports teams are the talk of the town. College sports are wildly popular around Austin, especially without a local pro team to speak of.

11. Outdoor Recreation Opportunities Abound in Austin

Boat rentals, hiking, and afternoons of fun are also available at Lady Bird Lake. The reservoir was created in 1960 as a cooling pond for a power plant. Today, it offers 416 acres of recreation.

Beyond boating, Zilker Park also offers a playscape, disco golf course, volleyball, outdoor concerts, and more.

Also known as Covert Park, Mount Bonnell is regarded as the highest point in Austin at 775 feet. Take a hike and soak up the Colorado River's spectacular views, where tourists have been visiting since the 1830s.

12. There are Still Affordable Neighborhoods in Austin

Austin's overall cost of living is affordable compared to major metropolises, but housing is still expensive. Downtown Austin will be one of the most pricey areas. However, it also offers incredible convenience and amenities.

South Congress and East Austin are also popular spots to call home where rents are climbing. However, that doesn't mean you can’t find an affordable apartment when moving to Austin.

Seeking an affordable and calm area? Look for your next apartment around North Austin and Westgate. There, you’ll find a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle and lower rents.

Final Thoughts

Moving to Austin, Texas offers endless opportunities for work, music, outdoor recreation, and play. Ready to pack up for the live music capital of the world? Apartment List can help you find the best neighborhoods and apartments to fit your budget.

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