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17 Things to Know Before Moving to Austin, TX

By: Susan Finch
June 10, 2021

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 17 things to know before moving to Austin, Texas.

1. What it’s Like Living in Austin?

Austin is the capital of Texas. With a population of 964K, Austin is the 11th most populous city in the US. It’s also the second-most populous state capital city.

32% of Austinites speak a foreign language. That’s higher than the national average of 21.9%. These languages are Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), and Hindi.

Austin has come a long way since its founding in 1837. Since then, Austin has become a diverse hub of different industries.

Government officials, college students, tech workers, remote workers, and musicians are all a part of the Austin scene. Austin has continued to grow today. It was one of the fastest-growing large cities in 2019 and is considered to be a global city.

It’s home to South by Southwest and has regional offices for multiple Fortune 500 companies. Those include 3M, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Whole Foods Market. Its rising tech industry has led to it being nicknamed “Silicon Hills.”

On top of its booming economy, Austin has great weather! It gets an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

If you move to Austin, you’ll be able to experience this fantastic weather and prosperous economy.

2. What County is Austin in?

Austin is the largest city in Travis County and the capital of Texas. Parts of Austin also extend into nearby Hays County and Williamson County.

Here's a look at other major cities around Texas and the counties they call home. Houston is situated in Harris County, with a few portions extending into Fort Bend and Montgomery County. Bexar County is home to San Antonio and is ranked as the 17th largest county in the United States. The Big D, or Dallas, is situated in Paulding County and located north of Austin. Waco can be found in McLennan County and also serves as the county seat.

3. 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 median rent in Austin dipped to $1,396 for a one-bedroom apartment, with the median rent on a two-bedroom being $1,713. 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.

4. Who’s Moving to Austin?

Texians love staying in the Lone Star State. Renters in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio are all considering staying local and moving to Austin. Similarly, people in Austin thinking of migrating to Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.

Learn the best way to move to a new state.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. How Far Away is Austin from Other Texas Cities?

Austin is central to several other cities around Texas.

Austin to Houston

Houston is just over 165-miles from Austin, or about 2 1/2 hours via TX-71 and I-10 E. Limited Amtrak access connects Austin to Houston, though it only runs twice a day. Taking the train is relatively affordable and can help you avoid sitting in traffic, though it can take up to four hours. Vonlane, MegaBus, and Greyhound also shuttle between Houston and Austin. It’s usually under $30 per person and takes about three hours.

Austin to San Antonio

San Antonio’s famous RiverWalk is a popular weekend getaway for Austin locals. You're just 80-miles, or an hour and twenty minutes to San Antonio via I-35 S. Amtrak also offers direct service between San Antonio and Austin and takes about 2 ½ hours. MegaBus and Greyhound are inexpensive options to get between Austin and San Antonio with a price tag of $11 or less. Your bus ride is about an hour and a half.

Austin to Dallas

Dallas is just shy of three hours from Austin, or 195-miles via I-35N and I-35E N. Amtrak connects you between Dallas and Austin, although the trip can take up to six hours. Bus service through providers like MegaBus is available for under $25 per person and takes around five hours.

Austin to Waco

Waco is located an hour and forty minutes from Austin, or 102 miles via I-35N. FixBus and Greyhound offer bus service between Austin and Waco in about an hour and 30-minutes. Amtrak is another option, though it takes about 2 ½ hours to get there.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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 second-best 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.

15. Austin is a Green City!

Austin renters looking to live a sustainable and green lifestyle are in luck. Austin is the greenest city in Texas and among the top 20 in the United States. The city is also home to wind farms that contribute to over 15% of its energy. Many new buildings around Austin are built according to LEED green building standards, and all of the city's public buildings are powered by renewable energy.

16. 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.

17. 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.

Rents are rising quickly in the metro area, but there is still plenty of fun and affordable Austin neighborhoods. Here's a range of areas to consider, from pricey to reasonable and everything in between.

Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin is one of the priciest areas in the city. However, it also offers incredible convenience and urban amenities. The higher rent may be worth the trade-off for the fine dining, entertainment options, and high-tech job opportunities. You're also never far from live music and green space for outdoor recreation.

South Congress / East Austin

South Congress and East Austin are also popular spots to call home, although rents are climbing. However, that doesn't mean you can't find an affordable apartment when moving to Austin. East Austin is a diverse neighborhood with new apartment complexes, historic bungalows, and cocktail bars. You'll find plenty of Southern eateries and iconic hotspots like Franklin Barbecue.

North Austin / Westgate

Are you seeking an affordable and calm area to call home? Look for your next apartment around North Austin and Westgate. There, you'll find a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle and lower rents. These Austin neighborhoods are known for their ethnic diversity and mix of singles, couples, and young families. You'll find a combination of green space, local supermarkets, and restaurants. Locals also have easy access to Hwy 71.

Hyde Park

The tree-lined neighborhood of Hyde Park is situated near the University of Texas at Austin and attracts free-spirits and creatives. The area was once home to a horse racetrack and state fair. Today, you'll find a mix of Victorian architecture and Tudor revivals while strolling past pecan trees and towering red oaks. Hyde Park is also home to many independent boutiques, restaurants, and pubs where locals gather to catch up after work.

Clarksville

Live near Downtown Austin in Clarksville. Freed slaves established this historic neighborhood during the 1870s. The community features a trendy commercial strip along Lamar Boulevard and is home to cafes and boutiques. It's a laid-back neighborhood and pedestrian-friendly for those who want to get out and explore on foot.

Travis Heights

Travis Heights is situated near the lively South Congress area. The neighborhood boasts new construction, 1920s era homes, and winding streets. Spend the weekend exploring Blunn Creek Greenbelt wooded trail and connect to nearby neighborhood parks. Travis Heights boasts an artsy vibe with trendy galleries, restaurants, and waterfront strolls.

North Loop

North Loop was established after WWII as part of Texas' suburban boom. The quaint neighborhood is popular with nearby University of Texas college students and staff. It's also the perfect spot if you want to get out and walk more to urban amenities. A section of North Loop Boulevard boasts a pedestrian-friendly vibe with vintage shops and independent bookstores.

Read more about the best neighborhoods to live in Austin.

Finding Your Austin Apartment

Moving to Austin or to a city nearby, Texas offers endless opportunities for work, music, outdoor recreation, and play. Ready to pack up for the live music capital of the world? Here's how to find an apartment in Austin.

Apartment List can help you find the best neighborhoods and apartments to fit your budget.

You can also learn more about:

Texas:

Dallas:

Houston:

San Antonio:

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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