Many people claim that Austin is one of the best cities to live in the U.S. It's not just the weather, hospitality, and food. Its desirability also comes from a booming economy and a strong job market.
If you're moving to Austin you’ll want to keep reading. This is the first part of this Austin City Guide. In the second part, we’ll discuss Austin’s job market, culture, and transportation.
Welcome to Austin! A City Overview
Welcome to Austin! This city attracts thousands of people with its rich culture and hospitality. It's so popular that it's one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.
Austin is one of the beating hearts of Texas and homes almost 1 million people.
Weirdly enough, the city doesn't have any professional sports teams (sorry sports lovers). What it does have, though, is tons of sun. Austin gets about 300 days of sunshine a year!
The area has been a home to people ever since 9200 BC and it's still going strong.
Keep on reading to learn more about what it's like to live in Austin.
1. Cost of Living in Austin
The cost of living in Austin doesn’t veer too greatly from the U.S. average.
Although it does cost more to live here versus the rest of Texas, the average income makes up for it.
The cost of living in Austin is about 3% lower than the national average. When comparing it to the Texan average, it's about 6% higher.
Keep reading if you want to know more about the costs associated with living in Austin!
Average Income in Austin
The median household in Austin is around $71,576. For an individual, the yearly average income is around $43,043.
The income in Austin tends to be higher than in all of Texas. That comes as a benefit since the cost of living is higher.
Additionally, in 2021, Austinites experienced a 10% increase in their average annual wages. That's pretty much unheard of!
Average Cost of Items in Austin
Here's the lowdown on the cost of items in Austin. Some expenses are more costly while others are A LOT cheaper.
The housing and transportation costs are a little higher than the Texas average. On the flip side, utilities and groceries are a whole 12% lower than the US average. You got some major room for savings in that department!
Sales taxes in Austin are the typical 8.25%. Similar to other Texas cities, Austinites don't have to pay any state income tax!
Check out our chart, down below, on the average cost of items in Austin.
2. Renting in Austin
Rental homes in Austin have become a hot commodity. Over the decade, rent has increased at a steady rate of 5% every year. However, this past year (in 2021), the average price increased a whole 24%.
Currently, the average cost of rent in Austin is $1,660 per month.
Rent for a studio apartment averages around $1,360. A 1-bedroom apartment will go for about $1,545, while a 2-bedroom unit is $1,925.
There’s tons of apartments to choose from in Austin. If you’re interested in getting cashback on your rent and want some help navigating the rental market, check out Lighthouse!
3. Best Neighborhoods in Austin to Rent
Finding the best neighborhood in Austin to rent can be a little challenging. The city is very economically and culturally diverse. It also attracts many potential renters because of the lower cost of living and safety.
Find out which Austin neighborhood would best suit you as we discuss each one down below.
Most Affordable Urban Neighborhood: East Riverside
East Riverside is one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Austin. It’s a 10-minute drive from downtown and parking is always available. You can also find many local restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations around.
Its proximity to the University of Texas attracts students, young adults, and families. The average cost of rent for a 1-bedroom in East Riverside is around $1,150.
Most Affordable Suburban Neighborhood: Cedar Park
Cedar Park is a very desirable neighborhood in Austin. Many large employers are situated here, such as Apple, Dell, and Cedar Park Medical Center.
It has a classic suburban vibe, great for families and industry professionals.
Although the area lacks urban amenities, it still has dining and shopping options. To top it off, its safety and affordability are unbeatable. The average cost of rent is $1,195 in this area.
Best for Urban Living: Downtown Austin
Downtown Austin is a great neighborhood for those who enjoy an urban lifestyle.
It offers a booming job market, superb dining options, and a growing entertainment industry. This area also overlooks the scenic Colorado River.
Since it's Downtown Austin, rent prices are more expensive. You can find many working professionals and single individuals living in this location.
Expect to find many small high-rise condos or modern apartments to rent.
Best for Entertainment: East Austin
East Austin packs a punch with its many entertainment and dining spots. Festival Beach offers festivals all year long. Attend events like the SXSW, Celtic Fest, and Texas Craft Brewers Festival.
This is the perfect area for those who want to be near downtown but still want affordability. You can find a mix of property types to rent - from newer condos to more historic bungalows.
Best for Nature Lovers: Barton Hills
For fellow nature lovers, Barton Hills is the best living location in Austin. Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek Greenbelt, and the 350-acre Zilker Park surround this area.
This neighborhood features many botanical spaces, walking trails, and sculpture gardens.
Public transportation is also easily accessible.
People who enjoy a vibrant cultural life, safety, and nature love this area.
Best for Community Living: Mueller
Mueller is a great neighborhood in Austin if you’re looking for a suburban-urban vibe. It’s a desirable location since it’s peaceful and quiet, yet only three miles from Downtown Austin.
The area is great for working professionals and growing families. You can find Dell Children’s Medical Center, green spaces, and great schools around.
It also has an award-winning urban village! Its parks, recreational areas, and shopping areas create a great sense of community.
4. Job Market in Austin
Austin has been named as having one of the largest job market booms in the US. It even ranked as #2 in the nation's top labor markets, according to the Wall Street Journal.
By June of 2021, Austin's yearly job growth rate was 7.3%. Just the private sector alone had added 72,900 jobs to the market.
Austin has tons of job opportunities encompassing many different employment sectors. However, some fields are more prominent than others. These are the most popular employment sectors in Austin:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Clean Technology
- Hospitality & Leisure
- Government Work
- Creative Media Technology
- Space Technology
- Life Sciences
- Finance and Insurance
Austin is also home to many company's headquarters. These include:
- Dell Technologies
- Ascension Seton Healthcare
- Whole Foods
- National Instruments
Some other top employers in the area include:
- The University of Texas at Austin
- St.David's Healthcare Partnership
5. Culture in Austin
There is something in the Austin air. For three years in a row, this Southern city was named the No.1 place to live in the U.S.
It might be because of its rich cultural background. After all, Austin is a cultural hub, especially with its Latino roots. It's completely taken the food scene by storm with its Tex-Mex cuisine.
Then again, it may be because Austin is a tech mecca. Many startups and entrepreneurs make their debut here.
Or maybe it's because it's the epicenter of creativity. You can find tons of museums and a thriving arts scene around.
Whatever it is, Austin plays to people of all kinds of different lifestyles and cultures.
Let's see what else Austin's culture has to offer.
Hidden Gems & Famous Attractions in Austin
Austin has a lot of great activities to do. Between its entertainment, music, dining, or outdoor spots, you'll find something you like.
We've made a list of hidden gems and attractions in Austin that we thought were special. Take a look and let us know what you think!
- Milonga Room. There's something a little mysterious about this Bueno Aires Café. And no, it's not how they make their amaro-based cocktails taste so good. At the back of this café, you'll find a door that takes you into a speakeasy inspired by the 1920s Argentinian prohibition era. You'll love their tapas, décor, and intimate atmosphere.
- Uncommon Objects. It's pretty much in the name- this is the place to go if you want to find unique objects. This eccentric antique store has more knick-knacks and goods than you could ever dream of. The best part? It's all for sale- you can bring a little piece of history right to your home.
- Mayfield Park. Peacocks, peacocks, and more peacocks. Mayfield Park has these majestic birds wandering all over the place! You can easily find some peace of mind on this cottage estate. It's filled with gardens, nature trails, and serene lotus ponds. The perfect spot for people of all ages and walks of life.
- Cathedral of Junk. This unique marvel has prevailed the test of many complaints and unhappy neighbors. The Cathedral of Junk is THE place for unwanted, old items. The coolest part? It displays over 60 tons of junk, and it's still a work in progress!
- Halcyon. Who doesn't like some s'mores and campfire vibes? This coffeehouse (by day), lounge (by night) brings you a mini fire pit to roast some marshmallows. If s'mores aren't your thing, they also have great espresso cocktails, food, and a fun vibe!
- Starnes Island. Shhh...this is one of Austin's best-kept secrets!! Back in the 30s, Starnes Island (technically not an island yet) was just an unassuming hill in Travis County. Now, it's a small island where people go for a mini getaway. Bask in the sun on lounge floaties, scuba dive, or cliff jump. Starnes Island also has spectacular Fourth of July fireworks for people to enjoy.
- Casa Neverlandia. Walk through this eclectic home that appears to be straight out of a fairytale. You'll spot a DIY project in every corner, including a ping pong room with bamboo trimmings. Check out its "Whispermaphones" (an intercom system made from PVC piping), fire poles, and suspended wooden bridge. It's more than just a home- it's one of the coolest pieces of art around!
- Live Love Paddle. If you want to experience Austin from the water, you should go on this kayaking excursion. All tours happen on Lady Bird Lake- the perfect place to take in the Austin skyline. You have the option to go on their daytime, bat watching (a fan fav), or full-moon night tour.
Green Spaces in Austin
Many people ask why Austin is so green (especially when considering how urban it is). Well, the city of Austin is quite literally circled by ecological regions. No matter which direction you head in- boom- you're faced with nature.
There's also a large number of nature preserves and parks in the city center. We mean more than 20,000 acres of parkland 'large'. There, you can hike, bike, picnic, play sports, or jog.
Some of the other best parks in Austin include:
- Mueller Lake Park
- Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
- Barton Springs Pool
- Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail
- Shoal Creek Greenbelt
- Zilker Metropolitan Park
- Mayfield Park & Nature Preserve
Weather in Austin
Like other Texan cities, Austin gets mellow winters but sweltering hot summers.
The climate in Austin does vary throughout the year. They experience about 4 months of the hot season and 3 months of cooler months.
In spite of that, their cool months are nothing to worry about. The lowest it gets is 43F in January. On the other hand, July and August get some blistering hot days. Temperatures get as high as 95F.
Austin also has a drier climate. It's perfect for those who don't like the humidity (which is pretty much everyone).
6. Transportation in Austin
The transportation system in Austin makes it easy to get around town. You’ve got some options to pick from- whether it’s the Capital Metro Bus System, the Metrorail, or driving.
Austin’s transportation system consists of the following transit options.
Capital Metro is the simplest way to get around the greater Austin area for an affordable price. A single-ride fare is $1.25, while a weekly pass is the low price of $11.25.
Its bus services include: MetroBus, MetroExpress, MetroRapid, and the UT shuttle system. It services Austin, Travis County, and parts of Williamson County with 2,300 bus stops.
The best part is that you can buy tickets online or through their app, CapMetro. The app makes public transportation way more convenient and gives current travel information.
Austin’s MetroRail is a 9-station subway line that spans over a 32-mile route. It travels from Downtown Austin to Leander (a suburb located northwest of Austin).
This service is still fairly new (began operations in 2010), so Capital Metro is still trying to develop it. As of 2020, they expanded the Downtown Austin station.
Austin MetroBike (Bikes and Scooter Rentals)
Another way to commute through Austin is by MetroBike. This electric bike-sharing system offers bicycle rentals at Capital Metro’s transit centers.
You can pay as you ride, buy a membership or purchase hour-long trips.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Austin-Bergstrom is the major international airport that services the Greater Austin metro area. It’s located only 5 miles away from Downtown Austin, in the southeast direction.
It's not the biggest airport in Texas but still goes to 76 destinations in either Europe or North America.
Expressways in Austin
The only interstate that runs through Austin is the I-35. Interestingly enough, this same interstate has been named as one of the worst freeways in the U.S.
The bumper-to-bumper congestion means Austinites never experience a moment of peace on it.
Other major highways that run through Austin are US 183 (east of Downtown Austin) and SH 1 (west of downtown). In the southern part of downtown lies state highways SH 71 and SH 290.
Driving in Austin
If you decide to live in the suburbs of Austin, you might want to consider getting a car. Downtown has public transportation, but the outskirts of town can be hard to reach if you don’t drive.
Additionally, the city can be quite spread out in some areas. Having a car makes commuting from the suburbs into the city possible. Gas prices also tend to be on the cheaper side in Texas, which never hurts!
7. Pros & Cons of Living in Austin
If you’re considering a move to Austin, it might be helpful to make a list of the advantages and disadvantages. Lucky for you, we did the work, so you didn’t have to!
Keep reading to see if the pros outweigh the cons when living in Austin, Texas.
The pros of living in Austin are:
- Nice weather year-round
- Big music and arts scene
- Residents are welcoming
- Great place for outdoor recreation
- Superb food scene
- The job market is booming
The cons of living in Austin are:
- Housing market prices are rapidly increasing
- You need a car for traveling
- The city is gentrified
- You may encounter a lot of traffic
- Competitive rental market
- The summer months can get really hot
You’ve reached the end of this extensive City Guide of Austin. We hope you enjoy this awesome city as much as we do.
Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. It's got that classic Southern hospitality and tons of culture. The cost of living is slightly higher in comparison to the rest of Texas (6% higher), but income is also greater. Austin's got some really nice neighborhoods (East & Downtown Austin are the most popular). You can find a location for every type of lifestyle.
The job market in Austin is booming, so it's perfect if you're headed there for work (their yearly job growth is 7.3%). You can find rich Latino roots in the culture and cuisine (hello Tex-Mex food!). The city also has over 20,000 acres of parkland, great for getting some fresh air or hiking. Their transportation is also great for the typical commuter. You can take the MetroRail, MetroBike, or Capital Metro to get around town.
If you’re moving to Austin and don't know where to start, look no further. Lighthouse is here for you. Our team of experts will help you find your perfect rental unit. On top of that, you can land up to $1,000 in cash back with your rent.
If you’re looking for some assistance finding a rental home in Austin, check us out. Our rental cashback program also helps you save on rent!
Leave us a comment down below on which neighborhood you thought was the coolest part in Austin!