Navigating Austin TX Cost of Living in 2024

Austin Cost of Living Guide

What does it take financially to live in Austin, TX? With a thriving job market and a renowned cultural scene, the allure of the city of Austin is undeniable—but so is the need to understand its living costs. This guide provides an at-a-glance look at crucial Austin TX cost of living figures, from housing prices to transportation costs. If you’re planning a move to Austin and need to crunch the numbers, we’ve got the insights you need to budget confidently for life in the Texas capital.

Short Summary

  • Austin’s cost of living is higher than most of Texas, but it aligns closely with the national average with a cost of living index of 101.
  • Housing in Austin typically has a median home price of $550,000–$570,000, with a median rent of around $1,800 per month.
  • Austin’s robust job market offers opportunities in diverse industries. The average wage is around $33–$34 per hour, and the median salary is around $65,250.

Understanding Austin's Cost of Living Index

Austin TX Cost of Living Overview

While residing in Austin, TX, boasts a distinctive lifestyle, comprehending its economic intricacies is equally vital. The cost of living in Austin is 101% of the national average, positioning it as an average US city in terms of cost of living, but significantly higher than the state average of only 93%. Although this may appear daunting initially, keep in mind that housing makes up the bulk of this figure. There are several more affordable suburbs in the Austin metro where housing prices are cheaper, and thus, the cost of living is lower. The city of Cedar Park, for example, has a cost of living index even lower than the state average at 92.3%.

The cost of living index takes into account various factors, such as:

  • housing
  • food
  • utilities
  • transportation
  • healthcare
  • other miscellaneous goods and services

These figures also need to be seen in the context of a robust and diverse economy, with the city of Austin offering a plethora of opportunities for both employment and recreation.

Housing Costs in Austin

Austin Housing Costs

If you’re contemplating a move to Austin, evaluating the housing market is vital. The city’s real estate landscape is competitive, with the following statistics:

  • The median home price stands in the mid-to-high $500s
  • The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit is around $2,160.
  • The overall average rent in Austin is around $1,800 per month.

Homes in downtown Austin tend to be on the higher end, especially near the Colorado River, while more affordable neighborhoods can be found farther out. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Austin include Zilker and Bouldin Creek, where luxury homes for sale commonly fetch more than $1 million. On the other hand, owning your own condo in Austin can have a price tag of under $200,000.

In the most expensive neighborhoods for renters, such as Clarksville and apartments near UT Austin, average rents can climb to between $2,700 and $3,000 per month. In contrast, more affordable neighborhoods such as Johnston Terrace, Windsor Hills, and Harris Ridge tend to have rents closer to $1,200–$1,300 per month.

Aspiring to own a home or rent a comfortable space in Austin requires a well-planned financial strategy. Experts recommend not allocating more than 30% of one’s total household income toward housing expenses. The median household income in the Austin area is around $86,500, 30% of which is $2,162.50 per month for rent or mortgage.

Transportation Expenses

Austin TX Cost of Transportation

Beyond housing, transportation expenses can significantly impact your cost of living in Austin. Overall, the Austin cost of living index for transportation is 90.9% of the national average.

The city’s public transportation system, operated by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, offers a variety of options, including:

  • Buses
  • MetroRail
  • Taxis
  • Rideshare services
  • Shuttles
  • Pedicabs

The fare for these services is relatively affordable, with a single ride costing $1.25 on the CapMetro buses and a day pass available for $2.50. Commuter fare on the Red Line light rail is $7 for a day pass and includes all local bus services.

The starting taxi fare in Austin is $2.50, with a waiting time fare of $29 per hour. Along with the ever-popular Uber and Lyft, rideshare companies include RideAustin, Blacklane, Talixo, Curb, and more.

MetroBike, Austin's bikeshare service, has a base rate of $1.09 to unlock a bike and $0.23 per minute, with multi-use passes available.

For those who prefer to drive, the cost of gasoline in Austin typically ranges between $2.40 to $2.70 per gallon, a figure that's a bit lower than the national average of around $3 per gallon. Fortunately, thanks to Texas' oil industry, gas in Austin tends to be more affordable than in other places in the U.S.

Additionally, residents can expect to pay an average of approximately $2,180 annually for full coverage car insurance, with cheaper rates typically available from companies like State Farm.

Utility Costs

Austin TX Cost of Utilities

The cost of utilities in Austin is another factor that contributes to the overall cost of living. Typical expenses include electricity, water, gas, and waste disposal services. The overall cost of utilities in Austin is about 93.6% of the national average, despite the hot summers demanding the use of A/C.

Thanks to energy-efficiency initiatives led by Austin Energy, Austinites enjoy lower energy costs. Austin Energy is the most prominent provider of electricity, water, and trash for Austin. Average residential electricity rates in Austin are among the lowest in Texas and lower than the national average. For those who want to go even greener, Austin Resource Recovery offers bundled curbside recycling, composting, and trash collection carts and services starting at less than $25 per month.

On average, residents of Austin spend roughly $150 per month on utilities. While this may seem like a hefty sum, it’s important to remember that these services are essential for maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.

Groceries

Austin TX Cost of Food

Compared to the national averages, Austinites get to grab their groceries at a roughly 7–12% discount, depending on the source. Most Austin residents can expect to pay around $260–$300 per month for groceries, though this varies according to household size and individual preferences.

Those looking to save some money on groceries should check out H-E-B's Central Market—a supermarket slash hip gourmet grocery store. The "Central Standard" features a mix of Texas food and gourmet groceries, ranging from local brands to international foods. Other inexpensive grocery stores include El Rancho Supermercado, Fiesta Mart, and Randall's.

Austin Health Care & Child Care Costs

Austin TX Cost of Heathcare

Healthcare in Austin typically runs about 103% more expensive than the national average. A routine doctor visit, including a physical exam, may cost between $50 and $200 without insurance. With insurance, which may start as low as about $150 per month for a major medical plan, a physical exam may be covered entirely or have a co-pay of about $10–$50.

Austinites have a lot of options for health care. Local Austin hospitals include St. David's Medical Center, Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, and University Medical Center Brackenridge. There are also more than 100 individual medical clinics in the area.

Dental costs vary widely in Austin, from an average of about $85 for routine cleaning to $700–$900 per tooth for a root canal. Both private and public organizations provide dental care, including the University of Texas' Brackenridge Dental Clinic. Dental insurance in Texas typically averages about $30 per month.

There are over 600 daycares in Austin, with an average full-time, full-day cost of $1,100 per month. This average ranges from less than $500 per month to just over $2,300 per month, depending on the age of the child. Some popular options include the Angels Care and Learning Center, Twin Oaks Montessori School, the Child Craft School, and Sammy's House.

The average cost for a nanny is about $18 per hour, with a range between $7.25 and $25 per hour. Besides experience and qualifications, factors that may influence the price a nanny charges include having a car, first-aid training, and the age and number of children the nanny will be caring for.

Entertainment

Austin TX Cost of Things to Do

Austin is known for its live music scene and laid-back culture, giving it a unique vibe that lives up to the slogan "Keep Austin Weird." There's plenty of fun to be had in Austin without spending a lot of money, and there are even special events and festivals throughout the year that are free to attend. For example, the largest urban bat colony in the world lives under Congress Avenue Bridge, and any time between May and early fall, visitors can watch them take flight at dusk. Zilker Park hosts a number of attractions for visitors of all ages, along with a botanical garden and the free Austin Nature and Science center.

Speaking of Zilker Park, it also plays host to the Austin City Limits Music Festival every year in the fall, boasting over 130 bands performing over three days on eight different stages. Three-day tickets start at about $275 for general admission to this legendary music gathering.

The Austin Film Festival, also in the fall, screens over 180 films during its eight-day run. Buy a ticket to a single movie, or grab a Film Pass to see as many as possible—at $60 when bought in advance, it's a great deal.

Looking for sports? Tickets for a Longhorns basketball game may run anywhere between $15 to $50 depending on the seat. Those who want to catch a football game instead can get a seat for about $40 per game or a season pass starting at $330.

Job Market and Salaries in Austin

Austin’s job market offers plenty of opportunities for job seekers and is one of the primary reasons new residents relocate from their current city. The primary industries in Austin include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Clean Energy Technology
  • Corporate HQs & Regional Offices
  • Creative & Digital Media
  • Data Management
  • Life Sciences
  • Semiconductor Research & Manufacture
  • Space Technology
  • Financial Services and Insurance

Government, finance, health, education, construction, and professional services are among the fastest-growing industries. This robust job market, combined with the city’s diversified economy and the wide array of industries, makes Austin TX an attractive city for many.

Salaries and Economic Outlook

The median household income in Austin is around $86,500, but there are many rich neighborhoods in Austin where the median household income is over $100,000. More than two-thirds of the zipcodes in the Austin metro area see household incomes higher than the national median of $74,580.

The unemployment rate is low in Austin at about 3.4%. The national average is about 3.7%, while Texas-wide, the unemployment rate is about 4.1%.

Taxes in Austin: Income, Sales, and Property

In addition to the cost of housing, transportation, and daily expenses, taxes are another significant factor that contributes to the cost of living in Austin. The city, like the rest of Texas, does not impose a state income tax. They are still subject to federal income tax rates, which range from 10% to 37%, depending on the income bracket and taxable income. Despite this, the lack of state income tax in Austin can make it an attractive option for those considering a move to the city.

However, the current sales tax rate in Austin is 8.25%, which comprises a 6.25% state tax and supplementary local taxes. These figures may vary based on specific circumstances in cities, counties, and transit authorities.

Austin property taxes are a significant expense for homeowners. These taxes are determined by the appraised value of the property and the tax rate established by local taxing entities. The average effective property tax rate in Austin is about 1.8%. With Austin's high property values, this leads to the median property tax payment being around $3,800 to $4,000 per year.

Although this rate is higher than the national average, Austin provides several tax advantages to counterbalance the effect of high property taxes. These include property tax breaks, residence homestead exemptions for individuals aged 65 or older or those with disabilities, and property tax abatements.

Comparing Austin to Other Texas Cities

Austin TX Cost of Living Comparison

Despite Austin’s distinctive combination of opportunities and lifestyle, contrasting it with other major Texas cities can provide a wider understanding of the cost of living.

According to Nerdwallet's cost of living calculator, to maintain the same standard of living, a person making the median salary of $65,250 in Austin would need to make $66,791 in Dallas to maintain the same standard of living. On the other hand, they'd need to make just $59,663 in Houston.

However, Austin is far more affordable than many big cities across the U.S. The cost of living calculator for Austin shows that the same person would need to make:

  • $94,086 in San Diego, California
  • $121,124 in San Fransisco, California
  • $71,801 in Denver, Colorado
  • $98,646 in Los Angeles, California
  • $98,903 in Seattle, Washington
  • $81,819 in Portland, Oregon
  • $98,581 in Boston, Massachussetts

A cost of living calculator can be a handy tool to guide you through the cost of living in Austin. This calculator can assist in estimating the difference in monthly expenses specific to Austin, taking into account various factors such as housing, transportation, and utilities.

For instance, the housing costs in the calculator are determined based on the average cost of homes in the area, current rental prices, and real estate market trends in Austin. Similarly, transportation costs are calculated using local gas prices and other transportation-related expenses, offering a realistic estimate of monthly spending. To calculate cost accurately, it’s essential to consider these factors and conduct thorough economic research.

How Does the Cost of Living in Austin Stack Up?

Navigating the cost of living in Austin, Texas, can be a complex endeavor, but with the right information and tools, it’s entirely manageable. Austin offers a unique blend of vibrant culture, thriving job market, and diverse lifestyle options. While the Austin cost of living may be higher than the national average, it’s offset by the absence of state income tax, a robust economy, and a variety of industries offering abundant employment opportunities. So, if you’re considering a move to Austin, arm yourself with the knowledge and insights shared in this blog post and embark on an exciting new chapter in the Live Music Capital of the World.

Frequently Asked Questions About Austin Cost of Living

Is Austin TX expensive to live?

Austin, TX is more expensive to live in than the national average, but not by much. If you're coming from an area with a high cost of living, such as either of the coasts, you may be pleasantly surprised by how affordable the cost of living in Austin is.

What salary do you need to live in Austin?

The living wage in Austin for a single adult, only covering the cost for necessities and leaving out discretionary spending like entertainment, is about $20.80, equivalent to an annual salary of $43,264. With a median salary of $65,250, the equivalent of an hourly wage of about $34, the average Austinite should be in good shape.

Is Austin cheaper than California?

Yes, Austin is cheaper than California, with living costs being around 32% lower than in Los Angeles. There's a reason so many Californians are moving to Texas!

If you're looking for your dream Austin home, contact The RealFX Group at (512) 956-7390 to reach an experienced local real estate agent and discover your new Austin home today.

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