Moving to Austin: Your Checklist for a Smooth Transition in 2024

Moving to Austin, TX Living Guide

Moving to Austin? You’re not alone. The city of Austin’s appeal lies in its booming job market and engaging lifestyle. Whether you’re seeking career growth, diverse housing options, or a welcoming community, this guide unpacks the essentials you need to know for a smooth transition to one of Texas’s most spirited cities.

10 Reasons Austin is a Great Place to Live

  • Tech industry is so strong that Austin is also called Silicon Hills
  • High salaries in Austin's top industries
  • Eclectic housing options for all tastes
  • Live music capital of Texas
  • Lakes, trails, and outdoor activities galore
  • Some of the best food variety you'll find in Texas
  • Walkable neighborhoods, robust public transit, and bikeshare programs
  • Legendary nightlife scene downtown
  • Multiple universities, including UT Austin
  • Unique local attractions and atmosphere, from pedicabs to the South Congress Bridge bat colony

The Appeal of Austin

Why Are People Moving to Austin TX?

Austin perfectly strikes a balance between a thriving job market and an impressive cultural scene. Known as the live music capital of the world, Austin is a vibrant city that’s home to not only a bustling music scene but also a thriving tech industry. This city in the Lone Star State has a unique charm that captivates new residents and tourists alike.

From its vibrant culture to outdoor activities and welcoming atmosphere, moving to Austin, Texas, is a decision you won’t regret.

Booming Tech Industry

Recognized as the "Silicon Hills," Austin draws top talents and major companies like Apple, Dell, and IBM with its dynamic job market, particularly in the tech sector. This booming job market, coupled with a lower cost of living compared to other tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle, makes Austin a hotbed for major tech employers.

Many companies have opened or moved their corporate or regional headquarters to the Austin metro area, such as:

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • eBay
  • Indeed
  • NXP Semiconductors
  • SolarWinds

Unique Cultural Scene

Step into the heart of Austin’s cultural scene and you’ll find yourself immersed in an array of live music, arts, and a unique "keep it weird" attitude. The city boasts numerous renowned venues such as ACL Live, Stubb’s, and Antone’s, and is home to major festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits Festival.

In addition to music, Austin’s rich culture is reflected in its arts scene, vibrant nightlife, and diverse culinary offerings. This "Live Music Capital of the World" truly offers a memorable experience for its residents.

Housing Options in Austin

A variety of housing options to suit various lifestyles and budgets are available in Austin. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you’ll find a range of choices, from luxurious single-family homes in the Barton Greenbelt to affordable suburbs in North Austin to condos with a view downtown.

Austin homes for sale typically have a median price between $550,000 and $570,000. However, buyers can locate houses from the high hundreds to luxury properties in the multi-million range.

Renting vs. Buying

The decision to rent or buy a home in Austin hinges on individual preferences, financial circumstances, and long-term objectives. The average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Austin, Texas, is around $2,160 per month. However, the overall median rent is right around $1,800.

While renting offers lower upfront costs and more flexibility, buying can be a great investment in your financial future.

Popular Neighborhoods

Where to Live in Austin TX

Austin is home to numerous neighborhoods, each with its unique charm and appeal. From the vibrant urban environment of Downtown Austin to the culturally rich community of East Austin, there’s a neighborhood to suit everyone’s lifestyle.

Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Austin include:

High-end neighborhoods like Bryker Woods and Barton Creek offer luxurious homes, while the best master-planned communities near Austin provide resort-quality amenities within walking distance of your front door.

Navigating the Job Market

Top Industries in Austin TX

Boasting well over 1 million jobs and a low unemployment rate, Austin’s thriving job market attracts many new residents. Whether you’re in the tech industry or looking to start a career in healthcare or education, Austin offers a wide range of opportunities.

The city has been recognized as one of the top cities in the nation for startups, making it a great place to start or advance your career.

Top Industries

Management, science, and technology professionals will be right at home in Austin. Thanks to the high number of company headquarters and large technology companies in the area, Austin's major industries include advanced manufacturing, clean technology, life sciences, space technology, creative and digital media, data management, financial services and insurance, and regional offices and supporting facilities.

In addition, major institutions in the area, such as research centers and universities, continue to influence Austin's economy, supplying workers and workspaces to fuel innovation.

The healthcare industry, backed by a network of 50 area hospitals and the cutting-edge Dell Medical School, also plays a significant role in Austin’s economy.

Major Employers

The major employers in Austin are some major companies, including:

  • Dell Inc. (13,000+ Austin employees)
  • H-E-B (Nearly 23,000 Austin employees)
  • Ascension Texas (14,800+ Austin employees)
  • Tesla Inc. (12,200+ Austin employees)
  • St. David's Healthcare (11,400+ Austin employees)

In addition, major employers in Austin include IBM, Seton Medical Center, the state of Texas, and the University of Texas. In fact, the university has an impressive alumni network that gives it significant influence in the city, with many large corporations relocating to Austin due to UT graduates. The university has also supplied the workforce to grow Austin's booming tech industry.

More information about finding a job in Austin:

Cost of Living and Financial Benefits

How Expensive is Living in Austin TX?

Even with its quick growth and popularity, Austin maintains a relatively affordable cost of living compared to large cities elsewhere in the country. With housing, utilities, and transportation expenses varying depending on location and lifestyle, understanding the cost of living in Austin can help you make an informed decision about your move.

Comparing Costs

There's no doubt that Austin's cost of living is expensive, but that can be said for any major metro area. When compared to other major metros, Austin offers a relatively affordable cost of living.

The Council for Community & Economic Research puts Austin's overall cost of living as 101, compared to a national average of 100. Seattle's is 145.7, Portland's is 119.3, and Phoenix scores 101.7. San Fransisco, of course, has an overall cost of living index of 169.5, and there are still three entries above it on the list of most expensive places to live in the U.S.

Let's compare to the other two major metros that make up Texas' "big three." The cost of living in Dallas is 102.2. (Admittedly, the city of Plano rates a 113.3.) The cost of living in Houston is notoriously low, scoring a mere 95.3 despite being the fourth-largest city in the nation.

Austin is expensive, but only relative to Texas. As a whole, Texas is cheap.

Saving Money

Living in Austin comes with several financial benefits. The absence of state income tax in Texas significantly contributes to cost savings. In addition, Austin scores below the national average in several cost of living categories:

  • Groceries have an index of 88.4
  • Utilities have an index of 93.6
  • Transportation has an index of 90.9

Healthcare is only slightly above the national average at 103.2. Housing is, naturally, the biggest expense, scoring 115.5, but there are plenty of affordable housing options throughout the metro area and even within Austin itself.

Austin also offers a plethora of cost-effective entertainment options, making it a great city to live in and enjoy without breaking the bank.

Embracing the Great Outdoors

Outdoor Activities in Austin TX

Austin is a perfect fit for outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s parks, trails, and water activities offer residents a healthy and active lifestyle. Whether you’re into:

  • hiking
  • biking
  • swimming
  • kayaking
  • paddleboarding

Austin’s great outdoors has something for everyone.

Parks & Trails

Austin is home to numerous parks and trails that offer a wide range of activities and beautiful natural scenery. Some of the top parks and trails in Austin include:

Barton Creek Greenbelt: This eight-mile trail system located southwest of the city center is an excellent place for hiking, swimming, rock climbing, and biking.

Hamilton Pool Preserve: This hidden pool is located 30 miles west of downtown Austin and is surrounded by towering cypress trees. It's a great place to swim, picnic, birdwatch, or explore caves.

Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail: Named after Lady Bird Johnson, this 10-mile trail loop around Lady Bird Lake is considered one of the best urban trails in the country.

Lago Vista Hike & Bike Trail: This six-mile trail along the Colorado River is a great place for hiking or biking and offers beautiful Hill Country views.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Also known as the Austin Native Plant Center, this 16-acre center features more than 650 plant species native to Texas. The center hosts classes, workshops, and events, including an annual Butterfly Festival in March.

These spaces, along with attractions like Zilker Park & Botanical Garden and nearby state parks, provide opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, swimming, and more, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the outdoors in Austin.

Water Activities

Water activities in Austin are incredibly popular among residents and visitors alike—Lake Travis is right next door, and the Colorado River runs right through downtown! With numerous lakes, rivers, and pools available for activities such as swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the water.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely paddle on Lady Bird Lake or an exhilarating swim at Barton Springs Pool, Austin’s water activities offer a fun and refreshing way to enjoy the outdoors. If you're in the mood to go farther afield, check out the best lakes near Austin.

Local Attractions & the Austin Dining Scene

Things to Do in Austin TX?

Some things to do are so quintessentially Austin that no local should pass up the opportunity.

Between May and early fall, be sure to visit the Congress Avenue Bridge Bats. Each summer night, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly out from underneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to hunt insects. They usually depart around 30 minutes to an hour before sunset, and the first big columns usually take flight from the southeast end of the bridge. There's a free bat viewing area there, or you can take a bat tour that lets you view the bats from the water.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is located on the University of Texas campus. The permanent museum features exhibits about LBJ's life and the history of the U.S. while the library holds his papers and memorabilia, including a replica of his presidential limousine. In addition, Austin has many other museums and art galleries with distinct collections. Whether a visitor is interested in science, aviation, fine art, history, or something a little bit quirky, there's a museum for that. 

The state capitol building, located in the downtown Austin neighborhood, looks very similar to the U.S. capitol, with one crucial difference—because of its use of local Texas granite, it's pink! This pink granite building with its gold-domed top is one of the most photographed things in Texas. Visitors can tour the halls and grounds for free or go into the second-floor observation decks to get panoramic views of Austin.

One of the things all new residents should experience at least once is the Austin City Limits music festival. Held every year for two consecutive three-day weekends in September, this world-renowned music festival draws some of the biggest names in music from all genres and up to 75,000 visitors a weekend. Be sure to buy tickets early, though, because passes often sell out before the actual event.

South by Southwest is even bigger. This 10-day music, film, and interactive festival brings in more than 200,000 attendees every March. During the day, there are music showcases at various venues around downtown Austin. Then things move to the evening when things get really interesting—attendees flock to Sixth Street for nonstop partying in bars and clubs with great live bands.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Austin is a city that loves to eat. It's known for its love of great barbecue joints, Tex-Mex, and hot chicken wings, so be sure to give those a try. Of course, there are also things like pho and sushi restaurants, as well as plenty of high-end spots to take those hard-earned paychecks.

Some of the best restaurants in Austin are found in food trucks, though some, like the upscale Odd Duck, have graduated to brick-and-mortar buildings. Others partner with local restaurants and craft breweries like Zilker Brewing Co. and serve on-site. For a fantastic food tour of Texas' capital, try going on a food truck scavenger hunt to find a new favorite cuisine.

Austin is also known for its nightlife, with Sixth Street being home to some of the most famous bars in Texas. This six-block area is popular with locals and visitors alike, especially during South by Southwest, when things can be a bit crazy in Austin. Must-visits include Parlor & Yard, Green Light Social, and the iconic Maggie Mae's.

The Austin beer garden brewing scene will have you spoiled for choice. Dozens of craft breweries and cideries call Austin home, from the famous Sixth Street to the far-flung suburbs. If you can't decide which to try first, consider booking a brewery tour.

Texas Hill Country wine tours have also long been a favorite among connoisseurs. Winery destinations like Fredericksburg, TX, are easily within a day trip from the Austin metro.

Education & Healthcare Options

Austin excels in the domains of education and healthcare. The city boasts top-quality schools and medical facilities, catering to families and individuals alike. Whether you’re looking for a top-rated school for your children or a medical facility that offers excellent care, Austin has you covered.

Schools in Austin

University of Texas at Austin

Austin is served by the Austin Independent School District (AISD), which covers most of the city, except some of the more southwestern areas.

Eanes Independent School District (Eanes ISD) handles some parts of northwest Austin, as does Leander Independent School District (Leander ISD). Round Rock ISD serves some parts north of 183 as far as the city of Pflugerville, while Del Valle and Pflugerville ISDs handle the area west of I-35 down to some parts south of 290. Some other school districts that fall within Austin's city limits are Leona, Lake Travis, the city of Lago Vista, the city of Manor, Marble Falls ISD (though some areas lie in Burnet County), and ESD (including Webberville).

There are also over 100 private schools serving almost 20,000 students in the area. Just over a third of these private schools are religiously affiliated.

Note that area schools can change attendance zones at any time, so be sure to check the individual school district websites for information on what schools serve any particular address.

The most iconic university in the area, UT Austin, has over 50,000 students and is particularly renowned for its architecture, business, and engineering programs. There are also over 10 other public and private universities in the area, such as Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, St. Edward's University, Southwestern University in the nearby city of Georgetown, and Texas State Univer­sity–San Marcos.

Austin Healthcare

Healthcare is a top priority in Austin. There are over 50 hospitals in the Austin area, including many state-of-the-art facilities. Some of Austin's most notable hospitals include:

  • St. David's Medical Center
  • Ascension Seteon Median Center Austin
  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Austin
  • Dell Children's Medical Center

Whether you’re seeking routine care or specialized treatment, Austin’s healthcare facilities have you covered.

Transportation & Accessibility

While traffic can be a challenge due to the city’s rapid population growth, there are plenty of alternative transportation options available. From buses and rail lines to rideshare services, Austin offers a variety of ways to navigate the city.

Traffic Challenges

During rush hour, the most congested areas tend to be I-35, Highway 290, and MoPac, also called Loop 1, especially near downtown and near where any two of the three cross paths in the southwest and southeast areas of the city. Highway 183 in the northwest can also experience slowdowns.

The best way to avoid rush hour (which can start as early as 6 a.m.) is to work remotely, live close to work, or start the morning early. During rush hour, typically 7 to 9 a.m., traffic delays can take a one-hour commute and add 30 minutes or more on top, not factoring in weather or accidents.

Depending on the start point and destination of a drive, using local roads as alternative routes may or may not help, as the Colorado River runs through the middle of the city, and there are limited roads to cross it. However, I-35 and MoPac run parallel to each other through most of Austin, so if there's an accident or other delay on one, it may be worth checking the other.

Public Transit

While Austin has a significant car culture (there are over 800 major parking garages in the downtown area), it also has various options for public transportation.

The MetroRail train runs over 32 miles along nine different stations, starting at downtown Austin and going all the way up to the city of Leander. Single rides cost $3.50, and twice that for a full-day pass. It operates six days per week, with service going until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 1:30 a.m. on Friday, and 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Capital Metro's bus system provides access to many different parts of the city, including the university. The price of single rides is $1.25, and daily passes are $2.50. As with the rail, multi-day passes and other fares are also available.

Austin also has plenty of Uber and Lyft drivers and other ride-sharing services always available. More traditional taxi companies, such as ProntoRide, Vonlane, Austin Express Cab, and Yellow Cab, are also available. For a unique experience, riders can also find one of Austin's pedicabs.

Speaking of pedal power, MetroBike Austin is the city's bike-sharing service. Bike docking stations are particularly plentiful around the downtown area and the university for maximum convenience. Download the app, unlock a bike, and leave it at the nearest dock to the destination.

Preparing for Austin's Weather

Austin Has Warm Winters and Hot Summers

Austin's weather is mixed, but on the whole, you can expect a warm and sunny experience. With average temperatures ranging from mild winters to hot summers, residents get to enjoy plenty of sunshine throughout the year.

In good news for those who love to be outside, it never gets too cold here—the temperature generally ranges from average lows of 43 in January to highs of 97 in August and only rarely dips below 30.

The best time to visit Austin from a weather perspective is during the spring when things are warm but not overly hot. On the other hand, things slow down a little during the summer as it tends to be too hot for many visitors' tastes, and things pick up again during the fall and winter months. Peak tourism months are from early April to late May and in the fall from mid-September to late October. Regardless of the time of year, however, there's constantly something going on.

The rainiest month is May, with an average of 3.8 inches of precipitation. On the other hand, snow is unlikely, with perhaps a third of an inch per year.

Find Your Home in Austin, Texas

From its booming tech industry and vibrant culture to its welcoming atmosphere, Austin offers a unique blend of opportunities for new residents. Whether you’re looking for a thriving job market, affordable housing, top-notch education and healthcare, or an array of outdoor activities, Austin has it all. So why wait? Start planning your move to Austin today and experience all the wonders this city has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving to Austin

Is it a good idea to move to Austin Texas?

Moving to Austin, Texas is a great idea due to its thriving job market, strong real estate market, and abundant outdoor activities. The vibrant food scene, creative community, and title of Live Music Capital of the World make it an ideal place for entertainment and inspiration.

What is a good salary in Austin?

The median household income in the Austin metro area is around $86,500. Salaries in Austin tend to be higher than the national average, with the median salary being roughly $65,250.

Why do people like Austin so much?

People love Austin for its vibrant live music scene, famous festivals like SXSW, and diverse food and outdoor activity options, making it a must-visit destination for cultural experiences and entertainment. Job-seekers are also attracted by its major tech industry.

Why are so many Californians moving to Austin?

Many Californians are moving to Austin because the cost of living is significantly lower, making it a far more cost-effective option compared to California. This provides a great opportunity for those looking to save money and find affordable living options.

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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