Quick Facts About Austin
Nestled among the live oaks and ash trees of the Texas Hill Country, Austin is the quirky, cosmopolitan heart of the Lone Star State. Less buttoned-up than business-centric Dallas and even cooler than its coastal cousin in Houston (the largest city in Texas), Austin is artsy and off-beat, but never off-putting.
This capital city has long been known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, launching the careers of legends like Willy Nelson and Janis Joplin and rising stars like Gary Clark Jr. and Shakey Graves. Whether you’re destined to become a regular at Austin’s honky-tonks or looking for laughs at the comedy club scene, Austin’s nightlife has something for everyone.
With nearly one million residents, Austin has expanded rapidly in the last twelve years, gaining nearly 200,000 new residents who are drawn to the jobs, the landscape and the city scene. The greater Austin-Round Rock area is now home to nearly 2.5 million people, doubling its size since the turn of the century. Tech giants like Dell and Samsung are headquartered in the Texas capital, but major players in diverse industries have also made the city their primary address, including Whole Foods, Indeed and Yeti. And it won’t surprise anyone that Vrbo makes its permanent home in this major tourist destination, which attracts 30 million U.S. visitors every year with major events, from SXSW to Formula 1 racing.
Of course, Austin residents also know how to escape from the crowds, whether it’s skating around the Veloway or zip-lining in nearby McKinney Roughs Nature Park. And if you just need a day to chill out with the family, a picnic at Laguna Gloria — part of The Contemporary Austin museum and sculpture park — is an art-filled treat in nature.
Learn more about this unusual Southern city below and see if Austin is the right place for your family.
Living in Austin
Cost of Living in Austin
While Texas’ cost of living is 7.5 points lower than the U.S. average, the cost of living in Austin is actually higher than the state and the national average, especially when it comes to housing and healthcare. Healthcare amounts to nearly 5% of annual wages, but housing costs Austinites more than 28% of earnings, on average.
According to the National Association of Realtors, single-family homes and condos in the Austin metro area are the most expensive in the state. The median sales price of a single-family home in the Austin area topped $613,000 in 2022, but by the end of the year, prices had fallen to $479,000 — still $100,000 above the Dallas median. Groceries, utilities and transportation costs are generally lower in Austin than elsewhere in the country.
If Austin’s real estate prices have you reeling, Texas does offer some major tax breaks to homeowners and businesses, charging no state income tax on corporations or individuals. Likewise, Austin levies no personal income tax on residents. But there is a 1.66% state property tax in Texas, an additional property tax in Austin (which varies by district) and a 8.25% sales and use tax in the city.
Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than that you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.
Austin Economy and Job Market
Since the start of the pandemic, Austin has proven to be one of the most resilient cities in America when it comes to the job market. Since February of 2022, Austin has gained 58,000 jobs — an increase of 4.8% — making it one of the top ten states in the country for job growth over this past year.
As the host of cultural behemoths like SXSW, Austin’s leisure and hospitality saw the highest gains (+13.4%), followed by wholesale trade (+10.9%), manufacturing (+7.6%), information (+6.9%) and professional/business services (+6.7%). The workforce has grown by 13.2% since the start of the pandemic — a gain of more than 150,000 jobs. In February 2023, the unemployment rate stood at just 3.7%.
Unlike its sister cities in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Austin has only one Fortune 500 company, Oracle: a multinational tech giant whose products include Java, Linux and PeopleSoft. But Oracle is hardly the only tech presence in the area. Dell, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, IBM, Samsung, NXP Semiconductors, and National Instruments all have bases in Austin. In addition to these technology companies, Austin has proven to be an advantageous base for many different kinds industries, including advanced manufacturing, creative/digital media and life sciences.
All of Austin’s businesses benefit from the area’s academic institutions, like the University of Texas at Austin — the school’s flagship — and Texas State University. These two institutions contribute close to 80,000 members of the regional population while providing a steady stream of highly skilled individuals to the workforce.
Getting Around Austin
Although Austin has a public transportation system, the city is still very car-centric. Travis County, where much of the metro Austin population is located, is the fifth most-populous county in the state, and commute times here average 25 minutes — only slightly less than Dallas and Houston.
CapMetro, the city’s public transit authority, combines light rail, on-demand services and several types of buses. Ridership in 2022 totaled 22.2 million, an increase of more than 20% over the previous year. Bus fare is $1.25/ride and MetroRail services is $3.50/ride.
Austin is also dedicated to improving its bikeability level. Residents and visitors can consult the city’s bike map to learn which routes are considered high-comfort — where pathways are suitable for cyclists of all abilities and also shielded from traffic — and which are considered extremely low-comfort routes that aren’t suitable for travel on two wheels (like highways). Locals interested in reducing greenhouse gases during their commute can also use Austin’s MetroBike bikeshare program. An annual membership is just $86 for an unlimited number of 60-minute trips.
Best Neighborhoods in Austin
In this city of 964,177, there seems to be no slowing down the population growth. Austin has grown by nearly 175,000 people since 2010, sending housing and rent prices skyward. While the median home value from 2017-2021 was $381,400 home prices have skyrocketed since then, and rents average a whopping $1,415.
Still, not even this seems to dampen the enthusiasm for this cultural capital, where there are neighborhoods and suburbs to suit every style and vibe. Austin is known for its quirky and eclectic digs, and if you move to this arts-centric area, you’re bound to fall in love with everything the Bat City has to offer.
If you’re looking for a memorable night out on the town, the Sixth Street scene has your name written all over it. The city closes the area to through traffic on the weekends so that visitors can amble between bars and live music sets unencumbered. North Austin, by contrast, is a family-friendly area with a tree-lined shopping and dining district. Clarksville and Old West Austin are historic treasures, filled with airy, welcoming eateries and contemporary art galleries, including an outdoor venue that invites visitors to create works of graffiti on its concrete walls.
One of the coolest places to live in town is in the West Campus/West University area. This district has hangouts popular with the college set (and adults looking to relive their academic days), especially in the bars and coffee shops in The Drag. Apartments and condominiums dominate this youthful area, but you’ll find single family homes on the edges of this dense, urban district. Expect high prices and small spaces, generally. The nearby Pease District Park has an amazing public treehouse and a new water feature to keep everyone cool during Austin’s hot summers.
In the near-town district of Hyde Park, you’ll find cozy neighborhoods with indie restaurants and cafes — even the grocery stores are within walking distances of most homes. Colorful cottages abound, but prices are shockingly steep for these small single-families — you’ll pay upwards of $600,000 for even the smallest of bungalows. The area is popular with young, educated professionals, and many rent their homes rather than owning them.
In the suburbs north of Austin, Gateway is a centralized shopping district that serves the North Austin areas of Hardrock Canyon, Quarry, North Burnet, the Westover Hills area and others. This popular region 10 miles outside the city has well-appointed neighborhoods and lots of amenities — easy access to highways, big box stores along with independent restaurants and highly rated schools. Housing in this area can be more affordably priced and sized more appropriately for growing families.
Note: If you’re thinking of moving to Austin, it’s important to thoroughly research neighborhoods or areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to live, make sure you understand the area’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information.
Unique Experiences in Austin
No city in the country can hold a candle (or a lighter, high in the air) to Austin’s music scene. This is a place where icons are born and made, and music is woven into the cultural fiber of the city. Each spring, the city’s most epic annual event — SXSW — brings the biggest acts in music, tv/film and comedy to a Texas-size stage, with an outsize cultural conference to boot. In the fall, Austin City Limits commands nine stages at Zilker Park for two three-day weekend blow-outs, with headliners like Kendrick Lamar, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Shania Twain.
Music festivals aside, the real scene is still in the city’s smaller venues, like Stubb’s BBQ in the Red River District, where you can catch The Mountain Goats, Sylvan Esso or Thundercat, along with some spicy pollitos and smoky brisket. Blues lovers will want to check out Antone’s, and Parish hosts indies and up-and-comers from every genre.
If you’re looking for an even bigger buzz, Austin’s Circuit of the Americas hosts the most high-octane action in the state (outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston), with Formula 1, MotoGP and NASCAR racing events. Amateurs can get their own taste of the turf on the COTA Kart track or try out the real deal on two wheels on one of the summer bike nights.
When it’s time to cool off, Austin has one of the country’s most unusual swimming holes. The three-acre pool at Barton Springs is fed by natural, underground sources which maintain a pleasant water temp of around 70°F year-round. Paddlers will enjoy the waters of Lady Bird Lake, named for the former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, without whom this recreational area would likely not exist. This reservoir in the Colorado River passes under the Congress Avenue Bridge, where Austin’s famous urban bat colony — 1.5 million strong — makes its residence.
In between the shows, the honky-tonks and the hiking, Austin has some of the country’s best eats. Skip the generic Tex-Mex joints and go straight for the good stuff—Con Todo. This taqueria serves only house-made tortillas, filled with the most savory ingredients and topped “with everything,” true to its name. The pollo en mole rojo is our favorite.
In the realm of barbecue, Austinites are definitively spoiled by the pitmastery of Franklin Barbecue—which sets a new standard for standards—as well as adventuresome establishments like Interstellar BBQ, which tempts patrons with peach tea glazed pork belly and pulled lamb shoulder.
Austin’s food trucks are the best way to eat your way through the city’s food scene, which is bold, international and ambitious. Beirut serves up traditional Lebanese delights like shish tawook and tasty mashups like shawarma fries. Bodhi Viet satisfies Vietnamese vegan cravings with sticky rice dumplings, meatless kebabs and banana egg rolls. And when you really deserve dessert, hit The Churro Co. for a Mexican iced chocolate and some Texas Comfort — churros dusted with cardamom sugar and topped with salted caramel, apple pie, and a healthy dollop whipped cream. Yes, they are open for breakfast.
Get Ready to Move to Austin
When you choose to work with a professional, long-distance moving company like United Van Lines, your cross-country move to Austin can be a seamless experience. United Van Lines’ customized, full-service moving packages can address all your moving needs, including packing, unpacking, debris removal, car shipping, storage and more.
Moving within Texas? If you’re moving to Austin from another city in Texas or even just moving within the Austin area, United Van Lines’ interstate Texas agents/movers can provide local moving services/local movers who will help you move within the state independently under their own businesses and brands.
Handling your own move to Austin? United Van Lines can provide you with a wealth of helpful moving resources, including moving checklists, packing tips, and regional guides. The MyUnited Move Portal can help manage all the details.
Unsure about which city you’ll be settling in in the Lone Star State? Our Guide to Moving to Texas provides helpful information about Texas’ most popular cities.