Moving to Austin? Here’s what you need to know
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Moving to Austin? Here’s what you need to know

by Team NextBurb 1 January 2021

Moving Guides By City

Whether you know it as the Live Music Capital of the World or the Violet Crown City, Austin is a whirlwind of eclectic culture, art, and history.

Here’s what you need to know about moving to this captivating city.

One of Austin’s many downtown murals
One of Austin’s many downtown murals

Quick facts about Austin

  • Austin proudly claims its place in the culture of American music.

    Artists including Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson gained popularity by playing bars and clubs around the city and in Austin City Limits, the longest-running musical TV show in the United States.

    Today, Austin’s annual festival South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the country’s biggest events for music and digital media.
  • While you’ve heard the slogan used by cities across the U.S., “Keep Austin Weird” originated in 2000 from a local Austin radio show that wanted to help preserve the city’s small businesses and culture in the wake of rapid growth and gentrification.
  • Austin is a city of many names. Violet light that occurs during winter evenings in the sky gained it the title of “Violet Crown City,” while Austin’s status as a hotbed for tech startups and venture capital funding led to the nickname “Silicon Hills.”

What to Know About Austin

Population & History

Austin was founded in 1730 by Spanish settlers and became the capital of Texas when the state won its independence from Mexico.

Today, the metro area is home to nearly 2,300,000 residents and covers 4,300 square miles on both sides of the Colorado River.

Weather in Austin

Austin’s climate is affected by both desert conditions in the Southwest and humidity and moisture from the Southeast.

This means that while summers are long and hot, the spring, fall, and winter seasons are warm and mild.

Temperatures in the hot summer months reach an average of 90℉ or higher, which then drops to the 70’s and 80’s in the fall and spring and mid-50’s in the winter.

As with many cities in Texas, Austin is subject to extreme weather conditions.

Supercell thunderstorms can sweep over the city multiple times a year and occasionally cause flash flooding and wind damage.

Tornadoes are a rare occurrence but historically have also caused significant damage to the city.

Top Attractions in Austin

While it’s one of the largest American cities without a professional sports team, Austin has just about everything else you could want for sightseeing and entertainment.

Whether you want to taste fusion cuisine or cheer on up-and-coming musical artists at a local music venue, Austin’s love of culture ensures fun and adventure for everyone.

Keeping Austin Weird: Places to Visit

  • For Austin culture: South Congress (SoCo) is one of Austin’s most iconic neighborhoods.

    Located along South Congress Avenue are dozens of quirky restaurants, music venues, bars, and local shops.

    Grab ice cream from Amy’s Ice Cream and browse through 4,000 pairs of cowboy boots at Allen’s Boots or vintage volumes at South Congress Books.

    For a fun Halloween experience no matter the time of year, check out Austin’s famous costume shop, Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds.
  • A free art-walk: Austin is full of quirky murals and art installations that help capture and create the city’s eclectic, fun-loving culture.

    Get your picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” mural on South Congress, or leave your mark in chalk on the interactive piece “Before I Die…” on East Elizabeth Street.

    If you want a more immersive experience, check out the Cathedral of Junk, which is just what it sounds like: a series of structures and installations made entirely out of used, discarded items.

    It’s actually located on private property, but viewers can call ahead and make a reservation to visit–for free!
  • Visit the Jurassic Period: Over the years, scientists have found 21 different types of dinosaur fossils throughout Texas.

    You can find many things on display at the Texas Memorial Museum or the Austin Nature & Science Center (free admission), which both explore the natural history of the Austin area.

    For more fossil fun, take the family to Dinosaur Park, where life-sized statues loom over paved paths to create an immersive dino experience. Kids can participate in treasure hunts and fossil digs throughout the park as well.
  • Texas history: Even Austin’s historic capitol building is unique: it’s built out of a dusky, naturally pink granite.

    Visit the rotunda and get a free guided tour of the Texas State Capitol building.
The Texas State Capitol, which is built from naturally pink granite
The Texas State Capitol, which is built from naturally pink granite

Outdoor Experiences in Austin

Take advantage of central Texas’s mild spring and fall seasons by heading to one of Austin’s beautiful parks. In Northwest Hills, Bull Creek District Park has short hikes, volleyball courts, and opportunities for swimming and fishing.

For a more serious adventure, hike the 13.8-mile out-and-back trail at Barton Creek Wilderness Park.

During the hot summer months, head downtown to the river. Lady Bird Lake is a human-made reservoir in the Colorado River that runs through the center of Austin. Green public parks bordering both sides of the lake are the perfect spot for a picnic or a walk along the park’s 10-mile paved trail.

You can fish in the lake or rent a boat to enjoy sunny temperatures and a view of the city skyline.

If Austin wasn’t weird enough, the city has a host of unusual residents: bats.

The largest urban bat population in the United States lives in the city and can be spotted in the evenings between March and November.

Head to the east side of Congress Avenue bridge to watch thousands of bats emerge and fly out into the night sky.

You can even get a specialized boat tour or rent a kayak to watch from the water.

Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, right next to downtown
Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, right next to downtown

To Eat

Austin is a great town for food.

Here are just a few of the fantastic spots to eat around the city.

Tex Mex & Tacos: Austin staples like breakfast tacos and enchiladas are easy to find and will taste phenomenal wherever you go, whether to upscale restaurants like Fonda San Miguel or at local chains such as Torchy’s Tacos.

Austin claims it invented the breakfast taco, a feat also claimed by San Antonio. Be the judge yourself and try your best in the city from spots like Rosita al Pastor, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, or Joe’s Bakery.

Genuine Texas Barbeque: Nearly every southern state in the U.S. claims to know the barbecue best.

Texas is hard to beat, and Austin is the perfect city to experience the potential for delicious smoked meat and secret-ingredient sauces.

Franklin BBQ wears the crown as the most popular Austin barbecue restaurant, and it’s worth the long lines that usually run out the door at lunchtime.

Runners-up include the legendary Terry Black’s BBQ and Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew.

Austin Food Trucks: Food trucks create some of Austin’s most innovative, quirky cuisine.

Try pan-Asian fusion from Spicy Boys, where you can order spicy chicken with Thai dipping sauces.

To expand your breakfast taco repertoire, try Veracruz All-Natural.

If it’s dessert you’re looking for, The Churro Co is a food truck that makes churros from scratch and adds all kinds of crazy (delicious) toppings.

To Listen

We can’t talk about Austin without mentioning live music.

Whether you listen to blues, rock n’ roll, Americana, or indie-folk, one of Austin’s 250 music venues will have something up your alley. Here are some of Austin’s iconic venues.

  • Learn how to two-step at Broken Spoke, a honky-tonk that opened in 1964 and has been played by musical guests including Dolly Parton.
  • For wild variety, check out Mohawk, a venue with two stages. Whether it’s indoors next to a cozy fireplace or at the second stage up on the roof, regulars and newcomers alike can catch live music, comedy shows, and even the occasional wrestling match.
  • Another legendary Austin spot is Donn’s Depot, a dancehall and piano bar located in an old train station (with a caboose for a bathroom!). Listen to free music every night of the week. If you’re lucky, Donn himself will make an appearance and play piano for his patrons.

Living in Austin

Austin’s top employers

The average income in the Austin metro area is $73,213.

Austin’s annual job growth rate of 3.3% makes it one of the fastest-growing major areas in the United States.

The state of Texas is a top employer alongside leading companies in the tech and healthcare industries.

The Seton Family of Hospitals and St. David’s Healthcare Partnership are two of Austin’s largest healthcare employers.

Tech companies include Dell, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, IBM, and National Instruments, among others. Austin is also home to Whole Foods, 3M, the University of Texas at Austin, and digital consulting company Accenture.

Working from home in Austin

Austin has several unique coworking offices for those who want to get out of the house for some focus and a change of scenery.

WeWork provides traditional spaces at two locations, downtown and in North Austin. Local coworking spaces like Vessel Coworking and Fibercove are hip communal spaces with rentable offices that offer amenities to members like coffee bars and sparkling water on tap.

Austin’s top internet providers are AT&T and Charter Spectrum.

Plans with AT&T start at $35/month, and with Charter Spectrum at $49.99/month for all your home office internet needs.

Cost of Living

Austin’s cost of living is 19.3% higher than the national average.

A significant contributing factor is housing, which is a competitive market due to the city’s rapid growth over the past decade.

Food, healthcare, and utilities all fall slightly beneath national rates.

Sales tax in Austin and much of the surrounding metro area is 8.25%, which is 1.13% above the national average of 7.12%.

Although Texas has no property tax, county taxes for Travis County and additional city taxes bring Austin property tax rates close to 2.22%, which is 1.1% higher than the national property tax average.

Fortunately, Texas doesn’t charge income tax, which eases the burden of the higher-than-average property and sales tax.

Transportation & Commute

Austin’s public transportation systems are run by Capital Metro, which provides bus routes and MetroRail trains throughout downtown and into the northern and southern parts of the city.

Austin plans to improve and expand current public transportation routes to provide better access between the University of Texas at Austin and the downtown area.

Most Austin metro-area residents travel and commute primarily by car, although many bike in mild weather as well. I-35 runs north-south through the city, providing access to downtown businesses from the suburbs.

Because of the city’s quickly growing population, rush hour traffic in Austin is considered some of the worst congestion in Texas.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport lies 18 minutes southeast of downtown Austin and is the third-largest airport in Texas.

After several expansion projects, the airport has 25 gates and provides flights from airlines including Southwest, American, Delta, and United.

Best places to live in and around Austin

Best neighborhoods for families with kids

  • Rollingwood: With its excellent schools and quick access to parks along Lady Bird Lake, Rollingwood tops our list of the best places for families.

    Spaced-out properties give the area a rural feel only a 13-minute drive from downtown Austin.

    Median home prices are relatively high at $1,565,710.
  • West Lake Hills: Also only a 13-minute drive from the city center is West Lake Hills, one of the best suburbs to live in the Austin area.

    West Lake Hills has a quaint small-town feel and winding residential roads.

    The median home price is $1,411,694, although basic homes start around $600,000.

    With great schools and fantastic views over the city, West Lake Hills is considered one of the best Austin suburbs.
  • Brushy Creek: 28 minutes north of Austin is Brushy Creek, a pleasant suburb with plenty of parks and shops. Brushy Creek maintains excellent school ratings and is a more affordable option than other neighboring areas, with a median home price of $437,901.

Best neighborhoods for young professionals:

  • Neighborhoods in Austin: One of the best places to live to access nightlife and city energy is in the city itself!

    Top Austin neighborhoods to buy or rent include North University (close to the University of Texas at Austin), Old West Austin (for a relaxed suburban feel), and Zilker (for quick downtown access and beautiful parks).

    The median home value in Austin is $261,400.
  • Wells Branch: The friendly town of Wells Branch is widely considered one of the best Austin suburbs for young professionals.

    Twenty minutes from downtown Austin, this city has a great community, miles of parks and hiking trails, and an affordable median home value of $344,498.
  • Bee Cave: Located 27 minutes east of Austin, Bee Cave is a great place to look for clean streets, new homes, and a friendly community.

    The suburb has plenty of shopping and dining, including a movie theater and several live music venues.

    The median home price in Bee Cave is $628,171.

Higher Education

Austin takes great pride as a college town to the University of Texas at Austin, which enrolls around 51,000 students each year.

UT Austin more than makes up for the city’s lack of professional sports with its NCAA D1 football team.

Cheer with the rest of Austin and watch the Longhorns play home games at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium on the North side of the city. Famous UT Austin alumni include Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson.

Crime in Austin

While crime rates in Austin are 44% higher than the national average, many surrounding suburbs including those mentioned above have much lower rates and are considered safe and secure places to live for families and young professionals alike.

As an overall metro area, the city is considered one of the safest in the United States.

Are you considering Austin as your next home?

Austin’s quirky downtown spirit and spacious suburbs make it a fantastic place to live.

With three seasons of mild weather and plenty of sun, this city is full of fun, whether it’s listening to up-and-coming artists or hiking along the Colorado River.

As a growing mecca of innovation and eclectic artistry, Austin is a fantastic place for families, young professionals, and anyone looking for a city with just about everything there is to offer.

Here at Nextburb, we’re committed to providing you with the facts you need to know about any area you’re considering as a future home.

Discover the best places to live in the United States to find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go.

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