Welcome to Austin! Thinking about moving to our fun, progressive, charming city? You’re in the right place. We wanted to give our clients a guidebook to Austin, so they could decide if it’s the right fit before making a big life decision like buying a house. For our clients who have already decided that this is the city for them, we’ve filled this guide with helpful tips, articles, and other information about how to move to Austin and what to do once you get here, so your transition can be as seamless as possible.
Austin: A Cultural Overview
Whether you’re into live music, college sports, killer barbeque, the tech industry, outdoor activities, or just about anything else, you’ll probably feel right at home in Austin. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, concerts ranging from multi-day music festivals (like SXSW and ACL) to indie sets at neighborhood bars make finding live music easy any night of the week.
So what about the daytime? Why not check out our bike trails throughout the city or some of our gorgeous parks? Austinites love the outdoors and the nice weather year round makes it easy to get fresh air no matter the season. Good weather + a love of the outdoors means that most bars and restaurants have patio seating, so in addition to catching some sun while you sip on a local brew, you can spend time with your furry friend too! Austin is consistently ranked as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the US, so if you’ve already got a fur baby or are thinking about adopting a pooch, this is the city for you.
Many people are under the assumption that living in Central Texas means no big bodies of water or water activities unless you’re willing to drive to Galveston. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. While we may not have an ocean coastline, Austin boasts tons of lakes that are on the Colorado River like Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis. Austinites can frequently be seen paddle boarding or kayaking along the river and in the lakes. If you love swimming, we highly suggest checking out Barton Springs — a recreational outdoor swimming pool that is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs.
While there are certainly many facets to Austin’s vibrant culture, a big thing that unites us is our weirdness. You’ll often hear Austinites saying “Keep Austin Weird” as a means of preserving the unique culture and the historic, local businesses that have shaped the city and its neighborhoods. Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, so with an influx of people comes an influx of infrastructure. Even with these big developments and changing demography, it is critical to appreciate the weirdness that flows through the city’s veins.
Austin’s culture has made it a well-known progressive city for socio-political issues and a haven for many marginalized groups in an otherwise largely conservative state. Embracing and celebrating the diversity of our city’s residents is what makes Austin so fun and unique. Carnaval Brasileiro, the Austin Reggae Festival, and the Austin Pride Festival & Parade are just a few of the annual cultural events that we look forward to celebrating.
Austin vs California
Clearly, Austin has many things going for it and a lot to offer, but what really sets it apart from other highly-desirable places? Take California for example: a huge state with tons of opportunities, climates, cultures, food, and drink. But, the catch is that all of that is spread out across 163,000 square miles, meaning you have to make choices about which aspects you want within a reasonable driving distance.
If the tech sector is your thing, then Silicon Valley in Northern California is for you, but be prepared for a pretty steep cost of living — steep enough to rival the hilly San Francisco streets. Perhaps you’re into the slower pace of a Southern California lifestyle where you can be near the beach or rub elbows with celebrities in Beverly Hills, which sounds like a dream until you factor in that notoriously bad LA traffic.
Living along the California coastline is a coveted experience, but it comes with a hefty price tag if you want to be relatively close to the water. Speaking of price tags, the median home price in California climbed to just over $700,000 in September 2020, whereas the median home price in Austin hovers right around $500,000. And how could we forget that living in Texas means no state income tax!
There is obviously more to California than just The Bay Area or Sunny SoCal, but no matter how you slice it, you’ll probably have to give something up. Austin, however, is such a special place that offers the gorgeous weather year round like SoCal, great tech industry opportunities like Silicon Valley, the vibrant and diverse beat of a city, mouth-watering food and drink, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
Austin vs Florida
Like many folks who are considering moving to a new city, you probably have some criteria about what you want from your new backyard. If you’re considering Austin, chances are you might also be considering Miami for it’s sunny weather and renowned cultural scene or neighboring Fort Lauderdale for a slightly more suburban experience. If Florida is on your radar, you might also be considering Tampa for its smaller city feel and warm Gulf of Mexico waters.
Both the east and west coasts of Florida are compelling choices, but if sudden downpours of rain and the very real threat of hurricanes isn’t your thing, that’s a huge factor to consider. When moving cities, many people forget about the impact a region’s climate can have on an individual’s experience of that city. While Florida boasts warm weather throughout the year, it’s geographic location also has some drawbacks. For someone who is anxious about natural disasters like hurricanes, moving to Florida would probably make that person’s stress levels rise.
Florida is included in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak running from mid August to late October. While most hurricanes don’t make landfall or cause a lot of damage, their weather patterns result in a lot of precipitation. The average annual rainfall for Miami, for example, is about 62 inches, whereas it is only about 35 inches in Austin. Of the 365 days in a year, 128 of those are rainy in Miami, but only 79 days are rainy per year in Austin.
If living somewhere subject to hurricanes and rainy skies 35% of the time doesn’t quite faze you, don’t forget to factor in that homeowners insurance in Florida is double what it is in other states primarily because of hurricanes. In some cases, your home insurance payment could end up costing as much as your monthly mortgage payment.
Austin vs New York
New York — particularly New York City — is often one of the first places that comes to mind when considering a move to a new city. Among the iconic landmarks, rich history, countless opportunities, world-renowned dining and entertainment, what’s not to love? Even though all of that sounds promising and exciting, that’s a fairly romanticized portrait of the city. Once you add in factors like:
- Cost of living
- New York City’s overall cost of living is 57% higher than Austin’s, but housing alone is 84.4% higher. This means you’ll be spending a much greater portion of your salary on necessities like housing, utilities, groceries, and healthcare, leaving less disposable income for leisure, entertainment, and other fun things.
- Population density
- New York City covers 302.6 square miles, which is fairly close in size to Austin’s area of 326.5 square miles. However, NYC’s population is 9 times larger than Austin’s, so if you value your personal space, NYC might not be the best option for you.
- Having a car in New York City isn’t very practical because of the congestion, narrow streets, infamously erratic drivers, and limited parking (unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg for a spot in a parking garage). If you’re not a fan of public transportation, taxis and rideshare services are plentiful, but those costs can add up quickly.
- Commute time
- Because most New Yorkers take public transportation to and from work, the average commute time is 41 minutes — 70% longer than the average 24 minute commute in Austin.
With these factors in mind, it’s much easier to recognize how the media’s portrayal of the city is heavily filtered through rose-tinted glasses.
Making the Decision to Move
Now that you’ve thought through some key considerations, are you ready to commit to moving to Austin? Congratulations! We can’t wait for you to get here and experience everything that the best city (okay, maybe, we’re a little biased) has to offer. The rest of this guide is set up as an overview of major factors to consider when moving here like: residential neighborhoods, cost of living, education, and a moving checklist.