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Austin, Texas city skyline.

16 Things to Know About Living in Austin

Moving to Austin? Ranked as one of the best places to live in the South and one of the best big cities in the U.S., the capital of Texas offers great higher education opportunities, endless outdoor activities, a top-notch entertainment scene, and more. Check out these 16 things to know about living in Austin!

Enjoy Affordable Living in the South

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One of the reasons why people love living in Austin is because of its affordability! Homes in Austin have a median purchase price of $358,600 and rentals are available for $1,346—and because they’re all in close proximity to top-notch amenities, Austin is known as one of the best cities to buy real estate and one of the best places to invest in Airbnb properties. Although the property taxes in Texas are higher compared to other states, residents can take advantage of having no personal or corporate income tax in Austin. And while the Austin cost of living is 20% higher than the national average, it’s significantly more affordable than other major cities like San Francisco, Boston, and New York City. Not to mention, those looking for especially affordable housing in Austin can find a variety of safe, budget-friendly neighborhoods in the area to choose from.

Find Great Employment Opportunities

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Austin ranks as one of the best U.S. cities for young professionals and best cities for jobs, thanks to its booming job market and many workforce development programs. The city of Austin has a 3.2% unemployment rate, and tech positions have grown to the point of earning the city its nickname of Silicon Hills. Major tech corporations and Fortune 500 companies like 3M, Apple Inc, Google, Dell, Meta, and Oracle have locations in ATX. Besides tech, those looking for jobs in Austin can find careers in other industries like healthcare and education with employers like St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and St. Edwards University. Plus, if you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch a startup, Austin is known as the best place to start a business!

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Choose From Excellent Schools in Austin

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that ATX is ranked as the best college town in America, as there are so many high-quality Austin universities where young professionals can pursue higher education! Show your school pride by holding up the “hook ’em horns” sign when you become a Longhorn at The University of Texas at Austin. Prepare for a career in accounting, acting, marketing, finance, and more at one of the best regional colleges in the West, the esteemed St. Edward’s University. Find faith-based education and hands-on learning by enrolling at Concordia University Texas. Pursue a degree at Huston-Tillotson University, where you can explore majors like education, music, and political science. Or travel just over 30 minutes outside the city to study biology, agriculture, or communication studies at Texas State University.

Take Advantage of Public Transportation in Austin

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There are plenty of Austin public transportation options that are a great solution for navigating its infamously heavy traffic. Catch a ride on Capital Metro (CapMetro) for bus routes throughout Downtown Austin and the ATX metro. To access Austin’s northern suburbs, hop on the CapMetro Rail, a 32-mile route from Downtown Austin via the Red Line. For shorter commutes, Austinites can rent a MetroBike at one of the many stations located throughout the city. If you have your own bike, take advantage of the well-developed paths for biking in Austin. Or if you want to travel outside the city, reach international destinations by plane at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Live In One of the Greenest U.S. Cities

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As one of the greenest cities in America, Austin is perfect for residents who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The Texas capital has plenty of wind farms in an effort to reach its goal of generating 65% of the city’s energy from renewable sources by 2027. Plus, new constructions in Austin are being built according to LEED green building standards, and since ATX is a leader in community solar energy, many of the city’s public buildings are powered by clean energy. Because Austin, Texas sustainability efforts are a core value of the city, the local government has many green resources to help residents stay environmentally conscious, including curbside compost collection, the Air Quality Program, the Grow Green gardening education program, and more.

Get Your Adventure On

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Because Austin’s weather is made up of hot summers and mild winters, you can enjoy the city’s many outdoor activities and waterfront entertainment year-round. Explore Austin’s natural beauty and go ziplining through the trees or flyboarding out of the water when you visit Lake Travis. Crawl, climb, and squeeze through cave passages 26 feet beneath the ground with fellow adventurers just outside the city at the Inner Space Cavern. Watch the largest colony of urban Mexican free-tailed bats in the world take flight beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge—and book a kayak tour or riverboat cruise for the best viewing experience. But don’t limit your fun in the city to the outdoors! If you want to explore indoor Austin activities that are great for both kids and adults, feed octopi, stingrays, and sharks, or pet lemurs and sloths at the Austin Aquarium. Or introduce your kiddos to vintage toys and arcade games from the past century at the Texas Toy Museum.

Spend the Day at Zilker Park

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Hunting for fun things to do in Austin? With everything from hiking trails and swimming holes to festivals and theater productions, Zilker Metropolitan Park is a must-see 351-acre outdoor oasis! Gather a few friends to rent canoes and kayaks on Lady Bird Lake. Go biking, hiking, or bouldering along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Cool down in 68-to-70-degree water on a hot Austin day at the popular Barton Springs Pool. Observe Austin’s flora and fauna among the Rose Garden, Koi ponds, and waterfalls at Zilker Botanical Garden. Have a blast and register your kite at the annual ABC Kite Fest. Or dress up and view Broadway productions like Legally Blonde the Musical put on by Zilker Theatre Productions.

Experience ATX with Your Furry Friend

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The Lone Star State is for more than just people! As one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., Austin welcomes pups of all kinds with its many pet-friendly parks, restaurants, bars, and stores. Take your canine to play fetch at one of the many off-leash dog parks in ATX, including Red Bud Isle, Auditorium Shores, and Zilker Park. Explore one of the best dog-friendly things to do in Austin by walking around The Domain to shop for pet sweaters and stylish collars. Searching for dog-friendly restaurants in Austin? Enjoy a brew while your furry friend enjoys a bone and roams around the dog park at Yard Bar. Try homemade sausage with your pooch and listen to live music at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Or relax with your pup on the waterfront and fill up on the Fried Pickles, Gulf Shrimp Tacos, and Lake House Salad from Ski Shores Cafe.

Rock Out in the Live Music Capital

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When living in Austin, you can experience top-notch entertainment in the Live Music Capital of the World! There are hundreds of music venues in Austin spanning all genres of music, and the city is host to some of the largest and most popular music events in the country. Join thousands of other attendees and sing along to musicians from around the globe, including everyone from indie songwriters to breakout rock bands, at SXSW (also known as South by Southwest). Head to Zilker Park for a diverse lineup of more than 100 performers—as well as delicious eats and treats—at the two-weekend ATX music festival Austin City Limits. Or snag a few friends and take advantage of the annual free concert series in Austin, Blues on the Green.

Attend Other Texas Festivals

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While known for hosting major music events, there are plenty of other Austin festivals fit for anyone’s taste! Are you a fan of all things fantastical? Go on an adventure with fellow film buffs at the largest annual film festival in the U.S. dedicated to genres like horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, Fantastic Fest. Enjoy theatrical performances, concerts, and much more at OUTsider Arts Festival—an event that celebrates the LGBTQ community! Browse hundreds of covers and find your next read at the Texas Book Festival. Have endless fun with other foodies in Austin sampling a variety of tacos, barbecue, and more at Hot Luck. Or taste classic dishes from renowned Austin chefs and try wine and beer from the country’s top spirits makers at the Austin Food + Wine Festival.

Let the Art in Austin Move You

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Art enthusiasts will fit right in the Austin art scene! Experience world-class exhibits of contemporary sculptures or Latin American paintings at The Contemporary Austin and Blanton Museum of Art. Watch as the company dancers twirl and leap through the air at Ballet Austin. Pop over to the UT station area for Broadway productions like Disney’s The Lion King or Mean Girls, as well as standup comedy shows, at Bass Concert Hall. You can find street art in Austin, too! Check out the community park that’s covered in Austin murals and paintings by local street artists, HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Have your own model moment and snap a photo on SoCo, one of the most photographed streets in the city due to its vibrant murals and live music venues. Or marvel at Malin’s Fountain, a large troll sculpture made out of recycled materials, at Pease Park.

Find Family Fun in Austin

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Looking for kid-friendly activities in Austin to keep the whole family entertained? Austin has a variety of fun things to do with kids! Sign the little ones up for a Saturday Camp, feed the goats, or check out over 300 animals from 100 different species at the Austin Zoo. Head to Thinkery for interactive STEAM exhibits like Train Town, Spark Shop, and more. See replicas of fossils and dinosaur tracks or check out the Honey Bee Observation Hive at Austin Nature & Science Center. Get tickets to musicals like The Sound of Music or enroll the kids in an Acting Summer Camp at the ZACH Theatre. Play a game of mini-golf with the family and complete challenging obstacles at Peter Pan Mini Golf. Or browse through a large collection of children’s books and attend free events like Kids Book Club at BookPeople.

Hang Out at Sporting Events in Austin

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Austin might not have many professional teams, but that doesn’t mean sports aren’t a big part of the culture here! Witness the Austin Sol (AUDL)—the city’s professional ultimate disc golf team—catch major air at The Pitch. Get decked out in burnt orange and white to support the Texas Longhorns (NCAA D-I) at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Experience a unique adrenaline rush by watching racing in Austin at events like the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix! Every year, thousands of people gather in Austin to see Formula 1 drivers from all over the world race to the finish at Circuit of the Americas.

Dine at Austin Food Trucks

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You don’t have to put on fancy clothes to enjoy out-of-this-world cuisine—some of the best places to eat in Austin are food trucks! Head over to T-Loc’s Sonora and indulge in some of the best Mexican food in Austin with a Sonora Hot Dog, Chicken Burrito, or Carne Asada Quesadilla. Find an amazing meal anytime at The Picnic, a food truck court in Austin offering several delicious ATX food truck options—like Coat & Thai, which serves up dishes like Pad Kee Mao and Cashew Chicken. If you’re craving Mexican food, venture over to try Street Corn, Juan’s Refried Beans, and the Trailer Park Taco from one of the best taco places in Austin, Torchy’s Tacos. Pair a Black Bean Hot Wrap with a Mango Smoothie or Frozen Cucumber Lemonade from Conscious Cravings. Or feast on Austin vegan food like Broccoli Nuggets, Seitan Stew, and Lemongrass Soy Ham from Bodhi Viet Veggie Cuisine.

Check Out Breweries in Austin

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Searching for fun things to do in Austin at night? Making the list of cities every beer drinker should visit, Austin is home to many world-class bars and breweries in Texas! Enjoy a variety of beers in the beer garden like a Day Trip Pale Ale, Superliner IPA, or a Rocket 100 Pilsner at the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company. Spend an evening sampling Austin craft beers like Floaty, Fire Eagle, or Pearl-Snap at Austin Beerworks. Munch on late-night snacks and sip on rotating craft beers like a Chuck Berry Sour or a Carl Kolsch at St. Elmo Brewing Co. Browse the ever-changing drink menu featuring options like Professor Pleasant, Pennybacker, and Sir Windsor at Hopsquad Brewing Co. Or listen to live music and take a whiskey tour at the exceptional Still Austin Whiskey Co. distillery.

Explore Austin’s Nightlife Scene

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With so many fun places to go to in Austin at night, the party never has to stop! Check out local ATX hotspot, 6th Street, and have a blast exploring the different bars, nightclubs, and speakeasies in the area. Show off your best moves or laugh out loud at comedians at Vulcan Gas Company. Order a Pickle shot and sit on the rooftop patio at Buckshot. Sip on the Stout Russian and shoot some pool with friends in the jolly, year-round Christmas bar, Lala’s Little Nugget. Find the secret entrance and unplug for good company and fancy libations like Lion’s Tail at Austin speakeasy, Midnight Cowboy. Try award-winning cocktails the Video Vanguard, Miami Sound Machine, or Art of Zen at DrinkWell. Or tickle your funny bone with local acts or nationally touring comedians like Tyler Fischer at Comedy Mothership.

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Moving to Austin soon? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities in Austin to help ease your transition. Find a storage unit near you today!

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.