Moving to Austin? Ranked as one of the best places to live in the South and overall one of the best big cities in the nation, the capital of Texas is full of incredible dining and nightlife, opportunities for higher education and careers, unique landmarks and attractions, and quirky art. Check out these 16 things to know about living in Austin!
An Affordable Cost of Living in the South
One of the reasons why people love living in Austin is because it’s affordable! Homes in the area have a median purchase price of $257,800 or a median monthly rent of $1,106, so residents can find everything from luxurious downtown apartments to budget-friendly homes on sprawling estates in 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 some similar states, residents can take advantage of having no personal or corporate income tax in Austin. And while Austin’s cost of living is 9% higher than the national average, it’s significantly more affordable than other major cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York City, or Chicago. For affordable housing options, Austinites move to more family-friendly, suburban areas like North Loop or Cedar Park.
A Hub for Employment Opportunities
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 job training programs! The city has a 3.3% unemployment rate, and tech positions represent over 17% of all Austin area jobs, which is much higher compared to the national standard of 9.2%. Major tech corporations and Fortune 500 companies like 3M, Apple Inc, Google, Dell, Meta, Oracle, and IBM call ATX home—hence its nickname, “Silicon Hills.” Besides tech, job seekers in Austin can find careers in other industries like healthcare, education, entertainment, and business with employers like St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, St. Edwards University, and advertising giant T3. If you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch a startup, Austin is known as the best place to start a business. Plus, local businesses are backed by the Austin Independent Business Association, who strive to “Keep Austin Weird.”
Excellent Schools to Choose From
Ranked as the best college town in America, Austin is home to many universities where young professionals can pursue higher education! Show your school pride by holding up the “hook ’em horns” sign for The University of Texas at Austin Longhorns! 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. Immerse yourself in a variety of academic programs like fashion, interior design, or film and production at The Art Institute of Austin. Or pursue a degree at Huston-Tillotson University, where you can enroll in majors like education, music, and political science.
Take Advantage of Austin’s Convenient Public Transportation
The car-centric city of Austin has many 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. For access to Austin’s northern suburbs, hop on the Capital MetroRail, 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. Or if you’re wanting to travel outside the city, you can reach international destinations by plane at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Austin Is One of the Greenest U.S. Cities
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 Austin is a leader in community solar energy, almost all of the city’s public buildings are powered by clean energy. Because sustainability is a core value for Austin, 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 ATX Adventure On
Because Austin’s climate is made up of hot summers and mild winters, you’ll never run out of outdoor activities and waterfront entertainment. Explore the city’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 at the Inner Space Cavern. Watch the largest colony of urban Mexican free-tail bats take flight beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge—book a kayak tour or riverboat cruise for the best viewing experience! If you’re in need of indoor Austin activities great for both kids and adults, feed octopi, stingrays, and sharks, or pet lemurs and sloths at the Austin Aquarium. Or check out over 200,000 vintage toys from the past century at the Austin Toy Museum.
Spend the Day at Zilker Park
Hunting for the best things to do in Austin? With everything from hiking trails and swimming holes to festivals and theater productions, Zilker Park is a must-see 351-acre outdoor oasis! Gather a few friends to rent canoes and paddleboards on Lady Bird Lake. Go biking, hiking, or bouldering in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Cool down in 68 to 70-degree water on a hot Austin day at popular Barton Springs Pool. Observe Austin’s flora and fauna among rose gardens, Koi pond, 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 Newsies the Musical put on by Zilker Theatre Productions.
Furry Friends Are Welcome in Austin
The Lone Star State is for more than just people! As one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., Austin considers dogs to be V.I.Ps (Very Important Pups), with many pet-friendly parks, restaurants, bars, and stores nearby! Take your canine to play fetch at one of the many off-leash parks in ATX, including Red Bud Isle, Auditorium Shores, and Zilker Park. Or walk around The Domain to shop for pet sweaters and stylish collars. Searching for dog-friendly restaurants in Austin? Yard Bar is one of the best places to enjoy a brew while your furry friend enjoys a bone. Try homemade sausages with your pooch and listen to live music at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Or sit on the dog-friendly patio in Austin while munching on Spicy Terrier Pizza or a Scottie Sandwich at Austin Terrier.
Rock Out in the Live Music Capital
When you’re living in Austin, you can experience top-notch entertainment in a city that’s known as the Live Music Capital of the World! Scattered throughout the city of Austin are nearly 175 music venues that spotlight every genre of music and host some of the largest and most popular music events in the U.S. Join thousands of other attendees and view more than 2,000 musicians from around the globe, including everyone from indie songwriters to breakout rock bands, at SXSW (also known as South by Southwest). Find your new favorite beats while watching performances from artists like Future and The Kid LAROI at hip-hop music festival JMPLYA. Head to Zilker Park for a diverse lineup of more than 100 performers—as well as delicious eats and treats—at 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.
Find More Festival Fun in Austin
While known for hosting major music festivals, Austin also spotlights a wide range of events fit for any ATX residents’ tastes! Are you a fan of all things fantastical? Go on an adventure with fellow film buffs at the largest annual film festival dedicated to genres like horror, sci-fi, action, and fantasy, Fantastic Fest. OUTsider is a five-day festival full of theatrical performances, concerts, scholarly presentations, dance parties, and much more—all in celebration of the LGBTQ community! Browse hundreds of covers at the Texas Book Festival. Have endless fun with other foodies in Austin sampling a variety of ramen, wings, 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 ATX Art Scene Move You
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. But art in Austin isn’t just found in museums—you can find street art in Austin, too! Check out the community park that’s covered in murals and paintings by local street artists, HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Have your own model moment and snap a photo on one of the most photographed streets in the city due to its vibrant art at music venue SoCo. Or view whimsical stick installations inspired by Spanish-Colonial architecture, at Pease Park.
Enjoy Austin’s Kid-Friendly Activities
Looking for kid-friendly activities 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. See replicas of fossils and dinosaur tracks at Austin Nature and Science Center. Get tickets to musicals like The Sound of Music or enroll the kids in an Improv 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.
Not Your Average Sports City
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 Westlake Chaparral Stadium! Watch the Austin Gilgronis (MLR) (previously named Austin Elite) bring down their rugby opponents at Bold Stadium. Whether it’s for football, basketball, or swimming, you’ll find people decked out in burnt orange and white to support the Texas Longhorns (NCAA) any day of the week at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. And not many cities can say they host 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.
Find Your Favorite Dish at a Food Truck
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 a Sonora Hot Dog, Chicken Burrito, or Carne Asada Quesadilla. Find an amazing meal anytime at The Picnic, a food-truck court offering several delicious ATX food truck options—like Coat & Thai, which serves up dishes like Pad Kee Mao and Cashew Chicken, or The Mighty Cone, creators of the famous Hot ‘n’ Crunchy coating. If you’re craving Mexican food, venture over to South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery to try one of the best taco places in Austin, Torchy’s Tacos. Pair their breakfast tacos with a Mango Smoothie or Frozen Cucumber Lemonade from Conscious Cravings. Or experience the all-vegan Jal-Up-Eno Cheese Dog and Elote Dog at The Corn Dog Guy!
Tap into Austin’s Breweries
Searching for fun things to do at night? Austin is known as a top destination for beer in the U.S. and is home to many world-class bars and breweries! 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 craft beers like Amber Vision, Sun Shovel, or Pearl Snap at Austin Beerworks. Enjoy late-night snacks and sip on rotating craft beers like an Angus Dry Stout or an Olly English Brown Ale at St. Elmo Brewing Co. Have drinks like a Travelin’ Man or a Scratchin’ Hippo at the trendy Adelbert’s Brewery. Or listen to live music and take a beer and whiskey tour at the exceptional Still Austin Whiskey Co. distillery.
Check Out Austin’s Eclectic Nightlife
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 at Vulcan Gas Company. Order a Pickle shot and sit on the rooftop patio at Buckshot. Sip on Reindeer Water and shoot some pool with friends in this jolly and bright, year-round Christmas bar, Lala’s Little Nugget. Or relax in a phone-free zone that encourages you to unplug for good company and fancy libations at Austin speakeasy, Midnight Cowboy.
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