Ranked as the best place to live in the USA and one of the best cities for jobs, Austin is an awesome place to settle down, whether you’re a young professional looking for work or trying to raise a family in a city with a diverse culture. This Texas city is full of incredible dining and nightlife, opportunities for higher education and careers, unique landmarks and attractions, and quirky art. If you’re considering moving to Austin, check out our list of 11 things you need to know before living there!
A Strong Economy & Great Cost of Living
One of the reasons why people love living in Austin is that it’s affordable! Homes in the area have a median purchase price of $257,800 with a median monthly rent of $1,106, so residents can find everything from budget-friendly downtown apartments to luxurious single-family houses on sprawling estates. While Austin’s cost of living is 7% higher than the national average, it’s significantly more affordable than major cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago. Not to mention, there’s no personal or corporate income tax! Austin also has an unemployment rate 2.7% and is a hub for major tech corporations like 3M, Apple Inc, Google, Whole Foods, Bioware, and Blizzard Entertainment—hence the city’s nickname, “Silicon Hills.”
Excellent Schools to Choose From
Whether you’re searching for a K-12 school to send your little ones to or you’re ready to pursue a college degree, there are plenty of top-rated schools in Austin! Liberal Arts & Sciences Academy, West Ridge Middle School, and Forest Trail Elementary are some of the best public schools in the Austin area. If you’re looking for terrific private schools, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Regents School of Austin, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal are ranked among the top in both Austin and Texas. Ever wondered why Austinites are always ready to “rock on”? ATX residents show their school pride holding up the “hook ’em horns” for the University of Texas Longhorns! If you don’t want to be a Longhorn, check out the other great schools in the area, such as St. Edwards University, Concordia University-Texas, and The Art Institute of Austin.
Get Your Adventure On
With fun around every corner, you’ll never run out of things to do in Austin! Explore the city’s natural beauty with a visit to Lake Travis, where you can go ziplining through the trees or flyboarding out of the water! The Inner Space Cavern is perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to get a little dirt on their hands, as you can wander through passages 26 feet beneath the ground. Watching the famous Mexican free-tailed bats take flight from the Congress Avenue Bridge is a must-see in Austin—book a kayak tour or riverboat cruise for the best viewing experience! If you’re looking for Austin activities without the adrenaline rush, the Austin Aquarium is the perfect place to go for both kids and adults! Admire the jellyfish as they float gracefully around or pet a stingray. You can also check out over 200,000 vintage toys from the past century at the Austin Toy Museum.
Spend the Day at Zilker Park
With everything from hiking trails and swimming holes to festivals and theatre productions, Zilker Park is a 351-acre outdoor oasis for anyone hunting for the best things to do in Austin! Gather a few friends to rent canoes and paddle on Lady Bird Lake, or go biking on ten miles of trail around the lake. Barton Springs is a popular spot for locals and visitors on a hot day, as you can cool down in the man-made pool that’s a constant 68 degrees. The Zilker Botanical Garden is a great way to observe Austin’s flora and fauna with its rose gardens, Koi pond, and waterfalls. Zilker Park is also host to the Zilker Kite Festival, as well as Broadway productions of Annie and The Sound of Music put on by Zilker Theatre Productions.
Furry Friends Are Welcome
It’s not just people who are Austinites in the Lone Star State! Dogs in this city are considered to be V.I.Ps (Very Important Pups) with many parks, restaurants, bars, and stores dedicated to letting your pet join in on the fun with you! Take your canine to play fetch at one of the 12 off-leash parks in the area, including Red Bud Isle, Auditorium Shores, and Zilker Park. Or walk around The Domain to shop for cute sweaters and stylish collars. Searching for dog-friendly restaurants in Austin to sit and stay? Yard Bar is the one of the best places to enjoy a brew while your furry best friend enjoys a bone. Try a delicious duck hot dog with your pooch and listen to live music at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. There’s also Austin Terrier, where they love dogs as much as they love food—their menu is full of dishes inspired by pets, such as the Spicy Terrier Pizza, the Scottie sandwich, and the Gunner PBJ.
Known as the Live Music Capital
When you’re living in Austin, you’re living in the Live Music Capital of the World! Over 250 music venues spotlighting every genre of music are scattered throughout the city of Austin, and the city is also host to some of the largest and most popular music events in the U.S. SXSW (also known as South by Southwest) features more than 2,000 musicians from around the globe, including big-name artists like Garth Brooks and Wu-Tang Clan to indie songwriters and breakout rock bands. Located in Zilker Park, Austin City Limits is a two-weekend festival with a diverse lineup of 125 performers, as well as delicious eats and treats. There’s also Blues on the Green, which is a fan favorite and one of the top things to do in Austin.
There’s More than Just Music Festivals
While Austin is known for hosting major music festivals, it’s also home to a wide range of events fit for any ATX residents’ tastes! Are you a fan of all things fantastical? Fantastic Fest is the largest film festival dedicated to the horror, sci-fi, action, and fantasy genres! Catch the premiere of an up-and-coming horror movie, participate in a costume party with movie-inspired food, or attend a panel about hot topics in the film industry. OUTsider is five-day festival full of theatrical performances, concerts, scholarly presentations, dance parties, and much more all in celebration of the LGBTQ community. Bibliophiles can browse hundreds of books at the Texas Book Festival, while food enthusiasts will have endless fun in Austin sampling a variety of ramen, wings, barbecue, and steamed buns at Hot Luck.
Let the Art Scene Move You
Art enthusiasts will find that the art scene in Austin is something of a marvel! Experience world-class exhibits like contemporary sculptures or Latin American paintings at The Contemporary Austin and Blanton. Or watch as the company dancers of Ballet Austin twirl and leap through the air. Located next to UT Austin, the Bass Concert Hall entertains hundreds of locals and visitors with Broadway productions such as Hamilton and Cats, as well as standup comedy shows. But art isn’t just found in museums. It’s everywhere outdoors in Austin, too! The HOPE Outdoor gallery is a community park that’s covered in murals and paintings all created by local street artists. And scattered throughout Pease Park are whimsical stick installations that were inspired by Spanish-Colonial architecture.
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 House Park! Or watch the Austin Elite (MLR) bring down their rugby opponents. 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. And there aren’t many cities that can say they host the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix! Every year, thousands of people gather in Austin at Circuit of Americas to see Formula 1 drivers from all over world race to the finish.
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 The Midway Food Park and indulge in a traditional Maine lobster roll from Dock & Roll, or try a slice of banana pudding cheesecake from the Cheesecake Experience. The Picnic has eight delicious food truck options to choose from, such acai bowls, Thai noodles, barbecue ribs, and the famous Hot ‘n’ Crunchy. If Mexican food is what you’re craving, venture over to South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery to try one of the best taco places in Austin, Torchy’s Tacos. Order their breakfast tacos and then a mango smoothie from Conscious Cravings to go with!
Experience the Eclectic Austin Nightlife
With so many fun places to go in Austin at night, the party never has to stop! Sixth Street is a local ATX hot spot that’s lined with tons of different bars, nightclubs, and speakeasies. Tear up the dance floor and show off your best moves at Vulcan Gas Company, or order a Pickle shot and sit out on the patio at Buckshot. If you’re in the mood for a craft cocktail in a more relaxing atmosphere, Midnight Cowboy is the perfect place. This speakeasy is a phone-free zone that encourages you to enjoy fancy libations and good company. Do you wish it were Christmas year-round? At Lala’s Little Nugget, it’s always jolly and bright! Sip on Reindeer Water and shoot some pool with a few friends in this always-the-holidays haven.
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