If you’re thinking about moving to Austin or within the area, you probably already know that the Texas state capital is one of the most highly rated American cities on list after list of great places to live. And, if your plans to move are already in motion, you’ll have plenty of company: Austin recently experienced the fastest population growth for metro areas with populations of one million or more.
With so many great cities to choose from in Texas and around the country, why is Austin a magnet for people coming from places such as Colorado, Florida, California, New York, and even from the other side of the world?
Read on to learn about some of the reasons Austin is such a desirable place to live (you’ll see all types of accolades throughout this guide) and what you can expect as a new resident. Need help getting there? Get in touch with MoveDay℠ for a free quote on our comprehensive Austin moving services.
Welcome to Texas Hill Country
The description of flat, dry, and dusty may apply to large swaths of Texas, but not to Austin. The city is absolutely scenic, from the Colorado River that runs right through downtown Austin, to its rolling hills and limestone cliffs. This geography, and Austin’s temperate climate, make it attractive to people who love getting outside and exploring. In addition to the river, there are springs, swimming holes, hiking trails, and no shortage of rocks to climb, plus spectacular views from the city’s highest points. It’s no wonder Austin earned the title of “America’s Fittest City.”
Where History, Culture and High-Tech Meet
Between the think tanks and research labs that were founded here more than 60 years ago and the diverse groups that have always flocked to the city, it seems as though Austin was destined to become a city known for both its exceptionally rich cultural life and history, and its powerhouse high-tech companies. This mix makes for a city like no other.
Since Austin’s founding in the 1800s, immigrants from nearly every continent have contributed to the city’s growth and progress. They continue today to influence everything from food to music to art, making Austin one of the country’s most exciting places to live.
On the tech side, Austin has become a hub for innovation, drawing talent from tech capitals such as Silicon Valley. SpaceX, Oracle, Atlassian, and Palantir are just a few of the super high-tech companies that have migrated to Austin, while giants such as Facebook, Apple, and Google have thousands of workers in the city. They weren’t the first to establish a high-tech presence here, though—IBM has been here since 1937, Dell Technologies since 1984, and Samsung since 1996.
What’s the Weather?
Again, Austin is unusual for Texas. Rather than desert-like conditions, it’s more on the subtropical side. That means you can expect fairly mild winters and hot, humid summers. The hottest months are July and August, when frequent 100 degree-plus days send residents to the springs, rivers, and lakes in the area. The coldest month is January, when the average high temperature hovers around 62 degrees.
Rain-wise, Austin’s creeks and rivers can flood during May and early June, when spring rains can inundate the city. Other times of the year, drought conditions have become more common.
Like so many cities around the country, fall and spring are prime times for getting outside and enjoying the natural beauty that Austin has to offer.
Getting Around Austin
Yes, it’s possible to travel around Austin without owning a car. Here are just some of your options:
- Capital Metro is the city’s public transportation system. It includes:
- MetroBus, with the largest number of routes running all over town.
- MetroExpress bus service that runs between the suburbs and downtown
- MetroRail rail service that runs a 32-mile route that connects North Austin to downtown.
- Ride-hailing services from:
- Taxicab and pedicab services:
Lastly, if you’d rather rely on your feet for transportation, you won’t be disappointed. The City of Austin’s Pedestrian Program is a great resource for information on urban trails, safe routes to schools, and more.
Arts & Culture Around Every Corner
Whether you classify them by geography, heritage, or occupation, there are all types of communities in Austin, but one cuts across them all: the creative community. There’s a real passion here for the arts and no shortage of participants and patrons. Below are just some of the arts and culture destinations to put on your list.
All you need to know about the city’s vibrant music scene is that Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Live music is everywhere, from the airport to the clubs. Visit Austin has the latest information on upcoming events, but you can keep an eye on the calendars at venues such as these (there are hundreds!) to find the type of music you love:
- Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
- Volstead Lounge
- Long Center for the Performing Arts
- The Paramount Theatre
- Zilker Hillside Theater
- Dougherty Arts Center
- Texas Performing Arts
- Nutty Brown Amphitheater
- Scoot Inn
- Far Out Lounge & Stage
- Cedar Street Courtyard
Performing Arts Groups
Ballet, opera, orchestras, dance, and ensembles: It’s all here!
- Ballet Afrique
- Teatro Vivo
- Austin Dance India
- Lucky Chaos
- Austin Symphony Orchestra
- Austin Civic Orchestra
- Austin Opera
- Ballet Austin
Whether your interests lie in gardens, art, dinosaurs, the military or elsewhere, Austin has a museum for you.
- The Blanton Museum of Art
- Texas Military Forces Museum
- Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
- Elisabet Ney Museum
- The Museum of the Weird
- Mexic-Arte Museum
- Neill-Cochran House Museum
- Texas Memorial Museum
- South Austin Museum of Popular Culture
- George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center
- Texas Music Museum
The Austin collective of galleries, ArtAustin, has the complete list of great galleries and other types of art spaces in the city, including these:
- Davis Gallery
- Art Galleries at Black Studies
- West Chelsea Contemporary
- Central Library Gallery
- ICOSA Collective
- Ao5 Gallery
- Austin Art Garage
- Austin Fine Art Gallery
From an internationally known gathering that brings together music and tech, to festivals and conventions, Austin hosts these events and many more throughout the year:
- Austin Film Festival
- Texas Mesquite Arts Festival
- ABC Kite Fest
- Austin International Poetry Festival
- Fusebox Festival
- Austin Reggae Fest
- Austin Record Convention
- Austin Ice Cream Festival
- Fall Pecan Street Festival
- Gruene Music and Wine Festival
It’s a challenge to find a metropolitan city that offers the range of opportunities to get outdoors and explore nature that Austin provides. In South Austin alone, you can go swimming, rock climbing, biking, and hiking at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. It has access points along its 12-mile length, so it’s fairly easy to get to its swimming holes, rock walls, and trails.
Want to spend the day on the water paddling, boating, or kayaking? You don’t have far to go to get to a spring-fed pool, river, or lake:
- Camp or swim at Krause Springs, which has both man-made and natural pools, and 32 springs. (Don’t miss the butterfly garden.)
- Take a short drive to Inks Lake State Park for a dip in Devil’s Waterhole.
- Spend the day at Lake Travis, which includes areas that don’t allow boats, so swimming is extra-safe.
- Cool off at Deep Eddy Pool, a spring-fed pool not far outside of Austin proper.
We could write a book on all of things to do outside in and around Austin, but for this guide, we’ll just hit these highlights:
- McKinney Falls State Park has camping, hiking, biking (both mountain and road), bouldering, geocaching, and more.
- Pack up for a scenic hike on the 10-mile-long Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. Take time to stop at the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial statue.
- Make your way through the forest of Pedernales Falls State Park to Pedernales Falls.
- Austin is a destination for cyclers, who flock to the Barton Creek Greenbelt for mountain biking.
Bring the Family
The outdoor activities we listed above are great for the younger set, but there’s plenty more here for families that are moving to Austin, TX. Here are some of the places that are fun (and suitable) for all ages:
- Every great city needs a great zoo, and Austin has one. The 15-acre Austin Zoo began as a goat ranch; today, kids can enjoy animal encounters, daily zookeeper talks, train rides and more. The zoo also offers onsite school programs and summer education camps.
- One-hour guided tours are a must-do at The Inner Space Cavern. Discovered while a freeway was under construction, it’s estimated that the well-preserved cavern was hidden for more than 10,000 years.
- Take to the ice where the local figure skaters practice at Chaparral Ice. Take skating lessons, learn how to play hockey, or just keep cool.
- If you have little ones, you’re bound to have dinosaur fans in your household. Take them to the Texas Memorial Museum, Austin’s first science museum. The Hall of Geology and Paleontology is one of the biggest draws, with its dinosaur bones, local fossils and more.
- Let the kids get hands-on with nature exhibits and educational programs at the Austin Nature & Science Center. There are programs for everyone from preschoolers to adults.
- Of course, Austin would be the place for the Texas Toy Museum. Exhibits are frequently rotated and there are several hands-on exhibits in the arcades.
Dine. Shop. Dine Again.
Want to start the day with a breakfast taco, shop for bikes or books, stop by one of the many farmers markets, hit the record store, grab dinner from a food truck, then end the day with some out-of-the-ordinary bar food at a nightspot? You can make a day (and night) like this happen in Austin every day of the week.
For great food, Bon Appetit has the scoop on some of the best places to go, from a sophisticated wine bar/cafe to a sprawling ranch-turned-restaurant:
- Clark’s Oyster Bar
- Kemuri Tatsu-ya
- June’s All Day
- Franklin Barbecue
- Polvos Mexican Restaurant
- Justine’s Brasserie
Whatever you’re shopping for, chances are excellent that you’ll find it in Austin. There are ample national name-brand chains, but the real treasures are at one of the city’s small, locally owned shops with products from indie makers. Here’s a small sampling of what’s (literally) in store:
Thrift and vintage stores:
Fashion and home furnishings:
Austin is a Sports Town
As if music, art, and nature didn’t already provide ample entertainment, Austin also gives sports fans a lot to cheer about. This is just a partial list of area sports teams:
- University of Texas Longhorns
- Austin Blacks rugby
- Austin Bold FC soccer
- Austin FC soccer
- Austin Huns rugby
- Austin Gilfronis rugby
- Austin Sol disc league
- Austin Spurs basketball
- Austin Valkyries women’s rugby
- Texas Stars hockey
School is in Session
When it comes to education, Austin has garnered some special recognition: one of the country’s largest “brain magnet” cities; the number-one Top Intelligent Community; and one of the “best values in public education (UT Austin).
There are public, charter, private, technical, and trade schools, plus outstanding higher education options. You can learn more about schools and education in Austin with these links:
- Austin Independent School District
- Leander Independent School District
- Eanes Independent School District
- U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools in the Austin, TX Area” list
- University of Texas at Austin
- Austin Community College
- St. Edward’s University
- Southern Careers Institute
- Austin Career Institute
- Huston-TIllotson University
- Texas Health and Science University
A Great Place to Work or Retire
Once again, Austin earns praise: It’s been named the Best Place in America for Starting a Business and is on the list of the Top Fastest Growing Job Markets. In 2020, the city was named the “Top Tech Town” in the country for a second consecutive year.
Like many burgeoning cities, Austin’s current cost of living makes it a moderately expensive place to live, although higher-than-average wages offset the costs for many residents. At this writing, the median home costs about $350,00, which is much higher than the country’s overall cost of $240,000 or the state’s median cost of $185,000.
According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the city is host to a range of innovative industries, including:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Clean technology
- Digital media and creative technology
- Financial services
- Data management
- Life sciences
- Space technology
Even though Austin is known for attracting young people, it has much to offer retirees. If you’re relocating to Austin for retirement and have an active lifestyle, you have a lot to look forward to. There’s no personal or corporate income tax for retirees, and state and local taxes are low.
You can escape the summer heat at any number of spots along Austin’s rivers and lakes or in its more than 250 parks. If a morning on the links is more your style of outdoor activity, you may be surprised to learn that Austin was ranked first on Golf Magazine’s 10 Best Golf Cities in America list. The city has golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, and other famous golf names.
As for housing, you’ll have your choice of walkable, condominium living in the downtown area, master-planned communities that have everything you need, and just about every other type of lifestyle in between. You’ll also have access to high-quality medical care from Several Seton hospitals, St. David’s Medical Center, and more. These are just some of the reasons Austin makes U.S. News & World Report’s list of the nation’s best cities in which to retire.
A Neighborhood for Everyone
This fast-growing, diverse city has every type of neighborhood, from historic to brand-new, each one with its own vibe and lifestyle. These are some of the most sought-after neighborhoods in and around Austin:
Downtown is the center of culture and government, with endless things to do. Your housing choices here are basically limited to exclusive, high-end apartments for those who love urban living.
Founded a century ago, this is where you’ll find a mix of Victorian and Tudor Revival houses with cute bungalows scattered in between. The neighborhood’s shaded sidewalks and parks draw singles, families, young, and old.
This is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Austin, because it has everything: historic homes and modern ones, coffee shops and restaurants, music and performance venues, offbeat shops, and more.
Thanks to its proximity to the University of Texas, the North Loop neighborhood is popular with students. “Vintage” comes up often when you ask about this area—it refers to everything from the quaint, older homes, to the types of shops you’ll find along “the strip,” the long-standing hub of the neighborhood.
If you want to be near Lady Bird Lake for biking, dog-walking, or getting out on the water, this is your spot. Speaking of biking, East Riverside is just a few minutes from some of Austin’s favorite places for live music, dining, and entertainment.
So many nationalities—along with their cultures—come together in the North Lamar neighborhood. Houses are a bit more affordable here than in other parts of Austin, and they’ll put you within easy reach of incredible dining choices, from Indian and Middle Eastern, to Korean and Japanese.
West Lake Hills:
West Lake Hills is known for its palatial mansions and the prices that go with them. It’s a family-friendly neighborhood with spectacular views of Hill Country’s natural beauty, and only six miles west of downtown.
This neighborhood earned a spot on Forbes’ “Hippiest Hipster Neighborhoods in America” list, so you can expect coffee shops and food trucks to be just steps away. Housing cuts across the spectrum of historic homes, modern condominiums, and brand-new homes.
Thanks to its “backyard” of Zilker Park, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and Barton Springs, this neighborhood is a mecca for nature lovers who still want access to urban life. There’s a wide range of home prices here—from the $300,000s up to $1 million-plus—so the area attracts people from all walks of life.
You might be hard-pressed to find a more convenient place to live if you want to have relatively easy access to everything Austin has to offer. One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Bouldin Creek is a quiet place even though it’s close to downtown. It attracts hipsters, students, and creative types who love being within walking distance to great entertainment, music, and nightlife venues.
Important Austin Links
Are you getting ready to move to Austin? These links can help with your planning:
- Some services can be obtained online, while you’ll need to make an in-person visit to an office for others. Here’s how to apply for a Texas driver’s license.
- Register to vote: Complete a voter registration application online or in person at least 30 days before the upcoming election date.
- You will need to provide photo identification in order to vote. Some of the acceptable forms of photo identification are a Texas driver’s license, Texas personal identification card, Texas handgun license, and U.S. passport.
Electric and gas:
- Austin Energy
- Atmos Energy
- Centerpoint Energy
- Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative
- Georgetown Utilities Systems
- Green Mountain Energy
- Meridian Solar
- Pedernales Electric Cooperative
- Texas Gas Service
Cable and Internet providers:
- Cox Communications
- Dish Network
- Google Fiber
Recycling and trash services:
FAQs About Moving to Austin
What is the population of Austin?
The city passed the 2 million mark in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. As of 2020, there were 2,295,303 people counted in the Austin metro area, a 33.7% increase for the period from 2010 to 2020. The population is projected to reach nearly 3 million by 2030.
What are the pros and cons of moving to Austin?
It’s likely that people moving to Austin counted more pros than cons before coming to the city, but, like any place in America, there are disadvantages, too. Here’s a quick look at the pluses and minuses.
The pros include:
- It’s a rare urban area that has plenty of natural beauty—the Colorado River runs through the very heart of the city.
- There’s no state income tax.
- World-class music, food, art, and culture are always right around the corner.
- Winter weather doesn’t last long, and it’s almost always mild.
The cons include:
- As with most metro areas, traffic congestion is a fact of life. You’ll need to avoid I-35 if you want to get somewhere quickly.
- It’s very hot in the summer, with temperatures often above 100 degrees. You may have to plan your days to avoid the worst of it during the late afternoon hours (and make sure you can afford air conditioning!).
- The cost of living continues to rise, especially when it comes to housing. Home prices are increasing 36 percent year-over-year, according to Realtor.com. Even if you can manage buying in a market where the median listing price is nearly $400,000, homes spend about three weeks on the market, so you’ll need to act fast if you find a home you like.
Is Austin pet friendly?
Austin welcomes pets like perhaps no other city. There are pet-friendly hotels, restaurants with pet-friendly patios, and a lot of places to take your dog that have off-leash areas, such as Zilker Park and Ladybird Lake. There’s even a dog-friendly outdoor shopping center where a lot of the shops even allow dogs to come in and browse with you. Lastly, there will probably be a dog park not too far from your new address!
What are the most important things to know before I move to Austin?
If you’ve read this far through our guide to moving to Austin, you probably already have a very good idea of what the city holds for you.
In short, Austin may be your ideal destination if you love music, food, and nature; can handle heat and traffic; have sufficient income if you want to own a home; have a great resume in the tech field; and thrive in fast-growing cities.
How much does it cost to hire an Austin moving company?
The cost of your move depends on a number of factors, such as the distance from your old address to your new one, what specific type of moving services you need, and more.
At MoveDay, you can choose any of our Austin local moving services, from DIY packing options to a full-service move that our experienced crews will handle end-to-end. We also offer flexible, affordable storage services for short- or long-term storage that can make your move easier. Even if you’re not ready to move and just starting to research the cost of moving to Austin, don’t wait to contact us for a free, no-obligation moving quote that can help you plan your moving budget.