What comes to mind when you think of Austin, TX? Road signs discouraging potential newcomers? Relentlessly hot summers? A sleepy hippy town turned congested metropolis? While these Austin stereotypes might ring true, there are good reasons why so many people are flocking to the Texas capital. A relatively affordable city, you’ll find that Austin has an endless list of things to do. Whether it’s checking out a Michelin-star restaurant, dropping into the dive bar around the corner for cocktails, or catching an intimate show (think Blues, Punk, Rock, Hip-Hop) at Stubb’s, Austin’s got it all. We’ll help you get there.
Great Guys Moving is your tool for learning what it takes to relocate and find Austin moving companies you can trust to help with the logistics. Don’t sweat the small stuff — you’ve got that southern heat to worry about. Consider us your one-stop-shop to explain the reasons why moving to Austin is a good idea. We have details on the hippest neighborhoods and everything you need to know for a smooth relocation. Once you’re ready to make the move, don’t worry about the heavy lifting. Just click on the ‘Get Quote’ button and we’ll send you up to four free quotes from vetted, licensed, and insured Austin movers.
Living in Austin, TX: What to Know Before Moving to Austin
Let’s get down to the brass tacks and see if Austin is a good fit for you. Before deciding to move to a new city, there are some essential things to consider – like the cost of living; traffic and public transportation options; and career opportunities. We’ll discuss these topics and more, so you’ll know what to expect from your new hometown.
Pros and Cons of Living in Austin
Here are some of the pros and cons of life in Texas’ capital city:
- No income tax: The Lone Star State is a no income tax state, so you’ll get to keep more of your paycheck.
- Loads to do: There’s a reason so many tourists make Austin their vacation destination. You’ll never run out of fun and exciting things to do!
- Weather: Austin enjoys plenty of warm, sunny days. Winters rarely see snow or ice.
- Robust economy: The unemployment rate is an astoundingly low 2.5%. Though Austin’s economy benefits from several different industries, the tech sector is particularly strong.
- Competitive housing market: In recent years, home values have appreciated at astounding rates. You might find it challenging to afford housing.
- Traffic: Austin traffic can be a nightmare – try to avoid MoPac, Hwy 183, and I-35 during rush hour peaks.
- Sprawl: As Austin gets more crowded, it is experiencing the inevitable urban sprawl.
- High property taxes: The high property tax rates combined with high home valuations may give you pause when considering the purchase of a home.
- Cost of living: Though it was at one time considered a bargain place to live, high housing costs have driven up the cost of living here.
While Austin residents enjoy living in a no-income-tax state, they do pay more in property taxes than much of the country. The average property tax rate city-wide is 1.973%. On a home valued at $250,000, property taxes would cost about $2000 more than they would elsewhere in the country. State and local sales taxes total 8.25%.
In the last decade, the city has seen a massive influx of newcomers, which has put a strain on the housing market. The median home value in Austin, $369,000, is well above the national median of $226,700. Though real estate experts say it’s now a buyers’ market, if you try to purchase a home here, you might find otherwise. It’s not uncommon for homes, especially anything within a two-mile radius of downtown, to sell within 24-hours of going on the market. Locals complain of Californians and other newcomers who come to the table with stacks of cash and offer over asking price to win bidding wars.
If you choose to rent instead of buy, that doesn’t come cheap either. According to data published by Apartment List, Austin’s rents are the fourth fastest growing in the country. While still less than half the price of the median rent in San Francisco, the median 2-bedroom rent in Austin is now $1,430 – that’s $250 more than the national average.
Cost of Living
One of the critical factors in your decision to move is most likely affordability. While Austin was once hailed as an ultra-affordable city, increasing home prices and expensive transportation costs have substantially driven up living costs. Austin’s cost of living index is 130 compared to the nationwide cost of living index of 100. That means you can expect substantially higher living costs. However, cnbc.com reports that Austin housing costs are still fairly reasonable when compared with other growing cities.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four, with two adults and two children, can expect to pay $80,000 a year to cover necessary living costs in Austin. If your budget is tight, look for lower living costs in Austin’s outlying areas, including Leander, Hutto, Buda, and Kyle.
Weather and Natural Disasters
Austin enjoys a humid subtropical climate. Locals joke that the area experiences just two seasons. Winter is brief, and though temperatures dip into the 30s with occasional ice and rare snow, you probably won’t be busting out your parka very often. Expect long, hot, and humid summers that will send you running to your nearest public pool or watering hole to cool down.
Tornadoes are the most threatening natural event, though the Austin metro area also has flood and drought events periodically. The city is far enough away from the Gulf Coast that it’s not under direct hurricane threat.
Jobs and the Economy
The Tech industry has a stronghold in the regional market – some have even dubbed the city “Silicon Hills.” Tech companies like Dell, Apple, and IBM—just to name a few—have headquarters here and consistently make the list of the city’s top employers. These companies have abundant employment opportunities, even if you’re not a tech developer.
The Austin Independent School District is also among the top employers in the area. With over 10,000 total employees working in 130 schools, there’s no shortage of work opportunities. The school district enrolls over 80,000 students—a number that will no doubt grow with the influx of new residents.
The city is also home to two major health systems: Saint David’s HealthCare and Ascension Seton. Founded in 1904, Ascension Seton has deep roots in the community and now boasts over 12,000 associates. Saint David’s, despite the lack of history, employs over 8,000 people and has given 400 million dollars back to the community since its inception in 1996.
If none of these employers sound like a good fit for you, check out this article for some potential options.
Let’s face it—there might be an abundance of open roads running across Texas, but you won’t find them here. The traffic in Austin is notoriously bad; on par with much larger metropolitan areas when it comes to the worst traffic in the country. If you’re not married to driving everywhere you go, it’s a good idea to consider alternative modes of transportation before your move. The great thing about relocation is you can consider your new home’s proximity to your workplace or your future weekend stomping grounds.
A contributing factor to the traffic problem is Austin’s limited public transportation. Your options are: the MetroRapid, MetroBus, and MetroExpress bus services, plus the MetroRail, a light rail system that runs from downtown to Leander. The city boasts a High Frequency system of routes, which service all areas within city limits, and officials are continually coming up with new ways to increase efficiency. Any significant changes will take some time to implement, so if you’re looking to move in the short-term, you might what to study up on some route maps.
Biking or walking is your best bet to get around town. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll also have the perfect vantage point to find the next hip restaurant or coffee shop. Small, local businesses are what makes the community unique. Skip traffic on the freeway and catch some sun—who knows, maybe your go-to spot is right around the corner.
Schools and Universities
Back in the day, Austin was more of a college town, but the University of Texas’s presence has been somewhat supplanted by the growing population and sprawl. UT’s campus is nestled in an urban setting, just north of downtown, and enrolls over 51,000 co-eds. The flagship of the UT system, the University of Texas at Austin ranks 49th on the list of best colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report. Admission at UT is increasingly difficult, with just a 40% acceptance rate. But not to worry, it’s not the only four-year university in town. Other schools include St. Edward’s University, Concordia University, the Acton School of Business, and Austin Community College.
As mentioned previously, the Austin Independent School District serves Austin proper. Other prominent school districts in the metro area include Round Rock ISD and Eanes ISD, both of which earned “gold medal” ratings from Expansion Management magazine. The city also has several excellent private and charter schools.
What to Do for Fun
In Austin, there’s a little bit of everything when it comes to what to do for kicks.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, you’ll be facing a difficult decision due to the sheer number of options available, unless you know what you’re in the mood for. In that case, you’ll only need a quick Google search to find a quality spot to duck into and dine. Of course, drawing on Southern heritage, Austin is home to some of the most celebrated barbecue joints in the state of Texas. Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue, and Iron Works are a few notable establishments. Meat lovers in the city can rejoice knowing they’ll have no limits when it comes to meeting their BBQ needs.
Options don’t stop at smoked meats. Cooks champion the Texan and Mexican culture alike, with many Tex-Mex restaurants across the city. The consistent flow of new residents also encourages new and unique restaurants and bars. So, whether you’re into sushi, rustic cooking, craft beer, spirits, coffee, or literally anything else, you won’t have to look far to find neighborhood favorites.
Once you’ve finished up your meal or drink, be on the lookout for some live music. There’s no shortage of great tunes. Austin, also known as the Live Music Capital of the World, is a hotbed for all types of genres, from its history in Blues, to newer artists in the Indie Rock and Hip-Hop scenes. Every night of the week you can find local favorites and bands from all over playing shows at clubs like Antone’s, the Continental Club, and Stubb’s BBQ. Austin’s music culture attracts groups of all backgrounds and sizes, and you’ll be able to look forward to annual festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW that bring bigger acts to town.
If music and food don’t do it for you, maybe you’re into… bats? On summer nights, you can line up along the Congress Avenue Bridge with hundreds of other people to watch over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats eating up those pesky bugs.
When the city hustle and bustle gets to be too much, know that you’ve got plenty of escape options. The Colorado River runs through the heart of Austin, and just north of city limits, you’ll find Lake Travis. Whether you’re a boater in need of a slip or are looking for a weekend on the water, the lake has what you need. With a full-service marina, boat rentals, zip lining, and restaurant options, Lake Travis is an oasis to combat the Texas heat. An oasis of other sorts, Palmetto State Park, just one hour south of town, is home to a tropical forest—the only one of its kind in the state of Texas. If you need to break up the dust and the flat desert surrounding the city with some lush green space, you’ll only need to take a short trip to do so.
Austin also sits on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, an area of the state that has become a destination for wine lovers. You’ll find dozens upon dozens of vineyards sprinkled along the Texas Wine Trail, but some of the Austin local favorites include the Duchman Family Vineyard and Driftwood Estate Winery, in nearby Driftwood, TX.
Austin ranks as a safer city than just 11% of other U.S. cities according to data from Neighborhood Scout. While violent crimes are only 4.27 per 1,000 residents (just slightly above the national median), there are an estimated 33.44 property crimes per 1,000 residents (9.44 more per 1,000 residents than the national median). If you’re looking for a safe place to put down roots, the further west you go, the better.
Make sure your utilities are up and running before move-in day! Here’s how to start or transfer your services:
- Electricity: Austin is one of the few regulated electricity markets in the Lone Star State. Austin Energy, run by the City of Austin, is the sole electric provider in the capital city. Quickly submit a request to start service by visiting their website or call customer service at 512.494.9400.
- Gas: Texas Gas Service provides gas to residents in the city of Austin. You can start new service online by creating a user profile and signing in, or call the toll-free customer service line at 800.700.2443.
- Water: Austin Water, a division of the City of Austin, provides water and wastewater services to all Austin residents. Be forewarned that Austin has some aggressive water conservation measures, especially during times of drought. Some of the rules include only running automatic sprinklers one day a week and restrictions on washing your vehicle at home. Visit the customer service page to start service or call 512.494.9400.
- Trash and recycling: Residential trash collection is handled by the city as well. You can order one of four sizes of trash carts – from a 24-gallon to a 96-gallon cart. The city provides an equally-sized recycling cart to promote recycling efforts. It also incentivizes recycling by charging a monthly fee for trash pick-up depending on the size of your bin. Expect to pay anywhere from $17.90/month for the 24-gallon cart to $42.85/month for the 96-gallon cart. Recycling pick-up is free. If you have questions about trash collection or need to swap out your cart, call 512.494.9400.
- Cable/Internet: Austin is one of the few cities in the country that has Google Fiber, but it also has a few other cable and internet providers, including Spectrum, AT&T, Dish TV, and DIRECTV.
Best Neighborhoods in Austin, TX
Austin has many incredible neighborhoods, but these are a handful of the standouts:
West Lake Hills
Prestigious West Lake Hills offers the perfect balance of luxury and proximity to both rural and downtown activities. Living here puts you close major highways, like 360 and 290, which make traveling anywhere in the city convenient. The neighborhood is surrounded by outdoor attractions, like Red Bud Isle — a 13-acre dog-friendly lakefront park, and Barton Creek Greenbelt which features hiking and running trails that run along Twin Springs, offering a place to swim during the summer months.
The neighborhood is home to around 4,000 of Austin’s residents and is more exclusive than other areas of the city. According to Zillow, the median home price in West Lake Hills exceeds $1.1 million. The average 2-bedroom rental is about $2,200 per month. Between the location and types of housing available, living here requires substantial income — the median household income is reported to be over $150,000. With the constant flow of new residents into Austin, the property values and rents in this desirable neighborhood will likely continue to increase.
If a West Lake Hills home or rental property is in your price range, you’ll have access to one of the top-rated public school districts in the state. The Eanes Independent School District educates over 8,000 students from grades K–12, boasts a 14 to 1 student-teacher ratio, and students consistently achieve high math and reading proficiency scores.
Just northwest of downtown, you’ll find a popular and desirable neighborhood, aptly named Northwest Hills. It’s situated close to highways for an easy commute and is just a short drive from many outdoor activities when you need to escape city life. Fault lines create scenic cliffs overlooking Lake Austin, making for memorable sunset drives, while the rolling hills add interest to the neighborhood landscape.
Over 18,000 residents call Northwest Hills home. Unlike other neighborhoods in Central Austin, this neighborhood has below average rent, at just over $1,653 per month for the average 2-bedroom apartment. Per redfin.com, the average sales price for homes in this neighborhood is over $700,000, so if you plan to buy, it won’t be cheap. According to census data, most pockets of this neighborhood bring home just over $80,000 in annual household income.
Northwest Hills is served by the following AISD schools: Blue Ribbon School Doss Elementary, Murchison Middle School, and Anderson High School are all within the neighborhood bounds.
Tarrytown and Deep Eddy
Tarrytown is one of Austin’s most notably affluent neighborhoods. Home to high-end houses, but noticeably devoid of any notable shops and restaurants, here you won’t find the counterculture feel for which most of the city is known. Over 20,000 residents pay a high price to live here, with real estate fetching over $450/square foot and an average rental price of around $2,500 per month. According to the most recent census data, the median household in Tarrytown brings home over $120,000 in income.
If you’re looking for a neighborhood that feels a little more “Austin,” check out Deep Eddy, the community that borders the southern side of Tarrytown. This neighborhood has an eclectic mix of homes, from tidy little bungalows to more stately properties. Deep Eddy residents enjoy neighborhood hangouts including the historic Deep Eddy Pool plus local restaurants like Hula Hut, Pool Burger, Maudie’s, and the famed Mozart’s coffee house (which has a spectacular deck overlooking Lake Austin). Residents also have quick access to the north end of Lady Bird Lake, which is known for its 10-mile hiking and bike trail and numerous water activities.
AISD serves Tarrytown and Deep Eddy and offers public school options for all grade levels: Casis Elementary School, O’Henry Middle School, and Stephen F. Austin High School.
Rosedale and Allandale
Rosedale and Allandale run along the east side of MoPac — a major highway that cuts north to south through the city. The two neighborhoods just north of downtown are home to over 6,000 and close to 9,000 residents, respectively. Zillow data puts the median home price in Rosedale at just over $545,000, while the median home price in neighboring Allandale is slightly lower, at $520,000. Likewise, the average rent for a 2-bedroom in Rosedale is slightly higher, at just over $1500 per month, than in Allendale at $1300. The median annual household income of these two neighborhoods hovers around $80,000. This area is a good fit for those who are looking for an average-priced house or apartment.
While MoPac forms the west side of these neighborhoods, Burnet Road and North Lamar form the eastern boundaries. Along these two roads, you’ll find rows of shops and local eateries. In Rosedale, be sure to check out the Draught House Pub & Brewery, Central Market, and Pinthouse Pizza. Further up Lamar, you’ll find destinations like Yard Bar and Phil’s Ice House. Allandale is also home to the Beverly Sheffield Northwest District Park, a generously-sized park with basketball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, baseball fields, picnic spaces, and walking trails.
Rosedale is home to Bryker Woods Elementary School, and Allendale has access to Gullett Elementary School. Both neighborhoods are zoned for Lamar Middle School, and McCallum and Stephen F. Austin High Schools.
Just west of Downtown, between MoPac and Lamar, north of West 6th Street, Clarksville has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. Littered with historical landmarks, mom-and-pop shops, art galleries, and restaurants, this is a prime location in Austin proper.
Over 20,000 people reside in Clarksville, which is no surprise given its proximity to city center. The average rent is — no surprise either — steep, coming in at around $2,250 per month for a 2-bedroom unit. If you plan to purchase, expect to pay anywhere between $300 to a whopping $850 per square foot. Homes this close to downtown don’t come cheap! Median household income for the neighborhood is just under $100,000. If you make decent money and you’re willing to spend to be in the middle of everything, this could be your new stomping grounds.
Clarksville’s main thoroughfare is West Lynn, which has a handful of delightful restaurants, including the upscale Austin landmark, Jeffrey’s, and its newer, sister restaurant, Josephine House. Across the street from these, you’ll find Wheatsville Co-op, a small organic grocery store, and Medici, the neighborhood’s favorite place to drop in for a latte. And of course, you’re just a stone’s throw from all the hubbub on Lamar and West 6th Street!
The neighborhood also has access to three great schools in Austin’s Independent School District: Mathews Elementary, O’Henry Middle School, and Stephen F. Austin High School.
Barton Hills and Zilker
Barton Hills and Zilker Park are nestled just south of the Colorado River, between Mopac and South Lamar. Residents of this area enjoy easy access to the many shops and restaurants along South Lamar, including places like Odd Duck, Uchi, Matt’s El Rancho, and the Broken Spoke. Most notably, residents in these neighborhoods have Zilker Park, home to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, in their backyard. Outside of ACL weekend, the park hosts other events like the annual Kite Festival and the Trail of Lights, a decades-old Austin holiday tradition. Zilker Park is also home to Barton Springs Pool, a summertime hangout for Austin residents, and borders Lady Bird Lake, with its hiking trails and water sports. Additionally, Zilker caps the northern end of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a 13.8-mile trail that follows the contours of its namesake creek. Some of the homes in Barton Hills sit perched atop dramatic cliff edges carved out by the creek ages ago.
Combined, these neighborhoods are home to a total of 29,000 residents. Typical rent sits at just above the city average, hovering around $1,600 per month for both neighborhoods, and median household income comes in around $70,000 annually. With a median home price of $632,000, these neighborhoods won’t be the cheapest you can find, but with access to downtown and Zilker Park, depending on your ideal weekend, they might be worth the extra cash.
The neighborhoods are each home to an elementary school: Barton Hills and Zilker Elementary Schools. Additionally, both neighborhoods feed into O’Henry Middle School and Stephen F. Austin High School. If you have a youngster who might thrive in non-traditional environments, these neighborhoods sit just north of the Austin Montessori School.
These neighborhoods sit between the MoPac and Route 343, both providing access to the greater-Austin area. If you aren’t looking for work at a nearby restaurant or retail shop, you’ll have nearby commuting routes to get to your place of work.
Travis Heights sits just south of Lady Bird Lake and is bordered by Congress Avenue to the west — in other words, you’ll be in one of Austin’s hippest neighborhoods. South Congress Avenue, better known as SoCo, is lined with some of Austin’s most popular restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. Local favorites include Home Slice Pizza, Perla’s Seafood, Guero’s Taco Bar, and Tecovas Fine Bootmakers, just to name a few. No matter what you like to do for fun, you have a good chance of finding it here.
One of the more populous neighborhoods, over 47,000 Austin residents make their home here, despite the above city-average rent at $2,000 per month for a 2-bedroom. The average home price in this happening neighborhood is approaching $600,000.
Travis Heights is zoned for the Austin Independent School District, with public education options for every level: Sanchez Elementary School, Fulmore Middle School, and William B. Travis High School. This neighborhood is also home to the Texas School for the Deaf, which serves students in grades PK-12.
In addition to the proximity to night-life, Travis Heights is bordered to the east by I-35, a major freeway serving the greater Austin area. Residents also have easy access to the MetroRapid bus system, if you prefer to steer clear of traffic.
How to Move to Austin
You’re getting serious about your move to Austin, but where do you start? Here are some of our top tips to help you plan your Austin relocation:
One of the first things you might want to do, to the best of your ability, is determine how the cost of living in your current location will compare to your Austin living expenses. Will your company transfer you to Austin? If not, do you have another job prospect lined up? How will your rent or housing costs change?
These are things you can begin to think about well in advance of your move, and they’ll help you ensure a smooth transition. If you expect your monthly expenses will be a bit higher in your new location, you may want to start putting some money aside as a safety net. Make time to budget for new and different expenses in advance, and you’ll likely find your stride sooner in your new home.
Ways to Find Work
Some prospective residents of Austin are probably lucky enough to work for an employer who will accommodate their change in location. If you’re not one of those people, you’ll most likely want to find a new job as soon as possible. There are a variety of services available to help you.
Web sites (and apps) like Glassdoor and LinkedIn provide the capability to search by region for specific jobs, as well as for employment in a particular industry. Glassdoor also provides background information on companies, including employee reviews, summaries of interview processes, and sometimes, estimated salary for a given position. If you have an idea of the career you’d like to pursue once you make your move, these can be helpful tools for putting prospective companies and opportunities on your radar.
As your move gets closer, it can be helpful to think about it as an opportunity to declutter. If you’re the type of person who clings to your possessions—whether clothes, trinkets, or collectibles—freeing up some space now will make the relocation process a lot easier. Depending on what kinds of things you want to get rid of, it could make sense to have a yard sale for unwanted household items or take those stacks of books to your local resale shop. Not only will you cut down on effort when it comes to packing and transporting, but you also could make some easy cash to help with moving expenses.
It probably won’t be helpful to look at this time as a fire sale, but rather as an opportunity to start fresh with only those belongings you hold dear. You might decide not to get rid of anything, and that’s okay. Even taking the time to review your stuff can serve as a mental inventory and will be useful when it’s time to pack.
In addition to decluttering, you should also consider the frozen and non-perishable foods you have on hand. These will most likely not make the list of things to pack. Rather than letting anything go to waste, take stock of your food inventory, and think of creative ways to use it before you’re forced to throw it away.
Some other considerations you might want to think about are:
- Notifying your bank/credit card providers about your move
- Contacting your insurance providers to find local doctors, dentists, optometrists, etc.
- Contacting current utility companies to determine how to handle your transfer or cancelation of service
- Servicing your vehicles
- Changing your address through the USPS—that way you can have mail forwarded to your new home
Planning how you’ll transport yourself and all of your belongings will be the most intensive part of the moving process. It’ll take careful coordination to ensure the safety of your belongings as you pack them up, relocate them to your new home, and unpack. If you go it alone, this process will be stressful, both mentally and physically. If you’re not up to putting in the time and effort to plan and execute a move on your own—no matter the scale—there are professional companies that can help you out.
You’ll want to begin planning as soon as possible. Whether you’ll be handling the move on your own, or with partial or total professional assistance, you’ll need time to sort through and inventory your belongings. That way, you can be sure everything makes it to your new home safely.
You’ll want to consider whether you’re able to tow or transport your cars and vehicles yourself. If you’re unable, or you’d prefer not to handle your own transport, you’ll want to be sure to contact a transport service well in advance of your move date. Be sure to have your pick up and delivery locations and scheduling information ready when you contact them.
You’ll also want to think about moving your pets. Check with your veterinarian to make sure they’re in good health to travel. If you plan to fly your furry friends to your new home, check with prospective airlines about regulations and restrictions.
Once the day is almost upon you, there are a few actions you’ll want to take.
First, take care of any loose ends with your current home. Be sure to be in close contact with your landlord or real estate agent. If there are precautions that they’ve instructed you to take, like unplugging large appliances before you leave for good, stay organized and create a list of things to do on Moving Day.
You’ll also want to follow up with any professional moving services you’ve brought on for assistance. You don’t want any surprises when it comes to loading up your belongings. So, even if you’ve been in touch with the service, contact them for confirmation a few days before they’re scheduled to arrive.
Lastly, don’t forget your toothbrush—and other important stuff, too. Make sure to pack any items you’ll want to have handy during your trip. You’ll want to have:
- Identification (Driver’s License, Passport, etc.)
- Plane tickets/up-to-date vehicle documentation
- Electronics and chargers
- Jewelry and other valuables
- Cash (in case of emergencies and to tip your movers)
- Any other irreplaceable items
Don’t forget to do a final walkthrough before you say goodbye to your old home. Turn off lights, lock all doors and windows, and be sure the keys are left with the new residents.