San Francisco is an extraordinary city, but the astronomical cost of living has created a steady migration of San Franciscans to Austin, Texas. Why Austin? As a tech hub, the Texas capital is a smooth transition for San Franciscans looking for similar work in a city with like-minded progressive attitudes – but with an affordable, high-quality lifestyle.
Many Bay Area-based tech companies (like Facebook and Google) have operations in Austin, plus, the Live Music Capital of the World offers the perks of fantastic entertainment; diverse, friendly residents; lots of in-city nature; and zero state income tax. But before you hightail it to Texas, read on to be sure you’re really suited for Austin.
What to Know About Moving from San Francisco to Austin
Here’s what to know before transitioning to life in the Lone Star State.
Housing and Cost of Living
Housing in San Francisco costs 274% more than it does in Austin. Although the median home cost in Austin, at $369,000, is 60% higher than the national average, the pricing is a terrific savings over San Francisco’s median home cost of $1,378,300. As Austin grows, so do housing prices – homes have appreciated 70% over the past ten years.
If renting is a better option for you, a one-bedroom rental averages $1,186 compared to $2,639 in San Francisco. Your average savings would be $1,453 per month!
Moving to Austin from San Francisco will also give you a break on basic expenses. Food and groceries will be 21% lower than what you pay in San Francisco, transportation costs will be 44% lower, and health costs 6% lower. In general, your cost of living will be 126% lower in Austin.
Texas doesn’t levy a state income tax, so right there, you’ll feel financial relief, especially if you’re used to paying the average California state income tax of 9%. However, as a consequence of not having to pay state income tax, you’ll pay higher than average property taxes. The City of Austin assesses property tax at 100% of a home’s appraised value, at a rate of 1.35%. San Francisco, property tax is 0.68%. However, given Austin’s more affordable home prices, you may still come out ahead on your property tax bill by leaving the Bay Area behind. Austin sales tax is 8.25%, a fraction lower than the 8.5% sales tax you pay in San Francisco.
Economy and Job Market
San Francisco and Austin both have robust tech-based economies. Known as the tech hub of Texas, in ‘Silicon Hills,’ you’ll find Apple, Dell, IBM, and more. But Austin’s economy is also strengthened by education, health care, retail trade, and accommodation and food services.
According to milkeninstitute.org, San Francisco is the best-performing US city for creating and sustaining jobs. But get this! The report ranks Austin as the third best-performing large city!
The US Census Bureau reported that San Francisco’s median household income was the second-fastest growing in the country. From $76,000 in 2010 to $99,500 in 2018, the increase totaled 32%. Austin has the third fastest-growing median household income. At $58,000 in 2010 to over $73,000 in 2018, the increase was 27%. The US median is $60,293.
Transportation and Traffic
According to smartasset.com, San Francisco ranks as having the 2nd best public transportation in the country, used by 34% of SF commuters who use a network of buses and commuter trains. The average one-way commute in San Francisco is 33 minutes. In Austin, plan on an average 24-minute one-way trip to work.
Austin’s traffic continues to worsen along with population growth, ranking the city 14th in the country for traffic congestion. As a result, more residents are turning to public transportation. Cap Metro, which operates the city’s bus lines and light rail, reports that ridership has grown for 16 months in a row, but still, only 4% of commuters use it.
Weather and Climate
Moving from San Francisco’s mild, sometimes foggy marine climate to Austin’s sunny, humid subtropical climate may be a challenge. In San Francisco, seasonal differences are minimal, but in Austin’s four seasons, summers are long, sticky, and very hot, springs and autumns are pleasant, and winters will be similar to San Francisco temps.
Many summer days in Austin can reach three digits, although July highs average 97 °F, 28 degrees hotter than San Francisco’s average July high of 67 °F. Winters in Austin are mild and short, with January highs averaging 61 °F and lows going down to 38 °F. San Francisco winters see January and February highs that average 58 °F and lows that go down to an average 46 °F.
Austin’s 35 inches of annual rainfall is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year, but May and June get the most. San Francisco sees 25 inches of yearly rain, mainly from late November through to April. Located on the southern edge of the nation’s Tornado Alley, Austin is prone to severe thunderstorms; although tornadoes are known to occur, they’re uncommon.
San Francisco doesn’t get snow, but in Austin, a very light dusting may fall during a January storm. It may snow every few years but only adds up to a fraction of an inch.
Looking at crime ratings on a scale of 1 to 100, the average US rate for violent crime is 23. Austin’s rating is just slightly higher at 25, and in San Francisco, it’s 40.
The average US rating for property crime is 35. Both Austin and San Francisco have much higher property crime rates than the US average. In Austin, it’s 55, and in San Francisco, the rating is 79.
If you’re moving from San Francisco to Austin, you want assurance that the neighborhoods you’re considering are safe. So be sure to google safety ratings as you pare down your neighborhood choices. Rollingwood, West Lake Hills, and Tarrytown are some of the safest areas to start your search.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
By population, Austin is slightly larger than San Francisco. Approximately 980,000 people live in Austin compared to 864,263 in San Francisco, but with seven times the land area, Austin’s density is about one-sixth that of San Francisco’s. Since 2010, the Austin-Round Rock metro area population grew by 55,500 persons annually and is now 2,227,000. Georgetown, part of the metro area about 45 minutes north of downtown Austin, was the nation’s fastest-growing city.
As a whole, San Franciscans are pretty passionate about environmental and social justice. They find brotherhood in Austin’s equally ardent regard for sustainability and green lifestyles. Austin is recognized as one of the country’s top eco-friendly cities. As a pioneer of the green building movement, all of Austin powers all of its public buildings with renewable energy, and many homes are LEED-certified.
Sometimes called the ‘Blueberry in the Red State,’ Austin has voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections, with 66% of residents voting Democrat in 2016. The counterculture slogan, “Keep Austin Weird,” reflects the hope that large corporations won’t run out Austin’s unique, small, locally-owned businesses.
Located on the eastern edge of Texas Hill Country, Austin’s topography ranges from gently rolling hills, cliffs, rivers, and lakes in the western part of the city to flat terrain in the eastern section. The town sits at the confluence of four major ecological zones that influence the climate, landscape, flora, and fauna.
Things to Do
Urban excitement and beautiful wooded nature are both at your fingertips right in the city. Fantastic hiking, cycling, camping, boating, and fishing happen within Austin city borders, but if you want more, head west into the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, which is replete with state parks and a wine trail. The “Live Music Capital of the World” offers live music 24/7 and also hosts the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. But as you can imagine, there’s oh so much more!
Best Neighborhoods in Austin
As you begin your home search, be sure to explore options in some of Austin’s best neighborhoods.
West Lake Hills
Exclusive West Lake Hills offers convenient access to major highways plus extensive greenspaces for hiking, cycling, and running. Housing prices are similar to San Francisco’s median home cost of $1,375,000. Many of the beautifully landscaped single-family custom homes are architecturally unique and have gorgeous views over the lush hills toward the city, five miles southeast. You may also find some condos and homes available for rent. Learn more about West Lake Hills here.
Another exclusive and beautiful neighborhood, Northwest Hills, is seven miles northwest of Downtown and home to around 18,000 people. Condos, townhomes, and custom homes sit among the oak-studded hills. Shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, and other convenient amenities sit in the northwest section of the neighborhood. Find out more Northwest Hills info here.
Tarrytown and Deep Eddy
Tarrytown is a large, exclusive suburban enclave of about 20,000 residents located three miles northwest of Downtown. Housing ranges from single-family residences to attractive low-rise condos. Either way, housing is expensive.
Deep Eddy, with casual cafes, coffee spots, and juice bars, is a more eclectic neighborhood on Tarrytown’s southern border. Housing consists of apartments, more modest single-family homes, and condos. Learn more about Tarrytown or Deep Eddy here.
Rosedale and Allandale
Four miles north of Downtown, Rosedale is an established neighborhood complete with bakeries, delis, cafes, and breweries. Housing ranges from two- to four-bedroom mid-century bungalows to townhomes and condos. The walk score is 70, and the bike score is 81.
Homes in Allandale, six miles north of Downtown, are more affordably priced, and housing is found in condos, apartments, and single-family homes. Here’s more info about Rosedale and Allandale.
Historic and charming Clarksville is directly west of Downtown. With a walk score of 71, it’s easy to access convenient one-of-a-kind amenities like boutiques, an organic grocery store, coffee houses, cafes, and some of Austin’s benchmark restaurants. Million-dollar condos, historically-significant single-family homes, and apartments will be your housing choices. Find out more Clarksville information here.
Barton Hills and Zilker
Barton Hills and Zilker are directly southwest of Downtown across the Colorado River. Barton Hills offers the best of both worlds – quick access to urban Downtown plus access to nature at beautiful Barton Creek Wilderness Park. Single-family homes and condos are available for sale and rent.
Zilker is a semi-urban established neighborhood of lovely residential areas with low- and high-rise condos, townhomes, and single-family homes. Lots of convenient amenities are available along Lamar Avenue. Here are more details about Barton Hills and Zilker.
Desirable and happening, Travis Heights is directly south of Downtown, separated by the Colorado River. Beautiful live oaks line the winding streets where you can choose between some 1920s era and modernist single-family homes, condos, and apartments. The trails in the Blunn Creek Greenbelt provide wooded nature right in the middle of this beautiful neighborhood. Great restaurants, bars, and shopping add to the allure of Travis Heights. Learn more here.
Cost of Moving from San Francisco to Austin
On average, it costs about $3500-$5500 to move from San Francisco to Austin. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 1759 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best San Francisco to Austin movers now!