City Guide / Austin

Is Moving to Austin the Right Move for You? What to Consider, Cost of Living & Best Neighborhoods

By Landing | Jun 10, 2024
The Austin skyline is surrounded by lush greenery

Austin has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade. In fact, it’s been called one of the fastest-growing cities in the past several years, earning spots on national lists naming the best U.S. places to move to. Many people in the tech industry are relocating to the area from California, New York, and elsewhere, as a number of companies across all different industries choose to open offices in Austin.

If you’re thinking about moving to Austin, here are 15 things you need to know to decide whether this Texas town is the place for you:

1. The cost of living in Austin is up

Living in Austin is more expensive than ever these days, and real estate and rent values have only increased with the city’s popularity. Transplants from more expensive cities are buying houses above asking price in cash, which is controversially pushing out locals, and rent prices are climbing.

According to Payscale, the cost of living in Austin is 1% above the national average, with housing costs 16% higher than in the rest of the US. However, other expense categories are considerably lower than the national average in Austin, with Utilities, Groceries, and Transportation being 6% lower. 

Before moving to Austin, we recommend researching different Austin neighborhoods to find housing that’s within your price range. Luckily, Landing has plenty of fully furnished homes at your disposal! 

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2. Austin is HOT! 

Before moving, you should know that life in Austin is typically hotter than in other southern states. Austin has a humid, subtropical climate that brings hot summers and mild winters. During the summer months, you can expect the temperature to range from the high 80s to the low 100s, with high humidity levels. One thing you can do, though, is visit Barton Springs, a set of natural water pools with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, making them a viable option all year round. 

We know the heat may be a turnoff for some, but if you’re more of a summer person, moving to Austin may just be the right move for you.

3. Austin still features classic charm

Of course, with growth comes change, but the spirit of old-school Austin is still here if you know where to look. Get a taste of it by visiting one-of-a-kind Austin spots like Casa de Luz, The Saxon Pub, Cisco’s, Deep Eddy Cabaret, Carousel Lounge, Continental Club, The Broken Spoke and Scholz Garten (which is actually the oldest bar in the entire state!).

4. Live music reigns supreme in Austin

Man plays trumpet in Austin, which is known for its amazing live music scene.

The Live Music Capital isn’t just a cute name—and we’d like to keep it that way. You can truly see live music any night of the week here at a number of small and large music venues across the city. Plus, the area’s great weather means music festivals happen all through the year.

Whatever you do, don’t secure housing next door to a live music venue and then complain about the volume of the music. Besides, noise ordinances prohibit high volumes between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. throughout Austin’s neighborhoods.

5. You’ll likely need a car

Just like other Texas towns like San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, Austin is very much a car-centric city (with the growing traffic to prove it). While its neighborhoods are more walkable than these other cities, Austin’s public transportation is, quite frankly, lacking for a city of this size and population. There is a bus system and a very limited light rail, so if you’re someone who would really like to utilize transportation after moving here, you might want to plan your apartment location around these routes (particularly if you’re planning on commuting to a job).

Austin is also located right in the middle of the city, making it easy for Austinites to drive to any of the other major cities (just over an hour to San Antonio, less than four to Dallas, and less than three to Houston).

6. There are fewer guns in public

Because of the open carry allowances, many people imagine Texas is like living in the Wild West, where everyone walks around in cowboy boots and hats with a gun strapped to their waist. While you will see a decent amount of western wear, it actually isn’t all that common to see residents open-carrying around Austin. There are also a number of places that do not allow weapons by law, such as schools, bars, amusement parks, sporting events, and more.

7. The area is greener than you’d expect

Austin Texas nature trail hiking at sunrise with golden hour sunburst glowing over the city skyline cityscape amazing fine arts photography

While the state of Texas may conjure up desert-like images, Central Texas (where Austin is located) is a particularly green and lush part of the state. Known as the Hill Country, the surrounding area is made up of a series of gently rolling hills and has become quite the destination for visiting wineries, breweries, and distilleries. (Just be sure you designate a driver or use a ride-share app when planning your visit!)

Austin residents also enjoy weather that’s milder and dryer than Houston, and the city doesn’t get the same snow and low temperatures as Dallas. Ultimately, life in Austin is just greener, so why not think about moving here?

8. There are plenty of opportunities for aquatic recreation

Aerial drone view above Lady Bird Lake in Austin Texas with city skyline in background on a wonderful summer day blue sky green landscape and fresh cold spring swimming hole water

Lady Bird Lake (previously known as Town Lake, so you might still hear it called that) is actually a section of the Colorado River that runs right through the middle of the city and separates downtown from South Austin. And while it’s actually illegal to swim in the water for safety reasons, this body of water is super popular among paddleboarders and kayakers. Didn’t bring your own? There are several outfitters where you can rent equipment by the hour or day.

9. Swimming holes are the perfect way to cool down

Austin texas greenbelt summer crowds enjoying the cold springs Barton creek

If you really want to swim, however, there are plenty of free and accessible swimming holes in and around the Austin area, which is a huge benefit of living here. When the summer heat is already reaching triple digits in June, you’ll be grateful to have a number of swimming spots within reach, including city pools like Deep Eddy and Big Spacy and spots along the Greenbelt.

It’s important for you to know that many of the natural swimming holes will dry up due to heat and lack of rain by mid-summer, so it’s best to enjoy those while you can (typically through June). Tubing nearby rivers like the Comal, San Marcos, and Guadalupe is also a great option all summer long.

10. The city is very dog-friendly

Austinites absolutely love their dogs, and you’ll find that you can take your furry friends nearly everywhere with you. There are even some bars and restaurants designed for both humans and their dogs to be able to simultaneously socialize, such as Yard Bar and the Dog House Drinkery.

Do note that if you are a dog owner, it’s essential to know about the blue-green algae that can develop in Austin’s natural water during the warmer months. It’s very toxic to dogs, so it’s important that you check for its presence before taking your dog out to places like Red Bud Isle and Secret Beach.

11. Austin has quite the food scene

Austin’s food scene offers a wealth of new restaurants and different cuisine options beyond its famous Tex-Mex, barbecue, and tacos. Both locals and out-of-towners love eating al fresco, which you can do for most of the year here. That means just about every restaurant has a patio (which is also why most places are so dog-friendly), with misting fans in the summer and heaters in the winter.

While there aren’t quite as many food trucks and food trailers as there once were, there is still a considerable amount to explore, and many of them are conveniently grouped together in food truck parks.

Food Bucket List in Austin

Want to spend half a year exploring Austin’s food scene? Check out our blog, “Spending Six Months in Austin: Your Food Bucket List.

12. People in Austin like to keep active

Panorama view Downtown Austin, Texas, US along Colorado River at daytime with cloud blue sky. View from Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, unidentified man running

Austin loves to party, but it’s also a very healthy city. The 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail along downtown is one of the most utilized trails in the country, and you’ll see people cycling together for social bike rides all throughout the week. Paddleboarding, bouldering, pickleball, and bike polo are some other popular active social communities you’ll encounter here. The Austin Sports & Social Club is also a great way for new residents to make connections.

13. Austin’s tech scene is growing quickly

Austin is a veritable tech city these days, with tech companies like Google, Apple, Dell, Amazon, Oracle, Facebook, Indeed, Paypal, Silicon Labs, and Texas Instruments moving their hubs there. In 2022, Elon Musk also unveiled Gigafactory Texas, the new global headquarters and manufacturing facility for Tesla, near Austin.

The presence of all these companies means that jobs in Austin are booming. It also means the city is filled with a lot of remote or hybrid employees, so securing coworking space (or even staking out space at your neighborhood coffee shop) is getting increasingly more challenging.

14. You’ll quickly notice the city’s Latin-American influence after moving there

While it’s not necessary to know Spanish to live in Austin, it would certainly be helpful, as there is a strong Latin-American culture here and many Spanish-speaking residents.

However, don’t assume you know how to pronounce street names if you do speak Spanish, because many of them have been shortened or colloquialized. For instance, Guadalupe is pronounced “Guada-loop,” Burnet gets an accent on the first syllable, and there’s even a cute rhyme to help newcomers (“It’s Burnet, dernit, cantcha learn it?”) Manchaca has been changed to Menchaca to correct the misspelling of the name of a veteran for whom the road was named.

Also, no one refers to Loop 1 as that—the highway is actually known called MoPac, instead.

What are some of the best neighborhoods in Austin? 

If you’re really serious about moving to Austin, you should probably know what are considered the best Austin neighborhoods to live in:

1. Travis Heights

There might not be a neighborhood that feels more “Austin” than Travis Heights. This cute enclave, located just south of downtown over the Congress Avenue Bridge, features a mix of historic and renovated homes and plenty of shade from the area’s magnificent oak trees. It truly makes living in Austin a pleasure like no other. 

2. East Cesar Chavez

Although Central East Austin is often casually referred to as “The Eastside,” there are actually many distinct neighborhoods throughout the sprawling east end of the city. One great one is the section of Cesar Chavez just east of I-35 and downtown Austin, and the little streets running south of it until you hit Lady Bird Lake. This neighborhood also provides easy access to the north side of the hike and bike trail, as well as Fiesta Gardens, a community space featuring many outdoor events throughout the year.

3. Clarksville

This historic neighborhood, located just west of downtown Austin, was originally established in 1871 by freed slave Charles Clark after the 1865 emancipation in Texas. Clark subdivided his land among other freedmen and started the city’s first African American community. However, early in the 20th century, developers started to realize the land value of Clarksville, with its proximity to downtown Austin, and they began to force the Black community to the east side of the city by closing the Black schools in the area and withholding services. In the 1970s, the city declared a section of Clarksville historic, and the 1879 Hezikiah Haskell House still stands as a reminder of the neighborhood’s roots. If a rich history neighborhood is what you’re looking for, moving to Clarksville is definitely the right option. 

4. Cherrywood

This cute, tree-shaded Austin neighborhood is tucked along the east side of I-35, just northeast of the University of Texas Austin’s campus and just south of the Mueller development. The homes lining Cherrywood’s winding side streets are mostly original single-family bungalows from the 1940s (built right after World War II) and some duplexes.

5. Bouldin Creek

Bouldin Creek is located just south of Lady Bird Lake via the South 1st Street Bridge and just west of Travis Heights. This is another very desirable neighborhood due to its lingering quirky vibe—yet, much like Travis Heights, it has become extremely expensive in the past decade.