Austin is a rapidly expanding city with beautiful scenery, a vibrant culture, and one of the nation's most favorable job climates. Along with burgeoning job growth, it offers higher salaries and lower living costs than most other major business centers in the country.
In 2015, WalletHub ranked Austin as the best large U.S. city to live in.
It also ranked Austin second in the country for the quality of its schools system, and third in the United States for "Highest Household Income Adjusted by Cost of Living."
The Austin environment
Key advantages of Austin are its almost year-round sunshine and vast tracts of open land, including rivers and creeks, lakes, forest, and more than 29,000 acres of park land, with miles of hiking and walking trails. The city also offers ample opportunities for swimming, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking.
Safety in Austin
No city today is completely safe – but as far as cities go, Austin is one of the safest.
In its 2014 Unified Crime Report, the FBI ranked Austin as the third safest city in the United States.
In part, this may be due to the successes of the Austin police department. Its web site keeps Austin residents informed. It allows them to report crimes or suspicious activities so they can play a proactive role in keeping their city safe.
Austin cost of living
Yahoo! Finance ranked Austin as the third best city in the country for high pay and low living expenses in 2014.
Consider some examples. According to data from the past 18 months, on average, a quart of whole fat milk cost an average of $0.82 and a combo meal in a fast food restaurant cost $6.75 in Austin – lower than the national average prices of $0.95 for a quart of milk and $7.00 for a combo meal. Gas is also cheaper in Austin, with a quarter gallon of gas priced at $0.54, compared to the national average of $0.65 over the period analyzed.
Average income per capita in Austin is $31,387 – above the national average of $28,051 and higher even than the income per capita, adjusted for cost of living, in California.
The median family income in Austin was $63,603 in 2014, while the national median income was only $53,65.
Coupled with favorable tax laws, healthy incomes mean that residents of Austin have greater average disposable monthly income than the national average.
The median price of an Austin-area single-family home was $270,000 in December 2015, compared to the national median of $224,100 in the same month.
The reason housing prices in Austin are going up is high demand, with rapid population growth. This isn't necessarily bad news for those looking to buy homes. All estimates suggest that demand is going to continue growing, making Austin real estate an exceptionally strong investment.
Data shows that by 2014, an average of 110 people were moving to Austin every day.
Although the average price for a single-family home in Austin has increased over the past year, economic prosperity and an abundance of jobs in the city mean that housing is affordable for those earning average Austin salaries. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 61.2% of homes sold in Austin in 2014 were affordable to households earning Austin's median family income.
Austin includes a good number of reputable private, public, and alternative schools, many of which earn academic distinctions from the Texas Education Agency each year.
As we noted above, WalletHub ranked Austin second best city in the country for the quality of its schools in 2015.
Overall, Greatschools.org ranks the city 7 out of 10 for education, based on all school test scores.
Austin job markets
Austin is home to the development centers and headquarters of numerous technology, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies.
As one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, it consistently ranks high on Forbes' annual list of the best cities for jobs in America, even claiming <href="#2b7aa49c5a13">first place in 2012. Forbes has also ranked Austin as one of the top cities for job growth in the United States, with a predicted growth of 42% in the next ten years.
With healthy numbers of jobs in technology, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, healthcare, government, and entertainment, Austin has a significantly lower unemployment rate – estimated at 3.3% – than the national average of 6.3%.
Jobs in education are also abundant, with numerous Austin universities and colleges. Among these are the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edwards, Austin Community College, and Southwestern University.
Last but not least, Austin's unique culture is a great reason to live and work in the city.
Austin boasts hundreds of popular eateries and entertainment venues, a busy annual calendar of social and cultural events, and some of the best annual music festivals in the south.
Although it offers big-city amenities, Austin is known for its small-town pace of life and independence of character. This is especially clear in residents' support for the "Keep Austin Weird" movement and for small local businesses, including trendy boutiques, eateries, gourmet food trucks, and local art galleries.