If you’re considering moving to Austin, this article will give you insight into the city’s pros and cons. Austin has a unique personality, unlike any other city in the country.
I’m a Realtor who works in every part of this city. I’ve worked in every neighborhood and my wife and I have experience in flipping homes, improving appreciation, staging, and design.
My family of 5 and I recently moved to West Austin from Southwest Austin. My wife have lived all over Austin and have seen many changes in the last 11 years of living in this amazing city.
Here is a quick reference of the topics covered in this article.
Austin has been an evolving city and is currently in a the midst of HUGE changes. The Austin metro area is constantly evolving and adapting to it’s growing population which brings me to my first topic.
1. Austin Is A Rapidly Growing City
Austin has experienced an explosion of growth over the last 10 years. The population continues to grow with no end in sight. This city has proven to be one of the best places to live in the United States, which helps increase the demand for people moving to Austin.
Here’s a look at the population projection:
With a rapidly growing city comes a hot real estate market, which brings me to my next topic….
2. Austin Real Estate Is BONKERS
As of this article, the inventory is at an all time low in the Austin metro area. We are currently sitting at below 700 active listings, which about 7 days of inventory.
That means, if no more homes were listed, Austin would be out of inventory in one week.
To put that into perspective, typically we have 4-6 months of inventory.
I told you, BONKERS. Check out the changes from 2020 to 2021 from my housing number authority The Housing Report.
Homes in Austin appreciated at nearly 25%. Normally we have a 5-8% appreciation rate. So, if you bought a million dollar home today, in February of 2022 it would be worth $1,250,000. That’s $250K appreciate in ONE year.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re planning on moving to Austin, do it sooner rather than later and buy a house, ANY house to take advantage of these appreciation rates and enjoy Austin.
3. Austin Has A Lively Nightlife (And Great Happy Hours)
Dive bars, rooftop bars, dance clubs, music scenes, happy hours, and more…
Rainey Street is a popular destination just south of Cesar Chavez street. This area is basically a neighborhood that was converted into bars and restaurants, which means that you can easily walk from one end to the other and be surrounded by endless options of craft beer, cocktails, and food trucks. Your best bet is to get a cab or one of the ride-share options available since parking is limited.
There are three very different sections of 6th street you need to know about before moving to Austin.
West 6th runs west from Congress Avenue and consists of higher end restaurants and bars. Popular bars include The Dogwood (a dog-friendly establishment), Little Woodrow’s, and Key Bar to name a few. A few amazing restaurants include Clark’s Oyster Bar, Winflo–a great live music spot, and Italic, a rustic Italian restaurant.
Dirty 6th is the 6th street that your mother warned you about (that is, if your mother was ever specific enough in her warnings to single out a specific part of 6th street). This area is the famous 6th street that is completely shut down to cars on the weekends. Lined with bars on both sides and full of visitors who always want to see “6th St,” this is where you’ll find the young partiers and college students. We recommend seeing this area once just for fun and then avoiding it at all costs. It is a scene to be seen, but mostly it’s just a tourist attraction.
East 6th refers to the area east of I-35–a very popular spot among musicians and those “in the know.” We hate to use the term “hipster,” but it was christened as such by Forbes. The White Horse is an east side Honky tonk, filled with old and new movers and groovers. Catch nightly live music and even a free swing dance lesson on Wednesdays. Hotel Vegas is a favorite among local musicians and has a huge outdoor sitting/drinking area and a food truck for those late night snacks.
4. Austin Loves Dogs (Almost More Than People)
Growing up in South Texas, we all had dogs that we left outside and they were NEVER allowed inside. We fed them table scraps and loved them from a distant.
I’ve never lived somewhere that dogs are held in such high regard. People rarely leave their dogs outside in Austin. Everyone seems to have at least one dog, and they are treated as family members, as they are. Speaking of furry family members, here are mine King Leonidus (Leo) and Queen Elizabeth (Lulu)
If a Homeless person has a dog, it seems people are more willing to give them money. Recently, there was a drive to raise money to buy blankets for dogs during a brief cold spell. I didn’t hear about raising money for homeless blankets.
In the Summer heat, they enjoy some time outside but spend most of their time inside.
Based on my experience, dogs seem to have equal rights as humans in Austin.
There are wonderful dog parks all over the city where locals meet and let their dogs play together. If you want to move to Austin, you better LOVE dogs!
Speaking of loving things….
5. Austin Loves BRUNCH
We love our brunches (almost as much as dogs).
My wife and I’s first date was brunch at Fonda San Miguel, which is a $40/plate brunch buffet. I was so broke when we met I was barely spending $40 a week on food, but I really wanted to impress her and she was worth it.
Anyway my family and I rotate a few different brunch spots every weekend at Kerbey Lane, Glorias, and Jack Allens.
Then on special occasions there are hundreds of other brunch restaurants and options.
6. Austin Has Plenty Of Outdoor Activities
Town Lake is the perfect place to get your “outdoors” on while still in the city. Austinites flock to the 10 Miles of hike and bike trails surrounding Town Lake. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are also fun options you can enjoy on the lake; just stop by one of the many rental places nearby to sign up! Boat cruises are a fun way to see Austin from a different point of view. You can take a special bat tour to see the famous bat colony under the Congress Bridge, and, if bats aren’t your thing, there are several good sightseeing tours as well.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
The Greenbelt, as you will probably hear it referred to, is a 7.25 mile stretch of public land. It begins at Zilker Park and extends south/southwest to the end that is commonly called the “Hill of Life” which ends in the woods of a Westlake Subdivision.
There are multiple access points to the Greenbelt, so be sure to find the one that works best for you. There are also a few swimming areas (as long as there’s been enough rain), such as Sculpture Falls, that are both impressive and necessary during our hot Texas summers.
Barton Springs Pool
Located inside of Zilker Park, Barton Springs is a natural pool fed by underwater springs that maintains a temperature of 68-70 degrees year round. This is a loved and cherished attraction for Austinites. It attracts all walks of life and serves as the perfect summer destination.
If you’re headed outdoors then you need to know something…
7. Austin Is HOT Most Of The Year
You wouldn’t know living here this Winter, we’ve had snow TWICE, which is unheard of.
And last week (Feb. 15th) we had the worst winter storm in 60 years. Half of Austin lost power and water. Thousands of busted pipes, car accidents, and issues all around the city and Texas.
This was HIGHLY unusual.
For the most part you can expect hot and humid weather. Even during the “Winter.”
Just a year or two ago we broke the record for most consecutive 100+ degree days.
During the Winter/right before Spring, you could have one day that it dips below freezing and the next day it’s in the 80s. You’ll leave in a Winter coat and get back home in shorts and sandals.
8. Traffic, Traffic, Traffic
Even good things go bad, and with the great influx of new residents, traffic in Austin is only getting worse and worse. Unfortunately, the transportation infrastructure just wasn’t made to handle this kind of growth. When choosing a place to live, it’s worth seriously considering your expected commute time to and from work, as this is probably the biggest complaint people have about living in Austin. However, with all the amazing positives Austin has to offer, traffic is the only real downfall we find.
9. When You Move To Austin, You Can Shop Til You Drop
While Austin isn’t known for being a shopping destination, it does have plenty of options for buying what you need.
Located in central-north Austin, North Loop is a strip of fun vintage stores and bars that are located within walking distance of each other. Room Service Vintage is a dream for vintage furniture and home decor lovers. They have an outstanding collection of top notch finds- like pendant lights, rugs, clothing, jewelry, and furniture. Follow them on Instagram for first dibs on the latest finds. Revival Vintage is another favorite; with stellar clothing, home decor, and furniture. The store also hosts Revival Sunday Market, which is a monthly Pop-up shop featuring local artists and vintage vendors. The store’s selection is curated with style and precision. You will also find select handmade goods from local artisans such as pins, plant hangers, crochet cactus art, and more. North Loop has some great little watering holes as well, such as Work Horse, Drink.Well, and Tigress Pub.
The main shopping area on Burnet runs from 44th Street to North Loop Blvd. The IBIZ Lo-Burn (Lower Burnet) district is dedicated to supporting and promoting unique local businesses. A-Town is a great little store with a large selection of locally made artisan jewelry, body care, clothing, and home decor. This store is our favorite for finding one-of-a-kind gifts. And, once you find that special gift, they’ll even gift wrap it for you. This area is full of locally owned thrift stores, vintage boutiques, collectibles, antiques, and more.
The Domain is a huge shopping destination featuring a selection of upscale stores as well as more affordable favorites like H&M. A recent addition to the area called Rock Rose is a hot spot for young professionals and entrepreneurs. High-quality shopping, bars, and restaurants within walking distance make for the perfect night out here.
Hill Country Galleria
The Galleria is a thriving center of shops, restaurants, park, and more located in West Austin by Bee Cave.
10. Austin Has The Best Restaurants
Austin’s restaurant has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still many dine-in, takeout, and delivery options from delicious restaurants.
11. Austin Keeps It Weird
Keep Austin Weird is the slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses in Austin, Texas.
Between Austin’s famous homeless crossdressor Leslie Cochran, The Cathedral of Junk, Maria’s Taco Express restaurant, and the random graffiti all over town, Austin weirdness doesn’t disappoint.
12. We Are Healthy and Fit
Austin is the #1 fittest city in Texas
Austin has a young, highly active community and low rates of chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
One of Austin’s features that makes it easy to be active is Lady Bird Lake in the middle of the city. Locals run or walk along the surrounding trail and kayak or row on the lake.
You can’t drive a mile without encountering a group of cyclists.
We have plenty of gyms like Gold’s, LA Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, and many local gyms.
And there many other indoor fitness classes, dance classes, yoga
Oh I can’t forget to mention GOGA (Goat Yoga) where you do Yoga around wandering goats. Remember, this is Austin, ya’ll! We keep it weird and interesting.
13. We Have Art, Culture, and More
14. Skyscrapers Are Multiplying
If you needed further evidence of Austin’s boomtown status, there are now at least 37 towers proposed for or rising downtown. I won’t name all of the buildings currently under construction, but just know that you can plenty of cranes on the Austin skyline.
A whopping 3.7 million of the 10 million square feet of office space under construction in the metro is happening downtown, according to CoStar Group Inc. — and there are more offices on the drawing board. And condos. And apartments. And hotels. Plus a courthouse. A brand new state of the art public library was just completed a few years ago.
To say the past decade has seen the rise of downtown Austin would be an understatement. The city’s latest and largest building boom hit full throttle during that time, adding a significant number of large buildings to the city.
As for the upcoming decade, we’re looking at ever more, ever taller, ever larger buildings, it seems. At least that’s the story so far.
I do my best to keep up with Austin’s rapid changes, but when it comes to commercial real estate and skyscrapers I stay on the outside and focus on the residential side of things.
15. Austin Has Jobs
If you’re moving to Austin, it’s either because you already have a job or you’re moving to Austin because you know there will eventually be a job.
Late in 2020, software giant Oracle said it would move its headquarters to Austin Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has moved here, and recently Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale said he would move his VC firm, 8VC, here also.
And just a few days ago Elon Musk, who started building the $1 Billion Tesla truck gigafactory in Austin, said Austin will be the biggest Boomtown in last 50 years.
In other words, if you haven’t already moved to Austin, you better buy a house here FAST.
16. Choose The Right Neighborhood
Austin is made up of many unique neighborhoods and communities all with great amenities and unique vibes. The most important step when buying a home is determining where to live and Austin has something for every lifestyle.
Austin is also an active city with constant energy. There is always something to experience, learn, and explore. Throughout the year on any given weekend there are events ranging from art exhibits to UT football to Restaurant Weeks to Formula 1 racing.
Historically a business district located on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, downtown Austin has seen an explosion of residential development over the last fifteen years and has residences to suit any style at a variety of price points. Primarily made up of condominium developments, there is a range from older, true loft-style buildings such as the Brown Building, to full service, luxury high-rises such as the Four Seasons Residences.
Long known for its live music district, downtown has a variety of entertainment options. From weekend festivals to the farmer’s market at Republic Square Park to Longhorn football games in the fall, there is always something happening, day or night.
Northwest Austin is located north of 2222 and follows Lake Austin all the way north to the intersection of 620 and 183, an area known as Four Points. Neighborhoods in this area range from the close to downtown Northwest Hills to the master planned community of Steiner Ranch. Varying properties are available from reasonably priced new construction to mid-century modern homes and water front estates.
Northwest Austin has several high occupancy roadways that make area homes convenient to local high tech employers, retail shopping and easily accessible to other areas of Austin.
North Austin stretches from 2222 and continues north to Round Rock. This area includes older, more established neighborhoods such as Crestview and Allandale which are located close to Central Austin, and master planned communities with recent construction such as Avery Ranch. The influx of high-tech employers such as National Instruments, IBM, Motorola and Freescale has led to huge growth in this area. North Austin also has a great variety of shopping available from national chain retailers to local boutiques. The Arboretum and The Domain both offer a wonderful mix of luxury, high-end shopping, great dining and smaller specialty stores in an outdoor setting.
Southwest Austin Neighborhood
Southwest Austin includes many neighborhoods and housing options. Barton Creek is a community comprised of smaller, well-maintained neighborhoods centered around Barton Creek Country Club. Options range from luxury garden homes at Watersmark to spectacular estates in Escala. There are also new areas such as Calera and Verano which provide great options for buyers looking to build a custom home. South of Barton Creek, yet still west of Mopac are more neighborhoods that include Oak Hill, Travis Country and Circle C Ranch. Southwest Austin is known for its neighborhoods that incorporate the natural landscape and preserve large amounts of green space.
Central Austin Neighborhood
Some of the oldest homes in the city are found in Central Austin. This area, which borders downtown, was the original residential district for the city. Neighborhoods like Old Enfield have wonderful estates that date from the early 1900’s. Pemberton Heights and Tarrytown both provide a small town feel with many neighborhood activities. Just north of downtown, is the eclectic Hyde Park neighborhood and located just west of downtown is Clarksville. Both neighborhoods are popular with artists, professors and families and are prized for their craftsman style bungalows. All of these neighborhoods are convenient to downtown and provide an urban element to daily life.
Lakeway Austin Neighborhood
On the south shore of Lake Travis, the community of Lakeway and its surrounding areas are a short 16 miles from Austin. Originally developed as a resort community, this area offers a variety of amenities including several golf courses, tennis clubs, a lakefront marina and a private airstrip. Abundant new development, both commercial and residential, provides buyers the opportunity to take advantage of the small town feel while not missing the convenience and amenities of city life. With its excellent schools and numerous water activities, Lakeway provides the ultimate in suburban recreational lifestyle.
The redevelopment of East Austin was led by the Mueller Development in 1999. This project took the no longer used Mueller Municipal Airport and transformed it into a mixed-use urban village in the heart of Austin. It touts some of the newest, most highly rated restaurants, a multitude of art galleries, coffee shops, food trucks and farmers’ markets. Subsequently, development spread throughout other areas and the focus has been on been striking a balance between preserving the history and authenticity of the area while creating new business and housing opportunities for the growing population.
Westlake Austin Neighborhood
Located west of Lake Austin and filled with rolling hills, Westlake is dedicated to preserving its rural environment and maintaining the natural beauty of the area. Neighborhoods vary from Rollingwood which is conveniently located to downtown, to gated communities such as West Rim Estates and Rob Roy. Westlake also features some of Austin’s finest waterfront estates and stunning cliff side homes with city views like those found in The Summit.
Westlake is also known for the wonderful Eanes Independent School District, which includes Westlake High School, named among the best public schools in the country by US News and World Report.
South Austin Neighborhood
South of Lady Bird Lake, South Austin covers a wide variety of terrain and lifestyles. Barton Hills benefits from adjoining Zilker Park while South Congress (SoCo) with its funky shops, great restaurants and cool bars has become an Austin hot spot. Smaller bungalows and contemporary, loft style condominiums are common in this area. Just to the east is Travis Heights, one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods known for its abundance of craftsman bungalows and Victorian Revival style. Further south, a boom of development has brought great housing options for a variety of needs to an area that remains convenient to downtown, the airport, shopping and major employers.
17. We Are Function Over Fashion
Austin was recently named #18 on the worst dressed cities. Fashion is not a priority for most of the residents of Austin. I love this about our city, but the older generation not so much.
My wife is a home stager and interior designer. If it wasn’t for her, our house would still look like a bachelor pad. She has a unique eye for making the ordinary, extraordinary. That goes for outfits also.
While I can barely match my clothes properly. Good thing she buys all of my clothes!
Take a walk around downtown and you’ll see all different styles of outfits.
I love our cities lack of fashion, as I have no interest in whether my clothes match or are “in style.” I’m more interested in being comfortable and dressing to match the weather patterns, and I suspect most of the residents here feel the same way.
18. We Have A Growing Homeless Population
With a growing city, comes a growing homeless population.
According to an annual count of the city’s homeless population, the city had 2,506 people experiencing homelessness last year. The number grew by one-third between 2016 and 2020. But experts warn that these counts provide only a snapshot of the problem and the real numbers could be higher.
To be fair, the “crisis” is only happening in certain parts of the city, like:
- Downtown near Cesar Chavez and I-35
- Ben White and Manchaca
- I-35 – 290 – 183 split in North Austin
- Riverside and Pleasant Valley in Southeast Austin
So unless you are consistently around these areas, you won’t really see the tents, camps, and groups. You’re only interactions will be at most traffic lights at major intersections.
There is a constant battle in the Austin City Council regarding homeless issues.
There are talks to purchase hotels for the homeless, but that’s facing a lot of backlash.
The future of Austin’s homeless population seems to be that it will grow as the city grows.
19. Austin Loves Texas
Everyone knows, everything is bigger in Texas.
And that includes Austin’s LOVE for Texas.
All around the city you’ll see how much Austinites love their state of Texas.
20. Austin Does Have Some Dangerous Critters
When you move to Austin, you’ll have to watch out for a few poisonous critters.
Austin also has alot of squirrels, opossoms, armadillos, and bird varieties.
There’s also BATS.
When most people think of Austin, visions of things like tasty taco and musicians performing all over town come to mind. But the city is also known for its love of certain winged nocturnal animals that appear at sunset. Yep, those are the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats.
The Congress Avenue Bridge is apparently an ideal bat cave, soon attracting migrating Mexican free-tailed bats. Decades later, Austin’s bat numbers have swelled and locals have adopted the beloved creatures as neighbors who happily handle the city’s bug mitigation and provide an amazing nightly show.
The bats eat anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects, including mosquitoes and harmful agricultural pests.
So, we LOVE our bats! Too bad they don’t eat Rattlesnakes!
21. Moving To Austin Is The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make
When I moved to Austin about 11 years ago, after just a few months here, I found myself thinking “What took me so long?”
The top 3 reasons why I would recommend any move to Austin:
1.) Great place to raise a family
2.) Always Something To Do
3.) Home Values Are Appreciating
Hey, call me a capitalist but I like money as much as the next person. A good investment is a good investment and Austin real estate is a GREAT investment.
I just purchased my 2nd home in Austin and it’s appreciating at close to 27% in the last 2 months and all of the Austin neighborhoods are appreciating between 19% and 30%. It’s incredible.
Summary: Moving To Austin, Yay or Nay?
If you’re still asking yourself whether or not you should move to Austin, then I didn’t do a very good job convincing you how wonderful a city Austin is to live, raise a family, have a career, and be happy!
The only reason I can imagine you wouldn’t want to move to Austin is that you already live here!