If you love to eat barbecue on a regular basis, listen to live music all of the time, and don’t mind some hot weather, then living in Austin might be the right choice for you. The city is an appealing fusion of different personalities, perspectives, and experiences that make it a one-of-a-kind place to live.
You will find that the vibe in Austin is very similar to what you would encounter if you were living in city like San Francisco or Portland. The key difference that you’ll find in Texas is that the cost of living is not nearly as high.
When you make this city your home, then you will also be living in the heart of the state. You can make it up to Dallas or down to San Antonio and Houston on a day trip if you want. It’s just a short drive to the hill country where you can pick up some fruit right along the highway from a stand. There are wide-open spaces, big skies, and bold flavors waiting for your arrival.
If you’re thinking about making a change, then here are the pros and cons of living in Austin to consider today.
List of the Pros of Living in Austin
1. Barbecue is serious business when you live in Austin
If you really want good barbecue, then living in Austin is going to be a dream come true. There are some places in the city, like Franklin Barbecue, where people will stand outside for hours waiting to place an order for something fantastic. Whether they are eating in a restaurant, enjoying some street food, or making it at home, the people of Austin take their barbecue seriously. If you try to compare what you find here with what is in other cities, you are going to make someone think that you’re picking a fight with them.
2. There is always a way to cool off in the city.
When you are living in Austin, it can be tempting to invest in a place where there is a swimming pool. The 100°F temperatures that strike the city in the summer only reinforce that believe. Thanks to resources like Barton Springs, it is possible to do some outdoor swimming in public without worrying about the cost of a pool membership or the cost of maintaining this asset. If you swim in the off hours, it’s even free. You will also have supervised activities between 8am-8pm during the summer months.
3. Live music is a way of life when living in Austin.
If you love to listen to live music, then Austin is the perfect place to call home. Almost every bar or restaurant of significant size offers the stage that is playing music almost every night. You can literally go to a show every day of the week and never see the same artist twice. Although an increase in rental prices is starting to drive some of this culture away, there is no getting away from the fact that this city throws down a funky beat that will make you want to move your feet on a night out on the town.
4. Fitness is important to the people of Austin.
When you decide to live in Austin, then you will discover that health and wellness are essential components of life in the city. The people here focus on fitness as one of their top priorities. Whether you prefer to jog along the river, do some intervals at a local gym, or take advantage of one of the park programs, the workout choices here are much better (and more affordable) than what you’ll find throughout most of the United States. Just remember to get outside early in the morning during the summer months so that you’re not struggling through the 100°F heat.
5. There are food trucks everywhere in the city.
You will find that the combination of warm weather and minimal precipitation creates the foundation for a fantastic food truck environment. There are options available for every taste and preference in the city. There are several chef-driven restaurants which even use this culture as a way to promote their brick-and-mortar business. Whether you want tacos, omelets, or barbecued anything for lunch or dinner, pick a street in the city and you can find something available for a price that is reasonable.
6. Austin is a casual city with a laid-back atmosphere most of the time.
When you live in Austin, then you will discover that most people prefer to dress casually because of the warmer weather. Unless you need to dress up formally for your job or a special event (like a wedding), then the cost of a suit and tie is something that you won’t need to worry about. You’re going to want to spend most of your time wearing sandals and shorts anyway to stay cool – especially during the summer months.
7. The technology scene is booming in Austin.
The combination of entertainment options and job opportunities in Austin makes it a tempting place to live for everyone. That is especially true for those who are seeking employment in the technology sector. The amount of growth that the city has experienced in this segment has been phenomenal in the past decade. You will find that numerous publications rank it as the top city for recent college graduates when looking for a job that pays competitive wages compared to the cost-of-living.
8. The festivals in Austin are a game-changer for many people.
One of the most notable festivals in the United States is held in Austin each year. The SXSW festival (South by Southwest) provides the community with a week of art, film, music, and technology that brings tens of thousands of people to the city to experience the event. From an economic standpoint, this is clearly an advantage. Others tend to leave the city for the week because they want to avoid the crowds.
If you decide that you don’t like it in Austin during the SXSW festival, then you still have the advantage of placing your residence on Airbnb to make a little extra cash while you are away.
9. There are lakes – lots and lots of lakes.
Unlike some of the other cities that you can find in Texas, Austin is not a sprawling stretch of buildings on roads that seem to go on forever. You will find that there are three lakes in the city which provide you access to numerous recreational activities. There’s nothing like being able to take a boat out on the lake to let your worries float away if you’re having a bad day. The temperature feels a little cooler when you’re out on the water as well.
10. You are going to be living in Texas.
Let’s face it – the state of Texas has a personality that is big, bold, and independent. People are not afraid to tell it how it is in this state. Austin can seem like it’s in a world all to its own sometimes, but the elements of the regional culture remain. There are plenty of guns in homes, no chance to purchase liquor legally on Sundays, but there are also no state income taxes to worry about. Don’t forget about the Texas sweet tea when you’re living here too!
List of the Cons of Living in Austin
1. People in Austin like to complain about the transplants.
There are a lot of people who will encourage you to move to Austin because it is such a wonderful place to call home. You will also find that there are plenty of people in the city who are ready to complain about all of the new residents at any given moment. A few of them are even bold enough to come up to you to let you know that “your kind” is not welcome in the city. The people here can sometimes be resistant to new ideas or too much growth. That’s all part of the process that happens when trying to keep the city “weird.”
2. You are going to want some air condition when you live here.
Austin continues to break records when it comes to their summertime temperatures. The number of days which exceed 100°F continues to climb each year. Even if your heat tolerance levels are high, you are going to want to have some air conditioning in your home to make it through those long months. If you don’t have this resource, then you will be spending a lot of time in public spaces where the A/C is available.
3. You need a car to make Austin a successful place to live.
Austin is a driving city. There are people who can get by without a vehicle, but the expense in doing so eventually adds up to more than what it cost to own a car. There are buses used for the public transportation system. There isn’t any sort of rail system to support public movement. If your budget is limited, then buy a cheap car and drive it until the thing decides to die – and then repeat.
4. Austin is a city which tends to be more progressive than the rest of Texas.
If politics is an important part of your life, then you will find that Austin can either be a wonderful place to live or one that challenges you every day. There are conservative pockets in this community, but you will find that most people tend to take a liberal point of view when you start living here. There is a definite attitude here where the idea of sophistication is matched with the concept of cultural liberalism.
5. It is a college town, and nothing is going to change that.
When you start looking at this city as a place to call home, then there is no ignoring the huge campus of the University of Texas at Austin. It can be easy to forget sometimes that this is a college town if you don’t live or work near the school. When you stroll down Sixth Street and encounter all of the fraternities that are there, it is a significant reminder that your home comes with the challenges of a university of this size.
6. You can find that it is very easy to overeat – and overspend.
When you first moved to Austin, there is a surge in eating outside of the home because of the many excellent dining options that are in the city. The incredible barbecue, tacos, and beer that are available each day need some home-cooking to balance out all of the calories and costs that you face in the culinary scene. There are even vegetarian and vegan locations that can have you over-spending your budget quickly. If you are unable to control this issue, then it can become a significant disadvantage for some.
7. The traffic is almost always terrible when you’re living in Austin.
Most people are dependent on a vehicle when they are living in Austin. The city has not been able to keep up with the infrastructure demands that a growing population requires when they are driving everywhere. That means you were going to be dealing with a lot of traffic every day. In the past, this issue was sometimes confined to only the interstate. That is not the case anymore. You will need to give yourself plenty of time to get anywhere whenever you need to travel in the city.
That’s why choosing your neighborhood wisely is an essential component of the home-finding process. If you work on the other side of the city, then your commute will eat up a significant portion of your day.
8. There are limited sports and arts venues to enjoy in the city.
Austin gets a lot of good press because of its cultural activities, but those do not typically include museums or sporting events. Major League Soccer became the first professional league to enter the city in 2018, but Austin FC does not start playing until 2021. If you like to catch a game every now and then, you must go up to Dallas or go down to San Antonio or Houston to have that need met. You will not find an opera company or a symphony orchestra performing in the city either.
The pros and cons of living in Austin all involve your preferences and comfort levels. You’re going to find an obsession with tacos and queso matched only with a greater love of barbecue. There is also an element of change that the population doesn’t always like, especially if you’re bringing in ideas that challenge their perspectives. It is a city that you will adore when you give it half-a-chance, especially with the cost-of-living advantages it offers. If you’re moving to Texas, then you’ll want to give this community a closer look.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.