Relocating to any new city or country comes with a set of advantages and various pitfalls. Similarly, we recommend those thinking of moving to Austin consider the pros and cons of life in the city before committing to the move.
Fans of Tex-Mex and barbecue will no doubt love life in Austin, as will those who enjoy alternative music and spending time outdoors. Austin is a vibrant and dynamic city, but it is also home to pockets of conservatism and communities with more traditional ideas. The relatively affordable cost of living, great schooling options and year-round good weather have also served to attract new residents to the city, but that doesn’t mean Austin is free from downsides.
Here are some of our main pros and cons of moving to Austin to help prospective residents make that all-important life decision.
Weather in Austin
+ PRO: Good weather all year round
Summer in Austin is beautiful and new residents can look forward to long, lazy days sitting by the pool and topping up their tan or getting out in nature. Winters are mild and relatively short, which means the weather rarely restricts a person’s lifestyle in Austin.
- CON: Rising temperatures mean that air-conditioning is a must
Austin continues to break records for summer temperatures. Even for those who love the warmer weather, it can get unbearably hot at times, so it's likely that residents will want to get an air-conditioning system installed in their homes to make life a little more comfortable. Having a pool to cool off in is also a good option.
Accommodation in Austin
+ PRO: It’s a great place to invest in property
Austin’s property market is going from strength to strength. Its growing population means that buying a property in Austin is a good investment for those looking to the future. Although there are new properties in constant development in Austin's areas and suburbs, the occupancy rate of rental properties is high because of the influx of newcomers.
Getting around in Austin
- CON: It’s a car-dependent city
While it may not be as bad as some other US cities, the fact is that Austin remains a car-dependent city. There are some people, especially those living close to the downtown area, that can manage without a car but, in the long run, it makes sense to have a vehicle. Owning a car gives Austin residents more freedom and essentially gives people a better quality of life.
- CON: Traffic in Austin is terrible
With so many people using cars to get around Austin and the city’s rapidly increasing population, traffic is a huge problem. Austin has been unable to keep up with the road infrastructure demands placed on the city by its growing population. So new residents will need to prepare themselves and allow plenty of time to get to their destination, especially during rush hours.
+ PRO: Public transport and alternative methods of getting around are improving
While Austin may not compare to the likes of New York and San Francisco when it comes to public transport infrastructure, things are slowly improving in Austin. In addition to the extensive bus network and light rail service, the growth of e-hailing services and car-sharing schemes provide alternatives for those who don’t want to be so reliant on a car. Austin is also well-equipped to cater for cyclists. After all, it is the home of Lance Armstrong.
Working in Austin
+ PRO: Great opportunities in the tech sector
Those with skills in the tech sector will find loads of exciting job prospects in Austin. The amount of growth experienced in this economic sector over the last decade or so has been pretty phenomenal. Austin is also a great place for recent college grads with technology-related qualifications, as the wages are highly competitive in relation to the city’s cost of living.
Lifestyle in Austin
+ PRO: Brilliant calendar of annual events
Newcomers moving to Austin will find no shortage of fantastic festivals and annual events to attend. Each year, thousands of people from across the country travel to Austin for the SXSW Festival. Whether one’s individual passion is art, film, music or tech, there is bound to be a big event to look forward to on Austin’s annual events calendar.
- CON: Austin is pretty progressive, but it's still in Texas
‘Keep Austin Weird’ is the city’s slogan and, to be fair, the city does its best to foster diversity and encourage creativity by being open-minded. But while Austin is pretty progressive, it's important to remember that it is still in Texas, which is an overwhelmingly conservative state. If liberal ideals are important to a person, they may struggle, as they are bound to come across many people who hold traditional views on issues such as gun ownership and same-sex marriage.
- CON: Austin lacks a pro sports team
Sports fans may be disappointed to learn that Austin is one of the few large US cities that doesn’t boast its own pro sports team. Those that want to get in on high-level sports will need to travel to Dallas, San Antonio or Houston for some sporting action. Despite this, Austin does have a sports culture of its own and those who are keen on getting involved in sports at a recreational level will find plenty of opportunities.
►Read about the cultural, fitness and entertainment benefits on offer in the city on our Lifestyle in Austin page
Are you an expat living in Austin?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Austin. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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