Moving to Austin, TX: Relocation Guide & Tips
As the ‘live music capital of the world,’ Austin has got to be one of the coolest places to live in the USA. It’s full of trendy breweries, amazing music venues, food trucks galore, and touts some of the most stunning cityside landscapes around. Despite it being one of the countries fastest growing cities in the nation, it’s still relatively affordable, making it a great option for relocation. If you’re planning your move already or just contemplating it, we’ve come up with a comprehensive moving guide for Austin to help you smoothly transition to your Texan life.
1. Cost of Living
The cost of living in Austin is reasonable and, according to payscale.com, is 3% under the national average, which is almost unheard of for a city of its size. This, coupled with the city’s rich cultural experiences, makes it a pretty attractive option for city-living.
Rejoice! Texas is one of the seven states in the USA that doesn’t have a personal income tax. That could amount to quite a lot of savings, especially if you’re coming from a place like New York that has up to an 8.82% state income tax. Of course, you’ll still have to file and pay federal income tax.
Sales tax across Texas is quite moderate, at 6.25%. Up to 8.25% total sales tax is allowed when county and city sales tax are included. In some areas of Austin, you will see a lower local sales tax of 7.25%, while in Travis or Williamson Counties you will see a local sales tax of 8.25%. So, it varies slightly depending on which neighborhood you’re in, but overall is not too extreme for a big city.
If you’re looking to buy a home in Austin, make sure to consider that Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, at an average of 1.83%. The average homeowner in Texas is spending $2,775 on property taxes each year. For more detailed information on taxes and mortgage prices in Texas, visit smartasset.com.
Property and Rental Prices
The housing market in Austin is quite hot right now, and the market has seen growth for eight consecutive years. According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the median price for a house in Austin in 2018 was $310,400, with half the properties selling for more, and half selling for less. In an article published in 2018 by the Statesman, it was noted that homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range are in highest demand in Austin, which means you’ll be facing some competition if you’re looking for a home in this range. It was also noted that it’s almost impossible to find something under $200,000.
Austin rent prices average between $1,100 – $1,200 for a one bedroom and around $1,500 for a two-bedroom. Of course, living in the city center is the most expensive, whereas average prices drop to as low as $800 for metro cities further out such as San Marcos, Wells Branch, and Kyle.
Numbeo.com reports that before rent, the average single-person household spends $879 on living expenses. The cost of both groceries and utilities in Austin is 13% lower than the national average, as cited by payscale.com. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for utilities each month, depending on your home size. Internet is around $60 per month.
Public transportation is 7% under the national average, with a single ticket at $1.25 and a monthly pass at $41. If you’re planning on having a car in Austin, you can expect to pay around $20,000 a year total in gas and insurance. However, you should consider the pretty rough Austin traffic, which brings us to our next topic.
The constant influx of new residents into Austin has caused problems with the traffic in the city. There are only two main arteries for commuting (I-35 and the TX-1 Loop aka MoPac), with the I-35 downtown stretch being the second most congested road in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Congestion is an everyday ordeal in Austin. Some residents report spending 30 minutes driving to go a mere 3 miles.
Although Uber and Lyft left Austin for a while due to a local law restricting drivers, they have returned and are operating normally.
Austin has a bus system operated by Capital Metro Bus System with over 1,600 stops. There’s also a rail system that has 9 stops along a 32-mile stretch. Day passes cost $7 and the metro operates from 7 am to 1:30 am Mon-Thurs, and 7 am to 2:30 Fri-Sat.
Although Austin has public transit, it doesn’t quite cover enough area to guarantee you a convenient commute to work and the traffic is enough to turn anyone off of driving. This means the closer you live to work, the happier you’ll be and the more time you’ll have. Let’s take a look at some popular neighborhoods you might be able to situate yourself in.
3. Popular Neighborhoods
East Austin is one of the most colorful and bohemian neighborhoods in Austin, thanks to the artists that call it home. It’s close to downtown and has seen quite a bit of development in the past years. Expect to find refurbished houses and new condominiums on the market here.
If you’re looking to live right in the thick of the city, The Domain is for you. This area touts some of Austin’s biggest tech offices and the newest developments in the city. Hot-spot stores, bars, and restaurants are all in walking distance, taking the stress of traffic or public transit out of the picture.
A popular hipster neighborhood, Cherrywood is a blend of old and new Austin. Here you’ll find new developments alongside older houses and lots of trendy cafes and shopping options. It’s close to downtown and is quite connected by public transit, but residents still get a feel of suburbia.
Allandale is located in North-Central Austin and is a popular neighborhood for all demographics due to its reasonably priced rentals and real estate options. Here you can find a mix of houses, condos, and duplexes. It’s well connected to the city via MoPac Expressway and Highway 183, although you may want to consider your commuting times when looking at this option, as we know these spots can get busy during rush hour. However, the neighborhood has several eateries and is home to quirky shops, so it’s not necessary to venture far.
4. Moving and Settling In
If you need help finding an apartment Austin, we recommend checking out our sister site RentHop. As of this writing RentHop has over 8,000 available apartments all across Austin. For moving needs, we like the ease of booking online with Bellhops. You can get an estimate instantly online, but expect to pay around $200 for unloading service for a 1 bedroom in Downtown Austin with Bellhops.
Remember that Texas, especially Austin, is sweltering in the summer. If you can, avoid moving June-August where temps can reach up to 100 degrees F with humidity always above 30%. The winter sees much milder temperatures, ranging from 40-60 degrees F. Beware that because of the weather, allergy season lasts all year long in Austin, and ‘Cedar Fever’ is especially strong. Newcomers who’ve never had allergies before sometimes are struck suddenly by allergy symptoms that are similar to the flu.
5. Things to Do
After you’ve settled into your new home, it’s time to start getting the most out of Austin. As Austin is the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ you might be able to guess what’s first on the list.
Where to first? Empire Control Room was voted Best New Club at the Austin Music Industry Awards in 2013 and has won two more awards since then. The club brings in electronic, Indie, and hip-hop acts supported by amazing lights and sound. One of the most notable things about the club is that they strive to create a culture around the club and support artists, rather than just sell drinks. You can also check out Cactus Cafe, Elephant Room, and Threadgill’s (where Janis Joplin was once a waitress).
Of course, you can’t forget the massive, 10 day SXSW festival, held every March in Austin. Not only is there music, but film, comedy, food, and interactive media as well.
Austin is famous for its food trucks and its tacos, so if you’re a foodie, expect to be satisfied. Try out Veracruz All Natural, East Side Kings, and Chi’lantro. Torchy’s Tacos had a visit from President Obama himself, so it must be good. For a complete list of Taco Trucks in Austin, check out Roaming Hunger.
According to a recent transplant, the brewery culture is one of the best things about moving to Austin. The breweries are welcoming and open to newcomers, making it a great place to meet people (beer always helps with that too). Check out the Austin Chronical’s top three picks: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Jester King Brewery, Pinthouse Pizza Burnet.
Austin is scattered with parks and lakes. One of the best things about the city is that you can be in nature inside the city limits. Lady Bird Lake is just next to downtown and has canoeing, SUP, and kayaking options. Barton Creek Greenbelt has 12 miles worth of trails and water to explore in central Austin. Make sure you also pay a visit to Barton Springs, where you can swim in a crystal clear natural pool!
Whether you’re a foodie, a music lover, or a nature enthusiast, we’re sure you’re going to love exploring all that Austin has to offer. We hope this moving guide for Austin has helped! Let us know what you love about Austin in the comments.