Thinking about moving to Austin? Maybe you’re already in the Austin area and looking for a different neighborhood. Whatever your personal situation is, the bottom line is that Austin is not only the capital of Texas, it’s also one of the most exciting and thriving cities in the United States.
According to a 2019 report from U.S. News & World Report, Austin is the best place to live in the country. Along with the city’s dynamic live music scene, natural outdoor spaces, and appealing climate (except maybe those infamous hot and humid summers), Austin has become a hotbed for tech companies, leading to a growing job market and good quality of life. Plus, compared to other major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, the cost of living here is significantly lower. (Another bonus: There are no income taxes in the state of Texas.)
So, where are the best places to live in Austin? Well, it all depends on your lifestyle. Are you a single professional looking for a loft-style apartment in the middle of all the action? Or are you raising a family and want a neighborhood with a strong school district? There are numerous Austin neighborhoods to explore, each with their own vibe, comforts, and conveniences.
Real estate website Zillow lists Austin’s median home price as $390,347 while Rent Jungle says apartment rentals average $1561. That said, whether you’re a buyer or a renter, costs can vary greatly depending on the type of housing you’re looking for and its specific location. To help you on your quest to find the perfect pad, here are some of the best places to live in Austin.
Let’s start with the obvious. Downtown Austin is the city’s main hub of activity where you can enjoy the conveniences and culture that come with urban living. You’ll mostly find sky-high apartments and condos, some of which offer fantastic views overlooking the city or Lady Bird Lake. (Just keep in mind it’ll cost you.)
Along with easy access to numerous restaurants, shops, and nightlife, you’re just minutes away from fresh air and green spaces. Go biking or hiking along the trails of Zilker Park, rent a kayak or canoe on the lake, or simply take in the sights of a sunset over the Congress Avenue Bridge as the famous bats make their nightly ascent into the sky.
Perhaps the city’s most noticeably burgeoning zone, East Austin is a quickly gentrifying area where renovated single-family homes, condos, and apartment buildings seem to be cropping up at a record pace. While the neighborhood’s working-class, Mexican-American influence is still present — shout-out to Juan in a Million restaurant and the compelling Chicano murals — it’s now brimming with young professionals and hipsters looking for that magic mix of grit and glam.
You’ll find a diverse mix of eateries, coffee shops, boutiques, yoga studios, and breweries, especially in the East Cesar Chavez zone. The eco-minded and family-friendly Mueller housing community offers newer construction with a variety of chain restaurants and retail outlets. Whatever your preference, Austin’s east side offers easy access to downtown and plenty of outdoor recreational spaces.
When you think of the quintessential Austin experience or vibe, South Austin is probably what you have in mind. Tourists flock to the vibrant nightlife of South Lamar and eclectic shops along South Congress, not to mention that endlessly Instagrammed “I love you so much” mural at Jo’s Coffee.
But beyond the obvious spots, Austinites looking for a new home are drawn to the neighborhood’s welcoming and quirky community of residents. Barton Hills, Travis Heights, and Cherry Creek are all popular areas in South Austin where you’ll find a mix of charming ranch-style houses for sale and rent. There are also a number of apartment complexes, many of which have pools (ideal for the long, hot summers).
If you prefer to surround yourself with the splendor of nature rather than the non-stop energy of the city, then West Austin might be the best neighborhood for you. Waterfront properties, rolling hills, pretty views, and lots of lakes make for a pricier experience, but if you can swing it, why not?
Take a boat on Lake Austin, go for a swim in Lake Travis, or commune with the peacocks of Mayfield Park and Preserve before heading to one of the area’s many restaurants. West Austin is also home to the historic (and pricey) districts of Clarksville and Old West Austin, which are worth a visit even if moving there is out of your budget.
If you’re in the market for a suburban experience to raise a family (or just enjoy a more laid-back pace), you may want to set your sights on North Austin — one of the best places to live in Austin with little ones. With a number of family-friendly neighborhoods that range from modest to luxurious, this Austin area is mostly comprised of older and renovated homes.
Some of the most popular areas include Allandale, Brentwood, and Round Rock, all of which are known for having great schools and a small-town feel. Round Rock is especially appealing — it’s one of the fastest-growing regions in the country yet it manages to maintain a relatively low cost of living.
North Austin also has plenty of options when it comes to restaurants, nightlife, and natural spaces. Of course, it wouldn’t be suburbia without strip malls, and there’s no shortage here — The Domain is a popular, pedestrian-friendly, high-end outdoor shopping mall while the Arboretum features national retail and dining spots.
Perhaps best known for its convenient location that’s true to its name, Central Austin is an ideal place to put down roots whether you’re a recent grad or are well beyond your college years. Located near the University of Texas, Central Austin communities range from charming residential zones to more metropolitan areas with apartments and condos just steps from cute cafes, pubs, shops, museums, galleries, and restaurants.
Historic Hyde Park is among the most well-known and picturesque neighborhoods with its oak tree-lined streets, beautifully manicured lawns, and charming rows of Victorian homes. Tarrytown is another historic, high-end neighborhood where you can art-gaze at the Laguna Gloria contemporary museum, have a picnic at the Mayfield Park and Preserve, or grab a bite at one of the waterfront restaurants.
The Best Places to Live in Austin Are Waiting for You
Now that you’ve taken a virtual stroll through the various areas of Austin, you’ve probably fallen in love with the city. And you’re not alone. Austin was proclaimed the United States’ fastest-growing large city in 2019.
Indeed, the “Live Music Capital of the World” is having a significant population and economic boom, which means there are endless opportunities to make a living in this dynamic city and make a home for yourself.
From the natural beauty of its parks, lakes, and outdoor spaces to its vibrant music, food, and tech scene, Austin is a city on the move. Add in the numerous neighborhoods that offer a better cost of living when compared to other major metropolises, and it’s clear that Austin is a winner.
If you’re considering a move, be sure to check out our guide on the 10 best companies to work for in Austin. And while you’re looking, don’t miss this list of the best free and cheap things to do in Austin.