Austin, TX

Moving to Austin: What All Renters Need to Know

This is the birthplace of breakfast tacos and South by Southwest (SXSW), a place where art, food and technology mix. Texas’ low-key capital city has something for everyone, from the music fans and foodies scouting Downtown Austin for the next big thing to the coders hard at work in the Silicon Hills. So, here’s what you need to know about moving to Austin.

Austin’s parks, lakes and green spaces make getting outside easy. The Colorado River cuts right through the middle of the city, carving outdoor recreation spots like Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin out of the urban landscape. If hiking, biking, swimming or boating seem a little too active, you can always soak up the sun at one of Austin’s many culture and music festivals. And it’s always festival season in Austin.

If this sounds intriguing, moving to Austin is a good fit for you. This utterly original city is full of surprises.

austin tx

An Austin overview

Austin is in central Texas, on the edge of Texas hill country. It’s also the largest major city between Dallas/Fort Worth to the north and San Antonio and Houston to the south.

Austin’s population is 978,908, which makes it the largest city in Travis County. The edges of the metro area also extend into Williamson County and Hays County.

For the past 20 years, moving to Austin is popular as it’s been one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. Despite climbing real estate prices and shifting demographics, the city has continually made “Best Of” lists thanks to the high quality of life here. So, here’s a look at Austin, TX, by the numbers.

  • Population: 961,855
  • Population density (people per square mile): 2,653.2
  • Median income: $98,900
  • Studio average rent: $1,096
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,518
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,802
  • Cost of living index: 101.2

walking neighborhood streets

Popular neighborhoods in Austin

Austin’s many neighborhoods reflect the city’s diversity. The main freeways run on a north/south axis, which creates a lack of connectivity between many neighborhoods. This lack of access actually helps to preserve the character of individual communities.

So, whether you choose a wealthy and reputable area, a family-friendly neighborhood or a bustling entertainment zone packed with the hottest bars and restaurants, moving to Austin means there’s a neighborhood for you. Here’s a look at some of Austin’s most interesting neighborhoods.

Downtown Austin

Downtown is the place where art, music, food, commerce and Austin nightlife meet. Visit the Jones Center to see world-class modern art from the Contemporary Austin collection or tour the Texas Capitol building. Sixth Street bursts with bars, nightclubs and rooftop patios.

The downtown area is actually made up of several walkable districts, each with its own distinct vibe. Read on to learn about a few more downtown neighborhoods before expanding your search to the wider Austin area.

Second Street District

The Second Street District sits along the Colorado River banks downtown. There are more locally-owned shops here than anywhere in the city. (That’s impressive because shopping local is an Austin tradition.)

Settle into one of the neighborhood’s lounges, wine bars and brunch spots. Violet Crown Cinema serves up films and snacks, sips and sweets from Texas producers. And don’t forget to take a photo with the bronze statue of Willie Nelson outside the ACL Live at The Moody Theater, where “Austin City Limits” films.

Rainey Street Historic District

Rows of charming bungalows become restaurants, bars and performance venues in Downtown’s southeast corner. The Rainey Street neighborhood offers lots of excellent restaurants and food trucks and daily back patio bar performances. Waller Beach at Town Lake Metropolitan Park is a popular spot for riverfront picnics, fishing and kayaking.

Learn how Texans of Mexican descent shaped the city at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). It offers two museums, educational programs and cultural events. The Trail of Tejano Legends statue stands just outside.

Red River Cultural District

The Red River Cultural District borders I-35 and Waterloo Park, where locals hike, picnic and attend festivals at Moody Amphitheater. The new Waterloo Greenway will connect the park with other green spaces like Symphony Square and nearby Lady Bird Lake.

Look for lots of live music venues, including the venerable Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, along Red River Street. The Austin Symphony (the oldest performing arts group in town) is also based in the neighborhood.

The Red River Cultural District hosts more than a dozen community festivals every year. They range from art installations and free concerts to a Christmas market and Oktoberfest celebration.

The Warehouse District

The last Downtown neighborhood on this list is one of the largest. The Warehouse District centers around Republic Square, an urban escape with walking paths and a year-round farmers’ market on Saturdays. It’s also packed with trendy clubs and cocktail bars. Some of Austin’s best LGBTQ+ bars are along Fourth Street.

The neighborhood blends grit and polish. It includes office buildings, upscale restaurants and industrial warehouses that are now stylish lofts and condos. It’s a great neighborhood for people who want to live in a building with an interesting history.

Hyde Park

If you want a traditional historic home, Hyde Park is the neighborhood for you. This charming residential district is known for tree-lined streets, beautifully preserved bungalows and lovingly restored Victorians. The castle-like Elisabet Ney Museum, built by an artist in 1893, presides over the neighborhood.

The central location makes it a popular choice for young professionals and young families. The walkable neighborhood features numerous coffeehouses and cafés and a neighborhood market.

North Austin

North Austin is an expansive neighborhood that combines oak-shaded residential streets with a hopping dining and nightlife zone. This is one of the fastest-growing parts of the Austin metro area, thanks to a growing cluster of technology companies and mixed-use developments.

North Austin offers cutting-edge cuisine along Burnet Road, miles of trails at Walnut Creek Park and engaging shopping experiences at The Arboretum and The Domain. When the sun goes down, head to the Rock Rose entertainment corridor for interesting eateries and craft cocktails in the many rooftop bars and patios.

North Loop

The North Loop came about during a post-World War II population boom just northeast of the University of Texas campus. Look for modest single-family homes, welcoming hangouts and a funky, pedestrian-friendly vibe in a neighborhood bordered by freeways.

The city’s best vintage stores are found in the North Loop. This is also a great spot to find your new favorite coffeehouse, indie bookshop, boutique or record store.

South Austin

South Austin‘s shaded streets shelter a wide range of homes, from contemporary apartments and condos to modest single-family houses from the 1950s to the 1980s. Residents include professionals, retail workers, artists and craftspeople, as well as young families.

Head to South Austin for boutiques and eateries that have stood the test of time and new restaurants from innovative chefs. The west side of the neighborhood contains the scenic Zilker Park, Zilker Botanical Garden and the fresh, clear waters of Barton Springs Pool. Other South Austin green spaces include the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the Mary Moore Searight Metro Park.

South Congress

South Congress (or SoCo) is a vibrant mix of new developments, boutique hotels and intriguing stores on Austin’s south side. Spot street art murals among the locally-owned boutiques, record stores and restaurants. The dining options (oyster bars, ice cream stands, retro diners) are as eclectic as the neighborhood itself.

The neighborhood includes several great live music venues, including the legendary Continental Club. The party moves to the street with block parties on the first Thursday of the month. Or see Austin (and the famous South Congress bat colony) aboard the Lone Star River Boat.


Developed in the ’50s and ’60s, the tight-knit Crestview neighborhood was on the grounds of a dairy farm. It still retains that small-town feeling. It’s primarily made up of bungalows and ranch-style homes and a mix of mid-century and contemporary apartment buildings.

Residents walk and picnic in neighborhood parks. Look for a laid-back selection of coffee shops and family-friendly eateries. You might recognize the car hop restaurant Top Notch Hamburgers. It appeared in “Dazed and Confused” and “Varsity Blues.”

East Austin

Diverse East Austin is one of the city’s fast-growing neighborhoods. It’s a good option for people who want an urban environment that’s more affordable than downtown.

East Austin is where old meets new. Sleek condos and brand-new construction mingle with 1930s bungalows. Edgy boutiques and cocktail bars rub shoulders with vintage shops. Learn about Austin’s African-American history at George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center. Six Square interprets Austin’s Black Cultural District through art, walking tours and music.

East Cesar Chavez

Just east of Downtown Austin, East Cesar Chavez has a deeply rooted, old-town feeling. This established East Austin neighborhood has beloved dive bars, family-owned restaurants, shops and art galleries.

The neighborhood honors the labor and civil rights activist of the same name. Learn more about the region’s Latinx history and culture on the Tejano Walking Trails. The nearly five-mile trail includes 24 sites designed by the National Park Service,

North Lamar

North Lamar offers a range of affordable apartments and modest single-family residences. The neighborhood borders I-35 and North Lamar Boulevard, so commuting is quick and convenient. It’s a great option for first-time homebuyers, renters, students and young singles.

There are numerous restaurants, coffee shops and green spaces in and around the neighborhood. Northwend Shopping Center, The Crescent and several other shopping centers are all close by.

South Lamar

South Lamar is an urbanite’s dream. A blend of approachable art, affordable fashion and down-to-earth restaurants and bars make this neighborhood feel fresh and inviting. Newer gathering places like Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden (which offers views of Barton Creek) pop up all the time. They compliment classics like the Broken Spoke. It’s one of the last true Texas dancehalls and has anchored the neighborhood since 1964.

Housing options are a mix of old and new, too. Choose from penthouse condos, new apartment complexes and cozy bungalows on wooded lots. This variety attracts families, artists, musicians and professionals.

Old West Austin

Old West Austin (also known the Old West Austin Historic District) has three upscale neighborhoods — Bryker Woods, Old Enfield and Pemberton Heights. Many of the Colonial mansions, antebellum plantations and Greek Revival-style homes are on the National Historic Register.

This upscale neighborhood starts west of Lamar Boulevard and continues into the hill country. Genteel resorts and waterfront restaurants are on the secluded streets. Stroll past the regal peacocks, fragrant lilies and koi ponds in Mayfield Park and Preserve, where you can revel in the beauty of the neighborhood.

Live music scene

The pros of moving to Austin

Sure, there’s a highly-visible festival scene and the tech and entertainment sectors are booming. But there’s so much more to moving to Austin than meets the eye. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to think about when moving to Austin.

An exceptional job market

The Austin economy is thriving. From hospitality and entertainment to tech, there are seemingly endless opportunities in the city. The Wall Street Journal ranked Austin as the No. 1 job market in the U.S. two years in a row before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game.

Even the pandemic couldn’t keep the Austin economy down. The Austin unemployment rate fell to less than 2.9 percent in December 2021. The national average was 3.9 percent during the same time period.

The median household income in Austin is $98,900. That’s more than the U.S. median household income of $79,900. High wages and strong job opportunities make Austin a popular option for young professionals and college students.

The live music capital of the world

With more music venues per capita than any other city, Austin is truly the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Musicians perform at more than 250 bars, clubs, concert halls, coffeehouses, patios and taquerias across the city. With more than 100 live performances happening on any given night, a music lover’s only real complaint is too many choices.

Iconic venues like Stubbs Bar-B-Q, The Victory Grill and Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (and its music festival) put the Austin music scene on the map. Dozens more Austin music festivals pack the calendar every year.

Eclectic culture

“Keep Austin Weird” is more than just a slogan or a bumper sticker. It’s a way of life in a city that thinks outside the box.

In the 1970s, Austin became a gathering place for up-and-coming artists, musicians, nature lovers and people who practiced alternative medicine. This creative culture attracted tech pioneers and entrepreneurs who put their own stamp on the city.

This focus on collaboration and innovation continues in contemporary Austin today. So embrace the quirkiness.

Check out the vibrant street art scene, visit the only clothing-optional park in Texas or see oddities from all over the world at the Museum of the Weird. Or, join the locals to watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats soar away Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge every night at dusk. Austin is nothing if not original.

Innovative tech center

As Austin boomed, the city’s collaborative culture sparked creative connections. Hence, ew tech companies were born. College students at the University of Texas at Austin joined the local talent pool.

Now, Austin is home to many start-up incubators and attracts investment capital from around the world. There are more than 20 companies with headquarters in the Austin metropolitan area, including Apple, Dell, Facebook, eBay and IBM. Many more have a presence in the region. (The fact that Austin doesn’t have corporate income tax probably helps boost those numbers.)

Austin rivals San Francisco for tech innovation. (West Austin’s nickname is the Silicon Hills.) So, this is a great city for making your mark in enterprise software, biotechnology, semiconductors or video games.

A diverse food scene

Austin is a city that loves to eat. There are tempting restaurants and food trucks on every corner.

Breakfast tacos were born in Austin. But the city is known for Tex-Mex cuisine in general. You can (and should!) spend months narrowing down your favorite enchiladas, tacos, chili con carne, fajitas and chimichangas.

Texas barbecue is equally famous. Try seasoned, smoked and slow-cooked meats like sausage and pork ribs all over town. Savoring tender, Texas-style beef brisket is a must for any carnivore.

When moving to Austin, save room for kolaches, the Czech take on a donut. Local bakers make them sweet, savory and stuffed.

The great outdoors: Lady Bird Lake and beyond

When you move to Austin, you can enjoy outdoor activities all year long. Bike paths, hiking trails, parks and gardens are woven into Austin neighborhoods. Hike and bike trails also run right through the downtown area. And the rolling hills are never out of reach, no matter where you live.

Boaters, canoeists and kayakers flock to Lady Bird Lake, Lake Travis and Lake Austin. Wild spaces like the Mayfield Nature Reserve, River Place Nature Trail, Blunn Creek Nature Preserve and sweeping views from atop Mount Bonnell make the city feel worlds away.

The Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail link scenic Lady Bird Lake with outdoor recreation spots like Auditorium Shores inside Town Lake Park. It also extends to Zilker Park, where you can swim in a pool fed from freshwater Barton Springs. Locals cool off in the swimming holes inside McKinney Falls State Park and the Barton Creek Greenbelt after a hike or bike ride.

Central Texas location

Texas is a huge state with many cities to explore. Austin’s central location makes road trips to San Antonio, Houston and Dallas easy.

Craving a longer trip? Austin Bergstrom International Airport offers domestic and international flights on 19 airlines.

misters in restaurant

The cons of moving to Austin

Austin, TX, is an incredible place to live. But there are disadvantages to living in a city.

Living in Austin is expensive, and home and apartment prices are high. (Although the average rent and home prices are up all over the country.) The weather is a challenge. And car travel is inconvenient. So, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before moving to Austin.

Increasing rental costs

The average median rent in this Texas city has increased. But it’s still a bit lower than the national average. Austin residents who rent a studio apartment pay an average of $1,096 every month. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs $1,518 a month. A two-bedroom apartment costs $1,802.

High housing costs

The Austin Board of Realtors reports that Austin area home sales hit a historic high in December 2021. Sales were up 2.5 percent from December 2020.

The median sales price for a home in the Austin-Round Rock MSA jumped to $565,000 in January 2022. The median U.S. home price increased to $346,900 in 2021, the highest on record. But a house in Austin still costs more than the national average.

Summers are sweltering

Austin summers are a shock to the system. Few new residents are truly prepared for the weeks where the temperatures soar above 100 degrees.

Therefore, renting an apartment with central air conditioning can help you cope. Thankfully, many restaurants, shops, music venues and museums also have air conditioning, so you can cool off and explore the city at the same time.

Parking is challenging

It’s hard to find a parking spot in Downtown Austin, just like in most other major cities. Consult the downtown Austin parking map to find an available (and affordable) spot. Or, take advantage of free parking during the evening and on Sundays.

Some neighborhoods have back-in diagonal parking only, which is confusing if you’re not used to it. (Yes, you’ll get a ticket if you pull in the usual way.)

Austinites can apply for residential parking permits on certain residential streets. You can even request a temporary parking permit for visitors so you and your guests won’t have to battle the crowds for a parking spot after a long day.

Traffic is terrible

While parking in the downtown area is a popular complaint, just getting across town is the No. 1 thing drivers gripe about. An Austin commute isn’t much fun.

The main freeways run north and south and there’s no ring road around the city, so Downtown and major highways are usually jammed with cars. It’s no wonder that Austin ranks 18th among the most traffic-congested cities in America, according to INRIX.

Public transportation can help. Capital Metro offers rail and bus service throughout Austin. Routes are well-developed in the downtown core and around the University of Texas campus. Use public transportation to head to SXSW and to Q2 Stadium for Austin FC soccer games. Or, grab a rental bike from the MetroBike bike share.

Allergy season never ends

It doesn’t take long for Austin transplants to discover allergies they didn’t even know they had. Every season brings a fresh crop of pollen to town. You’ll quickly become an expert on what tree is in bloom and the misery it can inflict.

Moving to Austin, TX

So, are you ready to relocate to ATX? Moving to an Austin address brings so many rewards. Every corner of the city promises something unexpected. Lush green spaces, world-class live music and cutting-edge cuisine await.

Visit our Moving Center for free quotes and information to plan your move to the Lone Star State. Then, check out apartments to rent and homes to buy. You’ll be keeping Austin weird in no time.

The rent information included in this article is based on a median calculation of multifamily property inventory from Rent.. The information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.
Additional data came from the U.S. Census Bureau, and


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