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Moving to Austin

Located in the heart of the USA’s Deep South along the Colorado River, Austin is the state capital of Texas and the 11th most populous city in the country. The city, known as the 'liberal heart of Texas', is also not only one of the most fastest-growing cities in Texas, but in the US. 

So what is Austin doing to attract so many new residents? Well, there is a real mix of great economic and lifestyle benefits which serve to draw a really diverse range of people to the city. Over the last decade or so, the capital of the Lone Star State has become quite the hub for business and technology. Austin is now home to a significant number of prominent Fortune 500 names including Apple, Amazon, Google and IBM. Those with skills in business, education, tourism and technology find ample opportunities for career progression here in the City of the Violet Crown.

In recent years, Austin has also become a popular tourist destination which is in part due to the lifestyle benefits the city has to offer. Often self styled as the 'live music capital of the world', Austin boasts an impressive calendar of annual events with the famous South by South West Festival being a particular highlight that draws massive crowds. Naturally, the year-round good weather means Austinites can regularly enjoy outdoor pursuits such as hiking, biking and taking a dip at one of the city’s lovely swimming spots.

Austin is a popular relocation destination among families, not only because of the spacious accommodation on offer outside the city centre and the family-friendly attractions the city boasts, but because of its excellent schools. Home to University of Texas at Austin, education is something that is ingrained in Austin’s DNA and the city invests a lot in its schooling infrastructure. Austin is home to some excellent public schools and there are private and international options available too. 

There is often a misconception that the cost of living in Austin is low but, while it is certainly a much more affordable place to live than major US cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC, living expenses in Austin are higher than the state average. As a matter of fact, both Dallas and Houston are less expensive places to live. That said, Austin’s brilliant attractions outweigh these costs for many of the city’s residents. It’s just a case of budgeting properly.

Life in any new city comes with some inevitable downsides and this is true for Austin as much as it would be for any other place. New arrivals moving to the city from places with reliable, sophisticated public transport infrastructure may struggle with the fact that Austin remain very much a car-dependent city. Still, while having a vehicle does offer one greater freedom when it comes to getting around, things are changing. In addition, to improvements to Austin’s bus and light rail networks, the expansion of e-hailing services and car-sharing schemes now offer Austinites some excellent alternatives. 

Austin stays true to its unofficial slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’ by nurturing diversity and always doing things in its own unique way. While Austin is far more progressive than much of the Deep South, it’s important for newcomers to remember that this is still Texas and it's highly likely that they’ll encounter people that still hold conservative values when it comes to political issues such as same-sex marriages, gun ownership and religious influences.  

All in all, it's easy to see why so many people are attracted to the vibrancy of Austin. The city offers a perfect balance between factors of practical importance such as good schools, job opportunities and affordable accommodation along with some absolutely brilliant lifestyle benefits including great weather, a fantastic music scene and unique cultural offerings. One thing is for sure – life for aspiring Austinites may not always be easy but it will no doubt be an adventure. 

Weather in Austin

Officially, Austin is said to have a humid, subtropical climate but with long, hot summers and short, mild winters. Austin is located within the middle of a unique transitional climate zone that lies between the dry deserts of the southwest and the lush, green humid regions in the southeast. So, in fact, the climate is a real mix of both.

Newcomers to Austin will be pleased to learn that the weather is fairly pleasant throughout the year and activities are not restricted by seasonal changes in the climate. Austin averages 872mm (34 inches) of annual rainfall which is distributed fairly evenly across the year, so there is no really distinct rainy season as such. Likewise, sunshine is common across all seasons.

That said, the fact that Austin lies in the heart of Central Texas does mean that new residents will need to prepare themselves for long, hot summers between May and September. Summer temperatures commonly hover around 90–100°F (32–37°C). Luckily, most venues in Austin are equipped with air-conditioning and the majority of properties come with a pool, which certainly makes life easier for new arrivals. 

Winters are mild and short to non-existent in Central Texas. Temperatures are usually mild to warm, even in the winter. January is the coolest month with an average temperature of 61°F (16°C). Although relatively uncommon, Austin does experience short-lived bursts of cold weather which are known as ‘Blue Northers’. Even though snowfall is rare, hard freezes do happen every few years. When these lower temperatures mix with precipitation, ice storms occur. Austin is generally unprepared for these types of weather conditions and the city does experience traffic issues as a result. 

While spring and autumn are probably the most pleasant seasons in Austin, another severe weather condition to be aware of are tornados that occur most commonly during the spring months. Austin’s location within the extreme southern periphery of Tornado Alley makes the city somewhat prone to tornado damage and the associated flooding from supercell thunderstorms.

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Austin

Relocating to any new city or country comes with a set of advantages on the one hand and various pitfalls on the other. 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 well as 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 affordable cost of living, great schooling options and all-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 continue to break records for summertime 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. It’s 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 here, 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 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 degrees 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 ideas 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 sport at a recreational level will find plenty of opportunities.

Working in Austin

Prospective residents considering a move to Austin will be pleased to learn that this populous city has a booming economy and job opportunities in a range of fields. One of the major advantages of working in Austin is that there is no income tax at the state level even though workers will still be required to pay tax at the federal level.

Austin was once the centre of Texas’s oil industry, but is now more famous as a technology hub, so much so it has been dubbed ‘Silicon Hills’. As the Texan state capital, Austin has always had an abundance of government jobs. Education is another prominent employer in the city, with a large number of private and public schools as well as an impressive selection of colleges and universities.

The vast majority of new arrivals move to Austin to take up jobs in the tech sector, which has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. In addition to big names such as Apple, Google, Dell, IBM and Facebook, there are also lots of new start-ups choosing Austin as the city in which to establish themselves.


Job market in Austin

Austin’s job market has flourished over the last few years. According to the Wall St Journal’s ranking of US job markets, Austin has taken the top spot for two consecutive years based on its low unemployment rate, job prospects and wage growth. 

The most notable area of job growth in Austin is said to be the tech sector. Apple started construction of its USD 1 billion corporate campus in 2019, which is predicted to create up to 15,000 new jobs in the city. 

Both national and international corporations have seen the value in Austin and chose to locate headquarters and various operations in the city. The high quality of life the city can offer employees as well as Austin’s excellent talent pool and strong infrastructure have contributed to attracting business to the city. Newcomers to Austin with a background and experience in sectors such as technology, financial services, digital media, data management and the life sciences will find plenty of exciting job prospects on offer. 

As well as these big corporations, Austin become a popular place for start-ups. Tax-incentives as well as schemes such as the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Enterprise Zone Program, a tool that allows companies to partner with the state authorities to promote job creation, have served to nurture new businesses in Austin. 


Work culture in Austin

Naturally, workplace culture differs from one company to the next. It is also somewhat dependent on the nature of the industry. On the whole, the work culture in Austin is fairly progressive. 

One of the major reasons companies choose Austin as a destination for their regional offices is because of the quality of life the city offers its residents. By the same token, more and more of these companies now put measures in place to improve the work-life balance of their employees such as flexible working hours, job sharing and working-from-home provisions.

Many smaller companies and start-ups don’t have formal office spaces, but rather opt to make use of one of the many well-equipped co-working spaces in Austin. In fact, many those working in more creative industries actually see great benefits in utilising these spaces as it allows their workers to liaise with others in a similar field to foster productivity and new ideas. 

The more well-established companies in Austin offer their employees competitive packages, which include a range of benefits such as wellness incentives, pension and health insurance contributions. 

Cost of Living in Austin

There are many good reasons to move to Austin. From excellent weather that allows residents to spend time enjoying the great outdoors to excellent education options and an impressive job market, it's easy to understand why people are flocking to the city. Unfortunately, despite Texas’ low state taxes, the cost of living in Austin is surprisingly high. In fact, Austin is currently ranked as the 12th most expensive US city.  


Cost of accommodation in Austin

Accommodation is almost always a person's biggest living expense but rental rates in Austin are particularly high as a result of the city’s rapidly rising population and short supply of accommodation. In fact, average rents in the Texan capital have increased by 11 percent over the last year.  Newcomers will also need to factor in the cost of utilities such as electricity, gas, water as well as optional extras including internet and telephone services. These aren’t always included in the cost of renting the property itself. 

Those looking to buy property in Austin will also need to be prepared to fork out as house prices in the city are higher than both the national and state averages. Homeowners pay around twice as much for a property in Austin than they would for a similar place elsewhere in Texas. Compared to national house prices, a home in Austin is around 50 percent more expensive. 


Cost of education in Austin

There are a range of public and private schooling options available in Austin. The amount a family would be expected to budget for school fees really does depend on the choice of school they choose. 

The Austin metro area is home to 29 public school districts and, while the standard of public schools varies tremendously, the cost of attending one will cost little to nothing. With charter and magnet schools, parents may be expected to pay for some of the extracurricular features, but anyone legally resident in Austin is entitled to attend a public school for free.

There are also more than 100 private schools in Austin. Parents who choose to pursue this option will need to factor in the cost of school fees which won’t come cheap. In addition to these tuition fees, they’ll also need to budget for various other expenses such as the cost of uniforms, extra-curricular activities, books and field trips. 


Cost of healthcare in Austin

Newly arrived residents and expats will be pleased to learn that the state capital has some of the best healthcare facilities in Texas. That said, residents will need to be in possession of a fully comprehensive health insurance plan to take full advantage of these services. 

While the cost of healthcare in Austin is slightly lower than both the national average and the average for Texas, it still isn’t cheap by any means. Anyone moving to Austin to take up a lucrative job offer should negotiate a healthcare allowance into their employment package as this will afford them a significant saving on their monthly expenses.


Cost of transport in Austin

Although much of Austin is still heavily car-dependent, the public transportation infrastructure of the city is evolving and more and more residents are becoming more inclined to find alternative means of getting around, rather than simply getting behind the wheel of a car. 

The cost of public transport is reasonable in Austin but because people tend to use various combinations of public transport, taxis and e-hailing services as well as their own private vehicles to get around, much of the total transport expenditure will depend on the individual. With the increased presence of e-hailing services, taxi companies have had to drop their fares to remain competitive. 

In terms of driving, the price of cars in Austin is fairly reasonable, as is the price of petrol (gas). When you consider the distances many people drive regularly as well as the cost of parking, especially in the downtown area, it is easy for these expenses to mount up.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Austin

Naturally, lifestyle expenses are really dependent on an individual’s priorities and preferences. While Austin does have its fair share of fine-dining establishments, swanky wine bars and nightclubs, the city also boasts a range of attractions that can be enjoyed at little to no cost. 

Most of the city’s museums and galleries have free admission or at least offer special discounts for kids, students and pensioners. Austin’s wonderful weather also makes it a real pleasure to spend time outdoors and having a picnic at Zilker Park or exploring the hiking trails around the city are just some of the low-cost activities available to residents. 


Cost of living in Austin chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Austin in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,750

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,100

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 3,280

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,900

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 3

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.80

Rice (1kg)

USD 3

Loaf of bread

USD 2.20

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 7.66

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 8

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 7

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2

Cappuccino

USD 4

Bottle of local beer

USD 6

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 50

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.09

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 62

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 141

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.55

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.25

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.50

Accommodation in Austin

Most Austin residents rent rather than buy a property and it makes sense for new arrivals to do so too, at least until they find their feet in the city. 

There is a range of property options available, with more being built all the time. Once newcomers have narrowed down the search of preferred neighbourhoods they should be able to find a property that meets their requirements and fits their budget. 


Types of accommodation in Austin

The type of accommodation an individual or family chooses largely depends on where they intend to live in Austin, among other personal factors. Apartments and condos tend to be most suitable for single professionals and young couples who wish to live close to the downtown area. The further one moves into the suburbs, the more spacious the properties tend to become. 

Apartments

Apartment living is fairly common in areas close to downtown Austin. The size of apartments in Austin vary quite dramatically but most are relatively modern. Apartments based in newer complexes generally come equipped with additional facilities such as security services and certain common spaces. 

Condos

Condos are similar to apartments but with a greater range of communal facilities on site. These complexes tend to come equipped with shared families such as gardens, swimming pools, fitness centres and laundry facilities. A major advantage of condo living over apartments or individual family homes is that they foster a greater sense of community within the complexes. This makes them a great option for newcomers to the city. 

Townhouses

Townhouses are a fairly new development in Austin which combine the independence of single-family residence with the low-maintenance lifestyle of a condo. These type of developments can commonly be found in central and eastern parts of Austin as well as the quieter suburbs of the northwest. 

Craftsman bungalows

The Craftsman Bungalow is unique to the South. Dating back to the early/mid-20th century, these homes feature open-plan design with easy flow between the living room, dining room and kitchen and a simple front porch. These properties make great family homes. 


Finding accommodation in Austin

Prospective residents planning their relocation to Austin should spend some time investigating their housing options online. Online property portals are a great starting point as they provide useful insight into the types of property available at various price points so those unfamiliar with the city can get an idea of where they might like to live and how much they’ll need to budget.

When considering potential properties, it is important to consider various factors such as access to public transport, proximity to schools, places of work, local amenities and shopping hubs, as well as personal space requirements and lifestyle considerations. 

Real-estate agents based in Austin will also be able to guide new residents and advise on the suitable areas and suburbs of the city, which will make the process of finding a home that meets their own requirements much easier. 


Renting accommodation in Austin

The housing market in Austin has continually grown over recent years to accommodate a large number of new residents moving to the city. With new property developments regularly springing up in Austin, newcomers shouldn’t struggle to find a suitable rental home here.

Making an application

Potential tenants looking to rent a property in Austin will need to file an application either via an agent or by dealing directly with the landlord. Once the relevant checks have been done and references verified, the landlord and tenant can sign a lease agreement. Having a US bank account and social security number set up will speed up the process.

Leases

Rental contracts in Austin are generally valid for a year with the option to renew once the initial rental term has ended. It is often possible to negotiate a shorter lease with the landlord, especially in parts of the city where demand for rental properties is lower. 

Deposits

Tenants in Austin are required to put down a security deposit usually equal to a month’s rent when signing a lease. This is refundable once the contract has come to an end. It is important to make sure a detailed inventory is carried out at the beginning and end of a rental period, as any damages will be deducted from the deposit.

Utilities

Renters must read the terms of their lease carefully to determine which utilities are included. In some cases, landlords cover the costs of standard utilities such as gas, electricity and water. Tenants are usually expected to pay for extras such as internet, cable TV and telephone services.

Areas and Suburbs of Austin

The best places to live in Austin

Finding a home in a neighbourhood that meets an individual's needs and lifestyle preferences is integral to a successful relocation. Newcomers to Austin should spend considerable time exploring their options before settling on a neighbourhood. Factors to consider when looking at potential areas and suburbs of Austin include lifestyle priorities, budget, proximity to work and, for those with children, the availability of good schooling options. 

Here is our breakdown of some of Austin’s most popular areas and suburbs for new arrivals: 


City living in Austin

Newcomers who prioritise location will find a number of great areas close to the city centre of Austin. Rents are higher here and space can be more limited, but residents benefit from easy access to amenities and shorter commutes.

Downtown Austin - Rich (Pexels)

South Congress (SoCo)

Located in the heart of South Austin, South Congress is a vibrant area of the city full of quirky fashion boutiques, antique stores and lovely restaurants. The small streets off of South Congress Avenue are filled with single-family homes and condos. SoCo, as it has fondly been named, is a dynamic place that attracts a broad demographic from young students to couples and retirees.

Barton Hills

Close to Zilker Park and minutes from downtown Austin is the extremely popular neighbourhood of Barton Hills. Property in Barton Hills is highly sought after and it won’t always be easy to find a rental here. The homes in Barton Hills have a lovely historic feel to them but there are some newer builds on offer too. The proximity to the greenbelt, Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin gives Barton Hills residents the best of both worlds and makes the neighbourhood an oasis of calm within bustling Austin. 

Clarkesville

The quaint Clarkesville area bordering downtown Austin features a range of housing options and styles. From luxury new builds to renovated condos and historic family homes, prospective residents will be quite spoilt for choice here. The restaurant offerings, boutique shopping experiences and art galleries provide Clarkesville residents with plenty to do during their spare time. Plus, the proximity of Lady Bird Lake which is close to the south side of Clarkesville allows residents plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors. 


Family-friendly neighbourhoods in Austin 

Prospective residents who value space and access to the great outdoors should consider living further away from downtown Austin where they’ll have a greater number of housing options. The abundance of planned-communities around Austin means that living in the suburbs doesn’t require one to compromise on amenities. Each area comes with its own character, but suburban life offers better opportunities for families in terms of spacious properties and schooling options. 

Austin Suburbs

Mueller 

Just a few miles from downtown Austin lies the planned development of Mueller, which only came to exist in 2007. The area boasts a wide range of property types including lofts, townhouses and apartments, which make it an attractive prospect for an array of lifestyles. In addition to the residential properties, Mueller is home to a range of shops, restaurants and parks. Popular with families, there is even an innovative children’s museum in Mueller.

Westlake

For those looking for luxury living, Westlake has it in abundance. Set among the stunning landscape of the Texas Hill Country, Westlake has been home to some of Austin’s most sought-after properties since the 1970s. Despite the rural feel of the area, Westlake is not too far from downtown Austin, with excellent highway access which makes getting around easy. It’s a great place for families thanks to the presence of some excellent schooling options. 

Belterra

This family-friendly master-planned community is located about 17 miles from downtown Austin. Built in the Texas Hill Country, Belterra is great for outdoor-enthusiasts with all its hiking and biking trails. There is a strong sense of community in Belterra and the schooling options in the area make it an excellent option for families. 

Healthcare in Austin

Newcomers to Texas’s capital can rest assured that they’ll have access to some excellent healthcare facilities in Austin. The healthcare network in Austin is continuously expanding. With over 40 area hospitals, facilities dedicated to child health and heart conditions, as well as myriad community clinics, Austin certainly keeps pace with the USA’s major metropolitan areas. 

While the cost of healthcare in Austin is slightly more affordable than the national average, new arrivals will need to invest in a comprehensive healthcare policy to ensure they have adequate access to the facilities and services available in the city. 

Here is our list of the most prominent hospitals in Austin.


Hospitals in Austin

Austin State Hospital

www.hhs.texas.gov/services/
Address: 4110 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78751

Ascension Seton Medical Center

www.healthcare.ascension.org/
Address: 1201 West 38th Street, Austin, TX 78705

Dell Children’s Medical Center

www.dellchildrens.net/
Address: 1500 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

Heart Hospital of Austin

www.austinheart.com
Address: 3801 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

St. David’s Medical Center

www.stdavids.com
Address:  919 E 32nd St, Austin, TX 78705

Education and Schools in Austin

Education has always been a priority for the people of Austin. With numerous national accolades and a strong sense of community, the schooling infrastructure in Austin is robust and it's no wonder the city is a popular destination for families. 

Newcomers to Austin will need to take a number of factors into account when making decisions about their children’s schooling. These factors include the type of school, the curriculum, the standard of teaching and the proximity of the institution to their home and place of work. 

Schools in Austin, as is the case in the rest of the USA, are split between three levels: elementary school (pre-school to grade 5), middle school (grade 6 to 8), and high school (grade 9 to 12).


Public schools in Austin

The standard of public schooling in Austin varies quite dramatically, and parents will need to invest a considerable amount of time exploring their options before committing to a school and deciding where to live in Austin. 

There are 29 public school districts that serve the residents of the Austin metro area. Within these school districts, there are a number of options ranging from the traditional public school to magnet- and charter school options. 

Students legally resident in Austin are able to attend a public school at little to no cost.
In the case of most public schools in Austin, admission is based on catchment areas so parents will need to consider this when deciding which neighbourhoods to live in.

Charter schools

Charter schools in Austin enter into a contract with the school's district, which outlines how the schools are to be managed, the methods of assessment and goals. These schools still receive some public funding but they aren’t strictly required to follow the state’s curriculum and are allowed some room to manoeuvre when it comes to curriculum design. There are fewer restrictions in terms of admission and these schools often accept students that live outside a particular schooling area. 

Magnet schools

A magnet school is a type of public school that offers specialised curricula based around the student's strengths. Typically, these schools focus on a particular subject area such as languages, performing arts or STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Unlike regular public schools, admission requirements at magnet schools aren’t restricted according to schooling zones and they allow students from a wider geographic area to attend as long as they meet the entry requirements. Although these schools are primarily state funded, they do receive additional funding from external sources which is what affords them greater autonomy when it comes to developing their curricula. 


Private schools in Austin

There are over 100 private schools in Austin, many of which have a religious affiliation. In general, private schools are known for offering a higher standard of education, better facilities and superior extracurricular activities than most public schools. Class sizes are generally smaller too, which means that each student gets more one-on-one attention.

The downside to private education is the costs, and parents need to consider the often astronomical tuition fees when drawing up a budget. Average tuition at private schools in Austin is upwards of USD 9,000. In addition to school fees, they’ll also need to factor in additional expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, extracurriculars and field trips. 


International schools in Austin

Expats moving to Austin or Americans who want their children to have a broader more internationally-recognised education may opt to send their child to an international school. There are a handful of these in Austin, most of which offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) qualification. Most international schools in Austin are privately funded and as such parents who opt to pursue this option will be required to fork out for tuition fees. 


Special needs education in Austin

Students with special needs are well catered for in Austin. The state of Texas endeavours to provide quality education to all children including those with special needs at no cost to their parents. Where possible, the education department will try to accommodate the child within a regular school framework as much as possible.

In cases where it is deemed unproductive to have the child in a standard classroom setting, there are a number of specialist schools that are better equipped to help those with more severe learning disabilities or behavioural issues to meet their full potential. 


Tutors in Austin

Being based in a city that prioritises education, parents will find ample additional support when it comes to their child’s learning. Whether a student is having trouble keeping up in class or needs some extra help in preparation for university exams, private tutors can really give them the extra edge. Thankfully, there is no shortage of good tutors in Austin.

The best starting point in finding a suitable tutor would be to enquire at a child’s school. The school should be well-placed to recommend tutors and support services. There are a number of well-established tutoring companies operating in Austin. Some of the big names include HOFT Institute – House of Tutors, Mathnasium and Frog Tutoring. Parents should do thorough research before parting with their cash as some agencies focus on particular subject areas while others offer a broader range of services including private lessons, small-group classes and online tutoring. 

Lifestyle in Austin

New arrivals will certainly be in for a bit of fun in Austin. The city’s famous motto ‘Keep Austin Weird’ sums up the quirkiness of lifestyle activities on offer for residents. 

Whether one is an outdoor enthusiast who is keen to make the most of the Texan sun or an avid foodie looking to get your fill and discover some culinary delights at one of Austin’s famous food trailer parks, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Newcomers moving to Austin with young children will be pleased to learn that a lot of the lifestyle offerings in the city are family-friendly and there is no shortage of fun things for little ones too.


Arts and culture in Austin

Newcomers to Austin will soon see there is no shortage of creativity in this city. Austin is home to some world-class museums such as the Blanton and the Harry Ransom Centre. The city has a vibrant art scene with an array of galleries such as the Jones Center, Carver Museum and the Mexic-Arte Museum all offering an eclectic range of exhibits. 

When it comes to the performing arts, Austin offers its residents everything from ballet and opera at the Long Center to music and comedy performances at the historic paramount theatre. The city also boasts a full calendar of annual cultural events to keep Austin residents entertained.


Sports and outdoor activities in Austin

Austin’s great weather makes it conducive for residents to spend time outdoors. Both within the city limits and in the surrounding rural Texas Hill Country there are plenty of opportunities to spend time exploring nature. From winding hiking- and mountain bike trails to refreshing swimming spots and lakes perfect for paddling, Austin has loads to satisfy the outdoor enthusiast. 

There is no doubt that Austin is a sporting city, and new residents can get exciting about American Football, cycling and the roller derby. However, despite the city’s size, most people are surprised to learn Austin doesn’t boast any of its own professional sports teams. That said, it is home to a litany of amateur sports organisations including the Austin Spurs, the Texas Stars and the Round Rock Express. In addition, the city has invested a lot of money into sporting infrastructure so it won’t be long before things start to take off here. 


Nightlife in Austin

The nightlife in Austin reflects the energy and diversity of its people. Whether residents are looking for a pumping dance party, a plush cocktail lounge or the chance to catch some local garage bands, Austin really does have it all. 

Sixth Street complete with its cheap drinks and wild party atmosphere is popular with the student crowd. To experience what it truly means to ‘Keep Austin Weird’, head to the East Austin Entertainment District where revellers are treated to a diverse range of sights and sounds. From quirky graffiti-style murals and late-night coffee shops, it's easy to see why this area is popular with a hipster crowd. For a more subdued night out, head to Rainey Street for some unique live music offerings in a district lined with historic houses. The Warehouse District is another great alternative for a more mature crowd looking for a laid-back but dynamic nightlife scene. 


Eating out in Austin

Austin’s culinary scene is unique. From traditional Texan fare such as Tex-Mex, BBQ and breakfast tacos to fantastic Asian food offerings and a growing number of fine-dining establishments, foodies will certainly be in for a treat. 

Food trucks are quite the institution in Austin. All over town, chefs are opting to dish up unpretentious cuisine in the back of a humble trailer. There are now thousands of food trucks operating all around Austin and food-court trailer parks are becoming a growing phenomenon in the city. From fresh lobster rolls to authentic Italian street food, residents will have no shortage of good-quality affordable offerings. 

Austin also boasts its fair share of craft breweries and wineries. From old world lager to experimental ales, there are loads of quirky brews to discover. Moving beyond downtown Austin, residents will be spoilt for choice with over 50 wineries to explore in Texas Hill Country. 

See and Do in Austin

Visiting Austin’s top attractions is a great way for new arrivals to get acquainted with their new home. With great weather and an abundance of green space, newcomers that like being outdoors will love the bike trail at Lady Bug Lake or taking a dip at Barton Springs Pool. Austin is not short on history and culture either, residents can get their fill at one of the city's museums or galleries. 


Attractions in Austin

State Capitol

Dating back to 1888 and based in the heart of Austin, the State Capitol is Texas’s legislative centre. The pink-granite landmark actually stands taller than the US Capitol in Washington D.C. The building itself is extremely impressive and it's a great place to learn a little more about Texan history. Visitors can opt to take a scheduled free tour of the Capitol or use the self-guided tour pamphlet. 

Mount Bonnell

Visitors will need to take a short drive out of the city but the views from Mount Bonnell are certainly worth the effort. The historic Covert Park is home to the 775-foot mountain alongside the beautiful Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River. It's a great place for a family adventure or a pleasant scenic walk. 

Zilker Metropolitan Park

Just across the river from downtown Austin, visitors will find the famous Zilker Metropolitan Park, which houses some of the city’s most popular attractions – from swimming spots and athletic fields to art museums. Digging for fossils at the Austin Nature and Science Center’s Dino Pit always goes down a treat with the kids. To do Zilker Metropolitan Park justice, it needs to be visited on more than one occasion. 

Blanton Museum of Art

Located on the University of Texas’s Austin campus, the Blanton Museum of Art is a popular attraction for art enthusiasts. It contains over 18,000 pieces of art – including works for the Renaissance and Baroque era to an impressive collection of modern Latin American work. The museum is unique, eclectic and very well curated. 

Lady Bird Lake

One of the most well-loved outdoor spaces in Austin, Lady Bird Lake is hugely popular with runners, walkers and cyclists. The 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Trail encompasses this picturesque lake. The tranquil trail is a great place to escape from the fast pace of city life. It’s a lovely spot for a family picnic overlooking some stunning views of downtown Austin. Visitors are also welcome to bring their dogs. 

Barton Springs Pool

Nestled in the of Zllker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a favourite spot among locals. Native American legend has it that these springs once had spiritual healing powers. One thing’s for sure, Barton Springs is the perfect place to cool off during those hot summer Austin days. In addition to the bathhouses, visitors will also be able to look at an exhibition about the history and biology of Barton Springs. 

LBJ Presidential Library

Visiting a presidential library may not be everyone’s cup of tea but this one is pretty special. Dedicated to Lydon B Johnson, the 36th president of the USA, the library houses an array of artefacts. From presidential papers to photos from the civil rights era. The museum is well curated and gives visitors great insight into the life and career of President Johnson. It's a must for any literary fans or history buffs. 

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Any new resident who is looking to get a good insight into the history of the Lone Star State should pay the Bullock Texas State History Museum a visit. It houses a range of quirky artefacts including Edgar Mitchell’s spacesuit that was used in the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. The museum also features the largest IMAX screen in Texas as well as a 4-D theatre which presents a range of special documentaries and short films.

What's On in Austin

Newcomers to Austin will have no shortage of things to see and do. In addition to all the city’s great attractions, Austin also boasts a jam-packed calendar of exciting events for residents of all ages. Whether its sport, food, live music or a bit of family-focused fun, there is sure to be a festival or event to spark any individual interest.

Here is our list of the best annual events in Austin.


Annual events in Austin

Austin Marathon (February)

For new arrivals looking for a challenge, what better way to get to know one’s new home than running a marathon through the city streets. The Austin Marathon sees thousands of athletes, from novices to competitive sportspeople, take to the streets. Anyone not quite ready to take on the full 26.3 miles (42.2km) can always opt for the half-marathon, which is a pretty impressive feat in itself. Failing that, simply come out and cheer on the runners. 

ABC Kite Fest (March)

Held at Zilker Park, the ABC Kite Festival is a spectacular ever for kids and their parents alike. Hundreds of vibrantly colourful kites take to the air over the lawns. From home-made designs to professional sport kites compete in various competitions. Visitors can make a day of it by enjoying the park itself which is filled with various food stalls and music stages, which create a fantastic festive environment.  

South By South West (March)

Since the late 1980s, the South by South West (SXSW) festival has become a prominent fixture on Austin’s annual events calendar. The festival celebrates local and international music artists. Tens of thousands of music fans flock to Austin to see their favourite bands from around the world. The atmosphere is festive and it's no wonder this is such a popular event.

Austin Food and Wine Festival (April)

High-profile chefs head to Austin each April to showcase their talents at this culinary celebration, simply a must for all foodies. With fascinating talks, cooking demos, classes and, of course, tastings from the best chefs in Austin and beyond, the Food and Wine Festival has a lot to offer. Visitors also get to sample the best of Texan favourites including barbecue and Tex-Mex fare. 

Austin Hot Sauce Festival (August)

What was once a humble community hot sauce contest has transformed into what is now one of the world’s largest hot sauce festivals. The Austin Hot Sauce Festival is held at Auditorium Shores on the beautiful Lady Bird Lake. Local restaurants, commercial hot sauce producers and even home cooks come together to compete in various categories. To accompany the spicy fare, festival-goers are able to sample a range of cold craft beers. Live music adds to the festive atmosphere and a good time is had by all of the 10,000 attendees. 

Bat Fest (August)

Here is a unique experience that no newcomer to Austin should miss. Congress Avenue Bridge is shut down for a day to pay homage to the bridge’s famous resident bats. Bat-friendly booths are placed along the bridge and visitors can enjoy performances by live bands in the evening. At sunset, the bats appear from beneath the bridge and take flight as spectators look on. Visitors can get into the spirit of the Bat Fest by taking part in the bat costume contest.

Austin Film Festival (October)

In October each year, Austin hosts this star-studded festival that celebrates the craft of screenwriting. Screenwriters, actors and directors come together to discuss their work and screenings are held at various venues in downtown Austin. It’s a great event for schmoozing with local celebrities and the after parties carry on well into the early hours of the morning. 

Circuit of the Americas Grand Prix (October)

Formula 1 fans from all over the world descend on Austin in October to watch an adrenalin-fuelled round of the Grand Prix. While tickets to the COTA Grand Prix will likely set spectators back a little, it's certainly a memorable experience for racing fans. The atmosphere in downtown Austin also experiences a shift as wealthy tourists arrive (often in private jets and helicopters) for the event. 

Texas Book Festival (November)

Each November, the spectacular Texas State Capitol Building plays host to one of the USA’s foremost literary events. Over 200 authors attend each year and over 40,000 bookworms of all ages come together to enjoy various readings, panel discussions and book signings. In addition, there are an array of special workshops for children and various stalls and exhibitors from across the state.  

Chuy’s Christmas Parade (December)

Featuring a procession of marching bands, vintage cars and giant balloons, this spectacular Christmas parade starts at the State Capitol Building and heads down Congress Avenue. The atmosphere is electric and the kids will certainly be in their element. It’s a lovely family-friendly day out in the run-up to the holidays. 

Getting Around in Austin

In recent years, there has been a concerted effort by city authorities to invest in the improvement of Austin’s public transport. While the number of residents using public transport is on the rise, Austin remains a largely car-dependent city.

With the emergence of e-hailing services and car-sharing schemes, this reliance on personal vehicles is slowly dwindling as residents take advantage of the various different options available to them. 

For those that enjoy a little exercise, Austin is exceptionally well-equipped when it comes to accommodating cyclists and there are plenty of neighbourhoods which are walkable. 


Public transport in Austin

Capital Metro is the authority that oversees Austin’s multimodal public transportation system. The system, which consists of a light rail network and an extensive system of bus routes, operates with an integrated ticketing system.

It is possible to buy single tickets, but for those that plan on using the system regularly, a weekly or monthly pass affords commuters a substantial saving. Tickets can either be purchased online, at local grocery stores or via the CapMetro app, the latter also a great tool that provides commuters with up-to-date travel information and real-time arrival information.

Buses

New arrivals in Austin will find the city boasts a pretty comprehensive network of bus routes. The network is an intricate mix of neighbourhood-, express- and downtown bus routes. 

The frequency of the buses varies depending on the route. Generally, most of the popular routes run every 15 minutes on weekdays. Other routes run less frequently and weekend schedules are quite varied so it is best to consult the app when planning a journey. 

Light rail

Austin’s commuter rail service consists of a single line that connects the northwestern suburbs of Leander and Cedar Park with the downtown area. The light rail service is purely intended for commuters travelling to and from work so services are less frequented outside peak hours. 


Driving in Austin

Despite improvements to public transport and the increased availability of e-hailing services in the city, driving still remains a popular way to get around Austin.

Austin’s road network is pretty easy to navigate. Commuters will just need to be aware that traffic congestion is severe during both the morning and evening rush hours. One thing that new arrivals will need to get used to when moving to Austin is the rather complex system of toll roads. There are often ways to avoid these once drivers become more familiar with the city’s road system

Parking is expensive and often difficult in the city-centre. Drivers should be aware that the streets are heavily patrolled and parking illegally will incur hefty fines. 

Car sharing schemes

As public transport improves, Austin residents are becoming less reliant on their vehicles and looking for alternative ways to get around the city. A happy medium between solely using public transportation and driving are car share schemes. These are great for those who want to commute using public transport during the week but may need a car for the weekends and other specific occasions. 

Car2go and ZipCar are the two main car shares operating in Austin. To become a member, newcomers to the city will simply need to download an app which will then allow them to find available cars nearby. The user then gets a specific code with which to unlock the car and drive to their destination, where they can leave the car for another user to pick up. There are various different packages available depending on an individual's usage patterns.


Taxis in Austin

Taxis are available in Austin, but it is generally best to call ahead and book a service in advance. While it may be possible to hail a taxi from the side of the street in busy parts of the downtown area, it's rare to see taxis just waiting in other areas of Austin or in the suburbs. The prominent taxi companies in Austin include Yellow Cab and Austin Cab Company.

E-hailing services

E-hailing services have become more established in Austin over the last couple of years, and Lyft and Uber are now available 24 hours a day. There are also a number of smaller e-hailing services operating in the city, which include Far, InstaRyde and GetMe. While these companies have smaller fleets and may have longer waiting times, they often run special offers to encourage people to choose them. In most cases, users simply just need to download an app onto their smartphone and register for the service with a credit card. 


Cycling in Austin

Long associated with being home to Lance Armstrong, Austin is a cyclist city. There is a strong community of cyclists in the city, ranging from the competitive to the recreational pedallers. 

The infrastructure in place to support cyclists in Austin is excellent with lots of designated cycle lanes and bike storage facilities available.

Ride Pace is Austin’s bike-sharing scheme that allows users to unlock shared bikes that are scattered across the city and ride to another docking station to deposit the bike when they’ve completed their journey. Users just need to have the app downloaded onto their smartphone. There are various packages available and various discounts on offer too.  

Beyond the daily commute, the city boasts an array of exciting recreational biking trails as well as mountain bike routes for those looking for more of an adventure.


Walking in Austin

Despite being a largely car-dependent city, there are several areas and suburbs of Austin that are actually pretty walkable. Austin’s downtown area and neighbourhoods around the University of Texas are great places to take a stroll. Newcomers will love exploring parts of Austin on foot, as it will allow them to discover their new home at a more leisurely pace and appreciate things they may not have the time to do if they were rushing around in a vehicle.