Moving to Austin, Texas
Affordability 4 out of 5
Safety 4 out of 5
Healthcare 3 out of 5
Traffic Flow 4 out of 5
Property affordability 5 out of 5
Climate 5 out of 5
Environment quality 5 out of 5
Texans have always prided themselves on being that little bit different to other Americans and, as the state capital, Austin takes pride in being different that one step further. Fiercely independent, open minded and eclectic in their tastes, Austinites have created a city which fosters a wide diversity of subcultures and communities – from LGBT to environmentalists to musicians – which protects its local businesses and which is dedicated to the idea of “Keeping Austin Weird”.
Austin was founded as the state capital in 1839 from a community of pioneers that settled on the banks of the Colorado River (that’s the Texas Colorado River – smaller than its gigantic namesake but still the 18th longest in the US). While the city’s initial growth was due largely to its governmental, administrative and educational functions (the University of Texas at Austin was the first public university in the state) as well as trade in cotton and cattle. Today Austin is the high-tech capital of Texas, hosting the major headquarters of Fortune 500 technology giants Dell as well as regional offices of eBay, Google, Apple, IBM and Intel.
A large waterfront created by Lady Bird Lake – a reservoir in downtown Austin – is overlooked by an increasing number of skyscrapers which point to the city’s growing economic influence. But interspersed between the high rises you’ll find alternative cultures, music, arts and small businesses booming, ensuring that Austin stays weird well into the future.
Moving to Austin from the UK
The fourth largest city in Texas has a population of just under 2 million which is roughly the same size as Birmingham. But those moving from the UK to Austin will find any similarities with the West Midlands city ending there. Austin’s inhabitants are spread out over an area 40 times larger than that of England’s second city, have an Hispanic/Latino component which comprise over 35% of the total, enjoy a leafy cityscape with many public parks and more than 50 public swimming pools and have won awards for their environmental credentials.
The fact that the metropolitan area is so large means that most Austinites travel by automobile and, unless you opt for a downtown residence, owning a car will probably be a necessity. There are several toll roads on the most popular commuter routes designed to reduce congestion but this has only been partially successful so choosing where to live should take into account which are the most hellish commuter journeys.
Property prices in Austin have recovered well since the crash of 2007, when they dropped by around 50%, and have recently seen significant rises. Due to traffic congestion the most valuable homes are found outside but near the centre of town in neighbourhoods like Davenport Ranch and Rob Roy to the West where average prices approach $2 million (£1.29m).
Take a look at the cost of shipping from London to Austin to get an idea of what you will have to spend.
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Healthcare in Austin
Before your big move to Austin, it's wise to think about medical cover for when you're out there.
That way, you'll be prepared for the US's slightly labyrinthine system by the time you arrive.
Comparing Austin vs London
Austin’s climate is a good deal hotter and drier than that of London. In the peak of summer temperatures have been known to climb to 44 °C on the banks of the Colorado River with average highs in July and August hovering around 36 °C. Winter barely merits the name with average lows in Austin Januarys and Decembers failing to get below 5 °C. There is sometimes snow – 3 inches whited out the city in 1985 – but rainfall is seldom, most frequently occurring in May and June when average volumes are about 10% of those in London.
Rents are much cheaper in Austin than in London as are transport costs (fuel is about 60% cheaper), clothing, consumer goods and entertainment. You will pay more at the checkout for some groceries though – particularly bread, fresh produce and wine.
On average Austinites report themselves as feeling safer, enjoying better healthcare, experiencing less pollution and as spending less time commuting than Londoners. While Austin’s MetroRail is dwarfed by the London Underground at present it is expanding.
Transferring money to Austin
If you’re thinking of moving to Austin, you’ll probably need to convert some of your British pounds into American dollars.
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Culture in Austin
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. For good reason too: the city’s numerous venues host concerts and gigs ranging from the classical, through blues, jazz, bluegrass and country and western to hip hop while several large festivals (Austin City Limits and Old Settler’s Music Festivals among them) keep the party going year round. Speaking of festivals there’s also a major annual film festival. A vibrant theater community produces shows at numerous venues.
Alas, Austin has no major league sports team but does has several minor league teams including the Texas Stars (AHL) and the Austin Toros (NBA D).