DESTINATIONS
EXPERIENCE
DESTINATIONS
EXPERIENCE
Austin is a city like no other.

What It’s Like Living in Austin

BY STIRLING KELSO
Over the last two decades, Austin has grown from a small college town to a major metropolitan city fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit. For all of its development and change, the Texas capital is still a place where musicians inspire, chefs get their start, and people make it their mission to enjoy the everyday.
Here it is, your unofficial guide to what it’s like living in Austin.

LIVING IN AUSTIN

Thinking about living in Austin? Here’s what you need to know.

AUSTIN’S VIBE IS…

…laid back. Despite its rapid growth and increased sophistication, this is still a city where suits are rare, tacos regularly make the menu, and the best nights end at a dive bar. 

THE WEATHER IN AUSTIN IS…

…moderate to hot. Austin’s best months are October through April, when humidity is low and temps bounce between 40-80° F. Though summer days can hit 100°, it doesn’t stop residents from getting outdoors. From spring-fed pools and parks with splash pads to kayak-friendly rivers and Hill Country watering holes, plenty of ATX recreation involves cold and refreshing H20.

PEOPLE IN AUSTIN ARE KNOWN FOR…

…their work/life balance. While the capital teems with talent, residents put a premium on extra curriculars. Days that start in the boardroom might end with hiking the city’s Greenbelt, chalking up to boulder, or skiing on Lake Austin — all before happy hour.

EVERY AUSTINITE HAS A STORY ABOUT…

…their best concert. Whether you’re chatting with your cabbie or the barista crafting your morning cappuccino, there’s a good chance live music will come up in conversation. Stories range from near lore — seeing Stevie Ray Vaughn at the now-shuttered Rome Inn in the early 1980s or watching Spoon play for cash covers at the Hole in the Wall — to famously great festivals, and all speak to Austin’s deep music roots.

COST OF LIVING IN AUSTIN

Austin is more affordable than many major U.S. cities but, naturally, the capital has become increasingly expensive. Coffee shop catch-ups are dominated by talk around record-breaking real estate prices (all the more reason to rent!), and scores of special occasion restaurants, cocktail bars, and high-end hotels have sprung up to meet ample demand. Still, the city’s college town roots mean there are plenty of good deals to be found, from $5 admission to public pools like
Barton Springs
and
Deep Eddy
to $2 Lone Stars at dives across town.

THE BEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN AUSTIN

Choosing the best neighborhood in Austin depends on what you’re looking for.
Austin is full of great neighborhoods, each of which has its own vibe and personality. Residents of the East Side, a soulful and artistic area that’s also at the heart of exciting development — including
Sentral East Austin 1614 E. Sixth
or
Sentral East Austin 1630 E. Sixth
— refer to their specific enclave by street. If you’re up for a night of bar- and food truck-hopping, head to 7th Street; you’ll find a slew of independent boutiques and top-notch restaurants on Manor Avenue. Pedestrian-friendly South Congress is one of the city’s best places to stroll, shop, and stop for selfies in front of colorful murals. The Zilker neighborhood is famous for its park, which hosts the
Austin City Limits Music Festival
in the fall, as well as
Barton Springs
pool. Downtown Austin has a solid urban vibe with fabulous restaurants, scene-worthy hotels, and great rooftop bars. It’s also home to city cornerstones such as the
Capitol Building
and the
Austin Public Library
.

ART AND CULTURE IN AUSTIN

Machine Gun Kelly by Roger Ho for Austin City Limits 2021.
It may be the state capital, but Austin is best known for its live music, thanks to a slew of annual festivals —
South by South West
and
Austin City Limits
are the most famous — and venues, ranging from state-of-the-art to under-the-radar. Austin also has a ballet, opera, and symphony, and is a regular stop for big musicals on tour. The city’s growing arts scene is anchored by museums, such as the
Blanton
on the University of Texas campus, and the
Contemporary
, which straddles a downtown building and a historic home on the lake.

FOOD AND DINING IN AUSTIN

Austin’s food scene goes beyond Tex-Mex…though there’s still plenty of that too!
Before Austin’s boom days, it got away with a slew of Tex-Mex and barbecue restaurants, along with one or two fine dining spots that focused on big cuts of meat. Today, the city is one of the best food destinations in the country thanks to a community of chefs that range from inventive to masterful. Starting with the East Side, you’ll find some of Austin’s most talked about plates, from the northern Italian pastas at
Juniper
to the holy grail of masa tacos at
Nixta Taqueria
to the bright, seasonal dishes at
Birdie’s
. Throughout town, there’s a restaurant for every craving. Eager for southern-inspired fare? Book a table at
Olamaie
for the shrimp and Carolina rice or the heritage porkchop. The dining room at
Lutie’s
, with its glass bar and leafy hanging plants, is a romantic backdrop for haute cocktails and vegetable-forward dishes. And you can’t leave Austin without a reservation at
Uchi
by chef Tyson Cole, who’s credited for making the Lone Star State Capital an unlikely sushi destination when Uchi first opened almost 20 years ago.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN AUSTIN

It’s hard to walk a half a block in Austin without spotting a yoga studio, some of which are pay as you go, others that pair their downward dogs with live music, and more still that encourage a post-Vinyasa vegan lunch. The city has spurge-worthy spas as well, like the
Miraval
, located in the Hill Country, and
Lake Austin Spa
on the water. If you only have an afternoon to spoil yourself, check out one of the city’s day spas, like
Milk and Honey
and
Verbena Spa
at the Proper, both located downtown, or
Viva
, which has an outpost at the shop-studded Domain in north Austin.

WHERE TO GET OUTDOORS IN AUSTIN

There are plenty of places — and ways — to get outside in Austin.
One of the best things about ATX is its abundance of green spaces, from parks with skyline views to cool lakes ripe for kayaking and water skiing. Residents ritually walk or cycle around the city’s central Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, or rock climb in the Greenbelt, a nature reserve where creek-side paths trails are flanked by pecan trees and limestone boulders. Several outfitters such as
SUP ATX
rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes along Lady Bird Lake; you’ll find ski and pontoon boats on Lake Austin. There are also loads of parks, from central Zilker to
Fiesta Gardens,
an 81-acre waterfront green space dotted with live oaks and picnic tables. 

SPORTS IN AUSTIN

The Capital of Texas now has two rally cries. If you follow sports, you know the first: “Hook ‘Em Horns,” along with all things burnt orange, represent the
University of Texas
and its famous football team. The school’s baseball, basketball, and volleyball teams also put on rocking games and are regular champs. These days, you’ll also hear Austin residents cheering “Somos Verdes!” in honor of the two-year-old Austin Football Club, or
Austin FC
. Games at the new Q2 stadium are fun and incredibly spirited, and many of the food vendors —
Tacodeli
and
Valentina’s Barbecue
, among others — are local.

APARTMENTS IN AUSTIN

See how you like living in Austin at one of Sentral East Austin’s communities.
Want to try living in Austin? Sentral has two Austin communities in a walkable area that each offer unfurnished and designer furnished apartments, flexible leases, dedicated pet-friendly space, and more. You can stay for a few days, a month, a year, or longer — perfect for students needing a private spot for the semester, digital nomads testing out the city, or long-term residents wanting to live in a new neighborhood!
Click through to learn more and book a tour at
Sentral East Austin 1614 E. Sixth
or
Sentral East Austin 1630 E. Sixth
.

ABOUT THE WRITER
Writer and editor Stirling Kelso has lived in Austin for the majority of the last 20 years. The city has been her jumping off point for assignments around the globe for publications like Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and the New York Times, among other publications. She loves to come home to Austin’s rolling hills, hike and bike trails, and delicious tacos.

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An Insider Guide to Downtown East Austin
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4 Things To Look For When Renting With Pets