What life is really like in the ‘best place to live in America,’ where live music and jobs are plentiful but you have to battle daily traffic jams and scorching summers

What life is really like in the ‘best place to live in America,’ where live music and jobs are plentiful but you have to battle daily traffic jams and scorching summers


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Triple-digit temperatures and heavy traffic is the price to pay in the “best place to live in America.”

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  • If you’re looking for the best place to live in America, look no further thanAustin, Texas, according to a 2019U.S. News report.
  • The report analyzed the 125 most populous US metro areas based on the quality of life, job market, value for money, and desirability.
  • Austin’s booming job market, the availability of live music, and its vibrant restaurant scene are just some of the perks that place this city in the No. 1 spot.
  • Here’s what it’s like to live in the Lone Star State’s capital city.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Austin is the best place to live in America, according to a 2019 U.S. News report.

Downtown Austin is seen across Town Lake from the Congress Avenue Bridge.

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The city may be best known for housing the state’s capitol, which was erected in the late 1880s.

The state capitol building is seen down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, in 1901.

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But it has also evolved into one of the nation’s largest cities, sporting a booming job market, vast nightlife and restaurant scenes, and a focus on outdoor experiences.

The capitol building is seen in downtown Austin, Texas.

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These cultural offerings have brought young professionals, in particular, flocking to the capital city for all that it has to offer.

Austinites take a load off at one of the many bars lining the city’s Rainey Street district.

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And that influx is noticeable: Austin is the fastest-growing major metro area in the country, according to US Census Bureau estimates from mid-April 2019.


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There are about 2 million people residing in the Austin metro area, according to U.S. News.

The capitol building is seen from Austin’s South Congress district.

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For those looking for a progressive culture, Austin’s got it. A 2017 survey by housing website Nestpick found that Austin is the third-best city for LGBTQ people in the US and 24th best in the world.

A sticker reading “ya’ll means all” is posted on a window of the Austin Motel in the South Congress district.

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Only two other US cities were ahead of Austin in the ranking: New York (No. 1) and San Francisco (No. 2).

Pride flags hang with the Frost Bank Tower in the background in Austin, Texas.

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While the weather in Austin is mild in general, summer temperatures can be scorching, often breaching the triple digits.

Kayakers on Town Lake in Austin, Texas.

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And although Texas is typically a conservative state, the city of Austin skews left. As the Austin-American Statesman’s Eric Webb writes, Austin is a “blueberry in the tomato soup of Texas.”

A sticker on a car’s back window shows support for the now-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke in Austin, Texas, in December 2018.

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But it’s Austin’s vibrant music scene that may be one of the city’s biggest draws.


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The history of the city’s current music reputation — its “musical rebirth” — can be traced back to the 1970s.

Country singer and songwriter Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson perform as the Highwaymen at Willie Nelson Fourth of July picnic on July 4, 1985 in Austin, Texas.

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That’s when country artist and Texas native Willie Nelson led the charge in shining a national spotlight on Austin as the place to be for the music industry.

Willie Nelson in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 17, 1986.

Bob Daemmrich/AP

Now, decades later, you’ll find music pouring out of bars, restaurants, and venues on any given day.

A band plays on the patio of Craft Pride in Austin’s Rainey Street district.

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There are also several annual events held in Austin celebrating music of all kinds.

The city skyline and crowd at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008.

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There’s the annual Austin City Limits festival that’s now held in the city’s Zilker Park during two weekends in the fall.

The atmosphere during Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on October 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

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The festival was named after the long-running TV show Austin City Limits that invited musicians from an array of genres to perform onstage at the KLRU studio in Austin.

The Shins play in Austin’s Moody Theatre in 2012.

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Nelson was the first musician to perform on the show’s pilot episode, filmed in 1974.

A statue of Willie Nelson stands tall outside of Austin’s Moody Theatre.

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The live concerts are now filmed at the Moody Theatre in Downtown Austin.

A plaque outside of the Moody Theatre in Austin.

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There’s also the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW,) an annual festival that kicked off in 1987 and is held every March.

Johnny Cash performs at South by Southwest Music Festival in March 1994 in Austin, Texas.

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The annual SXSW festival isn’t the only aspect of Austin that’s been infiltrated by the tech industry.

The Google Fiber Space at 201 Colorado St. in downtown Austin.

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According to U.S. News, Austin has a healthier job market than other, similarly-sized metro areas in the country.


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Tech companies like Atlassian, Oracle, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon collectively employ thousands of local workers in the Austin area.

Google’s offices at 500 West 2nd St. in downtown Austin, Texas.

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State agencies based in Austin constitute another sizable source of local employment.


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And the University of Texas employs more than 24,000 staffers. The school is one of the largest public universities in the US.

A student on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas.

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Per U.S. News, the average annual salary in Austin is $51,840, compared to the national average of $50,620.

The Frost Bank Tower in Austin.

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And Austin’s unemployment rate in 2018 was 2.9% — 1.0% lower than the national average.


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While jobs in Austin may be plentiful, getting to them each morning is sometimes painful.


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Austin has some serious traffic congestion — the worst in Texas, according to a 2018 TomTom report.


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An estimated 86% of Austinites drive to work — on par with the national average — and they spend 25% more time in their cars than they would without traffic congestion.


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For those not wanting to drive, there’s Capital Metro, the public transportation system servicing the Austin metro area, as well as Amtrak trains and intercity bus lines.


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Alternatively, 1% of Austinites opt to bike instead of drive or take public transit to work.


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Outside of regular commuting, cycling plays a big role in Austin’s infrastructure.


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Many of the city’s streets have bike-protected lanes, and there’s an extensive network of bike trails across Austin’s hilly terrain.


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The hills get particularly steep in West Austin, which is an area of town known for its wealth, specifically in the real estate market.


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The overall average home value in Austin isn’t quite that high, but it is around $368,300, compared to the national average of $226,800.


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Renters in the city don’t have it much easier. The average rent price has grown substantially in recent years to $1,750, which is higher than the national average of $1,715.

A leasing office in downtown Austin.

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And as more millennials that usually rent instead of buy flock to the city, the market will grow even more saturated, likely raising the rent in the process.

New apartments sprouting up along South Congress in Austin, Texas.

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They’ll likely keep flocking, thanks in part to everything there is to do in Austin.

Bar-goers in Austin’s Rainey Street District.

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For adventurous folk, there’s Barton Springs Pool, the Greenbelt, and over 250 parks.

Kayakers on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.

Elizabeth W. Kearley/Contributor/Getty Images

And then there’s the city’s bar and eatery scene that keeps Austinites entertained from morning to night.


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Many of the liveliest places are on the city’s well-known Sixth Street stretch in downtown Austin.


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Austin’s South Congress district is another favorite.


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In the heart of it is Amy’s Ice Cream, if you’ve got a sweet tooth.


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And not far away is Rainey Street, a drag of historic houses turned into bungalow bars.

Craft Pride in Austin’s Rainey Street District.

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Those are just a few of the many parts of the city where you can enjoy yourself.


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