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Downtown Austin | © Earl McGehee / Flickr
Downtown Austin | © Earl McGehee / Flickr
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This City Ranks as the Number 1 Place to Live in the US

Picture of Sarah Karney
Updated: 28 February 2017
Have you heard that Austin is an amazing place to live? It certainly isn’t news if you’re a longtime resident or one of the city’s numerous recent transplants. But the capital of Texas recently won the ability to back up its bragging rights by snagging the #1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 list of the 100 Best Places to Live.
Barton Creek Greenbelt | © Alex Thomson / Flickr
Barton Creek Greenbelt | © Alex Thomson / Flickr

But what exactly is persuading an estimated 150 people to move to Austin every single day? This list of top spots to live judged the 100 most populous metro areas in the United States by five crucial categories: quality of life, job market, value, desirability, and net migration. These categories were then weighted based on a public survey asking Americans what factors they found to be most important when planning to move to a new city.

Austin received an overall score of 7.8 out of 10, placing it ahead of runners-up Denver, CO; San Jose, CA; Washington, D.C.; Fayetteville, AR; and Seattle, WA. Here’s a closer look at how Austin scored in each category and why.

Widespread Panic at ACL Live at the Moody Theater © Earl McGehee
Widespread Panic at ACL Live at the Moody Theater | © Earl McGehee

Quality of Life: 7.3

The quality of life category measures how satisfied residents are with their everyday lives, factoring in crime rates, quality and availability of healthcare and education, well-being, and commute time. Believe it or not, Austinites, the average commute time sits at 26 minutes currently – though it feels like much longer to many residents. Austin also has a lower crime rate than comparable metro areas and a high college readiness score for the area’s students, in addition to six universities.

Job Market: 7.5

As the capital city of Texas and home to a major university, Austin employs many government workers. It’s also known as an up-and-coming tech hub, dubbed “Silicon Hills,” inviting top startups and venture capital investors. The average salary in Austin is $49,560 per year, slightly higher than the national average, and the unemployment rate is lower than the national average too, at a mere 3.2%.

Value: 7.3

Due to the influx of new residents, Austin’s cost of living is skyrocketing, and the cost of purchasing a single-family home is above the national average. However, thanks to the city’s lack of personal and corporate income tax, as well as low state and local taxes, it still comes in at a 7.3 score in the value category. Additionally, because Austin grew so quickly in such a short time, it is still more affordable when compared to similar-sized metro areas.

OM the Dome at the Texas Capitol © Charlie Llewellin
OM the Dome at the Texas Capitol | © Charlie Llewellin

Desirability: 8.4

This index puts stats behind the claim that people pine over the chance to live in Austin. This score was compiled after Americans across the country were polled about where they would most like to live. Now you know why your family always insists on visiting you in Austin for the holidays.

Net Migration: 9.8

Longtime Austinites may not perceive a win in this category as advantageous; however, the proof is in the numbers – people are flocking to the city. Austin is the #1 city transplants choose to move to in Texas; it’s also the #2 metro area that people flock to in the entire nation. The population doubled between 2000 and 2010, and with a net migration rate of nearly 9%, the population boom is not likely to slow down anytime soon.

360 Bridge © sbmeaper1
360 Bridge | © sbmeaper1

See what the buzz is about for yourself with this guide on how to spend 24 hours in Austin.