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

austin texas tech scooters 138Katie Canales/Business Insider

  • If you're looking for the best place to live in America, look no further than Austin, Texas, according to a 2019 U.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.
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Austin is the best place to live in America, according to a 2019 U.S. News report.

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: Austin History Center

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.

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.

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News and Brookings

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.

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.

Source: Curbed Austin

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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.

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.

Source: Nestpick

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

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

Source: Austin Culture Map

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

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

Source: U.S. News and KEYE

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."

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."

Source: Austin Culture Map and Austin-American Statesman

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

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

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

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

Source: Austin History Center

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.

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.

Source: Austin History Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Austin City Limits Festival

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 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.

Source: Austin Relocation Guide

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

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

Source: Austin Relocation Guide

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

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

Source: Austin Relocation Guide

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

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

Source: CNN

SXSW has since evolved from a music-only event and now includes, among other things, a prominent tech conference where techies and startups discuss industry trends and new innovations.

SXSW has since evolved from a music-only event and now includes, among other things, a prominent tech conference where techies and startups discuss industry trends and new innovations.

Source: Curbed

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

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

Tech has had a foothold in the city for a long time. But particularly in recent years, the industry’s influence on Austin has begun to show considerably more, bolstering the region’s job market as a result.

Tech has had a foothold in the city for a long time. But particularly in recent years, the industry’s influence on Austin has begun to show considerably more, bolstering the region’s job market as a result.

Source: Bloomberg and U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: City Lab, Austin American-Statesman, Silicon Hills News, Business Insider, and CNBC

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

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

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

Source: TomTom

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.

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.

Source: U.S. News and TomTom

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.

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.

Source: U.S. News

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

In 2015, Austin was dubbed a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, meaning that the city has gone to great lengths to cultivate a bike-friendly transportation system throughout its territory.

In 2015, Austin was dubbed a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, meaning that the city has gone to great lengths to cultivate a bike-friendly transportation system throughout its territory.

Source: The League of American Bicyclists

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

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

Source: Trip Savvy

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

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

Source: U.S. News

West Austin is home to the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood, Barton Creek, where the median real estate value is now at least $1 million.

West Austin is home to the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood, Barton Creek, where the median real estate value is now at least $1 million.

Read more: Big tech has so heavily invaded Austin, Texas, that the capital city now has its own $1 million neighborhood. Here's what it's like in the affluent and exclusive Barton Creek district

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.

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.

Source: Business Insider

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.

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.

Source: Zillow and Zillow

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.

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.

Source: Business Insider

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

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

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

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

Source: U.S. News

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

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

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

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

You’ll find plenty of popular spots here, like Voodoo Doughnuts.

You’ll find plenty of popular spots here, like Voodoo Doughnuts.

You’ll find plenty of popular spots here, like Voodoo Doughnuts.

You’ll find plenty of popular spots here, like Voodoo Doughnuts.

Austin’s South Congress district is another favorite.

Austin’s South Congress district is another favorite.

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

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

Source: Visit Austin

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

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

Source: Visit Austin

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

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