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Average Cost of Living in Austin TX


Austin, TX, stands as a beacon of cultural vibrancy and economic growth in the heart of Texas, attracting individuals and families with its unique blend of modern city life and traditional Texan charm. Understanding the cost of living in Austin, TX, is essential for current residents adjusting their budgets and potential movers gauging the affordability of a life change. With its rapid population growth, Austin has seen fluctuating costs in housing, utilities, groceries, and more, impacting how residents manage their finances.

Housing Costs

The Austin, TX housing market in 2024 shows a diverse and dynamic landscape, influenced by a range of factors from market trends to neighborhood desirability. With a slight lean towards a buyer’s market, the city’s real estate landscape offers both challenges and opportunities for those looking to enter the housing market. 

As of early 2024, the median listing home price in Austin was noted at $630K, with homes selling for a median price of $478.4K, indicating a market that, while competitive, still offers room for negotiation. This balance is underscored by a 3.2-month inventory and a median sale to list ratio of 0.975 as of December 31, 2023, suggesting a relatively balanced market between buyers and sellers.

However, recent sales data from Redfin provides more granular insights into Austin’s housing dynamics. For example, homes recently sold range widely in price from around $250K for smaller 2 bedroom homes to upwards of $899.5K for more spacious and presumably better-located properties. 

This variance in home prices reflects the city’s diverse housing options and neighborhood characteristics. Furthermore, the region is noted for its rapid growth and dynamic market, with a vast array of properties catering to a wide spectrum of preferences and budgets. Despite a year-over-year decrease in average home values by 7.3%, the market is anticipated to grow, offering a conducive environment for buyers looking to invest in a vibrant, growing city.

Utilities

In 2024, Austin, Texas, residents will experience adjustments in utility rates due to a variety of factors including wholesale energy costs, operational costs, and the necessity for infrastructure upgrades. Specifically, electric rates are projected to increase by 2-4%, translating to an additional monthly cost of approximately $1.78 for the average residential customer. 

Water rates are also set to rise by 4.5%, which for the average residential water customer will mean an increase of about $1.20 during the peak usage months of May through October. However, there will be no increase in natural gas rates for the year, with the costs remaining similar to those of 2023. These changes are part of Austin Utilities’ efforts to manage rising market costs and continue upgrading the city’s utility infrastructure.

On a broader scale, the cost of utilities in Austin reflects the city’s response to both immediate and long-term financial and environmental sustainability goals. For electricity, Austin residents spend on average $175 per month, which is 10% lower than the national average. 

This equates to an annual expenditure of around $2,100, based on the average electric rate of 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. The city’s efforts include not just adjusting rates in response to market conditions but also promoting programs aimed at reducing energy consumption and costs, such as the Conserve & Save rebate program and options for budget billing to even out payments throughout the year.

Moreover, Austin Water has implemented a 10 percent reduction in water and wastewater rates for vulnerable low-income customers enrolled in the City of Austin’s Customer Assistance Program (CAP) as part of its COVID-19 utility bill relief efforts.

Healthcare

In Austin, Texas, healthcare options are both expansive and innovative, catering to a wide range of needs from emergency services to specialized care. The city’s healthcare landscape is distinguished by reputable institutions such as St. David’s Healthcare, which operates eight hospitals and numerous sites of care throughout Austin. 

It’s recognized for a broad spectrum of services, including knee replacement surgeries, heart bypass surgery, and colon cancer treatment, among others. Ascension Seton Medical Center is another key player, providing comprehensive care and hosting a Level 1 Stroke Center. This facility is well-regarded for its cardiology services and has been acknowledged for its heart condition treatments.

Moreover, Austin’s healthcare sector is witnessing significant growth, with St. David’s Healthcare announcing a nearly $1 billion expansion plan. This initiative includes the construction of two new hospitals in Kyle and Leander, set to enhance service delivery for the area’s burgeoning population. 

This expansion is expected to create over 900 new jobs, further solidifying Austin’s reputation as a hub for healthcare excellence and innovation. UT Health Austin also underscores the city’s commitment to world-class specialty care, emphasizing patient-centered services that leverage the latest in medical research and treatments. 

Their approach to healthcare prioritizes the unique needs and preferences of each patient, ensuring tailored treatment plans that address the individual’s goals. The Austin Healthcare Council supports this vision by fostering collaboration and innovation among the city’s healthcare leaders, aiming to elevate Austin as a global center for healthcare innovation.

Job Market and Salaries

Austin’s job market and salary trends in 2024 present a nuanced picture of growth and adaptation amidst evolving economic conditions. The state of Texas, with Austin as a key economic hub, is expected to add more than a quarter of a million jobs in 2024, highlighting robust economic vitality and opportunities for job seekers. 

However, the pace of hiring in Austin has seen adjustments, with small business job gains trending flat compared to the previous year. This reflects a slight hiring slowdown accompanied by an uptick in dismissals and layoffs. The hire rate in Austin has decreased by 16.4% over the last quarter and by 10.4% over the last year, indicating a cautious approach by employers amidst a slightly loosening labor market.

In terms of salaries, the average salary in Austin, TX, is reported to be around $81,000. Despite a trend of decreasing wages by -2.1 percent in Q4 of 2023, the cost of living in Austin remains slightly higher than the national average, emphasizing the city’s status as a thriving center for professionals. Notably, Austin talent is more expensive than in neighboring cities, reflecting the city’s competitive edge in attracting skilled workers. 

However, there’s a noted decrease in salary expectations for new hires, suggesting adjustments in the compensation landscape. These shifts underscore the importance of strategic hiring and retention practices among Austin businesses, particularly in offering competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain top talent.

Affordability

Austin, Texas, is grappling with an affordability crisis that has become increasingly pronounced in recent years. The city has seen rapid population growth and an increase in the number of high-income residents, contributing to rising home prices and rents. 

Despite a substantial increase in housing supply—64,000 units between 2007 and 2015—the residential vacancy rate has remained relatively stable at around 8%, indicating that new housing units are being occupied as quickly as they’re produced. This fast absorption rate underscores the city’s significant demand for housing, fueled by its status as a major tech hub and vibrant cultural city.

In response, the City of Austin has implemented several strategies to address housing affordability, including allowing more homes to be built on single-family lots and introducing the “Affordability Unlocked” program, which eases zoning restrictions to foster the development of affordable housing. 

The latter has seen considerable success, facilitating the production of over 1,500 homes per year since its inception in 2019, compared to around 900 homes per year before the program. This effort is part of a broader initiative to increase the “missing-middle” housing—smaller, multi unit developments affordable to median-income households. However, challenges persist, including resistance from homeowner groups concerned about neighborhood character and potential gentrification.

Amid these dynamics, movers in Austin, TX, have observed an uptick in the number of people relocating, both within the city in search of more affordable living options and to the city by newcomers drawn by its economic opportunities. The affordability crisis, though, has placed a strain on many residents, especially those in low-income brackets, who find themselves increasingly cost-burdened by housing expenses. 

With about 28% of households spending 30% or more of their income on housing, the need for more affordable options remains critical. This situation has made Austin’s affordability issue not just a matter of housing policy but also a central factor in the city’s ongoing demographic and economic shifts.

Tips for Managing Living Costs

Managing living costs in Austin, TX, requires strategic planning, especially given its higher cost of living compared to other parts of Texas, yet it offers a vibrant lifestyle that many find worth the extra expense. Groceries in Austin are generally 7–12% cheaper than the national average, with residents spending about $260–$300 per month on groceries, depending on household size and preferences. 

To save on groceries, consider shopping at local supermarkets like H-E-B’s Central Market, El Rancho Supermercado, Fiesta Mart, and Randall’s. For healthcare, costs are around 103% more than the national average. However, with insurance, which may start as low as $150 per month, many routine visits and procedures can become more affordable. Childcare costs average $1,100 per month, but this can vary widely. 

To further manage living expenses, it’s helpful to understand the broader financial landscape of Austin. The city does not impose a state income tax, which can offer substantial savings, especially for those moving from states with high tax rates. However, Austin’s sales tax is relatively high at 8.25%, including state and local taxes. 

When moving, consider the neighborhood’s characteristics and lifestyle offerings, as this can also impact your living expenses. For example, Austin’s robust arts and culture scene provides numerous free or low-cost entertainment options, enhancing the quality of life without significantly impacting your budget. For those considering a move, it’s crucial to factor in Austin’s high sales tax and the potential need for parking permits on moving day, which can add to the initial costs of relocating.

Beni is very passionate about real estate, finance and traveling, which is the motivating force behind the inspiring topics he writes about for RealEstateAgent.com

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