Last year, Austin, Texas was named by Forbes Magazine as the fastest growing city in America due to its boom in population. The City of Austin claims that 115 new people move to the area each day. It should come as no surprise that this capital city in the heart of the Lone Star state is so popular; with its city motto and attitude of “keeping it weird” mixed with the culture and growing innovation of much larger cities, Austin offers a little something for everyone.
Whether you’re a cowboy, tech wunderkind, musician or retiree, Austin keeps topping lists of best places to live for everyone. Though idyllic as a whole, it’s the individual neighbourhoods that make this city so special.
Austin’s epicenter boasts a fine contrast between development - the city features the tallest residential skyscraper west of the Mississippi River - and the antiquated architecture of Texas’ early settlers. The iconic State Capitol sparkles with pink granite and proudly claims the title of the second largest Capitol after the US Capitol in Washington D.C. Scenic Lady Bird Lake snakes through Downtown, with a championed hike and bike trail that locals and visitors use to exercise or catch some of the city’s most famous sights.
Heading westward down the lake lies Zilker Park, home of various music festivals and offering beautiful views of Downtown, and Barton Springs Pool, a spring-fed pool that cools off inhabitants in the sweltering months. Surrounding the walkable downtown are several varying neighborhoods, from quaint to hip, high-end to working class.
The South Congress Avenue shopping strip, a straight shot south from the Capitol, features Austin’s most beloved independent clothing boutiques, antique stores and restaurants. The city’s southside is often called the “old-school” neighbourhood and features some of the most beloved Mexican restaurants, vintage clothing stores and free-spirited coffee shops in town.
Head east into East Austin and you will see where the artists and free-spirits live. Filled with art galleries and cool eateries, this area was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most hip neighbourhoods in the US.
Head north from Downtown and you’ll hit the University of Texas; this revered school sees an influx of 50,000 students every year and boasts an impressive 423-acre campus. Dotted throughout the university are various museums, art galleries and, of course, large stadiums that house popular sports games. Don’t be surprised if you hear the occasional “Hook’em Longhorns!” shouted from the campus. This is the official phrase celebrating the students’ football team, The Texas Longhorns.
As you keep heading north, you’ll hit quaint neighbourhoods such as Hyde Park, North Loop, Crestview and North Burnet with their independent boutiques and mid-century ranch-style houses. You’ll be hard-pressed to find characterless chain businesses in central Austin; keeping it local is one of the city’s main mottos.
However, Austin is no longer just a bubbling town whose population waxes and wanes when college is in session. Due to the popularity of Austin, its suburbs are growing - and fast. Suburban neighbourhoods such as Round Rock, Pflugerville and Leander are now within the city limits.
Austin is not only an appealing city for young professionals, but families looking for a safe and unique town to raise their kids in. With the popularity of SXSW music and film festival and F1 racing, Austin has also become an international destination. With its recent rush of new inhabitants and visitors, this one-time sleepy Texan town shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.