The Austin area continues to be regarded by most as the best choice in Texas, with a balance of a strong economy, good education, attractive housing, a relatively pleasant climate, and plenty to do. Highlights include the University of Texas, an important music scene, and a large high-tech industry, including Dell, Inc. in Round Rock, 20 miles north. The 50,000-student university is located on a large campus north of downtown. The walkable downtown preserves a small-town Texas feel and is packed with nightclubs and music venues, including the famous “Drag” and the Warehouse District. Music is mostly rock ’n’ roll, “hard” country, and blues.
The area continues to be a magnet for business and particularly high-tech and small business startups. The list of names with facilities in town could form a NASDAQ high tech stock index. These businesses are located mainly to the east and north. Growth is spreading mainly north, towards Round Rock and Pfluglerville accompanied by plenty of middle-class housing, and large areas of more upscale housing lie to the west among the hills and towards Lake Travis.
Entertainment and cultural amenities are plentiful, as is outdoor recreation not too far west in the so-called Hill Country. The town is growing rapidly, with a 72 percent population increase since 1990, highest nationwide for a larger city aside from Las Vegas. Sprawl is a major threat, and the city continues to struggle with traffic and growth but not to the degree of many larger cities. There are some struggles between suburban national-chain retail and local, mostly-downtown businesses. The cost of living while low on a national scale is highest in Texas, while home prices, high by state standards, are low by national standards and are a good value. Incomes are very high relative to cost of living and the area has one of the highest expected job-growth rates in the country.
The downtown area sits in a low basin with mostly flat land to the east and hilly areas with limestone outcroppings to the west, separated by a river flowing through town. The landscape is intermittently wooded with deciduous trees. The climate is humid subtropical with occasional continental influence. Summers are hot and moderately humid with most days in the 90’s and many evenings in the 70’s. Winters are mild with an occasional cold snap. Precipitation is scattered through the year with peaks in late spring and early fall. Moist air and storms from the Gulf can bring heavy rain for days at a time. Winter brings lighter but steady rains. The hills shelter the area from the destructive storms that happen to the north.