Austin is no stranger to ending up on lists of desirable places to live for young professionals, tech start-ups, and even party animals, but at what cost? In a recent report by the financial consulting firm SmartAsset, Austin was just demoted from 6th to 7th in the ranking for cities with the best career opportunities.
Perhaps that’s because, even with the lowest rate of unemployment in Texas, Austin is face-to-face with an an ongoing housing affordability crisis. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone under a lease contract here in the ATX.
Rent Cafe compiled a chart showing the cost of living per square foot in several U.S. cities, based on what you get for $1500 a month. While cities you might want to move from and not to tend to have the lowest cost per square foot, Austin lands in the quadrant of high-cost locales, with a price of $1.43 per square foot.
To put it into perspective, Rent Cafe’s report reflects the fact that towns which offer reduced rents such as Oklamhoma City ($.84/sqft), El Paso ($.90/sqft), or Louisville ($.91/sqft) likely do not have the same cultural draw that Austin has. With a world-renowned arts and music scene, and a history of long-past affordability, Austin is now nearer to the prices found in LA ($2.63/sqft), San Francisco ($4/28/sqft), and New York ($5.54/sqft).
If you’ve ever partied in an apartment downtown you can attest to that fact…
It will be interesting to see how we as a city address the rising cost of living with a concurrent increase in career opportunities. For many fleeing the big-city madness of LA or NYC the savings in housing are vast, at nearly .54% and .25% respectively of current market prices compared to Austin. However, for those who are just starting out a new career, are employed in Austin’s thriving service-industry, or are part of our struggling music scene, these savings still don’t translate into space, privacy, or the hope of accruing cash in the savings-account.
Here’s hoping that Austin sees some major affordability changes soon so we can reclaim that 6th spot on SmartAsset’s list next year. But hey, we’re still ranked higher than any other Texas town on the list (with College Station coming in at #11), so at least we have that.