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Why People are Choosing Downtown Austin Living Over Traditional Single-Family Homes

April 12, 2019


Let’s be honest – it’s cliché to think of Austin as solely the “Live Music Capital of the World” in 2019. Yes, you will always be able to find a bevy of concert opportunities across a variety of genres in our fair city. It’s just that Austin has outgrown its identity as a college town that just happens to house the state’s capital. In fact, we’ll go far as to claim that the average Austin resident is now more likely to prefer downtown living than a single-family home.

Don’t believe us? Let’s check the data:

  • Austin’s growth is approximately 159 net arrivals per day, according to Austin demographer Ryan Robinson
  • Over 14,000 downtown dwellers
  • Additional 2k of planned units
  • Over 86,000 downtown employees
  • Over 8 million square feet of office space planned or under construction in the urban core, creating approximately 50,000 new jobs

In 2005, there were only 5,000 people living in downtown Austin. One of Will Wynn’s main objectives as mayor was to bring 25,000 residents to downtown Austin. As you see from that list above, his successors have followed in those footsteps to achieve those dreams.

So, why are so many people making the choice to live downtown?

Understanding the Shift

The classic American dream was a single-person home with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. There are plenty of growing and thriving neighborhoods throughout Austin, so we know people still like the traditional setup.

Yet, this shift to downtown living isn’t just happening in Austin. Urban cores and downtowns have been growing across Texas and the entire country for this entire millennium. As Austin grows, we’re catching up with other top American cities who are experiencing strong downtown growth (as of 2017):

  • 25,000 in Atlanta, GA
  • 40,000 in Minneapolis, MN
  • 73,000 in Denver, CO
  • 80,000 in Miami, FL
  • 70,000 in Seattle, WA

This is a great development for our city, as it showcases our forward-thinking nature and helps us recruit both top companies and top candidates for jobs at those companies. While we could break the reasons out into a large list, it can all be summarized in a single word – simplicity.

People - both empty-nesters and millennials - are looking to simplify their lives. 

  • They value the ease of a "lock & leave" lifestyle
  • They can spend their spare time doing the things that they love instead of typical house chores - lawn, home repairs, etc. 
  • They want to be closer to their jobs, cutting out the commute

In short, people want to take advantage of the benefits of modern life. For many, this means leaving behind last century’s model of suburban living.

Austin Will Continue to Keep It Weird

Over the last decade, convenience and culture have become the twin engines of progress in the state’s capital. The city has revitalized its roots by restoring many districts, business establishments, residential buildings, office buildings, and parks. Austin residents have responded by making high-rises the most popular housing trend across every possible demographic. People want to enjoy all that downtown Austin offers!

Unlike other cities across the country, our downtown isn't made entirely out of concrete. In true Texas Hill Country fashion, Austin downtown living features ample green space and outdoorsy amenities.

  • The glorious Lady Bird Lake
  • The 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
  • The impressive Shoal Creek Trail
  • The beautiful Waller Creek Park
  • The vibrant Republic Square

Life in Downtown Austin isn't limited to 9-5 anymore. It boasts a diverse mix of award-winning restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, and tons of entertainment options for the entire family. Not only has Downtown Austin led the growth of our city over the past 20 years, but it’s the biggest reason we’ve taken on a personality that extends beyond just live music and UT Football.

Austin is evolving but, as always, it’s keeping it weird.

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