Austin has attracted the likes of Oracle, Palantir, and SpaceX, among others. Here’s what it’s like inside Texas’s growing tech hub.

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  • Austin, Texas, has become one of the hottest relocation hotspots for tech talent during the pandemic.
  • Tesla founder Elon Musk has a Cybertruck factory under construction outside the city, and his Boring Company recently bought an industrial site nearby.
  • Big Tech has noticeably made itself more at home in Texas’s capital in the last decade, but the industry has a long history in Austin.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Droves of tech talent from Silicon Valley and beyond continue to head to Austin, Texas — if they haven’t landed there already.

In what many have called an exodus from the Bay Area, many tech workers — now untethered to their now-shuttered corporate offices — are able to work remotely and pack up for more affordable locales. Miami and Austin have turned out to be two of the most popular relocation spots.

Oracle is moving its headquarters to Austin, and Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale, who already lives in Austin, confirmed in early November that he is moving his venture capital firm, 8VC, there as well. Tech executives like Dropbox CEO Drew Houston have announced they’re moving to the Texas city. Tesla founder Elon Musk is building a new Cybertruck factory in Austin, and news recently surfaced that his Boring Company bought an industrial site in Pflugerville, a town just outside of Austin. Musk himself said he has moved to Texas, though it’s unclear where exactly.


Read more:
Elon Musk and other tech powerhouses are flocking to Texas, pushing an already bonkers real-estate market to new heights

Google, Facebook, Atlassian, and Oracle have thousands of workers in Austin collectively. And Apple is shelling out $US1 billion for a new campus in North Austin, with the potential to add 15,000 more workers to its existing 7,000.

Austin’s considerably lower cost of living offers a nice reprieve from the sky-high costs in the Bay Area. But the recent tech boom isn’t Austin’s first rodeo — the industry has a long history in the capital city.

Here’s how the tech industry has ballooned in Austin — and why “Silicon Hills” is so appealing to workers and companies alike.


As the tech industry continues to blossom in Austin, Texas, the capital city earns more and more comparisons to its West Coast tech hub cousin.

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The capitol is seen in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg


Both it and Silicon Valley have experienced rapid tech growth in recent years and are grappling with the side effects that come with it.

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The Transamerica Pyramid building is seen in San Francisco, California. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg


Gentrification, rising housing costs, and a homelessness crisis are just some of the issues plaguing them.

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A homeless individual lays on the footpath in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Austin-American Statesman and Bloomberg


But Austin is still leagues behind San Francisco in many respects, which might be why the Texas city has increasingly become a favourable relocation destination for San Francisco techies.

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Downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


A 2018 LinkedIn survey placed Austin in the No. 5 spot in a list of the top 10 US cities San Francisco LinkedIn users were migrating to.

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Passersby in Austin’s South Congress district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


According to the US census, that influx is noticeable — Austin is the fastest-growing major metro area in the country.

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Source: Curbed Austin


And a 2018 Brookings report cast Austin as No. 6 in a list of US cities attracting the most millennials, making Austin a hotbed for young professionals specifically.

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Austinites take a load off at one of the many bars lining the city’s Rainey Street district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Brookings


For those seeking a progressive culture, Austin’s got it — it’s the third-best LGBTQ city in the US, for one thing.

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Source: Austin Culture Map


And although Texas is typically a red state, the city of Austin skews left. As the Austin-American Statesman’s Eric Webb writes, Austin is a “blueberry in the tomato soup of Texas.”

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A sticker on a car’s back window shows support for the one-time Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke in Austin, Texas, in December 2018. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Austin Culture Map and Austin-American Statesman


Throw in a vibrant nightlife and music scene, and you’ve got a good place to live in the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

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A statue of Willie Nelson stands tall outside of Austin’s Moody Theatre. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: NME


Austin has also earned another moniker in recent years: Silicon Hills, named after the Central Texas region’s signature hill country.

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Downtown Austin is seen from the Congress Avenue Bridge. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


But Austin is no stranger to tech — not even close. The industry has had a foothold in the capital city for decades.

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A woman tests Dell computers on an assembly line in Austin, Texas, in October 1998. Gregory Smith/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Austin-American Statesman


IBM’s Austin track record traces all the way back to 1937 with the opening of a sales office. It was an early move that cemented the city as a future tech hub.

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An IBM design studio in Austin, Texas, in 2015. Wikimedia Commons

Source: Austin American-Statesmen


The same goes for Dell Technologies, the Austin area-based company established by now billionaire Michael Dell in 1984. Dell currently employs 138,000 workers worldwide, a reported 13,000 of which are in the Central Texas region.

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Source: Austin Business Journal


And in 1983, Austin won a national competition to host the country’s first for-profit computer research consortium, providing a resource pool for the top tech companies in the US.

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The Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation headquarters in Austin, Texas, pictured here in 2005. Wikimedia Commons

Source: Austin-American Statesman


Known as the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp, or the MCC, it helped establish Austin as a bigger player in the tech world. The MCC stopped operations in 2000.

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The Texas Capitol building pictured in 2006. Wikimedia Commons

Source: Austin-American Statesman


In the 1990s, the Capital of Texas Highway, to the northwest of downtown, was a stretch where many tech companies set up shop. They started congregating in downtown Austin instead in the early 2000s.

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Source: Austin-American Statesman


In 1996, Samsung planted its first chip manufacturing centre in Austin.

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Samsung Chairman Jong-Yong Yun (third from the right) along with Texas Governor Rick Perry (third from the left) at the grand opening ceremonies at Samsung Austin Semiconductor (SAS) for ‘Fab 2’ manufacturing facility in Austin. Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

Source: Austin-American Statesman


And as far as the Silicon Valley lineup goes, Apple has had a presence in Austin for over two decades now. There are 7,000 workers currently employed by Apple in Austin.

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Apple’s campus in Austin, Texas, on December 13, 2018. Suzanne Cordiero/AFP/Getty Images

Source: City Lab


And there’s potential for many more — 15,000 to be exact. Apple broke ground last year on a $US1 billion campus in North Austin.

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Apple’s future campus plans are displayed in the current Austin, Texas, campus on December 13, 2018. Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Apple


The new 3-million-square-foot campus will be less than a mile away from its current location that it opened in 2016, and will add an immediate 5,000 employees to Apple’s existing 7,000 Austin workers.

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Source: Business Insider and City Lab


And Apple isn’t the only California company to have moved into the Texas city.

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The Google Fibre Space at 201 Colorado St. in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Mountain View-based juggernaut Google entered Austin’s tech ecosystem in 2007 with its acquisition of the email security and archiving service Postini.

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The Google Fibre Space at 201 Colorado St. in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Google


There are now over 800 Google employees in Austin.

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The Google Fibre Space at 201 Colorado St. in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Austin American-Statesman


A good portion of them work in Google’s swanky new offices down the street from the Fibre space. Teams here work on everything from Android and G Suite operations to finance and marketing.

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Google’s offices at 500 West 2nd St. in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Curbed Austin and Austin Culture Map


The company snagged 300,000 square feet across five floors in this sky-scraping building, which opened in 2017.

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Google’s offices at 500 West 2nd St. in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Curbed Austin


Right next door to it is a tower currently under construction, all 35 floors of which Google has leased, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

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Google’s offices at 500 West 2nd St. in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Austin American-Statesman


The 35-story tower will stand right next to the Austin Public Library. When the tower is complete, it will open up hundreds more Google jobs in the capital city.

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The Austin Public Library. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Austin American-Statesman


Google’s office is right smack in the middle of downtown, where many other companies have gravitated toward in recent years.

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A view of downtown Austin from the Congress Avenue bridge. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Austin-American Statesman


There’s the $US2.9 billion co-working firm WeWork that has a handful of locations throughout the city.

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The WeWork location at 600 Congress Ave. in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Job site Indeed occupies 10 floors in a downtown office building, with more locations to the north of downtown in The Domain shopping centre. There are more than 1,600 Indeed employees in Austin.

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Indeed’s downtown Austin office. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Indeed and Austin American-Statesman


The $US19 billion software maker Atlassian opened an Austin office in 2014 for its then-150-person team. The company now employs more than 400 people in its Austin office. And earlier this year, Atlassian said its employees can work from home permanently.

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Atlassian occupies multiple floors in this high-rise at 303 Colorado St. Google Maps/Business Insider

Source: Silicon Hills News and Business Insider


And thousands more are employed by other tech giants. Facebook has over 1,000 employees in the Austin area, Amazon has 5,600, and software company Oracle has 5,000 in its new waterfront campus.

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Content moderators work at a Facebook office in Austin, Texas, in March 2019. Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: CNBC and Business Insider and Built In ATX


The newer tech fledglings have also sprouted up in recent years. Local Austin startups, including RigUp and DISCO, raised a collective $US400 million in venture capital in January 2019.

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Host Jacob Soboroff, left, speaks onstage at Startup Alley: Fastball Speed Pitches during the 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Centre on March 10, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW

Source: Built In Austin


Tech accelerator Capital Factory specifically has injected thousands of dollars into Austin, fuelling the city’s tech reputation.

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US President Barack Obama speaks with Capital Factory Founder Josh Baer, centre, and US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park during a tour of Capital Factory. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Source: Austin-American Statesman


The city’s established tech sector has also helped attract the US Army. Austin was chosen out of 150 US cities to house its new high-tech futures command centre.

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US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, left, and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville announce that Austin, Texas, will be the new headquarters for the Army Futures Command in 2018. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: US News


The unit’s goal is to develop new defence technology — and it purposefully chose Austin in hopes that its “weirdness” culture could inspire some out-of-the-box thinking.

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An art installation in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: US News


Clearly, tech has been a part of Austin’s DNA for decades now.

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A view of downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

In the past eight years or so though, tech’s influence on Austin has begun to show considerably more…

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The South Congress district in Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg


…specifically, in the area’s real estate market: Austin’s median home value currently sits at $US427,116, compared to the national average of $US262,604.

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The Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Zillow and Zillow


The blossoming tech presence has spurred an affordability crisis, just as it has in San Francisco. As tech companies and workers continue to pour into the city, demand and home prices have increased as a result…

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Pedestrians in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: KXAN and Forbes


…so much so that Austin now has its first $US1 million neighbourhood, where the majority of homes boast an asking price of at least $US1 million.

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The neighbourhood of Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


The Barton Creek neighbourhood has historically been one of the city’s priciest zip codes and has seen its share of tech elite move in within the past couple of decades.

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The neighbourhood of Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Renters in the city don’t have it much easier. The average price for a one-bedroom apartment is $US1,284 a month, but that jumps to $US1,992 in Downtown Austin.

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A leasing office in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Zumper


And as more millennials, who usually rent instead of buy, flock to the city, the market will grow even more saturated, raising the rent in the process.

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Source: Zillow,Austin Culture Map and Austin Curbed


Home prices are projected to continue to rise as well, though at a more stable rate than in years prior…

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A scooter rider scoots across Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


…especially as West Coast companies continue to move to the Texas capital.

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Downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


An estimated 300 California companies have relocated their offices to Texas within a one-year period.

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A mural in Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


And Austin’s considerably low cost of living, lower than in other tech-oriented cities, likely offers a nice reprieve for the transplanted workers.

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You can snag an avocado toast at Modern Market in downtown Austin for $US4.50. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg


A one-bedroom apartment in the city by the bay cost almost $US3,280, but those prices have been dropping during the pandemic.

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Apartment buildings in San Francisco’s Mission neighbourhood. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: CNBCand Business Insider


Granted, Silicon Valley salaries are the largest in the industry. But even for the highest-earning Bay Area tech workers, the area’s cost of living ensures that property-owning and other aspects of a higher quality of life may remain just out of reach.

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City-goers in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


Making the move to Austin can translate to a bigger bang for your buck — salaries simply go further.

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Austin’s South Congress district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Forbes


Austin’s zoning restrictions are also more lax than San Francisco’s, so developers have a better chance of keeping up with housing demand by building new inventory throughout the city.

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New apartments sprouting up along South Congress in Austin, Texas. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg and City Lab


Some of that inventory leans more toward luxury than affordable, like the Austonian downtown, where condos sell for anywhere between $US1,490,000 and $US6,995,000.

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The Austonian in downtown Austin. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Realty Austin


Though with so many high-earning techies in the city, there likely is a market for high-priced living.

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With a wealth divide comes a homelessness crisis, which Austin has been grappling with. Homeless encampments on city streets have grown more and more pronounced recently.

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Daniel Webster, who is homeless, gets his head shaved at Lava Mae’s Pop-Up Care Village, which offers medical care, hair cuts, make-up, showers and other care to people in need. Brian Snyder/Reuters

Source: Fox 7 Austin


The city of Austin made it legal for homeless people to sleep and set up camps in public areas that aren’t parks or footpaths. The city council told Fox 7 Austin that helping to solve the homeless crisis in Austin was its No. 1 priority for 2019.

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Jennifer, who is homeless, gets her hair cut at Lava Mae’s Pop-Up Care Village. Brian Snyder/Reuters

Source: KLEW and Fox 7 Austin


Another side effect of Austin’s growing tech presence is the industry’s pervasive culture, which has brought a bout of change to the fabric of the city.

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Case in point: electric scooters.

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In April 2018, California-based electric scooter startups Bird and Lime illegally dropped hundreds of the dockless vehicles onto the streets of Austin before the city could impose regulations.

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Source: Texas Tribune


A similar ploy played out in San Francisco, angering residents and politicians alike, just like in Austin.

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A scooter rider on South Congress Avenue. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


But Austin soon adapted by establishing guidelines for the ambitious companies.

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Source: KXAN


And now, the city is crawling with licensed scooters, with locals and tourists alike taking to them to get around town.

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Iconic Austin sites are speckled with them…

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…like the “i love you so much” wall in the South Congress district.

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Younger workers will likely continue to make up Austin’s workforce, especially with the nearby University of Texas serving as a talent pool for companies seeking to recruit freshly minted tech workers.

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A student on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas. Jon Herskovitz/Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


But job opportunities are just one of the drivers bringing millennials to Austin.

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Austin also has vast music, art, food, and adventure scenes — all of which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bangers in Austin’s Rainey Street district is known for its beer selection. Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Live Music Capital of The World usually provides an endless stream of concerts throughout the city year-round.

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A band plays on the patio of Craft Pride in Austin’s Rainey Street district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theatre is famous for its shows, like The Shins in 2012.

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The Shins play in Austin’s Moody Theatre in 2012. Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images

Source: KUT


There are also annual music festivals, like Austin City Limits every fall.

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The atmosphere during Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on October 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Source: ACL Festival


And South by Southwest, an annual music festival that kicked off in 1987, is held every March. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Johnny Cash performs at South by Southwest Music Festival in March 1994 in Austin, Texas. Catherine McGann/Getty Images

Source: CNN and Business Insider


Since its inception, SXSW has evolved from a music-only event and to include, among other things, a prominent tech conference, where techies and startups discuss industry trends and new innovations.

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CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki and Nicholas Thompson speak onstage at Navigating the Video Revolution in the Digital Age during SXSW on March 13, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Jason Bollenbacher/Getty Images for SXSW

Source: Curbed


For adventurous folk, there’s Barton Springs Pool, the Greenbelt, and plenty of outdoor spaces.

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Kayakers on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Elizabeth W. Kearley/Contributor/Getty Images

But it’s Austin’s bar and eatery scene that keeps Austinites entertained morning to night.

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There’s the city’s Sixth Street stretch in downtown Austin.

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Shakespeare’s Pub on Austin’s Sixth Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Not far away is Rainey Street, a drag of historic houses turned into bungalow bars.

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And Austin’s East Side, although having been increasingly gentrified in recent years as a result of the influx of workers, also sports a hip bar scene.

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Cenote cafe in East Austin. Instant Street View

Source: Bloomberg


So millennials and Gen Z have many reasons for moving to Austin.

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Bar-goers in Austin’s Rainey Street district. Katie Canales/Business Insider

And as long as big tech continues to expand in the capital city, so will the number of young workers.

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Scooter riders on Rainey Street. Katie Canales/Business Insider