If you live anywhere within shouting distance of, well…anywhere, then you’ve probably heard that Austin, Texas is a cool town. It’s home to some serious music, art, cultural, and film festivals, including the behemoth South by Southwest (SXSW), Carnival Brasiliero, Art Week Austin/Art City Austin, and the Austin Film Festival, to name a tiny handful.
Many people compare the Texas town’s quirkiness to that of Portland. Depending on who you talk to, Austin and Portland are either sister cities or rivals. Like Portland, Austin is hip in a countercultural, artistic, anything goes, techy, organic, bicycle commuting kind of way.
Much of the activity in Austin centers around downtown, where galleries, music venues, museums, and other purveyors of creativity draw artistic souls, rock stars, culture lovers, and those craving celebratory urban festival density.
According to the Downtown Austin Alliance 2014 Annual Report, the area sees 19 million visitors per year, employs 123,000 people, and houses 10,000 residents. Since 2000, 2,479 condo units and 2,819 apartment buildings have been built downtown. Currently, another 1,634 apartment units are under construction.
In December 2013, the city launched its first bike share program, Austin B-cycle. The program grew from 11 to 45 stations throughout downtown by March 2014, and set a U.S. bike share record during SXSW (with an average of 6.4 checkouts per bike per day).
Austin, in other words, is an obvious choice for the young and the young at heart.
Earlier in 2014, the eccentric Texas capital landed the second best spot on Niche Ink’s top cities for millennials, due to its low median rent ($936), high median income ($30,816), and it’s high millennial population (17%). But Downtown did not take home the title of Best Austin Neighborhood for millennials. That went to South River City.
Of all the perks downtown Austin has to offer, low rent is not one of them. Apartment rental rates run $2.41 per square foot in the Central Business District, but only $1.25 citywide.
That said, we can’t stay away. Downtown Austin is a magnet for us, and yes, we admit, we’re among those who crave celebratory urban festival density.
See you at SXSW in March?