Atlanta vs Austin | ⭐️ Comparison, Pros & Cons, Which City is Better for You?

Trying to decide between moving to Atlanta versus Austin, Texas? Both cities have a lot of similarities that invite comparison. They both have amazing cuisine, thriving economies, and a fun culture with exciting nightlife and attractions. They’re also both attracting tons of new residents, particularly young professionals, millennials, and young families.

To help you decide whether you should make the Silicon Hills in Texas your home or Georgia’s City in a Forest, here’s a COMPLETE guide to the positives and negatives of living in each city.

Pros & Cons of Living in Atlanta vs Austin

One of the best ways to start a comparison of two cities is by looking at the biggest advantages and drawbacks each has to offer. Here’s our list of the biggest things you’ll love and hate about Atlanta, GA versus Austin, TX.

Living in Atlanta Pros

It’s easy to get around Atlanta

One of the benefits of living in Atlanta is great infrastructure with robust public transportation and an extensive highway system. Atlanta’s MARTA rail system has four service lines and 38 rail stations serving downtown neighborhoods, the airport, and surrounding communities. There’s also a robust bus system that serves all of Metro Atlanta plus a streetcar and free shuttles!

 

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It’s simply far easier to get around Atlanta as opposed to Austin. Austin doesn’t have public transit that compares with MARTA. You’ll definitely need a car anywhere outside downtown Austin.

Learn more about getting around with our Atlanta public transportation guide.

Atlanta is ideally located for tons of road trip opportunities

One of the perks of living in ATL? Its ideal location in the southeast also makes it easy to road trip to other cities, beaches, and mountains! Here are just some fun destinations an easy drive away from Atlanta:

  • Lake Oconee near Greensboro, GA is a popular resort destination 85 miles away
  • Toccoa Falls, GA is 90 minutes outside Atlanta and it’s the South’s answer to Niagara Falls (and actually higher!)
  • Chattanooga, TN is just 117 miles away with world-class mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, and a fun downtown on the Tennessee River
  • Birmingham, AL is just over two hours away with a rich history in the civil rights movement
  • Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia is a hidden gem with deep, rocky canyons, wildflowers, and trails is only two hours outside Atlanta
  • Asheville, North Carolina is a top destination for craft breweries and outdoor activities like rafting about three hours away
  • A four-hour drive can take you to Savannah, Georgia, with its beautiful beaches and architecture, Nashville, Tennessee, with its music and whiskey, and Charleston, South Carolina, with its stellar cuisine and Fort Sumter

When you compare and contrast Atlanta versus Austin, you’ll notice Austin is right in the middle of Texas. The only places you can really day trip to are other Texas cities like Houston (165 miles), Dallas (195 miles), San Antonio (80 miles), and Galveston (215 miles). There are definitely some fun destinations around Austin, but say goodbye to mountains and waterfalls, vastly different cultures and scenery, or beaches closer than three hours away.

Atlanta is a culture and entertainment hub

The ATL has a young population and combines bustling urban areas with parks and open green space in a way you don’t often find in major cities. Atlanta is famous for its nightlife, culture, and attractions which make it one of the southwest’s top destinations for entertainment. Families appreciate attractions like Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. The city boasts tons of destinations for the arts like the historic Fox Theatre and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Opera.

 

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You’ll love Atlanta’s cool nightlife with cocktail lounges, rooftop bars, dive bars, and hopping nightclubs. Dance the night away to techno and funk at the Sound Table, enjoy boozy slushies and old-school video games at the Joystick Gamebar, take in a game of sophisticated bowling with craft cocktails at The Painted Pin, and watch for celebrities at the Havana Club, Atlanta’s most famous nightclub in Buckhead.

Atlanta has been called the new cultural capital of America with Atlanta-based musical groups, TV and film productions, and more taking the country by storm.

When you compare Atlanta vs. Austin, you’ll find they have similar scenes. Austin definitely has a lot of entertainment too, but the ATL has more and everything they do, they do bigger.

Different neighborhoods in the ATL feel like totally different cities. For example, the culture, architecture, and overall scene in Midtown or Grant Park is nothing like Buckhead or Morningside.

There is a strong jobs market in Atlanta

Atlanta has America’s 10th largest economy and one of the largest in the world. It’s one of the top four cities for Fortune 500 headquarters and hit an all-time low for unemployment in 2020. One of the positives of living in Atlanta is benefiting from a strong and diverse economy with high-paying careers in logistics, healthcare, and finance. It’s also home to a rapidly growing TV and film production industry that’s made it the Hollywood of the South!

Living in Atlanta Cons

Traffic in Atlanta is insane

Complaining about the traffic is a common pastime in Atlanta. It’s easy to get around the city, but it isn’t fast. The mass transit system, while one of the best in the country, still leaves a lot to be desired. Metro Atlanta is home to about 6 million people with so many commuting to Atlanta for work – and competing for space on the interstates with commercial trucks.

The average Atlanta resident spends 17% of their time driving stuck in traffic with an average commute of 35 minutes driving or 53 minutes by bus or train. That’s the second highest in the U.S. after Los Angeles!

Living in Austin Pros

Austin has a great music scene

Love music? One of the big positives of living in the Live Music Capital of the World is there’s always something playing. From outdoor festivals and live summer concerts to theaters, small dive bars, and large music venues with major touring acts, Austin has a thriving and diverse music scene you’ll fall in love with. Even the restaurants in the Austin airport host live bands with everything from R&B, country, folk, and jazz to rock, pop, and metal.

 

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Austin even has ways to enjoy music you won’t find elsewhere like the Alamo Drafthouse in the historic former Ritz Theatre which hosts themed dance parties with music videos projected in the auditorium.

Austin has a laid back vibe

People in Austin like to stay casual. You’ll feel right at home wearing flip flops and shorts all day without the need to get dressed up to have fun. This relaxed atmosphere makes Austin feel like a small town, not a huge and growing metro area, with friendly residents and a lack of hustle that can otherwise make living in the big city stressful.

Living in Austin Cons

Austin has a lot of sprawl and traffic

As they say, Austin is only an hour away from Austin. The city is 3x larger in terms of area than Atlanta with a lot of urban sprawl. The huge UT campus is part of the problem.

While traffic isn’t as bad in Austin in comparison with Atlanta, it’s still pretty bad. I-35 gets so congested during rush hour that you can actually hop out of your car to grab a bite to eat. It isn’t just the highways, either; most streets in Austin get extremely congested which means it takes a long time to get where you’re going.

The Austin real estate market is out of control

Austin home prices recently hit another all-time high of $515,000, up a shocking 25% year-over-year and topping $500k for the first time. Inventory is incredibly low at just 0.4 months, not the 6-month supply you want to see in a balanced market. Homes for sale in Austin receive an average of 8 offers!

While Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., its median home price also grew faster than anywhere else in the U.S. by far. If you’re thinking about buying, make sure you consider this major downside of moving to Austin.

Cost of Living in Atlanta vs Austin

When you compare the cost of living in Atlanta versus Austin, you’ll find they’re pretty similar. Both are close to the national average, but there are many differences that set them apart. The Atlanta cost of living index is 107 compared to an Austin cost of living index of 119. Here’s a look at the differences between living in Atlanta compared to Austin in terms of cost.

  • $153.39 average utility bill in Austin vs Atlanta utilities of $123.80
  • Home prices are 40% cheaper in Atlanta versus Austin, TX ($352,000 average home price in Atlanta compared to Austin average home price of $530,000)
  • Groceries are 2% cheaper in Atlanta vs. Austin
  • Transportation is 13% cheaper in Austin versus Atlanta
  • Rent is 8% cheaper in Austin vs Atlanta (Austin average rent is $1,411 compared to $1,527 in Atlanta)

You can also look at Atlanta in comparison with Austin in terms of average pay. The average salary in Atlanta is $68k while Austin has an average salary of $72k. That’s a difference of less than 6% — not enough to make up for the higher housing costs in Austin compared to Atlanta.

Learn more about the Atlanta cost of living here to get a better idea of the living expenses you can expect.

Additional Things to Consider Between Atlanta versus Austin

Population

Atlanta has a population of 507,000 in 137 square miles with a metro population of 6 million. The population density is 3,670 people per square mile. By comparison, Austin is home to 790,000 people in 326 square miles with a metro population of 2.2 million. The population density is 3,060 people per square feet.

While Austin has a much larger population, it’s spread over a much larger area. Atlanta feels more condensed, easier to navigate, walkable, and with more attractions and things to do in a smaller area.

Crime Rate in Atlanta vs Austin

Which city is safe: Atlanta or Austin? When you compare crime in Atlanta versus Austin, you’ll find Atlanta is a much safer city. The Atlanta crime rate is 5,423 total crimes per 100,000 people versus 4,111 crimes per 100k people in Austin.

Atlanta vs Austin Outdoor Recreation

As you compare Atlanta versus Austin, you’ll notice the cities have a lot in common including their excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Atlanta is a city unlike any other. Nicknamed the City in a Forest for its bounty of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, lakes, and trees, you can easily find yourself far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Kayak, paddle board, or even float down the Chattahoochee River, hike Stone Mountain for downtown views, jog or bike the BeltLine paths, or enjoy skateboarding, live music, swimming, and tennis at the city’s amazing parks like Piedmont Park.

Austin, by comparison, has more than 250 parks. You can go kayaking on Lake Bird Lake, hike through tropical forests at the gorgeous Palmetto State Park, fish at Lake Austin, and even go caving. Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt cutting through the city offers rock-climbing, biking, bouldering, and swimming. Austin is one of America’s fittest cities!

 

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Austin comes out ahead with more diverse outdoor recreation and tons of opportunities within the city. However, the ATL still boasts better parks overall and it’s close enough to road trip to even more opportunities with mountains, beaches, and waterfalls nearby.

Sports in Atlanta vs Austin

If you’re a big sports fan, Atlanta will definitely come out ahead when you compare the ATL vs Austin. One of the strengths of living in Atlanta is it has everything including college and professional sports. Professional sports teams include the Braves (MLB), Falcons (NFL), Hawks (NBA), Dream (WNBA), and the United FC (MLS). Atlanta is also a huge college football city with Georgia State and Georgia Tech campuses.

The Austin metro area has no major league professional sports team. Enough said.

Atlanta to Austin Distance

How far is Atlanta from Austin, TX? These southern cities are 956 miles apart or an almost 14-hour drive along I-10. Here’s how to get from Atlanta to Austin. Don’t want to give up one city while living in the other? You can find cheap flights from ATL to AUS under $50 one-way!

Atlanta vs. Austin: Where Are You Moving?

Now that you’ve compared the Silicon Hills vs the ATL, where do you see yourself living? If you’re most interested in live music, outdoor recreation, and a younger hipster vibe, Austin may be calling your name. If you prefer a more robust selection of entertainment and culture with an ideal location and lower housing costs, it’s time to start exploring the best Atlanta neighborhoods to call home.

If you have settled on Atlanta, Wirks Moving & Storage is here to help. Give us a call once you know your general moving dates so we can deliver the 5-star moving experience you deserve.

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