AUSTIN, TEXAS – Austin seems to dominate everyone’s top 10 lists these days without even trying. Now, according to a new list, Austin is the best city for those who want to hit the reset button on life.
Austin hit the number one spot in The Daily Beast’s second annual list of 30 best cities for starting over. The only other Texas city on the list was Houston at number twenty-six.
The webloid took a look at 200 cities and made their judgements from six datapoints.
2. Ease of finding a job, based on September 2011 unemployment figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3. High income level, based on median income figures for 2011, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, accessed via Fannie Mae.
4. Low cost of living, based on the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index for the third quarter of 2011, in which a 100 is the average for all places and each city’s index score is a percentage of the average.
5. Nonprofit friendliness—nonprofits are a key job source—based on Charity Navigator’s ranking of the top 30 cities that are most charity-conscious.
6. Student friendly—key for retraining—based on the American Institute for Economic Research’s 75 Best Colleges for Students, which ranks small, medium, and large cities, as well as college towns, in terms of academic environment, quality of life, and professional opportunity.
“At the chamber, we are not surprised at this.” said Austin Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Rebecca Martin. “It’s a soft landing to come here. We have had a steady increase in population growth. And we welcome innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Those that live in Austin already know it’s a great place to live. But they also know that it’s not utopia and it’s not without its problems.
The unemployment rate in Austin, Travis County is at 7.2 percent and rising. While that is below the 9.5 percent national average, it’s up from 6.8 percent last year.
And the cost of living in Austin is going up fast. Rental properties are at 95 percent occupancy and rents are up 15 percent over last year. In other words, renters pay top dollar and property owners are making a killing.
The Austin City Council is made up of notoriously free spenders that seem bent on creating an expensive eco-utopia where everyone carries their organic groceries under one arm while riding a bike on 105 degree day. The council continues to be biggest threat to the Austin’s cost of living.
Home prices have fallen, but not nearly as much as in other areas of the country. Home prices and property taxes are high and that has driven many low and middle income families to the suburbs and surrounding counties that have a much lower cost of living than Austin.
And a new Census Bureau report out Tuesday says about one in four school-age children in Travis, Bastrop and Caldwell counties lived in poverty in 2010 — higher than the national average.
These statistics no doubt reflect the overall recession that the entire country is reeling from. “Still, there is a quality of life, and a wide variety of industry here,” notes Martin. “You can be successful, and live comfortably.”
Attorney Christine Gorman moved to Austin several years ago, after practicing elsewhere for about 10 years. She found that the city already had many many lawyers. “They get out of UT law school and decide they want to stay,” she sighs. “It’s been very competitive.”
The Daily Beast’s 30 Best Cities for Starting Over
- Austin, Texas
- Idaho Falls, Idaho
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Ogden, Utah
- Burlington, Vermont
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Provo, Utah
- Wausau, Wisconsin
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Washington, DC
- Fargo, North Dakota
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Columbia, Missouri
- Appleton, Wisconsin
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Charlottesville, Virginia
- Manchester, New Hampshire
- Portland, Maine
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Houston, Texas
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Ames, Iowa
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- Albany, New York