Austin

Welcome to Austin

Young and vibrant but with the old soul of a hippie, Austin is a red-hot creative hub in the middle of a state steeped in tradition. Yet the city, for all its quirks, is still thoroughly Texan - think of it as the liberal son of conservative parents, Houston and Dallas. In fact, many of Austin's most eccentric residents moved here from Texas' big cities to attend the University of Texas, and never left.

The big headline these days is Austin's ever-growing live music scene, which attracts thousands of new residents every year, and draws many thousands more for the frenetic South by Southwest festival. But it's tough to make a living playing in Austin's old-time saloons and hipster-friendly drinking dens, so you'll meet many musicians who are also bartenders, massage therapists, or real estate agents. The city has become a mini-mecca for other creative pursuits, too: film, fashion, art, and, most recently, comedy have all found a foot-hold.

With abundant green space, three seasons of mild weather, and the tastiest Mexican food you'll find north of the border, Austin has earned a reputation as one of the United States' best places to live, leading major employers like 3M and IBM to open offices here. Some locals fear that these corporate newcomers may chip away at Austin's trademark quirkiness - but a walk down 6th Street on a Saturday night reveals a bountiful supply of weirdness. The city still embraces characters such as the late Leslie Cochran, a scruffy-bearded, sometimes-homeless man (and perennial mayoral candidate) who strutted around downtown wearing nothing but a bikini for 20 years.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in United States:
    abt. 312 million
  • Inhabitants in Austin:
    abt. 850,000
  • Official language
    English
  • Currency
    US Dollar
  • Time zone
    CST (UTC-6)
  • Emergency number
    911
  • Constitution
    Republic
  • Country phone code
    +1 512
  • Country code
    US
  • Local transportation
    Bus, Taxi, Rail