Austin has been the fastest growing U.S. metro from 2010 to 2019, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. During those years, an average of 105 new residents moved to Austin every day, with the majority coming in from cities within Texas, followed by California, Florida, New York and Illinois. Since California is Austin’s top source of domestic immigrants, there’s an abundance of stories about Californians trying to adjust in the new city. This story, however, is about people coming in from the East side (Chicago and New York) at different times and for different reasons, and now reflect on their experiences so far.
Eric Kapinus, an electrical engineer, grew up in Chicago. He studied at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he met his wife, and decided to move to Austin in 2018 after she accepted a marketing position at Dell. Kapinus said that even though he didn’t have a job waiting for him like his wife, he was able to find one rather quickly at a consulting firm. One of the reasons that made him decide to come was that he knew unemployment was quite low in Austin, and competition was not as strong as it was in Chicago. “Austin is a nice place to call home,” he said, as he’s in the search of buying a house in Round Rock and starting a family.
Kapinus was part of a wave of newcomers who was abruptly interrupted by the pandemic. During 2020 fewer people were moving in the city in general, which can be expected as everybody was uncertain and hesitant to make such a move.
However, things changed in June and July 2020. A spike in housing demand indicates that people are still moving to Austin, despite the pandemic. According to the Austin Board of Realtors, there was a 21.4% increase in residential sales in 2020, compared to July 2019. This is part of a greater trend as nearly 25% of U.S. adults moved during the pandemic, or know someone who did, according to a survey done by the Pew Research Center.
George Kafouros, an Information Technology consultant from New York, is one of many who decided to make the move during the uncertain times of coronavirus. His uncle, also a New Yorker, left six years ago and moved to Katy, near Houston, always encouraging him to do the same. “You won’t regret it,” he used to say, and in August of 2020 Kafouros decided to visit Texas for the first time. Even though his uncle lived close to Houston, George said he didn’t want to move to another mega city. After exploring the city of Austin for a couple of weeks, he went back to New York and packed up his things. The pandemic, he says, had hit New York really hard, and it was just too expensive to be around. His girlfriend lost her cashier job as restaurants shut down, and there were few opportunities there for her.
The population increase goes in hand with the jobs available in the city, as companies are also relocating to Austin. Tesla, Oracle, and Twilio are only a few examples of companies that moved their offices to the city and created new jobs.
Angelos Angelou worked as the Chief Economist at the Austin Chamber of Commerce for 12 years, contributing to the attraction of investment and job creation in the area. He is currently the CEO of an acceleration program for foreign startups that invites founders from all over the world who want to launch their businesses in the United States. He has lived in Austin for 35 years, watching it transform into the tech hub that it is today. He explained that there are multiple reasons behind the city’s growth: an educated workforce and a talent pool that the city’s universities provide, the tax incentives and the generally lower cost of life compared to other areas.
Back in February Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, made a statement about Austin becoming “the biggest boomtown that America has seen in 50 years,” and Angelou says he absolutely agrees. “Not only new residents are coming in, but the state of Texas also has one of the lowest rates of people leaving.”
Austin’s population hit the 1 million mark in July 2020.
Austin’s Growth In 10 Pictures
One major indicator of a city’s growth is the rate of construction, and Austin is expanding rapidly. The following photos, taken in multiple locations across the city, illustrate how Austin is continuously transforming and growing.
Austin’s Growth In Numbers
Austin Chamber of Commerce: https://www.austinchamber.com/
Austin Board of Realtors: https://www.abor.com/
FRED Economic Data: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/AUST448URN