Austin vs. Chicago – How Do They Compare?

Downtown Chicago compared to Austin, Texas.

ATX vs Chi-Town, deep dish vs. Texmex, Midwestern friendliness vs. Southern hospitality. Let’s take a look at how Austin and Chicago compare.

Cost of Living in Chicago vs. Austin

One of the biggest factors when moving to any new city is the cost of living. Chicago is unusual in that it is a big city, but the cost of living is actually less than most other big cities around the U.S. It is, however, still more expensive than Austin.

If someone is looking to live in Chicago proper, they will most likely be renting or buying an apartment. Due to the pandemic, people are actually moving out of Chicago, driving real estate costs down. Right now the average price per square foot to buy an apartment in Chicago is around $250 per square foot. Compare this with Austin, where the average price per square foot for a home is between $300 – $350. For those looking to rent, however, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago is around $2,000 compared to Austin where the average monthly rent for the same size apartment is around $1500. 

Let’s talk about taxes in each city. Illinois has an income tax rate of 4.95%, whereas Texas has no state income tax. Average property taxes in Chicago are 2.8%, nearly 1% more than property taxes in Austin and double the national average. To top this off, Chicago taxes grocery food items and Texas does not. Bang for buck, Austin is the cheaper city to live.

Things to Do Around Town in Chicago vs. Austin

Chicago has everything you could want from a major tourist destination: plenty of sports teams, an expansive collection of museums, and historic architecture. Grant Park, often referred to as “Chicago’s Front Yard ” spans over 300 acres and is located in the Loop. Within the park, visitors can visit some of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks such as Millennium Park and Buckingham Memorial Fountain. For those looking to cheer on a Chicago sports team, they have plenty of choices between the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks. Chicago also offers a diverse array of beloved museums such as The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum, and The Museum of Science and History which is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.  

Home of deep-dish pizza, world-famous hotdogs, and beef sandwiches, Chicago’s food culture is part of its overall history. If you are looking for a genuine Chicago food experience, don’t miss legendary restaurants such as Lou Malnati’s where they have been serving deep dish pizzas since the 1940s. And no trip to Chicago is complete without visiting Al’s Italian Beef, thought to be the original retailer of Italian beef since 1938.

Like Chicago, Austin has plenty to keep folks entertained. Austin is located in the Texas Hill Country, with beautiful hills to hike and holes to swim in. On sunny days, residents and visitors can head to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, one of Texas’ top-rated trails spanning over 12 miles throughout the city. Parks such as St. Edwards Park, Zilker Park, and McKinney Falls State Park offer residents the opportunity to hike, swim, canoe, and rock climb. 

While Austin is famous for Texmex and BBQ, mom-and-pop restaurants throughout the city have put Austin on the food map. Head to Matt’s El Rancho serving Austin residents Texmex since the 1950s. Or try Ramen Tatsu-ya, which is so popular that even with three locations around Austin there is usually still a line to get in. 

History buffs can enjoy the Bullock State History Museum, where visitors can learn about everything from Texas’ role in the Civil War to Austin City Limits. Or head to the LBJ Library to learn about America’s 36th president.

Local Industries

Chicago and Austin both benefit from varied industries. In both cities healthcare, education, government, and tourism contribute to a low unemployment rate. Chicago is also home to business & finance corporations such as JP Morgan Chase and Deloitte. Airline titans such as Boeing and United Airlines are headquartered in Chicago as well, providing more jobs for residents.

Austin has a huge tech presence, being dubbed “Silicon Hills”. Major players such as Oracle, Facebook, Tesla, and Amazon have opened up a wide array of career opportunities for those working in tech, manufacturing, or warehousing, and more companies are looking to make the move every day. 

Events such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits are responsible for a large portion of jobs as well, as these events bring in millions of tourists each year. Plus they’re fun for the locals, too!

And the Winner Is…

Both cities are fabulous! You can’t go wrong with a move to either; it will just depend on what you are looking for and your phase of life.

Life at Lakeside at Tessera

Lakeside at Tessera in Lago Vista, located on the banks of Lake Travis, is just 30 miles northwest of Austin. If looking to relocate to the Austin area, claim your little slice of the Texas Hill Country within Lakeside at Tessera. Contact us today to schedule your tour.

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