Austin vs. San Diego: City Relocation Guide

Shore of Lake Travis.

Welcome to the ultimate showdown between sunny cities—San Diego vs. Austin! It’s a battle between the beach and the barbecue, the Pacific Ocean and the Colorado River, the fresh seafood and the Tex-Mex. With so many amazing qualities at both locations, it can be hard to know which one to call home. But fear not. We’re here to iron out the cities’ similarities, differences, and unique attributes.  

Austin vs. San Diego Quick Stats  

Austin Quick Stats  

  • Population Density: 3167 people per square mile 
  • Median Household Income: $78,965 
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.60% 
  • Median Age: 34 years old  
  • Average Commute: 24 minutes 
  • Average Home Value: 561,613 

San Diego Stats 

  • Population Density: 4,255 people per square mile 
  • Median Household Income: $85,500 
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.50% 
  • Median Age: 35 years old 
  • Average Commute: 26 minutes 
  • Average Home Value: 893,457  

Cost of Living in Austin vs. San Diego 

When comparing the cost of living between San Diego and Austin, it’s important to consider several factors. Housing costs tend to significantly contribute to the higher overall cost of living in San Diego, with median home values being higher than in Austin. Additionally, San Diego generally has a higher sales tax rate, while Austin’s property taxes tend to be higher.  

However, it’s worth noting that the cost of living can vary greatly depending on an individual’s lifestyle choices, such as food and entertainment expenses. In general, San Diego also tends to have higher than Austin in this department. This is partly due to San Diego’s location on the coast, which means that many food items must be imported from other regions, leading to higher prices. 

San Diego ultimately has a higher cost of living when compared to Austin, which has led to high numbers of Californians moving to Texas for that reason.  

Austin vs. San Diego Size & Location  

Austin Geography and Location 

Located smack dab in the heart of Texas, Austin is known for its rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and rugged natural beauty. The city’s population is just over 1 million people, making it the fourth largest city in Texas. The city is a hub for tech, music, and creative types, with a lively and eclectic culture that’s all its own. The population of Austin is as diverse as it is welcoming, with folks from all walks of life calling this place home.  

San Diego Geography & Location 

San Diego is a beachy paradise located on the southern coast of California. The city is home to over 1.4 million people, making it the second-largest city in the Golden State after Los Angeles. But don’t worry, the vibe here is much more chill compared to many of their California neighbors to the north—think flip flops, board shorts, and a laid-back attitude. San Diego is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse population that includes a large Hispanic/Latino community, Asian Americans, and African Americans. The city is also home to several military bases, which means you’ll see plenty of uniforms around town. 

Austin vs. San Diego Things to Do  

Austin Culture & Things to Do 

If you’re a music lover, you’re in luck—Austin is the live music capital of the world, with over 250 music venues and some of the most famous music festivals. First up is South by Southwest (SXSW), which takes place every March and is a massive celebration of music, film, and interactive media. During the festival, thousands of bands from all over the world descend on Austin to perform, and the city is abuzz with concerts, parties, and industry events. Another popular festival is Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest), which takes place in October and draws big-name acts like Paul McCartney, Metallica, and Billie Eilish.  

But it’s not all about music—Austin also has a thriving food scene, with everything from mouth-watering BBQ to plenty of vegan options most people wouldn’t usually associate with Texas.  

But the most unique thing about Austin is its quirky, offbeat vibe—you can watch a movie at a drive-in theater, play bingo at a honky-tonk, or take a dip in a natural spring-fed pool.  

San Diego Culture & Entertainment 

San Diego’s culture is more than just surfboards and sunshine—although there is plenty of that if that is what you are looking for. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the endless options for cuisine, from fresh fish tacos to craft beer. And speaking of craft beer, San Diego is home to over 150 breweries! A few local favorites gaining national noteriety include Stone Brewing, Modern Times, and Ballast Point. 

Folks eager for some time in the sand will enjoy San Diego’s beautiful beaches. La Jolla Cove is a popular spot for snorkeling and kayaking, with its calm waters and stunning marine life. Coronado Beach is famous for its picturesque Hotel del Coronado and wide swath of sand perfect for long walks. And for those looking for a classic Southern California surf experience, there’s no better spot than Pacific Beach. With its boardwalk, beach bars, and laid-back vibe, it’s the epitome of San Diego beach culture.  

Austin vs. San Diego Industries & Local Economy 

Austin Economy  

Austin’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit has fostered a dynamic economy with ample opportunities for growth and innovation, making it an attractive destination for businesses and talent alike. The city is home to a number of major tech companies, including Dell Technologies, IBM, and Apple, as well as a thriving start-up scene that has earned it the nickname “Silicon Hills.”  

In addition to tech, healthcare is a significant industry in Austin, with major hospitals and research institutions such as the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Austin is also known for its strong education sector, with top-ranked institutions such as the University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward’s University. 

San Diego Economy  

San Diego is home to a thriving and diverse economy, with a number of leading industries. The city is particularly known for its tech sector, which boasts companies such as Qualcomm, Sony, and ViaSat.  

In addition to tech, San Diego is a major hub for defense, thanks to its strategic location and the presence of the US Navy and Marine Corps. The military is a significant driver of economic activity in the region, contributing billions of dollars each year. 

The city is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beautiful beaches, attractions, and events. Visitors can take in the views from the top of Mount Soledad, explore the historic landmarks of Old Town San Diego, or visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.  

How to Choose Between Austin and San Diego  

So, which city should you call home? It’s a tough call, to be sure, as both cities offer an abundance of unique perks. If you’re looking for beachy vibes and ample opportunities to explore the coast, San Diego is worth consideration. On the other hand, Austin is the place to be if you’re on the hunt for a thriving music scene, a quirky cultural atmosphere, and the opportunity to save a few dollars on cost of living.  

Life at Lakeside 

Is the Lone Star State calling your name? Shoot us a message. We’d love to help you find your dream home on Lake Travis.  


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