Austin vs. San Diego

Shore of Lake Travis.

San Diego vs. Austin

San Diego is famous for its sunny weather and sandy beaches. Austin is known for its music scene and beautiful hills. Both cities are popular travel destinations and attract many looking to make a permanent move. Let’s compare these two unique cities to determine which one is right for you.

Size Difference

While both cities are some of the largest in their respective states, San Diego beats Austin with a population of 1.41 million in San Diego proper and over 3.3 million in San Diego County. Austin, while still large, is smaller than San Diego with just over 1 million residents in Austin proper and over 2 million in Travis County. San Diego spans 372 square miles, exactly 100 square miles larger than Austin.

Differing Industries

San Diego has a wide array of sectors making up its economy, but the top employing industries are technology, the military, and tourism. In 2020 technology accounted for 9% of the total employment in the area and has captured a broad piece of the tech industry including cybersecurity, aerospace, navigation and maritime, software, and cleantech. San Diego is home to established companies such as Qualcomm and Intuit as well as many startups. 

With an average of 35 million visitors who pass through San Diego each year, tourism is the second largest industry in the San Diego area. The city is a top U.S. travel destination generating over $940 million annually in taxes brought in from tourists, much of which is put directly back in the city to support San Diegans’ quality of life. Tourism in the area impacts a range of industries including accommodations, transportation, attractions, museums, restaurants, and retail.

Like San Diego, Austin has varying sectors that make up its economy. Government, tech, manufacturing, and tourism are top employing industries. In the past decade, over 35 major tech companies have relocated to the Austin area due to the region’s favorable business climate. No state income tax and no corporate income tax has attracted major players such as Amazon, Google, Dell, Facebook, and Apple making Austin the place to be if you work in technology, manufacturing, or software.

With over 450 high-tech manufacturing firms Austin is a leader in manufacturing employing over 62,000 residents. Many of the nation’s prominent computer firms have established production bases here including Samsung, Ericsson, and Bae Systems.

Austin also has a bustling tourism industry as over 30 million visitors from all over the country come to see the live-music capital of the world. Events like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits bring in millions in revenue each year to the city’s economy. Other visitors come to see sights such as the Texas State Capitol and 6th Street


Both Austin and San Diego offer a wide array of activities. San Diegans are very health conscious looking to spend most of their time among the beautiful scenery the city offers. Outdoor activities such as surfing, wind sailing, biking, and hiking are among favorite hobbies. San Diego residents are never in want of things to do. With sites like Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and Old Town there is something for everyone.

Austin residents also have an abundance of activities they can easily take advantage of. On any given day, residents can enjoy canoeing on Lady Bird Lake, hiking the Austin Greenbelt, picnicking at Zilker Park, or swimming at Barton Springs Pool. Austinites can also enjoy one of the many museums in Austin, including the Bullock Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, or the Contemporary Austin. And with over 250 music venues in the city residents can catch a live show any night of the week.

Home Costs 

While San Diego is beautiful, the cost of living is high. The median selling price of homes is $564,000, over $300,000 more than the national average. Many residents refer to the cost-of-living-difference as the “sunshine tax”.

Austin is much more affordable, but still higher than the national average. The average sales price of homes in Austin is $475,000.

Where Do You See Yourself?

Do you picture yourself soaking up the sun in SoCal or kickin’ it with the creatives in the Texas Hill Country? No matter where you see yourself, both cities offer year-round warmth, delicious TexMex, and plenty of beauty. In other words, no matter if you end up in San Diego or Austin you can’t go wrong.

Lakeside at Tessera

Come explore Lakeside at Tessera, located in Lago Vista, Texas. Just 36 miles northwest of Austin, our community lies on the shores of Lake Travis and offers a small-town feel with the modern amenities of a big city. Contact us today for more info.


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